Tuesday, June 16, 2020


For the last two days, it has been fascinating to see the erstwhile temporary experts on Corona, Economy, Indo-China geopolitics suddenly become Mental Health Experts after the news of Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide came in. Thousands of messages have flooded the timeline of FB, LinkedIn etc. urging people to “Talk it out with a close friend/family member”, “Ping me directly if you ever feel like ending your life” and what not. My request to such experts is to PLEASE STOP with the sanctimonious preaching and take a cold hard look at your own self.

Majority of our society considers depression as a ghost: it does not exist, it is a figment of our imagination, stop thinking about it and it will go away. It is like telling a patient with cough to stop coughing and it will go away.

Stress, Depression and Anger, which eventually lead to a suicide does not get built inside a person in a day. It takes months and years to manifest and many small incidents/behaviors contribute to building up this time bomb. A person committing suicide is only triggering the detonation.

Is talking before taking the final step the correct approach? Aren’t we approaching the problem from the wrong end?

Why let a person reach the detonation point in the first place? Can we change our behavior just a little to ensure we are not contributing to the stress, anger, and depression amongst our stakeholders? A little introspection of our own daily behavior can show how we push people towards it

  • Every recruiter/ interviewer who says, “I will get back to you” and does not, adds to the frustration and depression of a person who is looking for a job
  • Every person who pushes a job seeker after a break/maternity to accept a lesser salary (because it helps you get a 5.1% increment than a 5% one) pushes someone a bit towards the detonator
  • Biased bosses and people in higher echelons who ensure all the good opportunities/promotions/recognitions go only to their favorites in their team push everyone else one step further to depression and helplessness. Sounds familiar? Apparently, this was a major reason for Sushant taking the step
  • Family and friends who promise to help/ hear out but get too busy always cannot escape their responsibility either. People who take help and support but go missing when it is their turn to return the favor are equally culpable
  • Harassment in families- mental, physical, or emotional. False cases, concocted stories etc. to get the sadist kick out of troubling others adds on to the pile
  • Telling people around “You’re not earning enough”, “you’re not successful enough” or “You’re not as good as sibling/cousin/neighbor” without providing any support, help or enabling them to reach there is meaningless and adds to the pressure. Likewise, for commenting on physical attributes
  • Irrational understanding of what success and happiness is and trying to superimpose your views of those on others. “You should have bought a bungalow or a luxury car by now”, “you should have been married or have had kids by now” etc. – Do we have any idea how much of a negative impact these comparative expectations have on an individual? People start lying and keep posting those lies on social media etc. to gain acceptance from the society just to show how successful and happy they are, while they are miserable deep inside
  • Check your phone/ FB/LinkedIn etc. inboxes. How many unread messages do you have? How many messages have you read but not responded to? How many conversations never happened because you chose to respond with Hmmm or K? Someone might have wanted to talk to you, but you killed the conversation before it even started. Did you even provide others with an environment for them to talk with you? And now your timeline is swamped with “Talk to me” and “Share with me”.

There are countless such things we do daily without thinking about its impact on someone else. Right now, it happened with a celebrity, so we are stunned. But we know the reality that it happens in every industry, in every family and in every group. Sooner or later, it will pile up for someone who is an important stakeholder for us.

The only long-lasting and effective solution to avoid more Sushant Singh Rajputs is to change our behavior to being more humane, kind, and attentive to our stakeholders. Not so that they will want to talk to us before committing suicide and we can get them to change their mind; but because they should never reach the levels of stress and depression to think about going for the detonation switch in the first place

Thursday, May 7, 2020


Uncertainty is the only certainty – this aptly encapsulates the overall sentiment globally at present- whether economic, political, or social. Every section of the society currently is a nervous lot, but none more so than the student community, especially students in their pre-final and final year of graduation/ post-graduation. The global economy is already in a recession and many corporates are either laying off employees, freezing new hirings or delaying the joining of new hires. The student community’s fear of the unknown is palpable.

The current scenario takes me back to my B-school days when I had faced the 2007-09 global financial crisis as a student. My summer internship firm promised a PPO but announced after a few days that they would not offer PPO to any intern across the country. Thousands of job-offers across firms were rescinded. Some of my friends are yet to hear from the HR about their delayed joining date (which they had diligently promised they would, but considering it’s been 12 years, it is safe to assume that the delay is perpetual). Similar things have started unfolding in the industry right now and it is understandable that students are scared. Based on my experience of having endured a similar time and having interacted with thousands of students as a trainer, I feel it’s imperative for me to share my thoughts which might help them deal with the current crisis in an effective and non-stressful way.

Life is a sequence of crests and troughs. Corona crisis is a trough. The high your next crest would hit would depend on how much you are willing to invest your time and efforts in the current trough.
A bit of smart thinking and focused approach can work wonders for you in the long run. To make it easy, let us separate the factors impacting us in two parts- the controllables and the uncontrollables. Factors like when the coronavirus crisis would be under control, what stimulus package the govt announces, how would corporates react to the situation in the future etc. are well and beyond our control. What, however, is in our control is how we react to this at a personal level and try to enhance the professional that we can be? This can be done though “The 6P Approach”.

The 6P Approach

1.      Preparation:

The two scariest questions that students are facing right now are- a) Will I get a job? b) Will my job offer be honoured?
·         The best way to prepare for this is to imagine you do not have a job offer at hand (even if you have one) or the chances of a job offer are slim. You will have to prepare meticulously and smartly to improve your chances compared to your peers.
o   For students who have a job offer in hand, it is imperative to still assume you do not. The reason is that you do not know if your offer would be cancelled or delayed indefinitely. Being on top of your game and prepared for such eventualities would help you react faster and clinically
·         Select any 2 industries/domains in your core competence. Follow all the news/happenings in the industry, the industry leaders, the corporates and start-ups, HRs etc. of those industries. If you are not sure of which industry you like, pick one which will have a spike in demand in the upcoming years- like online retail, pharma, healthcare etc.
·         Become active on LinkedIn and job groups on other social media platforms. Spend time and efforts to reactivate your connections. The larger your network, higher are your chances of coming across relevant opportunities and that too, before others. Time is of essence in responding to opportunities- it is said that HRs usually consider only the first 50-100 applications for any job opening. It is critical to respond quickly enough to be in that bracket.
·         Read and imbibe as much as possible about your focus areas, the current trends, influencers of the industries etc. in your free time. This will help you be prepared when the opportunity knocks.

2.      Persistence

As it is said, “there are no shortcuts to any place worth going”. Your internship/ job applications might be rejected a few times initially. This is a simple demand supply game right now where the supply is multiple times the demand. You need to persist with your efforts till you make companies feel that not having you on board would be a loss for them
·         Keep learning more of your domain and interest areas. Keep applying to more opportunities. If you do not get through an interview, analyse what you could have done better and practice those responses better.
·         One important factor in job applications is do not try to look for an absolute fitment because they hardly exist. If you have about 80% of the skill sets required for any work, try for it. Companies understand that if you have majority of skill-sets needed, you can pick the rest with a bit of training. Your attitude and confidence towards being able to learn and perform quickly matters.
·         Honour your word when you promise something to your stakeholders. Do it every time so that the stakeholders get influenced by your consistency and persistence

3.      Proactiveness

What would give you a head-start over others is how proactive you are willing to be. A few pointers towards being proactive are enumerated below:
·         Increase your network: Be in LinkedIn, FB, or other professional/ social media platforms, it is critical to increase your network and enhance its reach. Join groups related to jobs, your industry/ domains and interest areas. Do not hesitate to send invitations to people you feel like connecting with. Do not feel upset by some of your connection requests being rejected. Around 50% of your requests might be rejected, but an equal number will get connected to your network. Every person added to your network opens your doors to a plethora of new opportunities, ideas, and knowledge
·         Keep talking/ interacting with your friends, relatives, and professional contacts. Do not overdo it but maintain some contact every now and then to strengthen your existing bonds. This will ensure you would be amongst the first in their minds if they know of any opportunity relevant to you
·         Keep taking part in regular online tests, mock interviews, hackathons, webinars, analytical contests etc to ensure your mind is razor sharp with constant practice. An enhanced exposure and awareness of current trends is always an asset in life
·         Ask for help whenever needed. Overcome your hesitation and fear to reach out directly to your seniors and other professionals for help if you are struggling to get an internship, job, or guidance. Most people are kind and want to help, but unless you ask them, they would never know about the help you need. Be respectful, genuine, and humble in your interactions

4.      Passion:

Passion is to life what salt is to food. Just a sprinkle of it is enough to make it enjoyable. Now is a good time to step back and ask yourself if you really feel passionate about what you do and have you shown enough passion in your earlier endeavours?

·         Choose areas of interest and passion in your studies and projects. Devote time to everything but be especially focused on aspects you are passionate about. This will ensure you become an expert in your domain sooner
·         Show the passion in your internship work and probation period as if your life depends on it. Be so passionate and focused on your projects that people around do not regard you as an intern/ fresher but as a seasoned professional
·         If life throws you a choice, take a lesser money offer in a field of work you are passionate about and can learn and grow compared to a higher paying job in an area you’ve no interest in. Financial benefits would come anyways in the long run, but the happiness and satisfaction of doing well in what you like is unparalleled. I quit my decade old career in IT to follow my passions in trainings and stand-up comedy, and the emotional returns are mind boggling

5.      Psychological Well-being:

All the above efforts would come to naught if psychologically you are not in the right frame of mind.
·         Worst case scenario analysis: Think about what the worst-case possible scenario. You will lose a few months or quarters in finding a job/joining. However, if you utilize this period sensibly, you would be equipped better than others to shine and grow at your work. It all evens out in the long run. Success is not measured by the first few years of your career but where your journey leads to. Lincoln won his first election in his 50s. Most artists, musicians, businessmen, influencers, journalists, actors, scientists have achieved success decades after they started working. If you understand that losing a few months does not have any adverse impact on your long-term career plans, the anxiety and fear in you would lessen dramatically
·         Depression: Sustained period of uncertainty, loneliness, lack of results etc. lead to anxiety and depression. Attaining clarity about the controllables and uncontrollables, the structure of how to prepare for the future, setting up goals and working towards achieving them negates that to a large extent. If, however, you still feel depressed, seek help from a guide, counsellor, or psychologist
·         Eat healthy and maintain an active lifestyle- A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Science bears testament to the fact that a happy and healthy person reacts better to unprecedented scenarios, unexpected questions and anything else life throws at you. Eat well and keep yourself active through your daily chores, walks, exercises etc.
·         Help others as and when you can. Any good that you do will come back to you in some form or the other. Karma never forgets an address

6.      Patience

Patience is crucial. A trusting and self-believing attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand. Know that you are not ordering fast food that what you will see an output in 10 minutes. The situation is that you have foreseen a lack of food six months down the line and you are trying to grow grains in your fields.
·         Tilling, sowing, watering, harvesting etc are processes which will need regular time and efforts invested from you and the results might take months to show.
·         Just because you do not have immediate results to show for your efforts, it does not mean that the processes you are following are ineffective in the long run.

A few bad days do not make a bad life. As with all things in the world, things change, and this crisis would fade away to make room for a better and brighter future.
This article is an endeavor to ensure that students prepare in a clear and structured way to face the uncertain times with confidence. Once you know how to manage the controllable to the best possible extent, the path becomes much easier and rewarding to tread. Our generation got through the uncertainty in our times successfully and often when we reminisce about those times- we end up either laughing at the happenings or are thankful for the lessons it brought and helped us become better people and professionals. Am convinced the current generation of upcoming bright students will reach the other side too. Wishing the next crest you hit is higher than the depth of the current trough. Cheers!!!