Showing posts with label Book summary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book summary. Show all posts

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Book Summary: LEARN, DON'T STUDY by Pramath Raj Sinha


LEARN, DON'T STUDY by Pramath Raj Sinha

This is an insightful book written by Mr. pramath Raj Sinha. He is also known as an institution builder because of his track record of setting up ISB, Ashoka University and currently Harappa Online Learning.

In this book he picks up questions like What it takes to be successful in today's working world (4IR), the possibilities of changing careers multiple times, the gap between academic institutions and the industry and new guides and framework for embarking on professional journey.

To address these broad questions, he shares his life experiences from the world of industry (business) and education. He also shares insights collected from interviewing successful professionals from different walks of life (journalism, education, research, corporate, media, entrepreneurship etc) in the process of writing this book.

USP of this book - all the interviews conducted for this book where with professionals who have a direct connection to India, whether through birth, family, or education. 

“So much of what has been written about career development comes from the West, I wanted to present an approach that was uniquely Indian.” – the author.

I have written this blog it in first person's voice, and taing the exact verbatim (in most places) to retain the narrative style of the book, i.e., the author is speaking directly to his audience (readers).

Chapter 1 - You Can Do Anything

Most of us don’t know and that’s okay

Most of us during our lives transition from adolescence to adulthood are unsure of what we want to do in our life? We might have an inkling about what we like and dislike or about the things we are good at and not so good at, but we lack life experiences to translate these feelings into a clear vocational path.

Often many of us draw conclusion that there must be something wrong within us if we don't know exactly what we want to do with our lives. There is also a sense of fear of being left behind to our peers who seem to have it all figured out.

Sadly this fear psychosis is reinforced by the ecosystem around us parents, educators, peers etc.

Through the interviews the author presents scenarios where there were people who discovered what they want to do at a young age but there were also many who discovered it tinkering along their way and many also ended up pursuing multiple careers in their lifetime.

Don’t be overly concerned with money

The author mentions one of the primary obstacle to building a passion based career is obsessing about how much money you will make. If money is your topmost criterion for determining what you want to do with your life, it can often stand in the way of a deeper, more fulfilling and more successful career.

In India in particular the culturally conditioned fear of lack of adequate income, can lead young people to become overly anxious about their financial stability often at the expense off their long-term happiness.

In the early stages of career, the most important thing is to gain experience to discover one's passion and strength to learn and develop new skill sets and to build a strong foundation for success in the long run. Money should be a symptom of a well-rounded and successful career.

Anything is possible, with a twist

The three core principles:

It's possible to make a career out of doing something you love.

Your passion is usually something you develop.

You can have multiple loves and multiple careers.

These core principles helps you to think about yourself and your career in a more broader dynamic context, liberates you from the fixed mindset and makes you an explorer seeking to discover your passions and aptitudes as you move forward on your life’s journey.

You can do something you love

For many of us who are fortunate enough to get good education, the world is filled with more possibilities than ever before The definition of passion based career has significantly expanded and evolved to include a wide variety of options.

The author points out everyone he interviewed for this book has built at least one Career out of doing something they love. It is truly possible to do what you love if you are committed and dedicated to make it happen.

Your passion is usually something you develop

In a 2018 article for the Psychological Science Journal, authors Paul O’Keefe, Carol Dweck and Gregory Walton suggest that there are two general approaches to building a passion-based career:

Finding your passion, or

Developing your passion

The first approach represents 'fixed mindset' i.e. each one of us have a unique passion that we are meant to represent.

The second approach represents ‘growth mindset’ i.e.  viewing your passion or passions, as something you develop and cultivate.

There research points out the growth mindset approach of developing passion is more rewarding. Reason being, it opens up more possibilities and opportunities in one’s life.

So it is crucial to realize that you may not necessarily be able to know your passion without some experimentation. Passion is something you cultivate overtime.

You can have multiple loves and multiple careers 

The author drawing from his personal experience mentions that none of us are limited to just one passion or one career in our lives. As human beings we are much more complex than we often realize. You can have different passions and build different careers out of them in your lifetime.

Chapter 2 - It All Starts with Self-Discovery

 An ongoing process of self discovery

Self discovery, is a crucial element in building one's career. All the interviewees cited this ability to understand who they were, what they were good at and what they wanted to do with their lives as foundational to their meaningful success.

Self discovery is something you never stop undergoing. It's an ever evolving process.

You Can't force it

Usually Self discovery is an organic process that moves according to its own pace.

The author sites example of the popular Myers Briggs test which is used to generate personalized psychological profile and the list of careers best suited for the individual. He points out several criticisms of such psychometric assessments as they depend heavily on reductionist approach.

Human beings are not so simple or binary. None of us are only defined by one thing. After all we are not robots, our personalities are not scripts or algorithms. hence the process of self-discovery can't be robotic. It requires patience, trial and error most of the times. One has to go through real life experiences, experimentation and internship in various vocations to truly discover themselves. Such organic elaborate process does need time and patience.

Resisting the pressure

The Indian education system which is one of the most competitive in the world puts extreme amount of pressure on the children to make their choice of specialization at an young age and then to stick on that trajectory. Unfortunately, this leads to premature conformity.

One of the compelling reason for the author to write this book is to make young people and their parents understand that it's OK if you don't know what you want to do right up front. He wants to alleviate this pressure from within and outside, so that people can discover their passions and their strengths more organically.

Discovering what you’re good (and not so good) at

All the interviewees in this book mentioned that they needed real world experiences to really test themselves and discover their passions, strength, and weaknesses. Unfortunately, our traditional educational journey are usually focused on grade, marks and ranks.

The key to self-discovery is real world experience. You just can't do it in a vacuum. You must test yourself to discover yourself. You need to get your hands dirty in the real working world to figure out what aspects of who you are might be valuable to the development of your career.

Self-Discovery is a lifelong journey

The author mentions one of his key takeaways from all the interviews was there is no one common path for self-discovery. Self-discovery is unique for each person. For some the clarity of what one wants to do in life emerges at the very early age and for many this becomes a lifelong journey of introspection, trial and error, coupled with perpetual growth. This is the beauty of self-discovery it's a never ending process. You will keep discovering things about yourself as long as you continue to be engaged in the process of inquiry.

Chapter 3 Balancing Breadth and Depth

The author refers to David Epstein 's book Range: Why Generalist Triumph In a Specialized World, has been one of the most thought provoking book he has read in the recent few years.

David Epstein challenges the notion of specializing as early as possible to thrive in one's vocation. He put forth research that that argues the case that those who succeed in the long run are those who developed a wide range of skills and experiences early in their lives which they can apply to the rest of their career.

However, our current education system runs contrary to delaying specialization, hence it becomes a herculean task for students to go in another direction.

The author categorically mentions he nor any the interviewees are against specialization. However, specialization should not come at the expense of learning a broad range of skills. The key is to find that balance of breadth and depth of variety and focus.

Choosing your educational path

The author provides a general guideline and perspectives from his and the interviewees life experiences:

You don't have to know (yet) - If a student is unclear of the choice of subjects, it's okay. They need not stress too much on it.

The institution matters more than your major - If a student is unclear on the branch/major, then it may be a good idea to pick up the school (reputation) over the branch. A reputed school can open many doors in future.

Liberal Arts style education generally serves you best in the long run - Liberal Arts curriculum covers four general sectors: the arts, humanities, social and physical sciences. The objective of liberal arts is to cultivate an ability to think critically across disciplines and to see the interconnects between them.

A study published by Stanford University in collaboration with HSE university Moscow in Nature Human Behavior tracked 30,000 engineering students across India Russia China and USA through their four years of undergraduate degree to monitor the development of their critical thinking skills. The study found that Indian engineering students (along with the Russians and Chinese) significantly lagged their American counterparts when it came to critical thinking.

In an article for the Higher Education Review, Mimi Roy, an associate professor at Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, explains why she believes Indian students are falling behind. “The pedagogy at most techno institutions is not thought provoking and relies mostly on route learning and exam-based lock step methods.”

Diversifying your education and experience

The author mentions attending a liberal arts college isn't the right choice for everyone, nor it is always an option. Some people from an early age are aware of their specialized field of education while others might not be able to afford and liberal arts education as most institutions tend to be more elite. It is possible to gain many of the benefits of a liberal arts education even if you don't attend a liberal arts college. Student can expose themselves by attending diverse classes beyond their core subjects, by actively choosing diverse opportunities on campus which will help them develop new and diverse skill-sets which will help them to build a wider network of peers and mentors. Such wider exposure makes students well-rounded and they set themselves for success in the long run.

Learning how to specialize

One of the interviewee Nikhil mentions, the point is that while you shouldn't be too narrow in your approach, we should also avoid being too broad. We need to strike a balance between the breadth and depth. David Epstein 's book range also articulates this key principle: generalize early but specialize late.

Striking your balance

The author concludes the chapter by stating, give yourself the time and space to experiment, pursue diverse opportunities, pursue different topics and interest. Aim for balance not expedience. Don't be afraid to take a longer and more winding path. It will benefit you in the long run.

Chapter 4 Focusing on the Right Skills

Transferable skills for a non-linear world

Outside of technical skills, the author identifies five general categories of THRIVE SKILLS (Harappa Education):



Critical Thinking

Problem Solving


Technological innovation and automation has put pressure on the workforce to evolve and adapt. Tasks that used to be performed by humans are now being taken over by computers applications and machines. But there is one domain that remains relatively immune to automations rapid advances: Soft skills or Social skills. 

National Bureau of Economic Research shows since 1980s, most of the job growth has been within careers that require extensive social interaction. Jobs that include a high degree of analytical and mathematical processing but relatively low levels of social interaction have declined. Similarly, the higher paying jobs tend to be those that require the most social skills. So, it’s crucial to develop these soft/social skills as we venture forward into the brave new world dominated by technology and machines.

Chapter 5 Picking Up (and connecting) the Dots

The author quotes Steve Jobs famous 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, “You can't Connect the Dots looking forward you can Only Connect them looking backwards. so, you must trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

The author builds on this further by stating, “If you want to be able to connect the dots in your own life, you have to be willing to pick them up first.” He mentions, the willingness to pick up new experiences was a universal quality among everyone he interviewed in the process of writing this book. None of their career paths were linear, they all galvanized diverse experiences and skills to create their own unique story and career path.

Your life is an experiment

Through interviewee’s Paroma Roy Chowdhury story, the author showcases the importance of willingness to take risks, try new things, to experiment, to follow one’s instincts. Every opportunity is a working hypothesis, which helps to move on to your next hypothesis and continue to learn and grow forever.

Overcoming the fear of failure

Through Uday Shankar's story the author tells us the importance of overcoming your fear of failure which in turn helps to seize opportunities and act. He emphasizes once you have made your decision, you need to do everything in your power not to fail.

So, what’s the best way to overcome fear of failure? Uday’s advice is not to take yourself too seriously.

Another way is to reframe what ‘failure’ means. Failure can be looked as an experiment, there’s no right or wrong results, there’s only more data one can use to create the next experiment. So, failure is not literally a failure, it’s an opportunity to learn, grow and refine.

Finally, the best way to overcome your fear of failure is to actually fail. You will find that you recover from failure faster than you would have expected. You will go on living and growing.

Intelligent failure

Duke university’s Sim Sitkin in his 1996 article Learning through failure: The strategy of small losses for the Journal of Organizational Learning, coined the term intelligent failure. He articulates Don't throw caution to the wind and recklessly attempt to do big things. Rather, take up initiatives and challenges that you have considered and prepared for, but that you understand might not work perfectly.

How to fail intelligently?

Be in an environment where experimentation is encouraged, and failure is accepted.

Challenge yourself by taking on difficult tasks where you will likely experience some degree of failure.

Adjust your mindset to see failure as a natural part of a creative life.

Make sure that you are not trying to fail. Rather you're doing your best to succeed, but ready to learn from any failure that might occur. 

You don't have to feel like an Imposter

In the year 1978, a team of Psychologists Suzanne Imes, Pauline Rose Clance, first identified Imposter Syndrome as a pervasive phenomenon and attributed it primarily to women. In a 2011 article in the Journal of Behavioural Science, 70% of the people surveyed reported to have experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. 

Imposter syndrome is a feeling of inadequacy, one feels they don't belong in this group of high achievers and they attribute their success to luck rather than their hard work and talent.

Since imposter syndrome is subjective distortion of reality, one of the best way to gain objectivity is to talk to someone i.e. approach a friend, colleague or mentor and share what's going on in your mind. Maybe experiencing imposter syndrome from time to time is a natural phenomenon and hence expect it, be ready for them and find a way to overcome it.

Get as much experience as you can

The author emphasizes the importance of experience by stating you can have all the education in the world, but it can't replace the value of real-world experience. Experience helps us in our exploration and self-discovery. So students are encouraged to participate in experiential learning programs, volunteering work, taking up opportunities your school and college such as hosting events etc.

Chapter 6 The Power of Mentorship

The author through his life story and from the life stories of all the interviewees, highlights mentorship as one of the most important ingredients in a successful career. Mentors play an important role, not only in early professional and educational decisions but also in many of the critical junctures of one's professional journey. Mentors help to identify one's trends, refine their passions and push them towards higher degree of excellence.

A trusted voice outside of your family

The author presents Indra Noogi’s story, which highlights how her mentor’s advice (voice) was accepted with trust by her family.

A good mentor’s primary interest is your future and betterment, without having any conflict of interest. Mentor can often be more objective about you than your family can. A mentor looks at you as a possibility i.e. who you will be in the future than who you have been in the past.

Helping You to Find and Connect the Dots

A mentor being an objective observer of our career can help us to see the dots and connect the dots. They play a huge role in our organic process of self-discovery, by helping us discover our strengths and make sense of our experiences and situations. A mentor also holds you to a higher standard, thereby raising your level of thinking and performance. A mentor also helps in modelling new pathways i.e., can open your mind to new opportunities you weren’t aware of or didn’t think possible. Mentors can also be role models and they can be a guide, friend, philosopher who gives you the confidence to make a career move, a career transition and to overcome career challenges.

Chapter 7 Advice for Parents: Tapping into the Secret Sauce

The author highlights the rapid change in our society in just one generation. Parents today are facing a unique generational conundrum, i.e., there is a disconnect between our experience of growing up as a child and that of our children who are growing up now.

Therefore, parents should be cautious not to project their own life experiences onto their children, because what worked for us won't necessarily work for our children.

The room to experiment

The best gift a parent can give to their child is room (time) to experiment. Help your child in cultivating a dynamic growth mindset from a young age, which will be critical to their long-term success.

They are different from you

As digital natives today's children have been shaped by a completely different world than you had. As parents, we need to acknowledge and learn about these differences in order for our guidance to be relevant and effective.

The Deloitte 2021 millennial and Gen Z survey found that among young people in India, personal beliefs (ethics based work) are more influential over the kinds of careers they choose [72% millennials and 66% Gen Z) than the global average break 44% millennials and 49% Gen Z). Mental Health is also an emerging value among younger generation.

Help them figure out what they love

The best role you can play as a parent is to help them discover themselves, gradually and without any pressure to figure it out quickly. Parents should avoid becoming overly concerned with grades. Grades, are important, especially if you want to get into a good school. It's just that you shouldn't think that just getting good grades will ensure you a successful future. Rather, having a well-rounded base of experiences and skills to draw from will serve you better in the long run. Encourage them to take up hobbies, help them to take up internships for gaining real world experience and parents should do their best to learn about how the world is changing.

Prepare them, don't instruct them

Srikanth Shastri, one of the interviewee, calls this approach to parenting as ‘guidance with the light touch’. He believes the best advice focuses on the process of making decisions rather than the decisions themselves. He advocates of teaching young people how to approach the decision in their life that is how to break it down into its component parts, how to weigh the pros and cons, how to think through all the potential outcomes and how to ask all the right questions. In short, teach children how to think, and not what to think.

Ofcourse parenting has to be sometimes heavy-handed and prescriptive but these should be reserved only for instances when the mistakes are of a catastrophic nature.

Building Agility and Resilience

In a rapidly changing world, where change is the only constant, young people need to be made comfortable to embrace this brave new world. Agility and Resilience are two qualities today’s children need to inculcate, to thrive in this new world.

Expose your children to diversity (new skills, new experiences, new environments, new scenarios) so that it develops adaptability and agility in them in due course of time. In-short as parents help to diversify your child's toolkit so that they have many more skills and experiences to draw upon in their future.

As parents, give your child the opportunity to fail, especially early in their lives. As parents we first  need to overcome our own fear of failure. Parents who exhibit this in their own life will be a learning model for their own children (learning by observing/role model). Secondly, encourage your child to take up challenging assignments so that they can taste disappointment that comes with failure and learn why they failed and learn how to bounce back e.g. try learning a musical instrument, try learning a foreign language, apply for a challenging school, take up sports etc.

As parents, we can provide our children a safe space, a safety net, so that they can experiment with their life, learn to fail in a safe environment and eventually build agility and resilience for the long run.

The Secret Sauce

“Parents can instill in their children the values that help them to succeed, but do it in a manner that doesn't project their own worldview, which was shaped in a different era.” – Monica Hariharan

According to Monica, the secret sauce for everyone looking to succeed in today's world is to take all of those deeper values and find new ways to express them.

The author sums it up by stating, this secret sauce is infact the age old ethical template defined by hard work, excellence, rigorous thinking, dependability, resilience and adaptability. The key for parents today is to give their children this template without being too prescriptive in how to apply it.

Conclusion unlocking a Growth Mindset

The author connects Growth Mindset (by Psychology Professor Carol Dweck) with Marc Randolph (co-founder of Netflix) 2022 commencement speech at Cape Cod Community College in Massachusetts.

Marc says, “follow your dreams” might be the worst thing to tell young people. He continues, the advice perse is not bad, but no one tells you ‘HOW’.

He advocates that young people should ‘Stop Thinking and Start Doing’. He believes it's more crucial to learn how to execute your goals so that when you do discover your dreams, whatever that may be, you will be in a position to practically make them come true.

The author states instead of telling people to follow your dreams we should say discover your dreams. Which means your dreams are in some fixed entities rather they are dynamic and changing. They are something to be discovered through the process of your own career journey. Discovering your dreams requires experimentation. It requires throwing yourself into new situations and over time, figuring out what you are best at and what gives you the most sense of fulfillment. In other words, it’s about inculcating a growth mindset.

A growth mindset propels us and makes us break away from stagnation of fixed mindset. It makes us a person who is ‘work in progress’, who can learn new skills, gain new knowledge, continue self-discovery, explore new opportunities and continue to pivot through their lifelong journey.

Pramath Raj Sinha (image courtesy - Harappa Education)

The author Pramath Raj Sinha, concludes in his own unique style – “I want to leave you with a nugget of wisdom. As you peer into your career, whether it be from the vantage point of a high school student, a college graduate, or a mid-career professional, it's imperative to do so with patience and curiosity. Don't fall victim to the pressure from your own peers or teachers or family or society to prematurely figure it all out. If you're not certain about what you want to do with your life, that's OK. The world isn't certain. So how could you be? As you take the next step in your career journey, try to see it as a learning opportunity. And one day, you’ll look back, connect the dots of your squiggly career and will be amazed at how much you’ve achieved.” 


I highly recommend checking out the book 'credit' by Pramath Raj Sinha and published by Penguin Publication. This book summary is intended for educational purposes to spread the ideas and knowledge presented in the book. However, I strongly suggest getting an in-depth reading and gaining deeper insights by purchasing the book. It's definitely worth it! 



Sunday, July 25, 2021

Book Insights 1/3- THE SQUIGGLY CAREER by Helen Tupper & Sarah Ellis

It has been a while I have been contemplating with the idea of writing book summaries. Given the time constraints we all have, book summaries serve as a valuable resource as you can pick the key takeaways and learnings in couple of minutes of your reading. 

This blog is a only a summary note of the book and does not capture the full content and all the details. 
This blog is written for academic purpose, please do provide citation to the book The Squiggly Career, Authors - Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis, Publisher - Penguin Random House, UK.

I encourage the readers to buy the book for a detailed reading. 
It's available on Amazon: 

This book summary is of THE SQUIGGLY CAREER, authors – Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis, published by Penguin Random House UK, which I read (rather listened to it on Audible).

There are total of eight chapters in the book.

·       Welcome to Your Squiggly Career

·       Chapter 1: The Squiggly Career

·       Chapter 2: Super Strengths

·       Chapter 3: Values

·       Chapter 4: Confidence

·       Chapter 5: Networks

·       Squiggly Careers Summaries

·       Chapter 6: Future Possibilities

·       Chapter 7: Squiggly Career Conundrums

·       Chapter 8: 100 Pieces of Career Advices

Welcome to Your Squiggly Career Summary

Today’s careers are no more like Staircase/Ladders, rather they are Spaghetti like Squiggly Careers.

The five career skills required in this modern world of work are:

1.      Super strengths (things you are great at and applying these at work)

2.      Values (What motivates and drives you?)

3.      Confidence (Belief in yourself, build your resilience and support system)

4.      Networks (People help people, build a network based on giving)

5.      Future possibilities (Career plans are things of the past, explore the possibilities and take control)

Chapter1: The Squiggly Career (Summary)

1.      The career ladder analogy has lost it’s usefulness for describing today’s career.

2.      The Who, What, When, Why and Where of Work are all changing simultaneously.

3.      No size fits all approach to career development has become irrelevant and impossible.

4.      No one cares about your career as much as you do. Self-reflection, Self-awareness and Continuous Learning is a must-do and not nice thing to do.

5.      JD (job description) is no more stagnant in today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) work environment.

6.      Rethink on your relationship with learning. Identify yourself  as a learner than being a knower.   

7.      9 am to 5 pm schedule is fast disappearing.

8.      Design your own operating system.

9.      Understanding your Why of work will improve your decision making at work and make you feel fulfilled at work.

10.   Five skills which will make you succeed: Super strengths, Values, Confidence, Networks and Future possibilities.


Chapter 2: Super strengths (Summary)

1.      Strengths are the things you are good at. Super strengths are the things you are brilliant at.

2.      Spent 80% of your time focusing on your strengths stronger and 20% of your time in mitigating any specific weaknesses relevant to your job.

3.      Strengths are the combination of your natural talents and learned experiences.

4.      Natural talents are what you are good at. We often underestimate them and the positive impact it has on work.

5.      Ask your colleague/friends/family for three words that describe you (feedback).

6.      Your learned strengths are combination of your work, knowledge, expertise and behaviour.

7.      You can find and evaluate your own super strengths vs strengths by four criteria success, frequency, openness and happiness.

8.      Know what you want people to say about you when you are not in the room.

9.      Ask for strength based feedback – e.g. can you tell me when I was in my best this week?

10.   Take practical action to ensure your strengths are visible and stands out. E.g. Job crafting, taking special projects, team-based strength identification, online presence.


Chapter 3: Values (Summary)

1.      Values makes you YOU. It motivates and drives you.

2.      Values are formed in three phases: spongy, copycat and rebel. They are fully established by the time you reach your early 20’s.

3.      Knowing your values helps you in three ways: a. Knowing your values at work, b. Using empathy and c. Using values as a career compass to make better decisions.

4.      You have 3 to 5 core values which are your strongest motivator, which are ultimately most important to you.

5.      You have a set of value which effects your work and personal life. Values are not for value judgement.

6.      Values can positively and negatively affect you. Hence knowing and making use of values positively will have a productive impact in your career.

7.      Careers must have and must not give clues to your values.

8.      Defining what your values means to you, will help you share them with other people at work.

9.      Understanding others values helps in creating teams with high trust, empathy and where everyone feels comfortable being themselves.

10.   Knowing your values and living them is a work for life. So do revisit them regularly.


Chapter 4: Confidence (Summary)

1.      Confidence is a skill. It can be learned, practiced and improved.

2.      Confidence gremlins holds you back at work and everyone has them.

3.      Work out  to identify the triggers of your confidence gremlins and when it holds you back.

4.      To test and overcome your confidence gremlins, take small actions.

5.      Reward yourself for taking actions towards your confidence gremlins.

6.      Confidence and success goes hand in hand. More successes you get, the more confidence you build.

7.      The three R of building a success mindset: Recognise, Record and Run your own race.

8.      Build your support system around with people who love you, understand you, challenge you and inspire you.

9.      Use confidence boosters to calm yourself down in tense moments.

10.   Our top three confidence boosters are: Watch your words, Be in your body and Practice makes perfect. 


Chapter 5: Networks (Summary)

1.      Networking is people helping people.

2.      In a Squiggly career, your network helps you to develop meaningful relationship, gain access to diverse perspective and build your brand.

3.      Everyone can build a network, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. Best relationships are build with authenticity and which is right for you.

4.      To build a brilliant network you need three Ds: to be Discerning, to be Deliberate  and to be Diverse in your approach.

5.      Access the strengths and gaps in your networks by identifying the network you have which supports your current role, future possibilities and personal development.

6.      The best network is build on what you can give, without expectations of immediate gain.

7.      To identify what you can give to a network, start with your strengths and passion and how these can be helpful to other people.

8.      Not everyone will say yes to networking request. So don’t get disheartened and take it personally.

9.      Know what role you are playing in a network: Consumer, Connector, Contributor or Creator.

10.   Developing a network takes time, energy and it is a work in progress.


Chapter 6: Future Possibilities (Summary)

1.      The stage life of education, work and retirement is getting replaced by multi-stage, multi-transitional squiggly career.

2.      Ditch your career plan in favour of exploring future possibilities.

3.      Define your obvious, ambitious, dreams and pivot possibilities.

4.      For discovering a future possibility, be specific what you need to know and who can help you.

5.      Future possibilities focus on your What and career vision focuses on your Why.

6.      Use a vision board (manifesto) to point out what is important for you.

7.      Treat yourself as work in progress to future proof your future career.

8.      People with high CQ (Curiosity Quotient) are better placed to work effectively in ambiguity and uncertainty.

9.      Feedback should be regular.

10.   Grit is more important than talent as an indicator for success.


Chapter 7: Squiggly Career Conundrums (Summary)

Seven common career conundrums:

1.      Should I start a side project?

2.      How do I find a mentor.

3.      What should I do if my organization does not invest in training?

4.      How do I achieve work-life balance?

5.      Should I stay? Or should I go?

6.      How do I build my personal brand?

7.      How can I be a leader, when I don’t have a team?

Should I start a side project?

Starting side projects is becoming mainstream.

Side projects can be related to your passion (hobby), problem solving (unmet needs), or idea testing side project (pilot).

Tips for starting your side projects:

·        Start your side project and don’t wait for perfection.

·        Collaborate with others on your side project.

·        Share your side projects with many others.

·        Learn and leap-frog.

·        Have fun.

One book to read: Do Fly: Find Your Way. Make a Living. Be Your Best Self – Gavin Strange.

One video to watch: Don’t Complain, Create – Tina Roth Eisenberg.

How do I find a mentor?

Don’t limit yourself to one type of mentor (e.g. seniority). Find mentors based on their expertise and not on their age.

Mentoring relationship can be short term or long term, depending on the career needs.

Become a mentor yourself.

While reaching out for mentoring, don’t make it too formal. You can request for informal conversation time on specific areas where you are looking for advice.

It’s not necessary to know all your mentors personally. You can learn from distant learning mentors.

Three self-reflection questions before seeking for a mentor: What do I want to learn and why? Whom I already know who can help me learn what I want to learn or can get me connected to someone? How can I ask for mentoring in a way which is interesting and meaningful to me.

One book to read: Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast Track Your Career. – Sylvia Ann Hewlett

One video to watch: The secret to great opportunities? Tanya Menon

What should I do if my organization does not invest in training?

Take ownership of your own career development.

Apply for grants for funding your own learning, Seek support from your manager/organization (flexibility in time for pursuing learning).

Create your own curriculum from MOOCs.

Create your own learning style and learning community.

Be a learning advocate.

 One book to read: Mindset: Changing The Way You Think – Carol S. Dweck

One video (YouTube channel) to watch:

How do I achieve work-life balance?

What balance means to you, requires self-reflection.

Consider Work Life Integration.

Focus on two inter-related aspects: Feelings and Choices.

Strive to have some control on the time you spend and make conscious choices and decisions.

Choices to make: Get good sleep (7-8 hours), Do exercise, Take a break (have a downtime), Turn off notifications and stop overuse of technology, Make a friend, Don’t be apologetic/guilty.

One book to read: Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder – Arianna Huffington.

One video to watch: How to Gain Control of Your Free Time? Laura Vanderkam

 Should I stay? Or should I go?

Are you Happy? And Are you Learning? (your answer should be yes)

What’s the job after the next job? (think new possibilities, take your time and don’t feel pressurized to take up a role if it does not suit you).

Apply your strengths and your values at work.

Enjoy the journey rather than the destination. (in squiggly career destination is unclear)

Work on improving your working relationship with your manager.

Consider are you running from something in your old role? (if you are running away from something it will impact your quality of decision) Or Are you drawn towards something in your new role? (positive drive will have a long term positive impact).

One book to read: The Start of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career – Reid Hoffman

One video to watch: Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career Larry Smith Ted Talk

How do I build my personal brand?

Build your authentic personal brand so that interesting opportunities and possibilities come to you.

Make your brand visible.

Five personal brand principles: Start with your strengths and values, Being mindful your personal brand is everywhere, Make a positive Impact, Win-win: your personal brand should benefit you and your organization, Invest your time and energy in building your personal brand.

One book to read: The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Story Telling – Annette Simmons

One video to watch: How to Build Your Personal Brand

How can I be a leader, when I don’t have a team?

Time is changing. Organizations are adopting more agile ways of working and are looking outcomes rather than functioning out of organizational chart.

Many organizations are experimenting with Holacracy (a method of decentralized management and organizational governance. Self-governance by team themselves).  (Look up

Successful Leaders have the following qualities in common: Good listener, Self-aware, Stay Curious, Ability to Influence and Persuade others, Invest in self-learning and developing others.

Think laterally.

Lateral leadership ideas – Volunteer yourself, Take up a problem to solve, Become a Mentor, Look for opportunities for gaining exposure to leadership activities, Focus on your strengths and lateral leadership experiences.

One book to read: Why Should Anyone Be Led By You? Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones

Chapter 8: 100 Pieces of Career Advice (Summary)

This chapter has 100 career advices from people who have inspired the authors in their career journey.

Learning Resources from Squiggly Careers authors:

Visit Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis website: Amazing If

Tune into Squiggly Careers Podcast


Happy Learning by reading, watching and listening! 

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