Beware-Right occupation does not guarantee commercial success.

February 2, 2008

The objective of this Blog was to create an awareness of the significance of hobbies or interest or passion in one’s life. Two of the best quotes that I have come across in this context and mentioned in my articles- a hobby is more a measure of a man than his profession is and the luckiest man is the person whose hobby and profession are the same. We take hobbies to be a sort of side- activity but in many cases it turns out to be the main acitivity. When I did my management diploma course in August 1991, we were taught self actualization according to which after the basic needs of food, shelter, cothing one aspired for social affiliation and security and self actualization which implied achieving one’s potential and getting recognition for the same. The way it turned out to be in real life at least for me was drastically different from what was taught to us. When I pointed this out to one of the professors who had taught me, he got back to me after one month and requested me to address the students in their newsletter which is represented in the blog by the article “ Guidance to Management students”

All hobbies cannot become professions is an obvious fact for the simple reason that all acitivites do not pay well. The best example which I have mentioned in one of my published articles is that of an American Entreupreneur, who, when asked how he had the guts to leave a six figure salary simply replied “such decisions can only be made if the personal profile, the business profile, and the market profile match”. Not to give importance to money would be equally foolish and unnaturally idealistic.
For most people, emotional fulfillment alongwith financial security can only be a long term objective.

Some people may be lucky to find their vocation at a young age- it may or may not be paying. If it is paying, that would be doubly lucky.

Some people may not be extreme misfits and therefore may not mind being in the wrong occupation if it pays well.

Some people may not give too much importance to job satisfaction and personal fulfillment.- Some housewives for instance who believe in giving equal or more emphasis to their family.

Some people may lead a double life and follow both profession and hobby as former Lintas Chairman, Mr Alyque Padamsee.

Some people may have to rot in the wrong profession throughout life in which case apart from Yoga, they should do Zen meditation and read my article on Making the best of a bad career situation-
Even if you are able to follow your paying passion at an early age, nobody can guarantee commercial success which is why one should also plan for an alternative career. The objective of this blog is mearly to create awareness of the significance of this problem and not to undermine formal education.


Ta Ra Rum pum- Taxi Drivers and Dreams

May 18, 2007

In the context of choosing one’s career it is often said “Choose your career not on the basis of what you know but who you are” . Motivation speakers often exhort to “Follow your heart/dream”. I read in a book how artists live a lifetime of penury , actors take rejection after rejection, animal lovers put up with apalling work conditions- all for the love of their professions

In that context, in the movie Ta Ra Rum Pum, actor Javed Jaffrey mentions in the beginning how people follow their heart, their dreams but when they get broken, they become taxi-drivers to support themselves (in New York as mentioned in the movie). The lead actor, Saif Ali Khan when reduced to penury from being a car racer also has to turn to the taxi to support himself.

This reminded me of an article that appeared in the Times of India two three years ago which stated how a child psychologist whose passion was driving, actually turned to the taxi to support his dream instead of the broken dream as stated in the movie. It sounds quite unbelievable but is true:-

“Driven by Passion” by lov Verma

“Kenny was his name. A genial six footer, African American. He was invariably dressed in a black overcoat and a black and white patterned muffler. A rich and resonant southern drawl which could give the Big B a run for his money, completed the picture. He looked like a kindly college professor but I was in for a shock when he introduced himself. “Hi! I am your driver around Washington DC” he grinned. His eyes twinkled, “I shall be your friend, philosopher and guide”.

Unwittingly, Kenny was of great help to me one evening. The wife with a knowing gleam in her eye, suggested a shopping expedition. This was going to burn a nice deep hole in the pocket. In the interest of marital peace, I put on a brave face and summoned Kenny. The man , blessed his soul, drove us down to the true value chain of shops, owned and managed by –you guessed it- blacks. The prices suited my pocket and I came away beaming. The wife, meanwhile is still wondering why people rave about Washington’s shopping malls.

It took an ankle sprain for me to get to know Kenny more intimately. While my friends hit the Washington Museum trail, I hobbled back to the car where Kenny was snoring. He awoke soon enough and seemed ready to chat. “Tell me something about your life ,Kenny”, I urged.

Well, he responded,” You may find it somewhat difficult to believe but I was a professor of child psychology for ten years, then I got kind of bored with it. So I thought “Why not give my childhood passion, driving, a try and now here I am, doing what I love, for the last fifteen years.”

I gaped “ Was it not a huge climb-down in terms of status and all?”

“Of, course it was, “Kenny grinned. “Lots of raised eyebrows but I have always felt that one must do what one must do, what one enjoys and believes in. The world can go to blazes for all I care. “

By the time Kenny drove us to New York and finally left, I could not but reflect that he had taught me some great lessons about life. ”


I personally feel that the lesson learnt is that no work is superior or inferior but it is the spirit with which you carry it out that matters. There is a saying “It is a man who dignifies a job and not a job that dignifies a man” which is amply proved by the story. It reminded me of a chance meeting with a bus conductor in my conducted tour on my trip to Singapore last year. He was speaking very good English and his presentation was too good to be true. I was prompted to query his background. He replied that he was a retired bureaucrat but did the job because he liked it and was proud to be from Singapore.

Since the writer has referred to the Big B or our super dignified superstar, Mr Amitabh Bachchan who himself left the corporate world to pursue his passion, acting the result is there for all to see. In an interview he mentioned the secret of his success” I was able to decide correctly early in life that I wanted to become an actor. I have come across several people in my life who do not know what to do with themselves”. Everybody cannot be a mega success like him but being able to spend a majority of your waking hours in the right occupation is a dream by itself:-

“The person who has found his vocation in life is a blessed human being. Let him ask for no other blessedness”- Thomas Carlyle.

Real life stories of people who made their passions their professions.

October 21, 2006

Among all the American consultants that I have mentioned in my links, previous posts and articles. I have found both the life story and work of Craig Nathanson the most inspiring. Co-sufferers have defined the wrong occupation as “spiritual suicide” and “lifetime imprisonment”. Craig, more than anybody else has made the career transition process(studies show that it can take anything between three to five years)seem smoother if not easier.

Among the numerous comments to my previous posts that I have recd so far, I don’t recall reading a single optimistic comment regarding career transition’s feasibility is . Most people say that they agree with me but beyond a stage, compromise becomes inevitable.

I have always been of the view that career consultants are happiness counsellors since a majority of time is spent at work. I feel that Craig, more than anybody else lives upto that description. He has also been kind enough to share the inspiring stories of many of his clients. Before we proceed to that, let’s have his life story from the great man himself (extract from his webstie):-

“After 25 years in Corporate America being good at what I did, but never liking it, I walked away. I walked away from faceless products, faceless bosses and pointless meetings. Over the next 4 years, I pursued my life’s passion — helping others of my age find the will and the strength to pursue their own passions. This change has given me peace and joy because I am now living my life with authenticity and integrity, and I am now being true to who I really am. But this change did not come without a price.I had to give up my million dollar house and I ended up in bankruptcy. The best I could afford was a 400 square foot, one bedroom apartment. Living an authentic life also meant that I could no longer stay in my lifeless and abusive marriage. As you can imagine, this was a very difficult time and there were days I wasn’t sure that I would be able to feed my kids. I remember once trying to find a pawn shop to sell my wedding ring to buy food. But we grew closer as a family and we had many fun-filled pizza and popcorn nights at home on the floor (no furniture!). Although I didn’t plan for this extreme situation, I did want to teach my kids a lesson about life and authenticity and what it meant to have integrity. Will you go homeless or die?You probably won’t die but you may have to re-define what homeless means. Following your vocational passion is not easy. It may be the hardest thing you will ever do.

I had days with no money, no gas and little food for the kids to eat. Yet somehow, someway, I always managed to come through when it counted.Even as I went through this time of crisis, I wrote and published a book, started a private practice, and started teaching, speaking and creating CDs and other products all targeted at those over 40.

My father’s suicide not long after his retirement just served to strengthen my belief that we all should be doing what we love. If he had found and pursued his life’s passion, perhaps he would still be alive today.One of the things that got me through was my deep belief in my new life mission: that the world would be a better place if we all did what we love.

I second that wholeheartedly since a majority of waking time is spent at work.

The link of the inspiring real life stories that Craig has helped are:-

Real life examples from Craig Nathanson

Craig has also been kind enough to share his numerous stimulating writeups:-

Interesting articles from Craig Nathanson

I have suggested in my previous posts that if the United States has such a serious problem, India with its huge population and lack of resources is bound to be worse. Where are the Craig Nathanson’s of India? For that matter, where are the real life stories of India?
We have had enough of theory and from next post onwards, I am going to try and feature Indian examples. Contributions are welcome.

The Students “Aspire”, should the rest perspire ?

February 24, 2006

India today magazine  has come out with a new magazine called Aspire with the purpose of guiding students in their choice of careers. It is a much needed handsome initiative. I had already subscribed to the main magazine for 10 years a few years ago and have not been disappointed. What was disappointing however was their attitude when I met a young lady at India today’s editorial office who informed me quite curtly that India today does not accept articles from outsiders. I found that attitude a little out of synch with today’s world if not a little snobbish.

Today , we are in the era of interactive media. Television is pulling out all stops to make TV more interactive than ever before. In more and more programs, priority is given to audience preferences because nobody can be absolutely sure what the audience will accept or reject.. Even well established film producers concede the fact. That apart, I feel that a magazine can be enriched by the real life experiences of people which can also enable other people to learn.

Coming to the main point now. Its all right to guide the students but what about the people who are trapped in the wrong jobs?. I read an American article recently which stated that a survey indicated that as many as 87% people hated their daily jobs. The incidence of heart attacks too wason Monday mornings. I have heard this 80% bit several times i.e 80% of the people are stuck in the wrong jobs and stuff like that. Considering the fact that work occupies most of our waking hours, if 80 percent of the people are miserable 80 percent of the time, isn’t that life a kind of mental Aids or mental Cancer? What kind of life is this? Should they rot for the rest of their lives because they made a wrong decision once ?

In the book “Karma, Destiny and Career” , author Jenette Hucknall  states that some people in the United States have to go back to school after they choose a wrong career. Except for high-tech issues like surgery or piloting, I feel that that is an impractical solution. The author explains in detail how much family and friends suffer because of this shifting of careers and how much adjustment it entails on behalf of the individual and his family. Would not quick, short term courses be a more practical solution. If somebody has the talent for something, he or she requires only fine tuning and not blind thrusting of knowledge.

The problem is that what you are really suited for is determined only after actually attempting different kinds of work in the practical world. To some lucky people, it can be at first attempt. Otherwise even a lifetime is not enough. No wonder Thomas Carlyle said “ The person who has found his vocation in life is a blessed human being. Let him ask for no other blessedness” .

If the real life stories of such people were told in detail, the students would understand the implications of choosing a wrong career. I have stated earlier that despite reading in Dale Carnegie’s books in which sufficient warning was given, I still went the wrong way because of strong pre conceived notions about money and qualifications and suffered profusely. What is needed is depth understanding (the deeper the water, the calmer the surface, still waters run deep etc) and that can be provided only by real life stories.

That apart, in the last three years, I have come across so many websites and books written by Americans(displayed on the links on the right) that I wonder how grave the situation in India must be with its huge population. Some American experts have conceded that it can sometimes take years to determine what exactly you are suited for by going through various parameters such as hobbies, social work preferences, work ambience etc etc and not qualifications or knowledge alone.

The only really good  Indian book I have come across on the subject is by former billiards World champion Geet Sethi’s “Success v/s Joy” . It is a wonderful book, a fact conceded by no less than Superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

A day after I wrote this, I came across this interesting article in the times of India

Do the students lack skill sets or something more profound-who educates the educationists?

January 31, 2006

The lead story of Sunday times of India of January 29 , “ Hiring headache for corporates-firms ,colleges tie up to tackle skill deficit” . In the editorial that follows “The great Indian talent hunt” some excerpts

“In absolute numbers, the workforce pool may look impressive but only 20% of this is good enough for India Inc. After the top few educational institutions, the quality drops sharply.” –Kiran Karnik, President, Nasscom.

“The 1400 engineering colleges in the country produce 4.5 lakh graduates annually . But since world class talent is limited to only about 20000-40000 graduates, there is stiff competition for this pool”- MS Krshnamoorthy.

In another article “A matter of degree? Not quite”, it is stated how courses are refurbished to meet the demands of the industry and make the graduates employable.

Here too the focus seems to be more on the courses than the individual concerned. As given in one of the links on this blog, many students after passing out discover that they simply do not have the mindset for the job or their heart lies somewhere else. Since one has to work for 10-12 hours daily, it implies half of life and if that is spent in an occupation not of one’s liking, it can truly be a life of frustration and misery as one human resources professional pointed out. It is not for nothing that it is said that choose your career not on the basis of what you know but who you are. That also depends on where the heart lies and whether that passion pays of commercially as well; so it could be a combination of both head and heart. In the book “Karma, Destiny and Career”, the author describes how people in United states go back to school after discovering that they are in the wrong profession and how it effects their friends and family adversely.Sometimes one can not afford to be even in the wrong sub-occupation as elucidated in another post on this blog.

Issue is “When will the education system be geared to the needs of the individual” as our shastras have the word “Swadharma” and some of our intellectual and spiritual greats- Osho, Krishnamurthy, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekanand have spoken of the right vocation for the right man. The focus has to be on the individual; not a degree or a course alone. Even the caste system was originally conceptualised on the basis of qualities of an individual and not birth.

One should at least attempt to ensure that the individual is attempting the right degree instead of acting on some whim or fancy or peer pressure or false lure of money or qualification. A stitch in time saves nine and it would be good both for the student and the organization he works for.

Can any student/others even afford to be in the wrong sub-occupation?

January 12, 2006

The stock market has been used to explain this theme.

Mr Parag Parikh, Indian stock market professional says in his latest book that contarary to common perception, speculators in the stock marked could have made more money than long term investors. He says” It is difficult to say which strategy is good and which is bad. It depends upon the individual’s mental attitude, discipline, risk taking ability and patience.”

This clearly shows that in addition to one’s occupation, even the sub-occupation has to be right. These are extracts from three good books of world reknowned traders. The author of the third book, Mr Alexander Elder also happens to be a psychiatrist.:-

By Norman Halett

Every trader (you, included) has his or her own agenda. Only you know what works for you, system-wise and emotion-wise. Trust in your tested trading system.

There are many systems that can generate nice profits over time. To settle on a trading sthat’s right for you: First, you have to believe in the process by which the system generates trades.Does it make SENSE to YOU?

There are plenty of winning trading systems, of all types, that can be very successful.You are more likely to follow your trading signals if the system “agrees with you. You must win the BATTLE WITHIN YOURSELF first, before you can win in the markets

By Van thorpe

Most importantly, you must ask yourself; does the method fit you? Does it fit your personality?

I don’t know many people who have made money consistently following other people’s advise-be it the advice of brokers or investment advisors.

Money is made by developing your own ideas and following a method that is designed to fit you.

People make money in the markets by finding themselves, achieving their potential and getting with tune with the market.

One of the secrets of successful trading is finding a trading system that fits you.

The most important characteristic of all good traders is that they found a system or methodology that was right for them.They need to assess themselves for strengths and weaknesses, for time, resources, capital and skills and for what they are trying to accomplish.

Psychology is the most important(60%), position sizing is the next most important(30 percent) and systems development is the least important(10 percent)

He said that it was ridiculous to assume that any sort of system was possible-instead, it was all about luck and individual psychology.

By Alexander Elder

As an intelligent trader, you must realize that no guru is going to make you rich. You have to work on that yourself.

To be a winner in the market, you must know yourself and act coolly and responsibly.

A trader especially needs to understand how market crowd influence his or her mind.

When you let others influence your trading decisions, you lose your chance of success
You can succeed in trading only when you think and act as an individual.

Conclusion- World famous author Dale Carnegie had said that “Find yourself and be yourself. You can’t be any other person than the one you are in body and mind”

Students, watchout before choosing a job/ Career

October 18, 2005

It is said that choose a career not on the basis of what you know but who you are or rather follow your heart. Studies in USA show that the single biggest factor in business success is passion. It is a foregone conclusion that everyone has to work hard to come up in life. In reality you can work hard consistently all your life on something only if you have a genuine passion for it. The great inventor Thomas Edison had said ,” I never ever worked in my life. It was all fun” despite working 18 hours a day. An American writer had said that hobbies are more a measure of a man than profession is. Other writers have defined wrong occupation as “lifetime imprisonment” and “Spiritual suicide” However one understands the deeper significance of all this only when one suffers in practical life. There is even a site by the name

The second factor after passion is talent. It is true that by and far if we are interested in something, we are likely to have the requisite talent for it but this is not absolutely necessary. Just as one can know whether one is a cricketer only by actually playing cricket, one can know whether one is good or bad at any occupation only by trial and error. Qualifications can prove deceptive. You maybe qualified for something but your real talent may lie somewhere else. If you have the passion but not too much talent, then passion may enable you to surmount the problem.

Volunteer project work– In USA , people actively take up volunteer project work to figure out where their real talent lies. This is important enough to be mentioned separately. Whether or not you are a good organizer or administrator can only be gauged by actually doing those things and observing yourself vis-à-vis those people who are extremely good at those things. In school and college, organizing events is a frivolous activity that is taken into consideration once in a while. However in real life, professional organizers are completely different and just by stuffing one self with knowledge, one cannot become good at practical applications.

The kind of work environment you enjoy can also have a strong bearing to choosing your career. I personally know the son of a very high profile corporate executive taking “river rafting guidance” as a career because he loved being with nature. So one should give a strong weightage on what kind of environment one would like to be in.

The sort of people you like– I had an interesting chat with the son of a businessman who wanted to apprear for the Indian Administrative Service. When I apprised him of how politicians can be and would he like to work under them, he was not so sure. Therefore, one has to take all this also into consideration.

The kind of Technology involved– If you are a technocrat or those tech-heavy types, this would be an important consideration.

Some people choose their career on the social issues they feel strongly about.

Some people decide on their career depending upon their value systems- Love
Wealth , health, success, meaningful work, Intimacy, security etc. What weightage do you assign to each of these will decide what kind of career you should choose. They will naturally not have the same weightage throughout your life.

I am deliberately mentioning knowledge and qualifications last because unless you are among the lucky ones whose qualifications exactly synchronises with what they intend to do, qualifications can prove very deceptive. Einstein had said that Imagination is more important than knowledge. So just because you are stuffed with knowledge on a particular subject does not necessarily mean you can apply it with dexterity. Intelligence lies in application and what value addition you do to that knowledge- not in knowledge per se. summarises it best when they say that:-

(1) It must resonate with your deepest sense of meaning. (2) You must have the talent to be successful at it, perhaps in collaboration with others. (3) It must be needed in the world.