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Archive for May 15th, 2008

Well, Sunday Mid-day is not going to do it…so I might as well post what i had written. Here goes…

I am what you might call a professional nomad having changed six jobs in as many years. What’s strange about that, you might ask. Lots of people do that.  Yes, they do. But do they also switch careers as many times?

 

You see, in my smallish career span, I have jumped from investment banking to publishing, to multimedia, back to investment banking, to investment banking yet again, back to multimedia, on to adventure sports and now writing; much to the horror of my career army officer father.

 

While he understood and even approved of jumping jobs (he had read reports about young professionals switching jobs frequently and at double the pay) he couldn’t understand this need to change careers quite so often. “All you’re ending with up is a checkered career,” he finally exclaimed in exasperation, when I announced that I’d found a job in multimedia, having finished with investment banking and publishing. “What is it that you want?”

 

That was an interesting question and forced me to think about what it was that I actually wanted. So I pondered and arrived at the conclusion that what I craved most was excitement.

 

“Excitement!” he snorted. “Whoever thought work was exciting? That’s for leisure.” Easy for him to say. After all, he was doing fun things like flying choppers to exotic places for work!

 

But his attitude sums up what people felt about their careers at that time. A career was like a marriage. How could I, then, explain to him that for me a job/career was like a lover. The moment the adrenaline rush stopped, the affair was over.

 

Having said that, I did try and take his advice and stick to a career in investment banking, leaving excitement for my vacations. I took up a job as an equities analyst. But then my boss and I had a difference of opinion over estimates.  I felt I needed a break at least twice a year while he felt once every two years was enough. I finally threatened to quit if he didn’t agree. Either I overestimated my value to the company or he underestimated it, but he called my bluff. So I had no choice but to book my tickets to Uttarkashi and bow out gracefully, philosophizing, “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” Him, not me, sillies.

 

Rejuvenated from my mountaineering trip, I moved into another job in investment banking. Fortunately my new boss had a better opinion of me and put me in a dealing room in front of a trading terminal. There I got excitement all right – everyone talking on multiple phones with yet more ringing, yelling and screaming as though the Titanic were sinking. In fact, there was so much excitement, that I needed a week’s restful vacation every now and then lest I suffered a breakdown.

 

But while in my previous job my boss wouldn’t give me leave, here no one took leave for fear of the other salesperson pinching his clients while he was gone! Where’s the fun in a vacation if you constantly have to be on your Blackberry? To make matters worse, phone companies were threatening to provide full network even atop Mount Everest!

 

You know what they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. So I reverted to my former fickle self and switched back to multimedia. The only thing I acquired on the job, apart from a crick in the neck (on account of carrying a heavy laptop across town for presentations), was an employee of the month award. Talk about being a winner and loser at the same time. Matters reached a head when I found myself falling asleep during a presentation – mine.

 

Then I had another epiphany. Adventure sports. I thought to myself, all I’ve ever wanted is excitement so why not just take a job that is like being on a perpetual vacation? And it was like being on an extended leave – unpaid. I quit when I found myself fruitlessly trying to reconcile my net income with my gross habits.

 

A chance encounter with a media friend led to my new career, writing. And I’ve never looked back since. I’ve had more fun in the six years I’ve been a professional writer than I’ve had in my entire life. Someone once asked me, why writing? To which I replied, I’m going blind into each day. I don’t know which world I will be in or whacky characters I’ll meet. Now if that’s not excitement, what is? And without having to leave my living room!

 

The bottomline is, and Andrew Carnegie puts it eloquently, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” Someone more famous than me said it so it must be right, right?

 

 

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