/ leadership

Investing in your career and building your brand

In over a decade and half of my career, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of products and programs that I am passionate about. Carefully navigating my career, scrutinizing opportunities at intricate depths and following certain guiding principles has helped me be phenomenally successful At least it's what I like to believe :-)! I get emails for all kinds of advise on leadership, career management, resume building, creating an impact etc. The list is pretty long, however one of the frequently occurring one is about - how can I be successful as you are and what should I do to build my brand and take off my career.

In this article, I describe some of the principles, philosophies and tenets I have followed and taught my teams, so that you can be as successful as I am. It will provide you with ideas on how to own your career, build your brand while doing what you love doing.

Take ownership of your career

The first step to building your brand and picking a fulfilling career is to figure out what you want. I share a framework you can use to figure out what you want in another article. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have done that, it is time to find products, projects and challenges that provide you the opportunity to exercise what you want every day. If that isn't happening, pick another job keep looking.

Do your current job really well

Ever noticed what happens to milk when you whip it enough? That's right, the cream rises to the top. What I am saying is, if you do your current job really really well, then just like the cream, you will naturally rise. The only way to become an expert, get known and be sought after, is to do your current job extremely well. If you want a bigger job, make your current job bigger.

Have a bias towards action / solution mindset

How many times do you see a problem and:

a) complain about it
b) do nothing to fix it
c) tell others about the same problem

... and this cycle continues till the time every person in your vicinity has become an avid complainer.

Change that today. Seriously!

A tell tale sign of great leaders and engineers is that they never complain. So if you see a problem, don't bitch about it, fix it. If you cannot fix it, find the people who can. If the people who can fix it, don't have the time, give them the solution to it or collaborate with them to put it to bed. Key is, leave it better than you found it!

It will not only help you enhance your knowledge but also help you build a meaningful network and relationships. Remember, it is totally possible that, your next big opportunity could be coming from these networks or teams.

One of the things you will begin to realize is that, if you are fixing a problem that exists, no one will ever stop you.

I personally always tell all my bosses - I will not come to you with problems, I will fix them. The buck stops at me. Period. Once you have this mindset, nothing will get in your way in being successful at your current gig.

Be resilient

A lot of times in my career, I have seen that people get affected by change, things that they cannot control. Make it your DNA that change is inevitable; People change, organizations change, leadership changes, projects and products change. What does not change is, You and the value you bring to the table (your awesomeness). You are the only constant in your career. So make yourself resilient. And, if all this while you have been doing your current job extremely well, you will rise! I promise.

You have unrestrained access to any level of leadership

Gone are the days when top down hierarchical leadership was prevalent. Organizations that do, miserably fail. So, do not hesitate to reach out to any level of your leadership within your company for sharing ideas, building relations, seeking mentorship or occasional wisdom. Just be deliberate and careful about not wasting people's time.

Carefully pick your mentors

As you seek, find people who you can trust and those who believe in your and your abilities. I have been fortunate enough to have some of the best of the best in the industry mentors, who have really helped me finesse myself and build the trajectory for my career. Obviously, a major portion of it comes from you and what you value in your professional career. Mentors are there to help you clear your mind, provide meaningful advise and in many cases actually provide you your next big opportunity.

No article that I write, can ever go without naming some of my mentors because they are the reason for the successes I have enjoyed, so here they are: John Weir, Rohan Amin, Analisa Allen, Russ Cassar, Subhadaa Reddimasi, Eric-Andre Vigroux, Sirisha Voruganti, Colin Heilman, Scott Gilliland, Kenneth Brooks, Ian Miller, Jorge Vargas, Richard Hall, Steven Davis, Sriram Belur, Aditya Joshi & Bhushan Pingale.

Explore your organization and programs it offers

Almost every organization offers some form of continuous learning and leadership development program(s). Explore them and participate in them. For example, J.P.Morgan Chase offered the following programs geared towards developing specific skills and areas:

  1. Leadership edge for building leaders in every employee of the company
  2. Expert Engineers program for high performance technologists
  3. Distinguished engineers program
  4. VP Academy for diverse talent
  5. Pluralsight
  6. OReilly
  7. Resource centers

and more. Organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in these programs so that employees can take advantage of them. The firm benefits by building a workforce of impactful leaders and you benefit from continuous learning and improvement.

Change is only possible when you internalize and exercise your principles every single day.

Now that you have known these ideas, what are you going to do? How are you going to change your career? I would love to know. Shoot me a note at [ashish]at[ashishdesai]dot[rocks].

In the next installment, I'll show you how to use the Venn diagram of your leadership development.

Let me know in the comments, what other leadership advise you would like me to write about. Always, looking for ideas.