Friday, November 8, 2013

Of Meaningful Chats and Meteoric Careers

He was a maverick. Correction, he is a maverick! Let us call him M. He was a successful sales guy working in a mid-sized IT company. One day, he put down his papers. Said he was getting a much better offer, big fat ESOP and a salary about 3 times his current pay, from an MNC. His CEO, a rock star himself, tried his best to retain him, of no avail. Per process, he had to meet the HR head, a fairly new man in the firm. Everyone was resigned to his resignation.

The HR head knew it was an uphill task trying to reason against a compelling offer. He knew that he was looking at a very talented man, an engineer he did not want to lose. But it looked hopeless. And as all things bright and beautiful, it all starts with a chat.

A dialogue is a difficult thing and this was a crucial conversation. He decided to start with the heart. For, the heart is where life begins and ends anyway. He asked M to speak of what he wanted – not from the head but from his heart - what he valued, what he wanted of life, and where he wanted to reach. He gently added that he had all the time in the world to help him make the right choice. He said he wanted M to succeed in his life and that was all he cared about. And he meant it. You will be surprised how opportunities spring when you keep a willing heart and an open mind, he said.

M spoke about his family, his parents, and wafted into a dream-world of aspirations. It is magical to listen to someone who had so much to ask of life. The HR guy was now even more interested in making sure he supported M. ‘I can help you change the course of your destiny, far beyond your aspirations. And I need 2 years of your life’, he added. M said, he would think it over.

One of the best ways to influence someone is to just listen to them – with care. Helplessness is a stage of inaction of a weak mind and actions abound for the brave heart. M’s strengths and his aspirations were weighed for that day against the potential of the future. M was told he would make a good HR professional and that he would invest in his development, personally. M took a day to agree. The HR guy pressed on ‘ Hey, what about that company’s ‘offer one could never refuse?’ M smiled and said – I just did !

Things happened in a whir. In six months he got seconded to the US office. One day, he called his leader and said he was getting bored. Not unexpected, of course! Another of those conversations – M was told ¬ to get an education, at London School of Economics no less, and added that he would provide all the testimonials he needed. That would be easy to write, was the thoughtful encouragement.

Rise he did, he would. Meteoric it was, of course. M put in hard work, kept an open mind, directed energies to build a career of choice. “Each one has ¬ the edge. The talent edge. Just keep at it, hone it, feed it with a spot of education and a dollop of ‘can-do’ attitude. And smile a lot,” M said. Make bold moves with confidence. Really bold. Ah, the power of a meaningful conversation. The significant changes it brings.

Oh, I forgot to mention, M is the HR Director for a fantastic firm in the social media world. Works out of Singapore. The gracious M never forgot that HR chap.