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10 things Generation Y should know

By Abhishek Mande Bhot
Last updated on: January 23, 2015 15:08 IST
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Parag Saigaonkar, author of The Perfect Storm in an interview lists out ten things India's Gen Y should know.

Photograph: Pedro Szekely/Wikimedia Commons

1. This generation will have a roller coaster ride of a lifetime

In the next five to ten years, this generation is about to experience what no other generation before it did.

Not only will there be a number of opportunities, the nature of these opportunities will be exciting.

However choices and variety can lead to confusion.

There will be a lot of expectations from India and this generation and with expectations come responsibilities.

Yes this is India's time and all the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.

We have a stable government and a lot of things are pointing in the right direction.

But I also won't be surprised if we experience a slowdown sooner or later.

We are living in a global economy where shocks in one country's economic system can tend to affect the entire world.

China is slowing down; Europe is going through its share of crisis.

So yes, while we will experience a lot of highs, there will also be some lows and it'll be nothing short of a roller coaster ride!

2. Life is short but careers run long

A lot of young people want to be in the fast lane.

Set up a billion-dollar company by 25, sell it by 26; become a manager by 27, a VP by 31...

And what next?

Careers have a long, long shelf life.

And you cannot treat your career like a 100 metre sprint.

Instead, treat it like a marathon; pace yourself; understand the full course and know that much beyond your line of vision is the finishing line.

Stay on the course regardless of the obstacles and work your way around them.

But given that life is short and the first point above, take some risks and take on new challenges now, e.g. learning a new language, moving to a new city/country, etc.

The investment will pay off.

3. Think of eggs and oranges when making choices

When an egg falls to the ground, it cracks. It cannot be eaten.

When an orange falls, it gets bruised but it is still edible.

While juggling your priorities, think of eggs and oranges:

There are some items on our 'to do' list that can be parked for a while, even though the procrastination may cause some bruised egos, not unlike a fallen orange.

And then there are those things that, if you don't pay immediate and full attention to, will lead to harsh consequences, like the broken eggs.

A successful balancing act requires you to prioritise right, to be able to know which one is the orange and which is the egg.

Juggling cannot be about juggling 'only' eggs or 'only' oranges.

4. Demonstrating situational leadership is more important than chasing titles

This generation will have to get used to what is called situational leadership. In fact I see this demonstrated on campuses all of the time when organising competitions, festivals, etc.

It means leading projects and assignments and seeing them to their logical conclusions. Not worrying about whether you are a 'manager' or not.

As organisations get flatter and decentralised, title differentiation will disappear. The question you would ask yourself is how you could demonstrate leadership on a day to day basis vs waiting for promotions.

When I ask a lot of young people what they see themselves doing in the next five to ten years, several of them tell me the titles they see themselves having on their visiting cards rather than what responsibilities they see themselves taking on.

Instead of chasing titles, demonstrate leadership.

Titles will follow.

5. Make sure you ask career related questions to the right people

Even though we are maturing as an economy, we do not have a lot of mentors and coaches who have been there and done that.

To this day, family and/or extended family play a big role in shaping our decisions.

We are still accustomed to asking parents for career advice.

But what we fail to understand is that more often than not they are simply not equipped to guide us.

So instead of turning to them, look to your teachers, professors, seniors and peers from the same industry, social media site... someone, anyone who is good in your area of interest.

Your parents will not be disappointed. They will appreciate it.

6. There is no alternative to immersing yourself in anything you do

You cannot be on the sidelines anymore.

If you want to get ahead, you quite simply have to immerse yourself in what you're doing. And put in the hard work.

Don't argue the culture, don't question the rules.

Follow every instruction and learn the ropes of the trade.

Assimilate every single thing that your job has to offer.

Because even to re-write the rules, you have to first know them well.

There are no short-cuts and continuing to dip your toes in the water without jumping in is no fun.

7. Be prepared to face failure... sometimes

I don't think this generation has experienced enough failures.

Sure 2008 gave us a glimpse of how things could go bad and spiral out of control, I feel it was just a bump in the road especially in India.

Young Indians have to be prepared to face failure.

They need to be able to deal with getting fired from work or missing out on a promotion or take a personal loss with maturity.

Learning to develop your EQ, Emotional Quotient, will be crucial for this generation. There are not too many classes in college that teach this stuff.

Remember even the most successful entrepreneur has been an unsuccessful entrepreneur.

8. Don't chase work-life balance...

This is the age when work and 'life' are getting more and more intertwined.

Gone are the days when you could shut off after 5.30 or 6 pm and be by yourself.

It is no longer as black and white as that.

Now with technology, work time blends into home time and vice versa.

Don't fight it; let the two things blend.

If you have to, let's say, take calls or complete an assignment later in the evening, take a few hours off in the middle of the day.

Be flexible about these things.

Yet, learn to switch off when you need to... everyone needs to once in a while.

Work-life balance is no longer a black and white concept; learn to swim in the grey areas and use them to your advantage.

9. You will be busy at work for only 75 per cent of the times

No one is busy for all the 8-10 hours we put in every day in our jobs every day.

You need to figure out what you plan to do with the remaining 25 per cent of the time.

Would you rather spend that time on the things where you can change or have influence on or would you rather waste it.

How you occupy your free time will set you apart from the crowd as even with this incredible batch of new talent coming onto the scene in India, there will be a few who truly rise to the top.

10. This new generation will not only change India but will change the world

30-40 per cen of the world's talent will emerge from India.

The success of India's 'demographic dividend' and those on top of this pyramid will significantly impact India's presence globally.

There is a lot of pressure riding on this generation unlike any seen before.

Be prepared for the sail of the lifetime!

Parag Saigaonkar is the author of The Perfect Storm that offers an insightful and measured assessment of corporate life in India.

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Abhishek Mande Bhot / Rediff.com