Tuesday 27 June 2017

Make Your Own Lane: The Dual Boat Syndrome

I spend considerable time reading articles on LinkedIn and sometimes it is easy to catch the trend.

Recruiters posting about job requirements
Job seekers posting about their interview experience or the hiring cycle
Self obsessed branding 
Startups offering free webinars/ pitch decks to brand their presence
Long, really long headlines

Image Design Credit: Canva


What are your first impressions and initial thoughts when you see one of your LinkedIn contact (Ex colleague or friend or neighbor) who has been dormant in the platform for ages, suddenly

a.   Adding new connects, every second day
b.   Liking articles
c.   Following the Who’s who

Right, I think the same - On the lookout symptoms.


Some change their headline “Looking for challenging opportunities”
Simple and straight – I often wondered if that broadcast really helps or is it just a hollow threat to their current reporting managers who are in the same platform?


Some begin to like status notes or drop a “Yes” comment with the hope that the recruiter who posted the shout out for an opening checks their LinkedIn profiles.

The general perception with this one is confusing – I sometimes like such status notes for people, so that my network is made aware and can apply.


Then you have those retiring early to do their own thing. The marathon farewell message and the epic thank you notes are like micro blogs, soft selling about their future endeavor already.


Do changes in profile, click save and notify. If this exercise is frequent, it is just another on-the-lookout symptom.


Some of them suddenly realize Facebook does not get you jobs. More than those family dinner pictures, which will fetch a few likes and then be lost - a few motivational quotes, a few pictures in seminars and workshops, a few certificates, a few free advises, few likes to #RPA #Machinelearning #Datascience can bring the profile within the radar.


If anyone from the leadership band suddenly writes an average blog, it is to brand a company product or service.

On the other hand, if he writes a mind blowing blog, thoroughly researched from credible sources, that is mostly for branding his own domain expertise to establish his credibility for future employers.

The difference in quality of blog is so distinct that you can almost read the purpose loud and clear

If you do not believe me, just check how many leadership profiles have just one blog published. They are back to the daily grind. A promotion is due. CXO is happy and so the crisis is gone.

The next blog will be up when the whirlwind subsides and they begin to focus on wildly important goals (Covey’s 4D) – startup, next move, do your own thing etc or when the axe works again.


What do these headlines convey about the professional?

Sales leader| Agile| Project Management| Blogger |  Product developer

Best Selling Author | Ted Speaker | 32000 Followers on Twitter | 

Entrepreneur| Sales Coach| Motivational Speaker| Life Coach | Blogger

Sales and Marketing Expert | Trainer| 25 Years in Sales |

I have no idea how these headlines look to a recruiter or a prospective client. I find them screaming to be noticed.


You have those subtle ones.

They tweak their headlines every two weeks, test a variety of combination, not exactly sure what is likely to pop up in search engines – They are the ones who are desperately looking for change while carrying out business as usual.

I received a few messages on LinkedIn of this nature, mostly from those with a full time job

“How do I get into freelancing or part time assignments?

“How do I launch my consulting business?”

The Side Hustle

Before you think about your side hustle, give this a long thought - how exactly do you want your clients and prospects to view this in your professional networking forums?

Can you possibly have a headline pitching to both the employers and your clients? You may want to fine tune your target audience first, before you make that broadcast.

It is absolutely your call what you want to project about yourself in these forums. Your profile reflects your priorities.

9 AM to 5 PM or 5 PM to 9 PM
Active income or passive income
Side hustle or full time
Role specific or soul specific
At one point, you have to get off one boat so that your conviction gets transferred to those you want to work with. Your commitment speaks more loudly than those profile headlines

How can you launch your consulting business while working for a paycheck? How can you manage the social media of your startup if your paycheck obligates you to like and comment on your company's activities?

How can you possibly be somebody you want to be without sacrificing who you are today?
Check this to know more about how you can make your own lane

Monday 19 June 2017

Learning: The Two Perspectives To Assess Learning Needs

Yesterday when half the world was busy with final match of ICC Champions Trophy between India and Pakistan, I had two aspiring entrepreneurs in my Kolkata apartment to discuss the future of their business.

It was informal chat with samosa and Ice Tea


Both love to design clothes, have quite a few dedicated clients who trust their fashion sense that they use in their creations to maintain exclusivity. 

Both are open to providing (A) only designer services and (B) sourcing to provide finished products

Both cater to local market as of now and find this very limiting. 

Both have a full time job to cater to while they are keen to pursue this seriously and keep it as a pet project. 

Financial back up is not strong and they can operate with limited cash flow.

The Solution

Apparently it looks like one can provide the same solution to both as the nature of concern is more or less similar. 

Imagine, both these designers attend a training program or a coaching session on sales or  marketing.

Learning Road map 

 This is where a BECKON Consultant will explore multiple intelligence level of each participant to create a road map to address learning gaps. 

Most coaches consider target audience needs and individual needs as same while designing programs.

Now I will provide additional inputs on each participant to enable a consultant to draw that map, based on multiple intelligence parameters, preferences, life style choices etc.

Key Assumptions:

Participant 1
Participant 2
Academic/ Mental
Topper in studies
Occupation: Teacher
Computer Literacy: Good

Possibly some college
Occupation: Retail Store
Computer Literacy: None

Grand world / worm view of things in life

Grand world view/ worm view of things in life
Dual income stream
Single income
Not very active in Facebook
Limited to work life contacts

Active in Facebook
Many acquaintances outside work life

Not inclined to practice
Inclined by faith
Not inclined to practice
Other interests
Recycled stuff
Loves to travel and is part of different groups
Try new recipe

Other information
Leonine traits
Head held high
Capricorn nature
Extremely dedicated to immediate and extended family

The more inputs you receive about participants the more it becomes obvious to a coach how a single session on marketing and sales will not be effective as every member in class room training/ webinar has different levels of existing knowledge and degree of motivation.

And yet the same feedback is rolled out by the end of training session to rate the program, rate the trainer, rate the infrastructure regardless of what the participant could make of that learning in real life?

AltLearn Ventures is keen to publish case studies and success stories with measurable outcomes adopting a certain learning / coaching approach. 

Write to as that is the qualifying criteria to be a BECKON Coach  

1] Have you learnt something new this year?
2] Can you measure the impact of that learning on self or environment, purely in numbers?
3] Have you coached anyone with a new skill?
4] Can you measure the impact of what you taught purely in numbers?

Saturday 17 June 2017

Learning: What Stops Adults From Learning?

I wanted to write on this for a very long time.

When I raise this question – what stops adults from learning - I mean anyone in the age group anywhere between 18 to 75 years.

There are many people I know who completely understand the need to learn and are aware how learning will drastically improve their life, take them to their desired goal, however they still make very little progress.

What are the potential barriers that could possibly hinder an adult's learning process? As a coach I have had my days wondering why teaching adults is so different and difficult. 

Let us deep dive here


Teacher centered learning usually applicable for teaching children


Learner centered learning relevant to teaching adults. This is primarily based on a few key assumptions.

Learning with awareness:        Why they need to learn something?
Learning in phases:                  Experiential learning
Learning for outcomes:            Problem solving approach towards learning
The principle difference lies there. The learning depends on the Adult.

Their desire to learn
Their inclination to participate in the learning process
Their reasons to be involved or aloof in learning process

The adults really have an uncanny way of calculating immediate value of anything, even learning and that either triggers interest or kills it.

Examples of their thought process

A training on Robot Process Automation can be a good value add in my career
Why do I need a training in decision making? How will that help? I already make my own decisions?

The adult who is intrinsically motivated does something for his own sake .

What stops adults from learning?

Belief about themselves

If a learner has low confidence, self-conscious and has a negative self-image - a coach has to take care of that image first.


Learners may have fear of under-performing, not learning fast enough, not delivering as expected or feel humiliated in front of others. These fears can affect their learning – a coach has to assure there is nothing to lose if things are going slow and it is okay to deal with real fears not imaginary ones. 

A coach should call out  each fear, discuss consequence and mutually plan the learning map.

2. Physical Challenges

If there is any physical pain that is taking the learner’s focus and attention away, strategize with delivery option to create conducive learning environment.

Example - If sitting for long hours is a concern, provide alternative options to read, provide mail or call support, one on one agenda, micro learn at their own pace to make the most of learner's attention.

3. Training Attended 

If the learner has already attended several trainings and coaching sessions without quantifiable results

If the learner is opinionated and has strong beliefs about training or trainers due to past experience, that could also affect learning curve.

A coach should call out attendance is just the first part of learning, applying what was learnt in real life scenario and achieving results is in the hands of the learner. If there is no change in behavior, the learner has not kept his part of the deal.

4. Life Goals

If the learner does not identify the reasons to learn or the purpose of learning and does not have any goals in work or home life that aligns to that learning, the chances are slim that any learning will actually take place in that case.

They are fundamentally concerned about current needs, quick fix solutions, often get stressed easily and anxious about group participation or any kind of sharing as they lack the vision, many have - beyond now, beyond the immediate.

A coach can establish need or that purpose, provide coping strategies to deal with current issues and ready to handle any crisis that shows up in the future. 

Learner's Ownership

While barriers like language, literacy or numeracy (LLN), foundations skills for being employable and other skills can be refined the four reasons stated above are beyond the purview of a facilitator or coach.
If there is no eagerness on behalf of the learner to cooperate and be self motivated to make the learning exercise effective for their own sake, any learning initiative can be a futile effort.

Coach's Ownership

While preparing the learning road map, it is important to capture learner’s characteristics
 Categorize target learners who have very different and complex needs 
Be sensitive to learner characteristics while choosing delivery option
Develop program content keeping the above in view
Understand impact of learning on self and environment – role in the company, expertise etc.

If you can relate to these scenarios as a learner or coach and want to chalk out learning road map, write to to create one based on BECKON learning framework - A framework that is governed by outcomes and not driven by mere function. 

Thursday 8 June 2017

Live: It Is Your Skill, Your Clients, Your Business And Your Choice

Here are a few of my email responses to job consultants, recruiters and hiring managers in the past few months

Dear ABC,
 I have met XYZ yesterday. My constraints are with time and therefore have to pass this opportunity for the more deserving. Thank you for letting me have this learning experience. In my personal capacity, I will definitely refer my contacts to avail your services, whenever the need arises. I am already following your firm on twitter for industry updates 

Yes please

 I will be interested in the opportunity however on contractual basis or assignment basis (Not full time) I have relocated to Kolkata a couple of months back therefore we will have to collaborate on SKYPE. If this arrangement is okay, I will be glad to take this forward. Regards 

I am based in Bangalore and cannot relocate to Chennai. I can remotely support training/ learning function on demand/ contract basis like I support other start companies with plans, content, website, coaching modules etc, if (Company Name) is open to the concept.  

Thank you for contacting.

 (Company Name) HR has directly sent me a mail for this opportunity. As I support startup companies with business plans, website content, marketing campaign, leadership coaching, training modules, on demand basis, I have reverted back to (Company Name), if they are open to similar idea of me supporting transition function without being a full time employee - Transition role is need based subject to deal wins. If sales do not win new clients, transition team does not have much to do which is a huge bandwidth waste. If you can pitch this idea to them, do reach out to me if there is a possibility. As far as I know (Company Name) is a 60 member transition team - I just do not want to be another new hire there please. I can sign NDA/ Contract/ confidentiality clauses to ensure there is no conflict of interest. Just that after 11 years in BPO, over 6 years in Bid Management and Transitioning several projects across Banking, Telecom etc, I need better exposure. Thanks again.


That is how polite I am while responding to job inquiries today. First thing you will notice is I have stated my priority upfront - My time.

You will also notice, I am not flatly refusing the opportunity - I am leaving the note with a subtle pitch they may want to consider to avail my services. 

Seriously, what I did in my corporate years, AltLearn Ventures is just an extension of that capability backed by a virtual team to serve more than one company. So each of these companies can be our potential clients. Inward marketing is just as good as outward marketing.

Though I know it will take a while, may be close to another decade when even the large corporations will begin to think on those lines and feel the need to switch to part time consultants and contractual assignments for their daily activities. This is not outsourcing processes, job or office activities. This is need based in-sourcing.


You have a perfect plan for the day. To optimize your productivity you decided to do all the “thinking” piece of work when your mind is fresh – before lunch.

Traffic was not easy somehow you got over it when you got yourself a steaming cup of coffee. Just when you were about to begin work, you were called for a meeting.

The problem here is your reporting manager also has similar plans to do all the important meetings - before lunch.

So the “thinking” piece of work moves to late evening and by the time, your first and final cut is ready, the whole thing spills over to late nights.

That was my first aha point.

I write long mails in the portal itself and that is all I do to understand my client's work and deliver my assignment. I do not share email ID, SKYPE ID, phone number - nothing.

Denial Mode

Many people I know stay in denial about the reality of their job situation. They are okay with 

Extended work hours
Working weekends
Doing the mundane
Lack of recognition

It is not the company's increment and incentive structure that is holding them back or the fact that the job market is not quite encouraging. They are yet to identify their top sell-able skills to find clients based on their individual capability without a company's name to back their credentials or achievement.

After years in Corporate, the first client acquisition based on your lead, pitch, proposal, credentials does a lot of good to your confidence - the path and vision gets clearer. With every new client, your working style becomes better and a proven model.

That is the second aha moment

Now, as I hand hold others seeking alternative careers, additional income through a startup or part time venture, either through my booklet or coaching session, I facilitate their journey to reach exactly those two aha moments first.
1] Freedom from M&M - The age old saga of meetings and managers. 
2] Winning a client purely based on your skills - Without any recommendation

Soon, I and many like me, should be able write this,to every recruiter who has time based role offer,

We are not really good match

Can we talk skill based role please?

I find myself more resourceful as an external coach, unaffected by internal sycophancy, politics, people pleasing attitude, bureaucracy and waste of time or bandwidth that runs in many organizations as part of their culture, too deep to ignore and tolerate.

I also know a decent percentage of population is already out of corporate to work on their business ideas, establish online income independently, work their own hours, do their own thing and passionate about their work.

Are you keen to launch your coaching business or trade your skills and expertise to many clients?

Write to for a checklist to get started