Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Things I can't do

In the past few days I am guilty of not having blogged, and even more guilty of not having read blog posts. This has been a period of serious introspection for me. My life was going nowhere and on an average the general sense of dissatisfaction prevailed over scattered moments of cheeriness.


I have been passing time, playing football - or soccer, as they call it in this part of the world, watching & playing a lot of cricket and generally dumbing myself down with movies like Aisha, Salt & Once Upon a Time in Bombay. My past assignment has been lighter. I have profited, not as much by introspection as by mere happenstance, of realizations of myself and am now armed with answers to the most dreaded questions in an interview.

What are your weaknesses?

I have so often floundered, and ended up saying corny stuff like 'time management, over enthusiasm, over attention to details' - you know, the sort of things you would say that would typically be 'strengths' but you just portray in a frail manner so that the interviewer doesn't know what your 'real' weaknesses are. That you actually value life more in the work-life balance, and wished that l-word were heavier. Anyhoo.

I have now realized, and I tell this with all honesty, that I can't do 3 things.

1. Google specific details: So, I suck at web-based research. I mean, as long as you ask me to look up high level details, movies, sportsmen, etc I can do as well as the average facebooker. But, the moment I have to draw up numbers like 'Membership of a particular health plan in 2005' or 'reasons why the profit margin of a client went down from 2006 to 2008', I just pass. I mean, I don't think I am cut out for this. I can read articles, but can't drill out numbers. And part of it comes from the fact that the world in general is too obsessed with specificity, and that you need to understand that numbers are indicative and not definitive.
2. Take notes: Whenever, I am in a meeting / interview / workshop, I absolutely have to be looking at the client eye-to-eye, no less, and talk to them. I can't be taking notes. I am not proud of this mind you, 'cos bigger, better people manage to excel at both. I know of people who chart out meeting minutes, so close to being verbatim, that I wonder if it were a transcript. And these would have been active participants. But I can't. Not to say I suck at interviews / workshops. I am quite fine at that. I just hate the concept of having to take notes and then transcribing it for benefit of others.
3. Sell: Sugar-coat, I can. Make them see a positive side, I can. But exaggerate the truth, I simply can't. And this, in a corporate environment, or at least going by the few 'great' sales pitches I have seen, translates to bad salesmanship. What I can do is tell them the truth. Of what we can do, and we cannot. I strongly believe in the product or service selling itself, rather than having to push it. So, I can, confidently walk up and say, 'Here is what I can do, but you know what - we can work together and I am confident of learning'. But, I can never say, 'I can do it all, just name it!' In other words, I am old school, undersell and over-perform.

See, that wasn't too tough. Now, I know what to include in my resume. And let me be honest, I am not particularly working on any of these. Because, I am not entirely convinced, yet, of the disadvantages of these 'pitfalls'. So, there.

And I swear to be a man and admit this the next time I get interviewed.