Wins, and Setbacks

Yesterday was a day filled with ups and downs. Though you may ask, what day isn’t, in the life of an entrepreneur ?

Let us talk about the wins first. I train a team of interns for their communication and interview skills. Two of them joined their dream companies last week. They joined this week’s session just to say a Hi and thank me. One told me “I logged in mainly to thank you Ma’am. Part of my success is the confidence that your training built.”

The other one said “Your trainings guided me to put my best foot forward; and the interviewers caught on to that confident vibe.”

There is also this skeptical group I have been training with for a while. These are the bright minds who have joined a prestigious MNC after facing rounds of tough interviews. Though they always take home the big pointers, they could not see the point in communication training. Yesterday morning I finally broke through. How ? Gave them personal examples. Of what communication can do for your growth. And when someone asked me isn’t that sugar coating, I replied more like oiling to reduce the friction.

And even then a young girl asked me : but why should I say “not quite right” when what I mean is “wrong”. I told her that is a stupid doubt. After a moment of stunned silence, I retracted and told her that is a good question, there are places where she should go with “wrong” and there are places where she should go with “not quite right”. Then I went on to explain the right fits. Then I asked her had I cleared her doubt ? Once she replied in affirmative, I asked her which of my approaches build me a good network, the rude and abrupt first response or the win-win situation I created with my second approach. She had all her answers. And was I glad I was right in my choice of trainee to showcase the two approaches; she could handle the situation. She was tough, intelligent and she had no chip on her shoulder…she understood the situation for what it was.

And now to some of the inevitable setbacks. Yesterday I also lost a big pitch. I was talking to a company about a 120+ hours training requirement; and in the end they went with a “more experienced trainer.” Please keep in mind I do have 18+ years working for and with MNCs. After around 5 years, it is more about the life in your days rather than the days in your life, in this career.

In the last face-to-face we had, I could see the wavelengths were off. When I talked about questioning skills for their freshers and listening skills for their leaders, they could not understand the why. In their world, they said, the leaders question and the freshers listen. I could have put forward my points, but I decided to let it slide. After all, there are so many leadership styles out there; and ours weren’t in sync. I decided to go for another, smaller requirement they had been talking about during one of the meetings. We both agreed that my style would suit those trainings. And finally it looks like I will be training them, though for a different requirement than what I originally pitched for.

While the rejections do sting, I keep my perspective clear. I will always have the work that I am well aligned to. Because, yes, I am good at training and I am very good at learning. And I have reached this space wading through a lot of success and a lot of failure.

On the topic of rejections, here are some incidents that I want to immortalize on my blog 😉 One company rejected me for their freshers and retained me for their leaders in the same week that another company retained me for their freshers and rejected me their leaders. Yet another company told me that while I am very good at engaging my trainees I need to include more interaction. I found that input valuable. In that particular case, what had happened was that they had asked me to demo on a fresher audience, but at the last minute only the L&D decision makers could attend. And the wholesome, open engagement required to bring out the best in them while training people is not the same as the solid, sophisticated facade that decision makers look for.

Speaking of last minutes, did I tell you about the women’s day program a reputed company had asked of me ? They wanted me to present on work-life balance for their female employees. I went in with slides that kept in mind the wide spectrum of female aesthetics; but once in I saw that of the 180 people who attended that day, barely 20 were females. For a minute there I was running up and down the participants’ list trying to figure out the situation while keeping a smile pasted on my face. What saved me ? An alternate set of slides that I had prepared on a lark, with a gender neutral aesthetic. The earlier night, my spouse had run through my slides and remarked : why should men not have access to such good stuff ?? And I sometimes take his comments seriously!

Yet another last minute story : I was asked to train managers on how to manage their millennial co-workers. I walked into the session and to my horror the managers as well as their millennial team were both present. They had all decided to avail the session due to some network outage on their work platform. I walked on a tight rope for the next 4 hours. I managed to make it more of a team building across generations session than a “managing ” session. It helped that while preparing my material, I had looked at both sides of this coin with a microscope.

In a nutshell, my second career has me happy as a dog with two tails. I enjoy the challenges during the day and the contentment at sunset. My only worry is I might start to enjoy the rejection stories too, after a while.

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