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You don't have to be great

You don't have to be great

Saturday July 04, 2020,

4 min Read

small steps

“Saro! How was your weekend?” If someone had asked me this question 13 years back, I would’ve just said “Good” and smiled. I would immediately vanish from that place, because I was afraid that they would ask me more questions in English. 

Today, if someone asks me “How was your weekend?”… I’ll say “I had a fantastic time during the weekend… You know what… I published my first book - 'An Introduction to 5G Wireless Networks'. I conducted a couple of online courses on 5G networks. It was a packed weekend and I didn't even realise that two days have passed".

From someone finding it difficult to speak in English to a published author, the journey was quite interesting.

Let me take you back to the year 2003. I was working for Ericsson in Silicon Valley, as a Sr. Software Development Engineer. I wanted to become a Manager in my organization. However, despite my strong technical performance in the organization, I didn't get the role that I aimed for. I asked one of my college seniors and he said “Saro! If you want to be a Manager, probably, you should consider doing an MBA”. I immediately enrolled in an Executive MBA program and finished it in 2006. Despite finishing my MBA, I couldn’t get the feeling that I am a ‘manager material’. 

During a quarterly town-hall meeting, I listened to my CEO’s speech. I got mesmerized by his speech. That’s when I realized that I needed to improve my communication skills - and that’s the missing piece in the puzzle. I had told a number of my friends about my desire to develop my communication skills. Paulo Coelho, the author of the book Alchemist says ‘When you are truly passionate about achieving something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

I still remember that day, in September 2006. A friend of mine took me to a Toastmasters meeting. The first meeting that I attended - I was sold on the concept. It was like a ‘Eureka Moment’ for me. This was exactly what I was searching for … so long. I got the joy of having found a hidden treasure. I immediately enrolled in the program.

During the initial days, I was finding it difficult to come up with speeches. My mentor said “Saro! You should develop the habit of reading books and newspapers”. I started borrowing books from a library, near my home. I read a book a month - on a variety of topics ranging from time management to negotiation to business management. Reading books and newspapers not only helped me to come up with content for speeches - but also helped me to handle impromptu speeches and water cooler talks in office. 

In a year, I started noticing some difference in my speaking style. In about 2 years, others started noticing a difference in my speaking style. In addition to delivering speeches, I signed up for a number of leadership roles in Toastmasters, to groom my skills.

In the year 2009, I relocated to India and joined a company in Chennai, India, as a Technical Marketing Engineer. Well, I was stuck with that Engineer suffix in my title. But, the magic happened in 2010. For the first time ever, I was promoted to be a Product Manager. Since then, my career skyrocketed… from a Product Manager, I became a Sr. Product Manager, then a Director and then a Delivery Head. Today, I’m the Chief Strategy Officer in a startup. 

The growth in my career was possible because of the small steps that I took in developing my communication skills. Not only that, I achieved one of my personal goals of publishing a book. This weekend, I published my first book 'An Introduction to 5G Wireless Networks'.

Zig Ziglar, a famous speaker, often says “You don’t have to be GREAT to START… but you’ve to START to become GREAT”. My journey of transformation is a testimony for this quote. Many people have goals, but what differentiates achievers from non-achievers is the 'actions they take'. Many people postpone the achievement of their goals due to the lack of clarity or the lack of time or due to the lack of willpower. Taking short steps towards your goals - instead of waiting for the perfect time to do-it-all in one-go, increases your chances of achieving your goal. So, what are you waiting for? Get started today... take small steps... and keep making progress towards your goals. Remember "You don’t have to be GREAT to START… but you’ve to START to become GREAT"