In general, we Indians do not know how to promote ourselves. We rarely focus on the positive. Throughout our childhood we have been told not to gloat over your successes and hence we do not find it necessary to publish our successes, to promote ourselves. We know very clearly each and everyone of our weaknesses, but we hardly are aware of our strengths.
Take this incident for example....
I was discussing with my friend Asok about a common friend...
"There are a lot of positives about XXX. But he always talks negative. For him nothing is good, nothing is working..Everything is bad, damaged and we-dont-know-where-it-will-end-up negative. He always talks about his problems."
Ashok is a worldly wise kind of guy having been and entrepreneur for a few years before joining workforce again. He has an armory of stories, anecdotes and opinions for any occasion. My comment was too controversial for Ashok to let go easily.
As is his wont, Ashok started elaborately. He took a deep breath and started to unleash himself.
"The reason why XXX is focused on the negatives is because he is a techie. I have interacted with a number of techies. Let us say, you ask a techie to give you an overview of his work. He will always start off like "Well, I am now working on the new interface. We have identified about 3 bugs. We are working on it. We also have completed the testing, but we are not sure if the test cases that the customer provided covers all the exception scenario. Well, there are a few bugs in the interface, but we are working on it.". Said Ashok.
"If you dig deeper you will find that this was an extremely complex interface with huge number of customization. In addition, you will see that there are only three bugs and that we are well within the six sigma as far as bugs are concerned. . But that is not the impression that your techie guy gave you. He made you feel as if nothing is working, when only a few processes are not working. That is your techie guy. All negative." Ashok continued.
"What about others? Who are always positive and gung ho?" I queried.
"Ahh, that is a good question" responded Ashok "Just try and ask a sales person to give you the overview of his work. He will always start off with successes and always underplay his losses. He will say something like, 'I had a chat with CIO of XYZ corporation. He has told me that he is going to sign the 50 Million deal in our favour latest by the end of the month. In addition, I am closely following another 100 Million opportunities and at least one of two of them should click by next two weeks. Also, I was just in call with the head of the business at ABC Corp and the have fixed up a meeting next week. Currently ABC is engaged with our competitor. But I know that ABC is not happy with them. It is only a matter of time before we push the competitor out of this engagement. This is a 50 Million sureshot opportunity. Unfortunately, we lost LMN to our competitor. He was able to quote a lower price by squeezing his margins. However, our company policy do not allow me to give competitive margins to the customer."
"As you can see all the good news are 'Opportunities just about to click', and the only fact was that the sales person lost a customer to the competitor. But look at the difference in approach between him and the techie. Techie focuses on facts, on problems and issues with minimal focus on good news, while the sales person is focusing on 'Opprotunities' while downplaying 'Negative Facts'. Ashok continued."This, Rama, is the difference between a sales person and a techie", said Ashok, "Talking of our friend, XXX, he is a techie and so he is only focusing on the negatives. He has to focus more on the positives and less on the negatives. He has to behave like a Sales Person and not a techie."
The points made by Ashok made me think about the comments made by the CIO of the company where I was doing a project. He had called a meeting of the team and asked the project managers (consultant and customer project managers) to give an overview of the project."Well, the project is going ok. We still have problems. We have 47 open issues, out of which we have 23 bugs, 10 are under analysis...The users are still working on some challenges...." The project managers started off like a 'Negative' train or something.
CIO Cut them short. "Over the last few meetings I have been observing that in every meeting, you only focus on the negatives. I know that your team has done a tremendous work.Why don't you focus on the positives for a change? Why don't you start off the meetings by highlighting the positives before you move on to problems. Of course, we want to hear the negatives. But your team needs to hear positive stuff from you", the CIO ended his monolog.
That is it my dear friends. That is the lesson. If you can't promote yourself, who will do it for you? If you do not focus on the positive, if you do not promote yourself, is there any point in blaming others for not recognizing the excellent work that you are doing? Think about it..