Happiness and Career Success

It is obviously true that success will bring happiness, any kind of success will. However, is the reverse true – will happiness bring success? There is lots of research available that suggest that happiness indeed brings success. Here are a few references:

  1. Happiness brings success, not the other way round‘ (the paper) – Scientists reviewed 225 studies involving 275,000 people and found that chronically happy people are in general more successful in their personal and professional lives. Happy people are more likely than their less happy peers to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health and even a long life.
  2. Happiness leads to Career Success‘ talks about the book (The Happiness Advantage) from Shawn Achor that suggest that when we are happy our brain works better and we end up working harder which then leads to success.
  3. People who are unhappy in life are unlikely to find satisfaction at work
  4. Wall Street Journal (‘Is Happiness Overrated’) distinguishes between ‘hedonic well-being’ (immediate pleasure) and ‘eudemonic well-being’ (long term sense of fulfillment) and suggests that latter type of happiness brings the benefits of happiness (health and longevity).
  5. Happiness Lengthens life‘ suggests that ‘Happiness does not heal, but happiness protects against falling ill. As a result, happy people live longer. The size of the effect on longevity is comparable to that of smoking or not’.

If this is true, why have I found so many unhappy people at workplace? Continue reading

Conducting a job search – Selection and Transition Phases

This post is final part of the series of posts I am doing on ‘Job Search – Strategies that work better‘. Last post concluded my comments on strategies to apply in order to get lots of job offers from the companies you want. In this post, I want to focus on Selection and Transition phases of the COAST framework that I presented earlier. Note that this post is written in a more prescriptive manner than others, because this topic is more vague than others in Job Search category and hence my hope is I can offer some specific suggestions and opinions.

There are 2 reasons I want to focus on these:

  1. These are not considered part of a typical job search and hence don’t get enough attention from job hunters or from those who help job hunters.
  2. Decisions made in these phases determine when you have to start your next job search, and wrong decisions bring you to job market much earlier than you want.

Here is the description of these 2 phases: Continue reading

Conducting a Job Search – Social and Project Strategies

This post is part of the series of posts I am doing on ‘Job Search – Strategies that work better‘. In my last post, I talked about 5 phases of job search and how competitive strategies can be applied to each of these phases. Briefly, the phases are: Conception, Organization, Application, Selection and Transition.

In this post, I will talk about how other strategies can be applied. As one of the commenters on my previous post mentioned, there is no silver bullet and the best strategy is to mix-and-match strategies that work for you. I will specifically focus on social strategies and project management strategies that can be applied to a job search. These can be used separately or together with the competitive strategies, depending on your needs.

Social strategies model job search as a match-making where the goal is to have a best fit between job hunter and recruiter based on information gathering and sharing. Social and networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to hunt information as well as people (since all information is not captured on internet).

Project management strategies model job search as a project with clear goals, milestones, resources, and timelines that need to be tracked well. Information and Risk management are important aspects here, and strategies focus on how to do it better.

Here are some of the strategic principles that are applicable to most of the phases of job search:

  1. Information Presentation: Information presentation refers to various ways Continue reading

Conducting a Job Search – Competitive Strategies

In my previous post Job Search – Strategies that work better, I described how people tend to do job search without specific strategy in mind and then suffer, either by spending longer than they should in job search or, worse, not getting the job they want. I also talked about 3 views that can be applied to a strategic job search: Competitive, Social and Project Management.

In this post, I want to focus on how some of these strategies can be applied to a typical job search.I continue to use the strategic framework that is developed for business competition to job search, so most most of the references below go back to businesses. Also, this topic is too large to be covered in a few posts, so I have tried to be brief and not verbose. I invite comments on some of those areas and I can expand those later.

Also, please keep in mind that a strategy is only worth so much, execution is way more important; it is good to keep in mind this quote by Edison: “Strategy is 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration”. My usage of word strategy includes a healthy dose of perspiration, because otherwise nothing will work.

In any job change, following phases are involved:

  1. Conception: Identify the need for a change and making sure right goals exist for making change. As one of the comments on the previous post suggested, Continue reading

Job Search – Strategies that work better

How do you change a job? Here is the case in front of me (and this is typical of so many examples I have seen):

  1. He wants to get into a new job that gives good role, company has good culture, it leverages all the strengths the person has.
  2. His modus operandi is something like this:
    1. Update the resume
    2. Post in couple of job portals
    3. Get in touch with some of the past contacts (previous bosses and peers primarily), and solicit their help in changing the job
    4. Wait for interview calls and attend them as they come
  3. When you ask ‘why you want to change the job’, there are no clear answers and he doesn’t display any sense of urgency.

I have now seen enough job hunters who engage in such an important career-impacting activity with such a passivity and unclear reasons. Most of the times, their only strategy to job search is ‘hope’. This bothers me a lot because careers take extremely important detours when jobs are changed. The person must be very clear about the objectives of the change, as well as stay active and engaged in the process to ensure that they stay in the driver’s seat and make it a career-enhancing move. Being successful in a new company is hard and takes time, so one should try to achieve career growth while being in the company (having done multiple role and geographical moves in both big and small companies in my career, I can assure you that this is one of the best ways of growing career). If job change does seem warranted, Continue reading

Being effective – Prioritization and Judgment

This post is the last of the series of posts I am doing on Being Effective at workplace.

Prioritization is about working on things that are most important (and not merely most urgent) for the organization and for self. Judgment is about making decisions at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons. Making good judgment and being able to prioritize the work correctly greatly aid the effectiveness of people. Prioritization allows one to focus on a few important things and deliver results, rather than spreading the energy too thin on too many things. Judgment allows one to make right decisions at the right time, even with incomplete data, and complete the work in time.


For effective people, prioritization is all about alignment. Here are some of the tenets of effective prioritization I have seen practiced:

  • Understanding goals and objectives of the organization/team: Priorities of work must be aligned with organizational goals and objectives. Depending on the work and scope of influence someone has, this may mean team level, department level, or organization level. To achieve this alignment, these goals and objectives must be understood well. This is not as easy as it sounds. Organizational goals are usually stated more generic manner (‘increase revenue by 30%’) than what is usable. Effective people constantly try to interpret them and also use behaviors of senior management to understand these objectives better (‘actions speak louder than words’). Continue reading

Being Effective at Workplace – Collaboration

This post is a part of the series of posts I am doing on Being Effective at workplace.

Collaboration is the act of working with others, usually without having formal authority over them, to produce a result. Collaborating is an act of free will, which means people cannot be forced to collaborate. This also means that producing results out of a collaboration can be very hard and very dependent on how the collaborators choose to act.

As I discussed in ‘Taking Initiatives‘ post, for effective people, success depends a lot on how they work with others without having formal authority over them. Hence collaboration is an important activity and being effective at collaboration is an essential goal for them. There are 3 aspects of effective collaboration that I want to talk about in this post.

Influencing and Persuasion Skills

Since leader of the collaborating team doesn’t have formal authority, it is obvious they need to show influencing and persuasion skills in order to get results. These are well-researched topic (see couple of these: The Art of Woo and Exerting Influence Without Authority). To summarize, these are some of the key points to keep in mind when you employ these skills in a collaboration setting: Continue reading

Being Effective at workplace – Taking Initiatives

initiativeThis post is a part of the series of posts I am doing on Being Effective at workplace.

Taking initiative is about picking up organizational challenges to solve without being asked and delivering results. Taking initiative is a well-known way to achieve stardom at workplace. A FastCompany article has this to say from the book How to Be a Star at Work: 9 Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed:

For stars, initiative generally has four elements: It means doing something above and beyond your job description. It means helping other people. Usually it involves some element of risk-taking. And when you’re really taking initiative, it involves seeing an activity through to completion.

Here are a couple of other rules about initiative: First, before you take on anything new, make sure that you’re doing your assigned job well. Second, remember that social initiatives don’t count for much. Organizing the company picnic or a blood drive won’t get you the kind of recognition you want. They’re fine things to do – but do them because they bring you satisfaction. Third, the kind of initiatives that matter to your career are those that relate to the company’s critical path. Find out what promotes the company’s core mission, and tie your initiatives to it.

However, taking initiative is hard:

  • Since it is taking something beyond your regular work, it requires extra time investment which few people seem to have in today’s busy organizations.
  • It requires risk taking and results may not always be there, so an organization too focused on fixing problems and eradicating failure may actually penalize initiative-takers in many cases. Continue reading

Being Effective at workplace – Active learning

This post is a part of the series of posts I am doing on Being Effective at workplace.

Active Learning is the most important attribute of an effective person. Learning in workplace could be a tricky thing though. Learning while working requires reflecting on the work, the results and the process, but we tend to be so focused on the tasks and outcomes that learning takes a backseat most of the time. However, effective learners find time to step back from even the most crunch time and attempt to synthesize their work into bytes of learning that they can absorb and apply.

Most organizations have processes like retrospectives (reviewing lessons learned and areas of improvement in an agile development model), postmortem, RCA, etc. in order to learn from their experiences, but they tend to become about process and less about learning. Effective learners create their own process for learning from their work and environment and continuously apply it to the next set of work they do.

Here are a few ways of active learning that I have observed and found useful:

  • Set learning goals before starting the work. This allows you to focus on exactly what you want to learn rather than getting influenced by the pressures of the work. You need to know what to learn, what not to learn, and what to un-learn. “What to learn” Continue reading