1. Last Saturday (or was it Sunday?) I accompanied a friend to an open mic night. The idea of open mics is pretty simple. You are an aspiring stand up comic. But because you are aspiring, you cant gather an audience. Along with other standups, you get in a room, invite your friends and use them as Guinea Pigs to practise your jokes. I was one such Guinea pig. Plus, often, places that give you access to a quite room and a mic and AC tend to be expensive. So you get friends to pay and the friends, because they are friends, bear the bad jokes and help you cover the cost!
So, I went with a friend. There were some 30 odd people, about 10 performers. Each person gets 4 minutes to perform a set. And audience gets all the time to react!
Most of the performers were very average. May be they are average performers. Or may be they were trying new material that required practise. Irrespective. It took balls to be able to stand in front of the crowd and deliver a piece that you know is going to bomb!
2. I met Komal the other day. I told her about my dislike for dressing up for the occasion. She said that I ought to think like an actor and each interaction as a role. Like there are different roles, each dictated by a different situation, life encounters are different and they demand a different approach. And each role demands a different piece of content to be delivered. And if you are going to act and make people believe, you better know how to pull various roles off! After all, in life, newer roles come along all the time on an ongoing basis!
In my case, I am an actor and when I work, I ought to play the work role. Which I suck at. All this while I have been playing my personal role at scenes that demand me to play a certain role - work, social, gathering etc. So may be, I need to re-think and change. Or may be I want to be a Steve Jobs where I wear the same thing over and over and over again till that becomes as irreplaceable as my name? Or may be I need to identify certain archetypes, practise them like crazy and then put those archetypes in various roles. Or may be something else. Lets see.
3. I presented my company creds on a stage where I had some 30-40 people in audience. I had a great deck to present and I have used that deck at multiple places in the past and have got great reception. But all those times have been in the boardroom. This time, it was on stage. And it sort of bombed! Not bombed per se. People did recall seeing it. But they were not blown away with what I had presented.
Thing is, I want to be able to create a reality distortion field when I talk to people! Of course I dont have a product like Steve Jobs. Neither did he for that matter. But he had something that I definitely dont have! I need to identify and work on that!
4. Mihir talked me into doing a video podcast. That means I now have a video (43 minutes long) where I am talking about life and philosophy and raison d'etre and other such things. Now, to be able to do justice to the effort that is going in, we need to push it out and market it like a bitch. And that will mean that my notions of closely guarding my pics / video on the very permanent Internet is under heavy questioning.
So, now that I have captured these four things, the real reason for the outburst is hence.
As I get along in life (read, I am supposed to take on larger responsibilities), I am realising more and more that to be able to get things done, I need to have a reputation.
Reputation is a complex "thing" and its often a combination of things like association (with people, things, brands etc), popularity (read personal brand where you are known by people outside of your third degree), experience (in terms of years you've worked, things you've done etc), expert status (in chosen field of expertise), contacts (how many famous / rich / powerful people you know? Who has saved your number? Who will pick your call in less than 4 rings etc), performance (when you go up on stage to perform a stand up act or you are expected to perform in a certain way depending on the societal context or when you are making a presentation or when you are peddling gyaan) etc. You get the drift? You now know where I am coming from?
The funny thing is while all my life I have been aware of this, I have shied away from it. To date I have issues in talking to people where I dont have a context. I cant seem to hold a conversation with a client if there is no work. Compare this to a lot of people who are by default agony aunts for every Tom, Dick and Harry. In fact in my previous organization, there's this lady, lets call her A, who has this knack of befriending everyone in the very first conversation that she holds with them. And from there on, by the time A meets someone for the second time she is thicker with these people than their respective best friends for 100 years! And who do you call if you have to commission a new event? Of course your new best friend!
I am not saying that I ought to be as slimy as A but the point is that your reputation is super important and having great people skills is the starting point! Which I lack.
So may be, the reason I am unsuccessful is because I dont have the social skills to succeed? I cant work on the way I look but I can change the way I dress up and all that. And then top if off with some level of polishing.
Any help anyone?
PS: unless, you are someone who is happy being yet another employee is a large organization, making a