This post also is dedicated to my capable brother – Talha Saleem. First Happy birthday! In another 6 months, you would be a bull with a degree, ready to start your professional career. As your older brother, I would like to share some tips for steering your life where you want it to.
“But what if I don’t know what I want”, you say.
Here are 10 realistic pieces of advice to follow in the first year following graduation. Don’t skim groovy baby. Read.
1. Get THE suit
Emerging from a middle class family, you normally buy a suit when you have to attend a family wedding. The best thing about this suit is that it fits perfectly and you look fit. You want to look your best in the wedding pictures/videos so you make sure it complements the curves and the pants have that sexy Italian cut. Long story short, you look like a hero in that perfect suit.
However, that is not the suit you need now!
You need a suit that becomes your uniform for the next two years. The more comfortable it is, the better. The pants should be loose enough that even if u gain another 3 inches on your waist, you can easily breathe and sleep in it. Once you have this suit, wear it. Wear it in summers, wear it in winters, wear it when you go to play cricket, hell wear it when you go to eat roadside gol gappey!
And now you know what your birthday present is :p
2. Forget the documentaries and online scientific articles
We all love watching documentaries. The amount of knowledge we can get from well researched documentaries in 2 hours is overwhelming. Remember those 9/11 documentaries that everyone has watched and praised? Remember their logical reasoning and fact based conclusion from the “Inside Job”? There is no reason not to like them. But for now, skip watching them. Why?
They are entertainment! They fool you into an illusion of knowledge, that’s their selling preposition! How? Try recalling facts from the last documentary you watched. Do you remember the facts from it? Do you remember the people interviewed? Their names or even designations? See! All you remember is the main theme. Now remember how anything you reference from a documentary in an argument has minimal impact.
The truth is that we watch documentaries believing they increase our knowledge, giving us a false sense of satisfaction. While they remain one of the best sources of knowledge-based-entertainment, you should have better things to do for now.
If you still want to pull the classic- do what you’re stopped from doing, i.e. watching them, then take factual notes. Remember the director. Remember the people being interviewed. Write down the facts. Repeat them in every other conversation. That’s how you can use them to add value to yourself!
3. Open a stock brokerage account
Done with bachelors? Ready to take on the world? Think you can make decisions? You believe that given an opportunity, you can prove your value to any business? Let’s put it to test. Let’s see what you are made of. Let’s see if you can withstand fear and conquer the greed. Let me introduce you to the world of Stock Market (in my next post) where you can test yourself, your decision making power, your resilience and your guts.
Why all this? This whole exercise will, on one side, make you aware of your weaknesses/strengths, while on the other side it can provide a secondary source of income.
You can also mention on your CV that you trade in the stock market, which will mean you’re not just an audience of the world. You don’t just watch as the world keeps spinning by. You participate and are READY TO FAIL! By the way did I tell you that right now your cv/resume MUST NOT be more than 1 page? I’ll write about that another sunny day. For now…
4. Learn the art of storytelling
Facts don’t sell. They are boring. Numbers suck. I live by numbers and I know that they don’t matter. People will never remember the numbers you tell but they’ll live by the stories you tell. Become a story teller. If you are opinionated about something, you should have a story to back up your view.
But where do you get stories from? Read them. When you are discussing your thesis and its defense with friends, talk about how Fred Smith built a global empire from an opportunity he found when he was writing his thesis. Coming down to meet me? Tell me what Younis Habib said about Mehran Bank before its default.
Want more stories? Read short historical notes. Initially you would have to steer the conversations towards your stories. It will be difficult in start but then gradually you’ll master this art.
5. Want to become something big? Start from the bottom of the ladder
We all want to leave our mark on history. Fresh meat from university has a tad extra bit of this hormone. We all want to be great. We all want to show the world we are different and better than the rest. Social media further fuels this fire. We post self-boosting stuff to satisfy this desire to be considered above average.
However, to satisfy this urge, we put more effort to show off than actually getting something done. And in the end, no matter what we do, we only want the best paying job just to prove to the world that we’re better than the rest. Please don’t fall for this!
Start small. Make mistakes. Take another couple of years to try different stuff. Take pride in telling others that you are working for example with a small poultry farm, or with a blogger, or a lawyer’s assistant, or a banks sales rep. Try every fucking thing thrown at you. You will not regret this!
6. Prove yourself now that you have a job!
Let’s assume you get a good job. You now have 25 other people at your level who you’re competing with. Let me tell you one small secret that will get you noticed for sure. Become the chotu!
When I hire a freshers from university, I don’t hire him/her to do my work. I hire them to do what I can’t do. All that they do during 9 to 5 doesn’t matter to me. But yes, if they can sleep at office when needed, if they are available to me whenever I need them, they have earned my respect.
For the 1st one year, be the chotu! Your manager is the one teaching you and catching your mistakes. You owe this to him. Make your office your home. Keep your charger with you. Find the guards room in your office where you can take a nap (make sure he’s not a pervert). This is where THE suit plays in again.
Be ready to come early some days, or come back to office after a nap. At this stage of your life, don’t consider all this a hassle. One day, this all will become your pride. And it will also make an awesome story to tell your kids ;) win-win.
By the way, when I tell you to become the chotu, I don’t mean that you let your boss keep you at work for nothing. That’s bullshit. Only be chotu when it adds value, i.e. some report releases at night and you can stay up at night to read and report the findings before the start of business.
7. Meet sales people. Let them pitch to you
Yes you can speak in English. Yes you can easily get your point across. But then why do the best salesmen never use English in your country? How do they pitch? Meet insurance policy sellers. Listen to their pitch. Meet the relationship officers in banks. Ask them what they have to offer. Take notes when there is anything new. Don’t humiliate them. Don’t get under their skin. Let them think they have got you. You owe this to them.
8. Limit the movies and stay out. Meet people
Facebook is fun. Watching all seasons of Friends again is even better. But right now, you need to meet people. Going to Lahore? Meet my friends, go with them to meet their friends. Then go with my friend’s friends to meet their friends. And do all that in THE suit.
Meet the truck drivers. Do you know what they carry in different seasons around the country? Go to the local press club. Do you know how they validate the rumors? Or do they even validate anything? Meet the dodh wala. Do you know how long their milk lasts in summers? Get the point?
9. Try your hand at different things
Not on job yet? You’re lucky! You don’t believe me? Well, you should. Yes, there is peer pressure, yes all uncles and aunties will ask you about your job. Ignore them. Tell them “nai mildi”. As I said before, try every fucking thing out there at the basic level. Right now you are in a position where everyone working wishes to be you.
You don’t have any commitments or rent to pay. If I was in your place, I would have gone to fruit mandi with a friend at 4 am to see how vegetables/fruit wholesale market works, and maybe visited clients to pitch website services.
And now the secret ingredient to the mix:
10. Question Everything
Question every fucking thing. Be it related to laws, or religion. Ask why? Where ever things don’t make sense, ask why? If they give you an answer, use your mobile phone to validate it! Questioning was the whole point of university right! They made you wonder WHY at every level.
Your job is to continue the habit into the future. This is the only line that separates you from those blindly following what they hear (the uneducated masses). If you still choose to be lazy and follow the crowd without questioning, you’re not going to lead a life of quality. And you will only be a liability to those around you!
And lastly, let me lift a burden off your back my little black and white beauty…
You will not know what you want in life till you are 30
This is how it works. Till then it’s trial and error. I never believed it when I was your age. Right now, you must be aiming to get hired by some company that pays well and then gradually move up to stable life, then car, then girl (in that particular order)!
Most of us who get this right after bachelors consider ourselves winners. And cannot help boasting about it to friends 24/7. Apart from the dogs that we do become, in the long run, we are anything but winners! In fact we are the biggest losers down the chain of losers…
In the long run, someone who has had a more diverse experience will excel. Because the skills you learn at every different job makes you more capable than a guy like me who knows nothing but finance.
You see where I am going?