A roadmap to finding your why
Welcoming 2022 with that important, existential question
It’s a new year, and you are ready. You are looking to thrive, raring to make progress in something, anything. There’s energy, vision, and ambition.
So I think this is the best time to start with the why.
Why are you working? Why is your career so important to you? Why are you reading this newsletter when you could be doing a million other things? Why do you dream of achieving this goal at work? Why do you want that promotion?
I’ll answer first.
When I started my career, I was clear about what I wanted. I wanted a job because I wanted money, and I wanted the lifestyle that came with a cool IT job in the 2010s. I made it somehow. The next thing I wanted was to grow, plus I was impatient, so I worked for it. And I did grow. These steps of growing and learning led me to where I am now, with a few blunders along the way, a couple of which I have written about.
I got somewhere, but only at the turn of this decade, after I turned 30, did I ask myself why. Why did I want to grow, move, learn? I didn’t arrive at the answer then. I don’t think I have a complete answer now. I don’t trust my brain to tell me the truth. As Nicholas Carr writes in his book The Glass Cage, "to really understand anything, including yourself - requires as much mistrust as trust."
But one thing I did understand was the economic upliftment that my career had provided to my family and friends. To my family, as my earnings directly enriched them, and to my friends, for whom I was able to land opportunities and facilitate recommendations.
This became my why, of sorts. That if I could help more people build better careers, or grow faster in them, or land better jobs, if I could be the person I needed when I was younger, then there was some good in living the corporate, Google-Calendar controlled life.
There’s another way to say this, and I did, in a short blog I posted to LinkedIn on Republic Day 2020, a few weeks before our world would change. We had just completed the SaaSBOOMi Annual conference in a hotel off the coast of Mahabalipuram.
This is what I wrote:
After the first day of the conference, Suresh Sambandam, CEO of Kissflow, and Avinash Raghava, founder of SaaSBOOMi, asked me and a few others why I was putting in time and effort into the volunteering.
I had only one answer: Jobs.
When I joined Freshworks as employee 8, Freshworks was just that: 8 people in 2 rooms with a few customers. Today, it is a 5000+ people company. Girish’s vision has become a juggernaut, transforming India’s product landscape, inspiring hundreds of other startups, and in the process creating so much value for customers and partners across the world.
But more importantly, at least to me, Freshworks has created thousands of high-quality jobs for India's young and ambitious, jobs that have turned around the lives of families and communities. These jobs will create more jobs, creating secondary and tertiary economies around the offices we have; they will help make a better life for our people, our country.
If, because of my minuscule contribution to the ecosystem, I help in the smallest way in the creation of even one more company like Freshworks, hopefully one from the hinterlands, and it creates jobs for our country’s most vulnerable and at-risk communities and people, then everything will be worth it.
In 2018, I think, I was in office on a Saturday, working on a document for no reason other than because I had nothing to do at home. There was no one on the entire floor except me and the security guard. I noticed, then, that one of Freshworks’ newest employees had come in, and was showing his family around his new office. My younger colleague’s purer Tamil, its dialect, and his father’s white veshti-sattai (dhoti and shirt) told me where they were from: The agricultural heartlands of the deep Tamil south. I saw his parents’ face light up as they looked at where their son would work, I saw them ask questions about this and that, I saw him answer, and I saw them nod.
Mine was perhaps the first young career that Girish, and Freshworks changed. This young man’s was another. As he walked out with his family, he noticed me watching, smiled and waved.
I waved back.
That’s my why.
This is what I urge you to do in the new year, then: Make some time and think about your why. It won’t be easy, it may even lead you to questions and revelations you didn’t expect or even want. But do it. Even if it only confuses you, it will at least make clearer to you that you are unsure. And a little less certainty about the world may not be such a bad thing.
Welcome to 2022, happy new year, and I hope we all grow together in our careers and in our lives.
New section: The Job Board
This is a new section of the newsletter, something I tested out last year, and an idea whose time has come. And as you read above, this aligns neatly with my goals for this project as well.
Very simply, if companies send me a list of open marketing roles, I’ll put them up here for y’all to consider and apply. If you want to send me a few, please do make sure there’s a link I can point folks to, with a clear description. Also, I cannot vouch for any of the companies/roles here, unless I clearly say so otherwise. That onus is on you. And no, I don’t know if the roles are remote or not. Please ask the recruiter/hiring manager.
That said, all the very best. If this leads to a great job for you, no one will be more happy than me.
1. Scenes, who are making a Discord for businesses, have a podcast on which I appeared last month. They are looking for a head of marketing with a SaaS background. Amazing bunch of hustlers who are working their heart out on creating something truly unique. Apply.
2. Employee health benefits startup Pazcare has a bunch of marketing roles open in Bangalore. Funded, and compete in an important, large market.
3. Pipecandy is an excellent company and has roles open in Chennai. I know the folks and they are trying hard to build a great company. Apply. They are hiring in performance, social media, and content.
4. Spiceblue has a number of roles open in Chennai as well.
5. Vymo is looking for a senior product marketing manager. You will be working with an absolutely stellar team, definitely a role to go for.
6. Astralis is looking for a content marketer in Coimbatore, a chance I would have jumped on if I was younger and anywhere near the beautiful town I went to university in.
7. Chennai based Kissflow, an established SaaS player with a great culture has a slew of roles you can checkout here. Do apply. The CEO is someone I admire and who has a mission beyond Kissflow.