One quote has always stuck in my mind from my MBA days. It was the introductory quote to a chapter on Planning in Kotler’s Marketing textbook, which, for us novices, was all the holy books rolled into one, and then some more. The quote is: “Plans are nothing, planning is everything”- General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
I don’t think this quote has had any significant impact on my life or my career, but I have remembered it for almost 20 years now because of its poetic simplicity. So, till date, whenever the word plan comes up in any context, the first thing I say is-“Plans are nothing, planning is everything”
But why am I bringing out these gadha murdas of quotes, you may (rightly) ask? Well, once I quit my job, I now had to formulate a plan of action for my future. After all, I still have a family to feed, and a lifestyle to maintain (with minimal compromise), correct? So, I started planning. And now you know why I started with a long-winded preamble about a US General who has nothing to do with Marketing, or India.
As an aside (If you haven’t realized it by now, you soon will, that these ‘asides’ play a very important role in my writing, but let’s continue the sentence before we completely lose its thread, right?), one of my ex-bosses narrates this anecdote which he swears is true to the last word. So, in a team meeting with his 15-member team of research professionals one day, he referred casually to World War I. And to his eternal horror, not more than 2-3 out of them had any clue about what the British call The Great War. Those 12-13 brilliant executives who guide big MNCs on their marketing strategies, knew that something called the Second World War had taken place long ago, and some of them could even name Hitler and Pearl Harbour, but a Second World War was preceded by a First World War was a huge revelation for them. Go figure!
Anyways, moving aside from the aside, and coming back to the point, I started planning. The brief, you might recall, was to do something involving writing. So, the first cut of my plan was: Target Ad Agencies and Publishing Houses, both of them deal with the written word, and need creative people who love and respect language obviously.
With this thought in mind, I redesigned my CV, wrote a suitably quirky, but extremely honest, straight-from-the-heart, covering letter, and dashed it (and the CV) off to some 15 Ad Agencies and 5 Publishers in a single day. Didn’t want to call in any favours fro any friends/classmates working in Ad Agencies, so sent the mails to the central recruitment email id on their websites. Felt really great after doing so, after all, with my credentials, and my covering letter, why would anyone not want to at least meet up? You tell me, because I haven’t got a single response till date 🙂
During this process, I also realized another thing. What I was craving for above all was the freedom to express myself, in my own words, on my own terms, without having to constantly second guess myself, and worry about ‘business language’, ‘formal’, ‘won’t get a good score when we test it’ etc. Honestly, I was sick of being shackled so tightly that I started doubting my own writing abilities. As a colleague told me-“They’re killing the writers in us”.
And when I didn’t hear back from anybody post my applications, I realized that any corporate setup is going to do just that, try to tame my skills, and mould me in the design that THEY want, not allowing me to write the way I want to. And that realization was the tipping point that I needed to take my most drastic step yet- I decided to not apply for any full-time writing/content creation job, and become a full-fledged freelance writer.
I know it is not going to be easy at all. Freelance writers today are available a dime-a-dozen, and its very difficult to demonstrate any significant competitive advantage in this field. I’ll have to go and sell myself to various kinds of people (something that I absolutely suck at, btw), and then, without a steady source of income, follow up repeatedly for getting my payments from the same people.
But I HAVE to take this chance on myself. I need to prove to myself that I can write as per my standards, on my terms, and still make a respectable living out of it. I need to prove that there is merit, and honour, in following your passion, and giving it a fair chance, before the passion dies out for the lack of trying.
This blog is just the first, tiny, step in that endeavour. The goal is to write a story a day, and hope that someone, some day, reads it, and it makes them happy for a while. I know I might be guilty of another example from Kotler’s Marketing textbook- The Better Mousetrap Fallacy (If you build a better mousetrap, the world will flock to your doors to buy it. So, one smart company came up with a high-tech mousetrap for $15000 or some crazy amount like that. You can guess how many people would have bought it!). But then, if I do not try, how will I ever find out. So, here goes nothing…or everything, depending on how you choose to look at it!