Are You Making Career Transition Easier or Harder?

Are You Making Career Transition Easier or Harder?

In my 25+ years of career, I have made many transitions to different roles, jobs and industries. Career transition can be nerve wracking, but if done well, it can be very rewarding.

Here are a few tips on how to successfully transition your career.

1. Validate purpose

Check why you want to transition to a different <role, job or industry>

If you have good enough reasons, then move to the next step.

Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

Also, the grass is always greener on the other side.

2. Plan

A well though-out plan can reduce risks of unknown in a new career.

Add a timeline to your plan. A timeline can make your plan measurable and can give a direction to your goal.

Remember that plans are nothing, planning is everything.

3. Get a mentor

A good mentor can make your career journey smooth by sharing their experience and by exposing your blind spots.

They can drive, guide and inspire you.

A mentor can also help you stay afloat when stress and anxiety try to pull you down.

4. Get skilled

Read, study, learn!

Take classes, attend webinars, watch videos, listen to podcasts, read books,…

Do everything that enhances your skill level in your aspired career.

While you won’t become the best in short term, you’ll become really good.

5. Note your current skills

When changing careers, people worry that they don’t have skills.

We all have transferable skills. You may be great at networking or speaking, or writing or collaborating etc.

Employers need these skills in their staff. Add these to your resume.

6. Get experience (while in transition)

Here are some ideas:

– Do side projects/ freelancing

– Do pro-bono work for a friend

– Find an internship

– Offer free work to a start-up

– Join a crowdsourcing group

Add these to your resume.

All of these show that you’re passionate.

7. Network like hell

They say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”

Ideas for networking:

– Go to local industry events (meetups, conferences, exhibitions..)

– Attend online events

– Join online forums (must add value to those)

– Connect with experienced folks online

8. Be open and ask for help

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

What’s the worst that can happen? Someone would say no to you. That’s it!

Harry Potter book was rejected numerous times too.

Ask for entry level roles, internships or paid projects (depending on your situation).

9. Last, but not the least, be patient.

Changing career direction can take time. It’s a slow process.

Effort, perseverance and patience with good planning are the right ingredient for success.

How a Google Maps Review Got Me a Job Offer

How a Google Maps Review Got Me a Job Offer

I once received a job offer just because someone I vaguely knew read one of my restaurant reviews. Here’s what happened…

I was dropping off my son at school one morning and as usual, saying hello to other parents and teachers who I knew. Among those was a father whose son was in my son’s class. We started chatting and he said he spotted one of my restaurant reviews on Google Maps while planning for a dinner party. We both laughed, then segued into talking about our work. When he learned what I was doing, he asked, “Hey, I’m looking for someone to help me with this project. Are you interested?”

“Really?” I thought. That was an actual job offer. And how did I get it? Via a restaurant review. Neat!

I have few good habits and one of those habits is providing feedback. I like to provide useful and actionable feedback to people as well as to businesses where I can.

One way I give feedback is through reviews on Google Maps. Almost every time I visit a cafe or a restaurant, I leave a review. Because of this habit, I’ve got nearly 600 reviews on Google and over 2500 photos. Google says there are over 47 million views of my photos… though I have no idea what that actually means. I wish they’d pay me a cent for each view, or better yet, a dollar. 🙂

These reviews didn’t happen in a day or even a year. I’ve been writing reviews for nearly ten years. And I do it simply because I enjoy writing them.

This job offer was not the first time that my reviews rewarded me. I’ve had other opportunities before this one. Some were quite small, such as 2 TB of free space on Google Drive for free or tote bags… but some more substantial, like a chance to visit California.

However, this post is more about the lessons that we can learn from our experiences than a chance encounter with an acquaintance and a job offer. 

Here are the lessons that this experience taught me.

Consistency pays dividends. Sometimes you have to keep doing the same thing for years without any expectation of a reward. The growers of Chinese bamboo know that. For five years, they water and fertilize a plant and see nothing. After 5 years, the plant grows to 90 feet in five weeks. In my case, I was doing reviews consistently without expecting a reward.

Enjoy what you do. Again, doing what you enjoy can be rewarding. At the very least, it can bring a sense of satisfaction. For me, leaving online reviews for businesses is a stress buster and a hobby. I get excited when a business owner responds. 

Then, sharing pictures of something I cherish, like a good meal or a good experience at a theme park, feels good. I don’t think I would enjoy writing business reviews for the sake of it, and I’m sure I’d get super bored very quickly if that happens. So, do what you enjoy.

Let others know of your interests. I enjoy writing business reviews and I love telling people about it. Actually, I’ve been told that I come across like an excitable child when I share this hobby of mine with others. 

Any hobby worth talking about must be talked about. People like to know interesting things about others and love to share the interesting things they do. By sharing your interests, you build connections and grow your network. And a good network is rewarding in many ways.

Last, but not the least: 

Learn to give and receive feedback. I learned about the importance of feedback from Gerry Weinberg, the famous computer scientist and author. His book, “What did you say? Art of giving and receiving feedback” is fantastic.

Good feedback is always valuable. It is equally valuable to the giver as well as to the receiver. In fact, giving feedback is more difficult than receiving it, because it says a lot about the giver.

I hope the lessons I learned were somewhat useful for you too. Did you have any similar experience to share? Let me know as that would be great to hear. And please don’t hesitate to pass on any feedback or suggestions with me.

Three Agile and Scrum questions from a reader

Three Agile and Scrum questions from a reader

Delivering work using Agile practices can be tough because work environments vary and different organisations throw different kinds of challenges on us. I often receive questions from readers about agile delivery practices. What I have been observing for a while is that the questions mostly relate to dealing with people. As Jerry Weinberg said through his Second Law of Consulting, “No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem.”

This post answers some of the common questions that I recently received from one of my contacts. I have made some minor edits to make the questions generic. 

Coaching teams and organisations

Question 1. How should I as a Scrum master go about coaching the organisation about Agile. I come from a consulting background and coaching is usually limited to the Scrum team that I work for. Are there any techniques that can help me coach organisations or stakeholders?    

Answer: As a Scrum master, oftentimes you will only work with a couple of teams. Coaching one or two teams is easier, manageable and more convenient. However, there’s no optimum number of teams that a Scrum master can work with. Although it might appear useful that a Scrum master should only work with one team, a lot depends on the nature of the work the teams are doing, their maturity in terms of the agility, the complexity of the work, the structure, size and the culture of the organisation etc. 

One thing is sure that as a Scrum master, an organisation wouldn’t want you to be spread too thin. In his book Secrets of Consulting, Jerry Weinberg offered us his Law of Raspberry Jam, “The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets.” And, as you may know, good jam has lumps. I think a thinner jam loses taste too. In our terms, that’d be losing focus or interest.

Now coming back to your question of coaching the organisation. It pays to confirm what someone means by coaching. People often confuse training and coaching. Let’s assume that they want you to coach the organisation on using Agile practices. How would you do that? Of course you will understand their context, the training and skill gaps, and possibly the problems they want to solve through coaching. Accordingly you will find the things that will offer you few quick wins and time to find a long term solution.

Techniques of coaching depend on who you’ll deal or work with. I often mix things to make them accessible and practical. For example, I’ve organised brown bag sessions, arranged team surveys to find out what they want to learn, scheduled coaching sessions with other Scrum events so that teams don’t use the sprint time for training, coached teams by organising team contests etc. My experience is that given sufficient notice, stakeholders enjoy taking part in contests or challenges.


Getting pushed back on Agile Delivery

Question: Many times I get to deal with Clients who have low agile maturity. Either at the team level, or at the stakeholder level. I get pushed back on Agile process delivery as this would disrupt their business. In such a scenario, I initially did an Agile/Scrum 101 training. Talked about my successful experiences from the past with successful Agile delivery. However, I still felt that the clients or teams were not convinced. How should I have approached this as SM differently to get the stakeholders or team to buy into Agile ways of working?

Answer: That’s a good question and many Scrum masters, Agile coaches and delivery managers experience similar challenges.

First thing that we should understand is that Agile itself is not the goal. Even though some organisations might say that they want to be Agile, their main objective is possibly to solve some other problem through applying Agile methods or the mindset.

What often seems to happen is that when given a responsibility, many Agilists blindly start applying frameworks, tools or methods. This results in pushback from teams as well as stakeholders. (You might want to watch this video about tools and frameworks). Agile is about change and we know that people don’t like change because change is hard. (But remember that change is not always resisted. Having new born babies brings a huge change in people’s life, but almost everyone enjoys that even though it turns their lives upside down, at least for a while.)

Your clients must have hired you for a specific reason or reasons. They wanted you to solve some problem for them. Understanding their problems, their context and what bothers them builds your own confidence in the problem solving process and also instills confidence in the client. Running Agile 101 is the easy part. Knowing whether that is required, is the hard part.

Old School Product Owner?

Question: I had a tough PO who needed all requirements into the project delivery roadmap. What would be the best way to convince a PO that we cannot have all the features in the product roadmap and can only accommodate a MVP approach ensuring we can only focus on features that can be developed in a given period of time.  

Answer: It appears to me that your PO was not trained in product ownership and was only carrying the PO label. You might want to show them this video from my talk at the Agile POs and BAs meetup. In this talk I explained what product ownership is and how the prioritisation works. I’ve heard that many people found it useful. 

Although things have slightly changed since Henrik Kniberg wrote about MVP, sometimes I still use the sketch that he created to explain the idea.

You may also want to make sure that the POs you work with get training in product ownership and understand that their job is not to manage people, but to work with them for frequent delivery of valuable outcomes. You can do that by building a trusted relationship with them. Think about getting into a social contract with them.

Side note: there is no single ‘best way’ for almost anything, but there are always many good ways. ‘Best’ expresses ‘the only way’, while there can be more than one way of achieving our goals.

So, these were my responses to the questions. What else would you add to these answers? Would you answer these questions in a different way or would you give a completely different answer? Let me know.

Tips for Job Seekers

Tips for Job Seekers

As a #JobSeeker, one of my mentees asked for help and I gave him few tips to deal with the current situation. I hope they are useful to others too.

1. Do some planning:
– what can you do to manage the situation in the short term
– what does the long term look like

2. Stay afloat:
– In the short term, find ways to generate some income (selling used things online still works.)

3. Take Action:
– Re-connect with those you know and build new connections. Others might be in the same shoes as you are. So, gently ask for help and follow up after some time.
– Apply for relevant jobs.
– Can you deliver an online or virtual training? Consider those options too.
– Make a list of things you are good at. Don’t judge yourself by saying, “I’m not good at anything.” Just make a list. Can you cook, sew, build, design, teach, sing, dance,..? Someone out there might need help in that.
– Stay up to date with your skill area.
-Negotiate your rent, utility rates and mortgage.
– Can you secure a government grant to start a business? Find out.

4. Stop worrying:
Yes, easier said than done, but let’s try that. Worrying takes energy away. Distract yourself from negative things. Do things that make you feel better.

Things will improve eventually. Stay positive.

Advice for Job seekers


Is Remote working doing more harm than good?

Is Remote working doing more harm than good?

Is remote work doing more harm than helping?

In the past weeks some of my clients, friends and ex-colleagues have told me how they’re working longer hours, getting lesser exercise and spending less time with family.
That indicates a big problem. And that problem is burnout.

While working longer hours you may see high productivity in short term, but the consequences can be disastrous in the longer term. So, please stop it!

What can/ should you do:

– Block your diary for breaks. Have short breaks if you’re worried about disruption to work.
– Use lunch breaks for exercise and walks. Can you attend meetings while walking?
– Talk to your colleagues about good practices and prepare a working agreement. (I’ve written about how to create these. Visit my blog.)
– Stick to your delivery or release planning process. Agile releases allow you to flex the scope. What would your stakeholders prefer? A massive surge in productivity now and a massive drop later; or a continuous flow of delivery?

What else can we add here?

I work with teams and individuals in improving their delivery practices. Connect with me if you need help.

I didn’t know who Adam Gilchrist was and how that’s about career

I didn’t know who Adam Gilchrist was and how that’s about career

You’ll possibly find it funny that I didn’t know that Adam Gilchrist was a famous cricketer (read the full story below). I had little interest in cricket and I hardly knew any Indian or Australian players except the most famous once. That created no problems for me other than funny remarks from colleagues that I didn’t know about the game that my own countries (India’s and Australia) were so passionate about. 

 How successful someone is in their career is clearly seen by the passion they show about it. Passionate people deal with challenges more easily than those who do something just for the sake of it.

But what if you are not passionate about something and it’s just an interest? Well, the good news is that you can develop an interest and become better. Although in this post I will focus more on how passion helps you grow in your career. 

Let me start with a story first!

Few years ago I received a phone call from an acquaintance who told me that he had a breakfast invitation for me with Adam Gilchrist.

“Well, a breakfast sounds great. But who is Adam Gilchrist and what does he do?”, I replied to my connection.

There was a pause on the other end of the line. The silence broke and the person on the line informed me with a disappointing tone that Adam was a famous Australian cricketer. Then he asked me whether I watched any  cricket.

In fact I never had any interest in cricket. And therefore, I politely declined that invitation. I knew that if I had attended, people would have talked about cricket and my contribution (or the lack of that) could have got a bit awkward for Mr. Gilchrist and others.

That story ended there. However, the theme didn’t seem to.

Later in the year I attended a training on Agile processes organised by my employer. During lunch I started chatting with the trainer.

Being a practitioner, mostly you talk about your common area of expertise. So I asked the trainer, “Melbourne has many good Agile meetups going. Do you attend any?”

The trainer replied that he was often busy and doesn’t get time for attending meetups and events. Fair enough!

In order to not sounding rude, I acknowledged that response with a neutral statement and said that there was a conference coming where few famous Agile practitioners were speaking. Of course, I mentioned few names which our trainer didn’t seem to recognise. And at the next moment, he disappeared in the oblivion.

Actually, he didn’t return to continue the conversation and avoided any other discussion where any such references were used. I have a feeling that he only knew what the training material referred to.

The first scenario above demonstrates my ignorance about about the game of cricket and a well known player. Since I never had any interest in cricket, not recognizing Adam Gilchrist is hopefully pardonable.

I believe that it is okay not to know someone from a field that has little or no impact on you or your profession. But I think it is not okay to not know people who have made significant impact on the particular craft that you belong to.


I would be surprised to meet those physicists who don’t know Richard Feynman or Stephen Hawking or Neil Tyson. How would you feel if you ask an aspiring (Hollywood) actor what she thinks of George Clooney and she shows her ignorance about George Clooney’s existence? I would be surprised too, even shocked! 

Although it seems to me that it is only the tech industry that appears to be losing it. 

I come across programmers writing applications in Ruby on Rails but never thought of knowing the origin of its creation. I come across multitude of testers who never know anything about testing beyond writing test scripts.

Does it really matter?

Not knowing the originators or those who have spent years practicing and developing the craft you work in may not affect you in your job, if it is only a job for you that pays a wage that pays your bills. That is, you are in a 9-5 job and don’t really care as long as it is provides ‘job safety’ and pays on time.

Where it might affect your growth is in the community and at employers who are passionate about their crafts. Why? Because that shows that you are not passionate enough.

Technology has made this world much smaller than you may think. It is far more easier to know about individuals and their skills.

Don’t let lack of interest be your enemy for your next job..!