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Author: Ravi Raman

Minimalism and Living Well with Less

minimalism living well with less

I watched The Minimalists recently. It sparked something in me that I hadn’t been thinking much about lately. After the documentary was over, I glanced around my spartan rental home and started to notice all kinds of old and useless (to me) stuff that was taking up space. Books I hadn’t touched in years. Clothes I hadn’t worn in ages. Food that we would never eat.

So began another round of purging.

I lugged three big ’ole trash bags of books I don’t need and clothes that don’t fit over to Goodwill last week. I posted a few things of value on eBay. It’s true, someone out there wants your junk! Case in point, the person who just paid $35 (+ shipping) for my 3-year old laptop messenger bag. Food-wise, we skipped going to Costco this week, opting to eat down our growing horde of staples (still working on that 20-pound bag of brown rice and pack of 20 apples).

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7 Ways to Know It’s Time For A New Job

time for new job

Gut-wrenching.

That is the best way to describe a voluntary decision to leave a perfectly good job to pursue something new. I’ve had to go through the painful process of changing jobs many times. It’s not easy, but getting to the point of conviction that it is the right thing to do isn’t impossible either. It helps to know the telltale signs showing you that it’s time to move on to new horizons.

In this post, I’ll share 7 of the ways to know it’s time for a new job. You might face just one of these, or perhaps all 7. Either way, if you are nodding your head in agreement as you read this article, you know the jig is up, and it’s time to plan your exit.

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The Value of Reading Fiction

reading fiction

Reading fiction is messing with my brain, and I like it.

I had finished reading the book I was carrying with me over the winter holidays. We were at my in-laws home, and I was scouring the house for another book to read. There were a few to choose from, scattered throughout various bookshelves. Most were being used as decorative accessories to prop up picture frames or tchotchke. I grabbed a paperback that didn’t seem to have much of a purpose. “Water for Elephants” it was called. I put it back down in search of a non-fiction book. None were to be found. I almost resorted to reading the local newspaper. Gasp!

Then, I went back to the book and picked it up. I paged through it trying to sort out what it was about. It had nothing but quotes of praise written on the jacket. From the cover image, I knew it was about a circus in the early 1900’s. My mom and wife had both read it and said it was great, though they couldn’t remember specifics. I decided to give it a shot. When was the last time I’ve read fiction? It’s hard to remember. Perhaps my second or third reading of "The Alchemist.” It’s been years.

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2016 Year in Review

year in review

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s the season to reflect. Now is the perfect time for a “year in review” blog post.

It’s nearly the second full year that Alison and I have been in one place, after leaving Seattle (home for 14 years) and wrapping up over a year of travel. If I had to pick a word that best represents 2016, it would be stability. We finally have reached a point where we have a stable home (albeit a rental), stable income (sorta, more on this later) and a stable and growing group of friends. All of this made us feel like Colorado was home.

I pushed my boundaries in a few areas, specifically when it comes to health and business, and hit a wall or two along the way. I frame this Year in Review against the backdrop of my wheel of life. I love the wheel of life model for setting goals since it necessitates a holistic view of one’s life. I’ve discovered that whenever progress occurs in one area, other areas are beneficially impacted. In this post are comments on what happened in each area of my personal wheel of life in 2016, and what I learned along the way.

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How to Get a Job You Aren’t Qualified For

get a job you aren't qualified for

Barack Obama. Elon Musk. Bill Gates.

None of them were qualified to do their jobs.

Barack was a young and so-called inexperienced politician when he became the President. Elon is toppling three established and heavy-duty industries after cutting his teeth as a software entrepreneur building…of all things….payment systems. Bill Gates started Microsoft as a college-dropout creating an operating system for the far more experienced and “qualified" executives at IBM.

Me? Well…I’ll share a few stories about my own background to make it clear that I’ve never been overly qualified for the jobs I’ve done.

In fact, the notion that anyone is qualified for the job they do is laughable. By definition, anyone starting out in a career is unqualified. Also, those further along in a career who are continuing to progress and see promotions, are continually feeling challenged.

I vividly recall Mike, one of the Executives I used to work for, giving me a golden piece of advice shortly after my promotion to being a manager (I was in my mid–20’s). When I asked him for advice about leading a new team and feeling out of my league, Mike said, “Ravi, no-one really knows what they are doing! Don’t let them fool you!”

I’ll never forget that advice.

I believe that not only is it POSSIBLE to get a job you aren’t qualified for, I think those are exactly the type of jobs you SHOULD go for. These are the jobs that will stretch you and challenge you. If you are a shoe-in candidate for a job, unless the job responsibilities can grow over time, you will quickly be bored.

This is a counter-intuitive, but comforting notion for those struggling to break into a new field, come back to the workforce after a break or otherwise “punch above their weight” when it comes to getting offers for jobs that are exciting but seem out of their league.

It’s my goal to inspire you in this blog post to aim high when looking for your next job. Not only that, I want to give you practical tips and will help you make it happen.

But first, a personal story…

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Procrastination: Why We Don’t Follow Through and What To Do About It

Sitting down to write, he stared blankly out the window.

Then, he looked at the shackles chaining him to his heavy wooden desk.

There would be no walking around. No distraction. No procrastination. All there was left to do was ruminate and write. This hostage in his own room was Herman Melville, famed author of Moby Dick.

Procrastination was Melville’s Achilles heel, and he knew it. Brute force was his preferred method of powering through his aversion to writing. He’s rumored to have resorted to requiring his wife to chain him to his desk during his writing of Moby Deck. His battle with procrastination was won through a war of attrition.

Melville was not alone.

Victor Hugo suffered from the same plight during his struggle to complete The Hunchback of Notre Dame (he hit the deadline in the nick of time). Da Vinci, Frank Lloyd Wright, and even The Dalai Lama were not immune to procrastination’s kryptonite-like effect, the insidious trait of draining all motivation from highly capable and driven human beings.

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10 Benefits of Coaching Every Professional Should Know About

The benefits of coaching are undeniable.

Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (commissioned by the International Coach Federation) shows that the vast majority of companies (86%) say they have at least made their money back.

Making your money back isn’t a high enough bar. We can look deeper into the self-reported feedback from clients showing sky-high satisfaction and repeat-customer ratings.

Even more compelling, is research in from three different studies showing that companies that have used professional coaching have seen median returns on investment from 5–7x their initial investments!

So yes, coaching can more than pay or itself. However, beyond the facts and figures, what is really interesting is taking a look at the specific benefits that working with a coach can provide.

There is a reason why business people and innovators like Eric Schmidt, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Fred Wilson (VC) are fans of coaching, and why anyone who achieved success in business, sports, music or the arts; surely has a history of working with a coach.

In this post I’ll outline ten of the key benefits that working with a coach can offer you. I could provide a list of 100 items, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll stick to the top ten!

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Meditation is the Ultimate Life Hack You Aren’t Using

meditation

Meditation is a hot topic.

It seems like everyone is doing it, or at least talking about wanting to do it.

Ellen, Oprah, Hugh Jackman and other famous folks praise the impact meditation has on their body and mind. Ray Dalio, widely regarded as the most successful hedge fund manner of all time, says this regarding the impact meditation has had on his life:

“When I look back at my life, I am happy to have had what most people would consider a successful life, not only regarding business but in my relationships and in lots of ways. More than anything else, I attribute it to meditation—partially because of the creativity, partly because of the centeredness. TM has given me an ability to put things in perspective, which has helped a lot. I think meditation has been the single biggest influence on my life.”

The appeal of meditation is that it is universally accessible, requires no formalized training, is free to practice and is said to alleviate many of the mysterious ills of society - including stress, anxiety, depression and a host of other disorders. People have been meditating for thousands of years, and with that kind of track record, it surely isn’t a fad.

In the modern “life hacking” era of everyone wanting a shortcut to success and happiness, meditation is the ultimate life hack.

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How To Get The Most Out Of A Mentor

mentor

Do you have a mentor?

For most of my corporate career, I had at least one, and up to three mentors, at a time.

When I think to the successes I’ve had on the job, I can trace much of it back to the conversations I had with those individuals. I still keep in touch with several of them today, though less frequently, now that I’ve left the corporate workplace for entrepreneurship. That doesn’t mean mentors aren’t needed as an entrepreneur, it just means that I haven’t found them yet!

Finding a good mentor might take some time. It was a few years before I met people who I had strong enough rapport with to make the mentoring relationship last for the long-term.

This post is not about how to find a mentor. Instead, I want to discuss an equally important topic of what to do once you have the mentor relationship started. Too many times I’ve heard from coaching clients (or former co-workers) who either say they have given up on finding a mentor or are stuck in a mentor relationship that isn’t working out.

It’s not enough to find someone to learn from. As the mentee, the onus is on you to drive the relationship, and when it has run its useful course for both parties, end it.

Below I’ll share a few strategies to help your mentorship get off on the right foot, and perhaps even help you get back on track if your mentor meetings aren’t working out.

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The Best Way To Decide Between Multiple Job Offers

While studies show that the average time to hire Software Engineers is about 35 days, for those in the middle of a job search, the process can seem far more arduous. For managers or executives, the job search process can last for months (or even years for top CEOs).

At the end of what can be a long and effortful process of finding a new job, a job seeker is now faced with a final hurdle. Which offer to choose?

This is a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

Perhaps you are like Felix Feng who had to choose between eight job offers after completing a coding boot camp or maybe you are further along in your career and are faced with deciding amongst 3–4 offers (as I witness with many of my senior-level coaching clients).

Sometimes, the offers are easy to rule out. Perhaps you have an offer from your dream company that is head and shoulders above the rest. In most cases, the various proposals all have their merits, and it is a smart thing to be deliberate in deciding which will be the best offer for you.

Especially if you are looking for a job in a highly competitive market for talent (e.g. like many jobs in the technology industry), the ability to assess and choose the right offer is an important one. In this post, I will share a method that will help you analyze and determine the best job for you.

I call it the “Decision Table” method.

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