A multi-disciplinary expert with cross-functional expertise in marketing, communications and technology, Chirag Patnaik has had his fair share of experience in business and off late in politics as he headed operations, for India’s oldest national party’s (the Indian National Congress’s) Social Media team for three years in the run up and post the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, under the team led by Divya Spandana, former MP and the chairman of the Social Media team of the Indian National Congress. Here are some of his thoughts that he shared with us about the dos and don’ts to succeed at the workplace.
How do you plan your action steps to achieve the end result?
In the day to day hustle, one invariably gets pulled into current issues. It is important never to forget the bigger picture. Your day to day decisions need to be driven by the larger goals that you or your organisation may have.
To relate it to the experience at the Congress, political communication is like an iceberg, with more happening underneath than above it. So to see that top tweet or that facebook post that went viral a lot of work goes under the hood. Significant time and energy was spent in establishing unofficial networks, on facebook, twitter and Whatsapp (including thousands of whatsapp groups) to carry the party’s message to voters all across India.
How difficult it can be to share our opinions wherever that matters?
If you have a seat at the table, then you should speak your mind. Not everyone will solicit your opinions. Even when they do, you need to be ready mentally to speak up. This is a lesson not everyone is taught and very few people learn.
If you are in a meeting, you are expected to speak your mind. Don’t wait for an invitation (Be nice though. Don’t interrupt others)
Did any amount of criticism put you down in your work?
Speaking up is important and so is being a keen listener. Be always open to ideas and opinions of others and never shy away from hearing criticism of those who do not concur with you.
New ideas bring critics and critics bring new ideas. Both feed off each other. While they may be adversaries. It is better to listen to the critics and see if there is some truth to what they say and use the criticism to do better. rather than dismiss them off hand.
How important is it to keep learning in any career?
Being an expert in what you do is the key element to success in your professional life. After you are an expert in one field, you should look to learn more about other fields. Cross-fertilisation of ideas will help you make the right leap of imagination that may help you excel in your current field.
How important is it to stay loyal to discipline?
Different people use different methods to stay organised. Sometimes a notebook and pen is the best way to do so. Digital notes may be scattered all over and you may not be able to find and keep track of things. There are also digital to-do task apps etc. Whatever method you choose, remember that if you have committed you have to deliver. Being organised only helps you ensure that you deliver most of your deliverables without any drama. Every so often you will be pressed for time. But because you were organised, you will be able to better prioritize and get the most important items out first.
What helps you unlock your hidden potential and explore new territories?
History is witness to the fact that those who make big bets make history. In every meeting, every challenge, train your mind to, if the situation warrants, take bigger bets, contrarian positions. Be prepared to to try new, unproven things and have the rigour to continue experimenting. That said, risk taking isn’t a blind leap, but a process of trial and error. Which means that like all experiments you should conclude with learnings that can be easily communicated forward.
What is the real idea of success?
Having the foresight is a small part of succeeding. Ability to execute on the vision by deploying money, time, effort and other resources is often more important than just having an idea. Ideas are dime a dozen, it is in bringing ideas to life, is where the real success is.
How do you react to unexpected changes or may be failures?
Change is tough. Like inertia, it takes extra effort to get started, but when you get underway, you can see things change rapidly. If you believe in a particular cause or project, you need to be persistent in seeing it through. Your persistence has to extend to convincing other people to come around to your point of view. That said, know when to cut your losses. Throwing good money after bad is as bad as spending time on a project that will never see the light of the day.
Read Also: Interview with Chirag Patnaik
What principle do you follow that helps you make a decision?
Life is all about the choices we make and the decisions we take.You are responsible for where you are. Not god, not your parents, your partners, your friends. You may have started at some point because of your circumstances. But what you chose to do with them is what brings you to where you are today.
Mind the words coming from real life experiences. If one perceives even a few of the aforementioned notions, they are surely going to be prepared to easily fight a lot of problems in their life.