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  • 3 questions for the changing world – Dilip Saraf- insights on how to navigate your next career move during COVID19

Introduction: Dilip Saraf is a world-renowned career and life coach, who shows you how to pursue a joyful life AND follow your Path through career coaching and reinvention.

Having worked 1:1 with 7,000+ clients globally, with many radical client reinventions, he shows you how to turbocharge your career, even if you are doing well now. A reinvention can span the gamut: From freshening-up your current career to taking on a whole new path!

In these changing times, when more and more people need to reinvent themselves, I sat down with Dilip, who is also my coach and a transformational guru (he has done that for me!), to ask him how people can reinvent themselves and their teams in these unpredictable times.

Ques #1: Dilip, please share how you are helping people during a pandemic to reinvent themselves and position themselves for their next career move?

Dilip: Actually, Deepika, the reinvention process has not changed. The same basic “algorithm” for reinvention works even during rapid shifts such as what happens during a pandemic. Since the Covid-19 regime has come into play I only see more opportunities available than before. All we need is an open mind and a way to think of ourselves as capable to take on something in uncharted waters. What this requires is your ability to translate what you know in one domain, mount it on your genius, and learn how to use the vernacular of another domain to show what you can do there. 

The most recent example is after March, when Covid-19 caused a tsunami of lay-offs, especially in the finance industry. One of my senior clients lost his job in an investment firm. So, rather than looking for a new job in a troubled industry, we decided to repackage his expertise to work as a consultant to wealthy clients, who were worried about their shrinking portfolios. All we had to do was to repackage this client with a different message to get their attention. This use- case can be multiplied across almost all verticals and we have done just that.

In yet another case a well-known Hollywood music director decided that the current production stoppage was detrimental to her future. So, we figured out a way to repackage her musical talent to apply it for special exercise videos for which she is now writing scores. They will revolutionize how such videos are consumed.   

In my own case I was laid-off four times and each time I changed my career in a completely different direction to land in my current and fifth career 20 years back that I am in now as a career and life coach. Most professionals get so vested in what they are doing that they are not able to lift themselves up to see beyond doing what they are familiar with and pursuing something entirely different, leveraging their unique skills—their genius. 

Our genius is what we all have but we are reluctant to acknowledge or accept it as something unique to us.

It is a reverse form of the famous Dunning-Kruger effect. We often see this effect used in a negative way: when incompetent people confidently assert that they are experts at everything. Its reverse is equally valid but less cited: where people with exceptional abilities assume that everyone possesses their abilities and that there is nothing exceptional about what they possess. In my practice what I have been able to “bottle” is how to capture that genius and translate it into a different verbal form to get my clients to pursue a new path. Using this approach, I have now helped thousands of my clients in 23 countries pursue their dream jobs in times, good and bad! We just did that for you, right? 

Ques #2: What are the challenges your clients are facing with no sight of pandemic slowing down?

The biggest challenge they all face is their own unconscious incompetence. What I said before, the Dunning Kruger effect vitiates their ability to look at themselves objectively. We all have our genius about us, and we use it every day and see it as nothing special. But if we capture that genius through our Aha! stories and write our résumé based on that approach our résumé looks very different. Now it is telling a story in a unique way and showing who you are and not merely what you did, which is what almost all résumés do. This is why most résumés cannot be differentiated in a crowded market. 

So, the first barrier to overcome is to move the client from their unconscious incompetence to their conscious incompetence. Once they cross this hurdle, next, getting to conscious competence happens almost naturally if they put some effort into it. Going from conscious competence to unconscious competence takes a lifetime of work and self-awareness. Some of my clients have reached this stage. 

The second challenge is their ability to articulate their thoughts in a compelling way. This is where I coach them on how to write well. Most people have great stories to narrate about their leadership, but they struggle with their writing. So, part of my practice is how to be a great storyteller and write well to make these stories come alive in a concise and compelling way.  

The third challenge is the stories they tell themselves. They are typically good at telling others how good they are at what they do, but their own internal dialog does not have the same passion and energy.

Unless they are able to tell their own story to themselves as compellingly as they are able to, to others they do not a breakthrough. 

Let me elaborate on that last point with my own story: When I started my coaching practice 20 years back people used to ask me what I did. My response was I DO career coaching. It took me a few more years and a few hundred clients under my belt to change that to I AM a career coach. Again, a few years later and some notable client successes to change that to I am the best coach that there is and if you can find a better coach, let me know. With that shift of mind, I changed my LinkedIn handle to LinkedIn/in/top coach and have stuck with that branding. Additionally, I have the most client Recommendations (268), many from very senior executives, of any coach on LinkedIn, which makes that claim credible. So, when you tell yourself who you are you become them. 

Ques #3: Please share how you helped people land roles since the onset of the pandemic.

Actually, what I have found is that this Covid-19 shift has not changed how my clients land. About 10% of my coaching practice is clients changing—or looking for—jobs; almost 90% of my coaching practice involves helping clients through their career growth, all the way up to CEOs.  Since March, when this shelter-in place went into effect I’ve seen two new job landings each week for my clients. These jobs range from a software engineer at Amazon to SVP of engineering to Chief Product Officer at a major F-50 company. So, I have not seen much change since the shift took place in March. What this confirms is what I had said in response to your first question: The same “algorithm” works in any situation. You just have to be honest with yourself and are able to tell your story well, pandemic, or not!


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