Many years back, when I interviewed at the Stephen’s college in Delhi, I was asked, “tell me something about yourself”, and I had no idea what to say. I had no problems answering factual questions about science and general awareness, but just didn’t know how to construct my answer to, a now seemingly benign question, “tell me something about yourself”.
I know not knowing the answer to this question sounds stupid to you but to me the question was unfair, almost like an “out of syllabus”.
Siting where I do today, it’s almost always impossible for me to explain to a peer that for a young boy from a small town like Siliguri, walking into a rather elite college, not that the whole university didn’t look like one, for an interview with a HoD, this isn’t a outlier case of mine.
Thankfully I made it through in Delhi University (Hindu College) and then did my management course in the university and found a job from campus recruitment. But yet again, my first day in office was as awkward as perhaps that interview at Stephens. Somehow it felt that I wasn’t ready for work. Didn’t feel like I knew how to navigate a professional work place. Didn’t feel confident in my language and communication skills. Had an uneasy feeling about how to dress, address and almost everything that’s needed to settle into a work-place like social system, which is way different from the one in schools, colleges, playgrounds, hostels and home. Not everyone was as uncomfortable as me, perhaps they might have been exposed to some bit of corporate culture because of where parents worked. And then again, I now know, I wasn’t an outlier, even though back then it did feel like.
It isn’t impossible.
Of course I later understood that there was nothing unfair about those situations, all there was, was the need for exposure.
It just takes too much effort, anxiety and often setbacks as one navigates through these stages of adaptation, especially if one comes from a small town or from a family where people haven’t been to top schools or worked in corporate environments.
What is very evident is that beyond (and perhaps way over and above) skills, knowledge and know-how what one really needs is the ability to cultivate – CONFIDENCE, COMMUNICATION SKILLS, EMPATHY, WORLD VIEW, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND BALANCE.
In the beautiful book, Fierce Conversations, Susan Scot, the author says – “Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can”
“Good conversations” are a fantastic way to find that EXPOSURE, even while we keep aspiring for a transformational change. But equally, a good conversation is a luxury, especially if one is not a highly connected person. I struggled for them, and I am guessing that there are many people like me out there.
While there is no dearth of access to good (& great) speakers thanks to Ted, Youtube and Umpteen Podcasts, a conversation, where one is not just a passive listener but an active speaker is almost impossible for common folks. There’s always a gate that prevents you from being part of a conversation. One is almost always in the audience.
The Mentza Community
While growing up I came across many young adults in similar situations where they were just soooo good at what they did but they needed the fine tuning which could happen through learning from people who were nailing it already.
And this burning desire to connect the fortunate to the unfortunate, the rich to the poor, the experts to the learners, the kind givers to the longing receivers started.
Then in 2020, when life was good, my first company had been acquired and well integrated in the new parent company, it felt like the right time to start working on Mentza.
A platform where an amazing community of aspiring professionals, learners, experts, coaches and mentors come together via live-audio to engage in meaningful conversations, helping each other grow, one 20-minute conversation at a time.
The journey so far has been very rewarding. And I know that in the coming years it is going to be exponential.
If my story resonated with you in any form I would love for you to Come join me on Mentza. And be a part of this Family.
Here’s what I often hear members say on Mentza
“Mentza has opened up so many avenues for me. It has improved my public communication skills, given me a channel “A Word A Day With Study Buddy” which I’m so proud about, given me amazing friends and an awesome environment which is so helpful and non judgemental”
“I have come across the skill to talk out what I have in my mind instead of pondering over it for a long time and never getting the answer.
Got to connect with so many people and enhance my knowledge… Specially the ones who I don’t come across owing to my priorities but the topics make me look at them… Now, I feel free to portray my thoughts…”
“It made me confident in speaking among my friends in English , I came to know about more words in English, like the word “embedded”
“I used to hesitate a lot to probe or to portray my view, but here I am! I feel my knowledge has also grown”