Okay, let me begin with a short story. One day a group of 7 year old kids were playing football, and all of them just wanted one thing – the ball! No attack or defence strategy, everyone was just running after the ball, hoping they would get it so they could score a goal. But when so many kids ran just after one shot, obviously not everyone got the ball. It was only those 2/3 kids that would actually kick and take the ball ahead, and the rest would just run along hoping they would get the shot.
But amongst those kids, there was this one kid who couldn’t just catch up. He would try hard to get the ball, but he failed to do so. In desperate attempts to get the ball in the second half of the game, he strategically places himself in a position away from where all the kids and the ball in a direction where he feels the ball might go once the game starts.
So the game begins, and the same cycle repeats. Everyone’s running, but only those few guys get the ball. And then when one of those guys kicked the ball forward the kid who was already standing further away waiting for the ball finally got it. And since he was the only kid standing there, he had no one to tackle so he quickly ran before the other kids could catch up and scored a goal.
Now the reason why I shared this story is because there’s a vital lesson to learn from it. Most people, while choosing their career, think only about where the ball is now. If you want to score a goal, you need to figure out which direction the ball or the career trajectory will go in. Observe how the world is progressing, how humans & computers are evolving, and even the fact that artificial intelligence is slowly taking over a few very conventional career options. Compare the past and present to make predictions. Don’t follow the herd mentality. Just because everyone is preparing for something, you don’t need not do it.
Essentially, there are two different kinds of progress. Horizontal progress occurs from copying things that work. It’s going from one to n, so that if you have a typewriter and then you build 100 more, you’ve achieved horizontal progress. Vertical progress is achieved by doing something wholly new. It means going from zero to one. This kind of progress is hard to imagine, because it’s something that’s never been done before. If you have a typewriter and then you build a word processor, you’ve achieved vertical progress.
All of us have heard, “A jack of all trades is a master of none” but the truth is “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”, meaning that a person is a generalist rather than a specialist, versatile and adept at many things. A T-shaped person is capable in many things and expert in, at least, one. As opposed to an expert in one thing (I-shaped) or a “jack of all trades, master of none” generalist, a “t-shaped person” is an expert in at least one thing but also somewhat capable in many other things.
Smart Labour, my first ever book on student entrepreneurship, is aimed at teaching you practical and tangible skills that’ll help you kickstart your career, increase your revenue, be heard in the marketplace and dominate competition even if you’re an absolute beginner. It focuses on choosing a sustainable career path, identifying your strengths, monetising your skills, landing a job, freelancing and even starting and running your very own company. Identifying the sweet spot between your passion, aptitude and feasibility is what the book helps you get clarity about.
Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. As humans, we can translate thoughts into reality based on what our mind conceives and deems possible.
Remember that Columbus dreamed of an unknown shore, the Wright brothers imagined a machine that could fly through the air, and Henry Ford envisioned a carriage without horses. These people had two things in common: first, they were resilient enough to overcome other people’s critiques and repeated failures in their attempts. Second, they had a vision that was clear enough and that, with the combination of a burning desire, inevitably led them to success.
Therefore, it is only when you completely burn all the bridges that are holding you to the past and start thinking in a different way that you can win in life. You can have either excuses or results, not both.
As for me, It all started in the first year of college when I landed my first payment of mere Rs. 10,000 through a marketing gig. Soon after, numerous projects followed and a whole new career path paved its way and hence, Smart Labour was born.
I’m Neel Shah and while struggling through college, I make films, market brands, write books, host podcasts and sell cool t-shirts. I too started just like any other newbie who’s just graduated high school – confused and intimidated, because the competition was so cutthroat. While most of my friends opted for more conventional careers, I knew that wasn’t for me. I always had a creative flair along with an entrepreneurial mindset.
I can assure you that if you are dedicated to put in the hard work and learn a little something from this book, it will be a catalyst for your professional life only when you’ll be that visionary kid on the football field of life.