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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Do not choose options for money?

While choosing their graduating paths, many students ask me if 'software' has a better future in terms of money, or if 'Accounts' has better potential of earning money? This is a wrong question to ask due to two reasons. One, money in a profession depends on the development of 'skill market' that are outside one's control or influence and two, future of a profession cannot be predicted in advance. Let me give you two examples.

Cricket was a non-earning game till 1980's. Even the best of the test-playing cricketers worked in companies to have the second income. I was quite surprised to see Eknath Solkar on a scooter in 1980 in Mumbai. The advent of TV and the success of world up in 1983 brought sea change in the revenues of cricket. Now even a player,like Yusuf Pathan or Rohit Sharma, earns enough from cricket without playing a single test. Even Sunil Gavaskar would be earning more money now than what he earned from his cricketing accomplishments.

Today, in the newspaper, i was reading about M.F Hussain's early life as artist. In 1950's, MF Hussain writes " ....we could not afford tea, so initially we used to order for two cups, then one of us would say that he wasn't in the real mood for tea and we used to cancel our one order". Post 1995, with the arrival of auction houses, picture has changed by 180 degrees. In 2008, MF Hussain's one painting sold at more than 1 million dollar !

This is what happens with any development of any market,be it product marke or skill market.

You are however lucky to be born in this era. Because, with globalisation & internet, the two drivers of growth, an individual with as narrow a skill as "teaching' alone can make enough money. Have you heard the story of Khan Academy? With penchant of teaching, this young man has got a funding of 1 million dollar. I know of a teacher in Vashi who trains mathematics to US students sitting in his house. Have you heard of man called Bansal who has changed the landscape of IIT coaching in a town called KOTA? His efforts has set up a coaching eco-system where a 'good teacher' can get a salary of 60 Lakhs pa in Kota..

Skill market today has undergone a significant transformation. Today, one can monetise a narrow 'skill' without depending on intermediary, such as organisation. Internet access has enabled one to cost-effectively 'reach' a very limited audience for a narrow 'skill'. This means that you can become 'best' in your area and expect the 'market' to fetch you the right revenue. You can do what you want without sacrificing 'money'.

Isn't that a huge advantage as compared to your grandfathers? My father waited for his retirement to do what he loved ( writing poetry) because he was born at the wrong time. You are twice lucky: one, because your father has created a platform for you to think beyond survival ( house and food!) and two, because the environment ( skill market) around you has changed to help you do what you like.

So, instead of thinking money as a criteria to decide your future path after graduation, either understand (your current strengths) what you are good at. Or understand what you like so much ( your current passion) that you will spare no efforts to be good at. Of course, i understand that finding both your passion or strengths is not a straightforward exercise. (We will discuss about 'how to do this' in the future.)

If you happen to possess a narrow skill, to monetise it well enough, you may face stiffer challenges and overcome taller humps ( which is possible to negotiate with higher career intelligence). But i can guarantee you one outcome: You will also be more happy with your life. If you however happen to possess a generic skill of technology, you still have to adequate career intelligence to ensure that , in you career, you will be 'happy' and have enough 'money'.

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