2009 is going to be a watershed year for most people. World is at an inflection point - a recession shaking up the tree and most of us have to pick ourselves up fresh from the ground. Admittedly, this is not apocalypse yet and there are plenty of things, which are going as good as ever. Education is one of them, indeed. This is the best time to go back to school for most people and learn a new skill or get a new degree. Paradoxically, the business I run is looking better than ever, as English Language offers many people, stuck in the threshold of employability, a sure way to move forward.
However, this is not coming without pain. Suddenly, the business model we envisioned only a year back looks inadequate. We, somehow, ended up building a business around corporate training, which was like going to seashore to watch a tsunami. I spent some time talking to industry professionals yesterday and understood that Indian corporate training business has fallen by as much as 40% in the last six months. Sadly, the downturn hit us in October, which is the worst month for corporate training business anyway, and so far, the bad news have not stopped coming. I think almost everyone in the sector is looking at March, the traditional big month for corporate training, and the results end of March will tell everyone whether the assumption of 40% contraction is also optimistic.
But one good thing for us - despite the pain associated with changing course - was that we are not a corporate training company. The positioning was artificial anyway, a sort of a safety net our managers built in the interim. Taking out that cover is now exposing us to what we needed to do in the first place - sell franchises and get going with retail training - and things have started falling in place on that count.
However, a certain fatigue is setting in me. Fatigue due to travel, indeed - I may want to stop these long haul travels some time soon. The 3 to 4 week travel commitments are unsettling, and since I have done too many of those since August, my life is currently in a complete disarray. But I did not want to stop till the business turns a corner, and I estimate we are almost there. So, I am almost looking forward to a quieter April, though I already know that March is going to be as bad as February, and I shall start rebuilding life from that point on.
Rebuilding life as in doing something else. I do think that by April/May, this business will have a life of its own. A different sort of life than initially envisioned, but I do think that will be more in sync with the aspirations and the capabilities of its shareholders than the current model. That will be a point when I can step back with the satisfaction of a job accomplished. And, I am sure I must step back, because the format we have now will contribute little to my own learning and satisfaction. I shall need an opportunity which provides me learning and variety to keep me going, as always.
One of the ideas I have is going back to the University for a year. As everyone does - there were no better time than this. However, I do consider myself a bit too old for that. Not too old to learn - one never gets too old to learn - but to spend a full year away from work, which implies a lifestyle change of significant proportion. This is one task at hand for me - I need a break and think it through - whether I can actually handle the transition.
The other idea, of course, is to embark on a second migration. I would love to go and live in another country for a while. Even if I keep Britain as my base, I am keen on expanding my horizon. Living in Asia is something I would consider, though North America seems equally attractive. I am also keen to come back to India at a not too distant future, and this constitutes a third option. I am more or less certain that if I don't do the university, I shall surely attempt a location change. This will happen as early as this summer.
I have also realized that I do not project myself well. I have done many things in life and learnt, mostly with private effort, a number of things. However, I failed to collect evidence and get this visible on CV. That remains a potential roadblock for moving forward. This is something I wish to work upon very soon, not just the CV but think through what I want to do, and which skills align best to that objective. I am actually going away from Kolkata for next couple of days into the interiors of West Bengal, and I am hopeful that whatever else I do, this will allow me time to reflect and study a bit.
So, a sort of midlife crisis on my plate at this time. However, I have one thing working for me. I am not afraid of change. In fact, I always loved change and the variety it brings. I am actually feeling free - feeling sort of lightness - and I am approaching all this with happiness in my mind. Somehow, I feel confident that my life post this point is going to be better than what it has been so far. The only thing I have to fear is fear itself [courtesy FDR] and I am not going to repeat that mistake once more in my life.
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