Building Career Narratives
A part of this talk was delivered to a WIPRO Leadership group on
October 22, 2013 (c) Meeta Sengupta
No part of this is to be replicated without permission or attribution
Stories are Sticky
• Whether in learning
• Or in Selling...
What makes stories
• Emotional connect
• Nested loops
• Personal branding
• Flow and rhythm
• Glamour and Aspiration
• “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, I may
remember. But involve me, and I’ll
• A story is the shortest path to involving the
audience in the content.
On that note, a story..
Mr. Prabhu has been to many training courses and
has learnt a lot from them. He is also a very
dedicated reader of business books. He is a steady
worker at office, and often gets a chance to sit in on
senior leadership meetings.
Mr. Prabhu was recently rather upset. He had found
out that the COO of the company did not even
remember his name, despite having met him a few
times and discussed projects.
Mr. Prabhu does not like this situation. What can he
Elements of a Career Story
Establishing Your Circle
Intertwining of Stories
Personalise Industry Insights
Achievements Against all Odds - Conflict, Struggle, Victory
Reason to meet again - this is a serial, not a short story
(c) Meeta Sengupta Not to be used without permission or attribution
What of career goals?
• Explicit or Implicit?
• Career Goals are the reason for telling the
story, they are not directly part of the story..
Embed your Goals in your Story
Storifying your goals
• Let us ...
• Take 3 minutes...
• Embed your professional goals in the story
of your career goals so far. Maximum 30
seconds to speak
Personalise for Resonance
• Who cares for your plan? Or your goals?
• How do you make them care?
• Who is part of your team in the journey to
Build your Story Teams
Pch. Not Enough.
• Storifying makes it interesting...
• Is that enough for impact?
• A consistent interweaving of stories and
evidence over time
• The Ramayan. The story of Pakistan. The
story of the Indian as IT geek.
Narratives are built on consistency
Types of Narratives...
The Narrative Feeds the Brand
The Power of the
• What did Dravid and MSD do differently?
• Did their narrative impact their value?
Narrative Drives Value
Narrative Building in Action..
• Narendra Modi
• Rahul Gandhi
Narratives need Substance
Narratives of Leadership
• Stories of rescuing the team via thought
• Stories of standing up for the welfare of the
team without compromising the deliverable
• Stories of creating impact for self, company
• Stories of creating followership in clients and
• Your personal Narratives...
• Who builds them
• What are the elements
• Sustaining the Narrative
• What do you want to be known to be...
• A good leader
• A mentor
• A team player
• A visionary
Growing into Leadership
• From task to ask
• From delivery to accountability
• From managing people to being an
• From inward looking to outward facing
Leaders Tell Stories
Do you have what it
• Not yet?
Find and Fill the Gaps
How would you know?
• Johari Window
• Peer Review
• Positioning Exercise
Map to Expectations
• Plan for when...
• Plan development needs..
• Plan lifelong learning..
Narratives need Curation
Carpenters bend wood, Fletchers bend
arrows, Wise men fashion themselves Buddha
The Case of MM, (almost) General
• MM has been a project manager for over ten years,
and has received glowing reports for the past three
• She had some difficulties adjusting to a managerial
role but has now found her groove
• She is being considered for promotion to a General
Management position. But is not sure she can make
• What can MM do?
LLL is about Self
Hierarchies and Beyond
Giving fuel to your Targets
Beyond the myth of corporate slavery