Many years ago I came into contact with Sree Sreenivasan. Back then Sree was a professor at Columbia (and a dean there, as well as the Chief Digital Officer), and a tech reporter for WNBC, where he actually featured JibberJobber twice, in NYC. About three years ago he announced he was leaving Columbia to be the Chief Digital Officer of The Met (aka, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC)… what he said was his dream job.
Last month Sree announced that he was leaving The Met. I saw this two minute video of him, talking about what he did. I hope the video embeds well.. if not, go here and watch it. My commentary below this video (scroll down).
I have to say, I was surprised to see that Sree is moving on from The Met. Sree has always seemed to have the perfect career… he had a lot of power and authority, influence and impact, opportunity, and he was in an extraordinary position to meet lots of new people and have real, deep relationships. To jump from over 20 years at Columbia to a new employer was a leap of faith… and here we are, three years later, moving on.
Let’s dig into his video… first I’ll comment on some of his important points, and then I’ll end with an observation that he didn’t talk about:
“I was angry for a little bit” I too was angry (for a long time). He said he had to channel his anger… as did I. I know you will feel a lot of emotions, even anger at whoever did this to you (and maybe at yourself). Channel that energy into something useful, and don’t nurture resentment and bitterness.
“I put it on Facebook” Seems kind of obvious but too many people don’t do this simple thing: REACH OUT. Maybe not on Facebook, but to your network. Reach out and let people know that you need help, and that you will accept help, and how they can help you. Don’t do the job search thing alone!
“I made a google form” (asking what he should do) This was brilliant… it served a few purposes: (1) it made people think about Sree and what his next move could be, which surely would (2) make them think about how they could help him achieve that (hopefully with introductions and leads). It also (3) invited people to share positive thoughts and ideas with Sree. As you know, at any point in a job search it’s easy to get into a pity party and think negatively about yourself. I found that after weeks of rejection and non-response, I started to actually believe that I had nothing to offer, and my prospects for the future were getting darker by the day.
“This could happen to you” This has been my message for over ten years. I don’t care how happy you are, how much of a producer you are, how great your company is… so many variables are at play here, that you have no control over, that no one is safe. Feel safe? You better STILL be preparing for a change in career.
“What is your Plan B, C, D” Quick… if you had to change jobs right now, what is it to? What is your Plan B? Let’s go a little further and think about your Plan C and D and maybe even more. You might be insanely loyal, but you are only doing yourself a disservice if you don’t have a Plan B (and C and D, etc.) AND aren’t preparing for those plans. I had no Plan B, and learned that making it up on the fly was hard and painful.
“Save money” I know that most of us are living paycheck to paycheck, but we need to save for a rainy day. I had $1,000 in savings by the time I got laid off, and within one week spent it all on car repairs. Whoops!
“What are you offering the world today?” You need to think bigger than “I do a good job, and my boss knows it.” What are you doing today that would make other companies and hiring managers say “wow, we want that!”
“People want to help you… “ When I was speaking in SoCal a few years back and made this point, a lady on the front row said “no one wants to help me, least of all my family.” It was really sad to hear her talk about how she had zero support. I would argue that in most cases, we all have people who want to help us… even if we don’t think so. Our family, friends, neigbors, colleagues, etc. don’t want to see us suffer like this. Here’s a big eye-opener, though: the people you might be sure will help you might not be able to… too busy, not know how, or not realize that you look to them for that much help. But please, believe that people want to help you.
“You have to be willing to accept the help” which is “very difficult” to do Yes, very, very difficult to do. We are generally good at giving help, and just unaccustomed to receiving help. It takes heaps of humility to accept help graciously. Get good at this.
What does Sree not talk about? He doesn’t talk about how he has spent years being nice, working on great things, and nurturing real relationships. His Twitter account has over 7o,000 followers (granted, not all of those are real people) because he is a giver, and a networker. Sree has a contagiously charming personality, and people like him. He has helped many people, and when you meet him in person you instantly like him.
I know that has a lot to do with the results he had with his Google form… he had a network, with real relationships, and actually tapped into that network. You could too. I’m not saying you can’t be an introvert, but I am convinced that we all need to get much better at real relationships with people: family, friends, colleagues, etc.
Thank you, Sree, for being a great example to us!