How I found a job during a Pandemic

Vineet V. George
45 min readJan 2, 2022

Okay, this is going to be an interesting project. I thought I’d write a ‘live’ blog. Well, at least it’ll be live for me. And perhaps someone gets to learn something from this?

I left my previous job, after a very long notice period (of over 7 months), on the 14th of May 2021. I had planned to take a month or two off to refresh, rejuvenate and explore. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working at my previous organization for four years, having had the opportunity of working with industry leaders across various domains, being part of the core leadership team (even though I still don’t understand if I added any value there) and scaling up a practice, globally. When I joined, I would have never thought this to be possible. The growth was tremendous, to say the least.

What a team!

The only reason I wanted to move on was to keep pushing myself out of the comfort zone. Yes, obviously, I could have shifted products or practices or geographies within the same organization. It was a very tempting offer too. But that would not have been that big a push out of my comfort zone. I wanted to completely step out, spend time thinking about ‘what next’ and then start working towards it.

In the last month or so I’ve narrowed down to two main areas where I’d like to work — Tech (In an OEM like Microsoft or Apple) and Media (TV, OTT or Radio). In both industries, I’d love to work in the sales domain. In Tech, obviously selling software. In Media, Ad Sales is something I’d be looking out for. Unless I find something else more interesting. Having narrowed down my options, the next step to take is to start working towards my goal and APPLY!

This is the hard part. I’ve never been good at selling myself. I’ve sold books, authors (in a way), platforms and products. But I have never ever sold myself. I’ve always let my work do the talking for me. But now, I need to sit and build my profile and start my applications.

I did okayish during my time off too. Connected with quite a few folks from my network, learned a lot about ad sales, Mar-Tech and a little bit about how the Media industry works. Spoke to a few HR Reps, and applied to about 50 jobs sporadically (tried to get a good overall feel for the process of applying for jobs).

What I like about the progress so far is that it has been a bit disciplined (quite unlike me). I have made step-by-step notes of the things I have done — made my website, created a couple of drafts of my resume, and made a sheet with all my applications & industry connections in them. I may not have done all this in a goal-oriented fashion but since I made a record of everything, I can assess and improve (a good friend once told me, whatever is measurable can be improved)

To be honest, in the last two to three weeks I’ve not done much. I’ve finally been able to travel, do a longish bike ride down to Bangalore and shall be here for some time. But I do feel it is high time I got on with my job applications and finalized my future plans. I do not need to start working immediately (I’m planning late August or early September, once I get some home stuff sorted, like helping sell off my mom’s Delhi apartment, and help her move from Bengaluru to Delhi), but I need to get this sorted out.

So yes, I’m finally starting my ‘job hunt’ earnestly today, and have decided to create a live blog on how I progress. I shall try to write regularly, to capture my actions, my feelings and my ups & downs. Today is the 30th of June and we shall call this ‘Day Zero’ (campus placement style).

Day Zero: 30th June 2021

This is Day Zero, because today I set my foundation and continue work on this foundation till I reach my goal (getting a good job). The foundation basically means that I sort out my —

  • Daily Schedule (Life)
  • Daily Career Goals (Applications & More)
  • Daily Progress Goals (Learning, Writing and Becoming More)

Schedule is pretty simple — Start early with my body and mind workout so that I’m ready for ‘life’ by about 7am. (5.30am work outs are the best).

Career Goals — I plan to start slow with the 5–5–5 rule for each & every day. Apply to 5 jobs, connect & send messages to 5 HRs on LinkedIn and make 5 industry connections & send messages, asking to set up a call.

Progress Goals — Learn AWS, continue my Masterclass learning, and write more (Medium & LinkedIn), edit more (YouTube) and build my personal brand (Twitter & Instagram).

The day’s begun well — I’ve done my regular tasks, got my eating & working out schedule sorted and even posted something on LinkedIn. I need to up my Twitter game too so will spend some time doing that.

Going to sort out my calendar with my to-do as well. Here’s what it looks like now -

I’ve always loved good calendars. :)

Day 1 went well, I did complete my 5–5–5 target and was able to set up two calls with industry leaders — One with an HR lead in WeWork (I am not sure why WeWork, maybe because of the cool branding) and one with a sales lead with a reputable ad co. Did 5 good applications, with cover letter et al. Let’s see if we get to hear back from some of the folks.

Day One: 1st July 2021

So today is the actual Day One. I procrastinated (already) a bit since I got caught up with playing some music. Did not start the day at 8am but at a leisurely 9am after playing, and sharing some stories on Instagram. But got down to business right away.

Today I’m searching specifically for Media Sales roles and applied to a couple of them, messaged HR reps right away and asked around a bit for referrals to some other companies.

As I’m shortlisting and applying, I find my inner self either excited by a role or saying ‘meh’ to a role. For example, there was this LinkedIn Marketing Solutions sales role which I was intrigued by but there was no excitement from within. But there was a pure Ad Sales role with a leading Ad & Digital Marketing Company which got me going ‘Wow’ from within. Is this what intuition is? Is this what ‘connecting with the universe’ means?

In any case I feel very happy after applying to a company ‘properly’. Applying ‘properly’ means to spend time on the application, write out a cover letter and also drop a note to the HR. (and not just a random LinkedIn application without focus). So this 5-applications-a-day goal is pretty good for me. I’m able to focus and apply mindfully.

Another thing I should definitely work on is to be able to prep for my interview. I don’t feel ready at all. I such at answering questions about myself or thinking about situations from my past. I need to gather a lot of information to answer interview questions because I may not be able to do that fast enough if some interview does get set. I even started a slide deck with details of my inner self, questions I would have to prepare on and with some pointers to answer them. Have to work on that today.

The Slide Deck!

Days Two through Four: 2nd July to 4th July 2021

My brother and I decided to go house hunting in Bangalore on Friday, the 2nd. It was an interesting experience, we saw some very nice places and some really weird localities. I did message a few folks on LinkedIn for calls but nothing concrete materialised.

I travelled back to Delhi on Saturday. I love flights, I love airports and I love visiting different cities. The time spent on a flight is such an amazing experience. So much to think about, so little disturbance from everything going on in the planet below. Such an enthralling experience.

I also love landing in Delhi, it is the most wonderful city in India (for me). Yes, it gets a bad rep because of some of the craziness that has happened here, but overall, it is a city with a BIG BIG heart.

Day Five: 5th July

This Monday was all about catching up, and making up for the days left behind. I had to cover up the entire miss and hence do about 20 applications today! And all of them should be exceptionally good. No short cuts or cutting corners on my applications.

I decided to go with discipline and managed to get after it.

Umm.

This week I am focusing on starting my days even earlier, working more when the environment is quieter and there is more ‘space’ available for mindfulness. Yes the calendar looks crazy, but it is the most helpful thing. There are time slots for rest as well as work. This helps stay on course, and stay connected with my larger goals as well as the direct tasks at hand.

Day Six: 6th July

Woke up at 4am as planned, did Google Digital Garage. Felt mighty proud.

Groggy and Proud

Finished my work, came to a Starbucks. Posted on LinkedIn and Instagram (and Facebook). Was good content. Was hearing a podcast by Nike → First LeBron James and his coach, Mike. Then Simon Senek. Learnings -> Infinte Game, Training and discipline is about what you don’t do. (Not eating bad stuff)

Asked around and found that iimjobs is also an interesting place to apply. Creating my account now.

I did quite a few applications on iimjobs — pretty cool platform but I think people are not active enough on it. HRs tend to post jobs everywhere and forget about it. While that is not ideal for the candidates, I have come to realise that there are quite a few non-ideal behaviours projected by professionals around us. Even people we know tend to forget things after saying that they’ll do them.

Days Seven through Eleven: 7th July to 11th July

I took it a bit easy these five days. Lots of home chores, and work to be done before leaving for Bengaluru on Sunday, 12th July. I will not lie. I let myself go a bit. I did attend my LunchClub sessions and met a couple of very nice life coaches.

An important learning: Most of us tend to focus on our weaknesses and try to improve them. One life coach told me that we should rather focus on our strengths and elevate those strengths. That can lead to a more fulfilling professional and personal life.

Day Twelve: 12th July

Today is a Monday, so it has been pretty Monday-like. I mean, how people normally view Mondays. I did not have such Mondays ever. Monday was the most exciting day of my week, period. I loved going back to work after a good weekend. I don’t know why, but I just found working on a Monday a blissful experience. It was also a very strong start to the week.

Today though, I feel like I am jet-lagged (With my Delhi to Bangalore flight, I know). The first half of the day was spent in trying to get my bearings. I just lay down, watching ‘Good Doctor’, reading the new Jeffrey Archer, and taking my brother, Vijeet’s dog, Jinnie, for a walk in the afternoon.

Towards the afternoon though I decided I did not want to waste the day, and set up my work-desk, a calendar for the evening and also got my to-do list sorted. Felt nice, not letting the whole day go waste (Which was always a possibility).

Happy Mondays are under-rated

In the evening I had a call with the Business Director of an ad agency in Bangalore. Good call, but the person they were looking to hire was slightly junior so I did not feel very excited after the call

Day Thirteen: 13th July

A very organized and sorted Tuesday, I slowly got back to my grind — Worked out in the morning, got my food in, got the applications on again. I got an interview call from a company (my first ever formal interview call — yaay). I started studying for it, prepared the questions I should be answering and felt pretty good about myself. Also got back to connecting with, and writing to, new folks on LinkedIn.

I always seem to let go of any momentum I build but this time I was quite sure I could not let that happen. Had to get back on the grind, get back on track asap. And I’m happy I did. It feels tough but I pushed myself to get back on the laptop, open LinkedIn Jobs and begin my work again!

I also played the piano a bit more. I have to practice for a song I hope to release by Thursday with Deepankar. I also want to learn this other song by Prateek Kuhad that I’ve fallen in love with!

Day Fourteen: 14th July

I love Wednesdays. It is our weekly date/dinner too!

I got my applications back on track finally — Have a lot of catching up to do for last week’s lethargy. I also met a new and interesting person on LunchClub (again). This time it was someone in Luxury Retail (think of Gucci, Versace).

Continuing to prep for my first formal interview tomorrow with this company in the space of location-intelligence and mapping, based in the UK. It is not related to the space I want to go into — I mean, I’ll again get stuck in the same old Maps & Cloud domain but I just want to go ahead with the interview (thinking that the universe might want me to do this, for some reason unknown to me right now).

On LinkedIn, I reached out to the Head of Marketing for Pro-biking at one of my most favourite biking companies and will be sharing my ideas to make the bike more of a lifestyle brand than what it is right now! Just started that deck too! :)

Day Fifteen: 15th July

Best LunchClub Meeting Ever — met a leader in media, ad sales and VC investing. What a wonderful 20 minute conversation! :)

The best thing I learned was that it is important to have a go-to list of companies, and for me, that’ll be in the world of Media / Ad Sales. Basically, I have to know what i want and not settle for anything less.

Okay, today was also my first ‘formal’ interview process with this company in the space of location intelligence. It was with their talent lead and I must say I enjoyed it but there were some observations I wanted to jot down -

  1. I don’t think I was being myself. I was portraying an image of myself that was not grounded, down-to-earth etc. I felt very different. Was it my professional version, whom I’ve not met in the last one and a half months? I can’t say.
  2. I think I could have presented my story better. I need to write down my general plan a bit better
  3. I need to research more into the company, prepare notes on the pros, cons, what can go well, what can’t etc. Some sort of objection handling, show that I am more of a pro in this space.
  4. I should stop saying ‘Don’t know if you saw this in my resume’ — It sounds demeaning and the better way to do it is — ‘I think you may have already read this on my resume…’
  5. More eye contact — I know it was video but I was not looking at the person on the call.
  6. Think through your answers, have post its on the wall in front for pointers etc. if required. Be more alert and listen
  7. I think I was very mindful and attentive. I thought my mind would wander a lot more but it didn’t. I was in the state of flow.
  8. More excitement in my voice, and louder maybe so I can show more confidence.
  9. For some reason I did not openly share that I had stopped working at my previous organization already. :/
  10. I enjoyed the way I asked questions because every answer the HR rep gave, I would substitute with some experience of mine that would showcase that I was a good fit for the job, and then I’d quickly ask my next question. For example — ‘Yes, that makes sense, I had a similar experience while working in my most recent experience, and did ____,____ and _____ to manage such situations there. But tell me, apart from these challenges, are there any others that you’d anticipate for this role?
  11. I’ll also have to study a bit on consumer behaviour since they have to shift behaviours of the Indian diaspora.

Okay going for a walk now. The role was good, excited to know if I’d be selected. Very excited for restarting corporate life.

Days Sixteen through Nineteen: 16th July to 19th July

I know this is becoming a bit of a cycle now, but I could not do anything related to LinkedIn in the last few days since my aunts were here and we were celebrating my mom’s 60th birthday — a cool road trip, some good food and having a bit of fun. I’m happy I could be fully present for this time in my mom’s life when she’s turning 60 and also retiring from her organization (where she worked for over thirty years). It’s amazing to be able to experience this, mindfully.

Happy Birthday Rockstar Amma! :)

Did have two calls with two media cos. One with a sales lead and the other with a product lead. They were okay, just got to know the companies a bit better. I’ve realised that some people are unable to share properly about what they do at work. They’ll have such elaborate LinkedIn profiles but when you ask them what they do, what the culture is like and how they feel about their team, they draw a blank. I don’t know why.

Also, I got back to Delhi, AGAIN. I think I should figure out a way to get Vistara to pay for my flight tickets or maybe partner with them for something? Work with them? Unfortunately they do not fit into any of the categories I’m planning to start working in.

And I also got back to Bangalore, AGAIN! My mom and I had to go to Delhi for a couple of days for some work for her apartment deed or something. Visiting government offices is one of the most exciting things. The lull, the mad rush and the eventual happiness of a job well done make you feel (unnecessarily) happy about yourself. It’s how we create problems for ourselves and then feel happy after we mend them (ourselves). There’s no growth, but you feel pseudo-pleased with the achievement. That’s what government offices are to me. A fun, unnecessary bother.

20th Day: 20th July 2021

Really tired mentally after the excursions of the last four days. Took it slow in the morning, hit the gym, took a bath. Didn’t have breakfast but went off on the bike for an errand (Asus) and then went to a Starbucks and sat and made my first presentation for the ‘maps’ company I had applied to, interviewed for, but they never responded. I still wanted them to know my thoughts about India though. And I hope they can use those ideas / thoughts. I hope they do reach out and call me though.

I don’t know why I feel very slow today. Like tired in my head — Don’t want to do this reaching out on LinkedIn business at all. Why should I? Who cares? What if all this is just a mad waste of time? What if I don’t get a job?

I think I should take a break now.

Day 21 to Day 57: 21st July 2021 through 26th August 2021

Wow, 36 days went by quickly! Ever since my mom retired (or at least a week before that), I have been running around, planning her retirement week, post-retirement family vacation, getting her work sorted, helping her move back to Delhi, from Bangalore, getting some property work done, and just travelling a lot — Inter-city as well as Intra-City.

With all the Kerala trips, made sense to celebrate an Onam in Delhi

In the midst of all this, I have upskilled further, in the world of Ad Sales. I started this MasterClass by Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein on the world of Advertising. It is such a wonderful MasterClass. I have fallen even more in love with the world of advertising and can’t wait to get started.

I have a feeling this is how life will be till about mid-September, after which we shall be settled in Bangalore and I can then earnestly work on my applications (Again). Yes, I know the timelines keep changing but that was also the point of the break — Not to beat myself up over anything. Go with the flow.

Anyway, coming back to the love of the world of advertising. I think Marketing-Tech is a good segue into this space since it marries my experience of platform + tech sales and this new found love for advertising & marketing.

I am working on this now and also focusing more on getting

A good friend referred me to three roles with his organization (the world’s largest Ad + Search company) out of which I got two rejects. One recruiter reached out for a first level phone call and this is tomorrow. Excited to do this and get an understanding of what this interview process looks like!

Day 58: 27th August 2021

I am now in Kerala, and I gave my first-level-telephonic interview with the Ads-org today. I wouldn’t call it a process since it was the first level recruiter phone-call. Here is a bit about my experience and learnings-

The recruiter interview is more of a ‘getting to know each other’ where they share a bit more about the role, ask you about your experience, what your eventual career journey looks like, and try to assess how you approach problem-solving.

I was asked a hypothetical question (I knew I would be, based on my research). The question was on a past experience where I managed multiple stakeholders and pushed through an initiative. I had quite a few of these in my head given that we worked across the space of Maps, Cloud, organizational initiatives etc. So I think I did an okay job of explaining it to the recruiter. Plus the process was audio-only so I was able to walk around my hotel room and answer freely.

I was also asked about my career journey, why this role was important to me, and how it fit into the larger scheme of things.

Learnings:

  • Think of experiences and build stories to describe various facets about your past experience. This can cover strengths & weaknesses, challenges, important events and even the answer to the question I was asked.
  • Think of some frameworks. In sales — SPIN, Top-Down v/s Bottom-Up and Challenger Sales techniques come to mind.
  • I’ll also most likely write down most of my experiences and create a more logical flow to each of them.
  • Practice more hypothetical questions (pull out a question bank from maybe)?
  • I feel if I can prepare for the toughest interviews like these, I’d be very well placed to take on interviews across a plethora of companies.
  • Revise concepts of Ads, Ad-Tech and any other upskilling courses I may have taken.

Before the interview I had completed a mindfulness exercise where I focused on doing the interview well, answering random questions in my head and I was focused on having a great conversation. That was the only goal. I did not go into the interview thinking about the job, or a conversion or anything around the end result. It helped me be calmer, and approach the interview as an equal. Yes, I would love joining an organization that does great work, but the organization would also love getting an employee like me.

It is, in the end, a two-way fit.

Trying to fit in.

It’s a 1–2 week wait now, so let’s see how it goes. Cheers!

Days 59 through 67: 28th August 2021 to 6th September 2021

Okay so I made it through to the next round of interviews. Learned more about the role. It focuses on cross-BU partnerships. Basically, being a high level account manager with a customer-organization and focusing on helping the organization achieve their vision and goals, by utilising our organization’s products & platforms.

So my strengths of relationship-building and consulting will work well. One of the products will be Ads (the biggest platform too) so I’ll learn quite a bit there.

The prep shall now be focused on more learning about General Cognitive Ability, Leadership ability and Behavioural questions. I created a sort of question bank in my master doc and am trying to add situations, frameworks and other items in there. This will help build more clarity in my head, on how I should be approaching these questions.

It’s so funny. When I was working, I never really thought about what I was doing. Now when I have to sit and write down stuff, I have to go deeper into the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of my actions. For instance, the STAR framework that is useful for answering behavioural questions (e.g. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake, what did you learn from it), has me thinking about past situations from multiple dimensions.

Creating a Master Doc with all my experiences & using frameworks has been amazing

Learning a lot.

Day 68: 7th September 2021

Okay, so went through my first ever thought provoking business interview, in beuaitful Dharamshala (we’re here for our quarterly vacation). The person taking it was the APAC lead of the business unit. The interview was scheduled for 4pm and I had diarrhea the night before (we ate a bit too much before the twists & turns of the hills).

Lemon, honey and some quiet — the stomach needed all three.

All in all, I wasn’t in the perfect physical condition for the experience I was about to have. (Not an excuse, just a fact).

Some of the top questions that were asked?

Q.1 What would be the five year strategy if you were to influence industry leaders in India?

I asked some clarifying questions here around the industries we’d want to focus on, what kind of products we’d be working with and if there was any specific brand-focus or revenue-focused agenda on their mind.

Then took some assumptions on the industries to focus on and said I’d also look at speaking to each of them, figure out their goals & objectives, see which platforms/products/initiatives of the organization we could align with.

Tried to create a framework in which we could identify goals, objectives, create a plan of action, get various groups together and brainstorm on the right way forward.

Q.2 You have a digitisation fund of $5–7B for India, and have to invest for 5–7 years.

Same questions, but with a slight focus on Reach, Impact and a win-win for the organization and community.

I could have done a lot better here.

Q.3 Tell me about a time when you went through a challenging situation.

I had a few problems in my mind — business development related, partnerships, people management and overall organization development. The interviewer wanted to know more about organization-level issues, how I set up the maps practice so I did that. Spoke about how the entire story came together, challenges we faced as a young team and how we progressed.

In hindsight, I didn’t structure it as well as I would have liked to. I jumped quite a few scenarios, tried to make it more relevant to him for some reason. I should have been more empathetic towards the overall situation rather than try to be something I’m not — A fake sales/consulting dude. :)

Finally, he asked me if I had any questions.

I wanted to know more about the current challenges the team was facing and what someone new would be required to bring in. He explained it very well. I also asked a couple of follow up questions, and that was it.

Looking back, I think the interview went okay-ish even though I didn’t feel as happy or content after it was over. I mean, first of all, the interviewer switched off his video citing internet issues. So I was basically looking at myself (rookie mistake — should have turned off my self-view) and answering his profile photo.

Second mistake — he put me under pressure and I let go of my calm demeanour. I think I’d begun to overthink and made the overall experience much bigger in my head than it really was. Complete opposite to the recruiter interview. I let the stakes become a bit too big for me.

Looking back, I know I could be a lot more structured in how I think about and answer questions. It was a great experience in understanding how my mind reacts under pressure.

(This is the first time I am going through an interview & job-hunt process so yes, it is scary).

Days 69 through 74: September 8th to September 13th

Finished the Dharamshala trip in complete digital detox mode. I did not want to think about anything related to interviews. I felt a bit like a boxer who’d been knocked out in the first round. I was trying to find my bearings.

When life gives you lemons, always have Punjabi food with onions. :D

One of the goals of this break was to strip off all the ego that had built up over time — ‘Oh Vineet’s such an amazing person, he manages everything so well, he’s a true leader’. Blah..Blah..Blah. I’d started hating that part of me.

This interview experience had broken down quite a bit of me because it made me realise that I wasn’t anything in the larger scheme of things.

Day 75: 14th September 2021

Today marks the 4 month anniversary of me ‘officially’ moving on from my last company and spending time rejuvenating, reinventing and refreshing my mind, and soul. (Left out the body because I have just maintained my level of fitness and not really become ultra-fit or anything).

Today also marks Day ONE of this next phase of Bangalore life. Yes, we finally moved to Bangalore. I am excited. Very excited. It is scary (because now I just have to get my life sorted, get started with earnestly applying for jobs, getting interviews under my belt and move ahead with my career). I also want to do this mindfully so I am continuing my previous practice of spending time noting down activities, creating a content plan, learning plan, fitness plan etc.

I have a dedicated study for myself too (my mom moved out so her room is empty) This comes after a long time. So happy! :)

There are a lot of distractions that come to mind but I am putting all of them away now. A single focus of getting back on track to my ‘epic’ life is all I am focusing on.

There are fears in my head though — What if I don’t get a job, what if I don’t clear any interview. What if…

So I am breaking this down into simple tasks.

Getting a job → Clearing an interview → Acing the Interview Prep → Getting an interview slot → Completing Job Applications → Finding good jobs to apply to → Looking for jobs → Connecting with people in my industry of choice → Creating a nice resume + cover letter

Now I just need to do the above mentioned smaller tasks, not really worrying about the next stage till I complete the stage before.

So today I’ll start with a quick re-look at my resume & cover letter format. Maybe spend time looking at LinkedIn Jobs and saving some of them. Find folks in different companies who can refer me to some of the jobs and then spend time on fitness (I’m thinking of getting back to my 1.5 hour workouts and runs, slowly and steadily)

Cheers!

Days 76 through 115: (September 15th to October 23rd)

What can I say about this period of time, except that this has been one of the most insightful, heart-warming and exciting times since I quit working in May.

I got a rejection email from the last organization, on September 23rd or so. I wasn’t able to share this with anyone (guess a lot of my ‘image-conscious’ ego still resides within me). I don’t know. I didn’t feel like sharing the so called ‘failure’ with anyone. I wanted to go through it alone and learn from it. And I did.

It’s been beyond wonderful. And I’m not talking about the different opportunities that have opened up since (three good big Cos have reached out and the various interview rounds are in progress). I’m talking about this mental balance that I have achieved. No, I’m not writing more or publishing more content on medium/Instagram/LinkedIn. In fact, I’ve been dead quiet on all platforms these past 30 days or so. I’ve just been living, quietly.

In this time I have managed to help my mom sell her apartment at a very good price, managed to support her in a more-or-less smooth process of this magnanimous task (that actually began in March 2021); had a wonderful time in Delhi, Bangalore and Pune; did two record-breaking motorbike rides and was also part of the farewell of one of my best colleagues at work; took a nice short walk with my old boss & CEO in Pune; progressed some of my mentees across age-groups, in their respective goals.

In all of this, the happiest I’ve been is by knowing that I am now living a much more authentic life. I think I have peeled off a layer or two of the old Vineet (the May 2021 version) and have become a much better human being in the process. I gave a few interviews in which I found myself to be a whole lot more confident in my own skin. I did not feel unauthentic (as I had felt in my first couple of interviews — projecting a certain someone I did not feel I was inside me). I’m trying to be myself. It is really tough. But I did read somewhere that we need to embrace our vulnerability and let ourselves feel uncomfortable — that’s when we grow, and become stronger. I’m trying to remember this and stay

Creating a new life in old Bangalore :)

Day 116: 23rd October 2021

I don’t know what changed but now when I talk to recruiters or hiring managers or people from business, I am a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I do not feel the need to project a certain ‘type of me’. I just bring the whole of me to the forefront, being who I am, wholeheartedly. After this, even if an interview does not go as well as I would’ve thought it to, I am still way happier with the journey. I think that’s the only thing that matters in life. Being authentic and bringing your entire self in the ‘present’.

Also, I feel that towards the end of September is when I finally decided to move on and get on with my life. And that’s when everything started happening. I made my best resume (Duh), started focused applications — I’ve done only 11 applications till now (in the last month or so) and have 4 processes on.

I’m very intrigued to know which city, which job, which direction life is going to move to but the only thing I try to focus on is the interview on that day and giving the interviewer a good experience (And having a great experience myself too). It is a lot of fun!

Excited about the future!

Day 118: 25th October 2021

Out of the four processes on, I have one with the same Ads & Search Organization, different role this time — Agency Manager. This basically means that I get to manage agencies who have clients who’ll use our ads-services. Again, very little knowledge of the domain but I’m trying to marry skill-sets that I’ve learned in my previous experience in Maps and build on it.

I cleared the recruiter interview round (I think I know how to do that now) and have one with their India lead or something, on Wednesday, the 27th. Trying to prepare mindfully.

The other process is with the largest transportation organization in the world (ride-sharing). I completed two rounds of interviews with them already and this is the final round — a case presentation. I just received the case today. They’ve asked me to build a 30-day, 60-day and 90-day plan if I join them. What would I focus on. I am also expected to create a GTM strategy in India. Excited to do this. Right up my alley. This role would be platform sales- selling to Enterprise customers (Something I do not have too much experience in — I enjoy the fast-paced SMB side of things more but excited to learn more).

Nothing related to marketing or ads here, but the brand is HUGE and it may open up new avenues in the future.

The other two are still in the preliminary stages — One is a global travel company and another one again software services (large co).

Days 119 through 124: (October 26th to October 31st)

The Agency Manager interview happened on the 27th. Perhaps my weirdest experience ever. No, didn’t feel nice after the interview. The behavioural and leadership questions were fine, I answered from my own experiences. But when it came to role-specific questions, I drew a blank. I prepped quite a bit, and created a war zone around my desk for this interview. But all this just ends up distracting me more.

Order in chaos?

I was again pressurised, and asked to speak about Ads and how I could pitch to a global CMO. I tried, and failed. I knew it when I was answering that I had no idea what I was saying. This was also the first time that I had at least 5 different internet issues during the interview. I disconnected so much. It was so irritating. The interviewer was quite nice about it though.

This was the most vulnerable I felt in a long long time. After the interview, I just sat there looking at my laptop for some time. I decided to go through the emotions, feel sad and not mask the sadness. I went for a walk, thought about it. People at home understood that I wasn’t feeling okay but they let me be. I stayed in the ‘sad zone’ for about two hours and then came out of it. I didn’t feel anything bad after that. It was like I’d let myself mourn a loss and I had nothing left inside me, anymore.

The next day the recruiter called to tell me that I hadn’t made it through. I was ready and wished her the best. Also commended on their ability to assess well. I moved on fast.

Maybe also because I had to focus on the case presentation and the other opportunities. Which I did. I also started doing quite a bit of first-party research, talking to folks in various companies and asking them if there were roles they could refer me to. I’d lost quite a lot of inhibitions since the last time I tried to do this (way back in July-August).

We just got to Kerala for my brother’s house warming ceremony too. And I have a first round with this marketing tech co on the 1st of November. I never thought they’d shortlist me. Let’s see how that goes.

Day 125: 1st November 2021

Today was the first round with the Marketing Tech co. Their APAC head recruiter took it. Asked me about my experience, my thoughts about marketing tech and why I’d applied. I was in-the-zone I felt. I answered confidently (even though I had no confidence within me).

This role is pretty global, in nature though my focus would be selling to Indian clients. The manager sits in Singapore, HR in Berlin, Tokyo and China. The Solution Consultants are all around — Indonesia, India, Korea and Singapore. Sounds exciting but might be a bit far fetched since I have NO experience at all.

Excited anyhow!

Days 126 through 128 (November 2nd to November 4th)

They pushed me through to the next round with the marketing tech co. This will be with my future manager (if it all works out) — The INSEAU head (I didn’t know anything beyond the word APAC before this so INSEAU is new).

Made a surprise visit to Delhi for Diwali. It’s always nice meeting the entire Jhamb Parivaar. They’re all so loving, I feel energised just looking at their love and care for each other. Just a genuine interest for each other’s growth and happiness.

Festive people

Days 129: 5th November 2021

Okay so today was my second round with the marketing tech co, with my possible future manager, a wonderful lady who was kind enough to scold me for setting up an interview on the morning after Diwali (8.30am on a Friday). I (quite rightly) said that this was a very important phase of my life and thought it was an auspicious time for an interview.

It was supposed to be an hour long but we spoke for over 90 minutes and I was very happy with everything I was able to share about sales, consulting, my previous experience and how I thought I could bridge the gap between cloud & maps and marketing technology. I think it went well.

Day 132 through 134: (November 8th to November 10th)

I love Delhi after Diwali. Yes the pollution is bad but the place is so magical. Since it is a weekend, there is also a slight buzz in the air. Family is around, we go for dinners and lunches and meet amazing people.

The nights are pretty in Dillwalon ki Dilli

I met some old acquaintances from the bookstore, tried to help them with sponsorships etc. for India’s biggest children literature festival. Was nice catching up and celebrating a Birthday. I will always like this side of me that is ‘bindaas’ and doesn’t think much about what others will think and just does his own things, whatever feels right, at the time.

My final presentation round with the ride-sharing company has been scheduled for the 11th of November. Excited about it. I am prepping a lot for it and am hopeful of converting this.

Day 135: 11th November 2021

Last evening I randomly asked the HR coordinator if I could present in-person since I was in Delhi and their corporate office is in Gurgaon. It worked out — They called me to office. I don’t know if I did the right thing but it was the first in-person ‘meeting’ in one and a half years.

The first office ‘reception’ I visited in almost two years

They’d booked a conference room and I reached there at around 11.40am for the12pm interview. The interview panel consisted of the Enterprise Head (my future boss if it all went well), a Sr. Manager, the APAC head and a solution lead from Singapore (who joined in remotely).

I loved my presentation but I did not prepare well for it. I had submitted the presentation a week or so ago but I did not remember the slides. My entire focus in the last couple of days had been on my behavioural and leadership Q&A. I thought I knew the presentation since I’d made it. Bad idea. It wasn’t my best presentation by a long mile.

I gave myself a 5.5/10 on the effort. I wasn’t too happy. I just felt queasy the entire trip back home. And I kept feeling queasy through the evening.

The team was nice, dapper and very professional. They were very excited about the growth and opportunity for their platform to grow. I did feel them and I was excited to get started with them but given what I did in the presentation, I was not too hopeful.

Day 136: 12th November 2021

I forgot to share but in the last week I got confirmation from the marketing tech company that I’d made it through to the penultimate round, with two leaders in India and Singapore. This had been scheduled for today. Only a 30 minute chat though. I didn’t know if I should be preparing anything specific so I went with the flow and approached it with an open mind.

The folks who took my interview were so different from the conference room round from yesterday. They were very chilled out, in their T-Shirts, asked me pertinent questions, tried to understand my ‘why’ and also tried to put me under a bit of pressure but I smiled through it. Enjoyed the conversation, that lasted for almost an hour because I also had a few questions. I’m more and more intrigued by the entire industry.

The queasiness of the presentation round folly continues. I am unable to come to terms with the feeling of dissatisfaction. My brain and mind are at loggerheads with each other. One tries to find negatives while the other tries to focus on what went well. One thing is certain though. That presentation was one of my best ever. So based on content (and the previous two interviews), I would have hired me.

Day 137: 13th November 2021

Met an old mentor today and felt quite rejuvenated. It is always nice to meet people who have tremendous experience in the industry and share your thoughts, understand their perspectives. I felt calmer after the breakfast with GB (I also call him BIG G).

I’m happy I have people around me who are so nice and so supportive. I don’t know how these people have found me worthy of building friendships and relationships but I am always honoured and humbled whenever I interact with them. #countingmyblessings

It is time to leave Delhi soon and go back to Bangalore for my brother’s birthday and getting back on track with more applications.

Day 141: 17th November 2021

Today is my brother’s birthday and we’ve had a lot of fun since the morning. A great breakfast, lunch and a fabulous dinner was planned.

Ze rockstar ze brother

On the professional front, I got a call from the HR of the ride sharing company. I did not understand the call at all. They’d rejected me for the Enterprise role because they found my experience was more suited for SMB (I agree) but they did not have an SMB role open so they were going to try & get an approval for this. They’d get back in a few weeks once the approval was in. I asked the HR if I could take this as a yes and not apply further. He never responded on that question. Weird.

I felt queasier than I’d felt after my presentation round. I did not know what to make of this. I think my mind was made up that I’d not have to apply anymore and I could finally move on. But no, there was going to be another twist. I’d have to again sit down, refresh my resume, open LinkedIn jobs and start doing this again! Damn it.

My family took it a bit differently though. They were optimistic about the ride-sharing company and were happy for me. I did not take their optimism that well and let them enjoy in their own happiness without joining in.

Day 142 through Day 155 (November 18th to December 1)

Restart engines. Fire. Yes, that’s what this period felt like. Whenever life feels funny and I don’t know what to do anymore, I fall back on dsicipline and routine. This has always helped me.

So I got back to my fitness regime, my diet and my focused application process. I also became quieter and decided to use all my energy on inner peace & motivating myself. Trying to focus on the larger good is tough when your mind gets made up on something and it doesn’t go according to plan. But this is also when you become stronger, and grow more.

Going through the random pain of the ride-sharing company’s pseudo-rejection and managing my emotions helped me become a better human being to those around me. I also immersed myself in learning more, working with the different mentees I’d been associated with and focus more on outward growth.

Funny thing is, the marketing tech co also stopped responding. They keep saying that their processes and other interviews are taking a lot of time. I’m losing hope there now. I don’t think they’re going to go ahead with a dude who’s worked in maps.

Anyway, let’s get on with it.

Something amazing happened though. And my mind clicked out of the morose state it was in because of this event. I was in Kerala for 3 days for some property work for my mom and I was sitting at this cafe for some time, to work on some of my applications. Suddenly out of the blue, I saw two Instagram influencers, whom my sister and I followed. I messaged her and she said I had to go ask them to say ‘Hi’ to her. I mustered some bit of courage, walked up to them and in the coolest ‘Vineet’ fashion, asked them if they would be kind enough to take a photo whenever they were done and were leaving. They were mighty nice about it and even did a video where they said Hi to my sister. I was blown away. And I felt all the power & energy coming back inside me. I could feel ME again! Wow! What an experience and what an exciting turn of events.

Such genuine beings, Sharan and Shyamolie. (and such love for Nike) :D

I still had it in me, I could still go out of my comfort zone and do things. And what’s most important? Just be me. There’s no need to bring any other type of personality out. Just be me. That’s all.

I’m back!

Day 156: 2nd December 2021

I’m 33 years old! What an amazing feeling. I started something called a ‘Refresh Week’ series on Medium. I wanted to write about the top learnings and my gratitude towards the people around me. Every day a new blog, a new piece of structured writing and some amazing lessons. I’m enjoying this.

33, time to grow up! (or not)

I also enjoyed my birthday thoroughly. I got a couple of interview calls too. One with an agri-tech startup in Bangalore (the largest one in India) — This will happen tomorrow. The role is a partnerships-based role. I have no idea about this. Let’s see what happens.

Day 157: 3rd December 2021

Today’s agri-tech interview was funny. I didn’t feel so good after it and I don’t know why I even applied for it. But I’m not feeling as weird as I did last time. It’s fine, just going through the paces.

I did something out of character though — reached out to the INSEAU head of the marketing tech firm asking about the interview process (in my own way). I would never have done this but somewhere inside me I felt that I should fight a bit for my opportunities. Very unlike me.

Day 159: 5th December 2021

Today was very interesting because I attended a Goal-Setting Workshop that was hosted by two amazing individuals I met on this networking platform called LunchClub. They explained goal-setting in such a straightforward and no-nonsense manner, I was amazed.

It really helped clear my head too and made sense of almost everything I ever wanted to do. I even set a clear vision / goal for my food truck. 2022 is the year I have to get that started. I’ve put a deadline too. Exciting!

Day 160: 6th December 2021

Today I rode out to Kerala (yes I know, again). It’s a 10-hour ride from Bengaluru and I love riding in the dark so I left quite early in the morning, around 4.30am or so. Motorbike rides are the best form of meditation for me. My mind is the most focused at 130kmph and is able to think clearly. I feel the most alive too, when I’m on a motorbike and the road stretches out for miles & miles. It’s the most carefree feeling.

MH from KA to KL with a DL on it. :D

Interestingly, I got five calls today.

  • The ride-sharing company: They’ve got their approvals and are ready to rock & roll with the offer. They’d like to set up a final discussion first. I was like, okay. Interesting.
  • The Marketing Tech company: They’ve given me a go ahead for the final round — A presentation round to be scheduled for the 13th of December
  • The Search & Ads Giant: A new role, that they’d like to speak to me about on the 4th of December, this Wednesday
  • The Agri-Tech co: I’m through to the next round. They want to meet me in Bangalore.
  • Another Marketing Tech Co based in Bangalore that wanted me to interview for a USA role. I said okay, let’s explore this too.

The calls did delay my bike ride by about half an hour but what a crazy day! I could not believe what was happening. I decided to focus on each and every one of them and give them my best.

Day 161: 7th December 2021

My first call with the Ads & Search giant is tomorrow. I’ve been prepping for it, but this time, my focus is going to be all about ‘strengths’. I am going to be very clear about my understanding of Maps & Cloud. I don’t know Ads, I don’t know Search and I can only present my sales & consulting understanding of the stuff I know. Nothing more, nothing less. Period.

Day 162: 8th December 2021

Okay so today’s call with the Ads & Search Giant went so well. The 30min interview got done in 15mins. The remaining time was left to me to ask my own questions. The recruiter was very excited and shared so many tips for my next round, I was blown away.

I think what changed for me was my focus on my own self. Once I decided to talk only about Maps, I was a different human being. I was humble and confident. A combination I’d been trying to create for the last 5–6 months now. So glad I finally got it.

I had another interview with this other Marketing Tech co, at 7.45pm which got rescheduled to 11pm with their US team exec. Again, a 45min interview got done in 20mins. I loved this new version of me that was almost ‘killing it’. This is also a great company, and doing some amazing things in the world of marketing-tech.

I’m so happy being myself, evaluating the role and the people. I’m delving deeper into my experiences and expertise. I’m operating from an area of strength and am presenting my best self to the interviewers. I’m loving it!

Day 163: 9th December 2021

Today I rode back to Bengaluru. Four days ago I could have never imagined how things would’ve turned completely around. The motorbike ride seems to have added momentum into my own life. I rode the fastest today, through the Kerala sun, through the Tamil Nadu traffic and through some crazy Karnataka rain.

Next Monday is going to be crazy. There is one presentation round with the marketing-tech co and four rounds of interviews with the Agri-Tech co, at their office in Bellandur. Interestingly, they operate out of the same We-Work that my old office was in (they don’t have an office in Bengaluru right now) so I knew the place.

Days One Sixty Four through One Sixty Six (10th December to 12th December)

These last three days were all about healing. My body got battered during the ride back, and I let it rest. My mind is almost overheating with the work that it has to do. My heart is happier than it ever has been in the last few months. There is so much going on. I can finally see some form of a ‘Finish Line’ and I can feel it inside me. The end is nearing. And I’m mighty excited of where and what it’ll be like.

  • Ride-Sharing
  • Global Ads Giant
  • Agri-Tech
  • Marketing Tech Global
  • Marketing Tech USA
  • Something else?

The Marketing Tech USA interview was scheduled for the 11th, a Saturday but just 10 minutes before the scheduled time, the interviewer messaged me asking if we could reschedule to the evening. I had already planned a mentorship session with a few mentees and I did not want to change it so asked for a Monday slot. He did not respond. So I emailed the HR asking for slots on Monday night or Tuesday. No response here either.

Day 167: 13th December 2021

Oh my, what a day. I decided to go to WeWork early in the morning. Got myself a Day Pass. So that way I could give my presentation round at noon and then sit for the in-person interviews from 2pm to 6pm.

Always loved WeWork
  • 12pm: Presentation round (final round) with the Global Marketing Tech company. Met five people. All of them were so nice, and down to Earth. This was probably my best interview ever. They were so focused on culture, humility and people. It was amazing. I’m happy I gave this my best. (And I’m happy I revised the presentation and made notes on what I’d like to speak about on each slide). Also, taking it from a WeWork phone booth made it all the more exciting for me (old times, old times). :)
  • 2pm: First round with the Agri-Tech startup with the Head of Partnerships. There was a white board in the cabin and I used it extensively.
  • 3pm: Second round with the Director of Growth: Such a nice human being.They’re growing extremely fast and are focused on hiring great people who can come in and find new avenues of growth for the organization.
  • 4pm: Third round with the VP of Fin-Tech who leads many of the new growth initiatives on the Fin-Tech side of things. Fast-paced, very excited and asked me pertinent questions about my approach in sales deals. Before leaving, he said it’s a YES from him and also asked me about my CTC. Funny.
  • 5pm: Final round with the Cofounder. He did not smile but again asked me a lot about my experience managing partnerships. I enjoyed the conversation. It was not inspirational but I was enjoying my demeanour with him. He was trying to put me under pressure but the dumb smile just didn’t leave my face all throughout.

Phew, what a day it was. I went back home on my motorbike. There was a slight drizzle but my heart was happy. I did my best everywhere.

A happy soul

Day 168: 14th December

Today the Marketing Tech co called back and confirmed their offer to me. Asked me for my CTC Details.

The same thing happened with the Ride-Sharing co. Their SMB head had a call with me, asked me some basic questions and said I’d receive a formal offer by the next day.

The Ads & Search Giant set up my next round with an industry leader. This is going to be on the 16th.

I had to say No to the other marketing tech co (the USA role) because it didn’t feel right to keep them hanging. They said they’d beat any offer I got but I explained to them that USA was something that would always be priority #2 since I’d want to focus on India-time-zone roles first. They’ve kept their door open for the future. So nice of them.

P.S. Today also marks the seven month anniversary of me moving on from my last company. (Some romanticism here)?

Days 169 through 184 (December 15th through December 30th)

On December 15th, the marketing tech co shared my final offer, and explained that the time taken for my final rounds of interviews was because they had evaluated a lot of candidates from the marketing tech domain but still decided to go ahead with me after all the evaluations were over. They took the time to finalize because it was a tough decision for them as well. They would like me to start on the 3rd of Jan 2022.

On December 16th, I completed my next round with the Ads & Search Giant. I had never cleared Round #2 with this company (This was my third process with them). As with other rounds in the last month or so, my focus was completely on my own strengths. Any Ads-related questions that came my way were quietly converted into Maps-related questions. I was very clear that I could create comparisons and share from my own expertise rather than take a stab at answering something about a world I knew very little about.

It worked.

I was through to the final round, but it could only be scheduled after the holidays, for the 4th of Jan. I was amazed. I got through! What! Crazy! (Pat-on-the-back and silent-tear time).

On December 17th, we went to see Prateek Kuhad live. It was such a mesmerising experience. I don’t know if I’ve felt this peaceful in the last two years.

Kuhad love

On December 19th, I declined the offer with the ride-sharing company because I knew I could not say No to the Marketing Tech co now. I liked the role better and was okay choosing something that made more sense to me than blindly go for a brand.

On December 21st, we packed our Bengaluru home and had all the stuff shipped to my mom’s new place in Kerala.

On December 22nd, we drove down to Kerala for setting up her new home and also attending an engagement. It was the first car-road-trip to Kerala.

From December 23rd to the 30th of December we helped our mom set up the home, and enjoyed Kerala with Motu (our car) properly. We also planned a quick one-day trip to Munnar on the way back. I’ve also spent time working on questions and answers for my final interview with the ‘Giant’. I want to give it my best. I know it’s going to be weird if I made it through but I feel like this is something I owe to myself

Day 185: 31st December

We drove up to Munnar today, to this beautiful resort. We’re just here for a day, a short break before the drive back to Bangalore.

For the last week or so, while everything else is more or less sorted, the only thing that is creating a slight issue in my mind is my pending interview with the ‘Giant’. While I’m happy with my prep, I don’t know what to do if I make it through. Yes, the sound mind will tell me to worry about that hurdle when I get to it but the ‘Vineet’ mind also tells me to think about what is ‘right’ and ‘just’ and ‘fair’.

I asked my rockstar partner and she said that I should let the HR know about me joining the marketing tech company. That’s the right thing to do. I agreed.

But when I sat down to write the email, in this beautiful little study table looking out onto lush green meadows of Munnar, my heart took over. It wrote to the HR stating my inability to interview further and thanking her for all the support. The end. All done.

Such taste (Munnar)

As soon as I pressed send, a feeling of relief rushed over me. I felt even more peaceful. That was it. I was ready to focus on the next phase, without any distractions, and I’d made a choice to follow what I had always believed in — Being good, and being nice. I was so thankful to everything and everyone. How could I start the next phase with this feeling of angst inside me? And how could I give another interview on Day Two of me joining a company that I could only have dreamt about in May 2021?

Day 187: 2nd January 2022

As I sit here, at around 5pm, penning down the last paragraph of this enormous piece of writing (by my standards), I can’t help but look back at the Vineet of December 2020, and what he was thinking about as he sat there, wondering about his life, his future and his dreams. The uphill journey ahead of him, as he tried to do what he thought was right — for his team, for his company and for himself. I think about his dream for the Vineet sitting here today. What would he have thought about or was he even thinking that far ahead?

I think the best part about that Vineet was his ability to view life in a focused manner, at goals that were closer than dreams that were farther. He did well, he made me proud. He left no stone unturned in making sure his team was set up for greater success after he left and he also made sure the company would only gain from his actions. His actions have made me who I am today. And I’m proud of him for that.

Tomorrow I start a new journey, a journey that will be tough, very different and a whole lot more challenging since it is a new field and an older me. But I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun, and I’ll work the hardest I ever have. I’ll also be the nicest soul I’ve ever been because now it is all about the people around me, and not about ‘my’ goals or aspirations. It’s about family, friends and larger impact.

In 2023, I hope I can look back at this version, and smile as wide a smile as I’m smiling right now.

Cheers Vineet. :)

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Get set go!

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Vineet V. George

A sales and consulting professional who enjoys writing about things that are close to his heart.