Earn Your Stripes First! – Top Resolution Of A True Professional

You know the three jobs that have been continuously downgraded, bastardized and undermined in the millennial are easily – the Writer, the Professional Speaker and the Life Coach (the last being, a tad reprehensible, dire need and invention of the Millennium).

To my chagrin, anybody claims to be a writer these days. Just as everybody wants to ride the speaking /coaching gravy boat!

A woman who has plagiarized content into a chapter and has got it inserted into a book – which is a series of chapters ‘authored’ by different people – through her social networking skills calls herself an author. In the same vein, journalists turning compilations of their articles into book form are being called authors.

People writing 140 incoherent characters on Twitter, fudging posts on LinkedIn, writing elaborate updates on Facebook are staking a claim to the honour.

Industries that are not technical, but are people centric are easy victims to a jaundiced eye treatment from us. We effortlessly club the sectors of Hospitality, Advertising, Writing, even Anthropology, Psychology (Applied, not Clinical); Art and the like into areas that we think do not require advanced skill and technical qualification. We completely disregard the almost scientific approach these fields to apply to their strategic and tactical functions.

And what a folly it is to cultivate such a mindset! Ask a chef who has earned his Le Cordon Bleu stripes by grueling over demanding ranges and whimsical palates. Ask the advertiser who must be able to understand the demographic effect on consumer behaviour, study mindscapes shaped both by culture and fads and gauge the pulse of the client to deliver copy and artwork that ensnares the consumer interest and loosens the purse strings!

To my personal annoyance, Public Relations, especially in the Hospitality Industry, is a free parking zone for anybody – from a Guest Relations executive, a Sales Representative to an HR resource or the Executive Assistant.

Nothing wrong with that! But please get enough educational background and experience in the field and then merrily jump in. After all, however flossy, flashy, fun or fickle our work may seem to you, it involves a lot of hard work, with refined strategy and calculated application of established techniques and methodology. Yes, it is not just about looking natty, talking smooth and shaking hands.

The same is happening with the legion of speakers and life coaches who claim to have the power to help you reclaim your life, find divine meaning and discover the simply good life of renunciation – all the while, shamelessly attempting to fill their coffers on the might of regurgitated, recycled age-old data that has been floating in the stratosphere of recorded literature.

While such evangelists are appearing on the horizon of almost every industry, these good folks fail to add anything new, novel or of lasting value – unabashedly reaping the fruit of somebody else’s labour.

We don’t do this with essentially old world professions – think law, medicine, engineering. Why do we think writing or photography or even fashion designing is any less a craft that requires focused education and hours of practiced skill!

In the past, Freud, Jung or Adler wrote path-breaking books but they were primarily psychoanalysts who also recorded their researches, findings, experiments on paper.

Even today, an APJ Abdul Kalam or Sheryl Sandberg or Howard Schultz or any other heavyweight from any industry may pen down best sellers – either on their own merit or through ghost writers – but they have predominantly been recognized for being the businessman, technocrat, Statesman that they are; who also incidentally have a way with words. Secure in their roles, they do not make any false claims.

Amidst my social media circles, I see true blue authors burning the midnight oil, or getting up with the larks at the crack of dawn, laboriously chugging away on their desk for larger parts of their exhausting days to write their books that they wish to get published, distributed and read, but more importantly earn from. They and their ilk need to be lauded and their tough ladder to success emulated.

I dabble in writing and I know it is not an easy job. I have been on the broad side of the mike and I know it is such a monumental task to fight your own fears and inhibitions and then come out speaking engagingly in public.

First learn to pick-up/use the artillery (in case of the writer it is the proverbial pen), shoot an enemy (fell a competitor with your brilliance), raise your flag on a summit (pursue your goals to get the ultimate recognition), get wounded (face failure), relearn and return to the battle field before you bestow upon yourself the title of a writer or coach or whatever else that may have taken your fancy.

Today, anybody who has drunk a few good wines socially wants to be considered an oenology expert. A gourmand who can ladle out passably tasty dishes claims to be a respected chef with aspirations of becoming a TV or YouTube celebrity or even starting their own under-the-bridge eatery.

And don’t even get me started on art and music and film and food critics. We all, with our substandard two-bits, put out on our Twitter handles or Facebook pages, would like to strut about like able, knowledgeable critics who have studied the subject and know as much about it as the people practising that field. There was a time when the badge of a critic brought in fear and respect amongst those that were reviewed; enough to get them to deliver better and above bar.

Anybody who clicks a photo for his Instagram feed or plays around with his camera phone thinks he’s a photographer – to the utter displeasure of the professional photographers who have spent a lifetime learning the technicalities, the art and science behind their profession and have spent a fortune investing in their state of the art equipment.

Same seems to be happening with musicians and fashion designers. Every person who can sing in tune; heck, even those who sing quite off-key but still go ahead and upload their mishmash or dub smash if you please on YouTube think they are the next best thing after Sting or Sir Bono or even that freak show Bieber.

Any woman of wealth courtesy an affluent spouse but with no real qualification, men who have grown up on a staple diet of couture glossies, and those innumerable ladies at leisure with the luxury of free time shoved in their uber luxe and over-sized handbags love to brand themselves as fashion designers. They then go ahead and float labels, host parties to get media attention, rip-off designs from magazines or the runways in far off places (whatever is more difficult to trace back to) and hand it over to the seamstress in their hole-in-the-wall sweat shops – sadly, for such sham they merrily get themselves a calling card of a designer.

These days everybody wants to be the next serial entrepreneur. The goals are misplaced – they being easy money, quick (even if short-lived) recognition, quick gains, pseudo popularity, two minutes of fame as against novel products, innovations that promise to bring value to the society and credible standing.

For this and more, I detest the growing breed of spineless, unskilled, unzealous cretins and zero-conscience easy-gainers who do not bat an eyelid before snaking their way into positions and posts that others spend a lifetime to attain through hard work, perseverance and purely on merit.

On stolen thoughts, plagiarized ideas and filched business plans we go ahead and audaciously label ourselves as Thought leaders, Visionaries, and Entrepreneurs. It is quite dismal to note that we end up slotting ourselves into such newly coined words as ‘Voluntourism’ and ‘Humanitarian Douchebagry’ to define our lack of ethics.

It is a reflection of our society in which Kim Kardashian is one of the most followed Twitter personalities. A society that does not recognize real talent and does not reward excellence is a dying, sick society.

Let it be an all-time resolution for us that we will pursue excellence, give hard work and merit its due and earn our stripes first before embellishing our calling cards, curriculum vitae and virtual profiles.

Before you embark on the path you have envisioned for yourself in this year and beyond, let this be the resolve you start your journey with. Have a wonderfully productive and meaningful life ahead!


L. Aruna Dhir
L. Aruna Dhir
L. Aruna Dhir is a Hospitality & Feature Writer and Columnist for some of the world’s highest-ranked Hospitality publications. Her industry writings are syndicated to the finest global hospitality bodies and used as references in case studies and hotel schools. Aruna runs an exclusive channel on the award-winning media digest, BizCatalyst 360° called “Hospitality Matters” based on her hospitality industry insight and commentary. Aruna is a recognized and national-poll winning Corporate Communications Specialist, PR Strategist, and Writer. A seasoned hotelier, Aruna loves to present hospitality industry watch, insights, case studies, and analysis to her ever-increasing base of global readership. Aruna has over two decades of experience in Hospitality Communications and Brand Management and has worked with some of the best global hotel companies. In her last corporate role, Aruna was the Director – Public Relations at The Imperial New Delhi, where she was part of the core group and was responsible for re-launching The Imperial as one of the finest hotels in India and Asia. Aruna’s hotel experience includes leading the Marketing Communications and Public Relations portfolio for flagship properties at The Oberoi Group and Hyatt International. She also helped launch the Vilases as the uber-luxury experiences from the Oberoi stable. As an industry expert, Aruna has launched brands, developed training modules, created standardization dockets on business communication, written manuals, conducted Image Study & Positioning Analysis, and led media campaigns of Australian Ministers in India. Aruna Dhir’s successful work tenure with Australia’s Diplomatic Mission in India in the capacity of Media Relations Officer, saw her working on a host of never-done-before exciting projects including the hugely rewarding organisation of Australia-India New Horizons – Australia’s largest ever Country Promotion. Aruna Dhir is the first-ever Creative Writer for the Indian greeting cards giant – ARCHIES Greetings and Gifts Ltd. The milestone puts her in the league of Helen Steiner Rice and Amanda Bradley. While with the company she came out with several series of cards sold under her byline – an unprecedented feat that has not been repeated since. L. Aruna Dhir also dabbles in poetry and has to her credit two titles of Anthologies published and marketed by Archies G&G Ltd. Aruna serves on the Board of Association of Emerging Leaders Dialogues (AELD), a front-running Commonwealth Body that works towards developing leaders and influencers of tomorrow, with Princess Anne as its international President. Aruna has been engaged in freelance work for Doordarshan – the Indian National Television, All India Radio, and Times FM. Academically, L. Aruna Dhir topped at the All-India level in her PG Diploma in Public Relations and Advertising. Aruna has been a Ph.D. scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, akin to an Ivy League in India. She has earned a Senior Management Course Certification from the Oberoi Centre for Learning & Development in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow; V Dimension Management Company, London & Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines. Aruna Dhir has represented India to a select group of opinion-makers in the United States, as a Cultural Ambassador under the GSE Program of Rotary International. She has also participated in the IXth Commonwealth Study Conference held in Australia and chaired by Princess Anne. Aruna is a Life Member of the Public Relations Society of India A Freelance Writer since 1987, with articles that have appeared in India’s topmost newspapers and magazines, Aruna is also a blogger, a memoirist with works published on platforms like Medium and a Book reviewer on Goodreads. In her official and personal capacity L. Aruna Dhir has and continues to work on several social awareness projects – People for Animals, Earthquake Relief, National Blind Association, PETA, WSPA,, Friendicoes to name a few. Born at Allahabad (now Prayagraj), one of the world’s oldest known cities, L. Aruna Dhir grew up and did her schooling in Dehradun, regarded as a prominent seat of academia and literature. After being brought up in the sylvan surroundings of the verdant Doon valley, Aruna chose to make the Capital City of Delhi her second home.

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  1. I used to call this the “rock star”. To progression in our professions we need to be “rock stars”. We want to be invited to all the parties. We want to be talked about. We want to be seen as the experts.

    I feel social media can definitely help with this. But you got to keep plugging away. There are many on YouTube and Twitter that have “rock star” status.

  2. To me what we do must have value. While I am far from a great writer I do give of the stories that had value in life for me. Hard work, I grew up on a farm. I agree with Ken. The current generation is different. I was talking to this young man yesterday and asked him what his plans were to have his own life. He is forty and lives with his Mom. He replied that his grandma was in a lawsuit and when she won she would buy him a house. Amazing! I was speechless. Great read Aruna.

    • Thanks for reading it Larry. I still have hope. I feel the Millennials and the iGens will realize that there are really no short cuts after al.

  3. Really, Aruna? Hard work? Long hours? Dedication to learning and practicing the basics? Surely you jest. What about all those youngsters that insist on a work/life balance, flex hours, and praise for just showing up?

    Does that mean that a person can’t be a hospitality coach after spending six long months as a desk clerk? A person can’t be a writer just because they have a laptop, or be a hip-hop star because they have a guitar and can jump around?

    What is there to learn to be a Public Relations pro? Make a few phone calls, write a few notes, show up at cocktail parties. Anyone can do that.

    As I say in my book, it looks pretty easy to be a hotelier or a restaurateur. I had a person not long ago that asked me to give her some suggestions on how to start a restaurant. When I asked her what her qualifications were, she said, “We eat out a lot”.

    Thanks for putting some of these issues in the spot light. Sadly though, those that most need to read your thoughts will be busy enjoying their work/life balance and are likely at the beach.

    • Precisely Ken! It makes my blood boil to see half-witted twits strutting around as Pros without any investment of hard work, dedication and passion. But the circle is round Ken, even if we create a vicious cycle 🙂