A Year with SimpliFlying, or How I learnt to love my job and get a life

“You have such a cool job. I’m so jealous…”

“But honestly, do you even have a job?”

“Wow! That sounds interesting. But I still didn’t get what you do.” [Cue embarrassment at one end. Exasperation at the other.]

“When do you work? How do you work? It’s possible to work only on a computer? From anywhere?”

“Are you looking for a job? There’s an opening at…”

Believe it or not, none of these sentences is made up. Over a year of working with SimpliFlying, I’ve become accustomed to being bombarded with variants of such inanities more often than not. Happily, most of the times such queries are easily shrugged at or laughed off. But there comes a time when you want to reflect on the past year, on where you stand, where you’ve reached from where you started and of course, dispel any doubts that might linger in the minds of those (such as some over-inquisitive relatives) who’re eager to know more about you and your work. The brink of a new year is the perfect time for such soul-cleansing.

The Machinist

First of all, yes I do have a job. Shashank (the CEO of SimpliFlying), who I directly report to, would have you believe I have a rather important one at that, considering I do carry around the designation of “Senior Innovation Officer”. Tear away the pompous tag and you’ll find me rather close to the heart of SimpliFlying’s operations.

Our company, as you know, is involved in the business of helping airlines and airports engage their customers profitably by empowering them to build a stronger social brand. We achieve this primarily via strategy consulting engagements, MasterClasses and speaking “gigs”. However, much of these premium engagements leverage the free resources we’ve always strived to provide regularly: Top 10 case-packs, infographics, blog-posts advancing thought-leadership on issues such as airline loyalty are just some of the projects I’ve led here.

In essence, apart from helping brand SimpliFlying itself, I’ve also been heavily involved with product development. A free iPhone app was just a taster of things to come: do keep an eye out for the New Year where we have loads of surprises in store for you! I’ve been responsible for ensuring that the SimpliFlying keeps cruising smoothly on autopilot: be it helping organise our Annual Social Media Awards or a bit of web development behind the scenes. With Shashank usually ensconced comfortably in seat 2D, 30,000 feet in the air, tying together the strings of direct client work, someone has to ensure our online engines – website, YouTubeTwitter and SlideShare channels – don’t stop working, right?

A Cubicle-less startup job and its benefits

Second, yes again, I have a really cool job. And I can work when I want. I can indeed work from home and it’s absolutely possible to manage with just a computer and a fast internet connection and Skype. When I work is a source of consternation to my parents when I’m at home and a mystery to others because I don’t usually work during proper office hours. But my non-existent termination letter is enough proof that I do get work done!

In a nutshell, it’s been an incredible experience having control over so many aspects of one’s work life: when I get up, what hours I work, where I work from are all (almost always) dictated by my wishes. A bit of unsolicited advice for those who do take up such jobs, though: try to keep an element of structure and discipline in your life else you could very soon end up feeling too exhausted to work or play. Oh, and by the way, checking your emails constantly is a huge productivity killer.

So what have I learnt? Where do I stand? I’d say I stand on rather firm ground. There are three things that stand out about my SimpliFlying journey.

  1. I’ve learnt a surprising amount not just about the industry we’re in (aviation) but also about how a business is run. Having always harbored aspirations of starting up on my own one day, this has been the closest I could have got to learning first-hand about a startup’s trials, pains and exhilarations.
  2. Being involved with a multitude of projects, that too as varied as the colors in a rainbow, has helped me harness my eclectic interests from web development to product development (essentially being involved with anything creative) to writing state-of-the-industry pieces. And it hasn’t stopped at just the involvement part. Over time, as Shashank would testify, I’ve become much better at two of the most important things he stressed when I started: the importance of attention to detail and sticking to deadlines. My aim for the next year is to achieve perfection in these!
  3. Most recently, I’ve started understanding how to better deal with people and get work done: not just from the employees in the company with whom I have to work (or some who might report to me) but partner companies that we work with. I’m elated to have learnt such essential practical lessons in the first year. The good news is that the learning curve is still increasing.

While writing has always been a passion, writing on this blog, at the cutting edge of technology and aviation, has been a rewarding experience in itself. The obvious benefit has been the realization that I have the ability to analyse situations/issues and offer “valuable” insights of my own. There’s also the added benefit of knowing that my work is being read in the top echelons of many airlines. And occasionally, even greater rewards have reared their heads in the form of pieces published in revered industry outlets such as Tnooz and Loyalty360.

What more could I ask for? I love my job, I love the freedom it offers me, I’ve gained years of “work experience” in a single year. What’s more, I even like working with my boss a lot. Life is bliss!

Quite obviously, I’m not looking for a job!

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