Meet Sumit Gupta. He is a remarkable multi-careerist based in Amsterdam. He’s a software engineer for a well known web based company. At the same time, he is a photographer who specializes in capturing street and travel pictures. He is also a life coach who counsels high performing individuals on how to achieve their potential. I met him here on LinkedIn, and I believe many more can learn from his inspirational example.
- Software leader who heads a team of engineers
- Coach for high performing individuals
On his motivations for many careers
“I have always followed my passion and curiosity. Passion led me to software engineering over 20 years ago and to photography 6 years ago. Over time, things move from being just a hobby to an obsession, and that’s when I decide to consider it as a career option.”
“In the last 5 years, I have read over 200 books on psychology and neuroscience due to my interest in leadership and coaching. This led me to my third career – as a coach. The motivation behind that is to express myself and give back a little of what I have learned in the last two decades of working professionally.”
Advice to those seeking multiple careers
“My advice would be to pursue it first as a hobby, and then make it a career if it makes you feel alive and brings out the best in you. Once you do that, settle in for the long haul and create small but meaningful goals so that you make regular progress in each of your careers.”
On how multiple careers are mutually beneficial
“Establishing myself as a photographer has exposed me to the world of photojournalism and art, which is totally different from my other life as a software leader. This has expanded my perspective. I have become more empathetic as I met other photographers and listened to their stories. I am a much better human being because of pursuing photography, and it impacts everything I do. Similarly, reading numerous books about leadership and psychology in the last few years has made me a better leader at work.”
On managing personal time
“I make sure my family is aware of what I am doing and why I am doing it. While multiple careers might mean me spending less time socializing or watching TV, I still make time for playing with my son and spending quality time with my wife. They understand my priorities and give me space to do my thing. I am very grateful for that.”
On what he wished he had learned earlier
“I wish I had known that progress can be slow and I should focus more on building habits than aiming for milestones which might be out of my control. For example: As a photographer, I have made photographing daily into a habit, and I am happy as long as I can do that.
Setting myself goals like finishing a photo book can be demotivating when you don’t see progress as a lot of things are outside my control. So I focus on what I can control, and that keeps me motivated and happy.”
On what to share with colleagues
“I try to be open and honest about my other careers in the corporate world. Earlier I used to avoid this as the corporate world can have strange reactions to artistic interests like painting and photography. But now I am more comfortable being honest and transparent about what keeps me motivated, and I am OK with the few awkward glances or comments that I get.”
On overcoming ego
“It is important to realize that everything is a trade-off. Today I spend around 2 hours daily reading and writing about coaching and leadership. I realize that I could make faster progress at work if I instead spend that time at work. But I choose to follow my passion and curiosity as it makes me feel alive and complete. It is a conscious trade off, but a trade off nevertheless.”
A Day In the Life
“I start…like 5 am, and start with an hour of writing. Then both me and my wife get our son ready for daycare, have breakfast, and leave for work (as a software leader) around 8 am. (Work from Home these days due to the pandemic)
During my commute and other little pockets of time I find during the day, I read books. I manage to finish around 4-6 books every month as a result.
5 pm – my work day gets over, and I walk around Amsterdam and photograph life in the city for an hour daily before I get back home. After dinner and spending time with my family, I read or write for another hour, and I am in bed by 9-10 pm.
As a side note, I process my photos and do a lot more reading and writing done during the weekends.”
Where to find Sumit
Kabir Sehgal is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winner, as well as New York Times bestselling author of fifteen books. His latest work is Close the Loop: The Life of an American Dream CEO and His Five Lessons for Success (Hachette, 2020) with his father Raghbir Sehgal which is a Los Angeles Times & San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. Follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, YouTube.