Category Archives: Blogging

Being among Twitterati – What it takes and what it means?

First the good news..

The team at SheroesIndia wrote a post on “Must Follow Woman Influencers on Twitter” . It was a pleasant surprise to feature in that list among august company like Tanvi Gautam @tanvi_gautam , Ankita Gaba – @ankitagaba , Lakshmi Rebecca @lakshmirebecca , Kalki Koechlin @kalkikanmani , Gul Panag @GulPanag , Meeta Sengupta @Meetasengupta and Kiran Manral @KiranManral

The post starts off with “There are tons of women on Twitterati making their mark. SHEROES list down a few Indian women who are impacting the space in a massive way“. Being included as ONE among 20 Indian woman is indeed wonderful. I do follow many of them on Twitter, and I know that they are doing their bit and best to make a difference in their sphere of influence with their tweets.

Personally, this is the second time I feature in a list among Twitterati. The first one was in 2012 when Dr Tanvi Gautam create the first ‘epic list’ of 50 Indian Woman to follow on Twitter

Her list in her own words was about “A dedication it to all women thought leaders from Asia, not just from media and film, not just the corporate world but all the ones that are making a difference in their own way.”

Even today, the list is as relevant as it was 2 years back because the women from that list continue to make a difference in their own way. Some of the women who find a mention are
Kiran Bedi ‏ @thekiranbedi
Sairee Chahal ‏ @Sairee
Sania Mirza-Malik ‏ @MirzaSania
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw ‏ @kiranshaw
Sagarika Ghose ‏ @sagarikaghose
Azmi shabana ‏ @AzmiShabana
Anupama Chopra ‏ @anupamachopra
Rashmibansal ‏ @rashmibansal
Barkha dutt ‏ @BDUTT
Jessie Paul ‏ @jessie_paul
Naina ‏ @Naina
Sucheta Dalal ‏ @suchetadalal
Rujuta Diwekar ‏ @RujutaDiwekar

Being featured amidst such amazing woman was indeed a a great honor and a humbling moment. It makes you happy, get attention (both in the real world and virtual world) and is extremely gratifying. Being in the spotlight makes me happy. Recognition is a great motivator in Social Media and in life.

Interestingly both the lists have several common names too!

But that’s not what this post is about? It is about my views on Why such lists are important? Why these women find a spot on these lists? And what it takes to be here?

So first.. Why such lists are important?
(1) They bring together in one place some awesome women so anyone can follow them, read and hear their views, opinions and perspectives on one / many subjects. I know I’ve connected with many of these women and learned immensely from their tweets / personal interactions
(2) They put ‘women’ in the spotlight and that is extremely important because it motivates, it inspires, it sets an example to more women
(3) They enable fostering networks and relationships amongst women and that is indeed a powerful force to reckon with – which can be the catalyst and harbinger for the cause and voice of many women’s issues.

Why these women find a spot on these lists?
(1) They are genuinely inspiring in what they share and do – Just follow them, and you’ll know why they’re on that list
(2) They are genuinely trying to make a difference with their words / tweets and shares on Social Media
(3) They are passionate about specific causes – And continuously support them

And what it takes to be here?
(1) Time - In today’s day and age, the most precious asset is “time”. And any serious Twitter / Social media user would know that being active on Twitter takes time and energy (which many times comes at the cost of letting-go many other things in life – specifically if you are a woman!), especially if you intend to be on Twitter for the long haul. Almost all these women are regular, active and serious Twitter users, so they are giving it time, focus and attention
(2) Willingness to share and speak up – Almost all these women are not shy to honestly share their life experiences, personal stories of success or failure, views, opinions, perspectives on one / many issues. So they speak up and share when given the opportunity, and that only helps the cause of women in terms of inspiration and bringing to the fore-front many critical and real issues
(3) Positivity - Again almost all these women are extremely positive, optimistic and hopeful (most of the times) while being conscious of the realities of today – especially in the context of women’s issues, empowerment and endowment
(4) Value - At the end of the day, Twitter is a free social media platform. While being free to use, any Twitter user has complete freedom to choose whom he / she will Follow / Unfollow. So your tweets should be of “value” to anyone who is reading, and almost all these women continuously share valuable content / tweets

And yes, before I forget another pleasant surprise came my way a few days back. The kind folks at Femspiration sent my way a #FemTribute .
FemTribute
As I sign-off, I’d like to say Thank you to all those who create these lists, and to all the women who continue to make a difference in their own way , in their own sphere of influence!

What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know…

Social Media Marketing Mistakes – Are you making these too?

Social Media is everywhere. In the morning news, in the paper, in the bus / train / car, in the clothes, in the phones, in the here and there and everywhere. Almost everyone I know thinks Social Media is the new age God / Goddess if you will. The mantra (or myth) is that if one embraces Social Media, then it is one step in the right direction, specially in a business context.

And yet, so many companies make some very fundamental social media mistakes. So what are those mistakes that i’ve heard or seen. Are you making them too? Read below to figure it out

(1)    I hear about Social Media buzz, I sparingly use Twitter / FaceBook, I can speak about Social Media without sounding like a fool.. BUT I don’t REALLY UNDERSTAND Social Media. Please go take a Social Media 101 class

(2)    I’m sure Social is key for my business because everyone else is doing Social. Really? Please re-think

(3)    I’m sure that Social Media Marketing would be effective for my business, but I’m not really sure who my customers are and if they are active on Social Media. Really? Go check how you’re making money. Once you know your customers, ask / find about their social media presence

(4)  I don’t know if Social Media is right for my business. Read the article on   How to determine which Social media fits your business

(5)    I don’t really know what and how to measure on Social Media. Go figure

(6)   I need to hire a very social person to handle my Social Media business. No! Virtual social is very different from the real-world social, and they can be at two ends of the spectrum

(7)   Social Media Marketing is free. No! It takes time and Time is money, remember?

(8)   Spending lots of time on social media means I’m doing it right. Quantity and Quality are two different things right?

(9)   Social Media Marketing is about putting someone all the time on Social media. Oh! No not really! They should be doing the right things on social

(10)  It is better to be in Social Media and do something than not be on Social Media. Hmm.. Well debatable! But if you’re there, you better do something right. If you get it all wrong, then you’re better off not attempting Social

7D Ladder to Achieve Your Goals in Life

Do you have goals?

Do you want to achieve them?

Do you know how to get there?

Hmm.. Well.. If you’re looking for some guidance, then this is the post written for you based on all the I have observed and learned in my life…

 

 

 

D1: Discover your goals for life

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” BY Albert Einstein

Discovering your goals is the first step to get there. And discovery can sometimes take a lot of time, effort and also support from those around you. But discovery is really the process in which you think through what you want to achieve. For e.g.: I would like to write more often can be a broad goal that you discover for yourself

 

D2: Define your goals in a clear and concise fashion

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”  BY Bruce Lee

The next step is to precisely define what you really want to achieve. The more specific you are, the better are your chances in reaching your goal. And the best way is to define SMART goal (Simple Measurable Action-Oriented Realistic and Time Bound). For e.g.: I will publish one blog every month of this year is a good target to start off with for any blogger

 

D3: Design a plan to achieve your goal

A goal without a plan is just a wish.” BY Larry Elder

Once you have defined your goals, design a realistic plan to achieve your goal. I emphasize on realistic as you need to be cognizant of your current commitments, circumstances and constraints; and model a “personalized plan” factoring all of these. For e.g.: I will wake up at 6 AM and write for 30 mins on Tuesdays & Thursdays; as I need to reach work only by 9 AM.

 

D4: Develop your skills and everyday routine in line with your plan

To reach any goal, you usually need to develop new skills on some areas and also possibly hone and enhance skills on some areas. The best way to do this is to integrate specific tasks into your everyday routine. For e.g.: Let’s continue with the goal of writing. Every writer needs to read continuously to hone their writing skills. So one specific action plan is to set aside 15 mins everyday (say during lunch time) when you will read diverse articles from diverse authors. Not only does this reading enable you to become aware of writing styles, but also increases your own knowledge base on one / more topics.

 

D5: Be Dedicated in doing what you have to do when you have to do it

Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”  BY Paulo Coelho

Next and very important is that you need to be personally dedicated towards achieving your goals. If this means that you make some sacrifices and choices to achieve this, then so be it. But be dedicated, sincere and put your best foot forward to reach your goals.

 

D6: Be Determined to achieve your goals

know what you want, work to get it, then value it once you have it.” BY Nora Roberts

The road to any goal has its share of ups and downs. And what will make the difference in helping you reach your goals is usually how determined you are. So stay focused, objective and positive; and when things get rough and tough – be a little kind on yourself, but never lose sight of your goal.

 

D7: Dream about your goals at every opportunity you get

Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”  BY Rabindranath Tagore

One of the most important dimensions to achieving your goal is to dream about it at every opportunity you can. Dream the moment .. Create a visual memory .. and live the dream everyday. Before you know it, your dream will be reality and your goal will be well achieved..

 

On that note, Dare to Dream BIG; and work towards achieving your GOALS in LIFE!

Infographics 101: What? Why? How?

What are Infographics?

Information graphics, or infographics as they are more often called, are a great way to convey complex information clearly and concisely [Src: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/09/16/blogosphere-trends-using-infographics/ ]

Over the past few weeks, I’ve read hundreds of infographics, and have enjoyed reading most of them. One, it is for very good reason that the adage A picture is worth a thousand words was coined. I truly understood the “power of images” now. Two, infographics convey a lot of information in a simple, easy to read and easy to comprehend format. Three, I’ve been tasked with creating one at work.

Since I had to create an infographic, I looked for resources on any guidelines, tips, tricks, best practices and advice on “How” to create one. Dr. Google threw up a lot of content. Sharing in this post the links I found useful

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Infographics @ http://blog.crazyegg.com/2013/05/10/infographics-ultimate-guide/

What Makes A Great Infographic? 8 Experts Weigh In @ http://marketingland.com/8-experts-talk-about-making-great-infographics-34958

The power of infographics @ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/01/20/the-power-of-infographics-on-your-blog/

 

Tools to create infographics

20+ Tools to Create Your Own Infographics @ http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/infographic-tools/

10 free tools for creating infographics @ http://www.creativebloq.com/infographic/tools-213197

9 Awesome Powerful Free Infographic Tools @ http://www.infographicsarchive.com/create-infographics-and-data-visualization/

70 Tools And 4 Reasons To Make Your Own Infographics @ http://www.edudemic.com/70-tools-and-4-reasons-to-make-your-own-infographics/

Five Infographic Templates in PowerPoint @ http://offers.hubspot.com/how-to-easily-create-five-fabulous-infographics-in-powerpoint

And how could I conclude this post without an infographic?

[Src: http://mashable.com/2012/07/09/how-to-create-an-infographic/ ]

Why will anyone read a blog? Here are 15 good reasons

One of the main reason why any blogger publishes his / her posts is to be read. With the explosive growth of blogs, and the mind boggling volumes of content available online I many times wonder why will anyone read a blog – Be it my blog / your blog?

Here are 15 good reasons:

(1) I know you and hence would like to read what you have to say

(2) Because of who you are. You are famous / on the way to the top, and I want to know more about you and be part of your journey in some way

(3) I’ve read you before, and I’ve liked what you had to day

(4) The blog title you chose was awesome! I just had to read it

(5) Someone shared the link with me, and I stopped by to see what this is all about

(6) I’m interested in the topics / subjects you write about, and hence stop by to learn / read more

(7) I had time on hand, and your link showed up. I clicked, randomly

(8) I admire you and want to be like you some-day. If not one-o-one time with you, following your blog is the next best thing for me

(9) I feel like you are speaking to me – so relevant, and contextual. There is some connection here!

(10) I can’t explain, but your words touch deep within

(11) Google / XYZ Search engine recommended you :)

(12) I get answers to my questions

(13) I exercise those gray cells up within when I read your posts

(14) I just feel good reading them. Your words are poetry to my soul..

(15) Just like that!

Why do you read a blog? Why do you read my blogs? Leave a comment to let me know

Blogs come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime

When I entered the blog-o-sphere years ago, I had no idea where that would take me. Suffice to say, I just took the plunge – There were no real expectations, no real agenda, no real goals. Just some time at hand, an open mind, curiosity, an interest in reading, a laptop, an internet connection and The English language :)

I started reading blogs for a reason. Somehow somewhere I continued reading blogs through the seasons. And today, reading blogs is an integral part of my life, and I guess it will continue for my lifetime (If I have it my way!). Reading a blog enables me to learn, travel, get answers, ask questions, grow, watch others evolve / bloom / blossom, see the world with a new lens, make me feel that I’m not alone, give me clarity of perspective and most importantly, experience life through others experiences

After about 2 years of reading others blogs, I started writing my own blogs. Again, for a reason. Somehow somewhere they extended to a season. And then many seasons. Today, my blogs area an integral part of my life, and I guess it will continue for my lifetime (If I have it my way!). Writing a blog enables me to learn, express myself, get answers, ask questions, emote, connect, grow, share, see the world with a new lens, gain diverse perspectives, truly comprehend things and possibly leave a social media legacy

And I strongly believe that Blogs comes into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime..
When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each blog.

When a blog comes into your life for a REASON . . . It is usually to meet a need you have expressed. A blog can assist you through a difficulty, provide you with guidance and support, aid you emotionally, socially, intellectually, financially or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, you lose interest in the blogs. Sometimes it is forever, sometimes it is a hiatus. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, and the work is done. And now it is time to move on.

When a blog comes into your life for a SEASON . . . Because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.A blog brings you a purpose, phenomenal clarity of thought, an experience of peace, platonic connection(s), sometimes financial benefits too or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done or even thought of. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season. And then the bond is severed. You take the lessons and move on.

LIFETIME blogs and bloggers teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid foundation for life. Your job is to accept the blog , love the blog from your heart, have an open mind without judgment and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and experiences of your life.

All the blog-o-sphere is a stage
And all blogs and bloggers merely players
They have their exists and entrances
And each in their time play many parts

Inspired and based on the original words
“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON . . . It is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON . . .Because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

What about you? Have blogs come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime.. Leave a comment to let me know

The “Only Women” Social Networks – I started with an “Oh!”, and ended with “Whoa!”

I studied in an all-girls school for a good part of my early formal education. Like any school kid of the 1980’s and 1990’s era in India, I had my share of learning, studies, sports, co-curricular activities, mischief, memorable moments, childhood / school experiences, life lessons and fun in equal measure – just that it did not involve “the boys”, and that did not really make a difference. Honestly, I did not know it any other way :). Consequently, my “good / best friends” were mostly girls (And some of them are my best friends even to this date. Yes! Our friendship dates to another era!). Of course, I did interact with boys / men in the family and friends network, but then there is an implicit line drawn somewhere (like an invisible “Lakshman Rekha”), and so those experiences are usually somewhat pleasant and civil. When I passed out of school, I enrolled into a co-education school. That started my “real journey” with the “multifaceted opposite sex”. Looking back, my life has never really been the same again!! :) :( . Ah! I miss those “girlie school days”, and I also realized the importance and power of the “bonds of sisterhood” much much later.

See here’s the thing | When girls and boys connect, communicate, interact and (try to) co-exist, it is a whole new world. Things which were ignored suddenly come to limelight, things which were irrelevant suddenly become relevant, things which you were never conscious about suddenly become the center of your universe, things which never needed to be “filtered” need to be “filtered”, things which were never really important become critical to your existence, and things which never defined you become your defining moments.

Anyways, coming back to my own life – The next few years revolved around education, career, family, marriage and motherhood. And like most average people, I’ve had my share of good, bad and ugly in all of this. And as with most women who go through all these life experiences, I let-go of many of my girlfriends along the way. It was not intentional, purely incidental / circumstantial. Career, work life balance, travel, people residing in all parts of the world, lack of time, conflicting interests, changing priorities, etc. etc. etc. So before I knew it I found myself in my 30’s and wondering who my friends really are!

Thanks to technology and the Social Media revolution, I was able to re-connect with many of my girlfriends from the past. The good thing is that you have a foundation and base to build on, and you can take off from where you left. But the not-so-good thing is that you have all changed, and there may be a fundamental difference in your thoughts, perspectives and outlook to life. The other not-so-good thing is that you are almost always worried if she will judge you, and how much you can trust her. Anyways girls / women are (in)famous for keeping secrets right?

Sometime in 2010 on my journey to motherhood, I also started my journey as a writer and blogger – Simply because I needed a canvas to express myself. A canvas for my words – Words which stemmed from dreams, thoughts, observations, analysis, learning’s, conversations, view-points, outlook, views, emotions, perspectives, achievements, mistakes, failures, lessons learned, comprehensions, experiences and conclusions. Along the way, I realized that I enjoyed blogging as it was a creative outlet for my thoughts, emotions and energies, and continued to blog more. As any blogger did / does, I stressed and fretted about readership, reach, pageviews, etc. and as a solution, I embraced Twitter and FaceBook to promote my blogs. Nothing really significant, but just figuring out the tricks of the trade. And of course the usual lingering around (which by the way takes a whole lot of precious time!). A “hello” here, “You look fabulous” there. And of course, those moments which social media leaves you with. Sometimes moments of wonder at how much people have changed. Sometimes moments of awe at how far others have come. Sometimes moments of admiration at how successful and powerful some of my buddies are. Sometimes moments of joy to see and share a slice of someone else’s life. Sometimes moments of jealousy at how happy some people appear to be! And sometimes just to flow through the passage time and make the moment count (or not!?). I go through the whole range of human emotions over a span of few minutes. The unanticipated benefit of all my Twitter / FaceBook activity is that it connected to several like-minded, intelligent, interesting and diverse woman who were slowly and surely creating an impact and making a difference in their sphere of influence.

Sometime in 2013, I got invited to be part of some FaceBook groups / communities. I accepted the invitation. Honestly I did not know what to expect. It took me a while to understand the protocols of interaction, the reach, the impact and the power of these communities. I don’t know why and how, but what followed were invitations to some elite and exclusive “women only” social communities. Many of these are “secret / closed groups” where the membership is “by invitation only”. They typically include women who have common interests / beliefs or experiences (for e.g.: motherhood in general, working mothers, women in business, mompreneurs, etc.).  And that opened a whole new world for me, changed my perspective of life and has been a transformational life experience.

Here’s what I learned | A woman speaking in public is one thing, and a woman speaking behind closed doors is something else. You have to experience it to know what I mean.

To be honest when I first joined some of these communities, I was pleasantly shocked! Shocked to see the honesty with which women spoke up, shocked at how freely women shared deeply private and personal stories of strength, courage, conviction and trials, shocked to see the support women extended to each other in times of lows / crisis, shocked at the positivity and energy amidst the community, shocked at the way the owners nurtured / propelled the group towards specific causes, shocked at the larger good many of these groups were doing / further aimed to do, shocked at how unknown names and faces stood up for each other to assist and guide women through all that life threw at them.

Being a member of these communities has been an invaluable learning experience for me. Over time, I realized that I enjoyed the interactions, the learning, the friendships and bonds that were fostered and also the intellectual stimulation that these communities provided.

See here’s the next thing | There is that special something about an “all-girls network”. If you’re / you’ve ever been part of one, you’ll know what I mean. Suffice to say, today I swear by the “bonds of womanhood”. I know that the “old boys clubs / bad boys gangs / dirty old men groups” have been around from time immemorial. But as of today, I’d bet that the “Only Woman” social networks are here to stay. This is where the power lies. This is where ideas are exchanged. This is where inspiration is drawn from . This is where the thoughts are influenced. This is where it all comes together!

I have nothing personal against boys / men really; after all I am what I am partly because of all the men in my life. Just that with time I’ve come to acknowledge, appreciate and accept that men and women are wired differently. So,
(1) There are some things which only girls / women will listen to
(2) There are some things which only girls / women will acknowledge
(3) There are some things which only girls / women will understand
(4) There are some things which only girls / women will know
(5) There are some things which only girls / women will accept
(6) There are some things which only girls / women will embrace
(7) There are some things which only girls / women will counsel on
(8) There are some things which only girls / women can sympathize with
(9) There are some things which only girls / women can empathize with

And because there will almost always be those some things which are exclusive to women, therein lies the need for “Only Women” Social Networks. And these social networks are important because they provide a forum for women to
* Share what they are really thinking – However good, bad or ugly! It is the real deal!
* Share what they are really feeling deep down
* Share a real-life personal context / situation and ask for advice / suggestions / inputs
* Just express the highs and lows of what life throws at you and get a quick hug, snug, nag or niggle here and now; Real-time interaction is the key
* Share to a group of women who make you feel that you are not alone
* Share with a group of spirited woman and hear the words “It is OK. This too shall pass”
* Just get it all out and in some ways feel free and liberated!

It warms my heart to see women sharing, collaborating, nurturing, supporting, advising, mentoring and just being there for each other through the journey of life.

In all that I’ve seen as a part of my own life, I strongly believe that for any one person to blossom, flower and flourish (man / woman), there has to be (somewhere in the generational family tree) at least ONE resilient woman who nurtured / supported / guided and believed in him / her. (Of course a lot more things play their part too – divine grace, luck, hard work, passion, focus, ecosystem support, timing,. but that one woman would have made all the difference)

And for any woman to be that “resilient woman” she needs support. Not every time, every day. But during that one vulnerable moment which can break / make her. And it is in that one vulnerable moment that the “Only Women” Social Networks help a woman cross the chasm. And for only that one reason, I conclude by saying that these “Only Women” Social Networks are powerful networks. These networks are definitely a harbinger of positive change and have the potential for global transformation. They are real, and here to say!!!

That’s what I had to say. Would love to hear your views. Leave a comment to let me know

Love Thyself? Learn something new

Let’s start with questions | Are you 30+? When did you last learn something new?

Some of you may respond with all your wisdom by saying “everyday” as there is learning in every experience, and every day is a new beginning. Indeed that’s true.  You can learn from people, observations, interactions, reading, mistakes, emotions, thoughts, actions, events, conversations, social media (FaceBook, Twitter, et al.), books, food, movies and life itself. It all depends on your thirst for learning, your ability to assimilate and absorb the lessons from everyday experiences and internalize these learning’s.

Some of you may respond with silence.

Let me now modify the question | Are you 30+? When did you last learn something new ‘formally’?

The vast majority would respond with a silence. This was my response too last year. Looking back at my own life, after I completed my management education at IIMB way back in 2006, I’ve not really formally learned anything new!

Here’s the thing | For many of us who are 30+, you are somewhat settled into things and an everyday way of life. Life pretty much revolves around work / career and family / friends. There’s really no time for anything else – especially if you are a woman or a working woman or a working mother!

Being a working mother myself, I was no different. However, the silence bothered me for a long time and I decided to take action. So here’s what I did. One, I enrolled for a paid professional technical certification exam. This meant intensive reading, learning something new and a tough examination to crack. Thankfully, I cleared and that enhanced my knowledge and resumeJ. That done, I registered for a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) on Social Media Analytics. Being online and self-paced with only an end date to meet, this was again a great learning experience for me.  The good part was that it also had an online assessment and I was awarded a certificate at the end of the course. Lastly, I took up a structured course on “Creativity”.  And I loved it!

The whole practice of “formal learning” has been a wonderful personal experience over the past few months [apart from the fact that it also inspired this post :)]

So what did I learn from all these experiences?

You learn because you really want to learn – Up until you are 30, you mostly learn because you have to learn and because you don’t really have a choice. But for most of us after 30, formal learning actually becomes a matter of true personal choice. So you can learn what you love and what you really want to learn. And there is immense joy and great personal satisfaction in learning a subject you are deeply passionate about.

One of my closest friends wanted to learn a musical instrument formally for years but it just never happened. Now in her mid-30’s, she is well settled in her career and life and decided to take this up. So she enrolled into one of the best music institutes in the world to pursue her quest for this learning. At this phase of life, you can afford to fund your own learning and you may be able to afford the best-in-class teachers and best-in-class institutes. Looking back at my own life, I can definitely say that learning from the masters in any field is truly unique and  an unparalleled experience. And if you can afford it, then it is worth your time and money!

There are so many things to learn – Whenever I speak to my peers and friends well in their 30+’s about formal learning, many of them ask me “But what to learn?” followed by “How to learn and Where is the time?”. I had these questions too. But as I discovered over the past few months there are just so many things you can learn “formally” based on your personal interest, even after you turn 30.

 Let me list down things you can learn (apart from the things you need to learn for your career / work) – Cooking, Driving, Painting, Photography, Doing make-up, Puppet-Making, Pottery, Baking, Dancing, A musical instrument, A sport, Yoga, Aerobics, Calligraphy, Sketching, Caricature, Writing, Programming, Stoy-Telling, Marketing, Social Media, Public Speaking, Communication, Personal Grooming, Management, Magic, New Languages, Designing, Technology . You name it, and you can learn it – both offline / online. For e.g.: 10 years back who would have thought that the common Indian could learn dance from Madhuri Dixit. Today, you can from her online dance school Dance With Madhuri.

 Another childhood friend of mine has always loved art and paintings but never got around to take this up seriously. Now that she is well into her 40’s, has teenage boys who are independent and is the Vice President of an international bank, she dedicates her week-ends to her art-work. She has a home tutor who teaches and guides her in her learning process. When I recently saw some of her paintings I was blown over! Each one of them was a true masterpiece.

 There is value in formal learning – The best part of “formal learning” is you actually learn within a stipulated time-frame. So your knowledge base expands and your comprehension of old and new things is significantly increased. Of course, you can informally learn lot of things, and I don’t discount it at all. But for many of us in this phase of life, the challenge is that we start with great gusto and are just not able to keep up with the informal / self-learning for an extended period of time even if we are deeply passionate about the subject. So if you learn formally you are more focused and do make/ take out the time .The icing on the cake is that if you are awarded a certificate of course completion that is definitely a feather in your cap.

 Now I know that value is personal and subjective, and to each his / her own. But there is something else that I do know for sure – Formal learning can add value to your resume, to others perception of you and most importantly, to your own perception of yourself. All three matter and do make a difference in the long run.

Learning provides opportunities for building new friendships and networking – In your 30’s, I can’t decide which is harder – making friends or keeping friends. Both have their issues and challenges, and many of us let-go of friendships and after a point we wonder who our friends really are!  

One of the best things about formal learning in your 30’s is that you get to meet and interact with new people who have an interest in a common subject. So you can build new friendships and networks due to a common passion.

Last but not least, you feel good when you learn something new. Like the runner’s high, there is a “learner’s high” – I speak from personal experience here. You just feel happy, energetic, positive and really really good when you learn something new. After my first innings of my learning high last year, I have made a formal list of things I want to learn in the future, and I am pleasantly surprised to find the list size is increasing by the day! Honestly, I am fine if I learn one thing at a time or even one thing a year.  But what I know for sure is this – I do want to be a lifelong learner.

And if this post inspired even one reader to learn something new, then that would be the best return gift in writing this!

Happy Learning. Learn, Laugh, Love – It is one life to live!

Originally published here

HOP, JUMP and Click-Over to these TOP-ular Blogs

Blogging has become a very integral part of my daily life. Every single day, at least 30 minutes is invested in the world of blogs, and that’s probably one of the best investments I’ve made so far.

Here’s the thing I love reading and writing blogs, simply because they can enrich your life in a zillion different ways. Blogs can take you to place you never knew existed, connect you with people who can transform your life and just make life so worthwhile and complete – if you’re a blogger you’d probably understand what I mean. As they say “Babies make the world go round” .. Well, “Babies and Blogs make my world go round and just about everywhere I want to go:)

In this post, I am sharing my favorite blogs – Blogs which I follow closely, which I read regularly, which make my day complete and which make my world go round!

So without any further ado, sharing below a list of Nischala’s TOP-ular blogs which I recommend you visit at least once.

Zen Habits BY Leo Babauta

Undoubtedly, one of the BEST blogs that I have discovered in the blog-o-sphere. I’ve been following Leo’s blog for years now, and I still love it! Every single post is a “treasure”, and based on his real-life journey and personal transformation. What I love about Leo’s writing is this – Simplicity, Honesty and the fact that he writes from personal experiences. The choice of topics he writes about is very relevant and important in anyone’s life. So no matter what, I do make sure that I take (or make) time to read his blogs regularly. And if there is only ONE blog that I can recommend for you to follow, it would be this. It has changed my writing, thinking and life in so many positive ways. It can possibly do the same to you also. So do stop by the blog. Along which his writing, I have deep respect and admiration for Leo due to his personal life transformation.

The Change Blog BY Peter Clemens

Change is integral to human life and our own personal journey, and Peter’s blog focuses on how people have dealt with change in their life. The posts are usually from guest authors, and are based on personal real-life experiences. There is usually a powerful take-away from most of the posts – In terms of how individuals have dealt with specific situations where “change” played a critical role. Definitely worth reading to get tips, suggestions or insights into how people deal with / have dealt with changes in their life

Purpose Fairy BY Luminita D. Saviuc

I love this blog and as the blog says “Raw, honest wisdom from the awesome school of life to brighten up your day”. That’s the sum and substance of this blog and it always leaves me with food for thought! Hop over and check it out

The Buffer Blog BY the Buffer team

I’m crazy about the quality content they put up, the level of detail and the kind of topics chosen. I am almost always in awe with the thoroughness with which they research a topic and simplicity with which they write (And most of the writers are in their 20’s!). Amazing stuff! Just as a primer, the blog mentions that they are “A blog about productivity, life hacks, writing, user experience, customer happiness and business.” All topics are personally relevant to me, and I guess relevant to you too, right? Check them out today, and that is the path-way to a treasure!

Seth’s Blog BY Seth Godin

Who does not know Seth Godin? As a marketer, I look up to him. As an author, I respect him. As a blogger, I totally admire and respect him (And I love his blog!). One, he posts EVERY SINGLE day! Two, his posts are short, like really short (I simply enjoy reading short posts). Lastly, every single post is immensely profound. I’ve come to believe that the most difficult writing is when you can say lots in as few words as possible, and Seth is the guru in that! I’ve yet to come across any other blogger who does this with such finesse. You can read his post in about 2 – 3 minutes, and spend the next 2 hours mulling over what he meant!

Chris Bogan BY Chris Bogan

I stumbled upon Chris’s blog after I read his epic post titled “106 Excuses that prevent you from ever becoming great”. And have been a loyal follower ever since. Chris writes about a wide range of topics from marketing and sales and service. He almost always focuses on how better to connect with people, which is one of the main reasons I love his blog!

Michael Hyatt : Intentional Leadership BY Michael Hyatt
One of the best blogs on Personal Development, Leadership, Productivity and Publishing. Michael writes regularly, writes from his wealth of real-life experiences, writes on a range of topics which are personally relevant to me, uses several media (podcasts, videos, etc.) and more importantly, there is phenomenal “value” that I gain from every single post – Either I learn something new or there is food for thought or I get an idea for my next blog post :)

PHOTOGRAPHY Blogs

I love photography blogs, and it amazes me how much talent is out there really, and how beautiful nature is, and how wonderful human moments and memories are! Every single picture screams a million words. Needless to say, I love the magic created by a camera. Sheer beauty!

Daily Dose of Imagery BY Sam Javanrouh

Pixel Candy BY Thomas Bonin

Here and Now  BY Cyril Bays

Hop over for a visual treat.

COOKING and CULINARY DELIGHTS Blogs

Cooking is a creative form of expression, and I have a special fondness for people who can dish up a culinary delight. This emotion magnifies even more if they cook exclusively for me :). The thing about cooking blogs is that they usually combine two complementary skills – Cooking and Photography. And with these, a vast majority of blogs can tease and please almost all your senses! (yes! Sometimes when I see a photo I can imagine the ‘smell’ too :)

My Diverse Kitchen BY Aparna

Archana’s Kitchen  BY Archana

Saffron Trail BY Nandita Iyer

I’m not saying why I like them. Hop over and see for yourself :)

 

And as I sign off, I’m sharing 5 of my all-time  favorite blog posts (I’ve lost track of the number of times I have read these.) . Needless to stay, they’ll always be with me!

What I Learned About Networking When I Asked a Stranger for a Kidney
36 Things I Want My Daughter to Always Remember
The YOU MATTER Manifesto
106 Excuses that prevent you from ever becoming great
Extinguishing the tantrum cycle

 I won’t hold you any longer. HOP, JUMP and Click-Over to these TOP-ular Blogs. And after that, I’d love to know your favorite blog, or blog post. Do leave a comment

2014 : What I’ll be blogging here?

So its a new year! The time when everyone embarks on all new things
New Year Resolutions
New Year Wishes
New Year Changes

Well, as I mulled over what I’ll be doing here on my blog, the one thing that I was clear that I would continue to write..

So, how frequently will I post?
Once a week

And when will I publish a post?
Every Thursday at 3 PM IST

So what will I be blogging about?
Well.. The focus will continue to be on areas of professional interest which range from Marketing, Social Media, Leadership, Innovation, Strategy and Business.

So is there a specific plan for the postings?
Well yes!
Week 1 of the month – A post on Social Media
Week 2 of the month – A post on Marketing
Week 3 of the month – A post on Leadership
Week 4 of the month – A post on Innovation / Strategy / Business

Will I do anything different this year on my blog?
Well, there will be a few surprises along the way. So wait and watch.. And do follow my blog to know what these surprises are!

Till then, continue reading..
And LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE
Its one life to LIVE

Happy New Year 2014…

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