Category Archives: Business

My (love) affair with blogging – How it came to be?

Regular readers of my blog know that I’ve been blogging for years now (4+ to be precise). I have chronicled my blogging journey in many of my posts to share my lessons and insights.

It was indeed an honor and a pleasure when Bhakthi Bapat Mathew requested me to give an interview on the chronicles of my blogging journey. For those who don’t know, Bhakti is a freelance journalist based in Bangalore, India. Bhakti has been writing for Indian and international publications since 2006.Her byline has appeared in CNN Travel, South China Morning PostWomen’s e-News (USA), The National (UAE), Friday Magazine (Gulf News), The Women’s International Perspective (The WIP, USA), Business Standard, Good Housekeeping, Mint, The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Spice Route, New Indian Express, and more.

She wanted to feature me in a special series she is doing on her blog. Titled. “How they did it?” she aims to bring to the fore-front stories of successful authors, journalists or bloggers. Each interview will delve into how that writer overcame the usual challenges to make a mark in the space. Past interviews feature Yashodhara Lal, Rasana Atreya and Advaita Kala . How could I say No?

THE interview below. Text is bold is the questions Bhakthi asked and my responses are below. Happy reading

By when did the blog pick up big readership? Any memories you remember from those early days of your blogging success.

Firstly, thank you for featuring me on your blog. I think “How they did it” is a great initiative that you’ve started, and am sure that it will help a lot of aspiring / newbie and even veteran  writers / bloggers. After all, we all learn from each other’s stories, right?

Coming to my blog, I think it was after 1-2 years of blogging on my own blogs, and a lot of guest posts in many global forums. Interestingly for me, the initial thrust came from global readership because my guest posts were published in forums like Problogger, ChangeBlog, etc. It was only much later that I became active in the Indian blog-o-sphere.

There are so many memorable moments mostly because they were completely unexpected and took me by surprise, and of course, made me happy. Top among them are:

  • Alyssa Milano (Yes! The American actress, producer and singer) shared my post on 12 Most Wonderful moments in the first year of Motherhood. This was in 2011, and about a year after I started blogging. The post went viral in a few minutes after she tweeted it. It was like with every blink of my eye the numbers just shot up :) I almost felt like a mini-celebrity!

  • My guest posts being accepted by Problogger. For those who don’t know, Problogger was started by Darren Rowse who was among the first bloggers globally to make money through his blog. It is a dream for bloggers around the world to get published here, and it can take months to fit in to their blogging schedule. It is one of those indications that “You have arrived as a blogger” :)

  • There have been many comments and shares on my posts from many globally respected leaders, CXO’s and influential / popular individuals / communities from corporate / business, politics, education, social media, marketing, movies, etc. For example, my posts were shared by the likes of Guy Kawasaki (former chief evangelist of Apple; co-founder of Alltop.com and currently Chief Evangelist at Canva), Angela Maiers (a globally respected educator and TED Speaker), etc. Also, my posts have been quoted in a number of forums.

When did you first start the blog…what was your main motivation in starting it?

In 2010, I thought to myself Maybe I should create a blog of my own too. But I had so many questions “What will I write about? Who will read them? Will anyone comment?” And most importantly, I did not know how / how much I will be able to blog. Anyway, I started a blog and published my first blog post as a private post. I felt I was not ready to share it with the world. It’s like when you start anything new, you have more questions than answers and are simply not sure about how things will work out. But over time, I began posting regularly. A few months later, I shared my posts with a few trusted friends and family and received positive and encouraging feedback. So one fine day in 2010, I decided to let my blogs go public and since then, there has been no looking back. In terms of motivation, there are a number of reasons:

  • One, I wanted an “online space” as a canvas for my words. Words which stem from dreams, thoughts, observations, analysis, learning’s, conversations, view-points, outlook, views, emotions, perspectives, achievements, mistakes, failures, lessons learnt, comprehensions, experiences and conclusions.
  • Two, the initial phases of motherhood are taxing physically, emotionally enriching / draining at the same time and lonely (socially) since you hardly have any time for social interactions. In that phase, I needed something intellectual stimulating and some social connections to keep me going through the long dark nights from the confines of my home and I found that in the world of blogs.
  • Three, When I became a mother, I used to ponder and introspect a lot on “deeper existential questions” on life and legacy. I’ve always believed words and writing can be a significant part of anyone’s personal legacy, and I hope mine will :) In fact two of my most popular posts are “What is your personal legacy?” and “What is your social media legacy?”. Be sure to read it :)
  • Lastly, To give back. I believe that many times it is “words” that make all the difference in life. So if my writings can make a positive difference in someone’s life – either by enabling them to learn, making them think, help them through a rough phase of life or just bringing some sunshine in their life, I’m good.

Incidentally, my tryst with blogging started at about the same time as my journey as a mother and so both are special to me.

My blogs include:

  • VERVE : The Quintessence of my Life – my personal blog and covers a broad range of topics around Life, Creativity, Parenting, Relationships, Human Experiences, Emotions, Lessons and Wisdom of life.
  • Nischala’s Space, Thoughts and Expressions – my professional blog in which I write about topics of professional interest like Social Media, Marketing, Leadership, Innovation and Strategy.
  • Worth a Read – – a compilation of interesting, touching, humorous write-ups that I come across — via mail, on the net or a random read… And believe it’s worth saving and worth reading again.

In the beginning, how often did you post, and later too, when it got popular?

Initially, I used to publish when I’d finish writing a post. So there would be phases when there would be five posts published on my blog in one day and many days when there would be no activity on my blogs.

It took a while to understand the my own process / method of blogging. Some days, I have 30 blog post ideas and some days I can write 10K words and on some days I’ve even written up to 20 blog posts!  I’d also done a post on this — The Biorythmic cycles of a blogger.

I think it takes a while to find the rhythm in the madness. Today, I am more structured and have a well-planned editorial calendar. I run 3 active blogs and target 1 post per week on each of the blogs. I also do at least 3 guest posts per month. So in one month, I have around 10-15 posts which go live :). I write almost every single day and have done it regularly for the past 4 years. I don’t publish everyday though!

According to you, what helped make the blog a success?

  • Choice of blog topics that have a large appeal: So I have a 10 year old girl who reads my blogs, and a 70 year old grandpa who says he enjoys my blogs.
  • Simple words, language and articulation: which make my writings unique and easy to read / comprehend, I’m told.
  • Posting regularly: This really comes from the love of writing, focus, planning and self-discipline.
  • Guest posts.
  • Focused blog marketing and promotion in online / social channels and communities.
  • Social networks and advocates who share my content generously.

One of the most challenging things for a new blogger is getting readers and comments. What can newbie bloggers do to get more readers?

I think that is the wrong question to ask or start with. The more important question is “Why will anyone read  your blog on Day 1? Or Day 2 or .. Day N” and that should drive your blogging efforts! And more specifically how many blogs have you read and how many comments have you left on other blogs?”.

In specific, here are the DO’s that have worked for me:

  • Have a specific niche for 70 – 80% of your posts
  • Have an authentic voice. Be real
  • Get to know your reader – Who is he / she? What do they want to read about?
  • Continuously provide compelling content
  • Religiously promote the blogs across social media

Here are the DONT’s

  • Pass off someone else’s content as your own. It has happened to me so many times, and trust me as a blogger, I DO NOT appreciate it.
  • Talk only about yourself and your personal life. No one wants to read beyond a point unless it is relevant or you are a celebrity already
  • Share negative / abusive / sensitive / incorrect information / opinions

Building blog traffic takes time (if you are not already a real-life celebrity). There is no overnight glory and success in blogging. One step at a time. Also the “Law of Karma” works well in blogs. I call it the “Blogging karma” – You get what you give – in thoughts, words, comments and shares :)

If you are a newbie “individual” blogger, I personally think that you’re starting late, so now you have to differentiate yourself to even find a place in the blogging world.

Did your blog help you professionally? If so, how?

  • More visibility at the workplace – I have a second identity now as a blogger :)
  • More visibility in the industry (IT) / across specific functional areas like Marketing, Social Media, Leadership, HR, etc.
  • CXO level connects – I have many CXO’s who read / comment / share my blogs. They know me on a first name basis
  • Professional networking – I’ve build so many wonderful online connections with people who inspire, assist and enable. Since they know me already, it is easy to connect and converse on (m)any issues
  • Re-connect with academia – As you know, I’m an IIMB alumni and a lot of my IIMB professors also read my blogs and share in their networks.

I know so many people and so many people know me because of my blogs :)

What, according to you, is the importance/role of offline networking (attending blog meets, lit events etc.) in growing a blog? Are there any examples of your own blog where offline networking helped?

I don’t know since I’ve never attended any blogging event till date. From what I’ve read / seen, it can boost your readership and strengthen the power of networks and relationships. So people share / like / comment / recommend you – It is like a peer-to-peer ecosystem.

Your thoughts on monetizing a blog through google adwords etc.?

No comments since I’ve not done it

What role, according to you, does SEO play in making a blog successful?

It plays a significant role. But to be honest, I don’t do any SEO for my personal blogs. I know bloggers for whom SEO made all the difference. To each his / her own.

Would be great if you could share details or examples with links showing just how successful the blog is…or stats, like at its peak, how many comments per post, views per day etc.

This number game is bad you know – in the corporate context, in Bollywood, in cricket, in politics or whatever! But I know that the bottom-line is data is accounted and hence valued more.

To give you an insight, one of my most popular posts  “33 Life Lessons No School really taught me” was shared 10K+ times in social media in about 3 days that it went live.

Personally, I’ve stopped tracking all this. However, I like to observe overall trends periodically because they give you insights into what your readers want to read. Like another most popular post on my blog has been around extra-marital affairs. I was surprised, but looks like it is an issue which people are keen to read about!

What’s your current professional status…

@ Status 1: Head of Marketing and Thought Leadership for a specialized theme in one of India’s largest IT service provider

@ Status 2: Mother, Wife, Daughter (in-law), Sister (in-law), Aunt…. and everything that it entails :)

@ Status 3: In between the two, I blog / write :)

For more tips  on blogging, visit this post by Nischala!

What is your view? Leave a comment to let me know….

Originally published here

T for Thought Leadership..

There are some buzzwords which will not go out of fashion in the business / corporate world. “THOUGHT LEADERSHIP” is one of them. When I first heard the word more than a decade ago at the start of my professional career, I was in “awe” as the word sounded important and impressive.

My first thoughts were “Don’t we all have a zillion thoughts zooming in our minds every single day, so what qualifies for thought leadership? How can anyone demonstrate leadership with their thoughts? Who decides that it is thought leadership? How does one demonstrate thought leadership?
With time and experience, I found these answers. Today, “Thought Leadership” is an integral part of my professional responsibilities.
And here’s the thing|
1) It is still in vogue to be associated with this “T” word or / and have it in your professional resume
2) It is still important and impressive to an individual / organization

According to Wikipedia, the term ‘Thought Leadership’ was coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz & Co magazine Strategy & Business, and used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had business ideas which merited attention

Thought Leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.” By Michael Brenner

I think Thought Leadership is many times about asking the RIGHT QUESTIONS too. In fact many times the questions are more important than the answers – as they get one to think and provide the direction for your strategy and plans.

Thought leadership should be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.” By Daniel Rasmus

I fully concur with this definition. The only thing is that very many times “Thought leadership” is incidental or accidental, and consequently so are the relationships which is possibly and probably not a good space / place to be in for any business.

According to a Forbes article,
A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.

A thought leader is an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such.

I agree with this view. The most challenging part is to become a Thought Leader, or the big HOW? I’m not so sure if Thought Leadership always results (directly) in increased profitability. It can – provided it is marketed / positioned well, and reaches the right audience / reader.

Wikipedia says that “Thought leadership is often used as a way of increasing or creating demand for a product or service. High tech firms will often publish white papers with analysis of economic benefits of the product as a form of marketing”

Agreed! It is really about putting your voices and views in the marketplace and promoting it on multiple online / offline channels that your prospects view.

Why is Thought Leadership important today?

Simply because it is a competitive marketplace and every individual / organization has several thoughts on a periodic basis. Establishing “continuous leadership” on your thoughts is a direct testimonial to the kind of team that you have and a clear ‘market message’ that nurturing and sharing these thoughts is important to you / your team and your organization. Thought Leadership can sometimes be your one and only “key differentiators” in the GTM (Go-To-Market) Strategy. Hence it is imprative for organizations to build, nurture and demonstrate “Thought Leadership”

How to demonstrate Thought Leadership?

With your content. With you communications. With your conversations (online / offline)

Who should drive Thought Leadership?

The beauty of Thought Leadership is that it

Integrates with a SME (Subject Matter Expert)
Integrates with content and social media functions
Integrated with marketing functions
Integrated with Leadership

And so it really is a collective collaborative constructive responsibility of an individual / team / organization to showcase / demonstrate Thought Leadership over a period of time.

And lastly who determines it to be “Thought Leadership”?

This is a tricky one since it depends on who is the addressable market for your offerings / solutions / services / products and who is the (potential) target customer. What may be “Thought Leadership” to one may not be “Thought Leadership” to another. The point is that there should be an “industry / community / group” of experts who “publicly” ratify a thought as “Thought Leadership”…

Agree / Disagree? Leave a comment to let me know

Recommended Readings
What Is Thought Leadership? 5 Steps To Get It Right
What is a Thought Leader?
How to become a Thought Leader?

Why entrepreneurship? – 36 Reasons I discovered

The decision or choice to be an entrepreneur is no easy one (usually).. – whether you are a new kid on the block or you’ve had a corporate career for some (or large) part of your life.And yet, I increasingly read see and hear of so many people taking the deep plunge into entrepreneurship..

I always wondered “Why entrepreneurship?“…And I discovered 36 compelling reasons

(1) To create something new / unique / innovative

(2) To have a fair chance to make money that a corporate job can probably never really pay you

(3) To fell the thrill / high of building a new business / enterprise (This is very different from 1 above)

(4) To be your own boss

(5) To get away from your current boss / company / life

(6) To work on a purpose larger than yourself / life

(7) To generate employment and improve the quality of life for someone somewhere

(8) To work wholeheartedly on something that you are deeply passionate about, and strongly committed to

(9) To create wealth

(10) To experiment with something you’ve never done before

(11) To fulfill a dream

(12) Entrepreneurship is in the blood ; They can’t / won’t do anything else

(13) To lead from the front (really from the front)

(14) To make life worthwhile

(15) To truly solve a problem / market need

(16) To make life easier for someone somewhere

(17) To address a higher calling

(18) To challenge yourself, and push the envelope

(19) To be in control of your life – and not dependent on someone

(20) To live a life (style) that you’ve always desired

(21) To be in full-control of your time at work

(22) To take-over the family business / set-up

(23) To be in power, and to have the power to control, influence and determine the outcome of a zillion things

(24) To build / create / groom / mentor individuals ; a great opportunity to do it your way

(25) To prove a point – to yourself or someone else

(26) To dis-prove a theory / hypothesis / widely held popular belief. For e.g.: He / She can never be an entrepreneur

(27) To find a way to do something better / faster

(28) To pioneer the way to do something in a cost effective manner

(29) To settle past scores with someone. Sometimes jealousy or revenge are the cause for one to embark on entrepreneurial ventures

(30) To heal wounds of the mind and heart; To some entrepreneurship is therapeutic I’m told

(31) To do something worthwhile / productive with your time, skills and knowledge

(32) To pay the bills and put food on the table

(33) No one else is ready to employ / hire you :(

(34) To make a difference in someone’s life

(35) To maximize usage of both sides of your brain :) – Entrepreneurship needs optimal usage of the left and right side of the brain. Ample role of creativity and logic

(36) To leave a legacy which your forthcoming generations will be proud of

 

Did I miss any? Leave comments to let me know

Colors, Marketing and Colorful Marketing

This week at work has been a lot of creating marketing assets and planning an integrated marketing campaign. Suffice to say, it was busy and I don’t know how time went by.  The one point which was much debated and discussed was COLORS!! :)

I can’t emphasize the role importance and significance of colors in any communication, and more so if it is a marketing related corporate communication. Colors can be the one and only reason why you and I read something or not, why I feel or think something after we read a specific communication. I guess it is the same for you..

So on my (delayed) post for this week, I’m going to share with you some of interesting and insightful points on the “world of colors”.

ONE COLOR can MAKE IT / BREAK IT.. Agreed?

 

The Psychology of Color

by Dehahs.

 

Color Psychology in Logo Design

Additional Readings

http://www.colormatters.com/

 

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

50 Things I wish I’d truly understood (as a WOMAN) when I started my corporate career

A lot of times I get asked questions around what it takes to be a career woman in the corporate world. Invariably, my answers vary based on whom I am speaking to. Simply because a lot of things make up that elixir – Desire to work (or need to work for some women), Passion, Dedication, Commitment, Hard-work, Experience, Qualifications, Personal Brand, your professional networks and advocates and the kind of person you are.

While a lot is written and discussed on this subject, some critical points often get missed out. In this post I am sharing 50 things I wish I’d truly understood when I started my corporate career, albeit many of them are less spoken! While I have burnt my fingers many times on many of these points, the aim of writing it is to probably help you / some working woman in her career journey.

1)      The word CAREER starts with CARE. So take full responsibility to CARE for yourself, your professional growth and success

2)      Have career goals and objectives – Both short-term and long-term. You will go and grow only as far as you want to!

3)      Plan your career in line with your goals and objectives. Have a Plan A. Plan B. And Plan C. Many women are guilty of having no real career plan

4)      Know yourself – Discover your strengths and weaknesses. Be aware of them, accept them (including the fact that you are a woman) and find ways to improve and improvise.

5)      Believe in yourself. If you don’t there’s a chance that others also won’t

6)      Value yourself if you want others at work to value yourself

7)      Learn to say NO – at the workplace and at home. And No means NO. Make sure you understand it, and those around you understand it too

8)      Find a mentor. Having one early on in your career can sometimes be the only factor in determining how long your career will span, and how far you will go

9)      Invest in professional networks. They will hold you in good stead on the rainy days.

10)  At work – Show up. Own up. Speak up.

11)  You are the “CMO” (Chief Marketing Officer) of your work and career. Promote yourself and your work. Again, a lot of women lose out because they don’t get due credit and visibility for what they’ve done

12)  Read the news / Know what is in the news – General knowledge is always good

13)  Invest in your physical health and wellness – This will be one of the most important variables if you are serious about a long term career

14)  Learn to use technology for your benefit. Make an effort to know what you need, understand the power of technology and find ways to make technology work for you.

15)  Stay relevant in your field – read, take examinations / certifications, participate in community discussions, etc.

16)  Build your personal brand image – At work and out of work. Brand YOU should stand for something unique and reflective of you

17)  Communication is critical to success – Invest in enhancing you oral and written communication skills. This can sometimes be the most critical aspect of your career growth

18)  Presentation skills – Both creating presentations and making presentations is a must-have skill. Invest in learning

19)  Learn to negotiate. It does not come naturally to most women, but it can be learnt over time

20)  Learn to ask for help . It is OK to ask

21)  Make a personal resolution to learn something new periodically. Learning is one of the best ways to love yourself

22)  Find ways to improve productivity at work and home. Small things make a big difference

23)  To have a fair chance at success as a working women, learn to prioritize your work

24)  Knowing when to shut-up and when to speak-up is a personal asset. Speaking when you shouldn’t and not speaking when you should can become a liability

25)  Choose your battles wisely – at work and at home. You have finite energy and time, and not every battle is worth a fight

26)  When in doubt, use common sense, presence of mind or the Buddha Expression. They almost always work!

27)  Every now and then ask yourself the difficult questions. They will burst your bubbles and show you the clear picture

28)  Develop a daily routine and stick to it. For at least 3 months before you make any changes.

29)  Periodically, think and measure your ROTI (Return on Time Invested) for the things that you do – at work and out-of-work. If the returns don’t justify your time and efforts, pause and reflect and change course

30)  Give yourself some “ME Time” – every week to do at least 30 minutes of something you love. This will rejuvenate you

31)  Understand that while emotions define most women, control on your emotions will define your career path and its longevity

32)  Have “genuine” interests outside of work. Cooking, Dance, Writing, etc. Whatever! Find something and do it every now and then

33)  Have friends out of work. They will be critical to keep you going through the rough tides, and will provide the much needed ear, shoulder and perspective on those dark gloomy days / nights

34)  At work, it is about business. Don’t take / make everything personal

35)  Office politics is real and here to stay. Find a way to deal with it

36)  If you are at cross-roads / in a tough situation at work, make sure you speak up and share it with the right audience at the right forum. Even if it does not directly help you, it will indirectly help all the women who may face a similar situation in the future. One small voice can be the start of positive change, right?

37)  While earning is important, managing your finances and investments is even more critical. Save regularly, invest wisely and review your personal finances periodically. If you can’t / don’t have the time, hire professionals to do it. It is a worthwhile investment. Again, a lot of women are guilty of being clueless about where all their money went

38)  “The most important career choice a woman makes is who she marries” BY Sheryl Sandberg. This is 100% true. Understand its depth and accept its reality

39)  Work-Life Balance is elusive, and somewhat of a misnomer. Bottom-line, it is your work, your life and your balance. If it works for you, then all is well

40)  There is great inspiration and power in the “All women social networks”. Find one or two that interest you and become a member. Listen, Express and Share.

41)  If and when you become a mother, there will be a time-period (ranging between weeks to 3 years or more) when there could be a career break / you need to apply the career brake. That’s OK! If you are serious about a long term career , positive and objective, things will fall in place over a period of time

42)  Focus. Flow and Flex are the three foundational pillars for a working mother’s career continuum. They all play their role in the career graph of a working woman

43)  Once in a way, take up the cause and help another working woman. Just imagine the difference it can make if 1 working woman supported 1 other working woman for sometime

44)  No matter how complex, formidable, complicated and unique you think your situation is / maybe, remember that there is at least one other woman in the world who has faced a similar situation and found a way out of the adversity. So it is possible. Believe in it

45)  Every now and then, connect and speak with a working woman who is finding her way amidst the jungle for her spot in the sun. Personally, I always take away some wisdom, nuggets or insights from every such interaction, and they help me tremendously

46)  Try to stay positive no matter what! It does you more harm than good, and easier said than done. But worth a try!

47)  Have an open mind to try out unchartered territories at work.

48)  Age and Karma almost always catch up on you – no preferential treatment for women here J

49)  Your happiness is in your hands. You are the “Chief Happiness Officer” of your life. Play the part, and play it well J

50)  Thank (often and in your own personal way) your parents, your education, your teachers, your friends, your colleagues, etc. who all played their bit in shaping your career. Nothing takes you from good to great as fast as gratitude.

On that note, Thank you for reading me. And have a great day and a long prosperous career ahead.

Originally published here

Questions to ask and answer for yourself

There is power in questions. The right questions. Questions which make you think, reflect, introspect. Questions which push you out of your comfort zone, which burst a few bubbles, which show you the real picture, which make you understand and realize many things.

Asking the right questions to yourself come sometimes be the best gift you give yourself. Simply because when you ask the right questions, your thoughts are channeled in the right direction.

As I look back at my own life, some questions have been eye-openers for me.. Some have changed my outlook to life.. And many have changed my life.

In this post I’m sharing some of those powerful questions with you in the hope that they compel you to introspect and internalize life’s many lessons.

1) Am I doing things that I love?

If you are doing things you love, then great. If not, then you probably would give one of the following reasons –Circumstances out of my control, Other Priorities, Unplanned / unexpected situations, Never ending Constraints, Commitments to be honored, Personal Limitations. Well, do remember that every human-being anywhere on this earth (either today or generations ago) had / has one / many of the above at one / many phases in life– So you are not alone. And yet, some people always find or make the time to do things that they love. Maybe you need to just squeeze in that little time to do things you love or make a vocation of the things you love. Doing things you love will almost always make you happy. Even if it is for 10 minutes a day. For some this joy comes in reading, for some in writing, for some in watching TV, for some in sleeping, for some in creating something worthwhile.. Whatever it is.. Discover.. Make time for it. and Do it! It makes a difference

2) Am I learning enough?

Learning is a very important dimension to personal growth and development. It does not matter what you are learning, from whom you are learning, how you are learning, how much you are learning – But what’s important is that you learn consciously and invest some time and effort regularly to learn new things. If in your own assessment you are not learning enough, then it’s important to identify what you want to learn and set aside time on a regular basis for learning. I honestly believe if you love yourself, you will make an attempt to learn something new regularly. Try it and see for yourself if you don’t believe me

3) Am I content with the current state of my overall health?

The fact is that your overall state of health and well-being will determine the quality of your life today and tomorrow. Hence, it is imperative that you take time to invest in your overall health and wellness. In reality, you know your state of personal health the best, and hence you would be the best judge. If you are not content, then it’s time to ask yourself what is it that you need to, want to do and should do to improve it?

4) Am I really happy with myself?

Another very profound question – But the answer to which can sometimes be a revelation to you. Simply because you try to make everyone around you happy; and end up unhappy with yourself. While it is great to make others happy, it is also important that you invest in your own happiness. So do mull over this and see if you need to change one / many aspects of your own life

5) Am I spending time with those who matter to me?

Again, time is one of your most valuable personal assets. So use it wisely, and ensure that you earmark some time periodically for those who matter to you – It can be your family, friends, staff, acquaintances, colleagues, soul-mates, etc. But sharing your life with those who matter strengthens relationships and does wonders to your happiness quotient

6) Am I living life to the best of my potential?

You are endowed with infinite potential – Some you are aware, some unexplored and some ignored. But if you ask yourself this question again and follow it with Why? Why Not? – You will get the answers. Not just a Yes No kind of answer, but more importantly answers which will enable you to live life to the best of your potential

7) Am I happy with the current state of my immediate living environment?

Your current living environment – be it at work or office or anywhere else affects your thoughts, your energies, your productivity and your creativity. So make sure it is clean, well-organized and the way you want it to be – to get the best out of yourself

8) Have I made peace with my past?

Many of us tend to hold on to our past; and how ever hard we try we are unable to let-go. And in life it’s important to let-go and make peace with your past – especially the negativity. Just accept it and release the baggage  (Easier said than done, but it is not impossible!). Of course, it is wise to take the lessons along. And then focus your energies on the present and future

9) Am I giving enough?

In life, you give some and you get some. Most of us tend to receive more than we give. In the long run, it’s important to give – To friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, an unknown face, a needy soul, someone less fortunate, another living being.

And what can you give? A smile, an advice, a thought, a good deed, an idea, a motivation, an inspiration, time, knowledge, support, a shoulder, a ear, a helping hand, a life lesson, wisdom..

10) Am I really experiencing life?

Are you really experiencing life – Love, Laughs, Romance, Tears, Cultures, People, Heart-breaks, Passions, Rainbows, Disappointments, Failure, Trials, Experiments, Cuisines, Technology,….. In the moment.. In this moment… And are you making the moment count? Because the more open you are, the more your experience, the more you enjoy and the more fulfilling life is…

Those are my questions for the day? What are your questions? And what are your answers? Leave a comment to let me know 

And just I was about to Publish this, I came across an excellent infographic titled “The Self-Reflection Manifesto” : 101 Questions to ask yourself. Truly powerful questions, right? Now read and answer for yourself

The Self-Reflection Manifesto

Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.


Originally published here

The Working Mother’s Career Continuum: FOCUS. FLOW. FLEX

The Working Mother’s Career Continuum: FOCUS. FLOW. FLEX

Let me start with the wishes. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to you and your mother and all the mothers who made a difference in your life! Mothers are indeed the reason you and I exist, and most often the reason why we are what we are today and possibly / probably the BEST thing that happened in our lives (If you don’t believe me, ask your mother / someone who lost their mother!)! Take a moment to say THANK YOU for the fact that you have your MOTHER in your life.

Ever since I became a mother, I have a new found respect and admiration for any / every working mother.

No matter where she works

No matter what her work entails

No matter where she lives

No matter what her circumstance is

She is a STAR!

Not for a day.

Not for Mother’s day.

But for every single day!

Let me start with the facts | It is TOUGH… Really TOUGH to be a working mother. It tests you at every level in very many ways almost every single day, and you have to find a way to pass. You can fail for a day or two, but then you will to get up, move forward and find a way to pass. No grace marks really! First, there is sheer physical exhaustion in getting through each day at work and at home. Then there is mental stress (again both at work and at home). Following closely are the the emotional pangs (of guilt, fears, anxieties, worries, concerns about your role as a mother and your children). Next are the expectations of the family, spouse, work, the education system (both from the children and from the parents) and last but not least, is the collective impact of the society we live in (in terms of continuous judgment, expectations, day-to-day operational issues / constraints / dependencies, etc.). Every single day is a tight-rope balancing act. You fumble a little, lose focus, lose balance and the entire equilibrium is disturbed. And yet, as working mothers you have to find a way to make it all fall-in-line.

Now first is the much-debated decision of “To Work or Not” after you become a mother. There is no right or wrong. It is a personal choice and depends on your personal context / situation and circumstance. Some mothers find that full-time-motherhood is their calling and give up everything else. Some are forced to become full-time-mothers by family pressures. Some mothers have to quit for lack of any alternative / support systems. Some mothers have to work due to financial commitments and liabilities / to put food on the table / marital discord. Some mothers find alternate career choices (not corporate careers) and make it work because they passionate about something / because full-time-motherhood is not their cup of tea. And some mothers find their place in the corporate world. There really no-one-size that fits all and yet, it has to fit RIGHT for YOU!

A lot of times I am asked for my views on what it takes to be a working mother. In this post, I’m sharing my opinion based on my personal experiences in a corporate career, and what I’ve seen in other working mothers.

As a working mother, if you are serious about your career and want a fair share at success, your career continuum should have 3 foundational pillars

(1)    FOCUS

As a mother, to have a career, you have to be focused

As a mother, to have a fair chance at career success, you have to be super-focused

 The one MUST HAVE mantra for any / every working mother is FOCUS. Without focus, you will really not be able to survive or thrive at work.

Following are the things which you should be focused about:

(i)                  Your work tasks for the day – Know what you should get done for the day, Plan for it and Just do it.

(ii)                Your career objectives for the year – Ensure you define / know them and work towards achieving them. You will only go so far without knowledge / clarity on your career objectives

(iii)               Your career goals for the long-term (say 3/ 5 / 10 years) – Be clear (somewhat) on where you are headed in the long term. If you have a view on the end, chances are you will reach there. If you don’t, chances are you will spend enough time in the journey without reaching anywhere. And if that is what you want, it is fine too. But make sure you acknowledge this to yourself.

 

(2)    FLOW

As a mother, to have a career, you have to flow today

As a mother, to have a long-term-career, you have to keep flowing today and tomorrow

By flow, what I really mean is “career continuity”. I cannot emphasize how critical it is to be in touch with your work and to keep going no matter what. Sometimes you may be compelled to take a break / brake. Sometimes, you may have to choose “not-so-great” options / career paths / alternatives, but in the long run being in the “flow” makes all the difference.

Why? One, you earn (whatever little, it does wonders to your own self-confidence and independence). Two, you learn. Three, the “gaps” in your resume will not really go against you. Four, you stay in touch and enhance you knowledge, skills. Five, you are at the table, so more visible than when you are within the confines of your home. Six, you have more opportunities to network and build professional relationships.

As a working mother, there will be times in your life when you have to take career breaks / put a brake on your career. The issue for most mothers becomes that they don’t really decide on the duration of this and plan around it. Consequently, it gets harder to get back to active work. First, it is your own inertia to get back to work which is a huge impediment. Then there is the lack of ‘relevant’ knowledge and skills due to the time away from work. Lastly, there is the issue of lack of a commensurate compensation in lieu of the career breaks.

Following are the things which you should know about “Flow”:

(i)                  It is better to be in a state of flow than being stagnant for too long – especially if you have a corporate career / harbor entrepreneurial ambitions. If you flow, chances are better for you to move ahead, right?

(ii)                Ensure that you are focused on “being in flow” with respect to your work / career. This will be the most crucial with respect to career longevity and growth

(iii)               While flow without focus (i.e. a definite end goal) is good in some career phases to give you career continuity and longevity, make sure you “time-box” these phases.

(iv)              While flow is important, once in a way make sure you pause – for career reflection, introspection, insights and course corrections. Being in a state of perpetual flow does not help either

 

(3)    FLEX

As a mother, to have a career, you have to make flex work for you today

As a mother, to have a chance at success in your career, you have to make flex work for you almost every day

 No working mother ever managed without a little or a lot of flexibility. It is the only realistic way to manage the elusive work-life balance.

 Following are the things which you should know about “Flex”:

(i)                  “Flex” is great if you have “Focus” and are in the ”Flow”

(ii)                There is no universal definition / agreement on what “flex” working is. Make sure you know and understand what it means to you and to the people / organization you are working for / with. The lesser the gap and mismatch of expectations, the better your chance at success

(iii)               DO NOT abuse / misuse the “flex” work option. It does more harm than good if you are caught on the wrong foot – Both for your own career and the larger cause of “work flex” options for other working women / mothers.

As I sign-off, my mantra for working mothers

Be focused

Ensure you flow

Make “flex” work for you

 

What are your views of the career continuum of working mothers? Leave a comment to let me know

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!

Asking for Help: Are you an A+ on a D-?

STRESS” – That 6 letter dreaded word! Stress can be the cause or / and effect of many a physical ailment, emotional upheaval, mental discord and dissonance, financial turmoil, and lack of a social life. Stress can be the one single cause that prevents many of us from doing our best in life. Stress can be the cause for many of us to stay awake all night. Bottomline, stress can be manifested due to several things in life, and stress has many manifestations in our lives.

As I observe, converse and interact with working women (especially working mothers) in India, I find that they are probably and possibly the “most stressed out” profile of people. The sheer diversity and complexity of issues women deal with on a regular basis is mind-boggling. Issues from demands of the workplace, office politics, marital discord, extra-marital affairs, new age parenting and dealing with the children of today’s era, self-confidence, sheer anxiety of dealing with every-day operations (the house-help, the cooking, the home maintenance, etc.), exhaustion and health issues, dealing with expectations of family / extended family, lack of “ME” time, financial woes, depression, etc. After all being a working woman does come with its share of challenges. Click here to read the multi-dimensional issues that she deals with.

As I look back at my own career and life, I strongly believe that 2 things can help the cause of “working women” / “working mothers” to deal with stress.

1)      Learning to say NO. Click here to read my earlier post on this

2)      Asking for help

In this post, I’m going to share a few tips and pointers for working women based on my personal experiences.

Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful.” BY Ric Ocasek

1)      The easiest way to get help is to ASK for it

Don’t be shy asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it only means you’re wise

A lot of us find it hard to ask for help. I speak from experience here! I don’t know if it is due to our culture, upbringing, education or just the way we are wired. But I used to find it very very hard to ask for help. Until I became a mother. I then realized that it would be impossible to survive without help. So I asked for help. I used to feel very uncomfortable initially, but I learned over time. Today, I don’t think twice.

So, the important take-away

  • Be clear about what exactly you want help for. For e.g: “I need help at home in the morning” V/S “I need help from 7 AM to 8 AM to help me with cooking
  • The easiest way to get help is to ASK for it
  • Sometimes the best way to ask for help is to understand “how to do it”, and “to get it done”

2)      Too much help is not good either

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.” BY Audrey Hepburn

 While asking for help is great, I know of too many women who ask for help for everything under the sun. To the extent that they just cannot do even basic things themselves. I know of women who don’t know how to draw money from an ATM or even women who don’t know where and how to buy vegetables! That is not good either. Simply because when you try and do something yourself, there is great learning in the experience. And with learning comes growth and self-confidence

So, the important take-away

  • Think before you ask for help. Answer honestly whether the reason you are asking for help is due to lack time, lack of ability or your habit of asking for help

 3)      Professional Help is fine too, nothing taboo about it

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” BY Ronald Reagan

A lot of us are uncomfortable about hiring professional help for many things. Reasons range from lack of awareness on the kind of services in the market, to it being the first time you are asking for help, to that is just not the way it was always done. As an example, most Indian homes go through the annual house cleaning exercise during a festival like Diwali. It takes time, effort, can be exhausting and many times you’re not happy with the outcome. Last year, we hired professional cleaners for the job. They did a fantastic job and the house looked “brand sparkling clean and new”. It came at a price we were willing to pay. We wondered why we had not done it before. Check this interesting link on Life as a Service. There are so many interesting services out there, and so many service models which provide help.

So, the important take-away

  • Be aware of the kind of services in the market for different things. Read, speak to people and share your issues / solutions.
  • Be clear on how much you are willing to pay for a service

4)      Self-Help is the BEST HELP

To help yourself, you must be yourself. Be the best that you can be. When you make a mistake, learn from it, pick yourself up and move on.” BY Dave Pelzer

So, the important take-away

  • Before you ask for help, try doing it yourself
  • Sometimes, the best help you can do to yourself is to find effective ways to “do things. There is no need to re-invent the wheel for everything! Someone somewhere has done it before. Try to re-use the approach / methodology in your own context
  • Sometimes not to help someone is the best help

So as I sign-off, I leave you with a few questions…

Do you ask for help? NEVER? Hmm.. You get D-

Do you ask for help? ALWAYS? Hmm… You get D-

Do you ask for help? Sometimes based on the need / situation? Great! – You get A+

Can you do better? Worth a thought and a comment :)

Originally published here

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