Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

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

What working women can learn from productivity in ants?

A few days back I came across an infographic titled 7 Productivity Lessons from Ants. Packed with wisdom and insights, I loved reading it. Refer below to the details.

7 Productivity Lessons from Ants

7 Productivity Lessons from Ants

Source: http://visual.ly/7-productivity-lessons-ants

As a working mother, I’m always looking for ways and means to improve and enhance my productivity. After all, we are trying to do things as quickly and efficiently as we can every single day. And honestly, whenever I see or read or think about ants, I almost always go back with a lesson. They are small, hard-working, focused and do what they have to do!

So based on the wisdom from ants, and my own experiences, I am sharing a few points in this post. These are not about how to excel at the workplace, but really about how to maintain a balance between the expectations and demands of your professional life and the expectations and demands of your personal life. I’m not an expert in this department and I’ve not figured it all out. It is work-in-progress for me, but I do have more than a decade of experience of things that work and make a difference. I only strive to share what has helped in my journey this far with a hope that it may help you – sometime, somewhere

So without any further ado.

Focus – on the things that matter

Look around you at anyone who achieved anything in life – and you will see one defining characteristic. That is FOCUS. Focus is important for anyone in life, but more critical if you are a working woman.

a. Be focused on what you need to accomplish at work for a day, week, month, quarter, year. Keep your eyes on the end goal and objective. In between, even if you deviate, that’s OK! But make sure you come back on track as soon as you can. The best way to do this is to write down what you need to accomplish for a specific time horizon, and look at it at the start of every single day. That will ensure you are on track, at least as you start each day!

b. Be crystal clear on what all you need to do as a part of your personal life (in terms of things to do at home) and for yourself. Identify what is absolutely essential, and let go of everything else. Either outsource or delegate or just let it be. In the long run, many trivial things that you are stuck up about (in terms of your thoughts, time and energies) are really not worth it. For example, I used to be a stickler for a clean, well-organized house every single day, and anything below my expectations was not acceptable. Over time, I realized that this was taking up a lot of my time and energy, taking me away from what I really wanted to do and it really did not matter to others .With time, I relaxed my own benchmarks and go easy on myself. And when I do embark on a house cleaning exercise, it is usually time-boxed.

c. Give undivided time and attention to the task at hand and make sure you complete it. Say NO if and when you have to say NO – To people, friends, distractions, phone calls, TV, Social Media, the spouse, the boss, mummy, spouse, kids et al. The sooner you learn to say NO, the better for you.

Most importantly, as they ants do – focus on one small thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a working woman’s boon, but for things which need to be done really well – Do it one at a time.

Build your team and collaborate

As a working woman professional, you will realize that the sooner you put together a good team to help/enable you at home, the more effective and productive you will be at work. What I really mean by this is to build and nurture a team within the 4-walls so you can be the best possible you at work. From experience, I can say the following are critical members in your core team:

Your maid/helper/cook – will always be on the No. 1 spot. Trust me, you really cannot be a working woman and have this wrong!
Your spouse – needs to be highlighted because he plays a critical role in what you can do at home and work. This usually determines how far your career will go! It is for a very good reason that Sheryl Sandberg says, “The most important career choice a woman makes is who she marries“
Your family – especially your mom, your mother-in-law and your kids
Your friends
Your neighbors

Most importantly, as the ants do – recognize that you will go farther if you collaborate as a team.

Develop a routine that works for you

I can’t emphasize this enough. Suffice to say, create a routine that works for you. Stick with it. And see the magic unfold. It seems very simple and logical. But for many working women, it takes years of experience, many, many failures and serious introspection to come up with the right routine. And once you do, everything falls in line.

As a working woman, you should have the following routines planned out – a daily routine, a weekly routine and a monthly routine. Among other things make sure your daily routine has time for eating right and healthy, catching up on the news and general reading. Make sure your weekly routine has time for exercise, doing something you love (‘ME’ time) and speaking to one/two people in your friends and family network. Networking is critical in the long run, and many working woman lose out here. Ensure your monthly routine has some time to learn something new. Constantly learning, re-skilling, cross-skilling and up-skilling is the need of the day. This can/should include professional learning.

Most importantly, as the ants do – follow a routine to become more efficient and effective.

Communication

Make sure you communicate things that need to be said in a clear and concise fashion – at least to those who play a critical role in your life. Be sure to express clearly what you really want and expect from them – especially your core team at home. Be real and reasonable on expectations from others. And most importantly, say it, and listen to what they have to say.

As a working woman, I’ve burnt my fingers many times by assuming they know. They DON’T! Be it your maid/domestic helper, your spouse, your kids, your boss, your team – assume they don’t know till you clearly call things out for them – in terms of what you will do, and what they will do. And what is non-negotiable! Many times I assume they are OK; many times, they are not OK. So make sure you listen and pay attention to what they have to say. It makes all the difference.

Lastly, to communicate clearly you need to be clear in your head. That clarity usually takes time to get, but it is well worth your time. Be clear in your mind. Be clear in your words.

Most importantly, as the ants do – focus on communicating right and to the right people. And yes! Listen. Communication is two-way.

Stay Positive

Being a working woman is not easy. Being a working mother is tough. I speak from experience here. As working professionals, many women face gender discrimination, workplace bullying, harassment, slow-paced career progression, questionable compensation, unsupportive workplace environment and outdated policies. They are the realities of the environment and ecosystem one is a part of. And there is no easy way to survive, and no magic mantra to thrive.

And yet, every single working woman I’ve met or known has to be positive if she is to have a fair shot in her career. So stay positive and be positive. Read positive messages/books/blogs, speak to positive people and think positive.

Most importantly, as the ants do – Look ahead into a great future.

Set Deadlines

The beauty of a deadline is that there is a line drawn, and the bane is that the line dies somewhere before we get there! So the universal truth is that most deadlines are really not deadlines – they end up just as moving line! As a working professional, it becomes critical to define what a deadline means to you and then set some deadlines – for your own well-being. For e.g., at work, it is important to set deadlines around how long you will stay at work on most days (critical for your personal safety), how soon you will complete tasks assigned to you, how fast will you be able to demonstrate your value, etc.

Similarly, at home it becomes critical to put deadlines around phone conversations and general chit-chat/gossip, TV time, bed time, social media/FaceBook time, etc. Each of these deadlines if consciously defined, and judiciously worked towards will ensure success in the long run.

Most importantly, as the ants do – bring on board your advocates, your allies and your brownies before the storms.

Division of Work

Does this need explanation? Especially for things at home – identify what all needs to be done to keep your house going: cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, cooking, paying bills, etc etc. And then, divide the work or delegate the work – to family, friends or anyone else who can help you. The sooner you figure out the art and craft of division and delegation, the more productive and successful you will be at the workplace and in life!

Most importantly, as they ants do – clearly define the roles and responsibilities. Share it. The sooner people know what they have to do, chances are they will do it sooner than later.

These are some of the points that worked for me. What has worked for you? Leave a comment to let me know.

 

Originally published here

I BELIEVE in you, do you?

There are few topics of genuine interest for people from the Indian male fraternity. Cricket, Bollywood (with special emphasis on the Katrina Kaif!), Politics, General Affairs (including the US, Japan, China, Pakistan et al), Cars, Gadgets and Technology (mobile and tablets included because I used this word fairly loosely and broadly!) and Women. Under the topic of women, a few sub categories get more interest than other’s. One of them is the topic of “a woman driving a car”. “They don’t know driving”, “They can’t drive”, “I bet it’s a girl driving that car”, “She can never get the parking right”, “Reverse parking and she? Pray for the owner of the other cars”. I heard all of these words (& more) for a large part of my growing up years (and continue to hear them even today!).  Somehow somewhere, I believed it to be true.  Consequently, I could not get myself to drive a car for several years.

One fine day, I decided I had to learn car driving. I can’t recall why, but this one burning desire consumed every waking moment of my life. And so I enrolled to a driving school. Unfortunately for me, during one of those learning sessions, I had a ‘head-on’ collision with a private bus. Fortunately for me, the car and I survived. Almost all the boys / men I knew said “I told you so! This is not meant for you.”. I listened to them and believed it. As a result, I stopped the lessons and driving.

After a few years, I mustered the courage to again enroll into a driving school. I completed the course and got my driving license. But the lack of confidence and fears persisted. So I rarely drove. After a few years, I got fed-up being dependent on others for ferrying me around. But I still lacked confidence, so I decided to refresh my driving lessons. Thanks to a friend who offered to risk putting his life at stake with my amateur driving, I lay my hands on the steering wheel.  I drove like an amateur. If I saw vehicles come near me, I’d steer away. If it was a big vehicle, I’d freeze and give way. If there was a junction in sight, I’d pray for it to be clear (along with a list of bribes to the Almighty!). If there appeared to be traffic ahead, I’d wish all the vehicles disappeared by the time I reached.

After a few patient days, my friend had THAT talk with me. He said “Why are you so scared? Rather, what are you so scared of? I’m the one who should be scared since you are driving. But I’m sitting here – happily next to you in spite / despite your driving skills. If you do drive, drive like a king. The road is yours to take. I BELIEVE in you, do you?”. That was the moment it all changed for me, and driving a car has never been the same again.

As I look back to connect the dots of my life, I have been fortunate that I’ve had people who believed in me at the most vulnerable and decisive moments of my life.  From my family, friends, teachers, colleagues and managers at work – they all had their way of saying this to me “I BELIEVE in you, do you?”.  6 simple words, but truly powerful and truly transformational. I speak from experience here!

Coming to women at the workplace, it is no different. Almost every working woman I’ve come across (irrespective of age, irrespective of ethnicity, irrespective of seniority, irrespective of past successes) has a lot these moments in her career. Moments of self-doubt, uncertainty, questions and fears around her capability, competency and value. Not once, not twice, but very many times. And to help her cross the chasm during these moments, many times all she needs to hear is “I BELIEVE in you, do you?”. Trust me, it can shape, influence and steer her career in unimaginable ways.

Pause and Reflect

When did someone last tell you ““I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

When did you tell someone “I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

When did you tell a woman “I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

When did you tell a working woman “I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

You have a chance today..

“I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

 

Originally published here

After Maternity Leave – Getting Back To Work?

Getting back to work after maternity leave is a unique experience – both for the baby and the mother.

First is “THE” decision. To work or not? And when? And how? And what work to take up? Most mothers go through a range of deep thoughts and human emotions – ranging from worry, to guilt, to anxiety, to indecisiveness, to happiness, to questions, to what’s really the right thing to do, to how to balance professional commitments and personal priorities, to….. The list is endless.

From my own personal experience and discussing this with several of my mummy friends here is what I can say with absolute conviction: There really is NO right or wrong in the decision to work or not. It all depends on YOU…

What do you want? What is right for you and your family at that particular point in time? What kind of circumstance are you in? What kind of support system do you have? And most importantly, how bad do you really want to work?

I went through all of the above when I became a mother. And I decided to resume work after my maternity leave. Along the way I learned a few lessons which I am sharing in this post – with the intent that it may help some mother somewhere.

It’s a personal choice

Be clear on your priorities

Plan, Plan, Plan

Start the solid foods for your baby (if possible)

Get the right support network

Recalibrate your expectations of yourself

Express yourself & Speak-up

Converse with other mothers

Give yourself ‘Me Time’

Of course your situation is personal and unique to you. But then again, how unique can it really be?

For full reading, click here

Strategy.. Strategy.. What is this Strategy???

At the start of every new year, most organizations are abuzz with this word called “strategy”. Every one is talking strategy, reviewing strategy, attending strategy presentations, drafting strategies or finalizing strategies.. Sigh! I wonder how strategically successful all these people / companies are?

Don’t get me wrong here. Having been in the corporate world for several years now, I do understand and appreciate the importance of strategy, and how it can be critical in your growth, differentiation or success. But once in a way I also think it is important to step-back, go back to the basics and see what others have to say.

Sharing some words on strategy from the wise

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” (Winston Churchill)

“Strategy formulation, then, is an ongoing requirement of good management. It is, to quote Michael Porter, ‘a process of perceiving new positions that woo customers from established positions or draw new customers into the market.’ This is a process you must permanently embed in your organization.”
(Harvard Business Review Blog Network)

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” (Michael Porter)

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” (Michael LeBoeuf)

“A strategy is something like, an innovative new product; globalization, taking your products around the world; be the low-cost producer. A strategy is something you can touch; you can motivate people with; be number one and number two in every business. You can energize people around the message.” (Jack Welch)

“There’s only one growth strategy: work hard.” (William Hague)

“The best CEOs I know are teachers, and at the core of what they teach is strategy.” (Michael Porter)

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” (Sun Tzu)

“In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss – and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last.” (John Romero)

“What business strategy is all about-what distinguishes it from all other kinds of business planning-is, in a word, competitive advantage. Without competitors there would be no need for strategy, for the sole purpose of strategic planning is to enable the company to gain, as efficiently as possible, a sustainable edge over its competitors.” (Kenichi Ohmae)

“In McKinsey’s world, all of life is one of two things: strategy or organization.”  (Tom Peters)

“The real challenge in crafting strategy lies in detecting subtle discontinuities that may undermine a business in the future. And for that there is no technique, no program, just a sharp mind in touch with the situation.” (Henry Mintzberg)

“Strategy is not the consequence of planning, but the opposite: its starting point.” (Henry Mintzberg)

“In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.” ( Jack Welch)

To Recognize, Respect and Reward “THE Coach”

A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.” BY Tom Landry

A few days back, I was watching the presentation ceremony of the CNN IBN Indian Of the Year Award for 2013. To those of you who don’t know, the CNN IBN Indian of the Year Awardrecognizes the Indian(s) whose contribution to the country in a calendar year has strengthened the foundation of our society and has helped build Brand India in the process.”For more details, click here

To be honest, none of the winners really surprised me. They were all achievers in their own sphere of work and had made a mark. Until I heard the announcement of the Winners of the Outstanding Achievement Awards. Cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar has been declared as the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2013, in the Outstanding Achievement category. The reason isHe has coached many young cricketers at Shivaji Park in Dadar, Mumbai. He is the man who first spotted the exceptional talent of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin came to Achrekar as a young student and it was under his keen supervision that Tendulkar’s ability was nurtured. Achrekar was always a hard taskmaster who ensured that his star pupil would make rapid strides in the game. Indian cricket owes Achrekar a debt of gratitude.”

At this point, let me make a disclaimer. I am NOT a cricket fan, nor do I worship / idolize any cricketer. I RARELY watch cricket matches (Like once in a year maybe!). Neither have I ever really played cricket. Oh wait! I did play cricket. Twice. The first time when I was a kid of about 10 years and I was bowled out on a duck :(. The bowler was mighty pleased. No prizes for guessing why? And the second time was when I played a corporate cricket tournament (in my early 20′s) in which as per company policy every team was supposed to have 1 woman employee and 1 employee above the age of 40 years. My friend was the captain of the Cricket team, and begged / pleaded / coaxed / bribed / bullied me into playing the match on his side. We closed the deal with these terms and conditions – No matter what the outcome was – I would be treated to an ice-cream, and we would continue to be friends! Thanks to my stars, I was last in the batting order. Unfortunately for me, my batting turn did come :( and we needed 2 runs to win, 1 run for a draw and 2 balls were left. Sigh! The nail biting finish. After some last minute “coaching” (grilling and quick and dirty practice sessions from my captain friend) I was on the crease. As the ball came towards me, I became numb. Everything blurred. And the ball went straight to the wicket. Clean bowled for a duck.. Again! And that ended my cricketing career. I was certain that I did not want a hat-trick. True to his word, my captain friend treated me to an ice-cream and we are friends even today. I had to endure his somber and morose expression at the ice-cream parlor when I was digging into the ice-cream. Honestly, I couldn’t care any less.

The other thing that I do know about cricket rather well is this. To shut up and flee when there are any “cricket related” discussions or banters in my vicinity.  And to let the “men in my life” have the TV remote and the “last word” as far as cricket is concerned! You’d think I’m wise, right? yes, I think so too :)

Sorry to digress, but coming back to my post. My interest piqued when I heard the announcement citing the award to Ramakant Achrekar. Simply because I HAVE NEVER REALLY SEEN or HEARD an AWARD being given to a COACH.

Why NOT?” I wondered…”Did it actually take the God of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar to retire from his glorious cricketing career to honor his coach?

My thoughts took me to the recent Bollywood movie “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”. The one thing that really stood out for me in the movie was the role of the coach in the success of Milkha’s journey and life. It was a coach who identified the “running talent” in a young boy. It was the coach who provided the required guidance, the required technique, the tricks, the tools, and the support (moral, emotional, mental, physical) – especially in those vulnerable moments. It was the coach who believed in him. It was the coach who gave the much needed inspiration and motivation at those critical moments. It was the coach who pushed him to frontiers which he never knew existed. It was the coach who never ever gave up on him. And it was the focus, efforts and dedication of the coach (along with his own efforts) which took Milkha to the victory stand.

And yet, in real life

Why do we fail to RECOGNIZE the efforts and contribution of the people who “COACH” others?

Why do we fail to RESPECT the the efforts and contribution of the people who “COACH” others?

Why do we fail to REWARD the the efforts and contribution of the people who “COACH” others?

After all,

It is the RIGHT COACHING which transforms an individual / team from good to GREAT

It is the RIGHT COACHING which takes an individual / team to the pinnacles of SUCCESS

It is the RIGHT COACHING which truly makes a DIFFERENCE

Now, let’s get personal?

Can you go down memory lane and think of all the people who coached you? The coach(es) who believed in you even when you gave up? The coach(es) who nudged you and pushed you till the finish? The coach(es) who were “hard” on your for your own benefit? The coach(es) who guided you, who molded you, who made you give your very best…

Pause and Reflect

Did you say THANK YOU to those who coached you?

Did you give REGARDS and RESPECT to those who coached you?

Did you push for you coach(es) to be REWARDED for all that they did for you?

If not, you can do it today..

The video of Ramakant Achrekar’s moment of glory is below

CMO – Chief Marketing Officer or Cheap Marketing Officer?

Its the close of another year 2013. And looking back, I can definitely say that Marketing is increasingly becoming a very important function across the globe – Be it books, schools, services, organizations, individuals, social media, e-commerce, consumer goods, etc etc etc – You name it , and there are ample examples of how marketing made all the DIFFERENCE! And organizations are cognizant of it! And with that, the role of the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is increasingly becoming more important and powerful!

But then there’s the other side of the coin. The one in which as a marketing professional – I can’t help but rant about the constant pressures, advice and suggestions on cutting marketing costs year-on-year!

Don’t get me wrong! Let me make my point with a few examples of situations which most marketing professionals typically face:

Scenario 1 – Its start of the year. The time when everyone in an organization does a grand budgeting exercise. And most marketing teams work on their plans and budgets for the year. In most instances, only a partial marketing budget approval in received ; And that too 1 – 2 months into the year (So precious time is lost!). After all, time is money; and since most marketing teams are lean – This “lost time” significantly adds up to “loss of productive and tangible output”

And then when any marketing expense is to be accounted, it needs “management approval” – which involves putting up a business case, and providing explanation of Why? – What? – How?.  And then comes the “approval” / “questions” / “rejection” – Again, usually delayed (So precious time lost again). All the precious time lost in waiting for approvals is completely unaccounted!

Scenario 2 – Everyone wants to go Social. Everyone wants to have a grand social media presence. Everyone wants to drive customer engagement on Social media. And they expect the current marketing teams (In most cases – who have limited  / no knowledge on Social Media) to make Social a success, with limited / no additional budgets at all. Does the math add up? Of course, NOT!

Social Media is a different “Beauty and Beast” – As you want to call it! And the beauty needs to be enhanced, and the beast needs to be tamed. And that’s not the core skill of every marketer – especially if what you do on Social is “real-time” and has “global reach and impact”. So the best way to do Social is to hire consultants to guide you on how to do it OR hire experts to do it for you OR Go slow on the Social strategy. Expecting current marketing teams who don’t understand Social to define a “brilliant Social Media strategy” for your organization may not in your organization’s best interests! And then, investing in the right Social Media tools also come at a price.

Whatever you pick – It comes with good & bad – Be cognizant of this!

So coming back to why I started this post -  The point is increasingly a significant majority of individuals and enterprises want to “cut down” on “marketing costs“. Some of the most common explanation is – “Go online“, “Go social“, “Go lean

yes Sir, yes Madam -
We can look at cutting costs,
We can go online,
We can go social,
We can go lean,
But they will still cost us – in terms of minds and time (people) and tools and technology (hardware and software)
And they will come at a price – in terms of gains and losses – of customers and brand-value

Are you willing to pick up the costs?
Are you willing to pay the price?

And yeah! Till then Do you want to consider calling your CMO – Cheap Marketing Officer instead?

New to the IT Workforce – Here’s what counts…

New to the IT Workforce? – Here’s what counts…

A lot of friends and family and people who know me at work ask me this question again and again “What really counts in an IT job, especially if you’re starting you’re career?”. I usually respond based on whom I’m talking to, the personal context & background and the amount of time I have at hand..But then as I responded to this question for the Nth time recently, I thought why not post a response in on my blog..

So here, I am summarizing the response to this question – based on my own personal experiences in the IT industry spanning more than a decade, and the interactions with friends / colleagues and leaders in different organizations.
* Your knowledge on the areas / topics of study / specialization
So if you are an Engineer by education you should “know” what you learned by virtue of your degree. After all, if the threshold qualification for the job is of an Engineer, then you should at least demonstrate that you have the basic Engineering knowledge and background to qualify for the job. Similarly, if the job demands that you know the basics of a tool / product, then you should know it!

* Your self-confidence
Again, your own self-confidence in your knowledge, capabilities and strengths is what will make you stand out in a group of thousand people

* Willingness to learn
Learning is a continuous journey, and those who show that they are willing to learn – be it new technologies, processes and ways of working are the one’s who end up with more opportunities, challenging work assignments and diverse projects as a part of their career portfolio

* Openness to work
Again, you should be open to take up work assigned to you – at least in the initial few years of your career. Every single assignment adds to your own understanding of the IT business, and as you grow – you will appreciate how understanding different facets is so critical in your career growth

* Oral Communication skills
Again, many time you get selected / rejected for a job position primarily based on your oral communication skills. So speak up, speak in a clear and concise fashion. And continuously hone your oral communication skills

* Problem solving skills
The world is full of problems, and the IT industry is no exception. So there are all kinds of problems one can encounter – technology, product, process, people, customer experience, design, architecture, user experience, customer expectation management, etc. And one’s ability to truly understand and solve a problem usually makes all the difference

* Written Communication skills
Written communication is an intergal part of an IT job. On an daily basis, one will need to communicate with colleagues, teams, third parties, customers, etc. via the written medium (mails, documents, presentations, etc.). And how well you can articulate and write will make all the difference in how easy / difficult it is for others to work with you

* Your professionalism
Be professional in your interactions with colleagues and managers. Draw the line between your personal life and professional life – It makes a lot of difference in how other perceive you!

* Ability to collaborate and work in teams
In today’s day and age, it is all about collaborative ways of working to achieve business objectives. So how well you can work with a diverse (and in many instances cross-cultural team) will make all the difference in the output you / your team will be able to deliver

* Your personal drive and self-motivation
One’s one drive and motivation is what will set you apart, and is what can sometimes be the only factor in the kind of work assigned to you. So demonstrate this in word and action.

* Willingness to go the extra-mile, for the objective of the project success
At the end of the day what counts is the success of the project you are working on. And sometimes this requires individuals / teams to go the extra-mile. Make sure to stretch at times when it counts. This will make all the difference

* Truly “understanding” the customer requirements and project goals
Make an attempt to truly understand what is the customer pain areas or problems, and how the technology is enabling solve the problem. This understanding will help you work better and more effectively and deliver in line / beyond expectations!

Why should one lead?

Lead to create
Lead to provide
Lead to protect
Lead to propel
Lead to create and generate value
Lead to nurture people
Lead to fulfill a dream
Lead to bring a positive change
Lead to make a difference
Lead to structure / re-structure
Lead to align / re-align
Lead to create a law or policy
Lead to solve a problem
Lead to question and answer
Lead to bring hope
Lead to show the way
Lead to be the light
Lead to leave a legacy

Who teaches Gen Y / Gen Z the Social Media basics?

Over the recent past, I’ve had the opportunity to interact up close and personal with the Gen Y and Gen Z – in schools, colleges, social gathering’s, etc etc etc. – The “Digital Natives” as they are popularly called – For e.g.: The 2 year old’s who can play on the iPad, the 5 year old who goes to a school where there is a “Touch Lab”, the 10 year old who is ever so active on FaceBook, the 15 year old who has 10K+ Twitter followers and the last one I should mention – The yet to be born baby who already had a Google account, Twitter account and FaceBook account!

They are everywhere! And I am glad to see them :)

But during interactions, interestingly a lot of them confessed to Social Media Blunders or Social Media Disasters (Of course dos not include the yet-to-be-born baby and the 2 year old, They can’t speak properly yet, or they speak in a language I can’t understand ;)

Example 1 : A 12 year old shared his address on FaceBook, and got into trouble
Example 2 : A 8 year old shared her contact number as part of her Twitter profile, and got into trouble
Example 3 : A 15 years old shared photographs on FaceBook, and got into trouble
Example 4 : A 21 year old tweeted something controversial, and got into trouble
Example 5 : An 18 year old posted a confession on FaceBook, and got into trouble

And I can go on with many more such examples.. But the point is this – It’s great that this generation is on SOCIAL. And Good for them! Good that the Social Bug is in them, and they learned a lot by themselves…

But what about the things that their peers don’t know about Social Media?
But what about the things that even their teachers don’t know about Social Media?
But what about the things that their parents don’t know about Social Media?

And I am not talking about features, or capabilities, or How-To’s, or How to do better, faster..
I am talking about THE SOCIAL MEDIA BASICS with an emphasis on WHAT NOT TO DO on SOCIAL MEDIA?
What NOT to say about yourself?
What NOT to share?
What NOT to do?
Whom NOT To connect with?
When to disconnect from Social Media?

Who teaches the Gen Y / Gen Z the Social Media Basics?
from what I know, no one really! Most learn by experience – By burning their fingers, By seeing others learn the hard way :(

In my honest opinion, it makes complete sense for schools / educational institutes to include Social Media Basics as a part of the School Curriculum (May be some already do, but I’m not aware). Get Social Media Gurus / Experts to talk , to share their learning’s, to give insights into possible consequences and impact on life.

Teach the Gen Y / Gen Z the Social Media Basics, and these are really the basics of LIFE. But someone has to teach it, and they have to learn sometime.. Sooner, the BETTER!

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