Category Archives: Life
The regular readers of this blog know that I’ve started a new section on this blog around the topic of Women at work / working women.
Here’s the thing | Being a working woman, I regularly read on this subject – simply because it enable and equips me to appreciate and understand multi-dimensional issues, and possible solutions. I can safely say that there is a lot of literature on this subject, and a lot lot lot more is required. Many times when I read something, I wish someone had shared it with me much earlier. The thing about reading is that “timing sometimes makes all the difference“. So on this blog, I’ll be periodically sharing a round-up of articles for your reading – hoping that the timing is right – for both you and me
I’ll structure them into 3 sections
Section 1 – Worth a Read | News, Views, Opinions and Perspectives related to women at work
In work reviews, women are criticized for personality rather than performance First she studies, then she gets a job, then she performs. And lastly, you are criticized for your personality! How much better can it get. An interesting article which highlights the differences between how men and women are appraised
Women company directors: can quotas change the status quo? A Forbes article on Quotas and gender diversity language in corporate governance codes do result in a higher percentages of women directors
Gender Inequality’s Latest Victim: Flex-Time Requests Very interesting read since it highlights how flex-time requests are viewed for men and women, and how a woman’s career is impacted, even though flex-time is her crying need today.
Section 2 – Worth a Share | Resources to enable, empower and equip women in your work and beyond
Book – Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology BY Vivek Wadhwa and Farai Chideya is the voice of hundreds of great women and aims to motivate and inspire thousands more to join the innovation economy–and better the world.
Pink Petro initiative Very interesting initiative as the 1st online social media platform built by the energy sector for “women, girls and diversity advocates
Springboard An ecosystem where influencers, investors, and innovators meet to build great women-led businesses. Their 562 women-led companies have raised $6.5 billion, including 11 IPOs.
Section 3 – Worth a Thought | Writings which compel you to think, reflect and introspect
Why do you think women should work? What are the top 10 / 20 / 30 reasons? Here’s an answer
Are you a mom looking for a business idea? Here is a fantastic list of 25 ideas
Why is it so hard for working women in India? A perspective on multi-dimensional issues
Quitting your job to find your passion?An honest encounter of a working woman, the considerations / deliberations when you quit after a decade of work life
NOTE: If you think this post could enable / equip / empower another woman as she navigates her path at work and in life, please share. Thanks for reading me!
Enjoy your weekend!
If you’ve ever read or followed my blogs, you’ll know that Women at Work is a topic very close to my heart.
Why? Because I’m a woman, I work and I’d love to see more women at work finding their spot under the sun.
I dream of a tomorrow where
- The workforce includes at least 50% women by default
- Women are given “right, fair and equal” opportunities, exposure, experiences and environment to blossom and reach their true potential
- Globally, there is at least 30% representation of women in business, politics, policy, education, reforms and everywhere where it counts
- She is not “discriminated” against in any way in any phase of life (especially for her gender, physical appearance, social standing, or choices of life)
- At work, she is compensated and progressed for her knowledge, skills, competence, performance and results
- She never experiences abuse of any kind at the workplace – physical abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse or social abuse
- She can “truly” exercise her choices – with respect to education, choice of career and employment, choice of her life partner and the decision to be a mother ; and also have a satisfying career on her terms
- She does not face the “glass ceiling” (which exists even today for women) as a part of her professional career
- She has “true” freedom and control over her personal finances
- She believes that she can aim for the stars, and reach the sky – if she sets her mind on it
- The law of the land / policies / processes will protect her for her rights and interests; and not tilt in favor of power, position and money
I’m also at a point in my professional career where (young) women [There! I said it! - I'm now part of the older generation :) ] come to me for advice, suggestions and general career guidance – from fundamental questions to “Should I work?” to more complex questions around “Is entrepreneurship right for me?“
I generously share my perspective with the hope that it enables, empowers and equips them to make the right choices and decisions, and try to play a small part in “rightly” shaping their career trajectory
Here are a few facts I learned along the way
(1) Women at the workplace – Issues exist, and are complex – Every one of us is unique, including the woman. So there is no “universal set of problems / questions” and no “One size fits all” solution / answers. A lot depends on the women, the kind of person she is, her aspirations, her upbringing, her mental conditioning, her supporting ecosystem, her education, the kind of career choices she has made and the company she is currently employed with.
(2) It is tough for working women – in India and all over the world. So firstly, kudos to all those women who brave it out there every single day by showing up to work, and working through the day! Things will only get better from here is what I believe.
(3) Things are changing and evolving for the better; but a long way to go – It is a crucial point in time for women at the workplace. Many women are now educated, confident and aspiring to make a mark at work, but multi dimensional issues exist, and impede the career progress and growth at various points in her career path. From corporate policy, to power equations (at home and work), to legacy (of systems, people, processes, culture) and how things have always been, to general public safety, to workplace dynamics, to the era / society we are living in.. It is a complex complex complex equation.
(4) Conversations make all the difference – I’ve been through lots of good, bad and ugly experiences as a part of my professional career. Let’s face it – by law of averages, that it is how anyone’s career will be. For a long time, I stayed silent. I did not share or speak about my issues until I realized that it was the biggest disservice I was doing to myself, and the cause of women at the work place. One conversation may / may not change things. But it is a start. It can get people thinking. It can show you a new perspective to an old problem. It can open doors / possibilities which you never knew existed. And if it does not really help you directly, it will help hundreds on women somewhere down the road. And trust me, that one conversation is worth your time and their time. So speak up!
(5) Where you reside influences your decisions and impacts your choices more than you realize – As a working woman, you can’t ignore the influence of your immediate living environment on the challenges you face, the choices and decisions you make. Every country has its own legacy, history, evolution, growth story, political scenario, policies, laws, educational framework, economic growth, culture, “ways of living” and employment guidelines which influence the mind-set of the “community at large”; and this creates unique set of country-specific-issues when it comes to the topic of “Working women and the issues they face”. India is no exception.
Given that its a subject so dear to me, I’m starting a new space on this blog called Women At Work in which I aim to share observations, insights, lessons, perspective, opinions, resources and stories of / for / by women at work. This space aims to be a hub of information for women / working women / working mothers on things which can help you be productive on a daily basis, bring you a smile on a gloomy day, share information on resources that can keep you going through your career journey or which can help you navigate through office politics and power.
You’re worth it
You deserve it
You’re meant to fly..
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
And I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
BY Robert Frost
As I sign off, I hope you find your space and spot – under the sun, at the workplace and at home.
If you thought “(S)he loves me /loves me not” was one of the most difficult questions to answer in life, you probably got it right and wrong.
Why? Because there’s another question which is equally (if not more difficult) to answer, i.e. “Should she work or not? – especially if she is married / mother”.
This topic is much discussed and debated in almost every circle I know. No matter his / her age, almost everyone I know has a strong view, opinion and perspective on the issue – from my neighbor’s grandfather to my mother to my mother-in-law to my friends to my colleagues to my daughter to the family friends dog to the long distance uncle / aunty who saw me once as a baby…all and sundry. But of course! We live in an era where we all have freedom of thought and speech, and so literature and stories galore!
Here’s the thing…
I know what it takes for most women to answer that question and make peace with her answer.
I know what it takes for most women to share her answer with the world, and deal with all that her response entails
I know what it takes for most women to action her answer on a daily basis, and deal with all comes her way
Because I’ve been there, and done that! And like with everything else in life – It has its good, bad and ugly.
And yet, anyone who listens to my voice knows that I am a strong advocate of #WomenAtWork.
A lot of times I’m asked and ask myself “Why women should work?”
She wants to work
She loves to work
She believes in her work
Interestingly, above responses don’t get enough merit… So here’s my response on 30 more reasons
1) You earn. Financial independence and freedom can be one of the most important variables that influence the quality and quantity of a woman’s life. It can also be one of the most liberating aspects for a decent quality life and respect.
2) You learn. Learning is one of the foundational pillar to personal and professional growth and life, and sky (rather your view of the sky) is the limit to what you can learn when you work.
3) You have an identity of your own – independent of your personal relationships and associations. There’s no telling how important it is in your own self-confidence and self-worth
4) You are a better employer as almost all working women hire more help at home / on the domestic front – in terms of home-maintenance services, like driving / cooking / cleaning / ironing, etc. You provide an opportunity for more women to work by being a working woman yourself and make a significant contribution to improve the life of all your employees
5) You are a part of diverse life experiences and that enriches your own understanding of yourself, people, the world and life
6) You connect and interact with people from all walks of life / diverse backgrounds and that opens your mind, views, opinions and perspectives
7) Your general knowledge improves – just by being part of a world out of the 4-walls you observe, listen can comprehend a lot lot more
8) You appreciate the differences and nuances of the world within the 4-walls and outside the 4-walls. Trust me, this bursts your bubbles in terms of what it takes to be a working woman!
9) You understand human behavior and how the real-world really operates
10) You get to see how fair / unfair life is beyond the 4-walls – It is Kalyug for good reasons. And that changes the way you view your own life and the way you live your life
11) Your own self-esteem increases significantly – you just feel so much surer of yourself
12) Your family views you in a new light – many times, this translates into more respect and value they associate with you
13) You are better enabled, equipped and empowered to make decisions – simply because you know that you have a choice
14) You can “buy” things for yourself – yes! You’re a good prospect for (m)any businesses. You pump money into the economy and boost money circulation
15) You can be a role model to someone – I know many of my role models are everyday working women who balance it all every single day
16) You learn a lot of key “life skills”. Top among them are time management, communication, negotiation, saying NO
17) You tend to let-go of a lot of excess baggage – many times it is simply because you don’t have time to delve into the past or worry about the future
18) You can inspire someone somewhere – just by being a live example of “It is possible, you can do it”
19) You can “buy” things for others – with fewer questions, and no / few answers
20) You see life with a new lens
21) You realize the value of all that your mother and father and teachers and supporters / advocates a lot lot more
22) You value time a lot more. You recognize just how little / much there is
23) You feel more independent
24) You are in better control of your life
25) You teach your family independence / inter-dependence
26) You contribute to the world economy by being a productive contributor (in the economic world)
27) You understand and appreciate the value of money a lot more
28) You “genuinely” appreciate how life is for “him” – as he is the one who is usually working for the long haul
29) Your work will directly / indirectly play a significant part in your off-spring
30) Chances are you will leave a richer legacy (financial and otherwise) for your forthcoming generations
It does not matter what works she does
It does not matter where she works
It does not matter how she works
It does not matter how long she works
What matters is that SHE WORKS
Today, tomorrow and the day after
What matters is that her work makes a difference to her / their life
This post is dedicated to any / all women who have “worked” at some time in their life. May the tribe expand, flourish and prosper
Corporate Communication is an important channel of communication within any organization. It is probably the fastest and most cost-effective channel for efficient and effective one-many information exchange. Many organizations use corporate communication “mails” to share news, views, achievements, highlights, milestones and general organization updates which employees need to know on a regular basis. Now whether employees read or not – That is the topic for another post (or debate)
Having been responsible for several kinds of “E-Mail” Corporate Communication for the past several years, and seen what works and what does not, I’m sharing in this post DO’s and DO NOT’s. This is based on my personal experience.
1) Be clear on what you want to say and the key messages from a communication. If you are not clear, there is a chance that the reader does not understand either. More often than not, the problem starts here!
2) Be clear on the target reader and how he / she consumes content (typically). Customize your communication accordingly (format / tone / style / language / channel)
3) The Subject / Headline is the most critical. It can be the only reason (again most times) as to why someone will read your communication. Keep it short, relevant and interesting
4) Structure your content into smaller sections. It is improves readability significantly, and ensures more eye-balls.
5) Keep the content crisp, concise and clear
6) Highlight in one / more ways the key messages (Use bold / italics / different color) in your communication. So if any reader glances through your communication, they should get the gist by looking at the highlights.
7) Time it right – Send your communication at a time when the probability of reading it is the highest
8) Use images / videos / visuals in your communication – They are easier to read and comprehend, and usually get more readership than “text-only” communications
9) Check for spelling / grammar / format / consistency – Basic sanity check and what you learned in high school
10) Give the mail of whom anyone can get in touch with, should they have any questions / feedback
11) If you get a query / feedback on a corporate communication, be sure to respond. If you don’t have an answer, acknowledge that you’d received the communication and will respond shortly
12) Ensure that the information is 100% correct. Have supporting data to back-up your communication. If you have referenced (part of) content from a public source, share the reference in the communication itself
13) Use quotes / testimonials to make / emphasize on a point. Take necessary permissions before you share
14) Ensure that there is a critical peer-review of your content – for accuracy, consistency, correctness of language / words / messaging
15) Get all the necessary approvals before you publish. It is better to be safe and delay a communication, than to be sorry
Most importantly, Make it easy to read and comprehend. That is why you are communicating right?
1) Make spelling mistakes
2) Use abusive language
3) Make controversial statements (unless you want to rake up a controversy)
4) Send false / incorrect information
5) Share information with people who should not / need not know
6) Share wrong / incorrect information
7) Keep the communication long
8) Use text and colors which are difficult on the eyes
9) Use vernacular languages if English is the de-facto official business language in your work environment
10) Make personal comments / remarks on anyone (whatever be the background / history)
11) Keep it cryptic – Unless you don’t want others to understand (BUT Why then are you sending a communication)
12) Assume that everyone knows everything. In any cross-section of readers, some may know and some may not know
13) Send the same communication 10 times in a span of 5 minutes. Technology glitch / manual error – This is usually not well recieved
14) Send incomplete information.
You’d think all of above was pure common-sense, and anyone would know. I agree. But looks like common-sense is hard to find, hence this post. What has been your experience with corporate communications? Good / Bad / Ugly – Leave a comment to let me know
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
Originally published here
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
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.
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
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
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