Category Archives: Life

Blogging for Business / Run a corporate blog? – Here are a list of topics for 1 year (for FREE!)

Are you blogging for your business / run a corporate blog to gain mind-share, market-share or profit-share?

And you don’t know what to blog about?

If I had to create a Blogging FAQ( Frequently Asked Questions) on what I get asked most of the time, the top questions would be
1) Why blog?
2) What to blog about?

If I had to answer Why should a business / corporate blog? – The answers are manifold :

(i) To share their views / voice

(ii) To engage / nurture your industry ecosystem by connecting with customers,partners, suppliers, analysts, solution providers, etc.

(iii) To learn yourself and stay updated with market / industry trends

(iv) To generate leads and

(v) To create a brand!

The next question is What to blog about?. In this post, I’m listing blog post ideas for a business blog which can last you for 1 year – if you publish at least 1 post a week.. The key to success is consistency over a long period.For that, focus, plan and a commitment to invest in your blog is most important.

I usually recommend a healthy mix of different content formats on a corporate blog – including blogs, pictures, infographics, video content, etc.

So choose a topic from the list below, decide on the format, and publish publish publish away :)

1) Why did your business / corporate start? What was the idea and how it came to be?

2) The initial phase – Challenges and Lessons. What you learned from setting up your business?

3) The founding team – Who they were and How they came to be? A fun or lesser known facts about the team. It always makes an interesting read if a reader knows a “personal / human” side to you.

4) A timeline which highlights key dates / milestones since inception.

5) What are your offerings (services / products)?

6) Recent innovations in your business / which affect your business – This could be done once in 3 months, so you can have at least 4 posts / year

7) What is unique about your offerings?

8) What difference will your offering make to a customer?

11) An industry timeline – Infographic (How the industry came to be?)

12) Less known facts about your business / industry – – With interesting trivia, facts and figures (well researched and data accuracy is important)

13) Industry survey / trends – Infographic (What all the latest market surveys are saying – for your industry as a whole).

14) Video from your CEO on any topic he is passionate about

15) A blog post on the current trending topic (technology / business / process) and your view on it – Even you do this once in 2 months, you’ll have 6 posts for a year

16) A success story for your business | Who was the client? What was the problem? How you solved it? This could be done at least 2 times / year

17) Lessons learned from a not-so-successful customer project | What was the problem? What did you learn? This could be done at least 2 times / year

18) A Must-Read monthly round-up of 8 – 10 interesting industry articles, news, views, opinions, perspectives – from your customer, partners, competitors | as an online curated resource which anyone can refer to (With 1 / month, this adds up to 12 posts for the year)

19) A Must-Read monthly round-up of 8 – 10 interesting articles, news, views, opinions, perspectives – on life hacks, productivity, getting better at work, general inspiration | as an online curated resource which anyone can refer to (With 1 / month, this adds up to 12 posts for the year)

20) Interviews with Experts – What your industry experts are saying about the future? Even if you do 1 / quarter, you will have 4 posts in a year

21) Choose any topic that is currently trending and get the 3 or more alternate views on the subject. for e.g.: if the topic you are currently interested in is around next generation analytics solutions, write a post with the views of a customer, technology provider, product vendor and analyst. Just bringing together voice from different perspectives can make a truly unique and compelling read

22) A note of CSR initiatives (Corporate Social Responsibility) and what your company is doing towards specific causes

23) 10 reasons why anyone should join your company

24) A post on Marketing – Its relevance and importance for your business

25)  A post on Digital – Its relevance and importance for your business

26)  A post on Social – Its relevance and importance for your business

27) A post on Big Data – Its relevance and importance for your business

28) A post on Analytics – Its relevance and importance for your business

29)  A post on Cloud – Its relevance and importance for your business

30) Your company’s view on “The Next Big Thing that can change the world”

31) Your company’s view on Innovation

32) Your company’s view on changing role of Leadership

33) 10 Must-Read books – for your business / industry, and Why?

34) Open Letter to anyone joining your company

35) 5 – 10 Blogs you suggest anyone to follow to stay updated / relevant in your business / industry

36) 10 – 20 Twitter thinkers / influencers you recommend others to follow and Why?

NOTE: Some of the above may already be part of most company websites, but a blog post is usually more informal and can be written by the CEO / founder/ core team in an anectodal / story-telling fashion.

 

Suggested Readings

Understanding the Hype Cycle of a Blog

Why you should were the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog

Focus on Diversity on your blog

Why will a reader remember your blog?

Importance of an editorial calendar

Women at Work | Round-up of articles to read today

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!

 

 

Launching “Women at Work” | A new section on this blog…

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

  1. The workforce includes at least 50% women by default
  2. Women are given “right, fair and equal” opportunities, exposure, experiences and environment to blossom and reach their true potential
  3. Globally, there is at least 30% representation of women in business, politics, policy, education, reforms and everywhere where it counts
  4. 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)
  5. At work, she is compensated and progressed for her knowledge, skills, competence, performance and results
  6. She never experiences abuse of any kind at the workplace – physical abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse or social abuse
  7. 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
  8. She does not face the “glass ceiling” (which exists even today for women) as a part of her professional career
  9. She has “true” freedom and control over her personal finances
  10. She believes that she can aim for the stars, and reach the sky – if she sets her mind on it
  11. 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

Ever since I started blogging, I’ve written on various issues / subjects related to women at the workplace on my own blogs and in my columns on n WomensWeb and SheroesIndia.

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..
Will you?

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.

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

Why women should work? – Here are 30 good reasons

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

Why?
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?”

Well, because

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

How to be the most organized person in this world?

So I’ve set a milestone of sorts on this blog.. From consistently posting at least 1 post / week for 32 weeks, I DID NOT publish a post last week.. As I look back to connect the dots on why I skipped the post, I came up with a zillion excuses.. No time, busy at work, too tired, .. etc.. All lame I agree, because I did find the time to do what I wanted to (both professional and personal).. On deeper introspection, I recognized that I had become a tad bit disorganized for my own good.. Just when I wondered what I could / should do, I came across this comprehensive solution.. I am yet to apply fully, but felt it was timely and appropriate to share on my blog for the benefit of all my readers..

MORAL of the STORY – Stay Organized, Stay Organized, Stay Organized….

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Corporate Communication 101 | The Do’s and Don’ts

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.

DO’s

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?

DO NOT’s

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

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

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