Category Archives: Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

2)      Asking for help

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

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

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

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

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

So, the important take-away

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

2)      Too much help is not good either

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

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

So, the important take-away

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

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

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

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

So, the important take-away

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

4)      Self-Help is the BEST HELP

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

So, the important take-away

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published here

Infographics 101: What? Why? How?

What are Infographics?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tools to create infographics

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

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

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

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

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

And how could I conclude this post without an infographic?

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

What working women can learn from productivity in ants?

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

7 Productivity Lessons from Ants

7 Productivity Lessons from Ants

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

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

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

So without any further ado.

Focus – on the things that matter

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

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

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

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

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

Build your team and collaborate

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

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

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

Develop a routine that works for you

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

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

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

Communication

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

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

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

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

Stay Positive

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

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

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

Set Deadlines

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

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

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

Division of Work

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

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

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

 

Originally published here

Viral Content | A Marketer’s Dream, Dare, Delight or Doom?

“Viral Content” – Those 2 words can be the dream, dare, delight or doom for many a marketer.

A dream because you aspire for it

A dare because you can’t really say for sure if your content will go viral

A delight because if it does, then you are bound to be a hero / shero of some sort, in some circles

A doom because if it does not, then you are bound to be viewed with a critical lens, in some circles

And the reality of today is that “viral content” is probably the fastest & most cost-effective way to get your message out in the market place.

There are ample examples of content gone viral that it must seen easy to repeat the formula. But it is not so simple…

In this post, I am sharing from my personal experience as a content consumer what truly differentiates viral content from the rest

(1) A catchy compelling title : In today’s day of explosive content, you need to have a title which compels a reader to stop-by your content. The title has to be unique, inviting, enticing and engaging – And most important have mass appeal! Phew – Tough one to crack!

(2) Touching an emotional chord with a reader : From my personal experience, almost every piece of viral content that I’ve come across touched an emotional chord with a reader, i.e., it brought out a deep human emotion in a reader – joy, surprise, fear, contempt, disgust, sadness or anger

(3) Timing of your post : The timing of when you publish your content is critical, and surely acts as an enabler in riding with current trends and sentiments.

(4) The Zing and Zest of the post itself : I mean the content itself has to be unique, new, relevant, positive and refreshing in its message and in articulation. Pictures / Videos are definitely more effective, but there are blog posts and even tweets which have gone viral, so it really depends on the content

In this post, I’m sharing a round-up on the many views / perspectives written on the subject of “viral content”. You’d think after reading all of these – I now know the magic mantra and am on my way to create the “viral content” of tomorrow. How I wish! :) In spite / Despite so much written on the subject, this is a tough one to crack, and even all the “Content Gurus” don’t seem to have a consensus.

Nevertheless, let me share the posts..

7 Things Marketers Can Learn From 2,616 Viral Headlines.

7 Key Elements for Viral Content

 Social Media Images: 5 Ways to Go Viral

How To Make Your Content Marketing Go Viral

How to write copy that goes viral

57 Facts and Figures on the Money and Power in YouTube Viral Videos – Infographic

3 Reasons Why YouTube Videos go Viral

4 Key Elements for a Viral Video

5 Steps to Going Viral on Twitter

Top 7 Reasons Your Content Goes Viral

How to Make Your Content Go Viral

How to create viral content

When an Obituary Goes Viral

How to make something go viral: tips

How do I make my post viral?

Lastly, an interview from Brian Solis which is real, well-grounded and probably one of the best advice I’ve come across

 

 
What is your mantra? Leave a comment to let me know

I BELIEVE in you, do you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pause and Reflect

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

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

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

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

You have a chance today..

“I BELIEVE in you, do you?”

 

Originally published here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can women handle workplace bullying?

Women in the workplace have always been a topic of much debate and discussion. The Why? The What? The How? The How Not to? The Where? The When? – Questions galore! From him, from her, from them.

Part of the reason is this – If you look at history and evolution, the role of the women has typically been confined to the four walls of the house with her shouldering almost all the domestic responsibilities. With changing times, women are entering the workforce, swanky offices, hi-tech conference rooms and even board-rooms. More often than not, a woman’s journey from the house to the office is a bumpy one – with gender discrimination, workplace bullying, harassment, slow-paced career progression, questionable compensation, unsupportive workplace environment and outdated policies.

In this post, I will share a few scenarios of workplace bullying encountered by working women in India, and offer suggestions on how to deal with them.

But before that, a few factors that catalyse and contribute to the workforce bullying:

- The workplace environment in terms of the nature of work, the working hours, the overall gender (male: female) ratio

- The organisation policies, processes and systems to deal with such issues

Based on my own experiences and others’, a few scenarios that trigger workplace bullying for women:

(1) New on the block

(2) Being silent amongst peers

(3) Inability to stretch beyond work-hours

(4) Lack of knowledge

For full reading along with tips on how to deal with these issues, read the article here

Have you seen women experiencing workplace bullying? How did she handle it? How do you think women should handle such situations? Leave a comment below.

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

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

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

Sharing some words on strategy from the wise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 9 Social Media Marketing Articles You should Read

“Think Social”..
“Go Social”..
”Be Social”..
”Act Social”…
“Just DO Social”
Almost all marketers hear these directives in today’s day and age..

As a marketer and a social media lover, if I had to summarize what Social Media Marketing really translates into it is this | Effectively leveraging Social Media channels (in which your existing / potential customers are present on) for your Marketing objectives which in turn aligns with your organizational startegy and business vision

The thing about Social Media Marketing is that knowing and understanding it in theory, and learning by experience (yours and others) is critical to your success and what you achieve.

In this post, I am sharing 9 Social Media Articles which I have recently read, and thought they were truly a treasure in terms of providing valuable information on Social Media Marketing.

31 Must Read Social Media Marketing Articles

7 Social Media Marketing Trends that will dominate in 2014

4 Social Analytics Tips to Improve your Social Media Marketing

20 amazing Marketing Statistics that will drive 2014

5 of the Best Social Media Marketing Campaigns Ever

Four Steps to Achieving your Social Media Goals

18 Social Media Marketing Tips from the Pros

2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

What are the best articles you’ve read on Social Media Marketing? Leave a comment to let me know

Open Letter to Prospective IT Employers in India

More than a year and half ago (23 May 2012), an article in New York Times titledAn Open Letter to India’s Graduating Class went viral. The post was written from a prospective employer; and was addressed to Graduates and Post-Graduates. When I first read the article, I nodded at every single point listed.

In the past 1+ year, I have had the opportunity to interact with several fresh graduates / post-graduates (unemployed / employed and waiting to start off their careers / employed with organizations for less than 2 years). And as a part of these interactions, I acknowledged and learned their side of the story.

In this post, I present the collective views and sentiments of this group.

 Dear Prospective IT Employer,

This is your potential employee. We are a graduate / post-graduate looking for employment. We are potentially the future assets of your organization (assuming you consider employees as assets), the key contributors to your top-line and bottom-line growth in the years to come (assuming you continue to charge your customers for employee services, i.e., Billing Rate / Hour) and the keepers of your “brand name” (assuming you have a brand name). All of these will influence and shape your organization growth, your competitive differentiation and your longevity in the times of come.

Millions of us have recently graduated or will graduate in the near future. We are filled with a sense of excitement and eagerness as we complete our formal education, and start a new phase of our lives as “working professionals” and “officially” become part of the corporate workforce. Some of us have already landed our first job, and are ready to contribute.

In theory, life appears to be good – except that it’s probably not all-so-good. We look, speak and interact with our seniors and friends who are currently employed in IT jobs, and are filled with apprehensions and questions on how the future will turn out when we start working for you!

So why this letter, and why should you read on? Well, because based on collective “sentiments and opinions” of fresh graduates or post-graduates / newly hired employees, some truths have become apparent. Read on to understand what your future employees really want and how we can work together to create a “Win-Win” situation.

Before we get into specifics, we humbly acknowledge the following:

(1)   In your assessment, we are “spoiled” because of the “India growth story”. We agree that we may be “spoiled” in your eyes. So let us just ask you a few questions:

Who is to blame for the times / era one is born to?” – We? Did any of us specifically write a wish 100 years back that we’d like to graduate in 2011 / 2012 / 2013?

Who is to blame for the kind of upbringing that we’ve had?” – We? Many of you must be having children, cousins, nephews, niece and other relatives who are in the same phase as us. What did you do as responsible adults to influence our upbringing?

(2)   In your assessment, our “English Language” skills are sub-standard. Again,

Who is to blame for the quality of English education that we received?” We?

“Who is to take responsibility for the English proficiency of the teachers who taught us in different schools and colleges across India?” We?

(3)   There is a gap between what we learn at college; and what we are expected to deliver at the workplace

We are cognizant of the fact that there is a “great divide” on what we learn at school / college (however much / little this is!) and what you expect us to deliver at work

Who is to take responsibility for this “GAP”?” We? OR “The systems, people and processes who run these educational institutes and who run these corporate organizations?”

So, without any further ado – We’d like to share with you our side of the coin, and what we’d like as prospective employees in your organization:

(1)   You accept us for what we are

The first and most important point for us to be productive and you to get the best of us is for you to “ACCEPT” us for what we are. Yes, we are not perfect. Yes, we have limitations. Yes, we are not the “ideal employees”. Yes, we want things to be easy. Yes, We are the iPad / iPhone / Twitter / FaceBook generation. And we cannot change overnight just to “fit-in” to your view of the ideal employees

So for a start, would it not be EASIER if you ACCEPTED us for what we ARE?

 (2)   You give us work to do

The second point is that we’ve seen and heard so many of our seniors and friends join your organizations to “work”. Sadly on joining, they find that there is NO WORK to do. And many of us spend weeks / months / years (in some instances) on the “bench / beach” – As you call it. We did not join your companies to sit on “benches / beaches” – though we’d like to vacation and party in benches and on beaches!

So please give us WORK. Only if we work, can we learn and grow. Please give us these work opportunities

 (3)   You answer our questions, even the most basic ones

We agree that we may not have the “average intelligence” of your generation. So we request you to provide basic guidance as we make our first steps into the big BAD corporate world.

Yes! We acknowledge that we need to learn (a LOT), and are willing to learn. Provided your employees with all their “intelligence and industry experience” make the time and effort to answer our questions, even the basic ones.

In many instances, you’re employees don’t like being asked questions. And in several cases the ground reality is that they don’t know the answers to our questions!

So please give answers our questions. And if you don’t know the answers, please find them out! But, please provide basic guidance

 (4)   You collaborate with us to build our English language skills

There’s a lot of hue and cry on our sub-standard English language skills. Agreed, that our English skills are sub-standard. But did you not check that when you interviewed us? And if you did still hire us (because of the demand as you call it), then that’s the choice you made.

And the reality is that every choice comes with a price. In this case, the price is probably that we work together to build and enhance our “English language” skills.

So let’s collaborate on enhancing our English Skills

 (5)   You give us problems to solve; and let us “solve them”

We admit that our “problem solving” skills may be limited, and probably not in par with yours. Part of the reason could be that most of the important problems (of the world or country) were “solved” by the time it was our turn; Thanks to the collective genius of your generation, and the previous generations. So we got limited “hands-on” problem solving experience, as you’d call it.

Now, the way we see it – You are expecting us to “solve problems” – be it business, technology, process or customer experience. And we are willing to give it a try. So please let us try. We will probably struggle, and solve problems in the way “we know”; and not the way “you want”. So please be open to new ways of solving problems. After all with your expansive wisdom, we are sure you will agree that every problem can be solved in umpteen different ways!

So, give us problems to solve; and let us “solve them”

 (6)   You show us the long-term picture

As a group, we like to have a long term view of things. We are curious, inquisitive and futuristic, though we personally like everything “instantly”; in the here and now. So do share a view of where you’re headed, what you’re plans are and how the strategy will fall into place.

Unfortunately, most of the people we interact with in your organizations don’t seem to have a clue on the long term view of things. Agreed that they know their technologies and their projects, but there’s more to the IT world than that one customer project, right?

So please show us the long term picture!

 (7)   You lead by example – Especially on “being professional and ethical”

Our grandparents often said “When you point one finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back to you.” May be there is some wisdom in this statement.

When we join your organizations, we are at a fairly impressionable phase of our careers and lives. “Professionalism, Ethics and Values” are words which seem ‘high and lofty’ and many of us don’t really get what it translates to; in theory.

But we observe, and we see, and we speak, and we hear! – From the environment. So if you’ve already built an organization culture which is strong on “professionalism, values and ethics” – We’d be sure to follow!

But if you’re expecting us to build and create that environment for you, then maybe we need more guidance, mentoring, role models, some expectation management or you need a reality check!

So do lead by example. And we’re more likely to follow!

 That’s the initial list. Hope it’s given you some food for thought, as you start on-boarding your new employees (or fresher’s) into your world!!

You’re prospective Employee

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