Sheryl Sandberg’s (FaceBook’s COO) new book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” published in March 2013 has been in the news for the past few months for many different reasons. There has been applause and appreciation from many quarters; and at the same time criticism and negative feedback from many other quarters.
Personally, I think it’s the law of averages at work. For any creative piece of work (Writing is a creative process); there will be people who will say something “Good”; and others who will say something “Not So Good”. That’s the way of the world. Especially if the creator (writer in this case) is someone well-known, successful and prosperous and a “woman” – Then it is the topic of debate, and it is in the news!
After the launch of the book, Sheryl launched the Lean In community as a global community committed to encouraging and supporting women “leaning in” to their ambitions. Again, a great initiative because it provided a platform for women to discuss, collaborate and speak about many issues / challenges / choices and decisions which plague them on their journey through different career phases and different life choices.
Sheryl has been fortunate to have had an Ivy League education, a remarkable career track record, the opportunity to work in some renowned organizations / institutes, a personal network that include the “Who’s Who?” and of course, personal wealth which many can only dream of; before she authored this book. And that’s been one of the points which most critics have made – That she had everything easy for her. Personally I do appreciate the fact that she took the initiative to write the book. Trust me! For any working mother (No matter who you are and what you do), writing a book along with your doing justice to your professional responsibilities, & managing your home / personal commitments and expectations is no easy task – It requires significant amount of will-power, focus, planning, determination and support. And these are life skills worth emulating from any individual! And you have to give Sheryl credit for that.
After all, how many successful women have authored books on the issue of women reaching their “true goals”? How many successful women have started global communities around the issues of “working women”? How many of these communities are truly “active” and engaging in every day conversations and dialogues with women to help them grow in their careers? How many of these initiatives are truly making a DIFFERENCE to the lives of women?
“Lean In” has definitely been the cause and catalyst for ongoing conversations, discussions, expressions and debates around gender equality, women and ambition, women taking responsibility for your career & choices and not being afraid to face your fears. And these discussions include people from all parts of the world, and in an organization context include all levels of leadership and executive management.
Sheryl’s central point is that many women are not “Leaning In” enough to achieve their career ambitions. And her key message is requesting women to “Lean In”– Take responsibility for your career and work towards achieving your goals.
The more I read about this subject, the more I am compelled to think about the situation in India.
“Do we need a LEAN IN Movement in India?”
Agreed that the issues of working mothers across the world would be common to some extent. The eternal quest of “Doing justice and maintaining a balance between personal aspirations, professional responsibilities and family commitments”.
And yet as a working woman, you can’t ignore the influence of your immediate living environment on your choices and decisions.
Every country has its own 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 “Women and their Careers”. India is no exception.
In India, looking at the women around me and the choices they make, there are 4 critical factors which drive and determine the career choices that a woman makes:
(1) Your upbringing and the mental conditioning you’ve had on “The role of a woman at home and society”: This makes an ocean of a difference on the core belief system, self-esteem and self-confidence of a woman. So if you have daughters in your house; educate them, encourage them to learn, dream, grow and make meaningful contributions to society – beyond the four walls!
(2) When and who you marry? : For many women, the dream to have a career ends after marriage! And for many women, they start thinking about their careers right after marriage. Yes! Marriage can be a very critical milestone in the life of a woman.
(3) Becoming a mother; and the decision to be a Stay-At-Home Mom or a Working Mother : Either by virtue of personal choice or personal circumstances: There’s no right or wrong here – It is just a personal choice, and most women don’t comprehend the full impact of this one choice till they hit their twilight years! The point is what starts of a temporary hiatus from work, extends indefinitely. So at some point in their journey as a mother, it is important for women to re-look at their choices and decisions, and see if they want to / can step back into active careers
(4) The “Family Responsibility”: The “implicit” role a women is expected to play in taking care of aged / elderly / ill people in the family; and how she has to put everything else “on hold” – to nurture and nurse people to good health.
All of the above influence the “career choice” that a woman makes. Agreed that something’s are not in your control, something’s are driven purely by your circumstances; and something’s are not even your choices.
But my question to Indian women is “When you do have a choice, do you “LEAN IN” enough?”
And back to my original question “Do we need a LEAN IN Movement in India?”
I think YES!
• We need women to “Lean In” to their careers
• We need men to enable women to “Lean In”
• We need children to help their mothers “Lean In”
• We need educators to enable women to “Lean In”
• We need policies to enable women to “Lean In”
• We need law makers to make it easy for women to “Lean In”
• We need mentors to guide women to “Lean In”
• We need people in power to help women to “Lean In”
• We need employers to make it easy for women to “Lean In”
• We need families and friend to condition / support women to “Lean In”
• We need successful women leaders to speak up / share to inspire women to “Lean In”
We need a whole ecosystem in India to enable women to “Lean In”
So YES! We do need a “LEAN IN” Movement in India
I’m doing my bit and best every single day to “LEAN IN”… What about you?
Published on PeopleMatters ; Edited and re-published here
Over the recent past, I have been surprised to find a great deal of marketing material in public toilets (in malls, at the movies, etc.) – Initially, I was surprised to even find posters, banners, even audio clips, etc. in public toilets. From soaps to laptops to clothes to footwear to exciting deals – They were all there! Initially I was surprised. But as I observed more consciously over the past few weeks, I recognized that it was intentional, and also probably a BRILLIANT MARKETING STRATEGY!
Here’s why? – The Number 1 Challenge of MOST MARKETERS today is to get “CUSTOMER ATTENTION” to what you have to say… Simply because (1) Everyone has so little time; and (2) There are just so many options for any customer.. – So how do you get “customer attention” to what you want to say.
As I think logically, I guess a public toilet is a great place to get “CUSTOMER ATTENTION” /”AWARENESS” / “INTEREST” to what you have to say. Here’s WHY?
(1) People have time, and their “eyes” (& “ears”) open : A public toilet is one place where many people are usually found waiting, i.e., they generally have time (& no specific agenda or nothing specific to do apart from wait for your turn). And in most instances, you probably don’t really like to indulge in small talk with others. So you find many people idly looking at the walls, mirrors, ceiling, etc.
Now as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity (say 30 seconds to 3 minutes) to get customer attention on your product / service, you can use this time effectively
(2) Mobiles are a NO-NO : The other real challenge for most marketers is to get people to look / hear to what they have to say; and mobiles can be the real “villain” in getting customer’s time and attention. (I mean I know of people who call their mobiles their only LOVE in LIFE!).
Here’s the good news for marketers – The “villain” is usually not in the picture in a public toilet. Most people (at least from what I know) usually don’t like to use their mobile phones in the toilets (Again, I personally know of exceptions here, But then there are exceptions to everything in life)
So as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity when your target customer is without his / her mobile, you can use this time to create awareness on your product / service
(3) People are usually relaxed : The other challenge for most marketers is to connect with the customer when he / she is probably relaxed / open or in a neutral state of mind (People will more likely to listen or see any marketing material when they are relaxed / less stressed). Most people are usually relaxed after they use a public toilet, and hence are in general in a reasonably “open” state of mind to listen / see what’s around them.
So again as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity when your target customer is relaxed, you can leverage this time to generate interest in your product / service
These are the positives; and there are some negatives too
But then it is an opportunity to “connect” with your customer…
So, what’s your view on MARKETING in Public Toilets
Leave a comment to let me know
Every day I come across at least a couple of articles on “Work Life Balance”. But I am yet to find a definition which I found apt!
So what exactly is “Work-Life” Balance ? I ask myself
It is one in which one is able to “Maintain long term equilibrium between personal aspirations, a professional career and family commitments”
- In terms of “professional career” : In the long run, your work and contributions are in line with your background, experience and qualifications; you achieve notable progress in an acceptable time period and most importantly – you earn income which is commensurate with your work contributions
- In terms of “family commitments”: You are able set, define, refine and re-define the expectations of the many roles you plays in the context of “family”(For a working mother – the roles include that of a mother / wife / daughter / sister / daughter-in-law / sister-in-law, etc.), and live in peace with this.
- In terms of “personal aspirations” : You are able to find some time on a regular basis for yourself, doing things that you truly enjoy or fulfilling your own personal secret wishes
Ever since I started my journey as a mother, I have been on the quest for this “elusive” work life balance. In the past 4 years, here’s what I realized about “Work-Life Balance”
1) There is no universal definition of “work-life balance” – To each his / her own. And rightly so!
2) “Work life balance” is elusive; and will possible elude you till eternity!
3) As a working professional, it is almost impossible to maintain “work-life balance” for an extended period of time. There will be phases of imbalance (more than you’d like) – In some phases, work takes Number 1 priority, and in other phases your personal life takes Number 1 priority.
As a working professional, you will most likely have to make tough decisions, trade-offs and choices. Each of these will come at a price – The price can be in terms of having to let-go of personal aspirations for several years of your life OR putting a brake on your career / taking a career break OR letting-go of something’s as far as your children’s upbringing / family expectations are concerned.
That’s my view.. What’s yours? Leave a comment to let me know..
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” BY Steve Jobs
“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” BY Milan Kundera
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” BY William Pollard
“Art begins in imitation and ends in innovation.” BY Mason Cooley
“I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” BY Bill Gates
“Energy innovation is not a nationalistic game.” BY Bill Gates
“The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success are concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation and communication.” BY Michael Faraday
“The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.” BY Robert Iger
“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” BY Albert Einstein
“Innovation is the ability to convert ideas into invoices.” BY L. Duncan
“Innovation is serendipity, so you don’t know what people will make.” BY Tim Berners Lee
Looking back at my life for the past few years, the one thing that has made a REAL DIFFERENCE is CLARITY on my PRIORITIES.
I don’t think I was so clear about my priorities till a series of events (which included loss of a loved one, becoming a mother and a couple of other “life-changing and thought-provoking” events) compelled me to introspect and reflect on my own life.
As I go down memory lane and look at my own life; and also see people around me, I note the following:
(1) A vast majority of individuals DO NOT have clarity on their priorities in life – Be it as a part of their personal life or professional life. So if you ask yourself or someone to list the Top 3 Priorities for the day / week / month / life / home / work, majority will struggle to respond. And those that do will not be so sure about their answer.
(2) Those individuals who do have clarity on their priorities in life don’t translate these priorities into everyday action. For e.g: In my priority list, health and fitness was a TOP Priority. However, if I looked at my everyday routine, I had not really factored any time for any physical exercise. So, there was a fundamental gap between Thought and Action.
(3) A vast majority of individuals have too many items on their list marked as TOP Priority. And hence over a period of time (say monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.) – They are not able to show or see or demonstrate any visible / tangible difference in progress. And hence wonder what went wrong and where?
The other important aspects about PERSONAL PRIORITIES are:
- Your priorities are personal to you – No one can decide them but YOU!
- Your priorities WILL change as you journey through life – Be aware of these changing priorities and model your life accordingly!
How can CLARITY on your PRIORITIES help YOU?
Having clarity on your priorities can help you in umpteen numbers of ways. From my personal experience, the most important one’s are:
(1) Focus: If you are clear on your priorities, it enables you to focus better on what you’re doing. Simply because you know what’s TOP on your priority list and what’s not can be truly empowering; and can aid you to focus on the task at hand.
(2) Decision Making: Decision Making becomes a lot simple and easy if you have clarity on your priorities. You know whom to say Yes / No to and Why?, You know what can / can’t wait and Why?, You know
(3) Letting-Go: Many times we hold on to things simply because that’s how it’s always been or because we don’t know any other way or because we don’t know what else to hold on to. But the minute you have crystal clear clarity on your priorities – You will recognize what you really need to hold on to, and letting-go becomes a lot easier – in the emotional and intellectual sense.
(4) Expectation Management: Many of us live our lives living up-to “expectations” of others. Nothing wrong with that, but maybe it is also good to live of our lives up to our own “expectations”. And your expectations of yourself become a lot clearer if they are driven by your priorities of life!
(5) Saying NO: NO are two simple letters, but form an extremely powerful word. NO can make our life so simple if we just use them more often. And yet the fact is that most of us complicate our lives way too much simply because we find it so hard to say NO. And why are we conservative in the usage of NO? – Because we are not used to saying it or we worry too much about the implications of saying NO.
But when you have clarity on your priorities, it is a lot easier to say NO. Simply because you know that what’s being asked of you does not figure in your priority list, so it’s better to refuse! This one benefit is probably the most liberating!
The fact is all the above are critical for anyone playing a LEADERSHIP ROLE. And hence being clear on your PRIORITIES is of paramount importance for any LEADER
Call for ACTION Now
(1) Write down (on pen & paper preferably) your TOP 3 priorities for your Personal Life
(2) Write down (on pen & paper preferably) your TOP 3 Priorities for your Professional Life (Ignore if you don’t have an active professional life)
(3) For each of these priorities, ask yourself
- “Are these PRIORITIES taking you closer to your GOALS”
- “Are you taking any specific action on a regular basis (daily, weekly, etc.) to address these priorities?
(4) If yes, Great! You are on the right path. Best Wishes and Good Luck to you
(5) If no, then Pause & Reflect. And make the required course corrections. It is NEVER too LATE!
As I end, I’d like to leave you with a few quotes on prioritization from the wise.
“Action expresses priorities.” BY Mahatma Gandhi
“Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.” BY Scott Caan
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” BY Stephen Covey
One of the most important characteristics of “great leaders” is the fact that they have mastered the ART of DELEGATION. I call it art because art is usually considered as something which involves SKILL and IMAGINATION, and trust me! You need both to master DELEGATION.
As I look back at my own career, and observe the delegation patterns of some of the leaders I have worked with, I recognize the following:
* Knowing what task to delegate and to whom is a great virtue for any leader. Simply because when a leader delegates work, he / she should have a realistic assessment of the capabilities of the individual the task is being delegated to, should trust him / her and should be willing to take complete responsibility for the outcome of this delegation.
* The BEST leaders delegate at least 80% of the work. What this simply means is that they have identified a “competent, trust-worthy and efficient” next level leadership : Which is an important aspect of growth and succession planning
* Knowing what NOT to DELEGATE is also very important for any leader, as this is a clear reflection of the “individual VALUE” you bring to the table as a leader. If all your work can be done by your next level of leadership, then either you are “redundant” in your role OR you are ready for the next rung in the corporate ladder
* As a leader, you should be cognizant of the co-relation between “delegation”, “responsibility”, “authority” and “ownership” – And should be able to clearly distinguish these in your own mind, and to those you have delegated work to.
* Many leaders have been at the firing line simply because of wrong decisions in DELEGATION! As a leader, if you get this wrong – It could cost you your job and your reputation!
Over the past decade, technology companies have realized the importance and difference the Marketing function plays in their external brand image.
The success of the Marketing function is directly linked to two important variables:
1) The organizational priority associated with Marketing
2) The individual / team that shoulder’s the Marketing responsibility
Many business leaders are often plagued with the question “What is the right profile for a Senior Marketing Executive in a Technology company?”
The Top 9 Must-Haves for a Senior Marketing Executive in a Technology Company are listed below:
1) Techno – Marketing Knowledge and Experience: A good blend of technology and marketing knowledge and experience is a definite pre-requisite. Pure marketing knowledge & experience can help one plan and strategize great marketing initiatives, but many times fall short in execution as there is a complete dependency on the technology teams. Over a period of time, this will impose severe limitations in what one can achieve. On the other hand pure technology knowledge & experience will impose restrictions in what one can even strategize from a marketing perspective. Hence, a suitable profile could be either one who has worked in a technology role for a few years, then studied Marketing and followed it up with relevant marketing experience OR one who has studied Marketing and then worked in the Marketing function of a technology company & upgraded their technology knowledge along the way. Additionally, if one has worked with a successful Senior Marketing Executive in their careers, there is a great amount of learning that can be amassed.
2) Understanding of the Organization’s Marketing Philosophy: Every organization has a marketing philosophy which in unique to its overall vision, values and offerings. If one is new to an organization / the Marketing role, it is imperative that some time is invested to understand this. Clarity and comprehension on the organization’s marketing philosophy go a long way in ensuring that any marketing initiative is in line with the organization’s overall marketing philosophy.
3) Focused & Objective: While focus and objectivity are essential for any job function, it takes a different meaning for a marketing role. Simply because, many times the Marketing function gets limited time, support and recognition from internal stakeholders. And yet, the marketing outcome is non-negotiable. So it is important that the individual / team is focused and objective on what needs to be achieved by the Marketing Function; & continuously strive towards achieving the same.
4) Leverage New Marketing Platforms: Firstly, this requires awareness on what new / alternate marketing platforms exist & how they can be utilized to achieve the organization’s marketing objectives. Secondly, openness of mind and perspective to effectively leverage these platforms for marketing. For e.g.: Social media. Quiz many Marketing executives on why they embark on certain marketing initiatives, what marketing platforms they usually leverage & what marketing channels they typically operate on; and one will realize that the only reason some of these are being used today is because of legacy, i.e., simply because they were always being done this way for several years. Thirdly, to get the buy-in of internal stakeholders to pioneer these marketing initiatives. And lastly, to successfully roll-out these initiatives.
5) Creative : Creativity is one of the most important elements of marketing. One needs to be creative in thought, creative in expression and creative in resource mobilization. If one is creative, there is no limit to what can be achieved.
6) Networking Skills : To be successful in a marketing function, great networks and relationships are vital – Both inside and outside the organization. Inside the organization, marketing executives needs to build relationships with Internal Marketing Teams, Technology Teams that they are associated with, Business Leaders, Support Functions, etc. Outside the organization, relationships with Customers, Analysts, Third party agencies, Marketing professionals in other organizations, etc. go a long way in what and how much one can achieve. While building the relationships is one side of the coin, maintaining these relationships over a period of time is the other side of the coin. And this requires intent, time and conscious efforts. But definitely, well worth it in the long run.
7) Collaborative : The real world is full of constraints. Constraints in finances, Constraints in resources, Constraints in time, etc. And one of the time tested ways to work around constraints is to collaborate. A marketing executive should successfully collaborate with internal and external teams to achieve the desired marketing objectives.
8) Holistic View of Marketing : Senior marketing executives need to maintain a fine balance between macro and micro issues of marketing. Hence, a holistic view of marketing is essential. There are some aspects of marketing which are based on hard facts, data and numbers. They can be analyzed, critiqued and objectively evaluated. However, there are some aspects of marketing which cannot be measured and quantified. They are soft. They are subjective. They are based on perceptions. And yet they really exist and make a difference. One needs to be cognizant and sensitive to these aspects of marketing and work constructively to maintain a fine equilibrium between the hard and soft aspects.
9) Personal Brand : Last but not the least, marketing executives need to have a personal brand of their own. What this means is a mind of their own, a voice of their own, and a presence of their own – Both in the real world and in the virtual world.
Originally published here