Perfection v/s Progress – You Choose!?

Progress v_sPerfection(1)

Your blog posts are never perfect” she said

“What do you mean?” I asked

“I almost always find some mistakes in them – spelling, grammar, sentence construction, etc.. They can be better.” She said

“Hmm.. OK. Noted. So what do you want me to do?” I asked

“Don’t publish till it is perfect, or if you don’t have time – Ask someone else to make it perfect” she said

Why is perfection important?” I asked

Because that is the ultimate goal” she said

The above is a conversation I had recently with a very good friend of mine, someone who is my best critic (for writing and life), a trusted adviser and diligent blog reader.

It got me thinking, and of course going back to read my blogs. They read fine to me. But yes! Like with anything in life, there was scope for improvement. BUT.. That incremental improvement comes at a cost – which is my time. And time is precious for me as a working mother. And I’m sure it is for you too, in whatever you do!

So whenever I publish a blog post, the effort is mostly “time-boxed”. For e.g: If I decide to write a post in 30 minutes, that’s carved in stone. When the time is up, I review it and publish it. I don’t even attempt to make it perfect. Yes! I made that choice to let go of perfection for every blog post. And that choice has come at a price – which is feedback like the above, or may be even losing some readers along the way. The best part is that it has enabled my growth and progress as a blogger, writer and social media influencer. It has also helped me be regular in posting because had I strived for perfection, I might simply not have been able to post so consistently.

So, here’s the thing about Perfection – It takes time. It takes a lot of energy. It can drain you. And the other thing about perfection is that it is almost always relative. It is in the eyes of the beholder. It is almost always time-bound. Nothing is truly perfect forever. At least, in my view.

I know this because sometime in the distinct past – I used to be a perfectionist. Not in everything, but things which were important to me. Over time, I recognized that it was not realistically sustainable. May be it was not a virtue meant for me. Whatever! I let-go of it, and have made peace with that choice.

And just as I was writing this post, I came across this video from Apple CEO, Mr Tim Cooks in which he mentions that perfection is core to what Apple creates. So if perfection was not the ethos of Apple, we’d probably not experience the best of what Apple had to offer. And I also know from sure that Apple as a company has made progress over the years – in terms of growth, innovation, market share. So progress and perfection can co-exist!

So, I’ll end with the fact that we probably need both progress and perfection – in people, in life, in businesses and in the world. Just that whether they can co-exist in your context is something that is an individual choice and preference.

Here and now, I still choose progress over perfection.That is the only way it will work for me in this phase of life.

What about you? Leave a comment to let me know

First published here

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

The Karmic Ways of Social Media

I published a post, but it has hardly got any views

I shared a tweet, but no one replied / Retweeted

No one ever leaves any comments on my blog

I hear this feedback all the time in my network. Blogger, Twitter enthusiasts, friends, colleagues – Before I used to try to probe further in an effort to help.. Now I just listen and nod.

WHY? Because I am wiser – as a blogger, writer and individual; and I realized that most of the people who say such things just say it. They don’t want to help themselves. Because if they did, they’d know that social media works similar to life. And just like the karmic ways of life govern what we experience in life.. The karmic ways of social media govern what we experience in social media

So in this post, I am sharing what I’ve understood about Social Media based on my personal experiences..

Social Media Karma(4)

What do you think? Have the karmic ways worked for you? Leave a comment to let me know

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Top Marketing Blogs in India, Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

Supergraphic | Marketing Technology Supergraphic

I believe that the time is right and ripe for technology solutions to be used in Marketing. I was in conversation with a senior business leader in a technology firm, and he asked me “What technology solutions can be used for marketing?“. I get to hear this question a lot… So when I came across this fantastic supergraphic on Marketing Technology solutions, I had to upload it on my blog.

All questions are answered below :)

What adds to the Power Quotient of Online Social Communities?

I started this year (2015) with one thought – To do one thing which I have never done in my life before. As January zoomed by, I pondered and wondered over what I should do? It was during a random browsing activity that I came across an article by Sheryl Sandberg, FaceBook COO in which she encouraged women to create peer support communities to help each other navigate through the complex maze of managing work and life.

I thought to myself – “Why not try creating one such group? I mean I’ve never done it before in my life, and it made complete sense to me”. Simply because I personally feel that working women could significantly benefit from a “closed and trusted” group of women we can fall back / count on. And I’m not talking about “friends” here. But really a diverse, balanced well-meaning support community of women who are a sounding board to face the good, bad and ugly that life throws at you. Because from personal experience, I can say that it is no easy piece of cake for most women at work – And we all need to help us tide through the choppy waters is an acknowledgment. Or appreciation. Or re-assurances. Or validation. Or just knowing that someone is there with you. Or a neutral perspective. Or a judgment free zone to share what they really think and feel! Sometimes we need a cheer-group, and sometimes catalysts to push us on. Or a nudge that It’s all going to be OK. I speak from experience here.

So, I went ahead and created an online LeanIn circle, and as of date we have a vibrant group of some diverse, amazing and accomplished women from all over the world. We also had a real-world meet-up and it was wonderful to meet these women in person. Again, it is the first time that I have actually taken relationships from the virtual world to the real world.

On the personal front, as a mother – I am part of an online school mummy group which we use to share any questions / answers / information / insights / perspectives around the growth and development of kids. What I learn from the conversations and interactions with mothers in this group is invaluable. The one unifying bond is a commitment to invest in the growth of our kids, and that has cemented a foundation of mutual trust and respect in each other. Again, I’ve never even met some of these mothers in my life, and yet whenever I am in doubt / have a question, I post it there and someone always responds in a few minutes.

Also over the course of the past several years as a mother, I recognize the need to have a local support community of mummies, so went ahead and created one a few months ago. Again, the lessons and information we share and learn from each other is awesome – Things like summer classes for kids to suggestions for pediatricians, etc. are shared. Again, this group is very diverse – so we have doctors, entrepreneurs, mummies with corporate jobs, educators, stay-at-home moms; and this diversity only enriches the group.

Going down memory lane – For the past 2 years,I have been a member of several online groups, and have immensely benefited from many of these connections and conversations. And now as the owner of several online social communities, I can say one thing for sure – THERE IS POWER IN ONLINE SOCIAL COMMUNITIES. I have witnessed scenarios when community members have offered well-meaning life changing advice to each other, helped each other tide through difficult times of physical, emotional, mental, marital, parenting and financial distress. I have also seen live cases of a community supporting several social causes with the sole aim to make a positive difference in the world. However I have also observed that there are many communities which really go nowhere. They start with full gusto, but after some time – they get dormant! And die a natural death!

So, I couldn’t help asking myself the big WHY? Why is it that some communities die a slow and natural death, and some continue to thrive and get powerful with each passing day?

In this post, I am sharing my views on what matters for an online social community to thrive?

What is the purpose of the community?

It is fascinating and interesting to observe what brings random unknown strangers from different walks of life together to create a community. It could be anything – like where you live, your gender, your role as a mother, a love for reading, writing, music, dance, entrepreneurship, etc. Whatever it is – a common interest brings people together. But what keeps a social community alive and kicking is shared goals / vision of the future. So, the key question is “What do you want to do together?”. For e.g: Do you want to help each other achieve your fitness goals? Or do you want to share your blog posts so others can read? Whatever it is, it should be clear; and spelt out. Else, a group will not really go anywhere!

What are the rules of the community?

For everything in life – from kindergarten to a corporate job there are some ground rules, and abiding by those rules are key for order, progress and peace. It is even more important for online social communities – since you are interacting with people you don’t really know, and your words and views can affect someone else’s thoughts and emotions. So define rules, and if members don’t follow the rules – better to remove them from the group. One dirty fish spoils the whole pond!

Who is the owner of the community?

The best analogy I can give to being the owner of a social community is that of the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of a company. That is where an individual’s values, personality and leadership style come into play. As the community owner, how one nurtures a community, and helps the community navigate the path towards a shared vision / goals plays a key role in what the group evolves to be.

The everyday engagement level within the community

This is possibly the most important part in what determines the longevity and life of any online group. Let’s face it – We are all busy, trying to do a zillion things in life. So, to catch our attention – anything needs to interest us and engage with us on an individual / personal level. Hence the communities which stay alive longer and get powerful over time are those which are better engaged. And engagement is really a function of the diversity of the members in a group and getting people to share, connect and support each other in whatever way they can.

Those are my views. What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know…
First published on LinkedIn

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Top Marketing Blogs in India, Directory of Top Indian Blogs and Most Widely read Indian Bloggers, Alltop, Directory of Best Indian Blogs]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Marketing CHEAT-SHEET | Blue-print from OBJECTIVES to PLAN

New age marketers almost always are under pressure to meet the ever increasing demands of businesses, constantly changing expectations of end-customers, ever evolving innovation and technology; and working in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) work environment. Needless to say, the role of marketing is becoming challenging, complex, exciting and continuously evolving.

While operating in such environments, it is very easy for marketers to lose focus and sight on what is really important. It has happened to me too – Not once, not twice – But very many times. Fortunately for me, I have in place early-warning systems to alert me, and am back on track well in time.

From my experiences, one of the things which I’ve found to be very useful is to define an overall framework to translate marketing objectives into a working plan. But that translation comes with time, with experience, with “know-how” of marketing. And I wish I had such a cheat-sheet with me before. So I thought why not create one as a reference for myself, and also for fellow marketers?

As an individual, I like to simplify things for myself – in my head, in paper and in action. So I asked myself to identify the key marketing objectives, and the below stood out
1) Branding
2) Lead Generation
3) Advocacy
[NOTE: I know we can add many more things to the above list – like customer experience management, ]

Based on above, I’ve created an infographic to provide a cheat-sheet to translate objectives to a marketing plan.

Nischala Marketing Cheatsheet

 

5 Points which impact Marketing Success (or Failure) …

So it is the Annual Appraisal time at work – The time to introspect on the good and not-so-good for the year gone by. Also the time to get feedback on what was good and what was not-so-good; take the lessons and move ahead into a new year.

As a I look back at last year wearing the lens of a marketer, I can say that it has been exciting and excellent. Most importantly, it has been wonderful to see the impact and difference marketing has made on business. As I go down memory lane to see what truly made a difference a few points stand out. In this post, sharing the 5 key points:

Marketing objectives are closely linked to business objectives

The role of marketing has changed significantly over the past few years – especially since the onset of the ‘digital revolution’. From being a supporting enabler for business, marketing is increasingly viewed as the custodian of the customer experience. As a result, success of marketing directly and significantly affects business, and hence it is imperative that marketing objectives are closely linked to business objectives. For e.g.: If a business objective is to be known as a ‘Market Leader in a particular area”, then a possible marketing objective can be to feature in a respected industry / analyst rating report as a Market Leader as an external (analyst / customer / partner) endorsement of a company’s brand is critical to achieve this objective. Or if a business objective is to increase business growth by X%, then a possible marketing objective can be to generate Y leads – where is a multiplier of X based on typical conversion metrics

Marketing has well defined “measurable” objectives

Again marketing teams have always known to focus / report the ‘soft / qualitative’ aspects, and hence marketers are increasingly under pressure to demonstrate the marketing impact. The most effective way to showcase any impact is through metrics. The only pre-requisite to capture and report metrics is to know what to measure and how to measure. For this, it is critical to have a sign-off with business on what “measurable” objectives are to be worked on. For e.g: If one of the focus areas for business is to create a compelling content strategy to demonstrate thought leadership for external branding and customer lead generation, then a measurable objective could be to publish 1 content piece a month on the company blog. This becomes easy to track, measure and report every month as opposed to an objective which states “Create content to reflect thought leadership”. Defining measurable objectives at the start of the year helps set expectations among all stakeholders, and provides a direction for marketing to focus their efforts.

Regular Monitoring, Tracking and Reporting “marketing outcomes”

Again, while defining ‘marketing objectives’ is the first step – continuous monitoring, tracking and reporting the marketing outcomes on a regular basis is key. Leveraging the power of tools and technology to capture key marketing metrics and sharing these metrics with key business / leadership stakeholders on an ongoing basis is critical for long term success of marketing initiatives.

Being able to show the co-relation between “marketing outcomes and business impact”

Again, this is one area where most marketers and businesses struggle with. How to show the co-relation between “marketing outcomes and business impact”? For e.g: Let us assume a B2B company hosted an online event – like a webinar or a virtual round table. The event was outstanding with an attendance of 500+ audience. Now most marketers are always asked “OK Great. But so what?”. In general, online / offline events are great opportunities to identify prospects and convert them to potential leads through focused lead nurturing initiatives. However, such initiatives need time and effort. And time is money – so it becomes important to track both. It is exactly for answering the marketing ROI questions that marketing technology in the form of automation solutions plays a key role.

Marketing sits on the table with Business, Technology, Finance and Operations

Last but not the least – Marketing has to be in-sync with business, technology, finance and operations. Marketing has to be part of the discussions, has to be in-tune with key data and has to be a key participant in decision making. For this, a shared vision and goals along with an environment which fosters communication and collaboration with the customer at the center of the universe is key for marketing and business success.

That’s my view. What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know..

A version of this post was first published on LinkedIn Pulse

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Top Marketing Blogs in India, Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]


Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

What the new age working mom endures everyday, and why I admire her?

A version of this post first appeared on Huffingtonpost

Every mother works. No option here! The only thing that varies is whether you work at home or in an office, whether you get paid or not. I’ve been a working mother, in the traditional sense of the term, for five years now. There were highs and lows. I experimented, I evolved and overall I felt enriched. But no, it wasn’t easy. Nor do I ever expect it to be.

Many perspectives have been shared on this subject, a lot of viewpoints have gone viral, cases in point being Indra Nooyi , Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg and Marie Ann Slaughter.

A lot of women in positions of relative power have highlighted multiple perspectives on being a working mother. I’ve also written a lot of this subject, but I believe there is more to be said on the day-to-day trials, tribulations and turmoil of a working mom.

First things first. You will struggle to be understood. The previous generation of men and women will not always “get” your work-life balance or resonance. Your stay-at-home counterparts are also likely to show little support or empathy for your career and life choices. Your generation of men are almost always silent observers, not quite sure of what to make of your decision to navigate multiple worlds. As for the kids? They will almost always ask you tough questions for which you don’t really have answers!

Tough position to be in, right? But a working mother puts herself in that position, and is striving to make it work every single day of her life. What does she go through every day?

1. She has to live by her choices and their consequences

For a very long time, I thought that the most difficult thing in life is to make a choice. Because making a choice ends ambiguity and uncertainty. Making a choice is somewhat binding in what you can do.

But I was wrong. Ever since I became a mother, I recognized that making a choice is the first step of the journey. The hardest part is living the choice – every day! Starting with the choice of going back to work and when, to how you strive / struggle to honor professional commitments – which may be driven by deeply personal reasons or pragmatic considerations. Whatever the reason, many women are compelled to make tough choices as they navigate the trajectory of their life and career.

What does this mean in real-life terms? It means being unable to celebrate a career milestone because your child is ill. Or having a messy home and hungry kids to tend to after a long, hard day at the office. Or worse, when you are told that your child is not thriving at school in some way because you work. Or when the child is sick and you are stuck in a meeting, stewing in guilt. Or the day when your kid says “You are a bad mummy”. Of course, there are days when you succeed at work and come home to the hugs of two happy and calm children. This last scenario, of course, is a rare one!

Living your choices amidst the everyday guilt, judgment and just the chaos of daily life is tough. What do you prioritize in any one day? Being a mother or a wife or a professional or a friend or something else? And every time you make a choice, you choose to not be a zillion other things. And that is tough because you have to live with your choice and those zillion other things for the rest of your life.

2. She has to flip between two different states of being : Of Focus at Work and Flow at Home

Over the years I’ve come to believe that there are basically two states of being. One is of focus, in which you give your full time, energy and attention to the end goal and work towards it. The second is of being in flow when you are adapting and molding to what your immediate environment expects or needs from you — you are fluid, so that the people around you can focus on what they want or need to do.

The workplace environment demands that employees be focused — on corporate goals and business objectives. On the other hand, being a mother is essentially about being in state of flow where you tend to cater to the needs of the family.

Viewed in isolation, both these states are good places to be, and suitable for different situations. They need a different mind-set, emotional quotient and way to conduct yourself.

Personally, one of the hardest things about being a working mother is having to oscillate between being in the state of focus while at work, and in state of flow while at home. The transition between these two states has to be seamless as the boundaries between work and home are blurring.

3. She lacks role models who are working mothers

The current generation of working women are in a position of unique advantage and disadvantage. On one hand, it is a point in history when there are more women than ever are active contributors to the workplace. And their performance is measured by uniform and well-defined workplace policy and standards. The flip-side is that no one cares what your personal circumstances are – all men and women must clock a certain number of hours to deliver work outcomes – which usually require 40 or 50 hours work week.

The other interesting point is that the benchmark of reference for being a mother is the previous generation of mothers — who were mostly stay-at-home moms.

Today’s young mother is almost always compared and judged against her mother or mother-in-law at home and against her father, father-in-law and husband in her role as a worker. And that is tough. Because being a mother is a 24-hour job, while being a professional is about working 8-12 hours a day. Now, as much as I’d like for a day to have more than 24 hours, I can’t change how the planet works. And I don’t have any role model for how a working mother should be and conduct herself on a day to day basis. Neither do the people around me. So it’s a hazy picture, and everyone has their own perspective.

4. She deals with failure every other day but must plan for success

Almost every working mother I know feels like a “failure” every other day. Why? Because she almost always fails to live up to expectations – her expectations of herself as well as those of others, including family and colleagues. With few role models to emulate, she tends to expect far too much of herself as do others. This is exhausting in the long run.

The solution? Redefine success and failure, and make peace with the fact that there will always be others who won’t appreciate your life choices. It’s not easy to live with judgment, labels, comparisons and criticism from all quarters, especially since you don’t even have time to sit and sulk. If you do, the next thing you’re expected to do is delayed!

So, that’s the inside story of a working mother for you, and because she endures so much almost every single day I personally believe she is worth admiring.

Do you agree? Leave a comment to let me know what you admire the most about any working mother you’ve known or observed.

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Top Marketing Blogs in India, Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

Round-up of my best posts on Working Mothers.

Happy Mothers Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day! So, Happy Mother’s Day in advance… According to Wikipedia, Mother’s Day is a modern celebration honoring one’s own mother, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world – most commonly in the months of March and May!

Social media is abuzz on whether mother’s need a special day to celebrate motherhood. Of course, NO! Once you are a mother, you will always be a mother – And no one can take that from you! But YES! If there is a day to celebrate a little extra and you can afford it, then why not?

The word “Working Mom” is somewhat obvious, and always compels me think. I mean, every mother I know works.. works hard…works every single day of her life…It is just “How she defines her work? Where all she works (at home or even beyond)? And how much her work is valued?” which makes all the difference!

Ever since I’ve become a mother myself, my respect and admiration for all mothers (including my own) has increased manifold. And if she is able to pursue a career beyond her domestic responsibilities – then that is truly commendable. Because from experience I know that it is no easy task! Whatever you do, where ever are you are in the world – if you are a  ‘working mom(or careerist mom)‘ , then my deepest respect, admiration, appreciation and applause is with you!

If you’ve read my blogs, you will know that several of my posts are around what it takes to make it work as a ‘working mom(or careerist mom)‘. So on the occasion of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing a round-up of my best posts.. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as a I enjoyed writing them! And just so you know, my journey as a writer / blogger began at the same time as my journey as a mother – So both are somewhat co-related and dear to me!

After Maternity Leave | Getting back to work

Dilemmas of Working Mothers

Why is it so hard for working mothers in India?

300+ years of women at work | What were the key enablers?

The Questions which impact and influence her work life

The Working Mother’s Career Continuum : Focus | Flex | Flow

Getting back to work after a career break – What is required?

Working Mothers – Is there a Magic Mantra?

Productivity Lessons from Ants

Are you clear about your priorities?

Think about your ROTI (Return on Time Invested)

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Top Marketing Blogs in India, Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

My 1st Economic Time article | The Women At Work Manifesto

According to the World Fact Book, the 2014 gender sex ratio is India was 892 females per 1000 males. So she is born, then what?

According to the latest Indian census, literacy rate among Indian women is 65.46%. According to the District Information System for Education (DISE) (2011-12) report, girl’s enrolment at the primary level (Class I-V) stands at 48.35%. At higher education level, 45% of female are enrolled in under graduate and post graduate courses. So she managed to study, then what?

According to ILO (International Labor Organization) 2015 World Economic Social Outlook Report (WESO), the female labor force participation rate in India was 31.2%. Also, India ranks among the bottom 20 countries in a list of 131 in female labour force participation (FLFP). So she got a job, then what? Did she keep the job? How long?

 According to 2014 Sheroes India Women At Work report , 5% of women are at senior/ leadership levels. That number speaks a lot

Bottom-line | From birth till the last breath – she struggles to survive, chooses to endure and strives to succeed.

While the numbers look dismal in an absolute sense, every day I come across real stories and narratives of real women at work who are trying and striving to make it all work – with grand dreams, grit, hard-work, passion, confidence, determination, perseverance, ecosystem support and divine grace. So there is hope and inspiration.

With about 15 years of corporate work experience during which I have experienced the highs and lows of a corporate career, and also experienced the 3M madness – Marriage and Motherhood twice – I can confidently say that it has been a mixed bag of experiences. On the positive side, it has been a truly enriching, evolving and exciting journey this far.

And so the topic of women at work is close to my heart. One, I am a woman. Two, I’m a working mother. Three, I honestly believe that gender diversity at the workplace is critical for balanced growth and continued success of an organization, the economy, the society and world at large.

Along the way, I have recognized that for women at work to have a fair chance at a long term career and a possibility to reach the top, some early investments are critical and make all the difference. And sooner they are made, the better for her career.

In this post I’m sharing the 9 investments I believe all women should make at the start of their careers.

ET - Women At Work

Knowledge Capital

We live in the knowledge era. Where knowledge is a source of competitive advantage, where knowledge is critical for you to get a job, keep your job, perform your work and also get paid for it. Education of the girl child is the first step to build a strong foundation of knowledge. But beyond that, a lot of knowledge is critical to stay relevant at the workplace. The good news is that in today’s era, knowledge is easily accessible and free – thanks to technology. In the long run, the knowledge which truly makes a difference is specialist knowledge (depth), applied knowledge (experience) or multi-disciplinary knowledge (combination of two / three knowledge areas).

Many women tend to stop learning consciously once they start their formal careers; and not investing in upgrading one’s knowledge can cost any professional dearly in the long run. Hence, it is important for women to consciously and continuously invest in building, enriching and enhancing their knowledge base.

Good-Health Capital

The number of health-related issues is only increasing by the day, and this impacts woman too. It is common knowledge that a vast majority of women tend to put their health and well-being as the last priority. Consequently, the number of women who give up on their careers simply because health does not permit them to work beyond an age or stage or phase of their life is increasing by the day. Physical heath, emotional heath and intellectual health all play a part in one’s overall good-health; and good health can sometimes be the only key factor which determines a woman’s career longevity.

So if you are a woman at work and serious about a long term career, make it a priority to invest in your overall health and well-being. In the long run, that will hold you in good stead.

 Work Performance Capital

There is no substitute for excellence in year-on-year work performance. This is true for everyone, and applies for women too. Hence it is important to ensure you deliver at work what you signed-up for.

Good-will Capital

Almost all women who had long careers will vouch that if there was one thing that helped them navigate through the lows / fluid-phases of their careers, it was purely good-will of the employers, managers and teams they were a part of.

As a case in point, marriage and motherhood are important milestones in the career journey of any women at work. And both almost always make her vulnerable, and compel her to make tough career choices. In such situations, the only grace which enables women to keep their careers afloat can be good-will.

The thing about good-will is that it has to be earned – With time, with your work performance and with your attitude. Good-will can be earned in many ways – By going the extra mile when a team needs it, or stepping up when there is a crisis, or making a difference when it truly matters. So as women at work, make it count when you can; and earn the good-will capital.

 Network / Social Capital

After a point in anyone’s career ‘professional networks’ play a key role in providing career opportunities, growth possibilities and new paradigms of work. This is true for anyone, but more important for women as they are not naturally wired to invest in building their professional networks – both in the real and virtual world. Especially in the context of women, personal networks and support systems also go a long way in providing the elusive work life resonance.

As women at work, it is important to take the time and effort to invest, nurture and build professional and personal networks and relationships beyond your immediate line of work. Agreed it takes time, effort and energy. But what if by that one social connection you invested in, you land your dream job? Or you get the next career break you’d always wanted? So make an effort to build your network / social capital. In the long run, it will see you in good stead.

Skill Capital

A long term career is about having the right skills to take and make the next step in the career ladder. There are some skills that you are born with. But in the long run, self-acquired and personality development skills make all the difference.

In the context of women at work, the following skills are key to survive and thrive – Career Planning, Business Communication (Oral / Written), (Salary) Negotiation, Creative Thinking, Political Savviness, Complex problem solving and Decision Making. It is important for women to understand lacunas in their current skill matrix and to consciously find ways to build and enhance these skills over time.

Technology Capital

You think it, technology can do it. There is a technology solution for almost everything that needs to be done on a daily basis. There is a mobile app for just about everything you’d want to do. You just need to search for it, install it and make it work in your context.

Especially for women at work, knowing and embracing technology and mobile apps for making everyday life simpler, faster and efficient is critical for long term career sustenance and growth. Be it grocery shopping, meal planning, bill-payouts, child safety, education or whatever your need is, ensure you invest in finding the technology solution relevant to your context and circumstance. And use it. The power of technology is in the application.

Financial Capital

This hardly needs any explanation as money does make the world go round. While the highs of financial earning and freedom tend to cloud one’s thoughts, emotions and spending patterns during the initial career years; it is important for women to understand that true long term financial freedom comes from making an effort to understand how personal finances work, to invest money wisely, spend judiciously and review your finances periodically. In the long run, it all adds up to building your financial capital.

Personal Brand Capital

Personal branding is really about you and your work shining through among the crowd. Key to this is to own up your work, speak up when it matters and ‘stand out’ where it counts – so you can positively influence and manage others perceptions of you.

A key pre-requisite for personal branding is to have clarity on what you’d like your personal brand to stand for, and to find compelling ways to make your work and brand stand-out. This is even more important in the context of women at work because very many women are naturally wired to shy away from the spotlight or find comfort, solace and satisfaction to play a supporting role. One effective medium which women can use effectively is the power of social media and (real / virtual) communities to make your views, voice and work sparkle.

“As you sow, so you shall reap” – This is true for money, for careers and for life. What career investments did you make today? What investments do you plan to make tomorrow?

Leave a comment to let us know.

First published on Economic Times

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

When Mr. Amitabh Bachchan speaks – What you can learn by listening?

Mr Amitabh Bachchan

I recently saw a video interview with Mr.Amitabh Bachchan and found it an enjoyable watch.

The interview conversation stayed with me long after I saw the video, and I wondered Why?

Was it the voice?
Was it the words?
Was it the person?

Was it the articulation?
Was it the legend?

Over the years I have come to believe that oral communication in general, and public speaking in specific is both a skill and art –  Something which I admire deeply in people who are able to do this effortlessly almost always! I have a hypothesis when it comes to verbal communication – People usually listen to you because of who you are (your name and any associated fame), where you come from (your life story), what your speaking about (the topic), how you speak (the power of your words, delivery style and engagement with an audience) or your relationship with them.

In my life, I’ve heard several people speak in public (from CXO’s / business leaders, to politicians, to religious gurus, to motivational speakers, to teachers / professors, etc) and have been in awe with the prowess and power of the oral word in some of them. Outstanding speakers compel you to listen, create an instant connection with you, and captivate your mind and heart that you are fully consumed with what the speaker has to say.

In my personal view, Mr.Amitabh Bachchan is an outstanding speaker. Almost every interview of his that I’ve heard, I’ve given my full attention to listen to what he is saying. I always believed it was because he was Mr. Amitabh Bachchan – The Bollywood legend. But when he had my ‘close-to-whole-hearted attention’ when I was tending to my howling babies (Yeah! If you’re a new age parent, you’d know exactly what decibel level I’m talking about here :) – I knew that the reason was much beyond his name.

So in this post, I have tried to list down the reasons why I believe that Mr. Amitabh Bachchan’s voice and words stand out. And possibly lessons for many of us on how to improve oral communication.

(1) Find your ‘voice’ 
Find your ‘voice’ – both literally and figuratively. This one stands out in all of Mr. Bachchan’s communication. His deep powerful baritone is so unique that you cannot miss it and it almost instantly draws your attention. Agreed that not everyone has a gifted voice, but we can all try to find our personal voice which really highlights the uniqueness of who we are, and find ways to make it shine amidst the noise.

(2) Speak slowly
Again, in an era when everyone and everything is rushed, I find it refreshingly wonderful to hear someone who talks slowly. The more I listen to Mr Bachchan – the more I am convinced that there is beauty, clarity, charm and power in talking slowly. And the more I think about this, I realize that the best speakers almost always speak slowly

(3) Use simple language
I’ve never heard Mr.Bachchan speak and thought I don’t understand what he is trying to say. Never. Never ever. That’s a skill, That’s an art. That requires clarity in thought. That requires power over a language. That requires comprehension of what you want to convey. That requires one to be a child at heart and child-like in your mind, which is tough for most adults who find solace in embracing complexity – in words, in thought and in articulation. But here’s the thing | The simpler your communication, the easier it is – for you to say it and for them to get it!

(4) Pause / Breathe before you respond
A pause / deep breath before you say something is one of the most effective ways to get your thoughts around what you really want to say. That is absolutely essential in today’s age where it is so easy to misinterpret anyone’s words

(5) Tell stories, Your personal stories – There is power in story-telling
Storytelling is a powerful tool to share your message, and it is for this reason that storytelling is one of the most popular methods used to communicate with children. And Mr.Bachchan almost always tells a story (many times a personal tale) to give a message and convey his point of view.

(6) There are many ways to answer a question – A smile,  silence, A question, A gaze all work!
The purpose of conducting any interview is to ask questions. And in very many videos I’ve seen, Mr. Bachchan has responded with an answer, or a smile, silence, a question or a gaze.Again, all very effective oral communication strategies when you are addressing a large audience, and excellent ways of saying what you don’t want to say :)

Those are my lessons. Have you learned any communication lessons by watching Mr.Amitabh Bachchan speak? Leave a comment to let me know

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist : Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

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