It has been a hectic year or more at work, paced suitably with tons of travel, three state commutes (Noida – Delhi – Gurgaon), a voracious amount of action with our teams growing and of course scores of other things I keep saying yes to. A fun in the trenches roller coaster, except it is not over. Infact, just about beginning to pick up.
At the same time, it has been a busy year for my daughter, who is growing up fast (like they always do!). Her social and academic life sometimes puts mine to a little shame. And unfortunately, she yet can’t Uber it or get her phone, which means parental logistics is a real thing.
In middle of this and other things, if there is one person, who saved my a** this year, it would be Leena. She is a fellow mum from my daughter’s school and our kids go to basketball together. I only know her as a school mum and someone who manages her hours with flexibility. Our kids got into the class together and under normal cases, I would have to share carpool / pick up duties. But guess what! I am never around …. Surprise 😉 Besides that, my mommy group skills are near zero and my sense is Leena knew that early on.
For over a year, here is a fellow mum – in old world you would call her SAHM but let us at least say, WAHM, who has anchored a tight schedule for me and helped me do what I needed to get done the most. There have been times, when I forgot to check on the class times, forgot to inform or sync up, but she made it work.
If there is one mum, I am tipping my hat to in gratitude this Mothers day, it is Leena. Not only for helping me out but also for taking off the wall between Working Mums, WAHMs, SAHMs effortlessly. Doing what decades of magazine editors and activists could not. A massive shout out, love and hug to you Leena and all you mums, who do this out of the goodness of your heart. Just so you know, you are appreciated and adored.
How many times have you hoped to ask a colleague for something they are knowledgeable about and didn’t?
Did it happen that you wanted to get someone to baby sit, so that you could spend time elsewhere?
Ever caught yourself in a loop of hesitation over something so simple to ask?
Don’t know how to refine that pitch deck or write that client proposal? A perspective would be nice?
Where ever you are in your day – at home, at work, at the school, with friends or out in the market, there is something that you want, something you need, something that has been on the list, something that intrigues you, something that you think about everyday and hope to action it someday.
Today is a good day as any to Ask!
It is an opportunity to give yourself the liberty of someone else’s experience, perspective and time. Moreover it is a chance to establish an authentic connection with a person in your zone. So really, what could you ask for?
A day off
Guess what! It also is an opportunity to turn into a giver.
Will you share what are you asking for today?
As for me, I am asking a friend to help me make an important business decision.
Being the CEO of a company, mother to a 10-year-old I have a schedule that requires me to travel almost 3 days a week and come back home to my daughter every night. Amidst the crazy schedule I am left with barely any time to take care of my health.
As I enter my late 30s, I have now started making extra effort to take good care. I realized little things I do make a huge difference. A few simple things I started doing helped me focus on my work better and wear multiple hats. I reveal my secrets to you:
I make sure I never miss my yoga session each morning. The first thing I do each morning is – 10 minutes of yoga. Yes, it is that simple, all you have to do is invest 10 minutes in yourself everyday.
Instead of taking the elevator, I opt to take climb the stairs whenever and wherever I can. Climbing stairs is low impact so it’s relatively easy on your feet, ankles, knees and hips.
Snack on yogurt and other calcium rich food
I included yogurt in my diet. No meal goes without yogurt. But calcium isn’t the end-all, be-all bone loss cure. The key might be to help the body absorb calcium by pairing calcium-rich foods with those high in vitamin D.
Adding lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, omega 3 acid rich food including salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts and shrimps has helped in a great way.
Soaking the sun
Soak up sun every day, go outside. It is the best to keep your bones strong, a walk post lunch is always good. It also gives you the much needed break. I love every bit of my afternoon walk post lunch.
Start taking care of yourself, before it gets too late.
Love as career strategy is not something taught in our schools and colleges. The burden of logical decisions, duly accorded by market forces and trends shapes our education, jobs, career and life decisions. Fairly so! There is a place for that. What if we inverted this on its head and make love the centrifugal force driving work and career.
Let us assume, love stands for state of deep inclination, affection, warmth, generousity and kindness almost bordering on irrational stance. A naturally fuzzy-ish state of being that implies a constant state of deep connection with oneself and therefore others.
That is precisely the feeling with which masters of their arts, passionate achievers, creators, scientists, filmakers, mountaineers, entrepreneurs, statesmen and women, social catalysts created their best works. A feeling of connection, consistent passion and wholesome integration with the mission at hand.
Instead of waiting for a mutual transaction each time, if we started investing our thoughts and ideas into something that makes us move. Something that harbours itself relentlessly in our soul.
As young mums, our world tends to spilt and get fragmented – the care giving duties and wants, the pressure to balance and the need to stay incharge at all times. Sometimes, we end taking decisions, which seem correct but have low resonance value for us. Sometimes we struggle to find the space, the fit we crave. While a logical mind can work towards taking the rational decision, keeping up with the outcomes of our decisions makes it tedicious to wade through. This has happened to all of us – taking a course because not what we loved, because that was the best choice according to others, applying for jobs one feels are ‘decorated’ even though one has no real incline for them.
Transactions have limited residual value, limited to the size and time of the transaction. Whereas something done with a feeling of connection, oneness, positive contribution is bound to have enduring enriching value. It is like a hormonal investment into our life ?
This reminds me about Devapriya, one of our mentors to the community at SHEROES, who had a hi-flying career in marketing and earned big bucks. A mum to a daughter and a wife to a very supportive husband, Devapriya had it set, until the drill of clocking 9-9 became slightly meaningless and out of sync to her expectations. Devapriya decided to step back and rethink ‘how she was feeling in life.’ Where was the connection, the love she craved. She had achieved a lot in her career and now wanted a space of deep resonance and connect. She not only reworked her whole life to become and entrepreneur, set up not one but two businesses in areas she cared about but also had a second child, she had wanted for long.
A case of love as a career strategy. Without making a judgement call, Devapriya’s career switch brought her to a place, where it was a restart, a challenging place to be in but the feeling of doing it with love and for love became her guiding force.
As women, somewhere we own the responsibility of shutting off the judgement factory, for ourselves and for others. Fear of being judged and guilt drives us out of our own zone, our very true nature, our place of love. Judgement and love never meet and therein lies the magic.
Can you imagine, there could be a place where a woman, who is a SAHM (Stay at home mom) is equally in the same space as the one in the board room?
Can you imagine that a struggling on its way startup has same space as a corporate leader?
A back packing traveler covets the same amount of respect as a working mum with two kids?
Our job is to make way and we do that by being open and generous – much like love itself. Some questions to ask oneself, as one navigates phases, stages, reworks options and finds one’s fit.
What is the absolute non negotiable in your journey?
What ideas / thoughts float in your cranium when left to itself?
Who are you willing to make unhappy?
What is the one thing that moves you unconditionally?
Where would you be if not here?
Integration with one’s context and one’s feelings is state of love. Love as bestowed upon us as center of our existence. Decisions made with love as its focus are the one that stand to change the nature of our own being.
If one wants to do ordinary, do it with logic, one aspires for extraordinary, do it with love!
This piece was published in the February 2016 issue of Mother and Baby magazine.
Careers are a maze and more so for women managing multiple responsibilties. The good news is that change is so constant that everyone needs to manage transitions all the time. Workplace, skills, business models, companies are all undergoing severe changes and the best way to thrive in this environment is to do the NEW!
Here are six things any woman with her career on her mind can embrace in 2016.
Go SOLOMO: Going Social, Local, Mobile is way of life for career seekers now and 2016 will see more and more businesses go mobile, serve local and use social (media) including Instagram, Pinterest and of course Facebook and Twitter.
However, use of SOLOMO should only be contextual and one needs to understand that it is a double edged sword – a great tool to establish credibility or the one to erode it as fast.
Brand Yourself : You are who they think you are. Investing in authentic sharing, proactive learning and ongoing engagement is a professional mantra for all – whether you are a home business owner, a blogger, a corporate professional or someone on a career break. Brand You can be a source of inspiration to people around you and the best career investment you make.
Find a Mentor: We cannot succeed alone. Best professionals and entrepreneurs have great mentors. This was never more true. Someone who can share authentically and anchor our interests can be a mentor we need to manage the existential dilemmas, the complexity of decision making and more so empowering us with energy and enthusiasm, we need to follow our heart. Ideally, a mentor is someone who can represent a diverse, broader range than yours and is ideally not directly related to your line of work.
Share your Skill: There is no joy is hoarding what you know. The best professionals today share their skill with others who need it and more so with ones, who may not be so fortunate. Whether it is marketing or finance, cooking or programming, share your skill and find a professional bloom. Goodwill is an asset you cannot buy otherwise.
Do the Design and Tech: There is no denying the ever growing significance of technology and more so design thinking in our lives. As users of iPhones, Uber, Paytm, AirBnB, design thinking is helping your stakeholders by making things simple and easy. That mantra applies to professionals, service providers, freshers, people on a learning curve – basically everyone.
Build a New Skill: Learn something new which is not part of your traditional Learning and Development cycle. A skill unrelated to your work or your resume. Have a cubicle job, learn golf. You are a yoga enthusiast – learn how to code. You are a finance professional – learn how to run a restaurant. A diverse skill will help expand your horizons and also help connect to people outside your professional ambit.
Are you going to try some of these in 2016. I am! Which of the items from the list is your favorite? I will tell you mine next time.
This article was first published in the January 2016 edition of Mother and Baby magazine.
Finding a job that fits is a major task and executing your job search well is of utmost importance to be able to find one. In any case, there are more people looking for jobs, than the jobs themselves. So thriving in your job search matters.
Here are a few tips:
Mind your Ps and Qs
Does your profile reflect a lot of grammar and punctuation errors?
Do you use SMS language?
Is your upper and lower case all mixed up?
Badly edited profile and grammar mistakes are a turn off. Even the most qualified candidates are likely to be rejected on these grounds.
What are your skills?
Do they reflect in your profile?
Does what you do best feature in your profile?
Is the list comprehensive?
Most hiring professionals use skills as a filter and also use it to match it to the opportunity at hand.
Eye for detail
Does looking at your profile give the employer a sense of confidence?
Is your bio and summary positive and professional?
Did you fill it up in a hurry or did you take your time to convey your real strengths?
Your state of mind is reflected on your profile and it is a prudent investment to do it dilligently and professionally
Are you checking often?
Most sytems can tell a recruiter if you log in often or check your mail often. Logging in regularly and responding to emails in less than eight hours is a great way to get to opportunities first. Even when you are not hired, you are being watched. Not checking your emails or not responding quickly is a sure shot way of not getting any opportunities.
Are you applying to relevant jobs?
Do your job applications look like carpet bombing?
Are your skills and competencies up to the market standards, especially if you are looking for a flex friendly option. Gold standard in skill and capability is a must. The job market is true to the adage – survival of the fittest.
Work hard, work smart: There are times in your life you work really really hard and there are times you need to work smart. But every achiever needs both. Success is in knowing the difference.
?Know your stuff and do it quickly: Top the list of being the best person for the job, and you won’t have to anything but success. Quality over quantity, speed over anything else.
Your constraints are you opportunity: ?What does not work for you from one perspective, is also your biggest opportunity. An unhappy client is an opportunity to convert them into your biggest believers. A poor skill can be your best skill and a hard taskmaster as a boss can be your best training ground.
Value your downtime: Investing quality time to unwind and reflect is a lifelong gift that will become your springboard to leap. Slow down to race up and work hard to party hard. YOLO!
Chase excellence, dump average: No super winner got anywhere with averages on the table. Chase high quality in whatever you do, give quality and expect quality. It is the game changer.
I happened to be in a room full of women leaders from corporate India recently. Each of these women represented career success and were role models in their fields. Their names appear in business dailies and their success often celebrated and rightly so. They have worked very hard to be where they are and have navigated their way through their choices and actions to be here.
Throughout our interaction, I kept wondering how each of these super achievers help other women – a lot of us in the mid-career, early stage or are on the way bracket to find career success.
After all, real women lift others up!
There are millions of women in India, who probably have a career or want one or need to find a way to get one.
What is it that super achieving women can do to get a large number of women on the career track? I share some thoughts:
Acceptance: Building acceptance that folks are allowed different versions of success in work and life. It is alright to have more than one way of being right.
Authenticity: Being a super achiever is all about being who you are and real achievers help others move in that direction.
Creativity: Channeling individual creativity to think of solutions and different ways of doing things can be a driver for inspiring more women at work.
Intelligence: There is innate intelligence in every individual and having someone reflect that reality back can be uplifting. Honor every kind of intelligence – be it the ones making cupcakes or writing code. By doing so we free up the range to pick towards one’s native fit.
Kindness: Be kind. Everyone has a battle in their life and we often don’t know what that is. Being able to cultivate kindness as a way to work with others can result in huge impact.
Move it: When you are in charge or are in driver’s seat, you have a unique opportunity to pave way at a framework level and initiative policy level changes.
Every working woman can make career an uplifting experience for many others. Just imagine!
Agility: Speed is the need, as businesses cycles get shorter, customers more demanding and businesses change every few weeks. Responding constructively with minimum dissonance in the environment.
Action: Something lingering in your head, an idea you are carrying around, a conversation that is pending – act. The best way to put yourself out there and enhance the quality of your experiences.
Authenticity: Taking your career to the leadership track means building authenticity in your ideas, conversations and actions. In the age of real time media and online social scores, authenticity is career enhancer like no other.
Accountability: The holy grail of leadership. Would you be willing to put your neck on the line, when things don’t go as planned? Would you be the person, who steps up for others in the team? Being accountable and owning your steps is a career value, which cannot be undermined at any time. Great leaders own up!
Discipline: 4 am work out schedules, 9 pm board meetings and a promise to eat healthy – all in a day’s work for achievers. Building reporting and performance discipline, setting time bound processes and visiting every opportunity to improve. A career rule that has withstood the test of time, age and stage.
Personal Clarity: Why would you do what you do? Why would you want to be what others think you should be? What matters more to you in the larger scheme of things? What makes you happy? What leads you to joy? Being clear on what makes you rock as a person, is a deep insight on what your career should look like. Go deeper!
Kindness: Kindness is a GPS value. It helps align our hearts and soul to the universe. Without kindness, we wouldn’t be able to make a difference to the world we live in. Kindness for all, at all times and without any pre-conditions – is a mark of true leader.
Love: One that stems from a place of purpose, things that make your heart sing and move you in the direction that calls out for you the most. Doing things you love is life’s ultimate reward.
Simplicity: Genius makes it simple. Simplicity is a sign of high quality and processed thought. Simplicity takes away casual, and replaces it with mindful, clarity. A simpler roadmap is more likely to be achieved than a maze of opportunities, strewn along the way.
Teamwork: Is your presence on teams an uplifting experience for all? Does it inspire them to bring their best and go backer enriched. Does it seem like a fun project to work on? Would working with this team, leave everyone empowered, experienced and yearning for more. A question every careerist needs to ask herself, as she sets out on her roadmap to success.
“Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world”- said Hillary Clinton once. Sairee Chahal, Founder and CEO of SHEROES agrees and says “Power is where money is and money is in hands of those who run business and commerce,” in her talk with Techstory. Unfortunately, in a country like India where the potential of women has always been ignored by the society for a long time, often women find it very difficult to enter the workforce which also means that they are not an active part of GDP creation, jobs and not financially empowered. Not being a part of the economic engine implicates diminished status of women’s individual as well as collective power.
As per the data by SHEROES, India is home to maximum number of women graduates in the world. However, a whopping 48 percent of the top performers of the class leave workforce by mid-career. It also implies that growing organizations have access to a limited talent pool – something similar to phenomenon of fishing in the same pond and totally neglecting the fact that lesser women in workforce means higher gender imbalance in social structures and families.
“I just could not live with a growing number of women having to give up on their financial independence and potential growth. What moved me further was the fact that we live in time filled with possibilities. We can use all technology at our disposal towards creating large-scale social and economic impact. It is also an opportunity to help millions of women build flourishing careers” says Sairee.
At Sheroes, Sairee works towards bringing about gender balance and gender diversity by mobilizing resources and people to create solutions that are pragmatic and sustainable. Sairee founded the company with a core founding team, which includes a diverse set of individuals. These are men and women who fall in line with the vision and bring a range of diverse skill sets to the table.
SHEROES.in, launched in January 2014, is a career platform for women. It addresses the basic under served need to help women choose careers as they go through various life stages and also helps them excel in any choice they make. It offers jobs across various types and formats – corporate, flexible including part-time, work from home, projects, freelancing, contract and entrepreneurial options like franchising, reseller, channel programs etc.
“An average woman has anywhere between 4-8 career stages and each of these stages needs a different kind of access – in opportunity, mentorship and resources. SHEROES fulfills those needs by offering mentorship, jobs and career resources – right from the time they begin their careers, in between as they navigate through family and other needs, and later as they climb up the leadership ranks” she smiles.
According to the data, there are only 5 percent women in leadership and about 17 percent in workforce which in fact are highly disappointing figures. But on the bright side, this latent potential offered by the female workforce cannot be ignored by businesses, organizations or the country and SHEROES is doing its best to change the scenario.
SHEROES today is the largest platform of its kind anywhere in the world and growing at 100 percent momentum. Through this platform, over ten thousand women have found opportunities, a million community service requests have been managed, and 4000 companies have been served already. Company’s community of women professionals can be found over 1300 locations.
“We know that the work we do makes a difference and can be life changing. It is the impact that inspires us every day and challenges us to do more, do better, and do faster” Sairee affirms.
But the journey of the company to where the company stands today has not been a cake walk. When she started off, Sairee had an interesting challenge – a strange idea, unconventional founder, no sugar daddy but lot of user support. For quite a while, everyone kept thinking that the company was actually an NGO. But for every challenge there comes more opportunity, with every non believer, many believers are attached and that is how SHEROES has grown every day.
“You have one life and each moment will come only once. If you are a woman entrepreneur, there might be times you feel you are not among the startup crowd, bounded by young technology professionals, mostly men in their twenties and here you are – an absolute misfit – no pedigree, no network, no similarity. On the other hand, you want to pay attention to things like health and family. But that is the time to tell, acknowledge and appreciate the differences. Start by focusing on your strengths and build on them. Diversity in the entrepreneurial world can only be a good thing. So bring out that awesomeness, focus on your best and learn all the time from what is good in others” is what Sairee says to all the women out there.
Currently, SHEROES is inching towards a million user mark and is already a ‘go to’ for companies looking at gender diversity, women led channels, flexible or work from home workforce. The company hopes to enroll ten thousand companies to its platform this year and will be adding more value-add-platforms for the community.
Also, the company is all set to organize its first summit at a huge level across three cities: Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Join this journey at the first edition of theSHEROES Summit: India’s largest OpportunityScape for women.
And at last but not the least, Sairee Chahal urges all women to ” Do what you want to do. Go all after it. What people think is their business, not yours. You do what feeds your soul and life. Be on a learning curve, there are some tremendously smart and talented people doing brilliant stuff. Stay open to learning always”.