Writing

#NoBrakes #UpInTheAir

Today was an extraordinarily relaxed Sunday. I got up leisurely, read, spent over 90 minutes going through my yoga notes and retraining on them, oiled my hair, sunned myself till I was baked.

A hearty lunch later, I totally thought I am not going to check emails or Slack or anything on our dashboard (which I habitually do).  I even found a documentary I had bookmarked to watch on Netflix.

Ten minutes into it, I see a notification from our Helpline team tagging everyone, that a woman from Cuddalore wrote in to say that she found hope as she pinged us and is looking forward to finding her aspiration mojo.  Suddenly, the leisurely stead vanished in thin air and I was back where I belong.

Of late, our helpline team has been working tremendously hard – as the time spent engaging with our community increases along with the number of members in the community. At the back of my mind, I always know, part of the team is always on and chipping away – talking to women about their dreams, their action plans, resources and more. Offering a kind of listening service and making connections to help them move forward.

With that at back of my mind, it is hard to stop. It is impossible to let go of the sight of possibility. Our mission is always there in front of my eyes. So much so that over the last few years, everything else has become like a faded background.

Yes. Obessive. #NoBrakes #UpInTheAir

Three Lessons About #WomenAtWork Learnt From The US Presidential Debate

Lesson 1: We are engineered to dislike successful women. Hilary Clinton, with her power suits and no nonsense leadership style, attracts the ire of many – not because she is less qualified, but because she is who she is.

Why do we dislike Hilary so much even when she CONTINUES to outshine, out-honest, and out-perform her opponent?

This article has a lot to say about it:

“It’s time to stop pretending that this is about substance. This is about an eagerness to believe that a woman who seeks power will say or do anything to get it. This is about a Lady MacBeth stereotype that, frankly, should never have existed in the first place. This is about the one thing no one wants to admit it’s about.”

We just don’t like women being unapologetically strong and unabashedly seeking a position of power.

In the world of work this translates to: women are welcome as long as they don’t step into the limelight “too much” or actually make it to the C-suite.

 

Lesson 2: A woman will do double the homework, come well prepared and still be not extended any benefit of the doubt.

The number of times Hilary Clinton was interrupted with baseless retorts during the debates was appalling. In addition, Donald Trump wasn’t really able to answer any question well – even those about his supposed tax evasion, sexism, and racism. He wasn’t prepared.

Hillary showed her clout over and over during the debate. In fact, as a former Secretary of State, she is OVERQUALIFIED as per the job requirements to be President, and probably to debate with Trump. Imagine when you were making decisions about war and peace – to be questioned about the workings of one measly country. ESPECIALLY when you have experience in the White House and Senate before.

Lesson 3:  Our Patriarchal mindsets will set attach a woman’s identity to her marital status, her relationships and family.

“What is Bill Clinton going to be called if Hillary wins the White House?” is a topic of discussion at every water cooler in America. We care more about her relationship in and out of the bedroom with her husband and former president  – surmising that since she’s such an alpha female, they must not be having fun together.

Women who reach the upper echelons of power not only have their qualifications and overall fitness to lead questioned, but also their ability to make a home, mother, and be a good wife to their partners. Why do we see these leadership capabilities as so black and white?  If a woman is a leader of the free world (or a corporation, or her own startup) can she not also be a good partner and mother. Junta seems to think not. I think Hillary is going to prove us all wrong.

Go Big Or Go Home

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Big is Better If You Are Building A Business

Here is why:

Everyone has 24 hours

Every entrepreneur works hard and gives their business all their time and energy. The amount of time spent on building a small business and a large business is the same.

Serve more customers

A bigger business can potentially reach more customers, fulfill a larger unmet need and create value in the process. Bigger businesses can also help many small businesses grow as vendors, suppliers, partners.

You can grow in a big business

In a small business, it is difficult for you to replace yourself and find yourself a newer bigger role. In a small business, the entrepreneur typically gets tied down to keeping it running.

Generate better impact

A growing business and a large business has potential to generate high impact for all its stakeholders – employees, customers, society and can generate significant value for all. Amul, Godrej, TATA are all large businesses impacting everyone in their fold.

Create lasting legacy

Building for scale is potentially an opportunity to create a brand that will last longer for many years or decades. There is recurring business lifecycle and the organization has a chance to reinvent itself in keeping with the times. Think Ford, think Coca-Cola, Dell, HP, IBM among others.

You can be a founder of a small business but you can create an exit from a large business and the journey is a reward in itself. In process, you create significant economic value and deep satisfaction.

#Mumswithoutbabysitters. This is my story.

My colleague Aditi brought her son Aryan to work today. Another colleague Smriti who is a remote worker, is often seen in office with toddler son Meir.  We recently moved office and made sure we provision for a room – we call the Baby and Yoga room – two things we need to make space in our lives for.

These strong young women are the core team of SHEROES but they also represent the #takecharge spirit of SHEROES.

No babysitter, no problem.

Can do, will do!

My daughter V is almost a tween now – but she came to work with me for the first 18 months. I had a nascent startup business and no other backups as an entrepreneur. With help of a day-sitter (no space for live-in help in Delhi apartments), we would back all our bags – baby, bottles, feeds, toys, nappies and head to work, where the baby would be parked in a tiny but comfortable baby room – all equipped with sterlisers, toys, cots, mats and cushions, while Mama Bear tried to get some work done.

We would head home at about 6pm every day, post which my babysitter would get a drop home. This is a strenuous, tight schedule – as it meant lot of juggling, reliance on the day-sitter and of course little provision for bad days. Luckily, my daughter played total sport, and we managed those early years. She also learnt that ‘Mama has to work’ – and what her Mama’s life is like and what an office is!

There were many ‘no babysitter’ days, and on those, I just took my daughter along – for meetings, for pitches, to the lawyer’s office and even to a board room. Maybe not a super sustainable solution but that day it worked. Showing up is important.

#Takecharge everyday. Rest will follow, and it has.

Don’t Miss The LLOYD-SHEROES Summit 2016 – Here Is Why

Work Life Bank Balance

Access to economic opportunities is key to gender parity and in bridging the gender gap across the spectrum. More and more options and more availability of resources to avail to those options is key belief system to SHEROES and this year’s theme reflects that.

Future of Work

Work as we know has a new game face and we all need to prep for it. The VUCA world is here and we all are here to face it with a #takecharge mindset.

Changing Landscape of Opportunities

Opportunities as we know it are evolving. A time to renew our connection with opportunities and the pace of change.

Meet the Movers and Shakers

The finest entrepreneurs, coaches, CEO’s and the ones setting the trendlines in business and society.

Investing a day in yourself

Cool things happen when you get dressed and get out. Meeting, mingling and finding conversations that are relevant to you

Inspiration

Who does not need inspiration? Who does not like stories that make you all goosebumpy?
When we first put together the SHEROES Summit in 2013, we did not imagine, it will reach its fourth edition. Here we are rolling out SHEROES Summit 2016 in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore.
So, see you there!

Top 5 Tips For Women To Revamp Their Careers

In a country like India, where women are expected to sacrifice their careers after marriage or dedicate themselves to motherhood. It is important for such women to understand that they are much more capable and equipped to touch the sky, rather they block themselves from a world of opportunities. Women can define success, leaving no stone unturned in way of success. Aligning to these chain-of-thoughts, there are a few tips for women, that could be followed in order to revive and revamp their career.

Re-establish yourself: The only thing constant in life is change and women must learn to embrace it and move ahead in life. They must maintain a proper update, as it is imperative for them to do well and rise fast. Feeling lost and useless at the loss of that job you were passionate about, is definitely deteriorating. However, if we understand that passion is nothing but just a feeling, and feelings change with time, we start considering other options and work towards re-inventing ourselves. Just remember, passionate people are passionate about anything that comes in their way!

Continue adding to your expertise: There is so much to learn in this world that one life is not enough to discover and absorb everything. However, the one with passion for life can go a long way. For example, if you are already an expert at something, there is no harm in supplementing your expertise with another qualification or certification to rebuild or refresh your career.  There are various certification courses like project management professional, Microsoft certified system engineers, etc. Such courses can enhance ones professional profile and help them grab better jobs exploring newer avenues.

Socialising is essential: If you had a social life that you have not considered engaging in, you might want to reconsider it. Your social circle is an asset and engaging with them, once in a while, could help you rediscover yourself. Try and rework on the networks that you had, in other words, re-build connections with ex-colleagues. Contact your ex-boss or manager who knows the way you work and can vouch for you. But before sharing your resume within your networks, ensure that you are job ready.

Keep reading: If you are looking at reviving your career, it is important to keep yourself updated with changes in trends. Reading blogs, newspaper articles and listicles could be help you in gaining knowledge.

Gain more knowledge, hone your skills: Simply relying on work hours to gain skills will not take you anywhere. What you do after work determines how far you can reach. Develop a hobby that complements your skills and make some time for that hobby.Such practices can give a new direction to your career.

With inputs from Article authored by Ms. Sairee Chahal,Founder & CEO,SHEROES.in

Mums Who Bat For Other Mums – Thank You Leena

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.

What are YOU Asking for Today?

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?

Ask for:

  • Advice
  • Help
  • Ideas
  • A raise
  • A day off
  • A conversation
  • An opinion
  • For funding
  • A referral

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.

Kiss of Good Health

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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:

Exercise

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.

Do it as Love

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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.

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