INNATE SKILLS OF WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS

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Having spent many years in the Corporate world, I know for a fact that there are a dozen of qualities that women innately have in order to excel in their profession. Gone are the days when women hesitated to venture into the jobs, times are changing and so is the mindset of this society. We are now more accepting of women who decide to work and earn a living for themselves but business is a different ball game altogether. The business landscape is changing albeit slowly.The willingness to take risk and start entrepreneurship is rare and even rarer with women but being a woman entrepreneur myself, this post is about how women are born with some of the most needed leadership skills which they just need to hone and use in their stride to be successful entrepreneurs.

  1. Networking: Most of us are born with good social skills. It is termed negotiating in the business world but in simple language, it is about getting to know people and interact with them so that more opportunities open up. Networking can happen anywhere, even when you are travelling in the bus, so keep yourself open to opportunities.To structure the process, participate in business workshops and get your friends and other like minded people to introduce you to more well connected and influential people.
  2. Aptitude for learning : It is a given fact that to survive in today’s competitive world, one should be ever ready to learn new things. Every day, there is a new technology evolving and new tools come replacing old ones, creating a need to learn new skills. Research also proves that not only do girls have flair for learning but they also learn faster.
  3. Market research: Collecting information is every woman’s forte and as an entrepreneur, one needs to be able to conduct market research that will provide the key information to develop a concrete business plan. Identifying trends and competition in order to know the demographics and profiles is extremely important . It not only helps to understand the industry better but also helps meet the customer needs proactively.
  4. Delegating:  The art of delegation in our daily lives comes pretty naturally on most occasions and interestingly it is one of the most sought after skills in business. Women in general are good at convincing people to believe in them and in the business world, you need to get people to believe in your vision and share the same as yours.
  5. Sense of Ownership : Every successful business owner has taken the complete ownership of his/her business and guess what, women are blessed with supreme sense of ownership. A woman’s brain is developed in a way that she takes complete responsibility of people she loves.
  6. Human Resource Management:Women have a knack for human resource management because they always understand the emotive aspect of the business better. Conflict management and higher emotional intelligence helps mitigate issues within the team better resulting in a harmonious and more productive environment.
  7. Having talked about the skills where women need minimum effort to leverage on, there is one skill that women in general might need to doubly work on and that is ‘Taking due credit of one’s effort and success’.We often fail to pat our backs for the incredible effort we put in and pass on the credit to someone else. Remember girls, no one will invest in you if you do not believe in yourself and that has to be showcased to the world.

P.S – There is no way I mean to say women are better or worse than men. This article is all about what we already have and can leverage in order to be successful.

TODDLER GOES TO PRESCHOOL! PART 1

Once you are a mom, life throws you new challenges in every stage. Just when the sleepless nights are coming to an end, you got to make way for tough decisions 😀 Lately we have been doing a lot of research on preschools in order to finalize the best one for our little one. In the process there are a few realizations we had and therefore, I have listed down the important ones to keep in mind when you are looking for the best preschool for your child.

The next few things that you read shall help you make a conscious decision on selecting a preschool for your child –

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  1. Match between the thought process of the parents and culture of the school: Every parent has a different set of expectations from the school. There are many parents who feel that a school must give a lot of importance on academics and theoretical method of learning because they benefited from it in their childhood. At the same time there would be parents who would be looking for more playtime for the children and a good platform to channelize their energy in the positive direction. So based on these expectations, you could check on which school has to offer what.
  2. Infrastructure:Most good preschools do have great infrastructure these days but our priority was a school with a larger out door play area because we strongly believe in outdoor playtime. Similarly, I am sure parents would be having some specific requirements on the amenities the school provides basis which they can take a call on the same.
  3. Hygiene: It is the most important factor to decide anything for your child. Irrespective of what the school authorities say, it is always better to personally go and do a check.
  4. Proximity : If you find a very impressive school far from your home and you do not have good options around your house, you can still take a conscious call of sending the child away. We thought it is the first time V was going to step out of home and spend 3 hours with a set of unfamiliar faces and hence decided on a playschool pretty close to our home/workplace. The idea was to be immediately available for any kind of emergency.
  5. Language : Since V was confined to the home until now and we speak the regional language at home; she was exposed to only 2 languages – English and Odia. Therefore we thought it is important that we send her to a school where the staff can speak these 2 languages and not just Hindi which V cannot understand. Basically we tried to pull in as many strings as possible to make her feel comfortable in an unfamiliar environment so that there is no problem in basic communication between her and people around.

So here are the few factors that helped us decide on the best play school for our child. I hope these help you in some way. The next post shall be on how to check the readiness of your toddler for preschool.

USE YOUR EARNED LEAVES!

Despite a fixed holiday entitlement  as per company policies stipulated by organisations, most of the employees in India often refrain from taking leave mainly due to stereotypes attached to it.A survey conducted by British Airways says “2 per cent are often concerned with the mounting load of the work while the other 26 per cent are unable to find the time to disengage from the official responsibilities. Close to 30 per cent are unable summon the courage to ask for leave, as a large share believe that two-week holidays are frowned upon or discouraged by their workplace”

Here I shall address the last reason which is traumatizing 30 % of the employee population and their families(since work life balance of the individual directly impacts the family).

Here are seven reasons why you must muster courage to take leaves at work –

  1. One must take a break from the drudgery of work. Be it a holiday or a relaxed day off at home, the rest truly makes a difference to the productivity of an employee.
  2. Some of us actually believe in accumulating holidays so that we could avail leave encashment at the time of exit. Guys, let me tell you most leaves accumulated lapse beyond a certain period of time and unless you exit in the same year before they lapse, you won’t get much benefit out of it. Additionally, a paid holiday is a day where you earn the whole amount where as in case of leave encashment, you get only basic and DA(if applicable).
  3. Often employees believe that not taking leaves will ensure the employee stays in the good books of the boss. This is the biggest myth – leaves are employees’ right and exercising a right should not depend on anyone’s perception on you.
  4. Employees burn out at a very early stage these days. This is primarily due to outrageous workloads and no worklife balance. This leaves the employee not feeling valued for all the hard work they do.
  5. Personal health and relationships is priority. It is above everything else. While most of us realize it only with age, it is better if the realization dawns sooner in our lives.
  6. Focused attention is directly proportional to higher efficiency.Dedicated hours at work ensure complete attention to the job , similarly focused attention to home and family ensure strengthening of the family bonding and personal relationships.
  7. Fewer health problems – Stress can cause a variety of issues, personal health topping the list.From the overall health and well being to serious respiratory and digestive issues, it could pose a serious threat to one’s life.

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SPEECH FEAR IS NO FEAR!

Recently I came across this word called ‘Glossophobia’ meaning speech anxiety or fear of public speaking. Honestly I did not even know such a word existed to describe the anxiety which each one of us have experienced for years. Most of us as children have faced challenges in becoming socially comfortable.This is what turns into social anxiety and speech anxiety when exposed to a large crowd. While being a fearless speaker is very rare, your fear can definitely lessen with time if the following points are kept in mind.

     1.You are the winner

Preparing mentally minutes before speaking works really well for me, may not work great for you but what is for sure is a good audience engagement.Visualizing yourself at the venue and  looking your best through the eyes of the audience contributes greatly to your confidence.Believe that you are delivering your best, you are giving in your 100 percent and you are winning the show.

  1. Breathe

Nerve control comes from the breathing pattern. Deep breathing helps calm the nerves and gives more power to your communication . It gives a major boost to your confidence and credibility in the concerned forum.

  1. Rehearse , rehearse and rehearse

Rehearsing for a performance acclimatizes you to the environment of pressure. Research says it has a neurological impact which helps convert your thoughts to words and actions more clearly.

  1. Skill can be developed

Public speaking is a skill and like all other skills, it can be developed with practice. To be successful in developing a skill, it is important to not just devote time but constantly seek feedback from people around oneself. So, pick up topics and start engaging in group conversations with friends and colleagues.

     5.Focus

It is one of the primary tools as a speaker who knows how to engage audiences. It is natural for irrelevant thoughts to intrude into your mind, just let it float and move away. The more consciously you try to dissuade it on the stage, the more evident it becomes to the audience. Just let it be, that is the way to speak effortlessly.

  1. Body Language

If you stand still at one point, the pressure automatically builds. The stress hormones are dealt with movement. It is important to use your body movements to express your thoughts with animation.It helps you fight the pressure and makes you appear more confident.

  1. Be yourself

The last point but the most important one. Being natural gets you brownie points everywhere. You may choose to act but your audience can sense personalities. Hence, it is best and easiest to be just yourself.

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Image Source – Business-Superstar.com

COMPETITION AT WORK!

In the Indian society, the concept of peer pressure is seeded in our minds since a very early age. Whether you blame it on our education system or the fact that we Indians are born competitive by nature; more often than not, it does more bad than good. So, dealing with it is tough at times. Here are 7 ways how you can deal with such anxiety and juice out the positivism from it.

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Source Google

  1. Competition is ubiquitous – It is important to accept the fact that competition is inevitable. One must make peace with it and utilize it as a reason to strive to work harder and perform better.
  1. Channelize it into self-improvement – This is a great opportunity to polish and fine tune one’s skills. Taking a competitive colleague as a challenge is a good chance to leverage the strength areas and plan support and training to improve one’s development areas.
  2. Showcase the best: In the process of meeting targets and deadlines, we often forget the fact that selling skills are very important irrespective of the role one handles. Showcasing the best in you to the world is a mandatory skill that every professional needs. Hence, when one sees a competition flaunting his/her work, we must step up and exhibit our talent as well.
  3. Choosing a mentor: Mentor ship and professional guidance programs are extremely critical as one grows up the career ladder. When one feels down due to an aggressive competition at workplace, it is always good to take additional support from an experienced hand who can help pave the way forward for the individual. I have seen several mentor ship programs turning around the game for critical resources in the organisations I have worked for.
  4. High on Integrity – It is often noticed that when two employees at the same level have similar competencies and skill sets, integrity is a differentiation factor. So, one who maintains integrity is bound to score better than the one who does not. No wonder, most organisations have a very strict Code of conduct and compliance policy.
  5. Befriend the competitor: It is not easy to turn competitors into allies. It requires a deep level of empathy and a determined effort to build a new bridge. If it works out, you can really get to learn and appreciate some of the good aspects of his/her challenging behavior.
  6. Identification of critical influencers: Sometimes how you gauge your career has a lot to do with whom you measure yourself against. If one closely observes the competitor, one can choose individuals who motivate and possess skills that one wishes to emulate. This is the right opportunity to identify roles models and people who critically influence one personally and professionally.

 

Competition is largely positive if one looks through the right glasses. I have personally evolved quite a lot owing to the tough competition in the corporate world. I would also love to know more about my readers’ experiences.

 

FIGHT THE MONDAY BLUES

 

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Monday blues are for real.Period.Yes and it’s not just me saying this but thousands of other working professionals believe that they feel the lowest on Monday mornings. It might sound funny but I actually read a few statistics which proves the fact that the starting of work week might even be hazardous to our health if we continue to hate Mondays. Researchers say that most heart attacks happen on a Monday , most people do not smile till noon on Mondays and almost everyone feels groggy on a Monday morning. But, don’t let Mondays pin you down, fight back and here are 7 ways how you can do it –

  1. Avoid keeping pending work for Monday – Mondays will always be more stressful if there is a long pending list of tasks even before you start with something afresh. So,leave that unnecessary stress out by completing the work in the week itself and start Mondays with fresh tasks which you can look forward to.
  2. Stick to the Sleep schedule –  Do not over sleep on weekends, stick to a schedule through the week.Rather,go to bed a little earlier than usual on Sunday night so that you can wake up  early and allow your mind and body to relax and adjust to the Monday morning instead of feeling rushed.
  3. Don’t live for the weekends – If you are unhappy at work,you naturally tend to be much happier when you are not working on the weekends. So try to spread out the plans through the week like a dinner out on a Wednesday, a family time on Tuesday or maybe a movie on a Thursday?
  4. Plan your Monday- Plan and prioritize to create a clear plan to get more productivity. If you can, plan a gym session before you start the day or even an elaborate breakfast – either way, it will up your endorphin levels or add further energy to your day.
  5. Dress up and show up – We all know that if we look good, we feel good. So, save the best dress for a Monday and your confidence will increase manifold.
  6. Love what you do – If you love your work, you will look forward to go to your workplace. If you feel miserable every day irrespective of what you do to combat the feeling, you possibly need to change your career plan.
  7. Smile: Always carry an attitude of happiness with you. Be a source of positivity for people around you. Compliment someone at work, acknowledge your team’s efforts or thank someone for their contribution. A happy environment will not just help you but also make others feel better.

Happy Monday People!

DOES BEING A MOMMY MAKE YOU MORE EMPLOYABLE?

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We have heard enough of how motherhood is a big hindrance to the quintessential career woman. Well, to think of it, it is undoubtedly a very big challenge to manage a flourishing career with a baby yet being a mother actually necessitates a whole barrage of highly employable skills and competencies which can only benefit a career woman.

While we may not consciously acknowledge or recognize the ways we have up skilled ourselves, I think it is very important that the same should be broadcasted to the world. Who knows our potential future employers might be able to identify with our skill set better after reading this!  I am going to write on 7 most important skills that we develop as mothers that actually give us an edge over our colleagues at the workplace.

  1. Time Management: Yes, this is the primary skill which makes us superwomen. None of us feel we have enough time to complete all the tasks in a day but as moms, we have mastered the art of meeting deadlines and magically completing all the tasks despite the uncertain circumstances. Like many other moms, I too mentally scan the whole day in advance every morning and divide activities in neat slots nearly perfecting the ambition of task completion by end of the day.
  2. Planning and Priority Setting: Yes, even without a scheduler, we manage to feed, wash, clean and complete all the important tasks with no qualms. And when we’re able to mentally plan and juggle these tasks throughout the day, we’re adeptly sorting out which ones are priority to us and which ones can be postponed for later. As a trainer myself, I have done multiple sessions on planning and prioritization for the employees in my organization but lately I realized that post motherhood, I have found new effective tricks to manage gaps, assemble activities and schedule tasks.
  3. Crisis Management: How you deal with crises is a big deal in Corporate life. As a mother, we already are experts in being on top of situational awareness, adaptability and conflict management. These are the most important skills required to deal with any kind of crisis at work and having developed these can actually put us in a pedestal at the workplace.
  4. Negotiation: Any parent who has survived the baby is definitely a pro at convincing an unreasonable person to do what they want. While we get to develop this skill absolutely for free, there is no denying to the fact that it has been developed during the toughest of times. So, negotiating with stubborn people would be a cakewalk for us now.
  5. Change Management: With a baby, every day is a new experience. We cannot predict what is coming our way next but dealing with these uncertain requirements every single day makes us a stone wall ready to take any kind of hit. This is a huge plus for the Corporate employees and in the current scenario, something that should go right on the top of our CV.
  6. Problem Solving : If you have more than one child, you probably practise this every single day. Babies and children always present an endless list of problems that need solving and with multiple children, you possibly got an added flavor of conflict management as well. Starting with sleep training to fixing broken toys, our minds are programmed in such a way that we literally figure out a solution for every problem that crops up.
  7. Communication : The other day during a fun Friday at work, we were playing a game of Dumb Charades. Bam, I was a pro at it. Thanks to all the non-verbal cues I pick up every single day from my darling daughter. Dealing with a baby helps us realize that language is not a barrier. It makes us more positive, empathetic and effective in both verbal and non-verbal communication. It also brings out a great listener in us, after all listening to the endless blabbering and answering repetitive questions is a test of patience that we can pass only with experience.

Personally, I think I learnt better in my motherhood journey than all the management lessons put together during my Business school days.:D

I hope you mommies find this useful as well!

KEEPING PRIVATE LIFE PRIVATE!

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Keeping our personal lives private is such a difficult task. With the social media bang, it’s so flattering that people genuinely love to follow and comment on the lives we are living, the work we are doing, who we are sharing our lives with, what are our relationship moves and how we are getting to our life’s goals. We add fuel to the fire ourselves by the information we share on social media platforms and then have to face the repercussions. If you’re possibly looking for some ways to get off the grid , the next few lines might help.

Let’s talk about few points on why private life must be kept private –

  1. Low key profile – We live in a constant struggle to make our presence felt by people around us and to do the same, we try to share as much as we can. Well, I feel giving too much of yourself away in a way allows others to feel like they can define your personality and once they do, it’s hard to feel like you can ever deviate from not what you project but how they have defined you.
  1. Peer pressure – Social media has done this to us. We see the happiest of faces of people around us – a projection of life they DO NOT lead and guess what? Our brain compels us to share similar projection of ourselves to the world. We perceive it as a need to tell the world that we are happy because everybody else seems to be happy. We must not give in to such pressure because after all, it is just a part of someone’s life, not the all of it.
  2. Work life balance– Don’t let your professional life drive all over your personal life. Respect your personal relationships and schedule your personal activities so that you can dedicate specific time for personal activities. This way, you can ensure there is a clear demarcation between what the people at work can expect and what your family and friends can expect from you.
  3. Element of mystery – There is a theory around this. People who do not open up about themselves frequently are found to be more attractive. So, basically there is a constant curiosity in the minds of people to know more about the individual. So , next time you want to draw attention to yourself , do not just give away the whole of you 😀
  4. Move On – When you share your intimate details with everyone around you, it gets more difficult to move on. The other day, I heard someone share a story about how he got terminated at multiple workplaces due to unethical practices. The next I knew, the interviewer of the next job opportunity was someone who already knew of this history because he had made it public. This not just killed his confidence but also got him caught in his own trap.
  5. Opinionated world – Yes, the world will judge you, always. If you give people more opportunities to peek into your life, they will get more reasons to point their fingers at you. So, build your core group and value opinions of people who matter to you and trust me, they are the ones who will be a phone call away, not people who would be checking your social media accounts.
  6. Profession – As bloggers, we feel it is a self-imposed duty to share useful information from our personal experiences with the world. I agree, the best content comes from our own personal perspective and point of view but personally, I always draw a line. You will never see me dish out the nitty gritty details of my everyday life but just as much as required for people to understand and resonate with me.

I would love to get your comments on where do you draw the line!

Learning from Homestay Hosts!

‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ is an ancient line that comes from the Hindu Scriptures which speaks about how a guest is equivalent to God. While this is practiced widely in India, we got to experience the flavor of it in our Paris Trip where we decided to stay with the host family through a popular home stay website. While the option is far more economic compared to a hotel stay, the experience is unmatched. In most occasions, you will find the hosts being extremely enthusiastic about letting out their place. They won’t behave like they are just temporary landlords who are handing over their keys to you. They are in the true spirit, cultural ambassadors proud of the place they’re from, sharing their homes and offering a unique experience in the city you have come visiting. We as a couple had a ball in not just Paris but different cities of UK and Europe staying in various apartments where we met extremely generous and fun loving hosts. We have been picking up our learning from each of the experiences.Here are few pictures from the home stay at Paris.

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A reading corner is my favorite, everywhere I go!IMG_5513

 

Let me just share my top 7 points on being a good host and why you should consider hosting your space to guests –

  1. How to be accepting – No matter how different your cultures and languages might be, there is always something common to strike a chord with and this is a great platform to explore that. Similarly, you also learn to respect each others’ differences, either way it is a great way to improve the quality of accepting people around you.
  2. How to respect individual space – When you are letting out your house to strangers, you have to place hundred percent trust on them and it is not easy. So, that itself is a huge task to complete before you step out to become a host. As guests in our homestays, we felt completely at home particularly in the magnificent modern apartment of Paris only for the reason that the hosts gave us our space all through the day yet made sure to join us during the meals as one big family.
  3. How to be a cultural ambassador – As hosts, you can be an instant favorite if you give useful recommendations like the local pubs, the nearby restaurants, the must see places and the ones that can be skipped, the opera, the theatre and the list goes on. Funnily, it improves your knowledge of the culture of your locale.Hence, it is always wise to write to the guest beforehand and understand their interest and purpose of travel.
  4. How to exchange values – Hosting guests provides you with the opportunity to learn about a new country’s cultural and family values as much as it provides them with the same opportunity. Understanding other’s cultures teaches you to understand more about people’s personalities and attitudes towards many different aspects of life.
  5. How to make awesome food – I know it sounds funny but I have heard people say that some of the best foods they have had in their lives are with the host families they have stayed with. In our experience, the hosts would leave a generous spread of breakfast at the table every morning but they loved to cook food for supper every evening. We took this opportunity to introduce few Indian dishes to them and they absolutely loved it(minus the spices). Interestingly, one of them was Spanish, so it was a brilliant concoction of Indian, French and Spanish food that we had every evening.
  6. How to build professional network – Foreign language is a great plus for your resume if you are ready to take up an international assignment, this is a wonderful opportunity to grow your professional network .
  7. How to be passionate about simple joys of life – Hosting is possibly the most natural thing that comes to human beings, after all you must have hosted someone at some point of life – be it friends or family. Hosting a stranger can be a really rewarding experience if you leverage on this unique opportunity of making a new friend, getting to know about a new culture and possibly open a channel to your next travel to the guest’s city.

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Picture from a busy locale just outside the apartment, from fruits to flowers to pubs – everything a stone’s throw away!

The next time you think about letting out your space to a stranger, think from a positive perspective!

Happy Hosting!

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Atithi devo bhava is an ancient line from the Hindu Scriptures which speaks about how a guest is equivalent to God.While this is practised widely in India,we got to experience this amazing hospitality at Marc and Xavier's place in Paris. My top 3 learnings on being a good host comes from these gentlemen- 1.How to be accepting-No matter how different our cultures and languages might be,there is always something common to strike a chord with. 2.How to give space- When you are letting out your house to strangers,you have to place hundred percent trust on them.We felt absolutely at home in this magnificent house only because they gave us our space yet joined us for meals as one big family. 3.Being a good guide – As hosts, you can be instant friends when you give useful recommendations like the local pubs,the nearby restaurants,the opera,the theatre and the list goes on.Read full story on #vogueviolet-link in bio👆 Have you ever experienced such an amazing hospitality from strangers that you can't forget the hosts? #airbnb #homestay

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