‘There are more CEOs named John in the US than women’ (via)
Now let that sink in. If women don’t get together to move the world, nothing will change. We change things that we can first accept. We often become what we are able to see and/or imagine. Mentorship helps us imagine things beyond what we give ourselves permission for. It’s time.
Our first MeetUp is on it’s way and ready to go. This time we’re talking about work life balance and inspiring other women around us who are achieving this like champs! You can now RSVP for the event by or directly on the MeetUp group.
A big thank you to all our supporters.
If you’re wondering how this MeetUp came about, our beliefs and ideas, here’s a good place to start with the Mentorship Charter.
See you in Plymouth soon!
Here’s some fun reading on the topic, if you’re wondering why this is a thing…
Grateful to have been interviewed by Andrea Catherine, the host of the Fearless Self-Love Podcast. You can listen to the episode on iTunes or the link below. I’ve copied the show notes to help navigate as you listen. Let me know what you think and also, let me know if you feel the same way about authentic storytelling.
Our stories have a collective effect on how we see lives. I talk about how art impacts our lives, in that it helps solve problems and stress. We talk about how to use social platforms positively and authentically, to help you and the world around perceive yourself better.
Thank you for listening and tuning in. Thanks for taking time to talk with me, Andrea!
When life hands us lemons, we make lemonade. Or in Upasna Kakroo’s case, use storytelling and art to make life’s difficulties a little bit sweeter. Our stories are important and they create connection between us and our consumers. Being fearless and authentic in our life, art, and business requires self-love and compassion toward the truth of our lives and experiences. Join me as I interview doodler, creative, and business leader, Upasna Kakroo, who shares how art inspires her life and helps her solve problems. Grab a cup of tea, a pencil, and a pad since you might just become more inspired with your life and find answers to the questions living within you.
Show Notes and Highlights
Why self-love requires you to prioritize your time and values
How to use your life story in business and art
Why creating always involves being your authentic self
5:30 Show starts
9:32 Paradox of connection in social media. Responsibility of our action
12:55 The life doodles of Upasna
16:25 Bringing authenticity to social media
18:45 Balancing our time to reflect our values
22:50 Rubin’s Four Tendencies: How we uphold our expectations
24:35 The importance of the company you keep and saying “yes” to opportunities
29:05 Cultivating self-care when there’s no model
33:43 Traveling as a means to self-discovery
36:05 Process of creating authentically and how it creates connection
43:00 Upasna’s life reflected in art
49:58 Connect with Upasna and view her work
“Stress doesn’t solve problems.” – Upasna Kakroo
“The world doesn’t exist so that it can be uploaded.” – Unknown
“I pay very close attention to what I say yes to.” – Upasna Kakroo
“Sometimes we tend to know ourselves better when we get away from where we’re from.” – Upasna Kakroo
“…to create for the sake of creating.” – Upasna Kakroo
“When I draw, it simplifies the problem for me.” – Upasna Kakroo
“All art is personal.” – Upasna Kakroo
“…to see and admire our own skill set based on the life we’ve had.” – Andrea Catherine
It used to be a running joke many moons ago when I was a young employee right out of school that if you had a female boss, you were ruined. This was supposed to be especially true for women employees. For the longest time I believed this to be true only of India. Not only was this view an open-secret in all countries I’ve lived in, it felt true at times. All this changed naturally, when I interacted with amazing women who continue to make me feel inspired, and challenge the narrow stereotypical views I even laughed at as a young associate, sadly against my own gender. How does female leadership get such bad rep? Can anything be done to make it supportive rather than a secret joke?
1. Most of these jokes were created by men: Why do we not hear jokes about men as leaders? It’s impossible that all men have Einstein’s IQ or Dalai Lama’s empathy. Many men have assumed leadership roles merely because they could. Some just got lucky despite their incompetence as leaders. So why don’t we hear more about men being poor leaders for men? Why is this solely a women-only category?
2. Where are the strong female mentors? Here’s a quote from Forbes, that’s very hard hitting.
Youngsters entering business and the professions have been looking ahead at their peers for forty or so years now and here’s what they see. One woman. Maybe two. They’re often childless and sometimes they have spouses who have taken on the female role of child and house-tending in a way that, let’s be frank, doesn’t float most women’s boat.
As a minority, being able to see people who look and talk like you, is essential to give you an inspired boost that you’re on the right track too. You can imagine things are possible when you see the potential come to fruition through someone else that you can relate to. Hello- Gal Gadot, WonderWoman. But not so far back in time, women could only be secretaries, teachers, mothers, and one man armies doing everything. All ambitious women were considered bossy, unfit to be marriageable (because they had an opinion and success) or taken as ‘one of the boys.’
Women worked really hard to be seen as a part of the boys gang creating disadvantages and unusual barriers for their own kind.
3. Workplace Bullying is Real: It’s happened again and again, and I have not found a magic potion to resolve the mean girl syndrome. Often insecure women get passive-aggressive in their fight to be the boss’s favorite. These girls may wear the girl power t-shirts but do not quite live the principals. We’ve all met them, from middle school through to college and in workplaces. Not to say that only women can be bullies, but women bullying other women is particularly bothersome. In some ways it reminds me of old mother-in-law stereotypes from Hindi movies, where women propagated the patriarchy themselves.
I feel like the more inspiring women we meet, the more inspired we feel as future leaders. Mentorship is a two-way relationship. It can only foster more growth on both sides. Women supporting each other and being role models helps both find a path that’s rewarding and meaningful. Here’s a Meet Up group that I hope to work on to get to meet these wonderful, amazing women who will inspire!
Happy new year! The first week of the new year is over. For those of you who are back from vacation, this is the right time to set your 2018 brand agenda. If you’re ready with an intention list, it’s time to ask yourself a question. What’s the core of your brand strategy? Are you ready to follow the audience?
Follow the Audience: Making Your 2018 Brand Agenda
Here’s an inspiring product series launched by LinkedIn and Starbucks which shares this idea beautifully.
LinkedIn and Starbucks have partnered for “Mentor Mondays” where LinkedIn basically reached its entire base for nominating themselves as mentors. These micro mentor events would be hosted in Starbucks. It’s a marriage made in branding heaven. From an audience perspective:
Professions often feel a need to mentor and share their experiences with others
LinkedIn has the largest repository of professionals connected via their work experiences
Starbucks wants to be the choice for your Monday morning coffee and attracts the upwardly mobile
Why do the companies choose these Mentor Mondays?
Starbucks wants to push for greater footfall in its stores and attract more professionals
LinkedIn wants to push for tangible engagement and provide value to professionals well and beyond online connectivity.
Both companies are pushing for online-offline experience integration
It’s good to think about who your brand can partner with, or what new experiences you can create for your audience.
Year end brand reviews are a touchy topic. Mid-level managers in large companies may have over 10 people reporting into them, and no one really enjoys the evaluation process. Usually it takes up valuable time and can often be seen as a mere formality. However, surging ahead without any reflection or review can be detrimental to your brands. Simply because, you do not know where you’re headed unless you know where you’re at. I began with a personal example, but this is true for the business as a whole too.
So, if the year end brand review process is broken, what else can you do to challenge yourself and your brand to understand better? Here are some questions to ask your customers, peers, mentors. employees and managers. These come directly from Seth’s repository and are a guaranteed help if you want to grow.
Year End Brand Review (via Seth Godin)
What am I better at?
Have I asked a difficult question lately?
Do people trust me more than they did?
Am I hiding more (or less) than I did the last time I checked?
Is my list of insightful, useful and frightening stats about my work, my budgets and my challenges complete? And have I shared it with someone I trust?
If selling ideas is a skill, am I more skilled at it than I was?
Who have I developed?
Have I had any significant failures (learning opportunities) lately, and what have I learned?
What predictions have I made that have come to pass? Am I better at seeing what’s going to happen next?
Who have I helped? Especially when there was no upside for me…
Am I more likely to be leading or following?
I’ve got my task cut out for the weekend. These are wonderfully profound questions to ponder upon, no matter what stage you’re at. It does take courage to seek feedback, so no, this isn’t easy.
At a recently held creative round-table in Walled lake, Michigan, we entered into a good conversation around design and creativity. Many of us tend to believe that our businesses or brands exist to meet the needs of customers that we serve. Customers are people who use or need your products/services. The customer centricity debate wants you to put them at the heart of your work. It makes sense.
You’d like to create things that matter and make a difference. It’s hard to be a business or a brand functioning in vacuum. But it’s also hard to be a customer centric brand. Here are some basic issues that many small businesses or Startups face.
Who is your real customer?
This isn’t a trick question. Many companies struggle to define their real markets and customers. Many small companies work with designers, product managers and internal stakeholders who define project specifications without the involvement of the end customer. This is a value chain that we all work with and need. We often work within constraints of our businesses.
But each time we choose options for short-term quarterly gains, we may be giving away a long-term customer strategy. In effect, we’re working for a customer that’s internal and not our real end customer. The moment we allow internal stakeholders to be the final decision makers, we’re creating a culture of pretend customers.
Pretend customers know what the final customers want. They often take a customer stance without surveying the actual customer. Pretend customers rely on their own instincts instead of using a data-based approach. They don’t use feedback with context, they simply use it to prove their pre-conceived hypothesis.
How do you check for customer centricity?
We don’t live in a utopian world. It is indeed necessary to make choices that make business sense. But a tactic to ensure you’re customer-centric is simple reliance on contextual data for decision-making. Here are some questions that you need to answer for your brand:
What processes do you use to decide on a certain feature, platform, resources or method?
Do you have a sophisticated A/B testing mechanism to be used on big data?
Are you able to produce sufficient anecdotal evidence for context?
Who’s making the final decisions? Is it someone who is experienced on the product/service or someone who’s in charge?
Do you have a customer board/ user group to work with?
How do you hire, fire, promote or retain teams? Is that based on a feedback mechanism and customer needs? Or are you simply blaming some invisible system?
Do you have a short-term and a long-term brand strategy in place? Is your team aware of it?
Often short-term cost savings tend to be more expensive in the long run. Unless you’ve passed on every decision through the sieve of customer needs (current or latent) you’re doing a disservice to them. And it’s not good for your products or teams either.
No matter if you’re working on your personal or business brand, here are questions that matter. You need to answer these to find your story. Every time you’re thinking of building something unique or world-changing, ask yourself these questions. Your long-term vision depends on it. It deserves some time and energy. Your growth depends on it.