What a Sunday!!

Monday morning – absolutely the most wrong time to write a blog. The moment this one is published, my CTO friend is going to call me to say those 3 magical words – What The Heck!!! I have so much work pending on me to do and yet I am typing this up because I feel compelled to do so.

This past Sunday on 16th April’17 , I over committed my time with a couple of events on a weekend – a time which is exclusively owned by my kids otherwise. I was afraid I will feel guilty at the end of it.

I had been invited earlier to this event that was coming up but couldn’t make it then; And since it had a very interesting name – FeministMohalla, I was curious to try it out atleast once. Add to it – it was an initiative by a dear friend Swarnima Bhattacharya and her partner Rachel – So I had to do it!

As I reach the Humayun Tomb, which is a recognized World Heritage Site – I did not really know what to expect. I saw a group of people surrounding lovely Swarnima in yellow- the storytelling had already begun – yes I was late by few minutes.
Image may contain: 8 people, people standing and outdoor

The discussion started with the real meaning of a harem and went on to de-mythify a lot of our impressions about the status of royal and ordinary women and their role in the administration and ruling of various lands -in those times. I had heard of Humayun, Babur and Akbar but I had never heard much about the women around them.

The first lady I heard of, was Aisan Daulat Begum – Babur’s maternal grandmother. She was wife of Yunus Khan of Moghulistan (in today’s Afghanistan). A sternly bought up woman herself- she had tremendous influence on Babur’s bringing up and his rule across and thats how the entire lineage was called Moghuls here in India.

There after, we heard of many names, many of them unheard of before.

1. Aisan Daulat Begum- Babur’s maternal grandmother
2. Gulbadan Begum- Humayun’s sister
3. Bega Begum- Humayun’s chief queen
4. Hamida Banu Begum- Humayun’s wife -Akbar’s mother
5. Mahchahak Begum -Humayun’s wife and governor of Kabul
6. Jahanara- Shah Jahan’s eldest daughter

Each of them had such beautiful stories of courage, love, loyalty and a display of tremendous talent and amazing administration abilities to their credit. The one that stayed with me was Mahchahak Begum (incorrectly known as MahChuchak Begum)- threw out the then Naib Subadar and ruled Kabul on her own. She lead her army in person and defeated Munim Khan at Jalalabad. She chose to rule in her own name not in the name of her 3 year old son Mirza Muhammad Hakim (whom Humayun had appointed as the governor) – a clear sign of courage to oppose blind patriarch.

Image may contain: 22 people, people smiling, people standing

Besides the women warriors, rulers and queens , I also understood a few things about Mughal architecture. It never occurred to me that the water bodies around every monument could be there for any reason beyond beautification. And then there was light thrown on the fact that the people who came from the deserts had a thought that  heaven is a place where there is water in abundance and hence the water fountains and water columns around the monuments. This made sense.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the monument and the story telling. A very honest attempt to dig out genuine details of history. Well done team! I am absolutely sure, I am registering for the next event asap. Follow the #FeministaMohalla on twitter for more updates!

I had to miss the concluding story and rush back to my place since there was another event I had to go to and in between had to pick my daughter / get my son going for his studies for the Monday test.
Started back for Innov8 for the  Google Women TechMakers event being held in conjunction with the Google Developers Group, New Delhi for International Women’s Day. I did expect some tech enthusiasts and knowledge sharing. But the energy I felt there was unmatched to any tech event I have attended before. A group of 40-50 odd college going young girls and a couple of trail blazers like Neha from JSLovers and Sanya Khurana. What energy and passion at show!! So many technical resources and forums discussed and bought to the front for both young men and women to learn technology. They had so many questions and all they wanted was to build something meaningful and reach their dreams!!

So proud of each of the girls in the event. True gems – precious ones. I am so looking forward to see each of them build a legacy for their self and the world.

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting

Image may contain: 17 people, people sitting, crowd and indoor

 

 

 

 

 

Image may contain: 29 people, people smiling, people sitting, people standing and indoor

I was lucky to have as enthusiastic co-panelists like Dolly Bhasin, Tarusha Mittal, Ankita Gulati and Rohini! We had some awesome time – getting to know each other and sharing our experiences.

As I was heading back home from the event – I couldn’t get over the fact that since history,  women have had  active careers and yet, we were still struggling to accept that women are able decision makers and still dont allow them the freedom of choice. Though we need a lot more societal changes for that day when its just a TechMaker event and we dont need a Women Tech Maker event – a lot is happening and changing and until it does happen as we want it to be – our salute to all the resilient women out there. Keep going. And our dearest men – thank you. Thank you for being by our side and fighting it out together.

Happy Sunday for me- it was worth it, out and out. And a Happy Successful life to all of us!!

Continue, Change or Let it go…

continue-change-or-let-it-go
I often hear my daughter sing – Let it go (the Frozen song) and I enjoy it as a beautiful song in young voice. And she truly enjoys singing it.
Recently I saw an update from a dear friend and a professional who has my truest respect – Pradeepa Narayanaswamy. Her update had her site that mentioned her aspirations and achievements so far, as a life coach. That got me interested, because the Pradeepa I knew, was more of a technology person, teaching teams to work together and getting truly agile. On going through her work, I landed on her blog post Let it go, Let it go…
That article talks about letting go of those relationships that end for reasons you may not fully accept or understand. And it got me thinking about work and personal relationships all around us. Yes, when the relationships end – you have less choice but to accept it. And even though it may be a bitter end or unexplained, its in your interest to let it go. It made me think of relationships that have not ended but have lost its original sheen and meaning. Relationships that give you more pain than pleasure.
What do we do when it is simply not working out between the 2 and its becoming a daily nightmare to carry on with it? And neither of the party is giving up either. What does it truly mean? And think about it in terms of not only husband-wife, girl friend – boyfriend, or with ones in-laws but also between and with co-founders, investors, advisors, team, managers – why is the relationship so difficult?

More often than not, when money or kids are involved- it could offer a very straight forward insight into why the painful relationship still exists. However, let’s also get this understanding – that in such cases, though the official name of the relationship still remains what it used to be- the relationship has now evolved into meaningless forced bond.

At first, a relationship is conceived because 2 individuals or entities found something in each other  they needed. It continues to be pleasurable if they are happily deriving what they need and are happy to give what the other needs. Its universal truth hidden from none that you can’t have everything in the world and that forces one to have their priorities clear. Because very often one has to trade off 1 benefit for another. Now if both the parties have the same priorities for the benefits and willing to do the required trade offs – the relationship continues to work. Occasional hiccups are a sign of a healthy relationship – exceptions prove the theory.

is-it-the-relationship_

But when the priorities of the 2 parties are not clearly defined or do not sync , then how difficult the relationship will be shall depend upon how far are the trade offs and core objectives of either one, from each other.
If you find yourself constantly misunderstood, having trust issues, backstabs and constant complaints of not doing enough in the relationship, then you probably are going through this. Specially more, if you feel helpless in getting your point across and for others to not see your point of view. And, if you do find yourself stuck in such a situation – what are your ways out?
1. Continue – until you physically give up and your body shows signs of ageing and being sick . And one day either of you will be dead. And so will the fight. But it won’t keep you from feeling incomplete and having tons of ugly memories to live with. And substantial loss of reputation (for all the things you do to show the world a perfect picture). In a way, this is easiest to do and pretend like all is well, when everything inside you is breaking and crying for help – because it keeps you in your comfort zone wrt the outer world. This is very draining emotionally, everyday. Keeps you from achieving your true potential in life.
2. Try something new. Change your stand, if you can. If you are going to apply the same solution to the problem over and over , and it didn’t work for so many times why do you think it would work now? Can you try changing your stance and giving in and if the relationship is truly worth, can you realign your priorities to the other party and see if that brings you closer to the larger goals. It may not be a perfect win-win situation but it will save your relationship and maybe, just maybe – you realize that for the longest time you were holding on to something non-critical, just for the heck of it. Weigh in your trade offs and priorities.
3. Let it go – Now, this is the toughest part. Not only because the world sees it and that makes you uncomfortable with “what the world would think of this”. But also if we are insecure and having difficulty imagining the other individual or entity in another relationship or yourself living by just your own self (technically single). If having the possession of the relationship is more important to you than the relationship itself – you could very well be trapped here. But when you are in a situation where you can’t continue anymore or have tried everything you can to realign in order to keep it, then it’s officially the time to “let it go”. Keep in mind that the same body (as sick it may be) feels heavier post death. And the longer you carry a weight , the heavier it begins to feel.

Choose the way forward carefully – pause, get your head and heart sorted and then charge ahead – remember – being happy and healthy is most important!! Focus on leading a meaningful life that matters.

Buy from your friends

Yes – thats what I said. BUY from your friends. I say so because I saw a marked difference in the way my business grew when my friends decided to support it.

Dont limit your support to good wishes and motivational talks and FACEBOOK LIKES. Your friend is certainly a motivated person – why else would she decide to be an entrepreneur to begin with. Surely, she has a plan, a strategy , business objective and tons of self – motivation. Help her spread the word out about her work.

buy-fromyour-friends-canva

Something you may not know is everytime she goes to an investor , they tell her – her first few hundred customers would come from friends and family. And surely, investors are not bluffing it. They have seen the trend and they know this is how it goes. Why should your friend not get the same level of support from you that quite few  entrepreneurs around the globe are getting from their friends.

Generally, its our tendencies to expect discounts and benefits from our friends if they own the business for the products  / services we are interested in.  And its not bad. Ask for discounts from your friends. Ask them for customizations you need. Chances are they are in a better position to serve you in those ways.

Frens business

Lot of times the situation gets comparable to elections, where lot of good people don’t vote thinking either they cant make a difference or they think someone else is taking care of it for them. Instead of not doing business with your “startup” friends – for any of such reason, do it for the SIMPLE one – You want your friend to succeed and if friends around the globe are making difference in successes or not of startups , then you dont want to be on the other side of the fence wishing you should have done all you could to support her in time.

Friends Business

Word of caution : If you think the product / service is truly something that you dont see much use of – walk upto her and tell her. Help her see your perspective. This is as important for her to know.

Happy Supporting!!

Getting in the Zone.

Media Pic 2

So – my bags are packed and all done. Am all set for my travel in the morning. I am tired but not sleepy.  This is the first time I am going to Mumbai  with a purpose  – a purpose to find all the support, guidance, help and solutions I need to scale up my PoolWallet.

I have worked hard to get PoolWallet to get some attention and finally today I feel like it was all worth  (thanks to Zone Start ups for their EmpowerZone Me program)– ofcourse if there were investors to lap me up I would feel even better but I think I am moving in the right direction. I think that will happen soon too.

Looked at the mentors list – cant wait to meet each of them and learn from them and tell them how cool PoolWallet is and what all I wish to do with it and if they support me , how far I can go with it. Even the list of start-ups participating – the 14 stars (excluding me) – they seem so cool – I am so eagerly waiting to meet them all.

Incidentally, today I also heard the song – Yeh hai Bombay meri Jaan Just listening to the song made me realize, what respect this city commands…I can’t tell the number of movies I have seen where going to Bombay meant – having a goal in life, being ambitious enough to fight for it and having faith in heart that whatever I want , I will go and get it in Bombay – the city of dreams.

Tonight – I feel that emotion. I feel bold enough to take charge of my future and I want the whole universe to conspire to get me what I so desperately want.

My kids asked me – there will be so many Cine Stars in Mumbai – Are you going to meet any?  Thinking of the place’s reality, that its home to majority of our favourite actors, does make me have butterflies in my stomach too.

Do I want to meet  them all – No. Not all.

If someone influential is reading my blog – while I am in Mumbai – I would love to meet Mr. Ratan Tata (Industrialist)and Mr.Dilip Kumar (actor).  If you can make it happen for me, please help me.

Media pic

Thanks Empowerzone for seeing something in me that has been hidden until now. Thanks for all the support and kindness you have shown. Thanks for selecting me and giving me this opportunity.  It would be so wrong to not mention a few of my friends who have stood by me always and who have believed in my abilities more than me – Thanks Shikha Suman(Medimojo), Ishita Anand(BitGiving), Sairee Chahal (Seroes), Sandy Carter (IBM) , Kanika Tekriwal (JetsetGo)Geetika Dayal(TiE),  Upasana Sharma (TiE) , Rashmi Jain and Peggy Libbey.

Wanted to say thanks to few special men too – who went out of their ways to shine light on me and make me my best version – a confident one –  Mike Lyles , Keith Klain, Matt Heusser,  Akash Srivastava, James Bach, Aman Jain, Anit Jha, Priyank Sharma, Ravi Gururaj, Pankaj Jain ( My investor in future, Yes Pankaj  – someday it will happen 🙂 )  and Mukund Mohan….many many more.

Please note –   its not a full list, and please dont be upset if you dont see your name in it. These are just on top  of my head.

I will sleep now and stop my rambling – have a morning flight to catch. But before I go , I want to say thanks to my family for bearing with me –special thanks to my husband and kids for understanding all the times I am not there for them because I am working. Thanks to my dad for bringing me up as he did. Want him to know I am grateful to him for all the big and small sacrifices he made to make me who I am today.

I wish I could first visit Haji Ali Dargah and Mahalaxmi temple before I went for the big day at the BSE building. But it wont be possible. However, I still feel the blessings and prayers.

See you soon Bombay!!! Thanks Empowerzone!!

Do I need UX testing?

Do I need UX testing? Yes, More than what you think. We will comeback to this question again.

When should I get UX testing started ? Much before you think you do.

How should I test UX ? First research enough to ensure you understand your context – your target user, purpose of the software, the business in which your organization is, how different are the competing products……many many approaches and methods of UI/UX testing that can be applied at different stages of product development.
UX
Wait – so many questions and thoughts about UX – But, let me ask – what is UX? Why does it even exist?
Well, the purpose of User Experience is to provide the smoothest navigation to a user from point A to point B. And there is absolutely no standard rules to design a good UX. Like its said above, you need to research. The research will help you build context for your business/app/technology/target user/purpose – and help you understand , how to build FOR a good UX. There are multiple ways to research – you need to learn those too.

Well, coming back to the first question – Do I need UX testing? Very much. Its recommended to be added to your testing strategy.
Ketchup UX

So, once the team hands me the design document and the product then I can match the UI and do the visual testing and I should be good (Expected vs Actual). What say? 

Well, even by the standards of a zombie tester – going by mindless robotic executions, I would say – no , its not good. Testing User Interface is a subset or a part of testing User Experience but UX is a whole world besides UI. You (as a tester) need to ensure you are part of the design from the day they start talking about conceiving a design. And then test each paper design, wireframe with users – at every step and …..then …..*******Folks, if you really want to continue the discussion – come to my workshop at STP Spring 2016 – Why you need to build UI/UX testing into your test planning immediately!
Alright, alright – we get the point. We will be at the workshop. But one last question – why immediately?
Well, you can do it after your organization goes down and you or your friends possibly dont work there anymore. Or after your organization finds someone to replace you – someone, who cares more about ensuring their customers don’t migrate to competitions. But if you try to learn and implement UX Testing now, you will help your own reputation and your organization’s business for sure. Your job too (maybe)!
UX vs UI

Take your call. Hoping to see you there!! Tons of challenges / quizzes / exercises await you that will give you a glimpse of how real world apps / sites evolved to where they are today and how you can contribute towards a humongous success of the sites / apps you test and ensure that these apps you test also become a professional reference for your abilities.

Get healthy in 1 step…really!!

I am going to share with you my biggest mistake regarding my health that I committed and am now trying to fix it. I have begun to feel better ever since I took that 1 step towards my health and am hopeful this will help you to identify if you are falling trap to this mistake/myth/habit/illusion – whatever you may call it and if this could eventually pose a health challenge to you too.
Here is my story – I have forever been a slim person and was one of those people blessed with magical metabolism that would digest the right things and detox my body of unwanted things.
And I am pretty sure, a lot of you are blessed with good health that you take for granted. Well, there are reasons (beyond hospital bills & insurance premiums) why its said that Health is Wealth.
smita (2)
So lets hear it- straight from the horse’s mouth – what is my point that I am driving you to?
Slim is fit: This was my mistake – I believed that I am fit since I was always a slim person and with not much extra flab to shed. Well, the truth is Fit is Fit. Slim is NOT fit. Slim is not as dangerous as obese but being slim doesn’t signify the status of your health in anyway other than that you are not obese.

I realized this more as I stepped into my 33rd year as human on the planet. Until then I abused my healthy blessing to no ends by eating wrong….eating at wrong hours…. Countless chocolates, softdrinks as much as I pleased. I seriously didnt have any fixed timings for food. If you are thinking I am going to say – Nothing can be more wrong than this, here is the worse thing – Even with what little meals I ate – I never ate what I should. I ate mindlessly.  And for a long time I was okay (like I said – for 33 years) – my body could handle all the abuse and kept releasing digestive enzymes on my command and never acting like it was upset at me for being a complete mismatch for its expectations and needs.

And then I slowly saw the signs. I started to get tired, used to feel irritated, started to look dull. I still didnt care as much. Specially since I wasnt particularly suffering from any specific disease. I knew I could someday reverse these “temporary issues” with healthy eating habit and fitness regime and having a routine. Something I knew but I never did. Soon, I fractured my right leg quite effortlessly with just a not so jerky twist. I began to have pains in my bones. I couldn’t wear high heels as much as I enjoyed them.Yet – I didnt pay heed. I was as ignorant as one can be towards ones body.
But then I started to have massive hairfall. And this was heart breaking. I couldnt take it. I also knew – it might be something that has reached out of my control and I cant easily reverse it. This was when I started to regret my doings.

On SOS basis – I put my health on priority. I made sure I dont skip meals – as busy or angry or mad I am due to any reason – I will have my minimum 3 meals a day and at as fixed a time, as I possibly can work around. But there is something I did that truly had a midas touch effect on me.
milkAny guesses what is that one thing that can help you fix most of your health issues, besides having a fixed routine for eating and exercises? MILK. Seriously. Specially if you are pure a vegetarian like me, you have to have a glass of milk everyday. Its funny I am writing this blog at a time when people around me are talking about Women’s Horlicks -because I started taking women’s horlicks regularly since last year. And I am strictly NOT endorsing them. But it has worked for me.

My hair loss significantly reduced- milk protein and calcium has visible benefits on skin and hair – and body overall. My body pains have almost vanished. Even my toothache has reduced – not sure if its related but other than increasing my milk intake, I havent changed anything in my diet, hence building the inference. And I think better calcium intake could have helped my teeth too.

I can’t reverse or stop my aging or the health issues that will come with it. But I am glad I took charge of my health while things were still in control.

Take that 1 step in your life. Add a glass of milk to your diet. If you are one of those that dont like packed milk, go farm fresh -try Farmagic. I love the taste of fresh cow milk they send.Its a feel good factor, if i take it with health supplement (more of calcium, which my body needs) – you can take it with any health supplement you like. Eat regularly and exercise.
farmery-milk_1

Test your fitness

  1. An average adult should do 30 minutes brisk walking, or walk 10,000 steps daily. Try doing this – you will know how good your health is.
  2. Look at your hairfall – is it normal?
  3. After your day long of office or household work – when you lay down – how does it feel in – your knees /  your lower back / your shoulders. Do they pain noticeably?
  4. Frequent Heartburns / Acidity?
  5. Fatigue / impatience/irritability

I do not wish to act as a health professional but I strongly believe that health science evolved based on human experiences. So the basics of health lies in us being able to hear what our body wants to tell us. Listen to it. Take rest, if it asks you to. Eat / sleep / work – as per your body’s expectations. Put yourself in a routine.

Take care of yourself. Stay healthy. Stay blessed. Dont forget your glass of milk tonight before you go to sleep!!!

Please do share your experiences – specially if you start drinking milk today onwards and comment on what effects you see on yourself.

Rahul..naam toh suna hoga?

“Rahul..naam toh suna hoga?” – This is what I related the most with the name Rahul besides having a very quiet and simple friend by that name at my work (Not Mr. Narvekar). So for a very long time I had Rahul Narvekar on my Facebook as a “friend” and had interacted a few times – always when Rahul seemed occupied and my ping seemed like an interruption. And so, being the kind of person I am , I would not want to “bother” someone who is busy. And so we never spoke much.
rahul - naam toh suna hoga

But I knew Rahul was the kind of entrepreneur I wanted to speak to and he probably had answers to most of my questions. And when I say answers – I firmly believe no one can solve one’s business issues better than they themselves. But speaking to a hands on person who has experience of failing and succeeding in ventures, can give you meaningful insights to what options had better probability of working and also at times the wisdom and strength to apply brakes / change direction / press gas pedal – as the need be.

So thanks to Sahiba Sethi of HelloMeets and our facebook chats where she understood my need to meet new entrepreneurs to introduce them to Poolwallet and she invited me to her series of GrowthTalks. And since Rahul Narvekar happened to be the key speaker – I decided to pounce upon the opportunity to meet him and pour out my long list of questions and in my mind I was prepared to be shameless in asking his help.

20160221_195643

Tanmay was a wonderful, warm and energetic host. The ice breaking was done in the most traditional way of introductions but nothing was conventional about the details asked and any of the responses. All shared their passions and what they were upto these days and what bought them to Hello Meets.

As Rahul starts to speak, I am anxiously waiting for his stories about NDTV Indian Roots and Fashion and You. And we are half way through the meet and no mention of these yet. And yet, I don’t want the story telling to end. His humble beginnings, his entrepreneurial pedigree, his music channel Oxygen, significance of his birth date (1st Oct 1972), his first meeting with his now wife Pallavi Rao  (who was a rockstar RJ at Radio mirchi and is now heading the CSR there)….the story goes on and Rahul literally details out all the major milestones of his life.

He kept on sharing his step by step learnings and I was busy absorbing each of them. And he agreed that he realized it very early in life that he could entertain and that he also realized that one who can entertain will always be seeked by the folks around.I finally decided , this was not the day I could ask him for any discussion on PoolWallet. I wanted to talk more about his experiences. Wanted to learn as much as I can from his experiences.

Let me share my collection of learnings from the meet :

  • Perception Management – Whatever you are going through inside as a leader, as an entrepreneur – it should not show to your team unless its positive.
  • Never believe your own PR – I cant stress how important this is to keep one on the ground.
  • Wife / Mistress Syndrome of consumers – There are places we take things for granted and we treat it as a wife. We refuse to give premium for any service there. And then there are places we pay a premium because we want to be special there and we want to hold that attention at every cost. We are not sure if we are the only special ones so we do all we can to be one.
  • Don’t keep the baggage. Move on – For people and work in your life. Move on once you see things not working as desired. Don’t just keep the baggage and stay with it. When people change their attitudes based on your success / failure – don’t be bothered. Take it in your stride.This is how the world works – accept it. If you hold on to the grudges, its only going to pull you down.
  • Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. You need to have faith and keep moving.
  • Sometimes its also about being in the right place at the right time or coming across that one key person who simply changes the entire game plan for you.
  • There are no templates to success.Things could work in your favor with some effort or not work for you even with all the efforts put in and management. External factors can’t be planned. An entrepreneur has to be ready to pivot really fast as the market factors change.
  • Investors don’t invest purely based on excel sheets. They invest on the person, on the team that is running the start-up. So build a great team that can handle situations when things don’t go as plan A. This ability to pivot also tells investors their money is more likely to be safe and growing with such teams. Be fundable as an individual.
  • Ask for help – people like helping others. They just do. Even without ROIs and having no agenda – there are many worthy and good people. Seek.

dont underestimate the power

As he explains how he went through the ups and downs of life and his career with Pallavi firmly by his side, in my mind I could see them both hand in hand sliding the sine curves – always smiling and having faith and keeping a brave face forward even when they are in the troughs. And that made me think of another Bollywood dialogue more apt for Rahul than the previous one – “Dont underestimate the power of the common man.”