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.
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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.

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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.

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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!!

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.

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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.”

Like/ Unlike – No Dislike ????

The title sounds familiar – right ? I guess one of the most popular social media site – Facebook – has these options – Like and Unlike. But has no feature to Dislike something. I was reading a joke somewhere that Facebook is so popular because it seems to be built on an age old truth that people are more interested in others lives than their own. I am not sure of either of this – whether the age old truth is really a truth and whether FB is actually based on it.

But I do like the stand that the Facebook team has taken to provide a Like Button and then another one to Unlike the thing you liked some time back. I dont know their reason to not have “Dislike” option so far.  And I also don’t know if that is on their road map in near or distant future plan. But I respect them for following the art of social behavior and not allowing negativity flow through them.

I love to think of the underlying and subtle statement that this gives out. And it may hit you powerfully too if you think of it.  Specially if you have been a judgemental kind of person (like I was – I would like to think I am getting better at not judging others anymore).

There is a society and then there are individuals.  And though its a complex relationship and difficult to decide whether Society is dependent on Individuals or is it the otherway round – a healthy balance is a reasonable outlook – most of the times. There are rebels and traitors and conformists and age old social stigma(s) and Taboo(s)  – all existing as the components of the ecosystem.

Lets look at some cool features of Facebook vis-a vis our social behaviours-

  • You can like something – that people do.
  • You can view something that people you are indirectly related to but cannot intrude to give a good or bad comment. But are free to take your learning or happiness out of it.
  • There are learned people, leaders and motivational people and people with great sense of humor who share their thoughts with you and you can share them within your circle of influence.
  • If you keep commenting bad on someone – that is not appreciated – you get reported as SPAM (The moderator of this life is the society at large and God within ones self).
  • You get pleasure on sharing your experiences with your loved ones about different events in your life , your trips, your achievements , your awards – some people like to share about the food they eat every time because that food makes them happy. And your loved ones love to talk amongst themselves and also with you about these. They learn too from your experiences and have fun too.
  • If you continue to harass people or say something that’s not good to hear – you are at risk of being dropped from their list of friends.
  • You like something today but you realize you don’t like that person or activity the next day – you can unlike.

But NOWHERE CAN YOU DISLIKE. Why?

  • If a person shares something about his life or experience – you can like, unlike but not dislike – because you dont have the rights for it.
  • Even if the event is related to some you dislike – its between those 2 folks – you can respectfully keep out.
  • If the event is about you and you dont agree to what is being said – you can report it out or even better – drop that person from your circle – so he takes his negativity with himself and lives with it.

Dislike here represents the negative emotions .  And disliking something about others which is not illegal or unethical is not welcome. People eventually distance themselves from such folks. One has the right to  choose with whom he interacts but he has no right to show down or judge others lives or acts that are not otherwise condemnable under law.

One of the funny things said about Dislike or lets use a stronger emotion here – Hate , is  – One should be careful in choosing the person whom he hates – Because you eventually become the person you hate.

Great Mahatma Gandhi – Father of our nation said – about negativity – Dont Speak bad, Dont See bad and Dont Hear Bad. Famously depicted as his 3 monkeys.

And I used to always wonder what harm are WE doing by listening if someone else is talking negative – I myself am not saying the bad things- so where is the problem – I can relate to not seeing bad or not talking bad.  But whats the harm in listening- I found my answers based on my personal experience of few years – When someone talks bad in front of you – If its about you – Its equivalent to violence against you and by tolerating it – you are becoming part of the violence. And if its not about you – you are being imparted that negativity that can grow in you and you are now a carrier of violence – Mental violence – a deep form of it.

So like someone or something – unlike if you don’t agree but don’t dislike – you are not authorized to – its ones own choice of how he /she leads their life – as long as its law abiding- keep away from people who unnecessarily cross the lines of social behavior and constantly dislike others – it will corrupt you and make you as unlikeable as they themselves are.

A positive outlook, self belief and a fighting spirit are key to be successful in life. Disliking something constantly or being surrounded by people who dislike you constantly – makes your mind practice negativity – which interrupts in all these key aspects – positive outlook/self belief/never  say die spirit – of an achiever. So beware !! Be conscious of your thoughts.

Lots of love and appreciation for all you great folks!! You are doing just fine…Smile again 🙂