Little Nuggets of Wisdom

So I listened in on a webinar, or kind of a panel discussion on International Women’s Day. I tuned in assuming it would be just another completely unrelatable chit-chat where people would, in the most ignorant way, brush-off the real challenges women face, forgetting that they were lucky enough to not experience it. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised.

Although all women in the panel were from senior leadership roles, they were talking about some very relatable on-the-ground issues that you and I face; things like being skipped in important emails for e.g.!

And the one most important take away for me was this little piece was amazing advice, that I dint realize how precious it was until a week of practicing it – “Always say something in every meeting you attend, virtual or in-person. Never just be a silent spectator for the entire duration.”

At the time it just felt like a nice suggestion. So I practiced it throughout the week. I attend almost 6-7 virtual meetings everyday and half the time I am added by my seniors as a backup. So I am just absorbing information during those meetings, without even a greeting or acknowledgment many times. It never bothered me directly because I don’t have such a big ego ๐Ÿ™‚ But I will admit very often I feel it takes people longer than usual to give me due importance, not in an indulgent way but as general consideration or thought to include me.

And this trick made me realize staying quiet during those meetings was subtly causing that probably. Who would have thought! As I started to announce myself on joining the meetings, people started to take notice of my name, many time even asking if we have worked before, or how can I contribute to the discussion. It has not changed my life completely, but it definitely has brought a significant difference. People whom I have attended several meetings with before never even knew my name! Or that I was even attending those calls.

I think staying completely quiet during calls is considered a declaration of non-importance, as if I am saying that you don’t need to know my name, just ignore me, I am here to take notes, or for technical/operational issues etc. I never thought about it this way but it might be true. Just one week of practicing saying “Hi everyone. This is Priya from the EA team.” has made a huge difference, at least for me personally. I feel more confident and definitely more acknowledged.

Thank you to women who share such practical advice!

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Taking Difficult Decisions

I took a big step today. I don’t know if its all for good or I might see unexpected consequences. We’l have to wait and watch.

Like I have alluded to in a few recent posts, life’s getting real hectic this year. And I’m not complaining. I love juggling multiple responsibilities as long as Im having fun along the way. And with these new tasks comes the baggage of getting better at managing time. Otherwise all the fun quickly becomes stress and exhaustion. And thats what I was feeling for a couple weeks.

So I sat down and made a list. Making lists is kind of my guilty pleasure tbh ๐Ÿ˜€

It had all the things I thought were taking major blocks of time in my daily routine. The idea was to see where I could cut down. But nothing seemed superfluous and the exercise was a waste. But it also made me think why was I feeling exhausted lately. Because all the things on my list either had to be done, or were things I had taken on and was enjoying them. So what was I missing? I decided to do a daily time clock for a few days to see whats actually happening in reality with my time.

And Voila! One major piece missing on my list was entertainment. And I had consciously excluded it assuming it would be 15-20 mins here and there or maybe an hour at max. Boy was I wrong. For the week I kept a time clock, I had averaged about 3 hours of Netflix every single day! My head was spinning at the first glimpse of how people get sucked into addiction.

I was absolutely clueless. I could not fathom this was me. No wonder I felt tired coz I was not getting enough sleep or rest. My eyes were taking more than they should. Its bad enough I have to look at the screen all day at my day job, I was torturing it for another 3 hours every day. And for what? Time wasted that I don’t even recall? Nope. This had to end.

So folks, today, I cancelled my Netflix subscription. Not because I don’t have time for it. But because I don’t want to spend my time on things I cant even remember. I don’t want to get addicted or be a slave to anything. I have done it before with getting off of all social media a few years back when I realized it was taking over my thought process and judgement (and haven’t regretted it since), and I am happy to do it again.

Lets see how this goes. Wish me luck!

“I had no idea it’s sunny outside!”
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Its Suffocating as Hell!

It baffles me how backwards we still are in terms of gender balance and equality even after decades and decades of activism past us. I am still told it is considerable effort to hike my salary at par with my promoted designation while also being told that the person next to me (no grudge against him whatsoever), who joined the company after me, is being given a bonus without even asking, while also mentioning that his pay is well above what he is supposed to get. And somehow, instead of being furious, I have to remain calm and convince people why I deserve the raise. Of course I’l get my way but after that display of casual utter negligence, I am not sure whether to feel proud or humiliated.

A female colleague came to me for some advice and we discovered that we both felt many of our team members were blatantly sexist and would probably never face any consequences for that, while we swallow our dignity and pride every living moment with these people. I sometimes wonder what exactly is the purpose of all these Women-centric groups in companies; do they really have any power to make any changes or hold anyone accountable? Or are these just political organizations for marketing purposes? Does anyone has any realistic example where any of these organizations actually helped bring a concrete change which directly benefitted a female worker?

I am tired of these pointless groups and activisms. I want change. Real change. I want accountability. I want people facing consequences for displaying sexist behavior, for not doing the fair thing, the right thing.

I am tired of being ignored in meetings, tired of attending meetings where people wouldn’t even look at me, and choose to look past me as if I do not exist, tired of having to make my presence felt by raising my voice and butting in with my opinion without being asked, tired of being ignored either way, tired of attending meetings and always, always being told to take notes even though its another junior guys job but he is being asked to participate in the discussion while I am taking notes, tired of people double-checking my decisions with another guy, tired of not being included in decision making where I should be, tired of people casually skipping me and working directly with my juniors without my knowledge because of course I do not have any authority, tired of the boys clubs all around me, tired of being given those doubtful expressions, tired of being told to keep my aggression in check, tired of being told to be less bossy, TIRED TIRED TIRED.

Don’t mistake me for timid or shy or too conscious. Because I am none of these. I demand and take my space where I deserve. But why is it a fight all the time? Its exhausting! This is every single day, every single minute of my life, and many others, since I started working. I want this to end!

Yes, guys have it easy in the workplace! Why? Because you do not need to justify your seat at the table, every damn table, every breathing minute. Thats a fact and you all better accept it!

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Important Few vs. Trivial Many

If any of you don’t know this, heres an interesting food for thought – population distribution in most phenomenon in life follows a distribution curve commonly known as the Power Law. What is this Power Law you ask? Well, it is a functional relationship between two quantities, where a relative change in one quantity results in a proportional relative change in the other quantity – one quantity varies as a powerย of another. If that dint make much sense, here are some variations –

  • Hurricanes & Earthquakes : Most hurricanes and earthquakes fall under a very small range of severity (Richter scale) and very few fall outside that scale
  • Population Income : 20% of a countries population’s contribute to 80% of its economy. This is also called Pareto’s Law
  • Profitability of customers & products : Only a small number of customers contribute to most of a products profits
  • Distribution of volume on traffic lanes : Most of the traffic is usually concentrated in a small number of lanes. Remember how the lane you are in always feels the one with the heaviest and slowest traffic. Its kinda true ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Questions from students in a class : Only a handful of students in any class ask the most questions and most students prefer not saying anything at all (this one’s my fav :D)

All these are proven by scientific studies and observations. Some other variations also exist like Nielson’s Law, Zipf’s Law, Benford’s Law, Lotka’s Law….but they all essentially say the same thing.

This might be worthless information but I find it really interesting to think about in spare time and apply to various situations.

For example, with friends. I know quite a number of people who claim to have over 10 contacts whom they call “Best Friends” or closest friends but when they need a shoulder, they always go to those same 2 people – the important few out of the trivial many ๐Ÿ˜‰

Notice in the future when you ask a group of people for a favor, how many you asked and who/how many respond and use it to filter out your important few out of the trivial many.

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Only when you ask

I had written this post some time ago. Time n again, I am tested on this and not once have I been let down. Whenever I asked, I have received. All of us have kept quiet countless times, unsure of ourselves or our demands and expectations, and lost out on a great opportunity as a result of that. I stopped doing that several years ago. Why? Because I realized this is what my life will be if I don’t ask. I wont get anything for free, nobody is going to “spot” me and give me my big break, no one is going to play fair to me because they should, because thats the right thing to do. No. Thats not what is going to happen to me. I cannot live with leaving my growth in someones else’s hands. I want control of it myself and not leave it on chance or other ppl’s moral choices.

And this is when I decided I am going to always ask for what I want, or aspire, or expect.

I went to audition for a small part in an international play last month for fun. I had no expectations and just went because I am always curious to experience new things. A few days after the audition, I got an email congratulating me on getting the role. I was ecstatic! But only for a day.

I reread the email in peace the next day and realized the rehearsals and performance schedules were extremely demanding. It would mean non-stop work for 14 hrs. straight, including my day job. It seemed impossible and unnecessary. Why should I put myself through this? But then I have always loved theatre so much! This back and forth continued for 2 days.

Finally, I decided I’l try taking this on but not for free. Its too much effort if I am not going to be fairly compensated. So I asked a few friends around and everyone echoed the same thing – ‘Oh I don’t think they’l compensate you since you don’t have any professional background in theatre or acting or any kind of art. They’l say this will be a learning experience for you, kind of a break. You should consider yourself lucky to get this opportunity. ‘

Hmm. Well, I am lucky to get the role but dint the production needed me too? Of course I auditioned and surely, the director would have chosen me for a reason? Its a barter, a give-n-take.

So, as usual, contrary to everyones suggestion, I sent out a reply to the director with my expectations. It was a very straightforward simple email, expressing my concern that I will give him my best and all the hours they needed, but I need to be properly compensated for my time and energy.

No reply for 2 days and I accepted the defeat. Maybe I crossed a line, may I did not. But I did what gave me peace and I was okay with the consequences. I wouldn’t have enjoyed that experience anyways with that thought nudging me every day.

A few days later I get the directors reply that I will be compensated with $$$. Yes Yes Yes!!! And it was a good amount too. But now that I got the confidence, I did some math. As it turned out, that amount wont even cover my travel cost to the rehearsal studio, let alone anything extra. So with renewed energy, I sent back my reply with the simple factual concern. And again, a few days later, the director assured me that I wont have to make any expenses from my pocket wrt travel costs and the production will make arrangements around that.

Now thats what I call a WIN!

So folks, its good to learn from other’s experiences and suggestions, but don’t be afraid to carve your own path. And never, ever, ever, be afraid to speak up and ask for what you think is fair.

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