#(Hashtag) your way to Discovery

Jon Favreau as Carl Casper in Chef was fabulous! This is that food truck story. Carl and his kid drive across the country, getting to know each other, learning from each other and making good food. It’s a nice movie.

But what sparked off CarI’s food truck journey was how he went viral on Twitter. What he thought would be a private conversation with the critic Ramsey, was actually a tweet and very public! It won him a lot of followers on Twitter. Along the food truck journey, Carl’s son kept tweeting about his truck, their food. They get even more followers and the rest as they say is history.

Here’s for a bit of hashtag history.

Hash tagging really took off sometime in 2007 and now it is used to cover just about anything that people talk about. Did you know that the concept of Hash tagging was first rejected and only picked up later when citizen journalists in San Diego began to tweet updates using hashtags.

So what is it about #s that drives information around the world today?

  • It makes you and your content discoverable. #MentorHer will take you to all the content that has been tagged with it on that platform (in this case, wordpress; try it)

 

  • #s can be used on all platforms- #Facebook #Instagram #LinkedIn #Wordpress #Pinterest and so on. All this maximizes your reach and the shareability of your content.
    • WordPress has a special Tag section where you can put in the phrase minus the hash tag.

 

  • #s can be used for deploying sarcasm at its best; well one of the benefits at least for me. For instance-
    • Non- smokers accompanying smokers to smoking zones! I love this concept of solidarity. #killmealready
    • Personally I am all for sarcasm driving home the point, but in general #s can be used to set the overall tone of your message.

How can you become a part of the # culture?

  1. Keep it simple- Don’t use more than 3 hashtags on a single post. If they are used often and keep linking back to the same content, it’s spamming.
  2. Be specific and relevant- So you want to talk about #PressforProgress, state your views and maybe tag #IWD; but #WomensDay just makes it #redundant!
  3. Propel your own cause- There are so many hashtags out there that it is difficult to start off an independent conversation; so think up of creative hashtags, something that hasn’t been used before and start tweeting it or using that as a tag.

For example- #yourwaytodiscovery gives you the essence of this post.

Carl Casper turned his # journey into a successful restaurant at the end. I guess all of us may not have such romantic journeys in life; that said your journey deserves a listen.

Maybe # it!

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Keep your Face Soft

Have you noticed how you scrunch up your nose when there’s something slimy in sight? Sometimes they happen to be people too and not just some yucky smell or some distasteful joke.

I have noticed how these expressions on our face have a mind of their own! I have caught myself rolling my eyes when it didn’t even warrant such a reaction. Not that I feel bad about it all day but it’s just something that could have been avoided, right?

So that’s where these days my yoga practice is kicking in. Keep your face soft is what my teacher keeps saying.

When in one of those poses where only one of your limbs is on the ground and the other 3 are really not where they are supposed to be, and oh! You got to be breathing too and not too hard coz you can seriously topple- she says “keep your face soft”!

So I feel that I have been unconsciously furrowing my eyebrows and pouting. No wonder I can’t breathe. But the moment I soften those lines, the breathing is easier. Just soft, not even smiling!

Maybe it’s her way of saying be kind- to yourself.

Being kind to oneself is tough. We tend to-

  1. Antagonize ourselves about over eating- Next time stop to be grateful for the food
  2. Crib over not having enough clothes- Next time be grateful for the overflowing shelves
  3. Feel guilty over missed workouts- Next time be happy for the ones you could fit in
  4. Not like the lunch that we bring from home- Next time be grateful that someone cares enough to cook and pack for you

We tend to do a lot of things. I want to go out on a limb and say “do yoga”, maybe your life will seem lighter, softer, brighter and definitely healthier.

But while you are getting there, keep your face soft.

Everything is holding you up

Breathe. Observe how everything else is holding you up.

I was practicing yoga today morning and my instructor said – feel the four corners of your feet. Feel how it is on the yoga mat; ensure that all of it is touching the mat.

Feel how your back is supported by the mat. Now place your hands on your stomach and breathe in. See your hand rise up in front of you as your belly expands with the breath. Now exhale. Let it all go. Close your eyes.

Let’s do this one again. Wiggle yourself a little, be comfortable and when you exhale just let go.


Her instructions were interspersed with “feel the connect”, “notice how you are supported”, “relax”.

Long after my yoga practice finished I felt connected.

In the race for getting to the next part of the day, or in the effort of getting over some sort of pain or discomfort, we barely look at what’s holding us together or what’s holding us up.

One of my ex- colleagues dropped by today. As it happens, we started connecting more as people when he was serving his notice. By the time he left, we were friends. I went to his wedding too in some remote part of the country. He just dropped by unannounced with his wife, passing through my city.

I feel grateful to have such friends. His wife seemed to take an immense liking to us, inviting us to their place over and over again.

This is one of the things that hold you up.

Remember that old WhatsApp group with your roommates from Grad School. It’s the one where you usually send forwards or some Minion jokes or meme about missing roommates.

I pinged on it today. And my roomie went on a rant about some online reward redemption agency and their “extremely fine” fine print that lets you redeem only 3 vouchers of a fixed value at one time. She wanted to buy jewellery and that tiny amount wasn’t helping.

She pinged a few hours later saying that her husband had found a loophole. She could return the vouchers, get reimbursed on her bank account. And then go onto redeem additional 3 coupons to purchase the piece that she wanted to buy. We were laughing about how the project manager couldn’t think of that particular use case.

We connected. After a long time! Another of the things that hold you up.

My yoga practice is teaching me to be grateful, to be graceful. Tug at one of the invisible threads that hold you up and feel the ripples throughout your day.

Jump right into self- love

No. Seriously! Don’t be shy. Jump into it and splash yourself around.

But there’s the whole world out there telling you that you aren’t good enough. You just aren’t enough.

The friends that are making more money than you, the colleagues who seem to have it all- the money, the family, the kids and the support system, the younger colleagues- who don’t have a care in the world and then there’s you.

You are basically thinking about-

  1. Switching jobs
  2. Jumping into a new role
  3. Tinder or Hinge or Hook or whatever it is these days
  4. Switching exercise regimes

What you are really doing is-

  1. Playing driver to your parents over the weekend
  2. Getting over the last love
  3. Fighting the urge to watch NetFlix while the latest Adam Grant/ Malcolm Gladwell lies unread

You know what- it’s ok.

In between driving your parents around, looking at old photos and (not) watching NetFlix, you are-

  1. Indulging in self- love (though unintentionally or subconsciously)
  2. Learning that there are some great action movies on NetFlix, maybe falling in love with Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez
  3. Learning that Brits do have a really sexy accent (think Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant)
  4. Expanding your book collection and finding out just how much is there in the world that you don’t know yet
  5. Spending time with Mom Dad

For times long after these days have passed, they will not come back. Indulge yourself now. Don’t feel pressured; everybody is on their own journey.

Jump into this self-love.

STONE TELLING – Hit and Trial

How do we tell if a window is open?

Just throw a stone at it.

Does it make a noise?

It doesn’t?

Well, it was open.

Now let’s try another..

CRASH!

It wasn’t!

*Source: Where the Sidewalk ends by Shel Silverstein

Not only can you tell if the window is open or not, you have successfully got both the windows opened.

All you’ve got to do is throw a stone. All you’ve got to do is START trying.

Up your Game- Instantly

At the heart of doing well in life and in your career, there is but one condition “that you be in the driver’s seat”. It’s fun to cruise along for a while but if you have been feeling the rut, these instant to- dos will add much needed depth to your thought process and put you right back in the driver’s seat.

  • Close loop

 It’s not fun when people keep reaching out to you over status updates. Run your own update mechanism (message/ whatsapp/ one line email/ 30 seconds call) and update concerned stakeholders periodically.

Anticipate their next question and have a response ready. So that you don’t react to the question or to the person; it’s a matter of perspective.

Why- Reactions put you in a fight or fly mode. More often than not you start resenting the person who keeps asking for updates. Take that out of the equation, communicate first.

  • Be tomorrow ready

If you don’t want to take instructions or be instructed; you need to have a cogent plan for tomorrow. That way when you are instructed, you actually have some recommendations and don’t have to just say yes and move on.

Why- This makes you engage in quality conversations and engages beyond semantics. It is a great opportunity to showcase your thought process.

  • Substantiate what you say

Data is a great addition to supposition and intuition. Data is more useful when you have a story to corroborate it; one that is actually true.

Figure out what the data is supposed to make you feel, and then choose anecdotes/ stories that are relevant to your ecosystem and will influence as per your mind-set.

Why- Data and stories provide insights that cut through the noise. It helps you start answering unasked business questions and raises the bar for others.

These will instantly change what people perceive of you and while they aren’t easy, it will enable you to change the rules of the game.

Being Extraordinary

If a woodpecker were to peck 10,000 trees one at a time or peck one tree 10,000 times, which do you think would have lasting impact?

Being extraordinary could be about persevering when others get bored.

In the movie Tumhari Sulu, Vidya Balan’s character lives the various shades of her role; that of a   wife, a mother, a sister, a woman- and she does so unapologetically.

Being extraordinary could be about believing in yourself against all odds.

In Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, Mowgli the human child who was raised by wolves traps Shere Khan in a ravine where the buffalo trample him, thus saving all the forest from his rage.

Being extraordinary could be making the best of what life has thrown at you.

Extraordinary is creating the new status quo and it doesn’t happen overnight. Most extraordinary successes are the result of continued effort over an indefinite period of time.

When do you know if you have the potential to be this rarity?

  1. You have the mind-set to work through the trenches and hard work doesn’t scare you
  2. You learn from the smallest of incidents
  3. You know that failure is natural but not an option

In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.

Did you know that for most of his adult life, King suffered from depression?

The most extraordinary stories have almost painfully humble beginnings. So if you are struggling today, let the struggle teach you; don’t let it go waste.

 

 


References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King_Jr.

 

The Fat Child Complex

Fat shaming, skinny shaming, fit shaming and just about any form of shaming is the norm these days.

Fat/skinny/fit are hugely subjective and very very influenced by what people have been through as children.


Pihu was this little cute girl who weighed 32kgs when she was 5 years old. Just for context, a 5 year old child could weigh about 25kg and be in the obese category. So 32kg was really big.

Here’s the thing, she was really cute, the pulling cheeks cute, the squishy kid with too many chins and extremely round. People loved her.

Puberty hit her early. Maybe because of the weight. At 11 years, she had been menstruating for 2 years already, couldn’t make Head or tail of her body and suddenly she wasn’t the kid who adults came up to cuddle.

Everybody without exception advised her and her parents that she should lose weight.

She was huge, getting bigger by the day and of course with sub zero self esteem.

But here was the thing, she was great at math. Loved them numbers, devoured books on the subject at an alarming rate and always shone in any activity that required her to use her brain.

The world thought- so she’s fat ergo no social life, obviously she will study! Nothing else to do right?

Sadly, Pihu thought this of herself too. Because as kids we think of ourselves what others think of us. As adults too. So in spite of being the smartest kid, she felt like she didn’t belong.

Today, Pihu is 35 years old. She’s at a healthy weight. It has taken her 20 years to come to terms with her metabolism and the way her body works. She’s fit today, she swims and runs effortlessly, she lifts weights, she eats well and yet. Yet she doesn’t fit into somebody else’s definition of “fit”.

Pihu is still extremely critical of her body. She never wants to be the fat child again. She teaches Math at a leading university in India and yet her day is successful only when she has been able to walk 10000 steps in the day and kept well under 1300 calories.

Society at large will always have something to say and it’s easy to victimise on weight/ appearance because people don’t think that they have the right to feel beautiful enough.

That you somehow have to justify it. Even before fingers are pointed to us, we have already singled ourselves out as the fattest/ fittest/ skinniest in the room.

You know how to get over what others say about you- change your narrative of yourself.

Eat healthy, workout as per your time, give yourself priority and stop believing in low waisted size zero jeans.

As your self narrative changes, your visual will evolve. You will be more confident, you will walk taller and you will be stronger.

It takes time and love to change that narrative and time & love from yourself to yourself.

Everything else is logistics if you’ve worked out your body and your spirit.

Rain in the Mountains

So here is a fun incident:

This was just a few days after my parents got married.

The first time that my Mom was to put together a meal for her new family. This was almost eleven people and she had never cooked for such a large number before.

Dal Tadka is a famous Indian specialty and thought it wasn’t on the menu; it was especially requested of my mom.  And it was a very last minute thing.

Hungry, excited and impatient family were clamoring for food.

For as long as I have known my mom, she has truly believed that the route to one’s heart is through the stomach. She loves getting people over and cooking for them; she’s also a perfectionist when it comes to cooking. But that wasn’t known to the family then.

It had been a while and both my mom and the dal were still in the kitchen. My dad is this jovial man and is a favourite with family members; but at that time even he was almost a stranger to my mom.

Nevertheless, he went into the kitchen to figure things out and burst out laughing almost immediately. My mom had forgotten to put the dal in the pressure cooker and everything else was cooked to perfection but the dal!

They decide to just serve what is ready. When asked about the Dal, my dad takes the blame and says, “I opened the cooker too soon, the dal didn’t cook well enough. Let’s leave it for dinner. I cant wait any longer for lunch!”

This was the beginning of my parents’ relationship, warmed them to each other. He didn’t let my mom down and over the years I have only seen the bond go stronger.

Sometimes you need to bend over, so that your partner can get a step up. That’s what makes relationships.