Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Dear 2015, a couple of things before you go...

Photo Credit
I have been pondering over what to write about for today's post. I think the optimism of the year gone by is giving way to the impending expectation from the coming year. I went back and read the post I wrote around this time last year. And that's not me anymore. I am nowhere near that optimism that I had last year. That was just a temporary bout of optimism and motivation that had hit me and I became a very different person. I liked being that person but she left a few months later. And I went back to being my impatient, paranoid, non-calm self! Don't get me wrong! I am not crazy - just a bit, maybe - but I just became my pragmatic self again. I know that life will just go on. And everyday is not going to be a party. That the time for romantic firsts is gone. And some things aren't meant to be in life. I went back to being my gauche self forever struggling for life to behave well the way it seems to for others. Yeah! I have gone back to yearning and hoping - again!

On the other hand, what thrills me is that I lived outside my comfort zone for an entire year and survived it! I have never been this dedicated and patient to any project in my life - building my online presence. The hard work and passion that I pour into my work gives me purpose and satisfaction in life. People let me down, I went through several bouts of self doubt, I felt inadequate and unsuccessful at times but I have lived through all of it and still dared to continue to be different. I stuck to my conviction that brick by brick there will be a palace someday and I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of building the foundation this year. And I know the journey ahead is going to be beautiful and I cannot wait to get started with the new year!

Thank you 2015 for bringing me all the happiness you did and I hope you've already told 2016 to bring along whatever you failed to! :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top 3 posts of 2015 on my professional blog

Photo Credit 
I spent a lot of time this year working on my professional blog and building my online presence. Over the year, I have about 80 posts on it on communication, soft skills, coaching, training skills and language tips. It has been quite an important project for me. It has taken me a lot of hard work, self-motivation and patience to get all of it up and running. Since I have already done the round up of popular posts on this blog in september this year, I want to share the top three posts from my professional blog here.

1. Since I started my professional blog, I have got some calls from people asking me how to become a corporate trainer in soft skills. After I spoke to a couple of them and shared my experience, I decided to write a post on it. Little did I know that it would become so popular! Read on:

How to start a career as a corporate trainer

2. I got myself certified as a coach this year and realised that the term isn't understood clearly by most. We roughly understand the word to mean what a sports coach does - grooms the team for winning. But coaching, as used in personal and executive scenarios, is very different and enables people reach their goals through the help of the coach. The coach is just the enabler here who might use some tools to help you gain clarity about your goals and how you's go about achieving them. The short video in the post facilitates better understanding:

What exactly is coaching?

3. Communication in difficult situations can be quite challenging. And we all seek to get better at it. This could be the reason why the post on tips to convey bad news in a nice manner was read and widely shared across social media platforms. It talks of practical tips to follow and let the other person down easy in such a situation:

How to convey bad news to anyone

Do read these posts and tell me what you think about them. Also, look around blog and tell me if you like any others. Looking forward to your feedback.

Monday, December 28, 2015

4 Firsts of my life in 2015

Photo credit

As this year is coming to a close, I am surprised at how many things these posts have helped me discover about this year. I had dismissed this as just another uneventful one. But now I think there have been a lot of seeds sown this year and hopefully will bear fruit in the coming years.

Today I want to talk about some things that happened for the first time in my life this year.

1. First friends in Mumbai: 8 years in Mumbai and no friends. This status definitely changed this year, thanks to Twitter and a few events offline.

2. First set of muscles: Though I have been in and out of gyms over the years, I seem to have found my perfect workout place this year. No boring gym equipment - just group exercise with music and the count of the trainer. The different kinds of workouts have ensured that I developed some muscle mass this year. Though I am far from toned, I look forward to being active for an hour a day and work towards fitness.

3. First blogging challenge: Having been a busy year with setting up my professional blog and promoting it on social media, I still decided to jump into my first blogging challenge. And the experience could not have been better than it was. It has made me so much more confident as a blogger and I think finishing a challenge is such a boost to one's self esteem.

4. First open session: At the fag end of the year, I decided to take the online action offline with my first open session on blogging for beginners. It was taking the plunge after being at the edge for sometime. From making graphics to promoting it on social media and designing session content - it was almost a one woman army all the way! I did have friends who have always motivated to go ahead. I made a few mistakes, learnt a few lessons and I feel confident about taking on more such adventures in the coming year.

How has your year been? I am sure you can also think of new things that you did this year. I'd love to hear about them. Do share your experiences your comments.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

5 awesome events I went to in 2015

Photo credit
Continuing my countdown posts, I want to talk about some great events I went to this year. In fact, like I already mentioned in an earlier post, 2015 has been a very social year for me. Thanks to social media that kept me abreast of various events around me, I managed to catch up with quite a few. So here are the top 5 of them:

1. The year began with Social Media Week in Bangalore. I was on the official social media team and was part of the work and fun right from the very center of where it all gets organised. Not just my first time as a volunteer, but also the first time I met so many people from Twitter in real! You can see the pictures and the full account here:

My experience at the Social Media Week, Bangalore 

2. One of my dreams is to be part of the live audience at TED talks. I started on the journey this year by attending TEDxGateway Women, an event for women only speakers. From the inspiring Leila Seth to the very charismatic Natalie Di Luccio - each woman had touching stories of their successes to share. Read all about it here:

TEDxGateway Women: A day with inspiring women

3. It is always fun and learning at blogging events and #WIN15 by Blogadda was no different. A day full of exciting talks by experts in blogging and social media and the energy of the host Siddharth Kannan kept us going for the day!

#WIN15: the brilliant blogging event by Blogadda

4. Just as we were getting over the frenzy of #WIN15, Indiblogger had the much awaited blogging event of the year ready for us. #BNLF was undoubtedly the baap of all blogging events this year with speakers like Jeff Bullas, Arnab Ray, Purba Ray, Bruce Dickinson and Christophe Trappe. One whole day of networking and learning followed by master classes by Jeff and Christophe the following day - this was the best way to end the year on the blogging front.

#BNLF: My review of the most disruptive blogging event of the year

5. Though the event I most looked forward to, I seem to have not done a post on it! The Sheroes Summit was a the highlight of the year for me. I have been following them on Twitter for sometime now. And it was a great experience to meet so many women passionate about fulfilling their career dreams. The speakers shared their journeys of having set up businesses with the star guest of the day being none other then Shilpa Shetty herself. (Maybe I should do a post on this later)

As the countdown is moving towards its close, I am glad I thought of writing these posts. My new year eves are generally trying to resist the temptation of pinning too much hope on the new year. But this one has been a great experience looking back at the new year recalling its best moments in tjhis unique way!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

6 things that shook my faith in the world this year

Photo credit

No, I am not going to rant about how bad the world is and that we have no hope for the future. But once in a while, there are things that make you sit up, shocked - and wonder where's the world going! Here's the quick list:

1. The juvenile rapist being set free tops my list. He, who was brutal beyond words, is set free!! What more, his future is being taken care of as if he's a victim of incarceration.
2. Sexual abuse of kids in schools. I can only imagine how heart breaking it is for parents to realise their kids aren't safe even in schools.
3. Drunk drivers, even the ones who have killed people in a state of inebriation, are free to lead normal lives. Human lives no longer have any value.
4. Shah Rukh Khan is still romancing on screen! He's 50!! The only redemption is it's not someone half his age this time.
5. Porn con is the new genre of comedy, thanks to Ekta Kapoor. And I thought the dialogues of her other movies were suggestive and bold. This one breaks all records of crassness.
6. The Paris attacks - brought back all the memories of CST and Taj attacks which left us all feeling so vulnerable and unsafe.

As the new year comes to an end, what are the good and bad events that stand out in your mind? I'd love to know what's on your list.

Friday, December 25, 2015

7 books I look forward to reading in 2016

I took the Brunch Book Challenge this year and managed about 25 out of 30 books we were supposed to finish to complete the challenge. I realised that reading as part of a challenge was killing the joy of reading. I'd feel miserable when the counter wasn't moving fast enough. Actually, with all the other work, sometimes the counter wasn't moving at all! It felt like being a part of a race and losing all the time. So for next year, I have thought of books that I want to read in no hurry. Some of them are big, fat ones but I can take my own time to read them and actually enjoy reading.
So, here's the list:

1. Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg (Yeah, this one's still pending!)
2. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo (His Talk Like TED was sheer brilliance!)
3. Presence by Amy Cuddy - The woman behind the inspiring research on power pose
4. Authentic Story telling by Christophe Trappe - (just released)
5. Marilyn Atkinson's 3 books on coaching - to further my studies as a coach
6. Re-read The Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
7. The Social Animal by David Brooks (I need to go back and complete reading this one)

To me, all this books have meaningful learning for me rather than just numbers to complete a challenge. Apart from these, I also want to try and finish the Middle Earth series by Tolkien and the books of Ken Follet that I haven't read yet.

What does your reading list for 2016 look like? Share with the readers and let's inspire each other!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

8 People Who Made My Year

Photo credit
Not that I won an award this year, but there are people who made my journey of self-discovery worthwhile. And I think gratitude is one of the best ways to acknowledge what we have in our lives. So here's the list, starting from the beginning of the year:

1. Darshan Gajara for being the tech genius in my life! My professional blog looks the way it does solely because of him. I am sure it has been challenging for him to deal with a tech novice like me but he has been patient through all my challenging, "Why is it not possible" phases! Thanks, Darshan! I am glad I found you on Twitter!

2. Ankita Dhawan, my first girl friend in Mumbai (not to confuse with all the SMW friends I mentioned in my earlier post where most are guys!) and a blogging inspiration in my life. Sweet and helpful, she was the reason I kicked myself out of my blogging lethargy and took up the 30- day blogging challenge this year. Thanks for being around, babe! Also, she's great at beauty and lifestyle blogging which solves a lot of my make-up woes! :) (check out her awesome blog here)

3. Blogchatter, the blogging community handle on Twitter that turned my blogging fortunes around when they made me the #superblogger of the week sometime in September this year. I hadn't done anything to deserve it since I wasn't really blogging much. But this brought me back to my love of blogging since I posted for 7 consecutive days that week to justify the title I was given. And the rest, as they say, is history!

4. A big thanks to my friend, RK for suggesting to me to the ideal co-working space! To find your own space in Mumbai and one that's fits your budget is next to impossible. But this place has been a gift from heaven...sorry RK! :) It's helped my productivity go off the charts and been able get some ideas up and running from that space!

5. Gratitude is also due to Milind Kher, who has been very helpful and motivating. Endless emails with him to bounce off my ideas have kept me going during some times of self doubt.

6. Social media is a mammoth to conquer and making your place in it is a herculean task. Akathmadevi, the social media dynamite, has been my go-to source for a lot of concepts I couldn't understand and had questions about. She has always been kind and found the time to help me out on phone, msgs or even Skype! Thanks, darling! Couldn't have done it without you!

7. I believe that selfless deeds are the ones that have kept goodness in this world alive. And how could I forget my #FF and RT angels from Twitter. Thank you, Kunjal Kamdar for all the #FFs over the recent months when I needed them and Gurudutt Kamath for the RT sprees! I also want to thank everyone who went out and RTd my tweets to share information even though they did not have to!

8. Not to sound too cliched but credit is definitely due to my better half who's made everything in my life possible! Not just this year, but all the years I have been with him have been awesome times of learning to believe in myself, exploring my passions and stepping out of my comfort zones knowing that he's around to cover me for blunders I might make in the process! :)

This post turned out to be longer than I thought! But bear with me for a couple of more minutes. The year would not have been this awesome without all the people who decided to follow me on Twitter, like my FB page and encourage me to keep at it. I also met wonderful people like Vishal Kataria, Mitu Samar and Ajay Kontham, my Twitter friends, in person. I also made new friends on Twitter and I look forward to knowing them better next year.

Can you think of people who made a difference to you this year? Even if it is just one person, make an effort to thank them! No one? Hug your mom! You probably did not realise but she has been the only selfless person caring about you all year long! :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

9 valuable lessons I learnt in 2015

2015 has been a pretty adventurous year for me. I tried a lot of things - failed in some while I got some others right. So I thought instead of indulging in elaborate pontification on what works and what doesn't, here are quick 9 things I learnt this year:

1. Yes, being happy is in my hands
2. True friends will always be around
3. Tough times tell you who your true friends are
4. If people let you down, you were wrong in expecting that they won't
5. Twitter is a great place to make friends
6. Everyone wants to succeed but the paths can be different. So it's ok to be different.
7. First impressions are usually deceptive
8. You may be an influencer online, but the neighbour will still ask, "So, what do you do?"
9. Count your blessings and you'll find more than you expected to

Each one of these has a story behind it. But the important point is to take these lessons with me and hopefully make the next year better because of them.

Can you think of the top thing that you learnt this year? I am sure even if there is one big learning every year, we are becoming better people with passing time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

10 memorable clicks of 2015

Countdown to the new year (photo credit)

Since this has been the most social year (actually the only, so far) in 8 years, I have quite a few awesome moments captured in photos! This turned out to be much harder than I thought! I have been poring over the photos for hours and had to zero in on the ones I could include here. I had to leave out many due to time and space (and your attention span constraints!). Watch out, you just might get lucky next time! :)

ONE - New friends: My first set of friends in 8 years of living in Mumbai! My 4 am friends who I shamelessly use sometimes for social media advice ;) And I also realised that if you are with the right people, a woman can feel the safest among a group of guys! Thorough gentlemen, these!

The social media team for Social Media Week, Bangalore, February 2015
TWO - Social Media Week - has to be my favourite part of the year! I worked with the best team ever (see the pic above!). I wanted to include every memory of the event but I shall spare you. Rest assured, it was a memorable time meeting influencers, making new friends and more importantly, learning what goes behind social media campaigns for events.

Fun moments from Social Media Week and being featured among the top authors for the event
THREE - Coaching certification: An important milestone in my professional life, I am now a certified coach to help individuals with their personal and professional goals.

Mandatory group photo after we all got our coaching certificates from Erickson International in July 2015

FOUR - My first open workshop: A milestone to end the year with a bang! It was a simple and short workshop on blogging but managed to achieve all its goals and created the impact it intended. Looking forward to many more to come!

My first open workshop in December 2015

FIVE: Wagah border: One more destination struck off my list this year - Amritsar! And here's a picture from Wagah Border. The pride one feels for the nation can be felt only in that moment when you are sitting amidst history at the borders of the two countries.

Wagah Border, May 2015

This year was also the year of rubbing shoulders with a lot of celebrities and well known personalities

FIVE -  Sean Gardner: The Forbes No. 1 social media influencer and a very humble person. He took pictures with everyone who went to talk to him about his brilliant keynote speech!

With Sean in February 2015

SIX - Mandira Bedi: I have always been a fan of her fitness levels. I got into the wrong room during a blogging event and there she was hosting another event! This proves that it pays to be wrong sometimes! :)

With Mandira Bedi in November 2015

SEVEN - Purba Ray: How great is it to run into one of your favourite celebrity bloggers and have her recognise you? Yes, 2015 has been nice to me!

With 2 of the best bloggers I know, Ankita (Left) and Purba (Right)

EIGHT- My date with HR influencers: Some nice things in life happen by chance and this was one such event. I saw a conversation on Twitter and jumped in to see if I could join this esteemed group of HR influencers. And here I am! 

With HR influencers from Twitter
NINE - Sairee Chahal of Sheroes: Her frail physique is just the opposite of the determination she carries in it! I have been following Sairee on Twitter for sometime now and really looked forward to meeting this inspiring woman! Thank you, 2015!

With Sairee, Shweta Pathak And Rakshita in Decmber 2015
TEN - Old friends: Here's to old friends I caught up with during my visit to Delhi in October this year. Friends who know you since ages are the best ones to appreciate the awesome people we have grown up to become! Thank you for your time, Tony and Supriya! (And Tina, who we missed taking a picture with!)

Old friends are like stepping into your pajamas after a hard day! 

I truly believe that you'll find your life a lot more blessed than you think only when you sit down to count your blessings. This seemingly uneventful year turned out to be a pretty awesome one as I went through old blog posts, pictures, chats etc. I am so looking forward to the other countdown posts. Do stick around and read the others too. And also, leave comments! :)

(Pardon me for not tagging individuals in this post. That would have been one heck of a job!)

Monday, December 21, 2015

11 reasons why 2015 was awesome for me

Countdown 2016 (Photo credit)
Starting today, I am doing a countdown to the new year with a new post everyday - just a fun way to make the end of the year more fun! So, for today I thought of 11 reasons why this year was awesome for me.

1. I made my first set of friends in Mumbai during Social Media Week earlier this year
2. I got into the routine of regular workouts and it feels great
3. My training blog has 80 posts and I took up a 30 day blogging challenge on this one
4. I became friends with a visually challenged person and learnt to appreciate life through her eyes
5. I got to train in Srinagar, which was a pretty unique experience
6. I was featured among female entrepreneurs on We Are The City
7. I met blogging stalwarts like Purba Ray, Arnab Ray, social media geniuses like Jeff Bullas and Sean Gardner
8. Lost my blogging mojo and found it back, thanks to @blogchatter on Twitter
9. Got myself certified as a coach
10. I discovered co-working spaces and have a so-called office I can go to and work from
11. I should reach 1800 followers on Twitter by the end of 2015 from a paltry number of a few hundred at the beginning

Actually, there are more awesome things like sitting through the creative writing class by Natasha Badhwar and the master class by Jeff Bullas. So, it was a great year in many ways.

Can you think of reasons why this year was brilliant for you?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

5 Lessons I learnt from #NaBloPoMo - the blogging challenge

Yes! I am back! I had planned to write this post on December 1 under the delusion that since I could write 27 posts in 27 days, continuing the streak would be easy peasy! But yeah! I learnt a few lessons about blogging 'after' I finished the challenge. So here are all my lessons from the blogging challenge put together:

1. It takes a challenge to kick us into action: It is so easy to rest on the laurels of past work! We need to constantly challenge ourselves to keep the blog going. And I think that's what the challenge is - finding time amidst the overwhelming chaos of everyday life. So, keep your motivation going. Set the least possible goal - say once a week - so that it's not too much and anything more is an achievement! And take up challenges once in a while. They really revv up your blogging mojo!

2. Plan your posts: I can't emphasise on this enough. I also mentioned this in my post about beating writer's block. By plan, I don't mean have an elaborate editorial calendar with due dates and ideas etc. If that works for you, great! But I sure haven't stuck to any calendars so far. But I have started jotting down ideas in my little book for some time now. And then I put them in the drafts of my blog. So now, I don't have to hunt for ideas - in my head or my little note book. I just go to my blog and see what I'd like to write about on that day. If I have ideas on some topics, I jot them down to so that I can develop them when I choose to write on it.

3. Prioritise - Is writing really important to you? Or would you rather do something else with that time? During the challenge, writing was absolutely important to me. I am a stickler for sticking to plans and schedules, well, in some ways! So, I wrote consistently and squeezed in time during the challenge. But after that, other things took priority. So, if I connect this point to the previous one, decide your post idea for the week and ensure you find time through the week to keep working on it. This way, writing is at least in the schedule of your week and you will find the time for it.

4. My writing has gotten better - I have been writing for a few years now and have always felt inadequate. I toiled to put together words I'd be impressed with and felt that others had a better way of putting things together. But with this writing challenge, I have actually noticed my writing get better gradually. We are usually unaware as we move from consciously incompetent to unconsciously competent. I struggle a lot less to string words together now. Earlier, it was an effort to put an idea into a perfect sentence that would convey the same message as my thought. But surprisingly, practice did make me, well, close to perfect. So, write more to write better and faster.

5. Passion sustains all: When I first missed posting for the first time on 28th November - I faulted on points 2 and 3 - I let it go thinking it's okay to miss one day since I was traveling and had limited net access. But once I stumbled, it became easier to skip the next day too. I think there's something about letting our guards slip. Every time I skip gym for a couple of days, it just becomes easier to do more of it. (Any research behind this?). And it just gets harder to get back. I never thought I'd not be able to write for an entire week after the challenge! So, yeah, keeping the passion going and staying focussed on your reasons for writing are very important. Forced commitment is hardly a commitment. You need fuel to keep going. Find the reason for yours!

And before I finish this post, I will shamelessly use this space to promote my blogging workshop for beginners. Do let your friends know about it. Please find the details here:

I'd love to learn from your blogging experiences. Share them in your comments and lets help everyone learn from here.