Moi in the Limelight

Peeps, been lying low deliberately. Got something cooking up. Can’t tell until I have all the ingredients and seasoning. Meanwhile, I had to share something with you all.

I am truly blessed. No, I didn’t go and have quadruplets. What is it that make life really worthwhile? Yes, fancy vacations, limos, size 10, Brad Pitt all that helps. But they don’t give you true happiness or what reason does Ms. Jolie have to be depressed. Right?

What really matters is when you can form a true human connection with people around you. See and experience the best in them. The kind of best that makes you look at the madness surrounding human kind and start believing in an alien race conspiring against us. Because how can a specie capable of so much goodness, such love, such warmth and sensitivity ever hurt anyone at all.

I am fortunate enough to know many such people and Amy Scerra is one of them. She is a project manager at Thunderbird. We met while I was there for Project Artemis. We didn’t bond instantly. To me she was the distant one. The one who was quiet, didn’t laugh out loud much, kept her distance. She dressed awesome. Wore a diamond watch. The Rich American Woman. And then she let me have a peek inside her soul. We were riding one night in a van and she started talking religion. Oops. Seriously? A liberal Christian-American from NY who studied in Las Vegas wants to know about Allah and Qura’an. So happens she had a copy of the Qura’an she had bought on her many travels. This apparently small gesture made me see her differently. It was just the “respect” factor. A person who could bond with others as a “person” minus the titles and tags. And the more I came to know about her especially through her blog the more I knew she was my “kindred spirit”.

1st day, 1st impressions. What a DIVA! Diet coke, neon OPI and a Nordstrom dress. Can you blame me? ;)

1st day, 1st impressions. What a DIVA! Diet coke, neon OPI and a Nordstrom dress. Can you blame me? 😉

 

Lil Princess Amy and a giant Moi. We were color coordinated that day. *sigh. Miss her so much.

Lil Princess Amy and a giant Moi. We were color coordinated that day. *sigh. Miss her so much.

 

Today we are sisters and best of friends.

Why am I writing this? Because she recently gave a TED Talk in Phoenix that touched me to the core. A tweet, FB status, an email, none of those could do justice to how I feel every time I listen to it and neither does this blog. But I had to share this.

Love you soul-sister.

You can watch the TED Talk here:

Or on Vimeo here:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/65371163″>Amy Scerra at TEDxPhoenix Change – The Human Moment</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user15593072″>WD League</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

2012 Comes with a Bang!

Tomorrow is the end of the world so thought it was a good time to say my goodbyes to the World. Dramatic, right? Gosh, what is all this end of Mayan calendar and people moving to the hills etc bull? Even NASA jumped in to stop the madness. But whatever …

2012 has been a special year just like 2011 was super cool. I know if I tell you one more time about the business plan adventure in UAE thanks to GIST, (you) will look for (me), (you) will find (me), and (you) will kill (me). Then there was the Business Basics workshop at Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Success with Social Media one at Kuch Khaas, incredible honor of attending a workshop by Ken and Laura Morse (of the MIT fame) and so on.

But the two highlights of the year were;

1. Learning I Knew Nothing

I spent 7 months working at a BPO company in Islamabad. To be honest I was a bit snooty. Me? Work in a run-of-the-mill BPO company that has become a trademark with the South Asians and Filipinos? I was too cool for all of that. I read TechCrunch and Mashable. I worked with cool firms based in Silicon Valley. What can a BPO teach me that I don’t already know or something that I would want to know? How wrong I was! Those 7 months taught me more than the gruelling 4 years I had spent pouring over all those fancy Valley publications and, my love, Quora. You see, doing business in Pakistan has completely different dynamics. There are so many hurdles and power shortage is just one of them. That comes after you have successfully built a team and a company large enough that can’t be run from your basement any more on a backup device you can buy easily for $500. Where do you find the people to work with? Pakistanis are incredibly talented. I mean challenge them to hack the hardest website in the world and they will do it blindfolded. We have TED Fellows, we have entrepreneurs covered by Forbes. We have sportspeople (YES THAT’S A WORD). Scientists. Guinness record holder students. But how do I reach them? Where do they hide?

And then of course, it’s learning about pipelines and funnels. Oh God, how I hate those two words. They were my bane and still are. Truth is, the most brilliant, amazing business plan means nothing if you don’t tweak it to your market. So you may impress a judge in a business competition with your beautifully and most articulately written plan with some sprinkling of facts and figures here and there but implementing that plan is a completely different game all together.

Above all, I realized how important it was to work with a positive energy. Sitting on a garbage dump and getting frustrated over why you can’t smell the roses is just foolish. 🙂

2. Be Realistic

Here is a great quote my friend posted on her Facebook wall:

Some people will kill you over time if you let them; and how they’ll kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases like, “be realistic.” When this happens, close your ears and listen to your inner voice instead. Remember that real success in life isn’t what others see, but how you feel. It’s living your truth and doing what makes you feel alive.

Who doesn’t like buying new gadgets and travelling and getting lipo? This is also what people judge your success by. There was a great TED Talk about what is failure and a more humane idea of success. When I walk into a room full of people, no one rushes towards me to greet me and offer me a chair and requests photographs with me. WDL is not huge. But you know what … it makes me HAPPY. Also, being a social enterprise you don’t measure success by numbers but by smiles. Who can put a number on that? Yes, it hurts at time when you know there are people out there sniggering at you coz of the awards you haven’t won or the goodies you don’t own. But all of that disappears when someone looks at the difference, minute but difference nevertheless, that you are making.

Alec Ross, whom I met a couple of months back and blogged about here, gave a shout out to WDL that has left me honored and humbled.

In his TEDxMidAtlantic talk, “What Alec Ross Learned in 1,298 Days Working for Hilary Clinton” he mentions how despite visiting Pakistan at a terrible time when Malala was shot he found hope in the story of WDL.

Not a very long time ago I remember the annoying 25 yr old telling me WDL was about HOPE. It was about telling people there was a way out if they cared enough to look for it.

I am ending 2012 on a very positive note. Don’t let anyone stop you from dreaming and if you are gonna dream, might as well dream big. Forget about what others think you can or can’t do. It’s just them saying THEY can’t do it but using YOU instead. Don’t be the guy who tries to please everyone and ends up looking like a fool.

This wasn't necessary - just been dying to find a way to add it to a blog. :P

This wasn’t necessary – just been dying to find a way to add it to a blog. 😛

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Why Business Plans are Important

OK so am back from a 3-week dream trip to the US. First things first, here is a dedication to all my detractors:

That felt good … to all of you who thought I was crazy for running after impossible dreams and who laughed and scoffed and looked down because you went to medical school while I attended a 3rd grade college and studied english literature … look at me now. Ahhhh … what bliss. Thank you for all your negativity and for your b****iness. Made my resolve to do something “different” and “meaningful” even more stronger. So, hope this is all giving YOU HELL.

With that out of my system, I can go back to being the nice, sweet person you all know. I notice traffic on the blog. Amazing! So, all you anonymous, silent readers, if you are here for anything useful, sorry to disappoint you. This is just a place for me to rant and ramble and brag about my fabulousness. No, seriously!

Anyhoo … so after spending 3 weeks in the US making wonderful friends and meeting amazing people and spending US$11k of the American tax-payers’ money, what was it that I learned? A LOT, I tell you. My head is abuzz with ideas. I haven’t even had time to feel jet-lagged. Been working since the day I landed in Paki-land. But, after thinking and feeling like my brain was going to explode, trying to decide what I wanted to work on first … I realized … Thunderbird was right … I need a business plan. I can’t go around making great plans for out-of-this-world websites, and hiring a gazillion women to work from home at fixed salaries without capital, and to raise capital, I either have to steal my mother-in-law’s jewelry, or I have to write a business plan, and hope I find an investor just as crazy as I am. *If you are an investor, please read ‘crazy’ as FABULOUS.*

So, been working on it since yesterday using a template given to us by Prof. Steven Stralser at Thunderbird. I have also realized, while writing your business plan you will probably need a lawyer. For example, Women’s Digital League is not registered. To register I have to decide if I want to make it a Private Ltd. Company or a Public Company. I have had the best of the best explain to me the difference between the 2, but it’s beyond my comprehension so will have to leave it to a lawyer. Also, you might have to answer questions like:

  • What kinds of permits or license will you need to open for business?
  • What government requirements will you need to meet?

Now obviously, I don’t know the answers to either of the above. But an investor would want me to know about these and to take care of them before I get us both put behind bars. 😀

Also, having a business plan ensures you set your priorities right. What is it that you are going to do once you get the US$100 million (that’s how much Quora got … sighhh …. I DETEST rich people). Will you spend it on sales, marketing, HR, improving your services/product? Chances are you want to spend on all but then what is most important. It will help clear your head and put all your ideas into some kind of an order … I know things look a little less chaotic now that I have started working on a  BP. It’s kinda like spring cleaning. Your clear out the cobwebs, throw out the items you know you will NEVER use and that are so precious to you but are cluttering up the space (my Spice Girls shoes from 1996 – *sob), and clean out the bits and pieces that are the most useful and lay them in neat stacks.

So a Business Plan is essentially your vision put into words, and a strategic plan to help you achieve your goal. It helps put the mechanism into operation. An idea is just an idea and holds no value until you put it into motion. Plus, we live in a material world dahlins … like it or not, but $$$ is important. And no investor in his right mind (unless it’s your billionaire dad and you are the prodigal son *notice how I am diverting from my love of all things feminine and for the negatives am only using the masculines!) will give you any money. For that, you have to show her  (see the subtle change? Female equality? Sorry, we are superior. Men will just have to learn to live with it.) you have a sound financial understanding of your business, the capital you need, why you need it, how you will spend it, and how you will make that 1 million into 10 millions.

Because a good business plan is always a team effort (which sadly mine isn’t but will still work beautifully because my awesomeness = a team of 10 great ppl put together), therefore, you tend to not get carried away by your ideas and remain firmly rooted in reality. You get to debate each and every point and make sure you have a realistic strategy in place to help you through tough phases and not get bankrupt in your first year. Yes, it still happens despite the best of teams working together, but you narrow down your chances by leaps and bounds.

So, I know it sucks to sit down and write down everything because you would rather go out and do things then just talk about them. But if you need that seed capital that’s so important for startups, even virtual ones, dudettes you gotta nail your business plan.

Me goes works on mine …

Lemme know if you have any Qs …

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee