The Digital League?

I got such a terrific surprise today.

Over the past few weeks, I decided that in a country like Pakistan with such a huge unemployment rate it was unfair of me not to include 50% of the population in Women’s Digital League. But then, it’s Women’s Digital League you know. How do I work around that? Spoke to my mentor and he was like, “Why do you even need to announce that? Just quietly become THE Digital League and when you have enough women in the workforce you can make WDL as an off-shoot of the main business”. Why do simple solutions like that never come to my mind?

So, Ladies & (reluctantly) Gentlemen, now WDL is an equal opportunity employer. We will make the changes to the domain name and all once we have enough funds to do it. At this point, being a social enterprise, spending money bringing in more work is more important then worrying about branding.

Having said that, I am working with some wonderful guys (besides the ladies). I was gonna tell you about the surprise. So Mr Usama Shahid Khan, the first male service provider at WDL, did such a swell job for the Malaysian client he was working with that they have made him an integral part of their team and put his profile up on their website. Have a look at Mr. Khan here:

I am so happy and so proud of him. And I am not celebrating just him. As we near the end of 2012, I would like to send out a BIG thank you to everyone associated with WDL. All the ladies who have worked with me in the last 3 years, the mentors and advisors, the loving supporters, and the clients of course. At times I haven’t been able to deliver. There have been times when I have been so embarrassed and depressed over work not done (Thank you Government for continually blocking Google and YouTube services hampering my work) that I’ve completely disappeared from cyberspace for weeks and told myself, “Hell with it all”. But through it all, I have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by people who believe in me. I say it out loud, “I am a failure”. I am in terms of the revenue I bring in and lack of management skills. I am barely a businessperson. However, I won’t give up and will keep doing what little I can do because …

To laugh often and much;

to win the respect of intelligent people

and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;

to leave the world a bit better,

whether by a healthy child,

a garden patch

or a redeemed social condition;

to know even one life has breathed easier

because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

P.S. Vote for WDL here, pretty please?


Flashing Lights Finally and GIST “I Dare”

Firstly and most importantly my life long dream has come true. I SAW THE FLASHING LIGHTS! Yes, I did. No, not in my sleep. I actually really truly saw them. Legend has it … one fine day my boss decided to show me the place and I saw it. End of story! Woo hoo. How awesome is that! I took pics but was told it was super secret and so deleted them though extremely reluctantly. Sorry my peeps – can’t share. For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about I have always had this crazy obsession with seeing the room inside a tech company that has all the tech stuff in it – like the machinery and all … that goes blink blink, flash flash. Still don’t know what its called but I finally saw it and life is GREAT! 😀

There is LOADS to share about Women’s Digital League but am waiting for the right time to do that so you will just have to put up with it for a bit.

Going to Dubai for a few days for the finale of GIST’s BPC. Am extremely nervous. Have zero preparation and am panicking. Sure will be happy when its over. GIST made a “banner” of all teams that are participating. Here is how mine looks:

Yes, there is more of Amara here then me but then I am not surprised – she is such a diva. Also, perhaps the only pic of me without a burqa. 😀

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

3 Photos, 3 Lessons

What do you see when you look at this photo? A woman suffering from domestic violence? Slipped, fell and hit my head against a bucket full of hot water and hence the bruise. Many well-wishers were concerned and thought what you probably thought too. Was told by a friend how some ppl were speculating about trouble in heaven. How many times have you heard people say Don’t judge a book by it’s cover? Perceptions can be ridiculously wrong. Always give people a chance. Don’t think the worse first. Be open to possibilities and don’t be skeptical.

*HappySigh … in the last year I have had great success as an entrepreneur and great disappointments as well. I have already mentioned a couple of million times about the certification from Project Artemis and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program – don’t worry, won’t go into that. What feels even greater is when people from my own country take notice and appreciate what I am doing. I got a right old thrill from giving a workshop at the Pakistan Blog Awards UnConference in Islamabad. The emails and twitter messages I have received since have been extremely encouraging and I know I’ll cherish them for a long time to come. For a little while I gave up on Women’s Digital League telling myself I couldn’t do it anymore and had reached a saturation point. It was pure hell I tell you. Because I know, in fact I am CERTAIN this can work. All I am looking for now is a tech partner who can help with writing code for the portal I  have in mind. Been networking like crazy and taking chances viz a viz my family by attending all sorts of events and sometimes volunteering to even speak at them to raise awareness about WDL and to find someone who would work with me on this. Let’s see if I’ll find someone in 2012.

This is my fav photo of 2011. Eat your hearts out. I am fabulous and I know it. Just because I am not insecure and I don’t flaunt it doesn’t mean I am a nobody. 😀 Yes, this is how some of you sound when you throw around your accomplishments. Humility is a rare virtue and is often confused with a lack of achievements. Being humble is a trait that may not get me far with people looking for ‘confidence’ (arrogance, really) but I will never change it. I know a lot, have achieved a lot but there is A MOUNTAIN LOAD of work to be done yet both in my personal and professional life. I can’t pretend to know something when I really don’t. Saying oh I am a wonderful businesswoman coz I know it all is just not the truth. I suck at numbers, my Facebook statuses are about how to divide $500 equally among 6 women and that’s how I run my accounts. I am still confused between assets and liabilities, and profit vs revenue but I am not afraid to ask for help. Been planning to run a series of events through the country to promote awareness about online work and startups and the first one is already scheduled for 28th Jan, and I still have to get a sponsor. I am getting nightmares thinking about it but if I don’t pull it through on the 28th will that mean I am a loser who is all talk and can’t get anything done? That’s what I’d have thought a few years back but not any more. These are stumbling blocks and once I stumble and stand up, I’ll find a way to remove the obstacles or work around them and start anew. For now, fingers crossed I pull it through on the set date.

OK byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
P.S. Yes, I never edit or reread through anything I write. Feel free to b****. 😀

I Am Not Rich, And Hiring An Assistant

I have been asked several times in the last few weeks why I don’t hire an assistant. I am interviewing someone on Tuesday for that much coveted (not really) position. But here is why the thought had never crossed my mind before:

Yes, that’s my workspace. A little corner of my bedroom with me sitting facing the wall for the most part of the day with a lone tube-light on at all hours as there are no windows in the room and is therefore very dark even during the day. To lighten up the mood, I have a super ugly puppet I bought from Rafi-Peer Theater 2 years ago. Don’t ask me why I bought it but I have this strange attachment with it and hence there it is, staring me right in the face for most part of the day every day.

Then there are the ADIDAS shoes and socks. I never know when I might get the chance to go outside for a quick walk around the courtyard, so they stay there unless I am expecting company.

And of course, there is the tea-mug (if I drink tea outta it and not coffee it becomes a tea-mug, right?).

This also shatters the myth that I am rich. I am not. Trust me. Don’t get fooled by the clothes and the gadgets. Some women come to me for work expecting to get paid a thousand $$$ a month. This is a very important blog for anyone wanting to work with WDL. Women’s Digital League is not a “get rich” project for me. I give fair wages which means over 60% of what the client pays me – and trust me, they don’t pay me $50/hr – FAR FROM IT. Also, I spend more time finding work to give to the ladies in Hunza that I don’t charge a cent as commission, then I spend finding paying work. Money is good, money is GREAT and I would LOVE to be rich but now is not the time and WDL is definitely not the means.

Coming back to the topic, I am working on cleaning up another room in the house and making it decent for another person to come and work from. I have been offered awesome office space (see, good things happen to me – I am not optimistic for nothing) but can’t take it as it’s in Islamabad and would mean leaving the kids alone every day for a few hours. I am sooo hoping I would find someone to come in and work with me. Maybe I am jeopardizing that by writing this post. What if it scares away the few candidates that are interested in the position? But then again, I would want my assistant, my very first assistant, to know exactly what she was getting herself into.

Working with WDL is not all that glamorous at all. You must be passionate about your work, have a strong desire to succeed, be willing to learn and be patient, extremely patient, and not think of it as a “job” but more as a mission, to really enjoy it. I know I love what I do. It’s amazing to see the difference a $100/month can make in the life of a person you have never met and probably never will. It’s one of the most satisfying feelings ever. As usual, I am rambling … so …