Is networking overrated?

Diary
 
 

As a professional career coach I often advise people to build up and maintain a network as it will help them find a new role or start a new business venture faster. I consider myself an effective networker (online and offline). I really enjoy connecting people and I often bring people together who would not have met otherwise. Even two Twitterfriends in Islamabad suggested I was helping them getting engaged J.

Still recently in a bleak moment of self-doubt I asked myself if I had overrated the power of my network and wasted my time helping others. Then I looked back at my past year and all the wishes that I had sent to the universe:

1)   One business contact recommended me internally so I got my first big contract that pays my rent now.

2)   One of my best friends introduced me to another friend who rents out an office to me now. My coaching lounge is ideal: quiet, discrete and looking into a green garden. We have our own entrance and I have a „colleague“ I can have a chat with when I feel like taking a break.

3)   The same friend sent me an announcement for an apartment that led me to the apartment I moved into in November. A dream place and even though it is Zurich I got it.

4)   Through networking I found all the trusted partners and consultants I work with in my company.

5)   As part of a women’s network I get to meet wonderful women across the city and these connections inspire further ideas.

The only surprise that did not come through a network was the man of my dreams. He just saw me and said: „I have been waiting for you.“ Seems not everything in life can be done through networks but a great deal of it. In the professional world though I feel it is essential no matter whether you work in a large organisation or run your business. In some cultures such as the Chinese culture the network is even seen as your capital. What I have also learnt is that as your network grows you need to slow down your pace as otherwise you will not be able to keep in touch.

What is your experience with networking? Please like if you agree that networking has helped you a lot in the past.

Mother’s Day 2013: Tame your EGO, woman?

Men helping wife to carry the load.

True love: Men helping wife to carry the load.

 

 Guest post by @angieweinberger

In light of Sheryl Sandberg’s book „Lean In“ I recently pondered about the question of my ego. I have always been ambitious and had targets in my professional life. I still do. Ms. Sandberg inspired me to write down „I want to be the #1 expert in my field Global Mobility.“ Basically I want the world to think „Angie Weinberger“ when they think of Global Mobility / International Assignments and expat issues.

This is a high ambition. It is almost ridiculous and totally against my values and education BUT I can see a point in telling myself that if I do aspire to be #1 I might have a chance to end up in the Top100.  My area of expertise is a niche and rather specialized. Many HR Professionals avoid Global Mobility as if it was the holy grail of doom.

Well, it is actually because every case is different. With international assignments you get the variety of humankind. Every expat struggles in one way or another but usually they all have a different story. Some patterns are similar, some processes can be aligned but you deal with every single expat at a time.

In my view it is a wonderful profession and it requires a lot of different skills. So assuming I am rather good at this (which is already hard to write) why do I still tame my ego and tell myself: „You will never be #1. There are so many other GM Professionals out there who are a lot better than you are.“ Why do I already limit myself? According to Ms. Sandberg it is because of my gender. So it is a mental or biological barrier that can be overcome through coaching for example.

In a discussion with a friend and other women I currently often hear that they gave up on “being successful” or “managing it all”. So are we going back to 1950 now? Women can have a family and shall be happy with that.

Why are we not allowing ourselves to be successful and at the same time have children? What are we waiting for?

“Like, share, RT” this post if you think women should allow themselves to be ambitious and help each other achieving their professional goals!

Happy Mother’s Day

Angie

PS: Thank you Mama for having shown me how to be a mother and still work. Thank you for showing me that even in tough times you can be the breadwinner and educate a daughter to be creative, resourceful and intrinsically motivated. Thank you Grandmother for having worked while raising six children after the war. Thank you Auntie for helping out when Mama was too busy to take care of me.

Sometimes I cry for no reason – an open heart

IMG_0279 IMG_0278 IMG_0277 IMG_0253

 

Anjuna Beach, Goa India

by Vivienne M. Sharma

My heart is open for the first time in months. I sense people’s emotions and I laugh with the receptionist Sajan, the driver and guy at the check-in. One immigration person greets me with “Guten Morgen”. I am amazed and say “Danke”. Tears almost here. I blink and put on the sunglasses. “Don’t cry Vivi. Keep yourself together.”

Ideas are flowing through my head and I feel like I am missing structure. My head is spinning. The reality of the wonderful time with my loved one and once again India has touched me in so many ways. I feel like on cloud nine. Vivi has fallen in love. My love. He reminds me of my father. Why is that? He is so loving, so caring and still so funny.

“In the West we live our lives as if we could plan it.” I said to him.

“…and in the East we wake up in the morning and thank our God(s) for having given us another chance to live a day.” He told me with a big smile.

Once love touches your heart it is difficult to think straight. India does that to me every time. I come back to Switzerland and I am still in analogue-mode* like someone who has been on a ship and the earth still moves for several days after. “My” India is full of color and loving people, full of time and energy, full of buzz and opportunity. It is so different from the India that is in our Western minds.

In my perception of India relationships are in the centre of everything we do. In my own inner world this is the same but for years I have lived in cultures where the task seems more important than the relationship. This creates friction. In India I am at ease. I go with the flow. Most of the time I am even patient with people (which is clearly none of my strengths). In India I am happy to appreciate people for their efforts and I smile at strangers.

Let’s hope I can keep it up for a while in this culture too and see what happens :-). What is your experience with analogue and digital mode?

Yours,

VMS

*analogue-mode is a concept I learnt from a Japanese intercultural researcher. You find more information here: http://web.usm.my/aamj/17.1.2012/AAMJ_17.1.6.pdf

Field Research in India

IMG_0359

My dear friends,

Most of you know that I have spent the last three weeks in my “home” country India to research and relax. Goa’s beautiful beaches helped immensely. In Dubai I made the last edits of “Double Happiness” (Part 1) and sent the novella to my editor. She will run the final edits this week. Then the book is off to the publisher. It has been a long birth (more than 10 months). My other life came in between. In February I got so busy with the other job that I could not even touch the book. I am really looking forward to seing the final version. I hope you are too?

Looking forward to your comments and feedback.

Yours truely

VMS

How to change your life so you have more time for writing

IMG-20120706-00461

Café Kashi in Cochin, Kerala, South India – one of my favorite hangouts. 

Vivienne M. Sharma

Tom J. has been fired. He still gets up in the morning at 6 am, has a shower, starts dressing and leaves the house in a suit. The embarrassment of telling his wife and kids is so high that he rather spends the whole day at the employment office. He also goes to Starbucks every day for two hours. Tom has a dream: He wants to be writer. Even though he is a bit worried about his finances he buys a new laptop and gathers information about writing workshops.

When you are in the workforce and have a full packed diary there’s nothing you desire more than a day without meetings and conference calls. You would like to have days where you can get into and remain in a creative flow for more than two minutes and where you can freely decide when to take your coffee break or lunch.

Tom found out after a few weeks that job search is a full-time job. Still he has some time now during the day to consider what he really wants to do.  He realizes how hard it is to create your own world. Your motivation has to come from within and not from your boss or from your diary that he used to follow like it was the holy bible.

When you decide that you want to lead a self-determined life you need to learn to master yourself and take responsibility for your actions a lot more than in the past. Every success you can attribute to yourself but every failure as well. If you do not manage to understand your readers you might be delivering a result that is mediocre. Tom also realized how much he had to learn. Then he planned to spend about three hours with free flow writing every week. It works for a few weeks and Tom has a manuscript ready.

Then a new day job comes along. The efforts of finding a job have been worth while. Tom needs the income to sustain his family.

Suddenly the three hours are used for operational day to day activities again. On the weekends Tom wants to spend time with his family. He still has his dream but somehow he is not pursuing it the way he wants to. So he puts the manuscripts in a drawer and postpones his dream for another year…

How do you make time for writing?

How do you start your story?

IMG-20120620-00210

Today I just drove around and got lost on the highway. A flash woke me up “Shit” I thought. I drove more than 20 km too fast. This fine will be huge and I am already broke as hell. The whole day I had been thinking about writing but somehow I could not sit down.

There seemed to be too much to do around the house and even after an hour I still cleaned up. I went for a walk. Half an hour into my walk I started to observe some people and words started forming in my head. This looks like a start for a new story. I slid into it easily. Actually, I had nothing else to do and I moved. My brain worked after the walk.

 

I learnt about writing is that you need to start at some point. You might be the type like me who needs inspiration from the outside world. I cannot always come up with a story from my imagination but once I have the start I can sit down and write almost without a plan. With “Double Happiness” I started like my driving today. I had no aim and I am free to fail. I did not write this story to become a novel.

 

At one point in time I woke up out of my trance. My writing voice had taken over. I gave birth to Vivienne M Sharma in the dungeons of a wildlife park, a tiger resort. Again, I had nothing else to do that day so I wrote and wrote. At one point either Lara or Anna asked me “What are you doing?” “I am writing a story.”

 

If you feel the same way about writing but you do not know where to start pick any ordinary scene. You can get an idea how I started when you look into “A winter journey…”. Never mind the English. (I used Google Translate for this one and it is hard to translate from my mother tongue). Describe what is happening around you. Start to build a story around the people you see. Use all your stereotypes about a person and let them come to life. You can. You are a writer and they will not sue you unless you know their real names (and use them).

Hugs

Vivienne M Sharma

Are you a writer?

IMG-20110719-00517At the fancy dinner party last night (where I decided to quit smoking for good) a nice lady from Venezuela asked me “Are you a writer?”. I smiled and said “At the moment I am just a writer, but hopefully in 2013 I will become an author.” She was keen on understanding what I mean by that. Many of us have a talent for writing as children. It is like painting which children do naturally. However, over the years of growing up we lose part of our talents and hide them in the deep space nine of our brains behind the wounds of broken relationships and other everyday worries that keep us from living a happy and fulfilled life.

In my case it was probably a trauma that pulled my energy for writing away and I only slowly rediscovered it through tweeting, blogging, articles and poetry. Now my writing is constantly in me and wants to come out. I write whenever I want and I have managed to draft a novel of four parts.

At this point it is a “quadrology” (wow the word “quadrology” actually exists but I should call it “tetralogy” if I want to be taken seriously going forward.), four stories belonging together and building up on each other. It does not really makes sense to read one of them only.

Anyway, my writing so far seems more like a hobby and when I talk about it to close friends, it seems like I am talking about a hobby. From what I have learnt the difference between being a writer and an author is that an author is published and writes to make a living. It would be nice to make a living from writing but it is a long way to get there. So if you feel like writing is just a hobby but you want to become a published writer you might want to follow me on this path of discovery. I am not sure I can help you because I am still a beginner at this as well. Plus reading “Raw Material” by JJ Marsh made me understand how much I still have to learn about writing. As you might know and see, English is not my native language and that means that you will lose out on elaborateness and play on words. In my first language there are words and sounds that just appear nice on paper but do not translate to an audience. So one of the first questions I ask you is: Who are you writing for?

Let’s talk about this more in 2013.

Hugs

VMS

 

My mother’s secret diary

“Double Happiness” is based on the secret diary of my late mother Vivienne Wardi. I have sworn not to show it to my father Arjun, nor Samir. Samir is my mother’s first husband. The original diary is rather juicy and a little bit too personal for sharing but I thought I could give you a spice of it here. She never wrote any dates but I assume it was in June and July 2012.

Saturday

I did not feel like writing a diary through my India trip. I have so many wonderful memories. Now, Arjun has invited me for a surprise weekend in a houseboat. We are leaving soon and I cannot write when he is around me. It is too exciting.

Monday

No man has ever made me feel so loved. Arjun is always so gentle and romantic. He looks at me with his dark eyes, smiles and I always see hunger inside them. Yesterday, before we went to sleep he sang my favorite bollywood song for me. It is from “Fanaa” and I cannot even say how it is called. I think it is “Mere Haath Mein”.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIG1m9cMOAU
When we came home from the houseboat last night he asked me if we wanted to go for dinner. We wanted to a hotel in the city. I was freezing. We even tried a red wine called Sula. Arjun said he had never tried red wine before. We took a rikshaw home because it was pouring. He kissed me on the backseat. I felt his erection and I was a bit embarrassed because of the driver.
When we got home he did not want to have sex. He just looked at me while I slowly took my wet clothes off. He liked my new red panties that I had bought for this occasion (even though I did not realize the occasion would come so soon). He sat on the sofa and asked me to come closer. I only wore my underwear. He turned me around and pulled me on his lap. Then he kissed his way up my spine. His hands rested on my hips. He opened the bra with his teeth and then his hands moved up to pull the bra off. He took both breasts in his hands and massaged them. 

My mother’s secret diary

I found a beautiful poem in my mother’s secret diary. She dedicated it to my father but she called him “Cookie”…

I FELL IN LOVEChandini – a Poem for Cookie

Nothing can capture the beauty
of a full moon’s night
I feel drawn to you like
a moth to a flickering candle.
Your name like a grape ready
to melt in my mouth,
Lips so soft, a smile that
lights a thousands stars in my heart.

What inspired me for “Double Happiness”?

A symbol of eternal love

Agra, India June 2012

Dearest friends,

Without creative space there is no room for your inner voice to submerge from the deep holes of your subconsciousness. For years and years I had been living in a world of target orientation and performance. I was tired constantly and worked my butt off. Then in 2006 I came to India for the first time. The experience changed my views on the world and myself. I knew I had to change something. So I started a long journey to myself. Within a few years my mother was very sick and got healed, I got married and I went through a long self-discovery journey. On 1 January 2011 I re-discovered writing. It was a hobby I had lost. As a 15 year old I did more creative writing than in 15 years of my professional life. I started my first blog: World of Rose – (http://worldofrose-angieweinberger.blogspot.ch/?zx=b8fb61d008200eb8). This is a pure mini-poetry blog. In the meantime I am only opening it to readers. Writing poetry inspired me for short stories.

On a business trip I started to write “A winter’s journey”. When I finally changed my life completely by resigning from my last job, I decided that I needed to go for a long-term dream: I wanted to visit Rajastan and take a longer break in India. I did that and for the first time in two years I travelled without my beloved macbook (yes, we have a true relationship). I left the computer at home. Then many impressions on the journey were hard to capture other than by writing about them. I did not want to write a blog and I did not feel like journalling either. I enjoyed taking bits of the journey and interwove them with my fantasy.

Initially I wanted to write a short story but the nice friends around me thought I was writing quite a lot for a short story. They wanted to know what I was doing and some of them even gave me input (Yes, thank you LARA!!). Others only later realized that they wanted to be in the story (Astrid, Damian, Anna and Sajin). Some were never really asked (Arjun, Samir and Raj). In the end it is all fiction but there might be a hint of a true person or several persons in my characters. Anyway, most of them are good friends. I hope they won’t mind. Those of you who know me well understand that I have a huge imagination and that my fascination for everything Bollywood has an impact on the story. I am now dreaming of a Bollywood Epic of “Double Happiness”. That’s why sometimes I have mentioned my dream cast for the characters already.

You have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment.

Bid hugs

VMS