Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On self-awareness and marrying wrong people

Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.
Alain de Botton in the Sunday Review for the New York Times, full article here

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Profound Article from The Atlantic

Men in particular think that they have achieved something if they can make a woman mad, particularly if she is calm and intellectual. Often, they use the attempt to make you mad as a way of flirting, no doubt thinking that unlocking the pent-up emotions of such a woman is a sexual victory. (And note that they assume these emotions are pent up in general, not merely unavailable to them!) This exceedingly tedious exercise shows that they have few or no interesting resources for flirting (such as humor or imagination), and it really has the opposite effect from the one intended, boring the woman, who has certainly seen this before, and making them look very silly.
Excerpt from The Anger of the American People, a delicious conversation between The Atlantic's Emma Green and philosopher Martha Nussbaum. The rest dialogue is here

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

About your job

"Ignore the job description and produce results for somebody, I promise you, you won't be ignored. People will change the rules for you if you can produce outstanding results.


The fastest way to find your true passion is to commit to something you have an interest in. Really immerse yourself in the environment, don't just dabble. Volunteer with your whole heart. Do your homework and model the people who have done it best. Follow them around. Commit every cell in your body to learning and living that life and feel where that focus takes you." 

Ah! Tony Robbins.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Goosebumps on my mind

You know, I'm going to go ahead and write that book review, but how about using a different format like Storify? Why? Because this book I'm reading, this War of Art book by Steven Pressfield (not to be mistaken for the Art of War), is a heavenly experience. It has to be some sort of bible. It is so potent, so powerful, you want to get to the end, and at the same time you want to drag and savor every line.

Matter of fact, I was mulling over one of the paragraphs I read last night, and started to "evoke" Scriptures unwittingly. I was making comparisons with a verse from Hebrews 12:1, that I had not read or heard in ages. And that same paragraph made me think of this fine gentleman.

Guys, his name is Ejowvokoghene Divine Oduduru. Now you know! 
Credits: Memegenerator

Trust me, I question my associations too :)

Most importantly, I want to capture my experience, or at least try to document what happens in my mind when I'm away from (i.e. not reading) Pressfield's work, and how it fills up my psyche.


'Nuff said. Just Storify this already.

Imbalance

I was thinking of the word 'homeostasis' recently, which according to Dictionary.com* is:
The tendency of the body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium within its internal environment, even when faced with external changes.
Wikipedia** defines it as: "... the property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant."

That singular word got me rethinking, What is balance really about, and why do people/you want it?

It's a concept with different sides to it.

Stability: Finding peace, or being at peace with yourself.
The flip side: Need a shake up sometimes, when you encounter a comfort zone.

Success: This one is tricky, as it can be easily misrepresented or mistaken for the similitude of riches, i.e. appearance and vanity.
What I know: Stay true to yourself. The measure of success is not external. Own your truths, and enjoy your life's marathon.

Degrees of boundaries: The extent to which you (decide to) integrate or separate your life outside of work, with/from your work.
My two-cents: Network when you can. Make yourself priority, and for me that's really about understanding my vocation and my avocation. Not trying to catch up with your self as a result of misplaced priorities. Harnessing your personal power to live your best life.

The term 'work-life balance' is a concept with more than one interpretations, and for the purpose of this post, the context here is with regards to a woman who fits a particular mould. The shining star who runs the world, hers and yours i.e. running the show at home and at work. She's ideally a c-suiter, or c-level executive, typically a fly wife to a trophy husband, and probably a trophy mum to some ivy league children. Don't overthink it, you get the gist. She's a role model to other women, as she is one of the few with a complete story. Complete, she has it all.

Indeed, when I was a child, I thought like a child, and here I am trying to trace my first encounter or exposure to this perspective. This idea of balance made sense to me as a teenager, somewhere on the verge of transitioning into a young adult. I always admired strength and respected success, and whenever I saw those qualities in a mother figure, it served as some kind of validation for me. Yes, you can be that. In no time, I was charting my path, finding my own mentors and sitting at their feet, drinking in all they were offering, which was great for a young girl. They were strong women who were really looking to give their best at work, and give their best at the home front. However, looking back now, I can say that there were things that needed to be filtered, like misconceptions about success and ambition. And missing parts about being complete. And balance.

This is a flawed philosophy because no one is perfect. If these 'balanced' people are real people, then hearty kudos to them. By all means, everyone should aspire, and stay inspired by success stories. But let's check these contorted views of success. Those ones that seek to discredit, the ones with lousy stereotypes that tag a story as incomplete, or not worth telling if she is not "running" the show at work so to speak, or does not have kids, is divorced or unmarried. What if she was not even "corporate" to begin with. How about how she's really doing? The state of her health? Is she happy? Is she fulfilled? If this is the balance, I don't want it.

These days when I think of my balance, I think of fulfillment with a hint of hedonism. Eating, reading, traveling, like my profiles say, and really just getting on with my self-development and reveling in the pleasure of personal mastery. Happy to say I fixed my mindset early enough. If you're challenged to make yourself at least 1% better than you were yesterday, that already disrupts the balance model. I'm easily merging three separate discussions into one, so I'll wrap up my rambles with this. Enjoy the party of your life, and commit to being the best version of yourself. And then maybe we could get a conversation going about imbalance. Cheers, you rebel! :)











Edited: May 22, 2016.
*"homeostasis". The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. 17 May. 2016. <Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/homeostasis>.

Monday, May 16, 2016

#30DaysTo30

I'm asking my genius to show up everyday for the next 30 days and create something. Start: May 16, Checkpoint: June 16. Go!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Yesterday was Friday the 13th

It was also the day a senior colleague bailed on me during a conference call.

I almost died. Well, no I really did not.

I had the impression that this was to be yet another training session, where we tag teamed. Even though I was the host. she would take the lead and I would shadow her that one time.

"She's usually one or two minutes late, three max" I mused. Everyone else was on. I told the group we would give her a few minutes to join. And then five minutes in, I said something like, "Gentlemen, let's proceed."

At first, I was a nervous wreck. There were bursts of silence every now and then, but gradually things took care of themselves. Heck, the meeting even went into overtime. I paid extra attention to everything that was being said, took notes, spoke up, and answered questions to the best of my knowledge, even though that meant saying, "I'll have to find out and get back to you." Twice. Lol!

I was hoping to shadow her, but turns out I needed to be my own ray of sunshine. I don't know if her absence was intentional, but it dawned on me that was a good way for me to learn, and get used to coming into my own.

I took the time to go over my notes after the call, which meant missing my evening Cardio workout class and going to a late Yoga instead. I made sense of the content, turned it a detailed summary and sent to the stakeholders. That definitely gave my confidence a boost. I'm also looking forward to receiving constructive feedback.

Find your own individual voice though practicing constantly. Go through the world with your eyes and ears open and learn to express that experience in words.” ― P.D. James, Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights




Also published on Medium 

Vuja De

Haven't felt this urge to write non-stop in such a long time. What is this about? I churned out what seven posts in the last seven days? Not counting three in Draft mode.
Well, whatever it is, I like it.

https://hbr.org/2014/03/can-you-see-the-opportunity-right-in-front-of-you

Mentorship

"Let victory ignite your momentum," my mentor told me last week.

I had a litany of people who I called mentors. When I joined my current company, I was paired with an early tenure employee, who was great and instrumental in stirring my inner social butterfly in an unfamiliar territory. As time went on, I interacted with more people and some of them had reached out to me to ask how I was adapting and doing in general. After a while, I could tell that the relationships were not deep or intentional. They were really just casual, and I could not give account for any benefits or impact.

I decided to be intentional about my mentorships and reach out to one of the leaders, whose career track I was interested in. So I reevaluated my relationships. It wasn't until eight weeks ago, when I found someone who could keep me grounded and help me connect the dots between where I was and where I wanted to be. This one. No lofty titles, or head in the clouds, he was about getting your hands dirty, building skills and expertise, and clarity, which was exactly what I was looking for.

And so we sat down and set goals together. And I've been taking steps and developing muscle since then. Running into hurdles and challenging myself to keep at it until I make it. It has definitely been a very rewarding experience.

Subzero: Fertility and Fridge Magnets

Late last year, December to be precise, I did a fridge magnet to mark my countdown to my 30th birthday. And then in January, Adele released "When We Were Young." It's such a beautiful song, and it resonated with me for more reasons than one.


 
Credits: YouTube

Yes indeed, the thought of getting older makes me restless sometimes. Not sad, like Adele's songs, just some restless energy from uncertainty to put it simply.

Having said that, girls are really on the verge of hitting thirty. Shit is not just about to get real, shit has been real for a while now because you've been thinking and building yourself over the years that have led up to this moment. And if you are (like) me, you have been thinking seriously about your purpose, life's work and posterity, your health, your body, your relationships, your money, and your families: the one you were born into, and one you hope or plan to start, if that's your thing.

I started to realistically think about and research the choices of maternity.

Google search results for freezing one's eggs (Huffington Post)

So you really thought it was the same price as raising poultry or keeping a crate of eggs in your fridge?

You don't know until you know. I laughed so hard in shock. America, this is bloody expensive! I could not believe my eyes, but apparently this is the reality for women who aren't ready for motherhood. Anyway, the research continues.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Tabular Rasa

If you know me, you know I have a thing for simpleness. There is a word called simplicity, yes, but simpleness does a better job of driving the point home. I started my tech blog and my goal is really about removing layers, to evangelize tech with clarity. I don't do well with complications or fluff. But the reality is that we live in a world where life is almost always noisy, work is usually full of jargon (oh! trust me, if you have not worked for a company that's over 100 years old, then you know nothing, Jon Snow). It doesn't help that people just delight in verboseness, complicating things in a bid to sound or look intelligent.

So you can imagine the fulfillment and validation I got this week, when a senior colleague of mine stumbled on one of my work artifacts, and then publicly posted shoutout to me. His words were " ... may appear as a simple file but this file is so so so so HELPFUL and relevant ..."

So how do I protect my core?

Well, I doodle.



Yes, I am a whiteboarder. 


I have a whiteboard in my quiet spaces, office, bedroom, because I need to make complex things simple. Just having to think on a blank space, tabula rasa, heals/helps my mind a great deal and really ramps up my creativity.

And I sleep off to white noise.

Having said all that, I think Jason Fried might be one like me. I don't know, I just know, just as you know a kindred spirit when you meet one. Well, that might be debatable, especially as I haven't met him in person. However, there's something about this guy and/or his message that I connect with, in almost all the content he puts out and the style with which he does it. I read his book Rework, and it set something off in me. I took the time to write to him ... and he wrote me back. Impressive!


The funny thing is that he co-authored the book, with his current co-founder, but for some reason, I feel connected to his side of the duo. No math involved, I can't explain why, but it possibly started when I heard him say he hated meetings. Argh! Meetings. The bane of my existence and corporate career. Dude strikes me as practical, original, grounded: perhaps a solid version of future myself. I respect and admire his work and his message, and most of all I connect with the simpleness of both. I am reading his books, following his columns on Inc, his Medium articles, have watched his TED talk, and this week, I bought a book after reading his review on it. I really admire him for what he is building at Basecamp, and how he generally sees the world.


Plus I take my sleep a little more seriously now :)

I hope to meet him in person.



Coffee and Company

Eat, Travel, Read.

It's always exciting when my new books ship. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed reading a kindle copy of a book. Maybe it's my generation or habits as a result of being born into my generation. All I know is that I enjoy the paperback experience.

These four books hit my mail this week.





  • The Four Little Dragons, by Ezra F. Vogel - While at HBS, I met Efosa Ojomo who hosted a Market-Creating Innovation Workshop at the Africa Business Conference. I would connect with Efosa after the session, and he recommended this book.




Book reviews take quite some discipline, but are usually worth it. I'll do well to review these books as I go. The last I reviewed was Whatever you think, Think the Opposite by Paul Arden, and that's the most viewed post on my blog, still getting hits to this very day.

What are people reading these days? Are book clubs still a thing? I wonder.

Not Just Okay

This is not intended to be a shoutout to the guys at notjustok.com

Sometimes we are in a hurry to 'okay' things. It's like putting the cart before the horse, and then spending time spinning, trying to rearrange and make things okay after the fact.

How about you take an extra second to think about what is being asked of you? Clarity first, then okay second, or maybe not okay.

Okay?

And btw, hey Ovie and Demola! Happy Friday! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

p = mv

Can't believe I've done 5 straight weeks at the gym!

In the last week of February, I signed up at the gym as my travel streak neared its end (I had touched down in Lagos, Paris, Tucson, Detroit, Kansas City, Boston and circled back to New York over a span of 8 weeks). I started going regularly from the first day of March (even in that month that I did Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara, Mississauga over one long weekend). Of course the new agility left my muscles sore as heck, and that kept me out for a few days.

As I got the hang of it, I went in during lunch break, and on some days, I'd go after work. And then one blessed mid-April Wednesday morning, I got in there as early as 5.30am, and gradually ingrafted it into my schedule. It's really been 10 active weeks in all - I only just caught the stats data/streak on Foursquare :)

I say let's keep this momentum going.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lost & Found: Finders Keepers

“And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far into the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer... 

Have you ever challenged your beliefs?
Let that simmer.

I recently went off on a mental trail about a belief system, or ideology that I have, or was supposed to have had, and I started to question it. What was it about? Did I really believe (in) it and why? Why did I accept it? How did it make its way to my system? Did I really (have to) accept it? In whose best interest is it?

Once the questioning started, it would find me time and again in my truly quiet moments, especially in the shower, I noticed, keeping me there longer than usual. I didn't want to "research" it without first searching my soul. Walking that trail was uncomfortable and at the same time liberating. Like all firsts, pondering the subject made me feel like I was touching a sacred area. Like walking in the dark, holding a flashlight in the pitch black, while gently tapping the wall, feeling for any, even the slightest trace of familiarity. Crazy how you think you know yourself ... until you do.

Spending time in that space definitely kindled something in me. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the dots have been there all along, just waiting (for me) to connect. I am not ready to take full ownership of it, and I still am not, which explains why I've said a lot in this post without saying a lot. I am however starting to feel comfortable enough to get the spark out of my head and into my conversations.

I casually brought it up with one of my friends. She reacted in shock. "Vicki! Why?!" I calmed her down and gave her a base. At the end she said she'd never thought about it that way. "Well, I see your point. It kind of makes sense."

It was a different ball game with friend two, clearly personal, and his defenses went through the roof. Again, like I did with my other friend I provided a base to explain my thinking. Dude wasn't having it. I asked him for a base to support his stand, and he spat something that didn't quite add up. I poked his responses and held them beside mine. It seemed like my position scared him, even though he refused to admit. I thought it was hilarious, seeing instances of how people reacted when their worlds were rocked.

If finding yourself makes you appear to be 'lost' to others, what would you do? And I'm talking of things that really shake or shape your core, making choices, decisions that just might very well change the trajectory of your life. I gave it some more thought, and then went online to find varied perspectives. And then, I realized I had a couple kindred spirits out there.

Maybe I just want to be bold enough to enjoy the fulfillment of finding my own truth even though I have to rock the status quo this one time. I'll be honest I'm quite hesitant to make a final decision, like I said before, but for now, my mind and I are staying open.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

These Kicks Are Made For Walking

Shoes have landed many a girl into trouble. They say diamonds are a girl's best friend, but fellow Sex and the City diehards can bear me witness that it's really shoes that do it for some. Generally speaking, a lady believes that she should or must, like all other women, love shoes, and it easily turns from an object of desire into a life of obsession and impulsion. Well, as earlier stated, that's a general assumption, and in reality, these things differ case by case. For some, a day comes when you realize that continuous long distance walks and pointy toed flats don't do so well together, just as standing for hours on end and dancing away in stilettos every (other) weekend is a neither a great idea nor feeling.

I'm pretty sure I wrote one, two or a dozen old posts about my love for shoes (ideally stilettos). Over the last couple years, I've had a lifestyle change that saw me doing a ton of walking, and quite frequently too. As time went by, my feet were starting to get scarred and I was paying little attention. The walking increased, and I should have changed my footwear but I kept my old habits of buying shoes for the aesthetic pleasure, a lot of which were ill-fitting, with the hopes and reasoning that the shoes would break in someday, and all I had to do was to keep walking in them. In fact, the more they hurt, the closer the shoes were to becoming very comfortable someday.

I remember a time when I got this absolutely stunning pair of Christian Siriano shoes. They were gorgeous, blue and a size too small, but I took them anyway and mentally promised myself they would break in soon. First time I rocked them, it was to an outing with a group of friends. Sure enough, the shoes brought tons of compliments and had my friends gushing, but it was torturous, and in no time the only thing on my mind was heading home and taking the shoes off. I ended up limping hurriedly to the car before the event ended. The pair sat untouched on my shelf after that, until I gave them out. In fact now that I think of it, a few more similar instances come to mind.

At some point, the stupidity phase has to end, no? Is it when you're no longer under your parent's allowance and stop seeing value in buying things you don't really need? Or is it when you no longer care so much about lousy fashion rules and silly expectations? Well, maybe a combination of the two and a third: blistering your skin. Yes, having scored a couple blisters in exchange for aesthetics, I'm not exactly ecstatic. Time to switch things up, and better late than never if you ask me.

 


So there you have it, a soi-disant advocate for corporate kicks, with a new pinterest board to show: Kicking, Styling, WorkingI spent the weekend overhauling my shoe rack and walking down the aisle of men's shoe stores. Even as I cleared out my rack, I found some pairs that had never been worn since I brought them home, and I knew deep down I would never wear because the hurt was real. What a shame. Safe to say the bulk of my beautifully dysfunctional shoes have been neatly packed up, ready for a charity drop off.

I'm not saying that I'm done wearing stilettos for the rest of my life, no, that's not my manifesto. I think comfort and style go hand in hand. And while we're at it, throw some common sense in there too.