Women 2.0 CEO Shaherose Charania shares her personal and professional improvement plan for 2014. What’s yours?
By Shaherose Charania (Co-founder & CEO, Women 2.0)
I love the fresh start at New Year - I love having the chance to reflect on what was done in the past and think about what I want to see in the year ahead. Maybe it’s partly down to my profession, but I love thinking ahead! I’ve been that way since I was a kid. Every New Year’s I’d make a five-year plan in my notebook (I always had a notebook while in high school, university and even now as an entrepreneur), then a create month-by-month annual plan. For the annual plan I’d project the key goals and the highlights of each month.
This plan was always written out in pen. Sometimes I used a marker to make things feel more powerful and permanent. Colors? Yes! I would have things that were career oriented and things that were personal each written in different colors for each month.
For 2013, I hit some goals but didn't reach others. A few things that seemed critical last January didn't happen, but that might have to do with key decisions (good ones!) made in Q1 and Q2. But that's not what matters. What matters is putting ink to paper, looking back and looking forward. I often keep my plan in my notebook or sometimes I rip it out and post it on my wall next to my screen where I can see it every day.
As things change each month I cross things out, and replace them with more realistic goals and highlights. Of course, some months I go dormant. That’s also okay -- we are human!
So what’s up my sleeve this year? I’d like to share my personal and professional goals for 2014.
To be honest, for most of my life I haven’t put as much effort into personal goals as I have into my professional ones. This has changed in the last five years or so. This year my personal resolutions are influenced by a idea from my founder friend, Sumaya - she will be blogging about hers soon. She saw Porter Gale (our conference MC) talk about “themes” for the year. I liked this and have come up with a few:
This is a big one, maybe even too big. I know my sources of energy, I need to ensure I am maximizing all of them. I want to be at my top energy level in 2014.
My first source is Bikram Yoga. This one I have nailed: I go to early morning classes three to four times per week. It’s perfect - like a jolt of coffee to get my day started!
My second source is Bhakti Yoga. It took me long enough to cave into the highly acclaimed bhakti yoga taught by the renowned Rusty Wells here in SF. I resolve to attend his class once a week on the weekends that I am in town (so that will end up being two to three times per month if I am lucky). The zen-like energy it creates, the clarity of mind it produces, the strength it builds in my muscles, all leave my day full of positive, flowing energy.
My third and final energy source is meditation. Silent meditation has been a part of my life since I was a kid. This doesn’t make me a pro. Clearing the mind, let alone committing to sit in meditation is still very challenging for me. The days I do meditate, even if all I do the entire session is notice my busy mind, leave me with a higher state of energy and awareness. I resolve to do this at least one or two times per week (the mornings I don’t go for yoga). Wish me luck, this one is especially hard!
Not food! Not shoes. CONTENT. Here is a strange reality about me: I don’t consume enough content outside of things related to work - tech, entrepreneurship, etc. Seriously. I dont go to the movies (maaaaaybe once or twice a year). I got rid of my TV halfway through university, so haven’t had a TV in my house for twelve years and counting. Why? I’m running a media company so this may be strange, but at a young age I felt the media didn’t understand me, and I didn’t understand it. Let me explain, I couldn't identify enough with the women they put forth as role models. They were not me, the smart yet curious, geeky yet fashionable, serious yet extremely goofy, brown-skinned, young woman. In fact, that disconnect helped me shape a new brand for women: one that's authentic, honest, and realistic; one that appeals to our capabilities rather than how we look in clothes.
When I started university, I decided fashion magazines were doing too much to make me feel inadequate and so I replaced them with Business 2.0 (*waves hello* to Om Malik!) - brain candy! it was so much more inspiring to read about innovative projects in the pipeline. Business 2.0 grew my love for technology as an agent for social change. This media always showed me how much tech could and would continue change our world. In one fell swoop, I decided TV wasn’t adding anything to my life either. I spent time flipping channels not really feeling like the sitcoms I watched resonated with who I was and who I wanted to be. TV was out. As a result, pop culture, in many ways, disappeared from my life. Content that was taking me outside the tech bubble was removed, by choice.
Was this a good thing? In many ways, yes. I didn’t feel misunderstood. I didn’t feel inadequate. I built my confidence based on what I was interested in. But now? I’m left out of many conversations “Did you see this week’s episode of Breaking Bad?” (Huh?) “Woah, what do you think is going to happen in Grey’s Anatomy?” (Actually, I don’t really care!)
Okay, so I won’t start reading fashion magazines, nor buy a TV, but I resolve to consume content outside of tech -- smart content because there is more of that available now than a decade ago. I will get a Netflix account and watch one new movie a month, or get myself out of the house and hit the theater!
Why? I feel I need to stretch my mind. I need the inspiration of new perspectives. I am confident this will lead to more creativity in my life for myself personally and for my business.
“You are an insomniac”
“HUH? No I am not, I sleep!”
“Sleeping 4 - 5.5 hours a night and checking your email in the midst of that sleep (usually at 3 a.m. with half open eyes) is not sleeping. You are an insomniac.”
This was a bit of a revelation from my holistic doctor. He is probably exaggerating, but he’s also right. I need to sleep more, I need not go on about why it’s good for me. Besides, dreams are fun - inspirational, humorous, mind bending. I want to dream more. I also want to improve my memory (those who know me would agree!), which sleep has a big hand in. Soooooo, I resolve to increase my sleep time by 30 mins to one hour each night. OMG hard! Here we go.
And on the Professional Side…
That was a long outline of my personal plan, which seeps into my work. As an entrepreneur’s work-life is very integrated, I’m totally okay with that. But what about resolutions for Women 2.0? Now that we are a team beyond the initial founders, I think about things differently, I act differently. I operate differently -- in a good way. We are a team of six and a bunch of contractors and writers...bigger than we’ve ever been. We host events monthly more cities than ever (twenty!). We will be hosting bigger conferences and events than ever before. With this new context in mind, I shared with Inc, some of my resolutions specific to Women 2.0 in 2014:
When building a team, founders can lose sight of the fact that new employees do not live, breathe and sleep the company values the way you do instinctively. This year, I want to make a regular effort to communicate and embody our company values. I also want to bring more balance to the team. We work hard, and play hard, but maybe don’t play hard enough! More time as a team out of the office is the plan in 2014. A happy, healthy team is the core of a successful company!
Over the holiday I thought to add more to this for me and Women 2.0 -- have epic goals. YES, this one I’ve added for our team as we just completed our 2014-and-beyond plans. Let’s be epic, let’s go beyond what we know we are capable of and let’s continue to contribute to the ongoing change we have already helped catalyze. This reminds me of a post I contributed to on how to maintain perspective when you have epic goals.
Okay, now it’s your turn. Let’s get this conversation started. I want to hear what YOU are resoluting to! Tell me in the comments below so we can inspire and support each other’s resolutions in 2014!
What are your personal and professional resolutions for 2014?
Shaherose is currently the President and CEO of Women 2.0. At heart she is a mobile and telephony junkie. She’s led new consumer products at Ribbit (BT). Previously, she was Director of Product Management at Talenthouse and JAJAH (sold to Telefonica/O2). Follow her on Twitter at @shaherose.