Monday, December 4, 2017

Last Thirty

Today, I mean yesterday as we are already passed midnight, is my day.
Life is good. Thank God!
May it be blessed with Love, Pacidnce, Wisdom, and Forgiveness!
Huuuuuu

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Signature Strengths Undermined

According the StrengthFinder, my signature strengths are:

Strategic
Activator
Communication
Positivity
Competition

I care about these strengths.  I believe that when one is exercising their strengths, they feel more content and in harmony with their true self, leaving breathers for more inner growth.

All these strengths were at work since I joined this new position.
Strategic business planning in all aspects of the enterprise and execution
Project management and driving my team to annually determined goals and constantly evaluated prgress
Business Development and Customer Relationship Management
Remaining upbeat despite the cultural hurdles
Wanting to win over competition in innovation, in market traction, and in time to market

These all were true until recently.  Not anymore.

When I read the Business Insider article of signs of success, I felt I was on to something:
"research suggests that "the more often you use those skills, the more you're happier, you're respected, you feel good about your job." What's more, "if you're using those skills in your job, you're going to achieve more.""
http://www.businessinsider.com/signs-youre-more-successful-than-you-think-2017-11/#you-have-a-vision-for-the-kind-of-life-you-want-2


I am deprived of exercising my strengths anymore.
I am a visionary.  I have a clear vision of my life an where I want to be.  Most importantly, I want my daily activities to allow me to fly, not to burden me down with heavy weights of political (read egoistic) calculations of the actions.  Time for a change!

The Problem - Facts

Japan cares about quality above all else.  The bigger the company, or the more rooted the culture of a company, the more risk avert they will be to the determent of innovation.  Think about Japanese innovations.  How many can you count?  Did you count Walkman by Sony?  How about the Bullet Trains?  What else?
"After all Sony's Walkman, which revolutionized how people listened to music, was introduced back in 1979. The bullet train entered service in 1964, which was around the same time that Toto introduced its first high-tech toilet.  Since then, though, "game-changing" products have been difficult to come by. So is Japan's innovation dead?"

Japanese government recently has started investing in innovation again.  Prime Minister Abe came to Stanford and transported Biodesign to Japan for example.  He has been trying to boost innovation.
"the Government of Japan is doing everything it can to encourage various players, including start-ups and “hidden gems” among small- and medium-sized enterprises, to come up with brand-new and innovative ideas, to provide the world with solutions."

Japan still values age and gender above efficacy and productivity.  Japan is ranked 114th country with gender equality in 2017. 
Japan's belief in harmony, in obedience, and in acceptance of their situation, has borderline made them a nation with fixated vision of life.
"The Japanese people are very strong believers of the fact that one should never attempt to do anything beyond or below their status and they have implemented this belief in their corporate culture also by drawing strict lines by defining functionalities & scope of each and every designation or position in the organizations."  https://www.hierarchystructure.com/japanese-business-hierarchy/



The Problem - Part 4

Then something happened. The line of communication seemed to be broken and defective.  I would send an email and never receive a response.  Sometime I did but the response was in Japanese and cc-ed other people.  Sometimes the response was only sent to others and not directly to me or anyone in my office except for the one Japanese member.
When communications failed more than before I paused and observed to discover a newly introduced issue: office politics.
We were small and nimble.  Now we had grown a few folds and some newer members from different functions were added. There were hardly any job description associated with the roles.
When territories fade to exist, people tend to make their own marks.  And not always in a harmonious or productive way.
The result, detachment and stagnation despite several churning that was in motion.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Spritual Limits of Career Advancement

The Spiritual Limits of Career Advancement

گفت كه تو شمع شدى قبله اين جمع شدى
جمع نيم شمع نيم دود پراكنده شدم
He said you have become a candle, the beacon of this group
I am not group, I’m not candle, I’m scattered smoke
كه مراد، مريد مريد خويش ميشود
And the desired one would desire her desirer.

Those pursuing tradition jobs are bound by the certain rules of the corporations / societies / customer satisfaction / managing up / managing down / etc.
If I tried to paraphrase what our dear Kabir said last night I’d write it as above. This notion of the reality of the time made me pause and ponder: Careers are governed by the rules of the majority. And majority wants the world a certain way. And majority has proven time and again that their way is not necessarily Devine. Mind you the execution of Socrates, the crusade of Jesus, the martyrdom of Hossein, the World War II, the collapse of 2007. 
Careers impose written, and mostly unwritten, contractual terms on you. When to wake up. How to dress. How to talk. What to read. Where to be at certain times of the day, week, month. What to eat. When to eat. With whom to eat. How to talk. What to say. To whom to say what. 
Career advancement comes only after certain terms of those people-written/unwritten rules were satisfied in a certain way within a certain time. Hence, career advancement tolls you beyond “work”. It tolls your whole being, your character, your likes and dislikes, your mind occupations, your hourly presence, even your words. It forces you into a mold. It molds you to a certain shape and form that may not necessarily align with your best self.

كه اشتهار خلق بند محكم است
در ره اين از بند آهن كى كم است؟
Being famous resembles a tight rope
In the Path this rope is nothing less than an iron chain

The toll that the career puts on you won’t be all evil and wrong. There are several virtues practiced most definitely and sometimes most painfully at work and he result is growth. Virtues such as respect, patience, promise keeping. These too put a toll on you but to make you better.
I certainly needed to work and be aspired by career advancement in my twenties and even so far in my thirties, to learn. I better learned how to curb my enthusiasm because I worked, how to phrase my words to be impeccable or closer to it. I learned patience. I learned acceptance. I practiced respect. I practiced adaptability. And thank the Divine I have attained morsels of such virtues.
However, I have a feeling that the achievement of such practice may reach a ceiling. I feel it sometimes already. But not frequent enough. I suspect though that if the frequency of feeling tethered and limited by the laws of career advancement reach a certain level I may need to pivot. I may pivot to stop career advancement, or stop career all together.
Perhaps my desire, to the extent of restlessness, to earn higher degrees stem in this prediction. I aspire to attain my PhD in a less “logical” topic. Meaning no engineering. But perhaps philosophy, or management, or psychology.
And I pray that when the time comes, when the limit is reached, when the mold became too tight, I realize it.
Yaa Baseer


PS: poems from Masnavi of Molana Rumi

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Writer

He came back and sat down beside me to put down the two cups he brought back with him. “With almond milk” he said and pointed at the cup closer to me with his whole hand. I looked at him and gave him a smile. He glanced at me briefly, his eyes felt warm on me, and then turned forward to look back at the rainbow sky of the setting Sun beneath us.  I crawled my palms to my cup and held it with both hands, collecting its warmth.  I looked down at the cup and its sipping sprout. It was aligned with the logos both on the cup and on the sleeve. I smiled and took a deep breath and raised my head to look at him again.  Coffee in his hand he had gotten up, he was leaning over the railing of the bookstore’s balcony cafe on the 5th floor. I sat back with my cup, watching him. He had worn his brown pullover I always loved the soft material of. Laying on his elbows his whole torso was hanging over the sky looking over the Mediterranean Sea which glowed orange and gold.  His thinning hair, his tanned neck with a maze of soft wrinkles, his coarsening hands and the contentment in his whole body. And his eyes. His eyes sparkled dreamily. He came back to sit down beside me.  Quietly he put his arm around my shoulders and laid his head sideways on mine. I smiled to myself, wondering what the young woman was typing on her tablet, glancing over us oldies every once in a while.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Problem - Part 3

Japan never stopped baffling me. Never a dull moment.
It was a surprise to all when the presidents of the two investing companies and the board of directors chose me as the Vice President of the business in the US when we became incorporated a year and a half down the road, and the co leader of the organization. The less tactful ones opened their hands: was a woman, none Japanese, and not even 40. How could I become elected as VP they exclaimed.
It was a surprise to me when they assigned a 48 year old Japanese software engineer with no background in our business, no management experience, nor any international experience as the president of the corporation; the co leader beside me.
I asked about this. They told me that it was the Japanese style. That always a Japanese will act as a “window man” while a local leader would the regional affair.
The first sentence he told me when he came into the office the first morning was "call everyone to meet me at 9 AM." He then said to all " bring your ideas to me. I will review them and will let you know if any of them were worthy."
I was astoned. I knew it won't work this way. I pointed out to him that everything was working fine already and that my team would continue reporting to me. Thank you very much though! :)
A haze.
Time would tell.

The Problem - Part 2

It wasn't always unhappy. In fact, at first it was happy. I was the leader. I could see what was needed, envisioned the outcome, planned, and executed.
My top talents all in works: strategic, activator, communication, positivity, and competition. I felt content.
I was challenged by the Japanese culture and as a result I started studying them. I read any article I could find on the topic, a few business books some written by Japanese and some by Americans to get a holistic view, I watched Japanese movies, followed Japanese artists, and read Japanese literature. I started learning the language and as daunting as it felt even the alphabetical characters.
I put timelines for myself and my team and we delivered.
We had challenges in communicating with Japan. So I requested weekly meetings. We conducted regular meetings and I flew to Japan for face to face meetings at least once a quarter but usually more.
 It worked.
We had a talent issue and managing that issue became a huge problem by itself. I learned that my speed in recognizing a talent, or the lack of, was beyond what was tangible to most. I also learned that an organization, even as small as ours, needed it's time to reach the same conclusion. I learned and exercised patience beyond my age.
It worked.

The Problem - Part 1

I am good at my work. 
What I do is build companies from nothing but a vision. 
They hired me to fulfill two tasks: 1) do market research and ensure they could have a viable and sustainable business in the US 2) to build and manage this business in the US
So I did. Both.
I proved to them in less than a quarter that they had a viable business in the US by not only researching the market but also recruiting potential customers for this hypothetical vision. They were astoned themselves!
I also put together the pillars of a medical device business here in the US:
  • First Thing First: Quality Management System
  • Regulatory Pathway and Strategy
  • Collected, analyzed, documented Voice of Customer
  • Marketing Requirement Specifications
  • Branding and Publuc Relationship Strategy
  • Business Plan
  • Executional Plan
  • Customer Identification, Relationship Initiation and Management
  • Strategic Partner Identification, Negotiation, Drafting and Closing Contraxt
  • Legal and Compliance Management
  • Talent Identification, Team Building, and Management
  • Cross Pacific Collaboration
I did these all. The top dozen strategies for a successful multinational medical device business.
I was good at my job. 
I am good at my job. 

The problem: I feel unhappy at work. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Inaction Trust or Action

It appears to me that trusting the system is a psychological response to any unusual situation.
This person gets elected to be the president of the country while he had publicly announced racial and religious discriminatory rhetoric, who had not disclosed his financial statements, and whose election was shadowed by lies and spies.
Then some people said "this country has checks and balance" and freeing themselves from any further action.
The other night, I woke up to the sound of what appeared as gun shots.  I called to M and asked him to check into it.  His response was that we would not speculate and went back to sleep in a house filled with kids of a different race and religion in the wake of the recent news.  At that wee hour of night I had to consult the neighborhood social media in order to look for validation that yes, it did sound like gun shots and yes, it was scary, and yes, some people had called the police. Even though most reported that the non emergency line was busy and they could not get through.  Which yet again makes me wonder, had anyone followed up on that?  Because what is the use of a police line if you cannot get through?  Yet I think most of us trusted that it was a one off, or when we really needed them they would respond.
Last night we were awaiting an email from the Middle School to learn which class A was to check into.  It did not arrive until the principle emailed around 10PM apologizing to all in response to several emails she had received from parents who had not received any information.  And neither M or I had emailed them. Trusting that the email would come at last.
Which again, makes me wonder, why didn't we email them?  For me, it was because I had not received the original notice to know that we had to receive that email at all.  Otherwise I had emailed them earlier this month with regards to other due items which were delayed.
Or that I had filled petitions and called to my congress people with regards to political stance as of late.
Or that I had consulted my neighbors of the gun shot sounds.
So I have not been fully trusting the system.  But it causes me anxiety. Hence, it appears that some prefer to trust the system, even blindly, to rid themselves from this anxiety.  Others use the energy built up and take action.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

None Apologetic Working Mom

I have learned to live with myself as a career woman and as a devoted mother.
The proximity to stay at home moms (some of whom may judge the working kinds), the fact that I have three precious children now, the very high demands of my current role as the business leader of a startup company, and the yearning to be with my kids at all times have made me waver in my decision now and then.
I cannot have it all.  No one can.
I wont be "there" all the time.  However, I will be there when needs be.  I can provide for them and help them explore, dream, and achieve.
I was brought up in a gender neutral family.  I was told I could be anyone I wished.  I was told to follow my dreams.  I was groomed to be a strategist and a leader.  I was given room to risk, courage to dare, and wings to fly.
I think I was born to learn, to nurture, to tend, and to lead.  And I will do my best in doing it all and remain content with the positives and not so positives.

Monday, July 31, 2017

My Alternative to MBA

OK my dear world!  I need to cancel my pursuit of an MBA degree.
Why you ask?
Because number one, I have no time for it.  Or money.  I have already spent $10,000 on it and don't feel a cent has been added to me or my knowledge.  OK.  If I need a text book on Operations Management I know where to find it.  But that is it.  With three kids and an executive role, a husband, a mother and a few siblings and a slew of darling friends, a $10,000 a cent MBA is off the chart.
Yet, I love to learn.  So here are my substitutes for MBA:

  1. Self Studies - I just read a summary of a book " Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi and watched a YouTube summary of Mindset by Carol Dweck and and reading Strategic Leadership for Turbulent Times by Mark Kriger.  I enjoyed them, I learned something, and I applied my learning too.  Now there is the value.
  2. Mingling with people who are better than me - in any topic.  My mother, VP of another company, Persian Women in Tech meetings, an artist friend, my son the YouTube Wiz.
  3. Certification - a fraction of the cost of an MBA; yet I can pick and choose.  Loved my Biodesign Graduate Certificate at Stanford and Essentials of Management at UC Berkely.
  4. Building an Organization - this is the mother of any MBA.
So, I am on the hunt for my next certification. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How She Does It

She cares for her children
She attends to her house
She wants to meet with friends
And is generous to invite
She has a career and excelled in it too
She solicites the help of her husband
And she won't nag, nag won't get him do
She hasn't been sleeping
Certainly not hours in rows
She thinks realistically, as what pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding does
She thanks God for her mood
Her strength, her charms, her smiles
For her blessings and friendships
Even for the ignorant ones
She takes life easy and prioritizes her wants
She feels content, patient, grateful
And takes it one day at times

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Keep Your Heart Open

"Keep your heart open for giving and receiving."  This is the closing remarks at our yoga session each week.  Our guru always says the phrase and yet I think I realized it just recently.
At yoga when we say Ommm, at home when my A is listening to rock music, or when I was particularly enjoying some worldly subject, I would feel slightly guilty.  Presumably my heart should be conditioned to receiving spiritual topics and those aligned with my path.
I feel now I want to keep my heart open and give and receive.
So when on the yoga mat, say Ommmm and not feel guilty or change it to Huuuu lest my heart would be contaminated. "Enjoy a little".
When at home grooving to beats, let it be. "Enjoy a little".
When a dress sits well on your earthly body, feel feminine; even dare to feel sexy. "Enjoy a little".
Let your heart grow and keep it open to the experiences of both worlds. "Enjoy a little".
"You are the desire, Kaaba and idol-house are mere excuses."
Yaa Kareem



Mark This Day

Yesterday I rode my bike to the cafe I was meeting JM at; JM is a business acquaintance we sometimes exchange ideas and generally network with.  It was less than a mile away; it took me less than 12 minutes to get there and I was breathless when I arrived.
Five months postpartum. So mark this day.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Motherhood

I have been a mom, thanks for my dear sunny son, for almost 11 years now. I was a mother. And sometime recently, I stopped being one. I was a caring grown up pal perhaps.  Teasing and playful. Protective and watchful. Not a mother.
A mother, I reckon, is above all compassionate by recognizing, accepting, and forgiving. A mother is loving.
Today I stopped being a pal and resumed motherhood by prioritizing compassion and love. I got disappointed at one occasion today though. And found it detrimental. 
Children forgive easily. Yet they don't accept the evolved role instantly. I feel I need to be 100% what I want to be, at all times, without failure for them to acknowledge the new mom. Hence that one glitch appeared detrimental to my newly revised self. Yet I choose to be compassionate toward myself too. Acknowledge my shortcoming, accept it and forgive it. Tomorrow is a new day. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

To Work or Not To Work

This is the question.
I have reached a point where my body is not cooperating with me working full time in a demanding Vice President role of a Japanese Startup in Silicon Valley and caring a 3 month young baby and two other kids and managing a house and socializing with friends and keeping my long distant relationship with my family abroad fresh and energized.
My body has started giving in.
My mind says I can pull it off.  I know I can.  Yet I know it takes a toll from me.
My heart is torn between my professional dreams and my love and longing for my baby.
My ego feels bruised and defeated when I think about quitting.  As if I got defeated.  The ego cares about what people say; "of course she couldn't manage with three kids."
I feel so uncertain and the funny thing is that I think I am certain.  I just don't want to admit it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Woman Professional

I have stopped proving myself.
I have stopped smiling for the sake of the other person's easiness in talking with a strong woman.
I have stopped scenapring myself, or presenting my ideas as a plea or meek recommendation.
I have stopped wanting to be accepted.

Yaa Hakim!

Performance Review and Growth

Strip self from feelings, positive and the opposite, and then see the employee in the simple light of facts. This, I realized, is the art of performance review achieving which may prove to need self discipline and control.

Yaa Latif!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Cost

I was reading Good Enough Parenting by John Philip Louis and Karen McDonald Louis while I was on leave.  The other books on my lap were my spiritual books, namely Nobody Son of Nobody of our beloved Abu Saeed Abolkheir.
Now today alone, amid feeling sick myself and tending to a sick baby Y and attending to A's schedule and playing with m, I was reading management articles.
This, I reckon, is only one of the way being a full time working mother affects the piece of mind I could otherwise have with being simply a full time mom.
There is certainly a price for everything.
Grateful!
Yaa Hakim

About Me

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An emigrant from an ancient civilization to North America, an engineer in marketing and management, a mom of working kind, who thinks when she talks, and who likes to write. I, L.B., own the copyright to the content.