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 co leader of the organization. I was a woman, none Japanese, and not even 40.
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, and no international experience as the president of the corporation.
I asked about this. They told me that it Japanese style. Always a Japanese will act as a window man and a local leader managers the local 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 knew it won't work this way. I explained to him that everything was working fine and that my team would continue reporting to me.
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, and executed.
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 Hapanese 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 we conducted regular meetings and I flew to Japan for face to face meetings.
 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 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.  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 go 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 go through?  Yet I think most of us trusted that it was a one off, or when we really need them they will 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 an email.  And neither M or I had emailed them.
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 filed 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, 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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

At the End of the Day

After work I sometimes find myself continuing with the thoughts of the work.  Revisiting the events of the day.  What I sent in an email.  What I said in a conversation. ...
I feel these revisits are more to my detriment with a nagging noise within who criticizes me. I don't like this voice.  Yet it is there.
Today's, after one of these revisiting episodes, I realized one critic stood out: that I had assigned one task to a member of my team.  But this doesn't deserve a critic, does it? That task was new.  Still, not critic-worthy, right? But I did it with a bit of contempt, because I wanted him to know who the boss was and also to show him he didn't know as much. Bingo!
Going forward, I will stop before saying, I'll pause before sending, I'll make sure what I'll end my day with is smile-worthy.; that I'll feel content afterwards.
I'll do my best.  Not more.  Not less.
I'll make mistakes but I know I will try my best not to.
Yaa Sattar Huuuuu

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Heart is Warm

There was a dark moment in her life. A moment that was gone but the fact that it was there made her sheiver with disbelief. So dark and cruel, so scary. How could she have thought like so? She didn't want to look back lest the darkness of that moment would suffocate her.
It was a dark moment in the past but the guilt and worry made it ever present.
She gathered all her conviction and looked in the eyes of her past self.  The past self appeared miserably lonely and scared. She felt tethered and incapable. She doubted herself and her environment. She appeared as a helpless child in need of understanding and shelter. The present self suddenly understood herself and grew compassionate toward herself. She told her how she witnessed her loneliness and doubt; how she observed her lack of confidence and strength at the moment. She told her how she accepted her as she was, fraud and weak at times; dark at that moment. She told her she understood her still.
She forgave herself and loved her. 
The dark moment transformed to a shear experience now. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Heart Multiplying

It's amazing, this heart, which fills with love beyond anything else when one falls in love. Then one becomes a parent and experiences love of a different kind that fills one heart yet the already existing loves remain intact or increase too, thanks to the compassion a new parent feels. Then comes another child and one thinks one's heart will divide yet instead it multiplies.
Such is how I feel. Grateful for every moment of it!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Newness

I was born. I was loved. I was abandoned. I was taken care of. I was wronged. I was guided. I was cursed. I was nurtured. I was left to wallow in guilt.
I grew up. 
I learned to cope, to hide my emotions, to support the family no matter what. To study and thrive and grow more independent.
I grew up.
I moved away and I yearned for the love I was deprived from. I built a new life and rebuilt it and built it yet again. I kept silencing my true needs and feelings. I felt guilty every time I desired the forsaken childhood I was deprived from.  I talked myself to sleep at nights. I screamed at my childhood in the restless nights of my adulthood.
I grew up.
I saw my fears. I surrendered to them. Finally, I faced my fears. And I came out of this more knowing and accepting.
I am leaning now what I desired was real. I'm learning now that what I yearned for is my right. I am learning now that I was indeed wronged and I deserve to feel mad and not feel guilty about it.
I'm also learning that it is my life, now, here, and no place for that childhood. No room for that adult.  They are embedded in me, but they are not me.
I grew up. 
It is my time now. To cherish what I really am. To look for the Divine within and around. To be and not to act. To take the control of my life.
It's my time, now, and forever, to reinvent my life. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Change


This is the season for change. Leaves to turn colors and fall, winter flowers to bloom, citrus trees to harvest, and rain to wash the roads for the new to come.
A birthday just around the corner.
And a new birth to hallmark the new chapter of our lives, enshala.
It's time to sit down for a change. To simply ponder on the miracle of life growing within me. To watch the cloudy sky and imagine the moist and rain drops. To go for a walk and get wet for a change. To sip on tea with friends, and nothing else, for a lazy afternoon full of presence. To read a book. To chat w the man of my life about nothing and everything.
Change is here. Let's change with it. 

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.