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Becoming A Woman Of Integrity: The Source Of Your Power

By Pratima N

I would like to begin by defining what ‘integrity’ really means, the term being so loosely used in discussions and often confused with morality. As per Wikipedia (where I found the most appropriate explanation) the word “integrity” stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete).

Woman of IntegrityIn this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.

The above explanation essentially conveys that integrity originates from within; that is, from one’s very sense of being. A person with integrity acts and behaves as per her core beliefs and values in all circumstances irrespective of the situation or the opportunity presented to act in contrary.

So I do not quite understand when people say ‘I work with professional integrity’ and how is it different from personal integrity. If we consider the above explanation, then some random acts of honesty or only in some areas of life do not amount to integrity. Nor does the concept of being principled most of the times holds good.

Either one has integrity or one doesn’t. The sense of integrity can never be occasional!

The sense of honesty mirrors itself in a person’s actions as well as words.  The consistency of one’s character in all kinds of situations gives one integrity and makes one trustworthy. Trust originates from consistency… when there is predictability in one’s behavior in any given situation.

Therefore Yudhisthitra, the son of Dharma himself, who lived his whole life with integrity, lost his credibility with one small lie (or rather, a deliberate attempt to misguide Dronacharya) when he participated in spreading the rumor of Ashwathama being dead, during the battle of Mahabharata. He failed miserably in honoring the trust that his guru Dronacharya had reposed in him.

If we deliberate on integrity among women, we will realize that the relevance as well as prevalence of integrity is in no way different from integrity among men…. except for the ramifications.

Life today is indeed tough and integrity as a virtue is tougher than ever to practice. Women are equal victims of the changing value systems and are increasingly falling prey to temptations.

I am reminded of a good friend’s remark once when I was shocked at her turnaround, “Pratima, for you things are either black or white; but it does not happen that way. There are grey areas too”. And I had furiously reacted, “things have to be black or white, otherwise it’s just being an opportunist!”

Over the years I have witnessed more and more women echoing her views through words or deeds and I am no more shocked to witness the acts of dishonesty.

Interestingly enough we have improvised and are using polished words instead to cover up the malice. Phrases like ‘it works mutually’ ‘convenience’, ‘being smart’, ’being proactive’ often convey the intentions behind !

The desire to get ahead is so strong that the little unsporting push here and there is all a part of the game. Values, ethics, integrity are taboo words not to be discussed at home lest the children may get confused and lag behind the neighbor’s child.

We are raising champions, and not children any more. Success at any rate is the new mantra. Do our children have enough role models around to emulate the traits of integrity? How will they learn that integrity is a trait to be practiced and not a fancy word reserved only for articles?

And this is the ramification that concerns me. Parents are the biggest role models for children where character is concerned and a mother’s role is still bigger, she being at the core of the family.

Not to downplay a father’s role; a mother by virtue of our social structure is usually available more for the child and has a deeper connection psychologically as well.

Given her influence over young minds, she has to acknowledge this fact and cautiously guide her child to the values. This may be the reason that nature has endowed her with resilience and strength and exercising integrity is more within her powers.

Coming back to where I began, integrity originates from our very core. And haven’t we, the women, stopped looking within… haven’t we lost connection with our own selves?

We have become so paranoid that we have lost faith in our own abilities. Nature has crafted women to be a superior species. (Menfolk, don’t raise your brows!). Isn’t the gift of child bearing and rearing a proof ?

Over the last few decades, women have made a big leap from their old repressed state to that of power. However, in doing so, we seem to have lost touch with our inherent strengths.

Keeping aside the burden of expectations, our fears and insecurities, if we look inside at the person we truly are, we will discover someone we approve of …a person we would love to be with.

It is our very essence and we can reach out to it by a little effort. The journey to integrity is not easy…but we women never had anything easy!

© Pratima N is a social entrepreneur who lives in Bengaluru. See her work at


How To Create A Business Brand In A Troubled Economy

A good business brand is one that can withstand an ailing economy. In today’s times wherein majority of the world is suffering from financial crisis, small- to big-time businesses are feeling the impact of this downturn.

This is when your branding campaign will be put to the test. Indeed, when businesses are competing for what remains of the market, you have to double your efforts at making the brand enable your business to thrive.

Grow Business Brand

What is also essential in these times is to never discount the impact of quality and improving value statements. These are important factors that hold promise to deliver more to clients and keep your business afloat.

Are You Recession-Proof?

Branding seems to lose its vigor during recession. People tend to buy base on logic and needs, rather than impulse or perceptions. Therefore, you have to maintain or improve the kind of value, property, and benefits that your product promises its consumers.

This is something that you must not lose focus on in your branding and marketing efforts, but its significance become more evident during times of recession.

If you want to add more value to your brand to make it better able to withstand the challenges of a suffering economy, here are areas of your branding system that must be given focus on:

• During recession, most businesses would tend to cut back on their marketing efforts and investments. On the contrary, this is the time wherein you need to strengthen your marketing efforts.

• Create more aggressive marketing programs to be able to capture a bigger share of the market.

• Assert yourself on consumers largely affected by recession by offering better value on your products.

• Your advertising campaign must highlight quality, economic benefits, and real benefits as opposed to appeal to their superficial concerns.

Helping Your Brand Survive The Recession

When recession has hit the consumers, buying becomes a less desirable practice. This will largely impact your business’ efforts and this is made worse by the intensity of competition amongst various similar businesses.

Try using the following practices to keep your business thriving:

  • Never change your brand identity

Doing so will reduce the trust you have built on the customers and will also ruin your reputation. Merely try to restructure the messages you are trying to deliver but make sure that it stays within the context of your basic brand identity.

  • Do more thorough market research

Utilize this time to appeal to your customer’s needs by performing more thorough market research. This will produce an impression that you are concerned about their needs and are seeking for ways to deliver that.

  • Add value to your products or services

If your business’ products are mostly high-end, do not simply revert to dropping prices. Instead, try improving the value and quality of your products so that customers will have a better quality spending habit.

  • Be open to potential new customers

In times of recession, people are in the process of re-evaluating their spending habits. This is your opportunity to come into the picture and offer your business as a possible solution.

  • Ensuring brand stability

Consumers change their buying patterns during recession, but business owners must remain committed with their branding strategies. However, you do have to make slight and appropriate changes though, such as increased sensitivity to this new buying attitude exhibited by consumers.

During times of recession, you have to stay committed in helping your customers attain quality service and products that add more value to their money. This is your winning formula.

And with increased dedication to your business brand, you will also increase the loyalty of your patrons.


Image: Kittikun Atsawintarangkul /

10 Ways To Step Into Your Feminine Power

It’s not easy for a woman in India to be powerful in what is still, in many ways, a man’s world. Every day we encounter negativity from those who are threatened by the strides that women have made.

It’s reached the point where we feel that we either have to be a bimbo or a bitch to succeed. But we don’t have to be either. We just need to be human beings with the ability to express our unique gifts and talents.

Here are 10 ways to step into your power in a feminine way.

1. Cultivate Self-Love and Self-Esteem

One of the most important things a woman must cultivate is her self-esteem and the ability to love herself. If your self-love and self-esteem are strong, you can bounce back from almost anything.

Having a healthy self-esteem gives you a positive outlook in life and this is reflected in your performance on the job, in your relationships and in the way you live your life.

2. Know that you ALWAYS have a choice

Most Indian women have this sense of hopelessness because we feel we have to make everyone happy, but ourselves.

But remember that you ALWAYS have a choice – even if it is one that the people in your life do not agree with or believe is selfish.

As one of my teachers, Abraham-Hicks, says,

If you’re not selfish enough to connect to Source Energy (your Divine nature), you don’t have anything to give anybody anyway.”

Which brings me to the next point…

3. Nurture your Divine connection

As women we are definitely more intuitive and have the ability to easily connect to our Divine source of wisdom and well-being.

The ones who gave the most, like Mother Theresa, were also the ones who were most connected to their Divine wisdom.

You have the same potential to share your unique gifts with the world – all you need to do is to start cultivating your spiritual life and listen to your inner guidance.

4. Cultivate empowering beliefs

Your life is a reflection of the beliefs you hold.

Even if you say that you want to succeed, if your subconscious beliefs don’t match your desires, it will not happen.

You need to become conscious of which beliefs are holding you back and clear them from your system.

As geek-speak goes, “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. What you put into your mind, you get out.

If you fill your mind with endless negativity from soap operas, commercials and the mass media, your life will become a replica of what you see there.

If you want to have empowering beliefs, only expose yourself to inspiring thoughts.

Read inspiring books, subscribe to inspiring newsletters, stop watching TV (yes, it can be done) or watch less of it.

5. Be mindful of the company you keep

I read somewhere that you are the average of the 5 people closest to you in every area of your life.

If you want to be more successful, hang out with people you admire and want to emulate, not with those who are in the same boat.

Success can be scary and the journey to the top can be lonely. Find a mentor and ask them to coach you. Spend your time with people who elevate you, not those who pull you down.

A very good quote I read recently is that:

“Your companions are like the buttons on an elevator. They will either take you up or they will take you down.”

6. Never apologise for your success

Your family and friends might not support your goals and plans. Learn to draw strong boundaries with those who you cannot avoid.

Explain to those who offer “well-meaning” advice that, while you appreciate their input, you would like the freedom to make your own mistakes.

Never put yourself down or underplay your achievements just to make the other person feel better.

As Marianne Williamson said,

“When we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

7. Take care of your body

Many Indian women stop caring for themselves after they have kids and reach middle-age. But the way you look tells the world a lot about your self-esteem.

You don’t have to go overboard and spend thousands on beauty treatments, because looking good is an inside job. If you feel good about yourself, you will naturally take pride in your appearance.

8. Invest in yourself

Invest time and money in learning and growing. Take courses, learn new skills. It will make a huge difference to your success, whether you have a business or career.

If you run a business, you will attract better quality clients who are also willing to invest in their own businesses. The logic is that “why would anyone invest in someone who is not willing to invest in themselves.”

9. Have fun

If you asked me the purpose of life, I would quote my teachers, Abraham-Hicks, who say that,

The Basis of your life is Freedom; the Purpose of your life is Joy.

If what you are doing does not bring you joy, ask why that is and what you can do to change it. Perhaps you want to do work that is more meaningful (many women do), even if you earn less money in the process.

Do whatever nurtures your spirit, whether that involves travel, hobbies or just spending time with friends and family who you can have a good laugh with. Don’t take life too seriously.

10. Seek help when you need it

If you have faced serious problems in your life and need professional help, go to a qualified psychologist or an energy healer.

Better yet, learn to heal yourself. We all have the ability to do it and it’s just one more way to take care of yourself.

This is an excerpt from the ebook, “Step Into Your Feminine Power And Rule Your World: 24 Empowering Ideas for the Modern Indian Woman”  by Priya Florence Shah, available on  Amazon Kindle and other online bookstores.

© Priya Florence Shah 


A Career In Law: Colleges And Courses In India And Abroad

A career in law is perfect for the girl who is meticulous, efficient and who has a strong sense of morality and integrity. Today, Indian law schools make it easier for female candidates to enter their campuses by eradicating gender biases during entrances.

However, in the field of law in India, men still outnumber women. One of the reasons for this could be the lack of knowledge about the different career paths in law for the Indian woman.

  • The Preparatory Phase

A law degree can start right after the 12th standard secondary school examinations. Students can opt for the 5-year prestigious LLB course which will land them with a basic Law degree.

Alternatively, a career in law is possible even after a graduation course with a 3-year course in Law.

However, the three-year course is not available in all states, so it is advisable to check the education policies of the state before making a commitment to any course.

  • Degrees Of Specialization

A law degree consists of many degrees of specialization. After a basic foundation, students can opt for the branch of law that appeals to them the most.

Fields of law that are more female centric include Family Law, Labour Law, Administrative Law and International Law.

Other interesting fields of Law include Constitutional Law, Law of Torts, Criminal Law, Property Law, Limitation and Arbitration, Civil Procedure Code, Negotiable Consumer Acts, Drafting, Pleading and so on.

  • Life After Graduation

Upon completion of the degree, the student has to register themselves with the Bar Council of the State in order to become a recognized lawyer. There are several reputed Indian and Multinational Law firms in the country.

It is important to first work under a reputed firm of senior advocates with at least 15 years of experience. Another option for female law graduates would be to work in a solicitor firm, doing chamber work such as drafting, conveyance and preparing petitions.

Female law graduates who want a more “glamorous” job role can opt to work for various private, multinational and government companies as law officers. They can even join the hospitality industry as legal advisors.

After gaining at least ten years of experience standing at the bar, a whole host of new career options open up for the female law graduate in posts such as the Government Pleader Posts or Public Prosecutors Posts.

  • The Best Law Colleges In India

India has some reputed and renowned Law Colleges for gaining the much-sought after LLB:

1. Government Law College, Mumbai
2. National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore
3. Symbiosis Law College, Pune
4. ILS Law College, Pune
5. Indian Law Institute, New Delhi
6. University of Madras, Chennai
7. Calcutta University, Kolkatta

  • The Best Law Colleges Abroad

For the student who wishes to study abroad, the best law colleges are:

1. Yale University, United States
2. University of Toronto, Canada
3. Cambridge University, United Kingdom
4. University of Melbourne, Australia


Business Etiquette Tips: Hosting A High Tea

By Sapna Chheda

Ever get fed-up of organizing formal dinners and social gatherings? Do you want to entertain people but still have a relaxed time? Well, then there’s no better way to do that than with a high tea.

A high tea is generally hosted in the afternoons or any hour of the day accompanied with some tea and light snacks. It can be casual or formal.

There are no set rules on how to host a high tea, but if you have never hosted one, here are some etiquette tips to turn your ordinary afternoon into an amazing one.

  • High Tea History

Centuries ago, high tea was popularly known as ‘low tea’ and was associated with the working class. Heavy supper was served early in the evenings on low tables hence was termed as low tea.

The concept became popular as afternoon tea in mid-1800s by the Duchess of Bedford where she invited friends over for tea and snacks. Soon the idea started gaining popularity among rich and elite ladies and became a favourite ritual with them.

After it was adopted by high-class socialites it was called the ‘high tea.’ But today, high tea is just not limited to the elite class. Anyone who wishes to have a fun filled afternoon can easily host one a high tea, afternoon tea or even just a tea party.

  • Whom To Invite

It is totally the host’s choice whom to invite for the high tea. Your girlfriends, colleagues, cousins or people whom you feel comfortable and relaxed with can be invited.

The agenda is to have an easy going afternoon in the company of people whom you enjoy being with. It is not necessary it has to be limited to women only. Many men enjoy a high tea as well.

A Sunday afternoon tea party can be a brilliant idea when you want to entertain your husband’s friends without being burdened to host an entire dinner. High tea in the West could also include a barbeque, or barbeque lunch extending to tea.

  • Formal or Casual

Most of the times, it is a casual affair. So even if it is casual, make it pleasant and elegant. Simple things like placing few flowers in a glass vase on the centre of the table can give that special touch.

Select yellow, pink, lavender or white flowers as they are feminine and more soothing during the day. High Tea is the perfect time to remove your chinaware or the tea pot set which you have been waiting to use.

Make arrangements for every guest to have a place to sit whereby the guests can help themselves with the already served buffet. You can place the plates and cups for each guest on the table mats with a matching serviette neatly folded.

Tie the napkin with a ribbon matching to the colour of your cutlery or the flowers placed in the centre. You can also use beautiful embellished napkin holders giving warmth and elegant feel with the cutlery. Play some light background music to set the mood.

  • Tantalize Their Taste Buds

The point of a high tea afternoon is to spend quality time with your guests. So choose food that can be prepared earlier and served on the table, without you having to run back and forth to the kitchen to heat it.

• Finger food like some cheese and vegetable sandwiches made in white or brown bread, chips n dips, canapés, mini burgers, tarts, cookies and shortbreads gives you enough choices to select a menu for your tea party.

• Keep enough vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.

• Make sure the tea is brewed fresh and served hot. Offering choices of tea like herbal tea, black tea, assam tea, lemon tea, the classic Indian masala tea gives your guests the comfort to choose what they like.

• Set a tray with cream and sugar separately to accommodate the preferences of your guests.

• Offer an option for coffee for those who do not drink tea. If it is a hot afternoon, you can also make iced teas and cold coffees.

Sometimes, guests suggest making something and getting it along. Out of courtesy it is considered polite to arrange for everything yourself. There is not much to arrange anyway.

  • Indoors or Outdoors

If you have a terrace or a garden where you can entertain, certainly opt for that depending on the weather. If weather is sunny, but breezy and cool enough put out some shed umbrellas on the tables for the comfort of your guests. If you’re aware that your guests are more comfortable indoors, give preference to that.

  • What Outfit To Wear

It is an afternoon to feel good so dress up a bit and be presentable before your guests arrive. Sunny casuals and smart linens are ideal both for indoor and outdoor wear. Include fancy head gear and eye gear if you are outdoors.

  • Be the Perfect Host

With everything in place now, it is time to be the perfect host. Welcome and greet each and every guest personally. Introduce your guests to each other if they are meeting for the first time.

Initiate topics and steer the conversations to more general ones so everyone can participate. Make sure that every guest is comfortable.

  • Thanking Your Guests

Thank each and every guest for taking out time and visiting. Mention that you had an enjoyable afternoon and are looking forward to more.

You can include a small gift depending on the occasion, especially if it for a baby shower. A personalized thank you note is considered thoughtful.


Katrina Kaif Photo

Katrina Kaif: From Aspiring Model To Queen Of Bollywood

If you ask any man to describe his perfect woman or ask any woman to describe an aspirational role model, chances are Katrina Kaif will be mentioned at least a couple of times.

Undoubtedly the reigning queen of Indian cinema today, this pretty, young woman entered Bollywood in 2003 with Kaizad Gustad’s, Boom.

In spite of its impressive cast list (Amitabh Bachan, Gulshan Grover), the film failed to make an impact in the box office. But Kaif’s love for Bollywood was sealed.

  • From Model to Actress

The model/actress has been modeling since the age of 14 for Models 1 modeling agency and has been the face of campaigns for fashion brand, La Senza, and even walked the catwalk for London Fashion Week. She packed her bags and moved from a successful modeling career in London to try her luck in Bollywood.

  • The Struggle

Although blessed with angelic looks and acting talent, the path to success in Bollywood was not easy for the actress. Her inability to speak Hindi found Kaif being cast for several modeling assignments but film-makers were hesitant to take a chance with her.

Two years after her arrival in Mumbai, the actress landed her first breakthrough role with a cameo as Abhishek Bachan’s girlfriend in Ram Gopal Verma’s “Sarkar” in 2005. That same year, she landed her first major role opposite Bollywood heart-throb Salman Khan in “Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya”.

The film, which was a moderate success, was not only the beginning of the actresses’ successful reign in Bollywood, but was also the beginning of a blossoming romance with lead actor Salman Khan.

  • Arriving in Bollywood

The release of “Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya” marked the arrival of Katrina Kaif in Bollywood. The actress soon found herself with a stream of releases paired opposite some of the most desirable men in Bollywood.

In 2006 she starred opposite Akshay Kumar in “Humko Deewana Kar  Gaye”. Although the film was a  box-office flop, Kaif was praised for her portrayal of Jia.A.

The next year certainly was eventful for the new Bollywood heroine with “Namastey London” opposite Akshay Kumar, a supporting role in Anil Sharma’s “Apne”, a lead role in  David Dhawan’s “Partner” opposite a star-cast list of Salman Khan, Govinda and Lara Dutta.

2007 also saw Katrina Kaif starring as the leading heroine in the blockbuster hit “Welcome” opposite Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal and Anil Kapoor.

2008 saw Katrina Kaif in Abbas-Mustan’s much awaited hit “Race” which saw her play a lead role alongside Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Khanna, Bipasha Basu and Sameera Reddy.

Her sultry song and dance sequence for the song “Touch Me” showed audiences worldwide a new seductive side of Katrina Kaif and won her the honour of being voted the “Sexiest Asian Women” by Eastern Eye, a title she continued to hold for four consecutive years.

Katrina was next seen in Anees Bazmee’s “Singh is King” where she played Akshay Kumar’s love interest. The chemistry between the couple, paired for the second time, was unmistakable and the film emerged as the third highest grossing Bollywood film of 2008.

2008 also saw Katrina Kaif play a role in Subhash Ghai’s “Yuvvraaj”. Although the film failed to impress the commercial audience, its script was honoured at the Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

The next year was a blessed year for the pretty, young actress who was slowly making her way into the hearts of every Indian.

Her first release for 2009, Kabir Khan’s “New York” was highly praised and Katrina’s realistic portrayal of a young student in New York amidst the onset of terrorism earned her first nomination in the Filmfare Award for Best Actress.

In November 2009, Kaif appeared alongside another emerging star, Ranbir Kapoor in Rajkumar Santoshi’s “Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani”. The film received praise commercially mostly for the chemistry both on-off screen between the leading pair.

Her next film “De Dana Dan” failed to do well in the box-office despite its star-studded cast. Katrina Kaif was next seen in Prakash Jha’s political drama “Raajneeti”. The film was a success with Kaif earning praise for her portrayal of Indu Sakseria.

She was next seen in Farah Khan’s “Tees Maar Khan” with Akshay Kumar. The film failed to impress and was declared a flop. However, Katrina’s item number “Sheila Ki Jawani” was a major hit and went n to be the hit song of 2010.

In 2011, Katrina released two new movies, Zoya Akhtar’s “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” opposite an impressive cast including Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol and new-comer Kalki Kochlin and Yash Raj Film’s, “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan”, opposite Imran Khan and Ali Zafar.

  • Awards

Since her foray into Bollywood, the actress has received high praise and acclaim for the roles she has portrayed.

Her impressive list of awards and nominations include a nomination for best actress in the prestigious Filmfare Awards, two Star Screen Awards for Entertainer of the Year and Best Actress(Popular Choice), a ZeeCine Award and two nominations, one IIFA award and two nominations as well as two Stardust Awards and three nominations.

  • Katrina Kaif: Bollywood Queen

Katrina Kaif prefers to remain quiet about her personal life but the actress has charmed her way into the heart’s of every Indian with her charming smile and enigmatic screen presence.

Though not an Indian by citizenship, Katrina Kaif has been accepted, not only by the film fraternity but by every Indian citizen, as the unofficial reigning queen of Bollywood.




Money Management for Women

Money Management For Women: Top Money Concerns For Women In India

Gone are the days when Indian men were the primary bread winners and women cooked and tended to their children. Women in India are taking big strides financially and contributing significantly to family finances.

However, there are some stereotypes that still remain, and some fundamental issues that women face with money. Here’s a look at some of them.

Money Management for Women

  • Mixing Money With Relationships

Very often women are unable to separate money from relationships, i.e. they are more likely to lend money to friends or loved ones on the basis of relationships and bear the consequences if there is an issue with repayment.

If faced with such a situation, first see if you can help out without involving money – help with networking, babysitting etc. Remember that it is not good sense to sacrifice your future by putting others’ needs before yours.

  • Keeping up with the Joneses

Social pressure sometimes can be a very detrimental factor when it comes to finances. What someone else has becomes a dictating factor and you have to have it.

When buying group gifts, ensure that you don’t go overboard with the spending simply because everyone else is contributing a bigger amount that you can’t afford.

  • Lack of Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is a word which frightens most women. Whether it is negotiating a good deal on a home, or a salary raise with a boss – women prefer not to get into it.

This becomes a crucial factor in building personal finances. Women don’t make as much money as men simply because they don’t ask for it.

  • Emotional Spending

Emotional spending or Retail Therapy as it is more commonly known is a huge factor when it comes to money concerns women face.

Following an emotional disturbance, women love to soothe themselves by buying expensive clothes or shoes or anything that they’ve had their eyes on for a long time. Sometimes impulsive buys prove very expensive and women run the risk of huge credit card bills.

Remember that these “highs” are temporary and you need to pay your credit card bills at the end of the month, sometimes a lot higher than you anticipated. Also evaluate the items in your shopping cart before you hit the checkout desk. Which of those do you need?

  • Lack of Confidence in Handling Money

Many women admit that they lack the confidence when it comes to financial planning and investments. Traditionally men have saved for the future and taken big investment decisions while women have handled everyday finances and running of the household.

Women say that they don’t find it enjoyable and sometimes lack the confidence to get into financial planning and investing for the future. It is very important to get over this mind block and start by educating yourself about various financial instruments. Consult a financial advisor along with your spouse.

  • Avoid Big Risks In Investments

Women also prefer to avoid big risks in investments. Look beyond just paying your bills and focus on investing for the future. Set bigger goals and plan effectively to achieve them.

Some women make the mistake of being completely financially dependent on their spouse, and this can lead to problems at some point in time. Learn to take financial decisions and manage your money.

Handle your savings account on your own and don’t make the mistake of having only a joint account, and no account of your own. You need to realize that this is not a matter of trust, but of being able to handle your money independently and in the way you think prudently.


Image: David Castillo Dominici /

Naaree Interviews Gillian Muessig, Founding President Of SEOmoz

Women entrepreneurs in various sectors have been immensely successful, dispelling the old myth that they cannot handle businesses as confidently or assertively as men.

At, we love to understand what really makes them tick? What are their little secrets? And how did they get where they are today?

This month’s interview features Gillian Muessig, founding president of SEOmoz, providers of the world’s most popular Search Marketing applications.

Gillian-Muessig-2011 serves a community of more than 300,000 search marketers around the world; the SEOmoz blog is read by 50,000 SEOs each month.

Known as SEOmom throughout the industry, Gillian is a thought leader with her finger on the pulse of the future of the industry.

She has provided keynotes and sessions for conferences in North and South America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Scandinavia and the UK.

Gillian’s radio program, CEO Coach has a global listenership of several thousand entrepreneurs and marketers and airs Mondays at 10 AM PST on, covering entrepreneurial issues from funding and finance to staffing, marketing, pricing models, and brand development.

She serves on the Board of Advisors for companies in four continents. We asked Gillian a number of questions and her openness and wisdom blew us away.

What inspired to become an entrepreneur? Did you always love it or was it something you got into?

I grew up assuming I would get a job, but I never visualized what that would be like. As a young graduate of college, I had a few jobs and enjoyed them.

But when I gave birth to my first child and moved 5,000 miles from New York City to Seattle, Washington, I began to consult. It seemed expedient: I could tend to a baby and work largely from home.

In truth, it’s when I felt I had truly found my place. I loved being my own boss, choosing my own hours to work, and providing a service with quality over which I had complete control. Once I experienced it, I never wanted to work for another company again.

When do you know that it is no longer just an idea in your mind, and that you can really turn it into a lucrative business?

I have told many people that in the early years of my company I was “glorified unemployed”, which translates to: “I was a consultant”. I worked as I was able. When family life was busy, I took on fewer jobs; when there was time, I took on more.

I raised three children “under my desk”, as it were. During the early consulting years, the company essentially generated only a modest income. When I hired the first 2 employees and began building websites, I knew I had to generate enough income to pay three salaries.

That created a turning point in my own mind. I not only wanted to bring in enough business to pay three salaries; I wanted to bring in enough business to hire more people and grow a “real” company.

The change in my mindset – going from being a lone consultant, or a “lifestyle” business to becoming an expanding company in a new technological landscape was the turning point for the business.

What inspired you to start out on your own or with your partners? What learning lessons can you share from your startup experience?

My first counsel is: Just begin! It doesn’t matter if it’s just you and a computer you use at a local library, community center or college. Begin today! Whatever you want to build will be built faster if you begin with what you have now, the time you have to devote to it now, and whatever customers you can find today.

My next counsel is, while you are doing whatever you can today, keep your eye on your ultimate goal. That means you need to attempt to close larger deals, test your skills at more difficult tasks, convince friends and colleagues to devote some of their time and skills to make it happen… whatever the next step is in building your dream company, always stretch a bit to achieve that next step.

Most often, it boils down to doing something that scares you or at least challenges you greatly every day until you achieve your goal.

Gillian Muessig, founding president of SEOmozFinally, I would counsel that if you want to build a truly great technology company, you will need a Wizard (the technologist) and a Businessperson. The purpose of the Businessperson is to protect the Wizard.

If your Wizard is thinking about anything except, “What’s next?”, you’re losing money. The Wizard must not worry about whether the tea has been made or whether it’s been purchased; they must not worry about whether the rent has been paid or whether it can be paid. That’s the job of businessperson.

And if you’re the technologist, choose your businessperson by choosing the person to whom you can entrust the financial lives of your children; that’s your businessperson. Not your best friend, another technologist, or an investor. Your businessperson may be one of those people, but the criteria is the important attribute.

What are some challenges that you faced initially when you started out? Do you have some examples to share and advice to women entrepreneurs on overcoming them?

There is still a glass ceiling and the imbalance of power means women are still taken for granted in the home and not taken seriously in the workplace. A man with conviction is described as “a man with conviction”. I woman with conviction is described as “difficult”, “pushy” or worse. It is sad, but true.

Therefore, although we as women do not like this reality, we must deal with it. My counsel is to speak elegantly, but with a firmness that clearly demonstrates that you are in charge.

Avoid shrillness, which is belies a lack of sense of command of a situation. And avoid dressing and speaking as men do; imitation has no place here.

Seek out women who are successful and study the cadence in their voices and their choice of language. Learn the language of persuasion and power.

Secondly, it is hard to be an entrepreneur in any country, for either gender. Seek out entrepreneurs, join or create entrepreneur groups. Hang out with entrepreneurs who are several steps ahead of where you are today.

You need mentors – people who have walked your current path and can counsel you on how to get to the next stage. Hanging out with people at your current stage won’t do that for you.

At the earliest stages, no one will believe in you. Your parents will want to know when you’re going to get a job. Your spouse will want to know why you don’t play cards with the neighbors or participate in other inane activities.

Staying steadfast to your purpose is easier if you have others who understand what you’re building. That’s why the keeping the company of other supportive entrepreneurs – and supporting them – is so important.

What are all the things that a woman entrepreneur needs to keep in mind? I.e. apart from your great idea, what do you need to be armed with?

This is something all entrepreneurs need to keep in mind, male or female:

Great ideas are born every minute. The question is whether you have a great idea that can be brought to market. Do you have an actionable go-to-market plan? Will people really part from their hard earned cash to obtain whatever your great idea is?

Remember, there is a difference between running a small standard business and being an entrepreneur. Anyone can open a little shop and sell things that everyone is selling in the next street or neighborhood.

It is the plan to create more than just a little shop or selling stand that defines the entrepreneur. If you open a little shop to sell cupcakes in a city that has had no such shop before and plan to franchise it all over India, you’re an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial thinking is different from ‘salary’ or ‘making a living’ thinking.

As a woman entrepreneur, I think it is specifically important to keep in mind the propensity for women not to take power or to give it up. If you are taking on a partner, be aware of this tendency and speak and plan mindfully to keep control of your growing company. Do not let your idea slip into becoming someone else’s company.

If you are a woman Businessperson in a startup with a male Wizard, again, be mindful of your role – the Wizard may be the CEO, but you should demand the title of COO. Watch the video of Sheryl Sandberg on why we have too few woman leaders.

Do women entrepreneurs find it tougher to get funding for businesses? If yes, why do you think that is?

I don’t have a firm answer to that question. I do know that far fewer women get funded than men. The questions you should be asking include whether women have fewer fundable ideas than men, or whether they have the ideas but don’t act on them because it’s not socially acceptable, or whether they have ideas and a man brings it to be funded, or whether ideas presented are not presented as powerfully or convincingly as the same ideas presented my men and so on.

There are so many variables and possibilities. As a woman, it is wise to dress appropriately for funding meetings. This does not mean dress like a man. It does mean, dress for power. Again, observe women in power and follow suit, always maintaining your own sense of style as well.

Stand up straight, speak with clarity and dignity, clearly demonstrate your passion for the subject and the idea, and clearly demonstrate your capacity and willingness to achieve the financial goals of your potential funders.

That last piece is more important for women because of the assumption that women will quit their other pursuits to manage a household. Be sure your funding parties understand your focus and ability to see this project through to the end.

Is it beneficial to have a mentor when you’re starting out on your own? What does a mentor bring to the table?

It is crucial to have mentors, not just one. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t begin to build your company in the absence of mentors. It means you should begin and one of your first and ongoing goals is to obtain mentors along the way.

In the beginning, simply having another person who is doing something similar – building a company at the same stage and perhaps in a similar sector as you are – is very helpful.

Look to your graduating class at the university to find others who have started companies and seek out their company to talk about being the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or GM (General Manager) or your own businesses.

Always seek out the company of people whose companies are one to two stages larger and more mature than yours. They will help you negotiate leases, introduce you to funding sources, share their insurance agent contact with you, show you how they manage this or that employee issue, etc.

Mentors are people who have done it before. But they are not necessarily people who have built businesses in another era. Be aware that building a technology business is not like building a real estate business in 1970. Find mentors who are pertinent to the business you are building today.

Seek out Angel investors and learn how they think. What are they interested in, what things should be in your pitch, what turns them off, what makes them put their money on the table, what they want in return. Become friends with them and learn to meet the needs of funders.

How did you recruit your first team? How difficult was it to get people on board during the initial stages?

Our first employee was hired during a very hard recession. It was 2002, during the dot-com crash in Seattle. There were brilliant web developers and technologists out of work. They were willing to work for very low wages and stock in a new idea.

So we were fortunate to be building a business during hard times. Later, it became much more expensive to get people with the same skill sets because other technology companies were growing around us and they were now well funded and could afford to pay higher wages, pushing the cost in the marketplace up.

Initially, we knew we had very little money to offer, so we focused on other things: the excitement of being.

What are 3 key things that you have learned as an entrepreneur?

I have more assets and necessary attributes than I ever dreamed before I became an entrepreneur.

Cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit in every member of your company’s team is crucial to success. If only one is a 9-5 slacker, someone who simply mentally punches a clock, puts in the hours, and doesn’t have a stake in the group’s success, your whole company is hurt in many ways.

Regardless of all the nay-sayers who assured me and each other that I was either crazy or just a “silly woman”, it IS possible to create companies for th benefit of team members (employees), customers, and founders, rather than built on the backs of employees and customers for the sole financial benefit of the senior management. And it’s not only wildly successful for everyone, it’s a much, much better way to live.

How important is social media in building a business today? How has it played a role in helping you build yours?

SEOmoz was built entirely on Earned Media or Inbound Marketing. We built the company from inception to become the world’s largest supplier or search marketing campaign management software without placing a single paid ad.

Social media, which provides the platforms to get the word out about new content, ideas, and products played a crucial role in our success. If you beginning a company now, begin with social media. Produce extraordinary content (written, info-graphics, or video) and promote it to an increasing audience via social media.

Social media is the platform you use to create and mange your brand community. Your community is comprised of people who are engaged with your brand, know and like what you are creating and trying to achieve, and buy your products/services. They promote and support you – they spread the word for you.

Social media is where you start and it’s where you continue to return to spread the word as your company and community grows.

Can you share some tips for women entrepreneurs to maintain a balance between work and family life?

Now there’s a question few if any men ever ask. While it’s difficult to balance home and business life, it’s also very rewarding. It helps you build better companies – ones that understand the requirement to nurture the next generation while tending to the business needs of today’s generation.

As Sheryl Sandberg said in her TED talk, one of the most important criteria for successful businesswomen is selecting a supportive spouse. If your husband is not taking on a true half of the household and child rearing chores, you’ll need to be realistic about how much time you’ll have to devote to running your company.

If you are collectively making a sufficient amount of income to afford it, get household help immediately. Having someone available to clean, cook, and run the children to appointments will enable you to run the business without bailing out on important meetings to fill those needs.

The thing you cannot scrimp on is quality family time with spouse and children. Put those times on your calendar, just like business appointments. Keep them sacred. If you cut out quiet time reading to your children, taking them to the museum, the park, or other outings, you will have lost their attention and their respect.

Anyone can change a dirty diaper; only a mother can provide the sense of love, protection, and trust that establishes emotional health for children. Be there for those important evening and weekend times.

Take the children to the office to see what you do and to see you in a position of authority. It is good for children to know that you have a professional life in addition to a home life.

It is good for them to know that your relationship with your spouse came first and will remain after they are grown. This helps them to know their place in the home and not to become spoiled or self-centered.

When they are old enough, have them work a bit in the business if possible. It will teach them adult communication skills and give them assets to be successful in their own lives, whether they choose to become entrepreneurs or not.

We don’t like the imbalance of women’s work vs. men’s work, but I counsel you not to let it stop you. Begin your business anyway. Don’t delay.

I raised 3 children under my desk and playing on blankets behind me as I worked. With laptops and cell phones it is easier than ever to work and care for children. I had no maids, no chauffeurs, and no cooks. As Nike says, Just Do It!

As my children grew, so did my company. And their time spent in the business environment gave them a deeper appreciation of the power of women in the workplace as well as skills of their own that playing while I knitted or chatted inanely with other bored mothers on a park bench would not have given them.

There was still time enough for them to visit friends and have those friends visit at our home. Just get on with it. Time will reveal how things will come together for you and your family.

Connect with Gillian and let her know what you thought about this interview on Twitter or LinkedIn.




Embrace Your ‘Weirdness’ And Make Peace With Who You Are

Embrace Your ‘Weirdness’ And Make Peace With Who You Are

What would the world be without the misfits, the rebels, the square pegs in round holes? It is visionaries like Steve Jobs who changed our view of the world today.

It is the ones with ‘disabilities’ like Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, John Lennon, Pablo Picasso and Thomas Edison (all of whom were dyslexic) who have transformed the world with their vision, talent and brilliance.

What if their disabilities had been weeded out of them so that they ‘fit in’ better into an education system that kills creativity and genius? Would the world have benefited from the gifts that only they could have contributed?

Or would they have been turned into dumbed-down clones of everyone who graduates from the academic assembly lines that pass for schools today?

These views may be somewhat radical, but I believe that these geniuses – and many others – made the contributions they did because they opted out of the game.

They chose not to do what everyone else did simply because they were not cut out for it. Instead of focusing their attention on their disability – something that was not even diagnosed back then – they developed their own unique talents… and changed the way we experience the world.

Today, a diagnosis of disability can brand a child for life, causing endless embarrassment and destroying her fragile self-esteem in a world that stresses academic achievements over creative genius.

I believe that when you embrace your ‘weirdness’, your ‘disabilities’ or your own unique gifts that the Universe has bestowed on you, you teach all of us to see the world through different eyes.

When you share the vision that comes through your own unique lens with the rest of the world, you make all of our lives richer.

So don’t let anyone make you feel ‘less-than’ just because you’re not academically inclined or cannot fulfil your parents’ unfulfilled aspirations. You may be destined to be the next Picasso and to add to the beauty of all our lives.

I’ll end this with a brilliant quote from the late Steve Jobs:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

© Priya Florence Shah

This is an excerpt from the ebook “Step Into Your Feminine Power And Rule Your World: 24 Empowering Ideas for the Modern Indian Woman” by Priya Florence Shah. Download the Amazon Kindle version here.

What would the world be without the misfits, the rebels, the square pegs in round holes? It is these visionaries who have changed our view of the world today

5 Rural Women Entrepreneurs In India

Women entrepreneurs are constantly rewriting the economy with their skill and confidence, and providing a new lease of life to the rural population with their innovative ventures.

Here is a look at five women entrepreneurs on India who have made invaluable contributions to rural development.

  • Ela Bhatt

Ela BhattThe Founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Bhatt is a renowned leader in the fields of microfinance and labour. She founded SEWA in 1972 along with the late Arvind Buch who was then the president of the Textile Labour Association (TLA).

Thanks to an initiative by SEWA, villages in Bihar have become a base for rural women to earn their living by renting solar bulbs to other families. These women buy solar bulbs at subsidized rates with the help of loans from SEWA and then not only use some in their own homes but also rent them out to other families, thereby earning their living.

Ela Bhatt has been awarded the Padmashri, the Padmabhushan as well as the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

  • Thinlas Chorol

Thinlas ChorolShe is the only Ladakhi woman to be trained to work in the field of mountaineering.

Having grown up in the mountains, Chorol went on trekking expeditions as a guide with “Around Ladakh with Students” (ALS), the travel agency owned by SECMOL, the Institute where she studied.

She founded the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company in 2009 to bring more women into the field of travel and mountaineering, and also to promote ecotourism in Ladakh.

  • Annie George

She is the founder of BEDROC, an organization that “helps build disaster-resilient, sustainable coastal communities.” Some of the fields that BEDROC works in are disaster management, Participatory Water Resource Management, and Coastal Vulnerability Mapping.

One of the main objectives of BEDROC is to “Leverage experiences of the 2004 Asian tsunami to create community-based, community-owned mechanisms for enhanced disaster response, mitigation and preparedness for coastal communities.”

  • Chetna Gala Sinha

Chetna Gala SinhaSinha is the founder of  Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank (Mann Deshi Bank), a regulated cooperative bank run by women for women.

Udyogini Business School was founded in 2007 by the bank in collaboration with HSBC’s Indian arm.

There are thousands of girls who drop out of school in Maharashtra every year, and Mann Deshi Udyogini aims at providing vocational training and financial training to these young women to enable them to become entrepreneurs.

The bank also offers loans to these women to start businesses after graduating.

  • Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad

Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat PapadAlso known as Lijjat, this is a women’s cooperative which manufactures a number of consumer goods. Lijjat was founded by seven Gujarati housewives from Mumbai in order to make a living with the skill they had – cooking.

“The seven women were Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat, Parvatiben Ramdas Thodani, Ujamben Narandas Kundalia, Banuben. N. Tanna, Laguben Amritlar Gokani, Jayaben V. Vithalani, and one more lady whose name is not known.” (Source).

Today there are several members who work in a number of branches. Lijjat’s main motive is to generate self-employment for women and it provides employment to more than 40000 women.


Image sources, and The Elders