When I was studying marketing, I came across Philip Kotler’s 4 Ps of brand building. As I progressed in my professional career, I tried to identify few attributes that would define ‘Megha Tata’. They are also my mantras for a successful life. I call them Megha’s 5 Ps. Here they are:
I have always believed that passion is the most important mantra for a successful life. I have led both my personal as well as professional life driven by passion. I keep a very simple goal which is to love what I do and everything else – the fame, the fortune, the glory – will follow suit, as they merely are the by-products. Every day you should feel like ‘I want to go to work and make a difference’. This feeling drives me every day and that should drive most of us. The day you feel like ‘Damn, I got to go to work today’ is when you need to re-evaluate your goals and re-assess what you want to do in life. Never get stuck at a wrong job or in a wrong profile just because it’s paying your bills. That is a very myopic way of looking at your career and will take you ONLY till a certain point in your growth trajectory. Your passion, your drive, and self-motivation are the only things that will take you beyond this point. I don’t look at work or anything for that matter, in a transactional way. I don’t do something to get something; I do it because I love doing it and I want to do it.
My second ‘P’ which stands for prioritization is extremely important when you have to manage both work and home. It becomes essential for women executives who constantly have to juggle between multiple roles at work and at home. Prioritization is an extremely critical part of anybody’s existence in a professional career. Furthermore, it’s gender agnostic since even men have a lot of things to manage for which they need to prioritize. But my honest submission here is that the overall social system throughout the world is designed to help men to play these multiple roles successfully. So, for men, this constant struggle to multitask is relatively easier.
Though society expects men to play the ‘breadwinning’ related roles to perfection, it overlooks if they fail to achieve as much success in any of the other roles they play. However, a woman is expected to manage all her responsibilities with equal efficiency and effectiveness. Besides, women are burdened by two types of expectations. There are external expectations society has of women and then there are these internal expectations they set for themselves. (For example: ‘It’s my duty to do XYZ.’ This sets the guilt factor and fear of not being able to deliver as expected).
That’s where women need to prioritize. When a parent-teacher meeting is critical to board meetings, you prioritize that and vice-a-versa. It’s more about the prioritization which also evolves over time. What my priority is today may not be my priority tomorrow. It changes for every individual. It changes based on your age and the career stage you are in. So, you make your own rules and don’t be dependent on any rule book because that does not exist. There is so much to do and there are only 24 hours in a day. You got to prioritize.
Lot of us are ‘EITHER OR’ people. But I am an ‘AND’ person and I constantly prioritize to achieve this ‘AND’.
There is a great deal about how people perceive you. There are two types of perceptions one must manage. It’s important to manage the perception of others about yourself as it is to manage your own perception. You are what you make yourself to be. If you expect people to think about you in a certain way, then you must behave to support that expectation. You must walk the talk.
I would like to tell you an experience from the earlier part of my life. God has been kind to me and has blessed me with good genes because of which I generally look younger than my age. With younger looks and western outfits which I used to wear at work earlier, some clients never took me seriously even though I was at a very senior position. To change this perception, I made a conscious effort to move into Indian attire at work in the later part of my career. The point I am trying to drive here is that I made constant efforts in building perception of ‘myself’. There is nothing right or wrong about it. I am not bashing women wearing skirts or any other outfit at work. It’s a choice. And I made my choice to build a perception.
PR is another name for networking. I believe it’s important to build networks within your industry as well as outside of it. One must build internal networks within your organization as well. In Hindi, there is one phrase called as ‘Takiya Kalam’ which roughly translates as ‘My Favourite Mantra’ which in the context of networking is as simple as ‘Baat karne se hi baat banti hai’. When you meet people and talk to people, one thing leads to another.
I strongly believe in networking and I have actively worked on it. A word of advice here – you have to be thick-skinned about what others think about your networking, especially if you are a woman. When a woman networks, she is perceived to be taking unfair advantage of her gender.
There are many women who don’t network because they have challenges to manage their time but unfortunately sometimes women lose out in that. Men just go out, maybe for a beer or two with their buddies. These are the small talks from where something interesting might emerge.
Networking is not only about going to parties or grabbing a drink at the bar. Women can involve themselves in industry bodies and industry initiatives. They can have causal interaction with people and later meet them at industry events. There are many ways of networking.
The circles where you network also change throughout the career span. When I was in sales in the earlier stage of my career, I chose relevant environments and events to network. Now that I am in the leadership role, my networking circles have changed.
I am ‘Glass is always half full’ kind of a person. I believe, half the job is done if you approach it with a positive attitude. It depends on how you perceive and describe a situation. We all have had times in our lives where we have felt completely out of control and powerless. However, all you can do is remain grounded. You can control your attitude. Hence you got to be positive and look at things through a positive prism.
Over the years, I have managed to stay positive by focusing on inner well-being through Yoga, which helps me in self-introspection and self-realization. If you are calm and positive, you will start seeing things positively. A positive attitude has a positive Snowball effect.
Authored Megha Tata, the COO of BTVI