Over the next four months I’ll be joining forces with over 50 other instructors and participants as part of the fourth and final cohort of the womenX program here in Karachi, Pakistan. The soft skills training, business training, networking events, and mastermind sessions are sure to be a source for increased business clarity, insight, and courage.
I’m looking forward to our first formal business session at the Aman Center for Entrepreneurial Development (AMAN-CED) on the main Institute of Business Administration (IBA) campus coming up over the next 14 weeks.
I’m also looking forward to sharing some gems from our meetings over the next few months and this WomenX Gems series will contain my reflections and insights on various aspects of the training and networking sessions. I look forward to sharing my journey – hopefully you find these ideas as profound as I did.
Orientation was a blast this week as we met at Dot Zero – a cooperative working space here in downtown Karachi
Let me first say that I love that there are so many co-operative, private, semi-private, and co-working serviced office spaces sprouting up in this city. With no public library system (like I was used to having the option of utilizing when needed) and few accessible wifi areas that will also let you plug in your laptop around the city, these spaces are a must-have service for many!
Rent for a full office space is expensive for start-ups and working out how to host clients and get fully connected can be a big hassle. Dot Zero, and other alternative work spaces like THBC Business Centers, Co Pakistan, and The Second Floor allow entrepreneurs the quiet spaces, meeting rooms, and event space they need to practice professionalism while also keeping their budgets in mind. For 5000Rs – 15000Rs a month ($50-150) Karachites can gain access to their own personal professional workstation and desk – really affordable and I’m so glad this service exists!
The meeting room space was fantastic, large wide windows, plenty of chairs and tables and a state of the art overhead projector system. There was an attached kitchen behind us closes behind folding doors that I presume is used to make deli-like snacks and meals during the work week.
In the orientation presentation I was exciting to note that about a third of the participants were actually not working in textiles, accessories, and cooking. I saw businesses as diverse as B2B consulting services, healthcare, tech, and more – really exciting to see women taking on non-“traditional” businesses and breaking through those glass ceilings.
Intro by Sabeen Haque
After some ice-breakers and the orientation by Enclude, the company that is managing the World Bank-funded program, we got an introduction to the soft-skills sessions by Sabeen Haque of Minding H.E.R. Business.
She reminded us that no matter what latitude we’re at the attitude is the same – women in business is hard for some to stomach. No matter what country we’re in we can face objections from friends, family, and society – it’s always hard to break the mold.
I look forward to learning more from her on topics like; how to get rid of the people in my life that are holding me back and attracting those who will support me; how to say “no” to projects and opportunities that don’t fit into my goals; and overcoming objections from people who don’t understand my desire to be own my own bosslady!
Urooj Mazhar on Leadership
Urooj Mazhar got us all thinking about the true meaning of leadership. Just because we have followers does not make us a true leader. A true leader understands that leadership is about action not position.
Urooj also led a discussion and get up and move exercise based on Steven Covey’s theory of circles in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: concern, influence, and control. We ruminated on a new Urdu word: fikar – which loosely translates into worry and focus. In essence, the things we think about the most will become what we care about the most.
Our Circle of Concern includes the things that we spend the most time thinking about, but it also includes a lot of worry and negativity. It’s where we also find concepts and emotions like vague complaints, gossip, comparing, and bullying.
Inside our Circle of Influence is where the action is! Herein lies positive, persistence, goal-setting, and solutions. Here we can affect changes in others around us through our actions and personal choices.
One step further in – to our Circle of Control – lies all that we have direct control over in our own lives. This includes choices and decisions about how we spend out time, self-management, and personal goals and mindsets: basically everything related to our own selves on a daily basis. Our circle of control also involves prioritizing and choosing to focus on things we can personally change or influence.
Inside the circle of control is where the hard choices and sacrifices happen. The choices we make there in what to do, think, and feel, will define our outputs. Depending on our choices we can either move forward in a rocket or a Pakistani rickshaw, but it’s important to remember we ALWAYS have a choice.
The time that we spend on our positive actions (as opposed to worrying, blaming, shaming, and justifying) will determine how far we go…and how fast! We all only have the same 24 hours in a day and for greatest impact we need to be active and positive throughout.