Hello! I am Shivani.
I am the bird who has been swimming and swimming OK.
Not happy swimming, just Ok.
Then one day after years and years of staring at my wings, I thought but what if I fly.
And I leaped - with this blog. With the support of family and friends.
By heart, I am passionate about sharing my experiences to empower and/or educate others. I love grooming, styling and all things that are a work in progress - which is what I consider myself, a work in progress.
I strongly believe that when we rise together we rise stronger and we lay a foundation that withstands phases of life. Collaboration works!
For all my extrovert-ness the few things that I find ridiculously difficult are:
🗣 Asking for help – and it’s not a lack of need. Because who doesn’t need help!
🗣 Self Promotion – my resume is a sorry example of that.
🗣 Taking a compliment, especially in person – it’s almost as if I need a credited institution to validate my dry shampoo skills so that I can accept ‘your hair looks great today!’
🗣 Seeing my own worth – I have no quip here because if I start on this, it will turn into a book.
Is it ego at play or need of control or am I just wired that way? Who knows, but it needs to change and I am taking actionable steps!!
And, no I don’t think being an extrovert or an introvert automatically makes the above possible. It’s was my perception that the above may come organic to me as being an extrovert.
😳 It took me only 30days of contemplation before I ‘invited’ family & friends to ‘Like’ my page. And, the push that made me do it was my self-thought of ‘well, I don’t want I spam my personal page with my posts all the time so whoever wants to read my work will ‘Like’ with the Facebook page or better yet will subscribe to the blog’
🗣 This amazing Kathleen Taylor artwork speaks to me – I am a science & signs person – and I spotted it at the cutest store wild oats and billy goats. This will be in my office one day, I will buy it! Because ..
Once upon a time, I found myself in a room with the evaluation paper in front of me. Seemingly, I was doing A-OK but could do better – tell me more! I thought as I rolled my eyes also in my thoughts. Once the fluff/filler conversation was done I was asked to sign the eval paper. I took the pen and drew a line across my name and corrected the spelling of my name. Stared back as I slid the eval back.
I thought to myself- I really do not like someone judging my work when they cannot get the basics right.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself in the seat of the one evaluating. Guess what the paper misspelled – their NAME!! I will spare you the details of my flustered, embarrassed and humbled self.
Define Karma a short story by Shivani Kulkarni
Professional Performance Evaluation: The one where you evaluate yourself so that someone else can evaluate you and your work. Ranging from a corporate employee to an entrepreneur! Ranging from kill me now to tell how I can get better. Ranging from I know I am a superstar to let’s get this over with. Emotions, oh so many damn emotions.
This circle of feedback/learning/evaluation/reflecting can be positive, negative or non-consequential but it is accepted by all as a professional process. End of the day, the reward for the evaluation can often be tied to tangible growth or learning that ultimately lead to tangible growth.
Within 12hrs of an online purchase, an email is sent asking for feedback.
We all look for that nod and approving smiles in a big meeting.
Consumer feedback management is a business in itself.
We are incentives to give opinions on products and services.
We look forward to the validation that we are doing great and that growth awaits us.
More today than ever, one will agree, that there is a need to evaluate feedback, iterate and evolve!
We tirelessly self-assess to outperform ourselves: we reflect on the victories, the losses, the conflicts, the break room chatter, the public reviews and more. We are gender, race, and religion united when it comes to professional growth even if it means trekking that hard path of feedback, reflection and re-building.
Self Assessment = Self Reflection = meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives.
The same process is applied and welcomed for physical well being. Proactive measures of physical health assessment because …well – life! & the daunting cost of healthcare for a cure, in case of sickness.
We accept and encourage self-reflection in professional life as it risks tangible loss.
We accept & encourage self-reflection for physical health as it risks the quality of life, tangible discomfort, monetary loss & more.
Then, what makes us fight, mock, ignore, dismiss the tools of self-reflection for our mental health?
Pro-active career-enhancing actions & physical-health enhancing measures surely do not imply that either one of those is broken. Then why are the measures for pro-active mental health enhancement viewed as frivolous and unnecessary – Especially, from men.
I am well aware of the gender generalization here and while I know some incredibly self aware men, there is a shortage. Stay with me till the end, if you can.
See, I have skin in this game. I care deeply to know why:
there is a narrative of having to pitch self-care/self-reflection/therapy to men in a different way.
Media, Merchandise, Services, Coaches & Publications are serving us reminders daily to enhance quality of life.
Maybe its daunting to start or maybe it needs to be normalized in your head. Know that you are the only one who can start and the only one who can normalize it.
Dear Men .. & Women, especially Men,
Maybe the society said Men don’t cry or the humor seems to suggest that only girly women talk about their feelings or that masculinity needs to be void of feelings and emotions, and thereby there is leniency with your behaviors or that mediation will make into a purple unicorn or that writing your feelings may make basic!
I know that one day my little boy will be part of your tribe. And, while I do my best to normalize self-reflection to him, he will look up to you too for what is normal.
Dear Women .. & Men, especially Women,
Maybe we allow for this normalization to thrive without judgement. Maybe we demand for better behavior. Maybe we self-reflect ourselves so that we are an example of mental growth.
Self-Reflection is your responsibility & it is not a one day gig. It’s my responsibility to myself. Its till our last breath, so that our regrets are slim and hopefully the smiles are wide.
If you have read and/or spoke to me then you have heard me announce: I want to create with words & I want to create with design.
Most recipients of these informative lines which are delivered, clearly & confidently, gave me a response.
The actual response was always congratulatory and uplifting. The feelings delivered alongside mostly complemented the verbal thought. The mixed bag of responses goes as follows:
I sensed a question: Does she know how to design or write? What will she write about or what will she design?
My Dad responded with 😂😂😂😂😘😘😘😘👌👌👌👌 because this is how he emotes. I am almost positive he has this sequence of emojis saved. Also, he called me a genius which we all know is not true.
I sensed an admiration for the thought clarity.
I sensed an indifferent vibe where a cursory that’s nice, well done is conveyed.
I sensed a practical pause that quietly congratulated me and then got down to inquiring about the plan of execution.
My MIL asked me if I have checked the trademark database and that she will provide verbal marketing when I am ready.
I sensed a genuine spark of interest that lead to questions about the content and entrepreneurship.
I sensed a triggered moment. A moment where the person is transported to a time when they thought they were going to start something that gave them joy. A warm familiar smile follows and then leads to their story.
I sensed silence. The elephant-in-the-room kind. More specifically, I see you, I agree with you, I like what you have to say but I cannot acknowledge you. It is super critical to note that the definition of acknowledgment here doesn’t mean just public social media interaction.
I sensed immense love, kindness, and readiness to help – “How can I help? And I am so happy for you”
My mother responded by sending me a motivational quote on Instagram and ♥️♥️😘👍🏼 She also immediately assumed her role in helping me and she is correct. She is and always will be my right hand.
I sensed annoyance at my clarity and perceived arrogance. Almost as if one wanted to say who are you and what have experienced to share your experience!And I see you, you are not a designer. Girl! Keep your 9to5 and go on. — this is the audience I hope to reach, one day.
No discouragement, yet, for sure. Humbling practical advice at best and it is very much appreciated. Overall, lots of love! Overtime I have consciously surrounded myself with people who are uplifting. Uplifting people that provide constructive response and not discouragement. There is a difference!
The way the world works is that ….
No one discourages a progressing toddler. That response is reserved for adults only. If one is wise they realize that the only source of discouragement to care about is your own thoughts. All of us are guilty of it! I have much to opine and share my experience with this topic but that is for a later day.
One of the response, that I cannot fit in a category, was – You are funny but your writing is lacking humor. I see it showing up in subtlety but people will engage more if it’s funny.
I agree! Presenting to you my favorite bird ..
I am fully aware of things that sell – humor, sex and maybe diet pills! Of the three things that sell I can provide one of them but it has to come organically, so keep reading and sharing my posts ♥️
None of the responses surprised me and for the first time in my life I felt like I knew what to expect. Because its it not for the first time in my life that I have made a major decision and announced it to the world with clarity.
Fun Fact: When I eat something ridiculously delicious & healthy I announce to my husband, all the time, that this is what we will eat once a week from here on. We don’t!
Some announcements are frivolous.
Some announcements are articulation in progress.
Some announcements are a made decision.
I am grateful to have had the experiences that prepared and humbled me for some life responses. Through the years I have found support and love in starting/announcing but its the guidance, post-announcement, that was rare. Truth be told you are on your own and if you are passionate, pragmatic, and persistent you will find a way. Also, a bit of preparation for the immediate responses will make you immune to that immediate discouragement.
Excel doesn’t love me for numbers but I love excel for life organization. In my creative worksheet,I have a tab labeled “When in doubt read this”
This tab has words that I want to say to myself. The words that I do say to myself everyday. The action that I expect myself to take.
Make a tab for yourself in whatever is your version of excel. I will share a snippet of my self-talk:
This is your goal and your dream. No one will understand it fully it and they cannot be expected to understand. If they support it, that is enough. Be grateful for the support.
If you feel lost, like a failure, out of comfort zone and not in control — Feel those feelings and put a 15min timer and cry/scream/do squats/hug/whatever. Then get up take a shower and start again.
Immediate reactions are just that, immediate. Allow someone time to understand your vision, they may be your biggest strength afterward.
You may realize that you grossly over-estimated your talent and that churn of realization will give you clarity on what is your actual talent. Don’t give up!
Remember all those people, processes, experiences, suggestions, platforms and you! – These things got you through darker times. Be that for someone!! You had support but you lacked guidance. Be that guide for someone.
Be ruthless about where you spend your time, energy and love. It is OK to excuse yourself from situations and people. Be where you are welcomed and wanted.
Ask for help. And help when asked.
One day your son will grow up and get to know you all over again with your words and work – be honest and influence a world you want for him.
Make a list of your self-talk and talk to yourself often. Its a great preparation especially when you announce something to the world. Because there will be surprises but you may find a tool in kit to deal with the surprises.
If you already have a list of self-talk, do share your tips in comments. I would love to hear your words!
You are reading this line because you read the whole post. If the words here are worthy of a thought then share it with the world. Share on Facebook and follow me on Instagram it helps me in getting my name out 🙂
Words are powerful but you didnot need me to tell you that!
My 4yr old proves it to us, time & again.
I have ridiculous amount of professional fear! Not the kind where I think I will lose my job because I have no obvious reason to reach that conclusion, at this time. And, the career journey has been filled with accolades mixed in with some humble learnings.
The fear is mostly my overthinking on steroids so much so that the only part of my body that has any muscle definition is my brain.
Earlier this year I tried to dig deeper to find the cause of that fear.
Is it financial?
Is it embarrassment if I ever lose a job?
Is it …. I circled the drain!
Around May of this year, during a meeting, a client exclaimed “ Gosh, you have an incredible voice. We need to get you to record our demo” – I smiled and let out an “aha!” With some filler crap like “where is the million dollar check? Sign me up!”
This compliment was not new to me. In college, I had the honor to be ON AIR with Cecil Doyle of NPR station on UL campus. My voice got 2 compliments that day. I was so happy I could have worked there for min wage all my life but then I slept over it, reality set in and that 5am coffee house shift called my name.
Fast forward to August and I found myself in a sound proof room with 4 strangers and an amazing voice artist. This was a 3 hour journey and in the end one would be clear if their voice can be of a voice artist.
Turns out I am an excellent fit for commercials. My dramatics are on-point but then if you have met me then you don’t need me to tell you that!
That night as I drove home I understood the cause of my fear.
‘I am not a head of product but I work as a head of product.’
Once I said that out loud I could hear it – I am Shivani. Anything beyond that is a choice I have made.
A choice that can be made over and over and over again. As long as I am not afraid of rejection & failure.
“Aww so adorable!! How old are you?” said the lady, casually and yet with intrigue to the pre-schooler.
” I am 4 ” he announced and then with face full of pride he added “I was 3 but now I am 4 “
The lady smiled warmly and said “That is amazing, such a big boy you are and growing so fast”
I watched over this interaction and had a moment of pride for my 4 year old. It also triggered a memory of my childhood/teenager years where an age conversation often turn a bit longer than 3 sentences.
As a child/teenager often my age was assumed higher and a conversation about it would go something like this:
“How old are you? (No Pause for response) Looks like are you 22.”
“I just turned 19”
Seemingly embarrassed or flustered “oh really. You seem so mature and grown. I mean you face is young but your attitude is so grown”(No Pause but insert a nervous forced laughter) “you can talk so well and are so understanding. I really thought you are 22 “
The most OK part of this interaction was that I was, matter of fact, very thrilled to be viewed as older. Mostly because that gave me validation and a sense of belonging with the group I anyway related the best – the grow ups. I was/am a curly haired, short stature Faby* who was loved for her ‘personality’ – Sure there were fans of my beauty but they all had the same last name as me or were in some way related to me.
Faby = A somewhat heavy person who is called Chubby by well-meaning family and relatives.
Word Creation Credit = Me!
Fast forward decades and somewhere along the way the adults hesitated to comment on my age. Well, not just to me, in general it is a social taboo to ask an adult their age and worse if you ask a female.
The question ‘How old are you?’
to a child it is asked often with enthusiasm and the higher count is celebrated.
to a teenager it is asked often with enthusiasm, is celebrated as a move towards adulthood.
to an adult it is just not asked, or worse a higher count of that number is used to judge and box that person in some society created standards-by-age.
What nonsense is that?
My teenage years age conversation, unconsciously, conditioned me to think that:
To the society, it is only exciting if you age until a certain age. Beyond that you best not reveal your age.
To the society, age has a direct correlation to ones outwardly appearance. Best keep appearance youthful and since 20ish seems to the cut off where it is acceptable to ask someone their age – then the appearance standard but me 20ish too.
To the society, age has a direct correlation with maturity. In case you are mature/self confident beyond your age then keep that to your self! Or best act young’ish!
I could go on but this is a well understood concept and I hope you sense the sarcasm!
There is a certainly a value to society created milestones for various phases of life. From toddler to senior citizen, as they are either tied to cognitive development and/or needed to define operational rules/benefits that are fit for a particular phase of life. For Ex: Legal adult age or discounts for senior citizens. But this is not about that.
What if there was no social taboo on asking “How old are you?” to anyone regardless of their age and it would prompt an enthusiastic response which would be celebrated back. Just like pre-school days ..
And then maybe there would not be any age-trait assumption conditioning.
Maybe when one tells their age:
We won’t categorize them
We won’t determine their coolness – whatever this means!
We won’t judge their social status
We won’t be sad for them
We won’t assume their disinterest in anything youthful
We won’t think they are immature
We will take them for what they are
Think about it!
I love the privilege of being mature, being youthful, being adventurous, being me regardless of my age. So, don’t hesitate to ask me “How old are you?” and when you are asked respond with an enthusiasm of a pre-schooler!