Category Archives: Back to Basics

From personal finance to networking, we’ll share with you the TOOLS we use to make it happen!

The benefits (and predicaments) of non-response.

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Today is one of those days (actually this is one of those weeks) that I feel like I could spend my whole time just doing emails and meetings and I’d still not make a dent on the stuff that needs to get done (and that in all honesty, I actually want to do.) Sometimes, I catch myself wondering how really important people do it– think about all the emails they must get!– and then I realize that those people generally have assistants to plan their lives out for them. Go figure.

Coming into this year, I became very intentional about how I’d handle email. My strategy has been to think very critically about the emails that need to be responded to and responding only to those that require it. But this, I’ve come to realize, has its trade-offs. For example, if someone emails me saying they can’t make it for a meeting, it’s read and deleted. If I responded to every email about a scheduling conflict, I’d go crazy. But that does mean that the person on the other end doesn’t get the reassuring “oh, that’s totally fine– thanks for telling me” they’d get if they told me in person. Left unsaid, I’ve learned that non-response can drive people crazy. I get that. I worry that sometimes people might perceive curt, short emails (or in this case, no email at all) as indicative of my being upset or angry that they can’t make something when in reality, I’m on an email cleanse and am trying to be rather intentional about those things that get responded to.

It’s been an exercise in self-restraint, don’t get me wrong. The amount of emails I get every day borders on ludicrous. The amount of words I’d type if I responded with my all to every single mail would mean I’d get by writing papers (and I mean papers) of responses, in effect having a conversation with my computer– not a person.

And then there’s the other thing about this kind of “responsiveness.” It has the effect of me being more plugged in to my headset and simultaneously flowing texting chains than the actual world around me.  In effect, it’s a kind of responsiveness that renders me not responsive at all– non-responsive that is to the things that really, really matter.

It’s a policy for myself that I worry sometimes makes me seem less accessible, less forgiving. But I’ve reconciled with it in this way: those people who understand me most, whose friendships I value highly– they get it. They understand that I’d rather have a conversation with them in person rather than via typed text.

Just some thoughts as we tackle this week– Happy Monday, sweet readers!

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What I need

what do you need?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. There’s been a lot of chatter about what women can and can’t have… and whether or not they really can have it all. First, off what does “having it all” even mean? It’s an elusive and evading concept at best. And worse yet, it’s not really reachable, is it? Quite frankly, I’m pretty sure I would be scared and unhappy if I ever did feel that I really did “have it all.” I’m a fixer, a problem solver, a creative mess. And if I have everything, what’s worth fighting for? Ok yes, I’m taking this question a little bit to toward the extreme side. But my point remains: if I were to respond to Anne Marie Slaughter’s article or Sheryl Sandberg’s rallying cry, I’d say that yes, you can’t necessarily have it all, but you can have what you want, and what you really, really need.

I think sometimes that if all you learn in college is what exactly you need to be a proper functioning adult– and as an added benefit, a successful one– you’ve learned quite a bit. Setting time aside to figure out the 3-5 things you need each and every week to be at your best is doable… and it’s helpful. It’s something I’ve seen so many female leaders from Marissa Mayer to my professors talk about. Whether you need to grocery shop and know what’s in your fridge, go out and dance, or just eat out once every week, honing in on that one ‘need’ and making it a priority for yourself helps. It helps you ask others for help on the things you really don’t want to be doing and it helps you stave off that resentment you feel at the end of the week when you’ve worked too hard and you can’t even get the one darn thing you really want.

For me, I’ve realized those things I need keep changing. And that’s not a bad thing. But there are constants. Like swinging outside on the playground and skating to music or teaching little kids . It’s just having an hour to drink coffee and watch Meet the Press on Sundays or carving out the time in my schedule to fixate on my friends’ lives and their adventures. These are all things I need. Slowly and slowly, they’ve become priorities. And you know what? That’s a good thing. I don’t think you should ever have to explain your priorities. But you can (and I’d endeavor should) make them happen. Just for you.

Happy Tuesday! xo Inesha

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Sunny side up.

Hail my biggest accomplishment of the week…

There are days when I feel incredibly grown up here in DC. Like the other day when I successfully (arguably) fried my very first egg. And didn’t burn down my apartment. Emphasis on that last part. I know most of you mortals out there can cook without setting off the fire alarms but for those of us (that is, me) who have never quite succeeded in that department, let me emphasize to you once more just how much of a SUCCESS this was. Subtract the fact that I was frying with a plastic knife and the slightly crunchy texture of my delicious egg sandwich (might have cracked that egg just a little too hard) and you could say that I am truly on my way to adulthood. I was armed for the hurricane with a great makeshift egg sandwich after all.

Now I don’t mean to meditate on an egg sandwich (or maybe I do, professed foodie that I am :) but I do intend to underscore something we tend to forget. Because you are probably thinking right about now: Is this girl serious? Documenting an egg sandwich for crying out loud, crazzzyyy. 

But that little egg sandwich? I made it. All by myself. And it, it was a reminder that in a city that I know not and in a place and internship where I feel increasingly subject to the wills and pressures of outside forces– time, other peoples’ schedules, the news, this crazy election, the hurricane– I can always find a way to make something.

A few simple things from your kitchen, a little patience, and a whole lot of faith aren’t necessarily the most prescribed ingredients for building a good life but I have a hunch they might be the most important ones.

Rock on Wednesday– hope you easterners out there survived Hurricane Sandy!

xo Inesha

P.s. Ishani and I are working on renovating the blog a bit so please be patient with us as posting may be a bit light over the next few days. We promise, the blog will look better than ever before once we’re finished! Thank you as always for your support :)

The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman

Lately I’ve been reading The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman in small spurts during my downtime here in Tanzania. It’s a really insightful book with tips that will not only help you think about your career, but also give you a better way of looking at opportunities in general. Overall, the book’s main message is that all of us–whether we are students, seasoned professionals, or just looking to make a change–are in “permanent beta.”

In other words, we are perpetually changing products with no shelf-life.

From Reid Hoffman’s point of view, this is something to be celebrated because it means that we should never turn “off” our radar for that new opportunity or career change that might drastically improve the quality of our personal and professional lives and leave us feeling more fulfilled. If you get a chance, I would definitely pick up a copy!

If you don’t feel so inclined or just want a preview, here is the reader’s digest version of some of the LinkedIn CEO’s top tips here:

1) Invest in your network and stay connected. Like a potted plant, your network needs to be nurtured and cared for. Don’t forget the people whom you care about–those you work with, go to for advice, or whose opinion you value. Its not difficult to email a contact an interesting article or drop by the office with a small gift. This “drip, drip, drip” of small communications over time can really work wonders, but don’t forget  that one in-person meeting is worth about a dozen emails.

2) The value of reciprocity. If you want to maintain a relationship or spark a new one, one of the best ways to do so is to give or offer something to the other person. Remember to think about how you add value to the relationship.

3) The “Interesting People Fund.” This is one tip that I found particularly interesting. Reid Hoffman tells the story of Steve Garrity and how at one point in his career he decided to leave California and travel to Seattle to take a job at Microsoft. But he didn’t want to lose his friends or network in Silicon Valley because he knew that he would go back one day to start a business there. So, he set aside $7,000 for flight money and other expenses for traveling back to CA. Over the next few months, whenever a friend called and invited him for dinner or set up a meeting, he just booked a flight and went. His plan worked because he made a commitment and acted on it.

4) Some relationships will naturally fade, and that’s okay. Unlike romantic relationships, the connections that you have with friends and coworkers are usually not difficult to rekindle should you want to later.

5) Be competitive and good at what you do, but build friendships with both those who are above and below you on the “status totem pole.” This will help ensure that you don’t step on any toes or burn bridges that might otherwise have been valuable partnerships.

We all have relationships in our lives, but it is the give and take between people that keeps them alive. You never know when that high school classmate or previous employer will have valuable advice or an opportunity that could make a difference in your career. And hopefully you will do the same and pass on similar gifts to  those around you.