Must read to write

After publishing my previous post, I kept thinking… telling people not to read is not a good message, especially for myself. Life is a contradiction, so here is my new post about a very inspiring book: LEAN IN by Sheryl Sandberg -Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.

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A good friend gave it to me on one of her visits to London. I never knew I had to read it at that time, the earlier you read it -the better. It’s about doing what you love, but really going for it, in order to have more women in leadership jobs. Either you want to be the best at work, a super Mum, a singer, travel the world, whatever else you want.

“Success is making the best choices we can … and accepting them.”

The book tells us (with plenty of statistics, research, and life experiences) how few women are in top roles because of internal obstacles, even before society places more in their way. Prejudices, opportunities, the education we receive, family decisions, all hold us back from what we want. It is a reality that men are earning more than women, men go for leadership roles more often, men are more willing to negotiate salary, men apply for jobs -even when they are not fully skilled, dads-to-be don’t think twice when applying for a job. So what is happening? Why do we women keep stopping ourselves?

I tell you my reasons. I’ve been working since I finished Uni at different advertising agencies, and when I found out I was pregnant I just had finished a contract with Expedia London. Uh oh! There is no perfect time to have a baby, but babies are the most perfect things I’ve seen.

I was more eager to get a job because of my news, so went to interviews camouflaging my belly with winter coats (I shouldn’t say this on my blog, but kids are expensive, so you need a job -it’s a fact). I started contacting people from different agencies and finally, I was very grateful when Ariadna US, an agency based in Miami, took me on board after some freelance work. I had my baby and kept working remotely, it was amazing attending KFC meetings on Skype and presenting Amex campaigns over the phone. Baby sleep time was my office opening hours. How? You just find the energy if you love it. And then a startup called me to join their team, and here I am dividing myself between motherhood and projects. Maybe I stopped myself from working in an office but haven’t slowed down.

There are two faces when you work from home, the crazy and the crazier. I can tell you a lot of stories of multitasking/working Mum moments. The first that comes to mind happened when I was listening to the annual company’s review (while I was potty training my oldest daughter).  Nobody from the meeting knew what was happening on the other end of the line and thank God for the MUTE button.

Or that time, when I spent the entire day, on my own, waiting for the team to get together to hear my presentation. They all had busy agendas and just when I picked my 2 girls from the nursery, very tired and irritable, my team sent me a text: We are ready.  So I gave my girls a couple of ice creams, sat them on a picnic blanket in the middle of the garden and started presenting my ideas from the patio (where I could see them but not hear them). I reckon when working remotely, the main skill you need is availability.

Anyway, this post is not about crazy stories whilst multitasking. Freelancing was my choice and I assumed it. It is about persuading yourself to lean in and go for it. We need a change of mindset, first from us, and them from the people surrounding us. Work-life balance when having kids, it’s not easy, nor is it impossible.

“You can’t have it all”

This is my favorite sentence from the book. CEOs are human too and Sheryl tells how difficult was for her leaving her daughter crying and asking her not to go when she had to fly to a TED Conference. True leaders are human.

There are plenty of quotes and inspiring bits, I’m not going to spoil it for you. I just had to share the fever after reading this book, and when that stops here are my top mantras:

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    1. We are the choices we make. Simple. Life will follow our decisions.
    2. We are what we are thinking about. This is so true. If I’m thinking of strategies, and awards…I’m an ad woman. If I’m thinking about my kids and places to take them… I’m a Mum. If I’m thinking of others all the time, I’m just a bored neighbour.
    3. Compare yourself to yourself. Stop scrolling Instagram (note to myself) where people seem to live the perfect life with the perfect filters. Think of yourself ‘the one you want to be’ and become that person, that will make you the happiest woman/man in the world.

Life won’t become easier but it will become more exciting. If you are not there yet, LEAN IN and good luck!

No need to read to write

I’ve been trying to finish 3 books in order to write something about them. As you can see by my title: I failed. I keep leaving the books in different parts of the house to give them a fair chance. Downstairs is the book about love and funny stories. When I’m upstairs I read random pages of How to be mindful, and every time I take the train I read about the girl from Google. All in equal positions staring at me and screaming: READ ME.

This time I’m not going to blame the World Cup, busy life, lack of concentration, mobile addiction, etc. This time I just have to admit it: some people love reading, but I love writing.

A lot of articles suggest you must read in order to write. I’m not going to argue that reading improves your writing, widens your vocabulary, gets you inspired, keeps your brain in shape, broadens your imagination, gives you knowledge, and even cultivates the theory of mind (the ability to understand that others have beliefs, desires, feelings, and perspectives that are different from ours).

Although, if the goal is to write, then write.

Don’t fall into the trap and become part of the group of people who stare at others’ work delaying their own. I’m sure there is a masterpiece waiting to be written and if I want to be the author I’m not going to make it happen just by reading. I need to spend time with my keyboard or notepad and write, cross, edit and keep writing. As a good friend of mine said: execution.

 

How are you, really? By Cannes Lions

I haven’t been networking for ages. While living in London it was so easy to attend all the courses and events at least once a week. Now that I moved to Essex and after having 2 kids, escaping for 3 hours to London requires a “bit” of planning.

Anyway, I made it last week to How are you, really? an event organized by Cannes Lions See it Be it. Unlike most chats, where the speakers tell us about their jobs, case studies and success (and we end up wanting to be like them), this event was focused on us, the audience. I guess the title can tell you that, so let me tell you the rest.

How are you really

Michelle Morgan started with an honest and touching talk sharing her story about the time when she had a burnout. Yes, it can happen to anyone. She is the co-founder of Livity and despite loving her job and working in the industry for many years, one day it suddenly happened. (FYI a burnout is exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress). The talk opened the topic for mental health and depression, in the Q&A more women shared their stories and also advice on how friends and family can help. I must confess my eyes welled up with all the stories but shhhh don’t tell anyone. If you know someone going through difficult times, just be there for them, to make dinner, to change the topic and most importantly to listen. Michelle was wearing pjs, 6pm is maybe is a bit early for them but she was showing us her new venture called PJoys. Confirming that after every storm the sun always shines, and brave people like her get to move on.

Sukhvinder Pabial followed, sharing great advice on how to deal with this s*** . Pardon me! How to deal with all the stress and concerns. Basically by removing ourselves from that situation and thinking of the positive. We spend too much time worrying and don’t give permission to ask ourselves when we had a moment full of joy. I tried to write down some of the exercises so you can join the club.

1. When was the last time you felt vibrant? ____________. What do we mean by vibrant? What made you the happiest person in the world? Gratitude is a very important thing.

2. Can you think of 3 good things that happened to you today? 

1________2________3________

Is it difficult to come up with some answers? Maybe as adults, we became too complicated. Kids have no concept of holding back, they reply immediately to this. Lastly, there is more to life than being at home or being at work. People tend to have 2 places where they spend most of his time so

3. Where is your third place?________________. Where are you taking care of yourself? What’s that thing that you do and make you feel rejuvenated? I’m not pretending to be a therapist (I’m quite far from it) but in this article maybe. Just ask yourself the simple questions. Sometimes the greatest answers are those that we are not looking for.

Then we left our seats and started dancing and singing. Yes, we are mad! Blame Dr. Amy Rachelle on stage, sharing her 6-step system for a complete mind, body and spirit workout. If you have 6 minutes a day (which I’m sure you do) use them to power yourself.  Amy remarked on the importance of putting yourself first. We seem to be busy taking care of everybody else, thinking that we have super powers with no need for a break. Although, it’s essential to take that little time to pause, clear your head of thoughts and feelings – recovering your healthy self, instead of letting your body deplete.

Just when I was thinking I was in the perfect yoga retreat, the event took us back to the ad world. Jaki Jo Hannan, Senior Art Producer at AMV BBDO gave a fantastic talk about self-care & love in a fast-paced industry. Starting with a pic of herself with braces in her teens, Jaki Jo opened the door for a conversation about confidence and self care. She shared her own experience with honesty and humour all the way; simple statements such as ‘Sleeping the hours you need, not having sugar at night, taking yourself on a date and writing as a therapy’ became relevant when you see her on stage. She is a spontaneous and thriving woman, having worked her way up from intern to integrated creative Senior Art Producer. Recently she launched EqualLens her 50|50 Photography Ambition creating new and equal opportunities for female photographers in advertising.

We are almost there, so time to breath. That was the last piece of advice by Anthony Abbagnano. How such a simple tool as your breath can be used to transform your life.

That’s it. Time to ask yourself How are you?

Let’s talk about maps

We are probably obsessed (let’s say we instead of just me) about doing check-ins at fancy places so the world can be jealous about our days. We are obsessed with locations but nobody cares about maps. Contradictory ah!?

I decided to do a little research to update my Cartography brain and discover some of the fantastic things when mixing tech and maps.

Read more…

I was invited to write for Disruptica’s new blog – Join me there.

 

 

My secret friend

I’m going to tell you a secret. About one of the youngest souls I’ve ever met. Back in the day, almost a decade ago, before I joined the Monk family. Not many people trusted the Colombian dating Daniel Monk. They knew I was quiet and smiley at Sunday lunches (my two or three hours of intensive English, trying to catch up with all the members of the family) They knew I was studying English and working at cafes, restaurants, bars and various roles during my leap year from advertising. Some of them never understood a word of what I said because of my accent, others welcomed me with a smile and a pint of beer 🙂 But everything went wrong when we decided to get married in Colombia ah oh! Just a few months after the proposal, it was the Battle of Hastlings! Although, after living in the UK, I understand now why Dan’s family got upset with the sudden news as British people plan everything a long way in advance. At that time, I was thinking of love, a wedding on the beach, a great goodbye to my family in Colombia and happiness.

Despite all the circumstances there was one person that accepted me from the first day. She knew her grandson was happy and that was enough.

She was the most modern Granny I’ve known, back in 2009 she was using email, ebay, facebook and everything to keep in touch with her family. Wherever we were, she was the childish one in the room, doing silly things and making people laugh. I think that’s why we became good friends as I deny the fact that we need to grow up! Therefore we started gossiping online, asking how Monday was going?… asking about the wedding planning?…  I told her it was going to be a hot day and this was her reply:

As far as your dress is concerned, if it is going to be that hot I suggest you have a nudist wedding !

We kept sending funny attachments, having tea rooms in our emails and sometimes secret Pentagon communications. I was just talking about life and she was teaching me old English sayings: (to name a few)

Straight from the horses mouth

It will all come out in the wash

She was wise and also beautiful, always looking elegant but never showing off. She married the most handsome British guy I’ve seen in pictures (probably shouldn’t say this on the post :P) and looked after her family as her treasure. When the Monks adopted the Colombian, she became my angel in the UK (as my mother used to say)

My secret friend was bilingual as well. Every time my Mum came from Colombia, there she was inviting us to try her specialities at home and speaking the few Spanish sentences that she had learnt. She made an effort, yes, she was always going the extra mile with everything and that’s what makes her special.

I have read the emails we used to exchange again, it makes me laugh and it makes me cry. Not in that same order.

Well Martica the time has come !!  We have sent your future husband to you and are entrusting him into your care.
He is very precious to us so make sure you take care of him which I am sure you will do !!

We love you too and wish you all the happiness in the world. !!

I do hope the baby does not kick too much on the wedding day. lol

xxxxx

I can copy and paste loooots of our emails, so you could imagine or remember who she was, but that’s not the agreement. A secret friend listens to you and keeps all your stories in a secret place, tries to understand and sometimes gives you advice, making you stronger, making you better.

I remember her today, on the 14th of July, on her birthday. Her name is Betty and she will always be my secret friend.

Maybe this is the saddest article I have ever written. Sometimes sad beginnings lead to something good.

 

 

Start

This is something I read yesterday and became the first thing I want to read today and tomorrow.

“…The willingness to start is the littlest thing in life that makes the biggest difference.

Step onto the field.

Stand up in the meeting.

Raise your hand in class.

Get under the bar.

Walk up to the podium.

Ask the first question.”

 

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Read the full article here: Why Getting Started is More Important Than Succeeding .

P.S. There is an interesting reading list too. But remember less reading and more doing.

We are not afraid

Nunca se me olvidará la cara de felicidad de mi Mamá cuando vio el Big Ben. Se paró de la silla a contemplar la torre, los edificios antiguos, los árboles, el cielo, la cabina roja, el río y todo lo que estuviera presente. Y aunque le dijeran en los 5 idiomas del tour que por favor se sentara; ella solo sonreía y memorizaba cada cosa. 

Westminster es también uno de mis sitios favoritos. Es el lugar que visité cuando llegué por primera vez a Londres y aún después de 524.000 visitas más, me causa la misma admiración. #wearenotafraid #prayforlondon

Why I refuse to watch “Narcos”

Because I’m bored. I’m bored of people only relating Colombia to drug trafficking and jungles.

Yes… it’s a stereotype, yes… most of countries have a stigma…  yes, we had big drug cartels in the 80’s and 90’s, but there are far more interesting things to know and learn about Colombia.

My fellow countrymen and I have had lots of problems because of this. To tell you a few, airports are a nightmare when you proudly show your Colombian passport; you are at least getting stopped and missing your connecting flight. My brother had all his trainers stabbed at Panamá, all of them (so every time it rains a great memory comes to mind). Some friends have been stopped for hours and scanned with X-rays, I saw when someone in the queue had lots of souvenirs and tablets of chocolates opened and destroyed into tiny pieces -“Ok, no drugs here, carry on”-said the officer- Thank you! Lastly… I’ve heard the comments… -so your teeth are white because of cocaine? – there are plenty of silly comments and stories but I’m going to stop here, because this post is not about the bad.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our problems and every country does, although I don’t like news, documentaries and now tv series promoting the bad for years and years. There is nothings else to say? Come on people!

Instead of getting to know about Escobar, I will teach you other surnames so next time you meet a Colombian you can establish a proper conversation with a different topic.

Keeping with the sporty spirit after the Olympics. Why don’t you Google Nairo Quintana? The first Colombian in history to win both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. Have a look at his documentary called “Little Big Man“.

Have you read any Gabriel García Márquez books? His Noble Prize winning novel “One Hundred Year of Solitude”? According to Vox, this book has the greatest opening of any book ever (ahhhh now you are feeling like reading, aren’t you?) If you aren’t the book worm type, read one of his short stories A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings and get an idea of his extraordinary work.

Not all Colombians are short, have a look at the power of long legs. Clic on the link and watch Caterine Ibargüen winning the women’s triple jump Olympic gold medal in Río.

Have you seen the latest video of Shakira and Carlos Vives? Let me rephrase it, have you danced “La Bicicleta”? It has a great rhythm and you can go for a stroll around Barranquilla (a city on the coast). Yes, we do have cities and shopping centres.

Nevertheless if your mind keeps calling for Medellín you should get to know about ‘Boterismo’. Have you stumble across a fat sculpture in an airport or a square? If so, you have found Fernando Botero‘s work. We call it “Las gorditas”, people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. Botero’s sculptures and paintings are exhibited in NY, Paris and several places around the world.

Start remembering other Colombian surnames, like QUINTANA, GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ, VIVES, BOTERO and not even just surnames of famous people. I know many Colombians that make me proud, starting with los TOLOSA, a fantastic family that likes spontaneous trips and have always been there for me. J.P. SALAZAR, founder of the first team of wheelchair rugby in Colombia, promoting social inclusion and encouraging many people with disabilities to get involved with sports, M. GARCIA, brave enough to start her food business in London, D. VARGAS exhibiting and selling breathtaking paintings, V. ALBA and her spectacular fashion at Bendita Seas, talented art directors, planners, engineers, doctors, …

There are many Colombians with an interesting life story, they are the ones that can teach you the real Colombia. Happy, strong and imperfect and that’s how I love it.

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