In May of 2012 I started on one of the most amazing adventures of my life- working at a then teeny tiny start-up, Sprinklr. I had just moved back from London and that the first week I slept in the office. I had to hit the ground running; there was no time to spare for apartment hunting.
Visiting South Korea with Sprinklr CEO, Ragy Thomas
Over the last 5+ years I have worn many hats. I’ve been a strategic advisor, teaching brands why social media is important and how their business needs to change to support it. I’ve been a webmaster, building the first company website with my CTO over 4 very sleepless days and nights. I’ve been a builder, helping to open offices in London and France. I’ve been an explorer, attending meetings in 15 different countries, often held in a language different than my own. I’ve been a problem solver, fixing issues and finding new ways to do old things, but better. I’ve been an innovator, product managing the future of Sprinklr’s technology. Most importantly I’ve been a friend, building amazing relationships with my coworkers all over the world.
Raising lanterns to celebrate Diwali in Gurgaon, India with Sprinklr developers + designers.
Leaving Sprinklr was not an easy decision. When you are employee twenty-something at a company that grows to just under 2000 in 5 years- it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like family. I used to call our CEO “Papa Ragy” and our then COO “Mama Murali” (because he was the one that would cave if you needed something). Sprinklr’s technology wasn’t our job, it was our baby. So how does one abandon their child?
Too short to ride with a Sprinklr co-worker In London
What I realized was for the first time in my life I was ready to create my own “baby”. It is time to go out on my own. Sprinklr taught me how to be tough and deal with hard situations head on. It taught me to be flexible and “make it work”- you have to do that to survive in a start up. It taught me to be confident- allowing me to present and advise c-level executives all over the world. When I asked myself what’s next? I realized I was ready to stop building someone else’s dream and start building my own.
Bonding in the Hamptons with Sprinklr’s Product Management Team
I will miss seeing my boss and work-husband, Paul, daily the most. I owe much of the rational, kind thinking I’ve developed due to his diligent mentorship. He is part therapist, part genius with a touch of sass and a heaping spoonful of bougie. He taught me you can succeed through patience, understanding and kindness. I hope everyone is able to learn from someone like Paul in their career.
Attending a co-workers wedding with early day’s Sprinklrites
There are so many memories I’ll never forget from my time at Sprinklr. I’ll remember getting our first real office and having to roll our desk chairs through the middle of Herald Square because we didn’t have a budget for movers. I’ll remember finding our first UK headquarters on google as a foreigner in a new country. I’ll remember head-banging with my Indian coworkers so hard I gave one of them a black eye (sorry Chinmay). I’ll remember our CEO after a particularly hard meeting, giving me $600 out of his wallet and telling me spend all of it in the next 24 hours enjoying myself (that is also the story of how I bought every single karaoke session at Silver Linings in San Francisco one night) . I’ll remember saying uber over and over with my French team- because it sounds delightfully ridiculous with a Parisian accent. I’ll remember the company award that was created to acknowledge my hard work one holiday season, that’s now a symbol of excellence in the company. I’ll remember the interns I mentored and watched as their careers flourished. I’ll remember what it felt like to do the impossible simply because you supported each other and believed you could. Sprinklr taught me that passion and hard work really can change the world.
Dancing it out on stage at Sprinklr’s “Happy Together” Party at SXSW 2014
What I’ll remember most is that they let me do it all as me- weird, silly, sing-songy, dancing, dog-toting, me. As evidenced by the photo above at a company event and the terrible (and hopefully lost for good) animated gif of me drunk dancing that was once dubbed everyone’s “favorite part of SXSW 2014.” Finding a company that gets out of your way, lets you be your true self and watches you flourish is incredibly rare. The people I have met here have changed me for the better. The things I have experienced have taught me just how much I am truly capable of. Thank you for preparing me for my next big adventure, Sprinklr. Thank you even more for letting me be me.
Taking Sprinklr conference calls in the Pool in Miami
I always dress up the day after having a bad day-something about put together helps me feel like I can conquer everything. I suppose that’s why today I’m wearing what only can be described as an eclectic bad ass babe’s power suit. The floral pencil skirt is from Eloquii, the sheer teal collared shirt is from Modcloth, and bright, yet assertive, powder blue faux leather jacket is from Just Fab. The earrings are some of my faves I picked up from a local street artistic in New York. The shoes I purchased in London from Jones Bootmaker and were the first pair of heels I could wear all day and not hate the world after. The last detail is pretty much hidden in the images. It’s a gold lucky rabbit ring from Me & Zena. After yesterday’s events, I can use all the luck I can get.
Monday was one of those days I wish hadn’t happened, but am ultimately a better person because it did. Sometimes growth is super painful, but we come out the end better. So as much as I really wanted to run away and hide from all the emotions and self analysis I faced yesterday. I am forever grateful I didn’t. I shared a very public opinion about a very controversial topic. I received some well-thought out rebuttals, but I also received some pretty nasty commentary. It was hard to see a wide variety of assumptions about me be expressed, as well as several unfair analyses of how had come to believe what I did. Some felt the need to negate some pretty powerful and hard experiences in my life. And unfortunately, my body reacted and reminded me of those emotions, those moments, and that pain. It was rough.
I was so hurt. I tried to put something positive out and as a result was left feeling very helpless and like I re-broken something I had already healed. I was feeling so much that I simply didn’t need to. Reliving these experiences weren’t necessary. My participation in the discussion wasn’t necessary. So I made a decision. Somethings just aren’t worth talking about. There are parts of my life I am not ready to share. Heck, I may never be ready. And until I feel comfortable discussing all of it, I’m going to talk about none of it.
What is so hard about this experience, is I didn’t expect this to affect me as it did. I didn’t expect to suddenly feel everything I felt. I thought I was stronger than that. The truth is sometimes being a blogger makes you feel a bit invincible. You get so used to hate. You get desensitized. You begin to expect it. Other’s expect it of you. While there’s power in being conditioned to be fearless and impenetrable, there also can be a slow loss of reality and empathy.
So while yesterday was painful and overwhelming, I am thankful for it. I still stand by my words. I still believe what I said. However, all of that seems quite pointless now. The real thing I learned yesterday is that I am still human. It’s ok to feel. It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to have things that are difficult to talk about, experiences you wished never happened, and moments you wish you could rewrite. It’s not shameful to be sensitive, overwhelmed, or hurt. Even though I am blogger exposed to the world, I still am human. I still have feelings. I have fears. I still have room to grow. Sometimes my own expectations of what I need to be, get in the way of who I really am. I’m a feeler and yesterday I felt things. I felt them hard. And those feelings ultimately made me a better person, so I refuse to be ashamed of or regret them.
When I looked at this photo all I could see was how freaking powerful it was. I was a neon on Phoenix conquering the seas and righteously ruling over the Carnival cruise’s adult bar/pool combo. It was poetically graceful, fiercely real and undeniably beautiful. I couldn’t help to want to share this magic with the internet. And so I did. I shared it on my instagram and facebook with the love and words that this image reminded me of. It was a special post and I was proud of it.
Was I Being Shamed?
It was only a few minutes before comments and private messages started to flow in regarding the women in the pool to the right of me. She was holding her iphone. Assumptions were made that she was taking a picture to shame me. She was called spiteful and jealous. The digital world had created a back story for a women who’s actions and intentions they could not confirm from just a single picture. Why had people so quickly gone looking for the bad in the image? I hadn’t even noticed her in the pool when I reviewed the shot because naturally I was too blinded by my own awesome.
The Surprising Truth
Upon further analysis, I realized that this wasn’t just any pool partier with her phone in hand. This was a woman, who during the cruise, had gone out of her way to come and said hello to me. She thanked me for being bold, brave and frankly not giving a damn. She said I inspired her to be comfortable in public as she was. If this woman had even been taking my picture (she could have very well just been reading her texts) it was very unlikely she was doing it to shame me.
We See What We Want To See
I share this example today because I think it’s important to note how much our own self perceptions and hang ups can get manifested onto others. If you go looking for shaming and negativity you will find it in buckets- even if you have to create it on your own. Sure, some people are cruel heartless beasts. They will mock you and maybe even snap a sneaky picture to try and embarrass you. However, the majority of the time, people aren’t out to get us. They don’t care what size we wear, what color our hair is or how pretty we are.
Choose To See The Good
Often the cruel world we perceive is all around us is created in part by our own insecurities. It’s easy to see and hear what we are expecting others to think of us. Don’t let those mental perceptions taint your reality and happiness. Self love comes acknowledging you are worthy and capable of receiving love from yourself and from the world around you. So next time you have the suspicion someone is talking negatively behind your back or discretely mocking you, stop yourself and think- ” do I really know this? Or am I allowing my own personal discomfort or previous experiences to be manifest on a stranger?” Use these moments to acknowledge your feelings, analyze where they come from, and grow stronger from them. The world is so much more beautiful when you stop looking for the ugly and start acknowledging the good.
So today I was like, New Years, what up? I should look at what’s kicking around in the sales section and maybe save me some monies. However, what I saw on those perfectly composed pages of HTML and color made me very confused. There were plenty of pieces on sale that I not only owned, but LOVED. And many of the items where my initially reaction had been all like “meh, I mean if I had to,” were sold out. I guess I truly am an oddball- even in my fashion choices.
You should really own this dress
However there was one dress- this dress – that I was literally angry it was not sold out. Because this dress is magical AF and every women should own it. I’d also like to start a petition, lobbyist conversations, and a dramatic sit-in that drives for the change the world needs…. this dress is several other colors, prints, and textures. This dress is a mythical unicorn of fashion and every lady should own it. Lets have a quick chat about why.
Magic dress powers explained
Before you begin to give me side eye and be all judgey- let me justify my extreme adoration for this dress. First and foremost, it’s comfortable, flattering and fits well. This will likely be true for most shapes, based on the cut of the dress. It’s universally flattering and blah blah blah. That’s the boring, expected perks of a well made dress. Now onto the exciting bits. You don’t have to wear a bra. Nope, you don’t. You can let those melons jiggle and enjoy the breeze that wafts nicely through that breathable fabric. Thanks top ruffle! I don’t have a bra on in this photo and magically flat chested me looks like I have boobalas and that they are lifted and separated by an over the shoulder boulder holder instead of their true situation- free balling in the Caribbean.
The gold lace up shoes are from Asos, and the mid block heel makes them perfect for traveling; they’re easy on the feet. The oversized black tassel earrings (which are surprisingly light weight) and the hexagon sunglasses are epic amazon bargains. And of course this amazing patchwork of sex appeal in dress form is available from Eloquii clearance, is under $30 and still available in most sizes.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how society tries to conceptualize health. We’re in many ways constantly seeing health shown as a black and white property-that we are either alive and well or on a quick path to death. When we look at the definition of health, we actually see it referred to as measurement of various components. Health isn’t a state, it is a score. It’s a combination of a million of individual data points that interact and create a state of health. In fact, your health could be better or worse when you wake up than it is when you go to bed. It’s a measurement of constant fluctuation and variance. You can be more or less healthy, but not just “healthy.” Yes we are encouraged to walk around trying to categorize people as healthy or not by a single component (weight, activity level, diet). Health isn’t that simple.
The data points that make up health are broad because they encompass several types of data: such as states of being, your actions, the actions of others and your accessibility to certain resources. Plus those types of data correspond to different types of health: mental, social, and physical. For example, I could choose to never drink beer again, that might affect my physical health positively while negatively affecting my mental and social health. Furthermore there’s no universal guideline as to how an individual’s health will be affected by each interaction. For example, if I develop an allergy to strawberries, they suddenly become an unhealthy choice for me. Sure there are things that are likely to be healthy, but there are no universal rules in classification.
Now lets make it really messy. Some of these factors are completely within your control, others are a product of the environment and social class you were born into, the genetics your parents passed to you, and the people that you interacted with that day. You can spend every waking hour trying to optimize every choice you make for an optimal score of total health. You can turn your life into a pseudo video game- always trying to up your life bar. Even then, though you may have tried and worked hard to make the best and healthiest choices possible at all times and in all circumstances, you could find some unknown variable (such as hidden genetic predisposition) that could significantly and suddenly affect your health.
The best you can do make healthy choices. Making those choices isn’t as easy as reading a bunch of fitness magazines; even the top experts don’t agree on what the healthiest choices are. Instead, we should learn to listen to our bodies, and with feedback from our doctors make changes that over time increase our total health. But those changes shouldn’t focus on one type of health. Often physical health is elevated diminishing just how important mental and social health are.
I am an unhealthy weight. I have a healthy activity level. I make healthy choices in whose opinion I value. I have a healthy respect for others. I have a healthy home-life free of disease. I believe the positive choices I make daily greatly outweigh a single data point when it comes to evaluating my total health. Sure, it’s hard to deal with the fact that my negative health data points are more socially taboo then other peoples, but that’s life. Regardless of how much people try to simplify the composite picture of health into a single imperfect measure, I refuse to accept that as a reflection of who I am, my health and how much living I can do.