Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Being a Mum in Advertising

Being a mum of a four year old is tough. Being a mum of a four year old and working is tougher. Couple this with being a mum in an advertising agency and the going gets even tougher. But as they say- when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
I did what all of us do in our business. Tried to mine some life insights from my own role as a mum and see how I could use that to make my work more fulfilling. So this is to all the mums and the mums to be out there like me.
1.        Knowing when to let go: I have learnt that knowing when to let go  makes a mother child relationship stronger. Same goes for work. We all need to let go. Sometimes the best ideas are killed at the review table only because we refuse to let go of the brief, the proposition, the creative idea that is so unique . As planners, creative and  account management, we like to keep a strong hold of what we think are “our areas”. Zee, my daughter, refuses to let go of the chocolate bar she has just pulled out of the fridge. I try tugging it back- she can’t grow up on junk. She yells, I yell back. But hey- wait a minute- have I tried to understand why she wants the bar? Maybe she is just hungry. Maybe I can tempt her with some good  fun food instead. Why not just let go of my “stop her eating junk food” thought and the tug of war. Come to think of it, why am I even playing tug of war with a four year old?
                Once we let go  of our perceptions and loosen up, we can start a conversation. We can   understand, we can plan and                 push for action. So sometimes, just “letting go” of what we believe is right can change the way we work and live.
1.        Multi-tasking does not mean losing focus: Working Mum means Multitasking. But very often we use that as an excuse for not being able to do things right. How many times have we all said- I have just so much to do!!
                I have realized that the best way to multitask is to prioratise the tasks. Instead of talking to Zee on the phone,             emailing my client, nodding absentmindedly to the executive  in my room talking about the status report on Brand X, punching the extension for a cup of lemon tea, I can do all of these in exactly fifteen minutes if I just prioratise. I could    ask for the tea, sip it while I hear out the executive, email the client and talk to Zee. The stereotypical image of a                 working woman with ten  Maa Durga hands brandishing phones and laptops and frying pans  is passé. It’s about                 working smart.
                Having small post it notes on my desk every morning has helped me a lot. I list down everything from the call to the   school teacher to the picth meeting review. The post its are peeled out every evening when I leave. That’s it.

2.        Teaching ourselves to  Listen:  Most of the time, I panic over Zee only to realize that I have panicked without listening to her. I jump to conclusions- if she is whining at 4 in the evening, she must be given her milk. Oh why isn’t she  drinking her milk-  she always drinks her milk to the last drop- is she unwell- she definitely looks pale-  maybe she  shouldn’t go out to play- but she is now crankier…. Instead of this, if I just sit her down on my lap and listen to her baby talk, I would know that maybe all she wants is a quick nap because she has played all morning and is a little tired.
                 We love talking. We are all fascinated by our own voices. So when someone else does the talking, our mind is already               racing to find the smart answer, the perfect logic or the fitting example to respond. We are not even hearing what the     person is trying to say.
                I   am teaching myself to listen. Colleagues, clients, friends, foes. It’s harder than we think it is. That’s why it is so      effective, even more effective than  just talking well.

3.        The art of saying NO:  It breaks my heart to say No to Zee. I feel guilty, I feel like a bad mum, and Zee looks at me with her special accusation sad look the minute I say those hated words.
                But I have realized that we all need to have the confidence and the honesty to say no. To be firm with others when     we need to. And the best way to do this is to start being firm with ourselves. To start saying No to ourselves.        Everytime we feel like giving in to an argument or a debate. Everytime we give up an idea we believed in, without a      fight. “ From a grandmother's perspective saying "no" is an art form; You have to practice it to get      good at it. Saying    "no" isn't a painful experience for me, it's a necessary experience, and I do it   confidently. Because I say "no" I have   time to say "yes."
4.        Get those creative juices flowing: Creating a clown on a piece of toast with Kissam Jam tubes every morning is an art. I have perfected it- can do it in three minutes, with even a signature at the end with a flourish to massage my dormant artistic talent. But it’s true.  Being a mum is about being creative. Whether it is those never ending bed time stories, or the fun foods we create, or the excuses I invent when my daughter asks me why I have to go to work everyday.
                This has taught me something very important. That the best way to communicate is to do it creatively. Could be         something as simple as using a chart board  and drawing stick figures instead of a savvy powerpoint or keynote. Being       vivid and visual. People read and give us time of the day when they are interested. When something catches     attention. Doing something different ( read “creative”) can make that vital difference.
                Finally, it’s important to have fun and be happy. If we are happy at work, we go home happy         and smile and         laugh with our kids. And yes,  listen and learn from them. Life is after all the greatest teacher.


  1. found a place where i can get some yummy insights!!! WAy to go Babita!!! And welcome to the blog world!!!

  2. Awesome piece...mother or no mother...all these apply to all of us..Thanks for sharing your thoughts Babita..!!

  3. awesome Babi, reminds me of all the insights which you kept sharing all along when we worked on Knorr

  4. fantastic babita :-)

  5. dilli is doing you good. must say. cheers.

  6. joy thanks so much. yes knorr days were truly wonderful
    gauri- what a compliment, coming from you it means a lot
    Amrita thanks so much
    Carnic- thanks buddy
    Sri u inspired me
    Joyi thanks so much
    Len- we must meet