How To Tame An Indian Dragon – Pt. 2

The first thing I observed about Indian men, within the organization I worked for, was their easy going attitude. However behind that laissez faire facade, lies a lazy, narcissistic, entitled individual who thinks the world revolves around him and no one else. You’d walk into a meeting with an Indian, come to a compromise or agreement about things that require attention and some few hours later, you’ll receive a rude awakening with their utmost turnaround via fervent denials of what was agreed earlier.

Document: To curb denials in any form, ensure to document all official interactions through emails, copying all decision makers. I don’t give a frigging hoot whether it was a 5 minute or 1 hour chitchat, so long as we came to an agreement about something, I am hitting you up with a mail. This email will cover up your ass, when the time comes for shit to hit the ceiling.

Shrewd Negotiation: When negotiating with an Indian man, do not fall for a verbal agreement. Ensure you have all terms of engagement written and spelt out clearly to avoid ambiguity. If he reneges, you can call him out for it legally. Nothing scares an Indian man than the threat of legal procedures or police.

Power drunk: The average male Indian colleague is in love with the notion of ‘Power’, no matter how minute it might be. He loves to exact this power to the detriment of the organization he works for. Teamwork while lovely and heartwarming, is a foreign concept in his personal vocab.

To fuel this power drunk individual, they end up recruiting ‘Yes – men’ instead of individuals that can think on their feet. At the end of the day, a would-be vibrant organization, becomes a shadow of its’ former self. Unless he’s playacting in front of his senior colleagues, always expect him to be gung-ho about power. If you have attended meetings with Indians, just check out the power play between two Indians (Senior – Junior). The junior one tries to outshine his boss at all time, cos he’s positioning himself in the minds of the powers that be, about his suitability for his bosses job.

Be Superior: always remember that the society in which an Indian man was raised, is largely a caste system. Hence, to tame your Indian male colleague, you must relate using the same caste system he believes in. How? For instance, most Indians think that a lot of Nigerians are poor and desperate, and will condone all manner of abuse in the workplace. Darling, this is where you draw the battle-line. If you want an Indian man to relate with you as an equal, you must relate with him from a ‘Class Superiority’ angle. This angle he’s comfortable with and understands. At all times, you must pass this message subconsciously through the innovative and creative insights/ideas you bring to the table so it sinks in. Once you are successful in passing this message, he will drop his superior air and relate with you as an equal.

One Witty Mail At a Time

Acerbic witty emails: no one does this better than me in my workplace. You know those kind of emails you send, where you are actually calling the recipient out for his appalling performance on the job, but he cannot call you out likewise for your insulting email as there is no visible proof you have basically labelled him ‘Wimp or Stupid’. Become a pro at it. Be creative with the use of English language to pass your messages across.

Lack of responsibility/Plague of Silence’: When you have surrounded yourself with inefficient people, who dare not think on their feet, you breed a poor working culture. Most Indian male colleagues are a pro at this. They do not understand the concept of taking ownership. When things do not work according to plans, they dig their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, and begin to take pot shots at junior colleagues, who end up becoming the scapegoats.

How To Tame An Indian Dragon.

Ignore the Gringo on the table. This is not about him!

Working in an office with expatriates from different nationalities is an insightful experience. It can be hilarious and harrowing, as you navigate personal bias, prejudice against each others’ norm and idiosyncrasies. However, nothing prepares you for working with Indians till you experience it.

So, what’s it like working with Indians? Please note that this is not an Indian bashing exercise, rather its’ a summary of my work experience with Indians. For more than a decade, there has been a gradual invasion of Indians, across the African continent. Taking Lagos as an example, there are exclusive Indian communities, schools and groceries dedicated to serving this ethnic populace.

Indians are highly religious and in an office, you might find replicas of small shrines dedicated to the varied god/goddesses, they worship. However, if religious piety was a major factor in their behavior and attitudes, within the workplace, it’d be astonishing. The Indian populace is largely influenced by a pervasive caste system and this is reflected in the Nigerian workplace, where they think “we are superior to the locals” and “they should serve us in every capacity”.

The second job I had was my first encounter with Indians. Previously I had worked extensively with Britons, Americans, Hungarians and found them to be pleasant without aggravating the locals. When I resumed at this new job, though it was a multinational firm, most of my colleagues were from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Within 2 months of resumption and direct observations, I discovered something appalling. My Indian colleagues were all about double – speak, ass lickers, and always willing to throw you under the bus, if you allowed it.

How did I plow through this toxic situation? I will be exploring this in subsequent posts.

Why You Should Avoid A Black Guardarropa

Take a cursory glance when you walk into a office, perusing what the female employees are wearing and the color ‘Black’ , is a predominant color. Sometimes I think the official color for most Naija women is black.

My first job was at a leading financial institution. The official colors were black and dark navy blue. Gosh! How depressing it was back then. I remember thinking, “there is no way I am going to be stuck up in a black or navy blue suit all day, traipsing the streets of Lagos without a personal car”. The heat and humidity out there will suck the energy out of me.

My female boss who was light years ahead of her time, gave me the leeway to dress whichever way I please, so long as it was not vulgar, tight or transparent. I stuck to the bright end of the rainbow spectrum. Till date, I do not own a black handbag. While I own 2 pairs of black shoes, my shoe collection consists of orange, green, blue, pink, red, nude etc. No dull colors for me. Along the lines, female colleagues handed over cash so I could procure the same clothes for them. When the principal manager of the branch, felt my influence was rather pervasive, she approached my boss to complain and was told to back off.

One of the few things you can do, to aid your career growth in the workplace is to ditch a black wardrobe especially if you work in an office, filled with expatriates. The colors black, brown, navy blue completely washes you out. Keep in mind that your skin color is not a major consideration, by western manufacturers, when making these clothes. I am always at a loss anytime I am on vacation overseas, and see people of African descent, adorning black. Girl! YOU ARE INVISIBLE….No one and I mean no one sees you especially people of other skin colors.

This is the practical truth. The next time you are in a video conferencing call, seated in a room of expats which can range from Caucasian to Asians, take a cursory glance on the screen and see if you are visible or not. If you are wearing the colors mentioned above, chances are high that you are washed out on the screen. Let me give you a visual aid. Your hair color is black, your skin color is brown or a darker tone, you love the colors black, brown and navy blue. You need to put an end to this debilitating habit, as it makes you invisible along the corridors of power.

When a Caucasian or Asian wear black, you can interpret the fleeting emotions on their face. You on the other hand, have simply boxed yourself into a corner, as no one can interpret the emotions on your face, as you are completely washed out. The same thing occurs for Caucasians, when they adorn white and bold colors. These colors wash out their pale white skin.

Instead, adorn yourself in bold, bright colors. In the workplace, you must make it a habit of registering your presence in the minds of your expat colleagues, when you walk into any room. Bold, bright colors accentuate your skin tone and in a room filled with expats, no one will ignore you. Your opinions will be sought for. Just make sure you own your end of the intelligence angle. Trust me, you will always be remembered as the lady who leaves an impression with her color choices.

Remember, no se permiten flores de pared aquí….which means, “No Wallflowers Allowed Here”. For the month of March, I am offering great savings in your cart when you purchase here.

Glossary:

Guardarropa – wardrobe

Jefe Egoista

How do you deal with a boss who’s egoistical and tends towards narcissism sometimes? NOTHING! You heard me right…absolutely NOTHING. Stop agreeing with every damn stupid word that spouts up from his/her mouth. Rather learn to rein him/her in and if s/he declines, darling step aside, and let him run into the marketplace amok like a raging bull.

Honestly, your days and nights will be much peaceful, since the only thing you will be bothered about is cleaning a bit of the mess he’s left behind. Majority of the mess he’s caused will be cleaned up by none other than ‘El Hombre/La Mujere’.

As part of the lead management team in the SSA region, I report directly to a boss overseeing SSA. While he’s a creative person, sometimes he lets his ego get the best of him and decides to do stuffs that are not aligned internally. Last year, we had developed a creative campaign for a leading brand. When the first cut was presented to the board, there were some elements that were added (talk about too many cooks spoiling the broth). I had raised my objections and given clear cut reasons on why these suggested elements, should not be added to the overall creative.

I am always pissed off when foreigners think they have a secret insight into local life. Disculpe Senor, you know jack shit. When did you arrive and what has been the duration of your stay in the country/continent to think you have an idea of local idioms, cultures and norms in developing a campaign? Suffice to say, the campaign bombed and talk about a major backlash from TG. Consumers were so loud that our North American office had to step in to resolve the ongoing madness.

I cleaned up social media and the next morning, my boss called me in. By this time, he had been chastened and made to see the error of his way. I knew there was a narcissistic storm on the way when he said “Jan, you realize this campaign was developed with a lot of love for the local custom and culture.”

“You know I have always depended on you to set me straight, when i veer off the beaten path”. In my thoughts, I am thinking “hey el hombre, take a dip in the water. I reined you in once or twice and you wouldn’t listen. Be bold enough to face the storm”. Stop this emotional blackmail B.S. It does not work on me. Cut me some slack on the sob story.

I sat in his office pretty as you please, while we evaluated where he went wrong, how we can salvage the situation and come out stronger on the other end of the rainbow. By the end of the day, we had a solution for the national disaster he had created.

Wheew! All in a day’s work.

Glossary:

SSA – Sub Saharan Region

TG – Target Audience

El Hombre – The man

Disculpe – Excuse me/Pardon

La Mujere – The woman

Senor/Senora – Sir/Ma’am

Jefe Egoista – Egoistic Boss

Cliquey

lady boss taking charge at work avoiding cliques.
Don’t You Just Love That Plaque? I OWN This Every Single Day!

Clique

nnoun: clique; plural noun: cliques

  1. a small close-knit group of people who do not readily allow others to join them.”his flat became a haven for a clique of young men of similar tastes”synonyms:coterie, circle, inner circle, crowd, in-crowd, set, group

The one thing I have avoided over the course of my career within the workplace is ‘Cliques’. No matter the form or shape it announces itself in, I stick up my middle finger in its’ face, and own the spot I occupy. This dark form of nepotism, destroys the soul and culture within the workplace. I do not think highly of people who belong to ‘Cliques’ as it tells me you have subjugated your individuality for the common individuality of a group.

How boring and utterly stupid? Thinking from a common point of view gets you nowhere on the career ladder. You must learn to stand alone and own your thoughts, irrespective of whether you’ve got supporters or not. Don’t imagine this exists within Naija alone. No! Its’ a global affliction and I have seen this operate everywhere, while working in Dubai and other places.

Belonging to a clique will dumb you down and take you along a narcissistic path, where you will lose all forms of creativity and wit to aid you in your career. That is, if you eventually end up having a meaningful one without spending your days, licking asses up and down (this is the bane of most Nigerian men in the workplace. So timid and always agreeing with every dumb ideas or words, that comes out of their bosses mouth, without taking a moment to think and reflect). It pisses me off completely. Miss me with the B.S.

Rather, choose to be different. Yeah, you might be hated, called weird names, hey sugar, deal with it. How have i dealt with this negative phenomenon?

In my unit, we ain’t got time for ‘Cliques’. Once I notice there is a cliquey thingy going on, I break it up immediately by assigning each person an onerous, individual task that takes a month to deliver. It works like a charm. Since they are so busy with meeting deadlines, each day is filled with heavy grunts and lots of silent thinking.

I love that especially when your unit has been noticed as the only unit, where employees do not dwadle or gossip, you know you are building the right culture.

What’s Next?

We are open signage

I have been thinking of closing this blog down since life and other stuffs have finally caught up with me. I thought I would rather transition this blog to a podcast. After thinking about it, I thought to myself, “Jan, why don’t you do a pivot with this blog, by sharing some of the steps you have taken in the corporate world to get to where you are today?

Yeap, you guessed right, I will be using this year to share my nuggets of wisdom on navigating the corporate ladder. Note of warning: my approach is quite brutal and mafioso. I am not a wallflower when it comes to the workplace and I always take no prisoners alive.

So if you are not comfortable with being hated, gossiped about in the workplace, feared and respected for the values you bring into the workplace, then this might not be for you. However, if you are comfortable with being hated, and can use that negative emotion to propel you on the career ladder, you are welcome on this ride, however nerve wracking it might be.

I will share how I have orchestrated my career working with expats and locals. If you’ve got organizational challenges in your current workplace, shoot me a email (your current employer/organization should be denoted “All Way na Way”). I will try to point you to a conclusive option. The actual work lies with you.

Welcome once more!

Useful Thoughts

The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are.

Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you. Consider this:

  • Never receive counsel from unproductive people.
  • Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how.
  • Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person.
  • Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere. With some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it.
  •  Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life.
  • Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships.
  • If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.

“A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.” The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate – for the good and the bad.

Note: Be not mistaken. This is applicable to family as well as friends”. Colin Powell.

BRB

Today on my way to work, I listened to Star 101.5 FM and had the pleasure of hearing Mofe Oyatogun (OAP) on the early morning belt, speak about how important it is to work towards your goals in life no matter the challenges you may face. Within the past couple of months, she’s been able to take a tour of her top travel destinations.

My discourse this morning is not about travel destinations but how we can take a cue from Mofe and achieve our own goals as well. One of the goals I had last year was a change of job because I felt the time had come to challenge myself in a new field that’s not related to the industry I work with. Every morning I would spare a glance at the stick it note on my wardrobe to remind myself of my next step in life. That was the only goal I could not achieve in 2010 though I was invited for some job interviews which led to nowhere. This is 2011 and in a couple of weeks, i’ll be resuming at a new organization which offers greater challenges in managing a global household brand. I’m excited and it brings to mind the popular maxim that you have to demand from life whatever you want.

Life might throw a couple of spanners across your way but eventually it’ll give you what you want. I’ll be on a much needed vacation as from 1st of June and won’t be back till July. However, you can check back for my travel logs and pictures of the tourist attractions i’ll be visiting. Ciao.

Word of the Month

cipollino marble

Image via Wikipedia

Don’t just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life. I use the word balanced before successful. Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order. There is no point in driving a car if your back hurts. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions.

Life is one of those races in nursery school where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth. If the marble falls, there is no point coming first. Same is with life where health and relationships are the marble. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

One thing about nurturing the spark – don’t take life too seriously. Life is not meant to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here. We are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years. And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends. Do we really need to get so worked up?

It’s okay, bunk a few classes, scoring low in couple of papers, goof up a few interviews, take leave from work, enjoy your friends, fall in love, little fights with your loved ones. We are people, not programmed devices.

Don’t be serious, be sincere.

I came across these words and I thought it’d be a good idea of encouraging everyone out there to live life while taking out time to sniff the roses. Have a great week peeps.

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