Celebrating International Women’s Day!

WINGS Mentees strike a pose at our Orientation event!

From all of us here at WINGS for Growth, we would like to wish you happy International Women’s Day!
We admire and strive to mentor women to become strong leaders and have discovered that an outcome-based mentoring program, with a carefully tailored program and matched mentor to mentee, can make a huge and positive difference in attaining the mentee’s goals.
Here at WINGS, we are convinced that mentoring focused on leadership development is an opportunity that many early career women are looking for. There are many programs offered by employers to their employees. These programs are great in giving the visibility and exposure to move up the ladder. However, not all mentoring experiences amount the same. Some of them were weighed down with mentors who did not have time to spend with them.
In some instances, the mentees faced an endless loop of mentoring with no concrete goal in sight. In many cases, the mentoring was a spot treatment to solve a problem and the mentee and mentor often lost touch over time so that they couldn’t easily tap in to a comfort zone of teaming with each other when they needed to.
This is why WINGS chose to offer a formal outcomes based mentoring program. The mentors and mentees themselves are committed to the 10-month long program and are subjected to a rigorous 4-step selection process.

Our mentors are senior industry leaders who are truly paying-it-forward and passionately believe in our cause. Our mentees have taken the first bold step in recognizing the need to be mentored and are already on their path to success by their initiative.

WINGS’ proprietary methodology and framework guides our mentors and mentees them through the entire program. The mentors and mentees are paired manually, per the guidelines of our methodology. The first order of business is to devise a development plan for each mentee that the mentor approves with the oversight of a champion, then the mentor and mentee pair work on development areas.

The WINGS program offers connectivity events every quarter to ensure there is visibility among the established industry leaders, other cohort members and our sponsors. We also put together a curriculum of classroom training and executive coaching session in a group to promote interactive learning.

Each mentee is also given an opportunity to work on a project with partner nonprofit organization(preferably) to practice the skills that they learned, which enforces confidence in the ability to lead – a huge step forward.

They might get an opportunity to mentor a junior mentee from high school or middle school during this program.

After all, the success of our mentees is a true success for WINGS for Growth!

In this video, we bring inspiration shared by our mentees who have been through that self-reflection, recognize the need for growth, and share their opinion on why they joined WINGS. We hope you can feel their passion through this video.

On this day of celebrating women internationally, we urge you to reflect inwards and seek a mentor in your life, if you haven’t already. Make that bold step and commit to developing yourself. We would love to hear about your passion and growth areas and how a mentoring program can help you. Leave your thoughts, share the blog post, and show some love to our mentees for taking this step.

CALL TO ACTION: We invite every woman to celebrate herself, if you want to become a leader and be a better leader – Sign up for becoming a mentee with us!

As a male or a female industry professional who has seniority, support an early career woman – consider imparting your wisdom in others, Click Here to sign up!

To more women leaders and beyond!

-WINGS for Growth

How to Recover Gracefully, With a Little Help

Varsha, Mathangi and Bob celebrating the graceful recovery!

Into every business life, a few disasters will fall. But, recovering gracefully from disasters can still enable you to win the deal or forge a relationship. Here is our story…

WINGS for Growth is a young organization, and is focused on mentoring young women to be leaders, however we are fortunate enough to have several connections to some large and well respected companies. Recently we were engaged by a large, respected, Luxury Fashion Company with whom we hoped to forge a long-term relationship and possibly financial support. We were invited to present our program to their senior leadership. They offered us 90 minutes of their valuable time. This meeting was a significant milestone for us. Our team was working hard for weeks to ensure that our presentation looks top notch and all loose ends were tied.

Finally, the day has come!

We left 3 hours before meeting time allowing for any delays. The bad news is there was a bad accident in the tunnels leading to New York where the meeting was to be held, and we had no way to get around it. The result was we were stuck in the tunnel and were over an hour and a half late for the meeting. We called our senior contact in the company and asked what we should do. She was not very happy about the situation. Perhaps, she was feeling let down. They asked us to get there when we can, and then they will see if they still have the time for us. This was clearly a non-committal response, still much better than having to turn back.

When we finally arrived, everyone seemed to be impatient and agitated, and although they were trying to be polite, we were informed we only had 10 minutes left. Now it was our turn to feel tense and stressed. We had just been through a very long and uncomfortable ordeal to get here and now we only had 10 minutes? As a main presenter, all heads turned to me to take control of the meeting.  We had two choices – recover gracefully or give up. Taking a moment to regain composure, we decided to make the most of our time with the fashion company by staying positive and not giving up, our last weapon to recover gracefully.

South goes North

Rather than launching into our prepared pitch, our senior advisor suggested we hit the highlights at this point and see if we can win them over.Speaking very much from the heart, Varsha put away the prepared presentation and instead told them briefly about our organization, our experiences, what we could bring to the table and what we felt they could bring to the table. Bob, our senior advisor played quarterback by carefully watching body language and providing color commentary when needed. Mathangi, another team member, focused on highlighting aspects of our program that were relevant to their goals and objectives, Looking back, we truly had our “A” team at the meeting and this helped us to regroup and find a new way – – FAST.

Using a team approach, and openly showing our passion for the organization, the most extraordinary thing happened. Not only did they appreciate our deep values and strong commitment to the success of the program, but they were so taken by our passion, they granted us extra time!Not all of the invited executives could stay, but enough of them did stay to allow us to forge a strong relationship with them. They were thinking of using a large consulting company to help them with mentoring their leaders – but our passion and experience convinced them to give us a serious consideration.

In a few short weeks, one of the senior executives from the fashion company spoke at our December Mentee Orientation. We were thrilled to have her and she gave a very inspirational talk to our mentees on how to become a good leader.

Graceful recovery tips

What did we learn from this experience? Every so often, things will “go south” on you. What you do about it is up to you. If you choose to recover gracefully, here are some things to consider.

  1. Be prepared to deviate from your prepared plan
  2. Teamwork is a key. Ensure all your team members are on side with the “new plan” and their role in it
  3. When things don’t go as planned, try to connect with the people in the room as quickly as possible. Listen carefully for sound bites that will connect you with your audience. Observe body language and modify your pitch to make it relevant.
  4. Being honest and open while being passionate about your believes could be the game changer

Recovering gracefully is not an easy thing to do, but it is often a choice that can lead to positive outcomes.

Even if you cannot close a deal, it could at least lead to another meeting where you will have more time.

If you had an experience with recovering gracefully, please share it. We would love to hear from you.

WINGS for Growth is always looking for mentors. Please visit our website and consider volunteering some of your time as a mentor.

Passion and Creativity Make all the Difference in the World

Me with my Guru (on the left) Padma Khanna Sidana

Me with my Guru (on the left) Padma Khanna Sidana

In many things in life, the difference between being good and being great is passion and creativity. In my line of work, and when competing, passion and creativity are the main differentiators. Great mentors can help instill that passion in a mentee, and guide you to finding a fresh perspective and bold creativity. Allow me to explain.

When I decided to make dance my career, I was faced with a harsh reality: a severe lack of mentorship when it came to advancing my career as a South Asian artist in a non-South Asian dance world. Growing up in New Jersey, where big communities of Americans of South Asian origin reside, it is commonplace for most girls to experience Indian classical dance training. The difference is that the goal of her training has been entertaining at family events and having a fun hobby, not a serious, focused dance career.

To be fair, as a five year old when I started learning Kathak (one of eight classical Indian dance forms), a career was not my goal either. However, a serious passion for dance and an encouraging dancer mother gently pushed me to strive for excellence in class. I enjoyed the classes and found that I had developed a passion for it. When I began college, and chose to enter into the professional dance world, I realized people who were at the “top” were not much older than me. I also came to realize that my generation is the one that will make the South Asian arts part of the mainstream culture in the United States. We are part of the, as my friend calls it, Indian Dance Renaissance. The question remains, as it does in most professions, how do we obtain mentorship to ensure we stay on the right path?

Obtaining and receiving mentorship is important in most fields. My Guru (mentor) spent one-on-one sessions with me exploring my dance movement and my expressions. She explained the origin of each step and gently guided me to find my dance niche. Great mentors will adapt their teaching style to what fits their student best.

Great mentors will help the mentee find a path that is not only what society defines as “successful” but that will help them grow, challenge the status quo, and ultimately achieve their dreams.

Professional Indian dancers usually work in multiple South Asian companies to make ends meet, so overlap in dance and style is rampant. As I moved forward from performer to teacher, I asked myself– As dancers and teachers, how do we continue to give our students superior mentorship to ensure they can bloom as beautiful and unique dancers while we continue to expand the South Asian dance world?

Over time, the answer emerged.

The world of dance is slowly moving from competitive to collaborative. As children, we were often part of catty dance competitions where dance teachers greeted each other with tight-lipped smiles and stoic eyes, fearing their expressions would leak out their choreography. This was not an environment that promoted healthy competition.

Now, instead of constantly being head to head with one another and trying to decide who is best, we teach that working together and using everyone’s skills together can make an even bigger and better product. In dance, as in any other field, teamwork is as important as individual skills to truly be competitive.

The New Age of Mentors

As the new age of dance mentors gain momentum, we will encourage teamwork. We have the opportunity to mentor young artists and encourage them to consider a career in the arts, not only dancing for family entertainment. We can dare to innovate, bring fresh perspective, be bold, and dream big by performing as our heart directs us.

We can help dancers balance business with art, and find that sweet spot where commercialization and competition meet creativity and passion. We can collaborate across cultural barriers with artists from all fields, and provide mentorship and be role models for our students.

This idea is not limited to dance. Competition can be collaborative in every field. Why constantly worry about who can come up with the next best thing when instead we can work together to find the best solution.

As teachers and mentors, we need to bring out the uniqueness of each of our students and guide them to combine their talents with others. Whichever career you choose to pursue, we need to encourage working collaboratively to find that sweet spot where commercialization and competition meet creativity and passion. Passion and creativity can make all the difference in the world.

Do you need a mentor? Do you wish to become a much needed mentor? WINGS for Growth was created to inspire, enable and empower talented young women to become leaders of the future through impactful mentoring, coaching and networking with visionary, successful, and caring leaders and role models. Contact us today www.wingsforgrowth.org

About the Author

Shivani Badgi is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer in NJ/NYC and a volunteer at WINGS for Growth. Visit her website at shivanibadgi.com.

In the event of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth reminds everyone that daring to dream must continue!

Martin Luther King Jr. Had a Dream – Do YOU have a Dream?

In the event of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth reminds everyone that daring to dream must continue!

In the event of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth reminds everyone that daring to dream must continue!

To help celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth wanted to take the opportunity to reiterate how important great role models and mentors are, and to share some inspiring messages to help put us in the mood for the holiday.

As many of us know – but it is worth repeating – Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. This inspirational role model was the author of the “I have a dream” speech. In it, Dr. King so eloquently states “I have a dream that one day, this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’.” Although his 1963 speech stressed that even 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed – “the Negro is still not free”, today we celebrate many significant achievements of black people – including the eight year presidency of Barack Obama – which in 1863, no one dared to dream of. Today, daring to dream must continue.

Having role models and mentors, such as Mr. King, enable us to look beyond what is simple to achieve to tackle what is difficult to achieve.

Scientists, doctors, and researchers all work hard each day to prove what can be done – but first, someone had to dream that it might be possible. Who teaches and inspires us to dream? Mothers, fathers, relatives, friends, teachers, religious figures, local as well as famous role models instill in us the need to dream- to reach higher and farther. Mentors then show us HOW to achieve our dreams by sharing their wisdom, leading us, and enabling us to find our way.

What is a mentor?

  • A mentor is a career parent/person who has your best interest in mind
  • “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself, and helps to bring it out in you” –Bob Proctor
  • A mentor imparts wisdom
  • A great mentor is a great person first
  • A mentor focuses on ‘developing’ NOT ‘doing’
  • “A mentor is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction” –John C. Crosby

As we celebrate the life and accomplishments of a great person, role model and mentor — Martin Luther King Jr. — remember that it is equally important to find your own passions and way, not to just follow in the footsteps of others.

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. — Steven Spielberg

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” — Malala Yousafzai

“We are so often left to wonder whether one person can possibly make a difference. Mother Teresa said yes, we can. Her life was resounding proof that it is possible” — Craig Kielburger

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only celebrated in the USA, it is also recognized and celebrated in MANY countries around the world such as in Japan (Hiroshima), Canada (Toronto), Israel (Jerusalem), the Netherlands (Wassenaar) and more. Though not necessarily a national holiday, each country holds special ceremonies to remember, to teach tolerance and the importance of civil rights.

What will you do to celebrate?

Do you need a mentor? Do you wish to become a much needed mentor? WINGS for Growth was created to inspire, enable and empower talented young women to become leaders of the future through impactful mentoring, coaching and networking with visionary, successful, and caring leaders and role models. Contact us today www.wingsforgrowth.org

As we embark on another year…

NewYear

Today as we are getting ready to ring in the New Year, we wanted to share this story which made 2016 one of the best years in recent memory.

We received a call from a young woman who will remain nameless… She inquired about what we do and about the WINGS. After our regular sales pitch, and sharing our views passionately on the phone, she asked if she could be a mentee even though she has nothing to do with Corporate America. She went on to explain she does not have a great education nor a great family to support her.

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3 Things to Do for Daily Inspiration

3thingstodo

It’s me again; the person who finds inspiration in the most unlikely places – or should I say many, very likely places – – that is to say, almost everywhere! When you look around and take a minute to think about the people that most inspire you, it becomes clear that these people come in many forms; your neighbor, your teacher from school, a mother or father, your sister or brother, someone from work, an author, someone famous, someone you have known your entire life, and sometimes someone you have just met.

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My Father’s Good Advice

MyFatherGoodAdvice

My father told me many times, “There’s never a bad time to do something good”. This is true today more than ever. With all the crazy things happening in the world, it makes sense to give back and mentor others whenever you can. Our world needs more passionate, inspiring and successful leaders. I was the fortunate recipient of some excellent mentoring during my 26 years on Wall Street, and now I want to share that experience and knowledge with other women. Finding it was difficult for me – so allow me to give back and make it easy for you.

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Women and Leadership

President Eisenhower received a letter from a girl that began with the words “Dear Mr. Eisenhower, I am nine years old” and went on to speak about racial justice. The girl was to become one of America’s leading historians on the Civil War. She was Drew Gilpin Faust.

 

The life story of Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard, offers a panoramic view of the progress of women from the traditional roles of the past centuries to high offices in what can be called bastions of male power.

When women stand up for their rights they make this world a better place

Faust’s interest in the Civil War had a personal angle too. In her book “Mothers of Invention: Women of the slave holding South” Faust traced how the war upended centuries of traditions in gender relationships. With the men folk off to war front women stepped out into roles hitherto no one had ventured into.

Time magazine’s choice for “Person of the year” for 2002 were three women that they called “women of ordinary demeanor but exceptional guts”. Sherron Watkins of Enron, Coleen Rowley of FBI and Cynthia Cooper of Worldcom were honored, in a year when public confidence in the probity of corporations and public institutions reached a record low, for being courageous whistleblowers and for ‘speaking truth to power’. The cover story noted that all three were from humble backgrounds and breadwinners for their families and thus their acts of courage really placed their livelihoods in jeopardy.

While this year may see the hardest glass ceiling of American politics being shattered we should not fail to note other important historical changes in America with regard to women. The US army now permits women in combat roles. Detailed studies prior to that decision showed that many concerns about women not being able to carry out the training or tasks were unfounded. More importantly the studies revealed that many requirements were geared towards men and carried little relevance to modern day battlefield requirements, which women could easily fulfill like any man.

Women should constantly question the assumptions and paradigms that have become ingrained in the subliminal conscience of society over centuries. More often than not the assumptions are just that, assumptions.

A leader is always ready to challenge and question the norm

Oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence has spoken at length about how women, including a famous star like her, shy away from bargaining hard for salaries. An article in the British newspaper The Guardian wrote that Lawrence felt the “need ‘to be liked’ and the fear of seeming ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’ kept her from demanding more money”. Lawrence added “based on statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue…Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t ‘offend’ or ‘scare’ men?”

Dr. Faust became Harvard’s first woman president and told, at a press conference “I am not the woman president of Harvard, I’m the president of Harvard”. Quite a triumph for a girl whose mother once admonished her that “It’s a man’s world, sweetie, and the sooner you learn that better off you will be”.

The lives of the Time magazine trio, Faust and Lawrence offer important glimpses into the value of a diverse and egalitarian world and more importantly underscores the importance of standing up for one’s rights and merits. Dr. Faust refused to learn the lesson her mother wanted her to learn and the world is a better place today.