Tag: fear

How I learned to embrace fear

  |   By  |  0 Comments

I believe that fear is not something we are born with, it’s a feeling that’s developed over time. It could be due to a bad experience or just a lack of self-confidence. But, at times we don’t recognise what we fear until we face it head on.

Of course, it’s hard to do things we’re afraid to, but it’s always worth a try. After all, there’s nothing to lose by trying, right?

From personal experience, overcoming some of my fears has brought me immense joy, and has given me the perspective to see things in a different way. I won’t lie, doing something new for the first time is hard, but I’m so glad I can say that I have put myself out there.

Here are some challenges I faced during the year I worked at NOW Money, and how some wonderful people around me made it easy to overcome them.

Blogging

I still remember the first time I was asked to write an article for the company blog, I was shivering! It’s something I’ve always thought I couldn’t do.  I resisted it for a long time, until I was told to just do it, so begrudgingly, I did. I will be honest, it was hard but wasn’t impossible. I learnt a lot about the art of creative writing including how to structure a blog, the importance of adding personal experience to your writing and how to make it engaging for the reader.

I still have a long way to go before I write what I think is a brilliant blog, but I’m so grateful to my colleagues who encouraged me to try blogging, and to the readers who have appreciated my work and have given me such positive feedback.

Multi-lingual presenting

In early 2017, I was given a task to train some users of the NOW Money app. They were mainly native Urdu and Hindi speakers, so I had to present in multiple languages. Although I was usually quite confident presenting to a large audience, this time I was nervous. It was important that the transition between languages was smooth so the training session would be understood by the audience. I had no option but to do it as I was the only Hindi speaker in the company!

I remember very clearly, just before I was about to start my presentation, my boss Katharine (Kat) said, ‘You can do it V!’. And that was all I needed to hear. The presentation went really well and became interactive, which was a sure sign that they were listening and were interested in what I had to say.

I was so lucky to have such an amazing mentor who pushed me beyond the limits I set for myself. Thanks Kat.

Presenting to the UAE government

As part of my role at NOW Money, I used to enter the company into start-up competitions. In one particular competition we reached the final, which involved presenting to senior managers in the UAE government.

Kat and Ian, NOW Money’s other co-founder, asked me to present the company as I had taken ownership of the project from the start. I was reluctant when asked, as it was quite frightening for me to present to such senior people.

Ian motivated me to seize the wonderful opportunity in front of me, and not to worry about anything else. The whole team helped me perfect my script, listened to me present couple of times and asked me potential questions from the judges. The learning experience was fantastic. On the day of the competition, when I was on stage, Kat was seated in the audience. After my presentation all she said was ‘I’m proud of you, V’.

Honestly, I’m so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organisation where we encourage each other to grow each and every day. We meet very few people in our professional lives who want others to grow with them instead of leaving them behind in the ‘professional race to save their jobs’. It’s much more productive to create healthy competition rather than being too competitive, and by doing this we could make a massive change in our professional lives.

Let’s be open to growing individually and together!

The power of positive thinking

  |   By  |  0 Comments

Not long ago I was sat outside having breakfast with my boss and Co-founder of NOW Money, Ian Dillon, following a morning event. When time was called to head back to the office, Ian got out his phone and ordered an Uber. The driver who connected to his request had a one-star rating.

Now, in my mind, Uber has star ratings for a reason. I was thinking, “oh dear, this driver must be pretty awful if he’s only got one star”. To my surprise, Ian’s reaction was totally different.

“One star! That guy must have been SO unlucky. He’s probably new, has been on one trip and someone accidentally rated him one star. I bet there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him,” said Ian.

Whilst I couldn’t help but think it was a strange reaction, I had huge admiration for Ian’s understanding and empathetic approach; looking for the positivity in the situation and not jumping to conclusions.

It got me thinking that his relentless positivity is probably one of the things that makes him a successful entrepreneur and gave him the guts to quit his job and start his own company in the first place.

I thought I’d share with you how I believe positivity, or sometimes lack of it, affects life in a start-up.

The belief

To become an entrepreneur, you have the belief your idea will work, so positivity is essential. After all, if you don’t believe in your idea, who will? Investors also often buy into the person, as well as the idea, so if they can see that you’ve got a positive attitude and you’re passionate about your product, they’re far more likely to invest.

As I’ve discovered, an optimistic approach is essential in a start-up, whether you’re the one being optimistic, or you’re trying to instil optimism in your colleagues. After all, positivity is contagious!

My experience of this is when I first joined NOW and we needed a new design for the background of the app, and we needed it fast. I was tasked with overseeing this project, even though I was new and had no experience in app design.  Ian and Katharine’s faith in me helped me to have the courage and faith in myself to complete the task under the time constraints.

Knowing that I was in charge of what our service looked like to the end user was incredibly empowering for me as an employee. Regardless of this, however, I also knew that whilst I was in charge, if anything had gone wrong, we would have worked together to find a solution. A “nothing is impossible” attitude is essential in a start-up; you have to be solutions hungry.

When negative can be positive

Like positivity, a negative attitude is contagious, and it’s hard not to be affected by one in the work place. But a negative attitude can sometimes be useful for highlighting problems.

I don’t mean the kind of negative attitude which deems a task impossible, or shuts down ideas before they’re given a chance. But perhaps a pessimistic attitude, which looks out for potential issues that could arise during a task.

I do think it’s important to include a mix of personalities in the workplace. I’m guilty of being far too positive and getting excited by new projects and seeing everything through rose tinted spectacles. So, I actually work well with people who have a slightly less rosy outlook, as it keeps me reigned in and helps me acknowledge potential problems which need to be accounted for.

Fear

We have all experienced that niggle of self-doubt that usually stems from fear. Whilst fear often has negative connotations, it’s actually not always bad. Think about it – it’s fear that protects us from eating poisonous plants, or falling prey to wild animals.

For an entrepreneur, the most productive fear is fear of failure. It can help stop irrational decisions being made, or highlight opportunities which aren’t necessarily right for the business. It’s also the fear of letting others down (especially the shareholders).

So really, fear should be embraced and used as a guidance that can be used in conjunction with optimism. It’s the balance that gets you to that happy, productive medium.

Can you be over-optimistic?

Is there such a thing as over optimism? I guess Ian could have taken a more balanced approach and maybe questioned the driver’s rating. However, his faith was well founded in this situation. We made it back to the office in one piece in good time, so in this case, giving the driver the benefit of the doubt worked in our favour. Living in the Middle East you experience a lot of negativity toward the services industries, so it was refreshing to see Ian’s positive and patient attitude.

Maybe we should all take a leaf out of Ian’s book and throw some more faith in humanity? Come on, what’s the worst that can happen?