1 minute series: The Addiction of Infinity

by Farhat Zishan Chowdhury

We are not finite.

We are each immense, bottomless universe that are constantly changing, expanding, and evolving. Have we spent enough time peeling back the countless intricate layers that make up someone’s being?

We cannot understand someone solely by “knowing” them; when what we think we know – beliefs, ideas and preferences – are but fragile and malleable constructions of the mind?

To love someone’s universe, we must free-fall into their soul with the understanding that
there will always be a new constellation to discover.

We can spend a lifetime, if, not more, getting lost in that infinity.

Photo: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/279223245622345036/

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Let’s Talk Depression: Expecto Patronum!

Depression is not a weakness. It is an illness.

Oftentimes the symptoms of depression are not exactly sadness. They can be reflected in under-performance, slow-down of regular work speed, problems in recalling minor things and so on.

Depression can arise from psychological and biological reasons.

Like ‘Dementors‘ sucking up energy and happiness from people, a depressed teammate can be demotivating for the other team members as well.

Hence, it is a problem that needs objective attention from the entire team. If your own Patronus falls short, your teams’ one might not.

It isn’t right to walk away from your depressed colleague, it might not be okay to be involved too much as well. Finding balance is good.

Depression can be contagious, everyone has their own fights. You probably have experience the sadness in you while someone else was sharing their tragedy. Very normal.

But:

It does not take much to be kind and positive to others. I was blessed to have few moments in my life when people came up and told me “Because of you I didn’t give up.”

These are the moments when you touch life and life touches you. Beautiful and unexplainable.

Two quotes to inspire you.

 

There is no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people get inspired by how you deal with your own imperfections” – Ziad K. Abdelnour.

 

Another quote I’d like to share from my friend, whose Facebook post made my day today.

 

Everyone has struggles, disappointments, and are fighting their own war. But everyone else still deserves your smile, kind words and positive energy“- Shams Jaber

Begin and end your day with these simple questions, everyday!

Our thoughts are best organized when we begin them with questions. Asking questions to self is not as simple as it seems in those blogs we read.

It’s difficult. Hence we have put together very simple questions that you can train your mind to ask yourself.

Give yourself some time to adjust. Take time and repeat the questions everyday in the same order. Let the answers guide your actions.


Begin Your Day:

What is that one thing I am going to do differently today?

What makes the day really exciting?

What am I going to accomplish today?

 

End Your Day:

What is that one thing I have learnt today?

What am I grateful for?

Who have I inspired/helped today?

 

Remember, it is very important not to feel obligated by the answers, but feel liberated for the ability to ask them.

Have you found a better question that works for you?
Let me know in the comments below!

Benefits of having a LinkedIn profile in Bangladesh: Overrated or underrated?

Author: Mashiat Nawal Chowdhury

It is astonishing how many Bangladeshi undergraduate students have as of yet failed to grasp the contribution of LinkedIn in their to-be professional life, a rookie mistake that many of us make. Because nobody wants to read a long paragraph droning on about LinkedIn benefits, I will break it down to a few points instead.

 

  • Many leading MNCs ask for your LinkedIn profile when you apply for a job/internship

 

This is true for many of the hotshot multinational companies that aspiring business graduates flock to, like Unilever and British American Tobacco. To apply for their internship program, Management Trainee program or even competitions that they host (e.g. Battle of Minds) you are required to have a LinkedIn profile. Unless you want to hastily make a rookie profile in a few hours to be able to apply, start embellishing yours already.

 

  • You come across job posts that are only posted on LinkedIn or can be applied for through LinkedIn

 

Yes, that actually does already happen in Bangladesh, contrary to some popular belief. For instance, Standard Chartered job posts can be found through LinkedIn. Robi Axiata accepts CVs for their Management Trainee program only through LinkedIn InMail to their profile.

This isn’t true for just multinational companies, though. Many local companies recruit through LinkedIn, too. The numbers are growing every day.

 

  • Gives you a microscopic view of what your competitors are accomplishing, and how they’re doing it.

 

LinkedIn is like a ‘right’ awarded to you to view other people’s CVs – what they achieved and how they achieved it. This can even help put ideas in your head; if you wanted to learn that Excel course you never got around to doing, you can know from your friend’s profile how he acquired the skill. So start making the best use of this professional network today, and rely less on Facebook groups for job posts!

To know how to open a linked in profile check out the following articles:
18 Tips to Create Your Perfect LinkedIn Profile (Infographic)

10 Tips To A More Professional LinkedIn Profile – Hongkiat

How To Create A Killer LinkedIn Profile That Will Get You Noticed

Top 10 Most Overlooked LinkedIn Profile Tips | JobMob

You want to add more? Comment below! Don’t forget to subscribe for more.

 

Let’s Talk Depression!

Author: Afia Zaheen

Dealing with Workplace Depression: What can an average YOU do?

The human mind is an enigma- a delicate patchwork of memories, feelings, thoughts, ideas, fear and loads more. For a human to function properly, s/he either needs to listen to the brain or mind or both. The brain is a part of the mind, but the mind is not. And the top most thing meddling with a sound mind is Depression! See, I can feel the depressing mood already!

Depression can arise from many things, the obvious ones we face in our Dhaka lifestyle would be  heartbreaks, unemployment, death, sickness, loneliness, pressure to get married, or get into a government job and especially workplace!

Let’s focus on workplace depression for the day

In our society, given how our culture is, we are not open about accepting depression, which further harms the scenario. A depressed person feels alienated, left-out and ashamed, as if it is some contagious disease and people can’t know about it.

So no brownie points for guessing that consulting a psychologist is out of question. But who do you think would be worthy of your money? or trust?

Let’s have a different look. Let’s not call it the ‘inability to handle workload or responsibility’. Let’s accept it as a normal bi-product of the giant chemical reaction that we are. Let’s look at it as a barrier to our productivity. Just like the mainstream companies in Dhaka block facebook considering it as a barrier to their employees’ productivity, let’s start having policies that block our the depression triggers.

Every big company has a psychiatrist, with a bigger stigma around it. If someone sees me at that doorstep, “Will they listen to my commands tomorrow?”, “Will they judge me more for my decisions?”

As issues like emotional intelligence grow in terms of their relevance in vital leadership issues, we should understand how increasingly human we are being in our workplace as we no longer live a dual life anymore (Thanks to Facebook and all those mutual friends you have with your colleagues and boss).

As lines fade between our office and home, just like the home accommodates the piles of workload from office, the office should accommodate the stress load that piles up from home as well.

But have we YET considered it a priority?

Do you have enough fun time in your working hours? Do you watch youtube? Can you laugh out loud with your colleagues? Do you have picnics? Is there any culture to get exercise or power naps, or perhaps to play games in your office? Do you have meetings designed to enhance the relationship among the teammates?

Majority of the answers would be NO. But how hard is it to make these tiny changes in our own small territory? To give a colleague a happy time? To develop productive and fun lunch time practices, that definitely defy the office gossips and unnecessary rumors. May be something with the gossips and rumors too!

What do you think you can do for your own team? Or the very small number of people you supervise? What do you think the companies should do?

Comment below to let  me know. It’s high time we did something about it!

Read more:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-workplace

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/emily-c-johnson/workplace-depression_b_12470388.html

http://www.depressioncenter.org/work/

Here is how I landed my first job!

Author: Nujhat Tabassum Arshi

Joining Moar was the most unexpected and huge turn of my life. It all began when I decided to do a crash course on business development at Career Solutions Bangladesh back at December 2015.I ended up being the best candidate of my batch. Hence I was offered an interview with the co-founders of Moar for a position.

At that point of my life, I was extremely disturbed with the fact that I was not doing anything whereas most of my friends were devoted to part time jobs or tuitions. So just having an offer like that made me excited. I did not know anything about Moar before. All I got to know from my training tutor was that it’s a fun working place and I’ll like it. I was taught to be honest and create my own comfort zone while giving an interview. With that I was all set for the day!

My first impression after entering through the blue door was “Whoa! Office goals!” An office this cozy and beautiful, you got to be kidding me! A little nervousness was there when I finally went in to the interview room (pother pachali, my favorite space of the office from the very beginning ❤ ) Two very young women came and I found out they were the co-founders. The interview was nowhere near what I expected. It was less an interview and more like a chit chat about Moar and its activities and purpose over a cup of coffee. An interview total opposite of “Tell me something about yourself” or “How do you see yourself after 5 years”. “I want to start doing something and improve my business exposure” was my only “interview” kinda answer during the whole session.

January 2nd 2016, the day I officially joined Moar as an Office Co-ordinator. Moar is a co-working space for startups, freelancers and self employed folks to work alongside other likeminded people.

Nabila Nowrin and Nahid Sharmin, the co-founders of Ree Architect later Moar, started this concept with a view to making these people exchange ideas and perhaps, collaborate with each other to grow as an individual, as a company. It was bit hard for me in the beginning as I was, (still am, but not like before) hesitant to talk to new faces. As a coordinator my most important task is to have conversation with individuals, giving them tour of the office, making them understand the packages and stuff.

I remember how I used to shiver while talking to a client holding a strong personality or someone with a fierce corporate attitude. I was afraid of making not-so-productive conversations, especially when Nabila or Nahid apu were not around. All this time I forced and pushed myself hard to get rid of this hesitancy (read fears). I won’t say today, after 8 months I am super confident and overcame all of those but Alhamdulillah I have improved enough and still improving every day. I came across many startups and amazing individuals working and having events at Moar. Later I joined Tech Academy’s skill exchanging program (and stopped during Ramadan because of my hectic schedule), the startup is based at Moar.

The few things I have to do here include taking care of the office, managing mails, data, bills, budget and receipts, handling the accounts and marketing side etc. Some days the office is over booked and it becomes hectic to manage. Some days the office is calm and peaceful. Some days when I have less work, I just sit with my laptop and watch Anime, K-dramas or series. Some days we order food and enjoy with everyone at the office. Recently Moar had a renovation and two business associates joined us. And with them, work gets done faster than before.

My parents are probably the happiest for me having this job since I have to wake up every day at 7:30 whereas before I used to sleep till 12. Lol. Office then going to university for classes, sometimes club programs at the university, and there are always other responsibilities; no matter how busy my life has become, I still love working at Moar. Working under the guidance and care of two female entrepreneurs is a blessing. They are like a set of example for the young female working group. At the end of the day, there is a smile in my face because I learn something new every day and get to meet charismatic personalities; their presence is enough to make you all inspired and ambitious. I know I am growing every day, taking one step at a time.

Creative Vs Formal Writing: 5 Quick and Dirty Personal Tips

Author: Riffat Ashrafee

It all started when a junior writing guru approached me on how I was losing my natural writing mojo. When reviewing a recent piece I had written her first question was, “Is this even your writing?!” Honestly, although I don’t consider myself much of a writer, such a direct feedback was a little hard to swallow. Even for a novice as such as mine. However, the important concern was “How do I get back on track?”

I’m not sure about you, but I’m sure that there are many others who have a phobia on formal writing like me. Whenever someone asks me to write something for a formal platform, whether it’s a blog or article, I instantly start feeling this uncomfortable burble in my stomach. Then, as I sit and start writing the first draft is usually one of the most horrible pieces I’ve ever written. So how do we get out of this dilemma? Here a few tricks that seemed to work for me. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you.

  1. Shove “it” off your shoulders:

First you need to get the tension off your mind that you need to write something very important or formal. Sometimes trying to be too structured can push you off your game mode. So take a deep breath and take it easy. Just let your words flow along with your thoughts. Even if it doesn’t make sense in the beginning; believe me, it eventually will.

 

  1. Avoid long complex sentences:

For people like me this is the most critical part. Trust me, sometimes writing Simple sentences is the hardest thing. Well, I don’t know if it’s partly because we give too much emphasis on teaching kids how to write Complex sentences in school that they forget to write Simple ones or not, but you can see such is the reality.

 

  1. Eliminate what’s not important:

At times “less is actually more”. We often try to sound intelligent by adding in too many viewpoints and jargons to clarify one simple issue. This results in unnecessarily confusing the reader. In the end, the reader being confused doesn’t fulfill the writer’s objective as well. So keep only what’s important, the rest; just cut it out.

 

  1. Keep working on the title but don’t start blank:

This is something I personally prefer and follow. Might not be everyone’s choice. Starting off with some sort off a title; even if it’s something like- “Coz I’m just not satisfied with the title I have in mind”. The point is, try to play with your confusion and turn it into a productive humor. I’ve seen people spending too much time on deciding what the title is going to be, whether it’s the start or in the end. Instead, I feel it’s better to keep on revising it as you keep developing your thoughts while you write.

 

  1. Self-criticize and let others do so:

Learn to take criticism. It is the most important factor to self-development. However, that doesn’t mean you have to think low of yourself and keep demeaning whatever you do or write. This refers to embracing your flaws and shortcomings and see them as opportunities for development. So, whenever you self-criticize or even take it from others try to get a constructive feedback through follow-up questions. Like “How do you think I can write this point better? What can be the other angle I’m missing?” It will help you do make a plan on points you need to work on.

 

Finally, I’m done with this piece and I can finally sleep in peace. Because unlike many of you who might have read through this annoying piece, I just can’t sleep until I’ve gotten a thought out of my head.

5 mind hacks for the forgetful you!

by Mashiat Nawal Chowdhury

 

Harry Potter fans will remember Neville Longbottom from first year as the round-faced, anxious boy whose grandmother gifted him a Remembrall because his memory was so poor. The Remembrall is a glass sphere that turns red to indicate that you’ve forgotten something. Handy, right?

Unfortunately, for the scatterbrains that roam this Muggle world, no such remembrall exists. But a variety of handy little devices allow us to manufacture our own Remembrall. And let’s face it – unless you’re an extremely efficient and organized person, your busy work-life schedule will have its toll on your short-term memory; you’re likely to forget to important tasks and be berated for it. The excuse “But I was really busy” can only get you so far.

So I have for you 5 nifty little tricks that have personally worked for me, and here’s hoping it does for you too. Let’s start with the most popular techniques.

  1. Apps

You knew this was coming. It’s a common method but can be quite effective if you know how to use it effectively. Take ColorNote for instance, a Google Playstore app. You can create lists, and time reminders effectively. It’s best for reminders that you need regularly, e.g. at 10PM every night to remind you to take your pressure meds. Once the task is accomplished for the day, you can simply swipe your screen to rid yourself of the notification.

       2. More than apps: Google Sticky Notes!

Rather than sticking actual paper sticky notes on your laptop and obscuring your own vision (thereby reducing productivity) simply use google sticky notes to create reminders on your desktop screen. Best do it on bright colors and be careful not to stick too many reminders on your screen, or you’ll simply start ignoring them at one point.

       3. Design your cues right! (First thing you see every morning)

Here’s assuming you neither have time to go through your phone’s notes or your laptop every time for a reminder check. If your bed is next to a wall so that you sleep facing it, don’t let that beautiful blank stretch of wall go to waste. Before you go to bed every night, stick your notes for the next day in there so that they’re the first thing you see when you wake up the next day. That way, it will stay in your memory.

        4. Leave notes for yourself

This one is trickier. Suppose you want to be reminded of specific tasks during certain times of the day. What can you do other than setting a phone alarm? Suppose you must remember to do something the first thing when you arrive at work or school. Do you have an ID card swinging on your neck? Good. Stick your note on your ID card the day before. Even if you don’t notice it the next morning, someone laughing will. And job done. Same goes for inside your fridge, on your debit card for financial reminders, and tons of other places.

      5. The magic word to jog your memory!

So what happens when, as Neville put it once, “only problem is, I can’t remember what I’ve forgotten!”

There’s always that one word that would trigger your memory of a specific task. Learn to identify those words and focus on those. For instance, you must pay your bills the following day, call your mentor, and remember to send a cheque to a children’s charity. String the trigger words together. Here, mine would be BANK-TEACHER-KIDS. Three words that aren’t so hard to remember, right? Revise them over and over in your head. This way, the chances of you remembering one task but forgetting the rest are slim.

Still a doofus who can’t remember a string of 3 words? There’s always an ace up our sleeves though. Call your mom every night with your 3-4 trigger words and make her memorize them.

You may forget, but moms never will.

Neither will secretaries, unless they really hate their job!

 

Generation ‘What’s Next?’: The Questions to Ask

Few days ago I got a call from a leading life insurance company, the humble voice discussed the life threats I had around me, so much that I immediately decided to end a fight I was having with a friend that very day. I fought the urge to hang up, but something made me go on.

I spoke to him for 20 long minutes. He even discussed my retirement plans with me! I was really interested to know how these guys catch new fishes from their 20s and convince them of their death possibilities.

He was good, I must say, I actually gave it a thought at the day end. What was surprising is that my best friend had recommended me to him, who indeed wanted me to get a ‘life insurance’ like hers, is too in her early 20s and is done mapping out her retirement plans.

Our brains are programmed from our very childhood to live in the future, because that is what living ‘Smart’ means to the society! We are officially the “What’s Next?” generation. We get into a degree planning our next move to our dream job, and we enter the job market planning our ‘entrepreneurial exit’, the very recent craze.

How many of us, with privileged backgrounds are working 9-5 today for the ‘need’ of money? But no! More of anything good is better than less (Except when my undergrad Economics Professor made us question it). You need to save up! Get a secured career! You need to be someone! Get overdosed in whatever nice you can get your hands on. You’ve got to sponsor your future, your dreams- your grey hair and wrinkled skin.

In the race to become somebody, when was I, ever, taught to find and explore myself?

In the quest for sponsoring the unseen, where did my present go?

What do I do to feel good? “I hang out with my friends.”

Do I know if I even like hanging out in those fancy places checking out new food? (Wasting money in buying things that actually mean nothing to me?)

Do I even know how to make an informed choice?

Have I ever truly been honest with myself?

Who am I?

Get into a good school, eat well, learn to solve maths, speak good English, get good grades, graduate, land a job, get married, have children, get ‘settled down’ by 30- Perfect pilgrimage for living the ‘Bangladeshi Dream’.

Talkshows, Debates, TV series, Youtube, Facebook posts taught me something called ‘Choice’ should be pursued and ‘Freedom’ should be defended. My parents, they somewhat heard of it from their parents, who thought ‘Freedom of Choice’ was the cursed phrase that is used by the westerners to spoil our culture.

My friends come from sound academic backgrounds and all of them are on the right track towards pursuing their ‘Dream Statement’ they had independently prepared in their late teens (with a generous amount of input from their family). They are all glowing in their career paths and almost made a brand out of themselves.

But there is one problem; they are lost.

They do not see a point in the things that they are doing in their ‘autopilot’ modes. Given their above average intellect they can self actualize from perspectives where they question their identity; they question if their dreams were not to make them happy then what were they supposed to do? This generation, is a victim of a societal gambling that is probably a modern Aztec sacrifice made for societal transitions.

Happiness is a skill, to the aestheticians, may be an art. If you do not teach me to be happy with what I have now, I will be left with everything I wanted in life except the simple skill to be happy with it.

If you do not teach me to live ‘Now’ then I will very likely end up living half of my life chasing my future and the rest scraping out my past.

When was I given the chance to think? To pause, breathe, look back, observe and learn?What did you make me write in school when the papers asked “What is your aim in life” “What is your hobby” “Who do you idolize?”

Was my chance on ‘inner peace’ worth those 20 marks?

Diabetes, Philosophy and Et cetera

Last night, I was really excited to find out that Halle Berry was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes at an early age. And then I wondered what had got me so happy? I realized it’s because, one of the perks of being Diabetic in Bangladesh is that, we get to hear the dark side of the story so much that we shut all the doors around us. We subconsciously avoid each and every discussion that reminds us of this crude reality, even the inspiring ones!

As I googled, I found many such celebrities who were diagnosed before they even had started their career, yet they were successful. I wondered why it took me so long, almost 8 years, to know the story of Halle Berry! Truth is: The fear is embedded so deep that you do not even feel like acknowledging the problem, and hence run away from it. Over time you miss out on the education that could instead make your struggle better; the problem degrades and silently eats you up. Sooner or later, you eventually reach a tipping point, when it’s now or never, for some people it’s “Now”, for some, it’s “Never”. I chose “Now”!

Medical practitioners in Bangladesh barely are inspiring or equipped enough to “counsel” a juvenile on how s/he can adjust with the growing hypes about fast food and junk lifestyles. The disease is more than just those prescriptions they all are trained to write, it’s more than the warnings they have been cramming on for years. We have no central networks, no summits- absolutely nothing to ensure there is a mutual sharing of experience and knowledge within this cluster of the youth. I personally have tried to connect to such networks but failed. There is a weird stigma around it, it’s neither too bad that NGOs would be flooded with money to launch seminars/bootcamps, nor is it too small to be ignored. We think these discussions are too negative to take place in our living rooms; and the places we bond most at, are so full of junk foods, that bringing up these talks just doesn’t go with the spirit of the check-ins! 

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It is a disability that can be very well lived with. Diabetes to me is a lifestyle condition which if diagnosed early, can be miraculously beneficial to your life. It allows you to see beneath the reckless consumerist abusive lifestyle choices people make. It allows you to value your health, your time and productivity in a way that other individuals don’t. It allows you to recognize your own authority over self. To me it is a disease better understood by philosophy than medical science.

Diabetes is not just about living on Glucometer and medical tests, freaking out over ways to avoid dialysis or retinopathy. You understand diabetes, you understand the economics of “Lifestyle” ; You understand diabetes, you understand dialectics; You deconstruct every single choice you made in life that has brought you to this day and defined you as a person; with or without your consent . You find the link between your disease and the moral fabric of the society, the government, the tax laws, the TV shows and what not! You understand the most crucial trade off, whether to “Live to die” (Live reckless, as you’ll die anyway!) or “Die to Live” (You’re so cautious about life that you don’t live at all!). And that point triggers your need to redefine everything, how you view yourself, how society views you and vice versa!

As far as my case is concerned, it got better just when I started talking. I strongly believe talking helps in Diabetes more than those insulin shots. Talk! Talk to yourself, talk to Google, talk to your doctor, your parents, your spouse and your children. It will only get better from this point on! Just when a member of the family is diagnosed positive, it means the whole family is diagnosed with the disease, and I’m not talking about the clinical characterization here, but the philosophical one! Diabetes is not a disease; it’s just a symptom of a more ingrained philosophical disease that needs addressing!

For further reading:

http://www.economist.com/node/21556201

http://www.diabeteshealth.com/diabetes-philosophies-mine-and-yours/

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/37/1/e9.extract