Personal Advocacy: How to Break Through the Double Glass Ceiling

Personal Advocacy: How to Break Through the Double Glass Ceiling

As women of culturally diverse backgrounds, many of us aren’t taught the skills we need to move up. It’s not expected that we will move up, because there are a number of barriers facing us and we are not used to seeing women who look like us in positions of power. When we do have success and find ourselves rising to new levels, we often end up learning by trial and error, which leaves many of us feeling like we’ve been dropped right into the deep end. 

The first time we negotiated salary was when we landed our first career jobs. (How many of us accepted the first offer we were given?) The first time we managed staff was the first time we became a manager – there’s no bootcamp. In most companies, there’s no additional training for new managers. So, we find new challenges at each new threshold we reach in our careers.

To have a competitive advantage, we cannot be passive. Personal advocacy is a skill set we all need to move up, to create better long-term results for ourselves, and to communicate our worth to the people we work with/for. 

What underpins strong personal advocacy?

1. Build a foundation for your thought leadership

Get clear on your strengths and what areas you want to build thought leadership on. Speak and post about your interests. Demonstrate your expertise online and in-person. People in your network will begin to associate you with your area of expertise and your skill set. By building your thought leadership, you will have a foundation to stand on when seeking new opportunities. (If you aren’t clear on your value or where you want to go, download our complimentary worksheet to identify your interests, values and strengths.)

2. Prepare

Do your research and your prep work. If you’re negotiating salary or asking for a raise, know what industry standards are and build your case based on your experience. If you are putting yourself forward to lead on a project, be able to discuss how your skill set makes you the right fit for the opportunity and to break down how you would approach it. Anticipate questions or reservations your audience might have. When you come in prepared, not only will you feel more confident, but you will present as professional and knowledgeable. 

3. Embody your worth

Embodying your worth can be a challenge – see last week’s blog on Imposter Syndrome for a case study. It is the most effective piece in creating results through personal advocacy. Not simply the belief in yourself, but the full presence you command when you own that worth is that secret sauce that makes others believe in your worth as well.


If you’d like to learn more about personal advocacy and deep dive into some of the key tools you need, Veza Community is hosting a morning talk on September 26th featuring 3 women leaders from different sectors. Get your tickets for Personal Advocacy: The tools you need on your leadership journey today.

Until September 6th at 11:59pm, use early bird discount for 20% off tickets: AdvocacyEarlyBird

*When we refer to “women,” we mean all people who identify as such.

Your words may be your last

It was 5 years ago today I saw Taranveer, my brother for the last time. As I reflect back to those moments, my heart just wanted to give him so much love where my soul told me to let go. I remember touching his head as a proud loving older sister would have even though I had just finished yelling at him – yes that is the relationships of siblings.

The words I said harshly popped into my head over time the last few years at first I felt shameful and guilty but over time I realized that this was a wonderful lesson, I know my words can be harsh so I need to be careful with how I say them and in what context.

Communication is a key attribute of any relationship. I know that I can communicate my feelings well through written words rather than in person which is why I had apologized to him and he apologized to me on the phone first and then through text message.

We both knew that we needed to heal whatever was said as he was going on a journey – we did not know that his journey was going to be one of leaving his human body.

We are all on a journey so words will be said, actions will be done but it is important to remember what is the feeling that you truly feel for that person. If we are speaking from the heart then the words are softer. When we speak from the ego, the words are harsher.

The conversations of truth and understanding each other are very important. It is important to express what is going on so that others can lessen their judgements of you but maybe they won’t. That is why it is important to choose what you are sharing and with whom.

Even if your words are meant to be of love and understanding, others have their own filters so it is important to remember how you intend to say something is not how it may land. Therefore listen to what they have to say.

I wish I had listened more that day to understand what his reasons were and what he was trying to tell me but my ego was speaking.

Now when I know my words are from my ego, I take a breath so I can listen with my heart. The heart wants to hear others through the love you have for them.

Are you leaving conversations with words from your heart? If not, maybe it is time to listen from your heart. This applies in all relationships whether be it at work or personal as human relationships are relationships.

Human Nature and Grieving (and my own pet peeves)

Human Nature and Grieving (and my own pet peeves)


Over the last few months I have been observing human behavior and how people react to someone grieving, and the creation/unfolding of relationships. I have actually found the whole process quite interesting. It could be because I love understanding how humans function based upon their programming of how their families were, cultures are especially tied in with their personalities.


I have seen the formation and breakdown of quite a few relationships in the past few months. The formation of relationships were based on the fact some people wanted to have myself and my parents a part of their family because they were close to my brother while others were formed because individuals had gone through the same thing while there were others out of sympathy. Some were formed as it became apparent that our friendship meant more to us than what we had originally thought.


The breakdown of relationships occurred all based on assumptions. People who I considered close family and friends, assumed I needed to be left alone when they didn’t realize how alone one feels when they lose a loved one already. They didn’t realize it is times like this that those meaningless conversations mean the most as they are your sanity, they didn’t realize sitting there together but not talking meant more than any words. A lot of these assumptions were based on how people thought they would deal with the situation but it became very clear that communication and asking what people need from a relationship is so important. I personally have started to work towards communicating more of what people mean to me, how I see them in my life and asking them how they need me to show up.


I am very cautious when you see the sympathy in someone’s eyes for you. I wonder are they around because of sympathy or they want to. I am cautious that I do not want new relationships to form out of guilt or me being a replacement for my brother. This highlighted to me, the general mistrust of intentions that I guess have always lurked there but now along with all my other facets have been brought to surface.


In the last few months, I started exercising a lot of boundaries as to the conversations I wanted to have and with who. I found quite early on in this journey that other people’s time and agenda takes over the grieving families agendas. Why is it that as Indians, is it frowned upon to have scheduled “condolence” times? How is it fair to the family that for the first two months, you are constantly bombarded when people wanting to come over (sometimes unexpectedly) to give their condolences. If you haven’t come over in the first three weeks, you probably weren’t that close – just come for a visit and hang out with the family if you really care that much.  We took a healing trip to India, and it amazing that we are still having to experience all of the raw emotions as these people have not seen us yet. Really, at this point, maybe let the family try to create their new “normal” instead of constantly reminding them of the pain and sadness they are feeling.

Then it is the awkward conversation of answering the question – “what have you been up to the last few month?” I personally have been very up front and mentioned that we are dealing with loss but  it all depends on the circumstance. I lost out on some contracts because of the lack of follow-up on my end during the critical time, I thought was it awkward I mentioned why I didn’t follow-up but then I thought to myself – “Why do we avoid the conversation about death and grieving?”


Why is it considered taboo to talk about death and grieving without falling into sympathy? Can we as a society, realize it is a part of life? I have to be aware of ensuring that I do not bring up if I am having a bad day on special occasions so it does not look like I am taking away from their happiness. I am also aware of what is going on in other people’s lives even before I go into what is going on with me. In the last few weeks, I have been fortunate to spend time with a friend who allowed me the space to move through the emotions even if we were getting ready for a night out. We were dancing, I started crying at a song, we hugged and started dancing again. It was actually very relieving and beautiful to be able to experience this emotion and still have an evening that showed me again that the happiness is within me.


A few take-aways for those reading this:

1)   Honor your emotions everyday. Do what you want to do when you want to do it. This permission should not be reserved for when you are grieving.

2)   Allow others to experience what they are going through as if they experience it, they will move through it.

3)   Communication is key. Ask the other person of what they need instead of assuming based on your own experience

4)   Have compassion that the grieving person will act erratically and be unstable with their emotion. Try to understand that they are seeking a new identity and a new norm.

5)   Just be yourself around those grieving. They need the normalcy.

6)   If you haven’t been there for the person when they are grieving, be okay that they probably won’t have space for you in their lives either. It is those who are their at the toughest times that the good times should be celebrated with.

7)   Use social media as a celebration of the person’s life. It is okay to admit you miss the person but not all status updates need to be about that. That is what the memorial page is for. For those who don’t want to see the reminders, are free to “unlike” the page.

8)   Fun, happiness and celebration of life is what we should all focus on.


My purpose in this post is in hopes that death, grieving and dying become easier for everyone to deal with.


One of the challenges here at the resort is English is not the first language of the staff and the guests. Every time I come to the resort, I am reminded of how communication is done through smiles and body language just as much as it is does through words.

Each day, my therapists greet me with the biggest smiles and a slight touch on the elbow. In this expression, I know they care about me as a person. I feel connected to them in our one word dialogue as we try to get to know each other.

I am truly connected to everyone and everything.

A smile goes a long way. Here’s me smiling at you.