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Returning From The Brink: How A Few Words Can Save A Life

People

At some point in his or her life, everyone has felt like something isn’t right. For Pratima Aravabhoomi, this feeling came to her in the extremes, and instead of making a negative drastic decision, she decided on a positive one.


Aravabhoomi moved to the United States from India when she was just 21 years old for an arranged marriage. While she ended up working as a tech consultant for many organizations, she was not happy within her marriage or her work life. She struggled with severe depression to the point where one night she wanted to take her own life. It was then that she looked up to see a quote in her kitchen that said:

“The darkest hour is always before dawn.”

Although just a few simple words that many might read without thinking twice, Aravabhoomi says the quote actually saved her. After so much time spent in and out of depression, for some reason these five words resonated, and caused her to change her mind about taking her own life.

With her improved mindset better things started happening. One noteworthy development was that Aravabhoomi finally landed her "dream job" at Apple. Despite believing that her new employment would finally bring her the happiness she sought, it didn't. Those familiar pangs of pain began bubbling, but then Aravabhoomi remembered her pivotal moment and rallied. After re-motivating herself and making personal changes, including leaving her marriage, the idea for Craft Street Design was born.
With a renewed sense of purpose, Aravabhoomi says her company is focused on lifting the spirits of people in need of a motivation boost. To wit, Craft Street Designs offers various office and home goods with inspiring quotes, or the option to customize their own, to help people just like the quote in Aravabhoomi’s kitchen helped her.

Before getting started, she sold a few designs on places such as Etsy and Amazon marketplace and made her first sale at $7.

So what got the business really up and running? Cold-emailing. By contacting people on LinkedIn, Aravabhoomi concocted subject lines that would immediately pique a person's interest (Think phrases like: Inspiration To Get You Back To Work After Summer”), and then she would talk about her business in the body of the email. She was then able to meet people personally, find out what they wanted, and make sales.
”I felt like I had achieved... and I had arrived.”

Aravabhoomi’s tactic may not be the method used by most new entrepreneurs, but considering she started making six figures in six months, clearly she was on to something. She’s also been self-funding from the very beginning, and is still the primary creator of the company’s products.
When asked what’s the ultimate goal for her company, Aravabhoomi simply says "Motivation. “[I want to] motivate people to do whatever it is that they’re trying to achieve. It can be anything from a personal goal to a business goal.”
Aravabhoomi also warns that “motivation alone is not everything.” She wants her company to help people of course be inspired, but also take the steps necessary for achievement, as success only happens when you take the words off the page, and actually do something. Eventually, Aravabhoomi plans to evolve her business into a complete solution for personal achievement.
As a strong, hard-working woman who held down two jobs to support her daughter while also creating an entire business, Aravabhoomi is a clear inspiration to women everywhere.

She also has several notes of advice for success:
For immigrant entrepreneurs: If you work the same way you did in whatever country you came from, you’re bound to be successful - just try.
For mom entrepreneurs: Don’t focus on the guilt that comes with thinking you aren’t focusing on your child enough. Include your children within the entrepreneurial realm and teach them basic things to work alongside you.
For everyone: Give into your fears and let them be your biggest motivator. “As long as you have that fear, it will move you forward. You feel like you don’t have a choice because you don’t want to live that way," she says.
As proven by Aravabhoomi, there’s nothing that a woman can’t achieve with a little inspiration and a whole lot of work.
Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.