Pop music stars described in one sentence

Pretty much.

I naturally tend to summarize things in my head: make lists, use bullets and as few words as possible to capture the essence of what I’m trying to say. So to challenge this skill to its limit, I would like to describe the music of some music artists by summarizing them into one succinct sentence. Feel free to disagree with me or make up your own summaries 🙂


Neverending White Lights: Soft, blue and cold music.

Franz Ferdinand: Music to get up on a bar and dance like a fool to.

The XX: Hauntingly naked music, stripped down and left vulnerable.

Placebo: Listen to Placebo when you want to make fun of your own angst.

Eric Clapton: Timeless blues

Muse: The soundtrack to the epic moments in your life.

Kyo: Les chansons pour quand je veux sentir plus comme une jeune francaise.

Shakira: Sway those hips like you’re proud of it!

Katy Perry: Giving drunk people anthems since her debut.

Lana del Rey: Sultry hipster pop.

Marketing tangent: She is my favourite popstar, and not just because I like her songs. Her songs match her persona, fashion, lyrics, the music videos…she sends such a clear, cohesive image that touches the perfect nerve on the correct target market. 

Maroon 5: Songs for jane album only – Drips sex.

Coldplay: Space and water scapes.

Alicia Keys: Hot chocolate on a winter’s day.

Pink Martini: Entertaining the guests at your cocktail parties and living the yuppie life.

Jamiroquai: Complete satisfaction while you’re smoking hookah.

Rock on, kitty. Rock on.


Happy listening!

– Shiv 😉


Day 60: A love note to my favourite class: Social Entrepreneurship

I cannot express how much I enjoy going to my social entrepreneurship class.

We study all the great companies around the world who are improving the lives of people, while being profitable enough to ensure the company’s survival and growth.

Win win business! I want to take part in them, too!

I especially enjoy how India is by far leading in number of examples of social entrepreneurship activities in a country. Say hello to my new favourite company: http://www.ashoka.org/

We do case studies every class too, which are also amazing. Here’s a quote from this week’s case study that I really loved:

“My professors and fellow students were comfortable speaking about power and money. Love and dignity, on the other hand, were words people were often embarrassed to say out loud, or so it felt. There had to be a way to combine power, rigor, and discipline of the marketplace with the compassion I’d seen in so many of the programs aimed at the very poor. Capitalism’s future, it seemed to me then – and much more so now – rests on how much creativity and room for inclusion it can tolerate.”

Jacqueline Novogratz, author of The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World.

Already pumped for next class!

Socially and enterprisingly yours,

Shiv 🙂

Day 40: How to be a French student

It’s been 2 months since I’ve been on exchange at HEC Paris, and needless to say, French students are very different from Canadian students. So, without further ado:

Here’s how YOU TOO can be French – in the classroom!

  1. Don’t show up to class on time – there is always a 5-10 minute grace period of people arriving to class on time, and the professor’s need that extra time too to prepare for class. They don’t mind if you’re late, since they may be late too.
  2. Take an extra long coffee break – Sure, it’s supposed to only be 5 minutes long, but no one returns to the classroom for at least 10-15 minutes. You need time to drink a coffee and chat with your friends so your brain can keep working for another 1.5 hours.
  3. Don’t be surprised if participation is worth 30% of your mark, but your professor barely leaves space for you to get a word in. Participation is just another word for attendance. And on that note…
  4. Always always go to class, and do your homework. There isn’t even that much to do compared to the workload at Canadian universities, so you may as well take the time to do it.
  5. If you do address the professor, do so formally. French professors are happy to talk to students, but don’t expect them to meet you outside of class. If you have any questions about courses, email them or talk to them after class.
  6. Do not eat, sleep or even slouch during class. You need to take notes once in a while, understand the main concepts and do well on the assignments and exams and in order to do that, you need to be awake and at least look like you are listening.
  7. Don’t clap after presentations. No one claps in the classroom in France! When your peers give a presentation, the professor will thank them at them at the end and they go to their seat. And no one claps for the professor on the last day of classes, either.
  8. And finally, dress up for class. You are in France after all!

A small disclaimer: I have only seen one French university and spoken to French students about how students handle themselves in the classroom, so this list doesn’t necessarily hold true at every single French university. I didn’t think there would be so many differences between Canadian and French schools, but the culture and the structure are very different and fascinating. Gotta love culture shock!

Amusedly yours,

Shiv 🙂

One hot summer and two internships in India

Being an Indo-Canadian, I have visited India a number of times since I was born to see family but I’ve never stayed as long as 3 months, much less worked, in India. So spending a full 3 months away from Canada to work in India was definitely something I have never experienced before.

The hills of Shimla...ok so I didn't exactly 'work' here, but ISN'T IT GORGEOUS?!

How did I land my internships? The short answer is family connections. In third-world countries where fair hiring practices aren’t a priority quite yet, connections are the main method of securing yourself an internship in India. I had two one-month long internships in New Delhi: one at Reliance ADA Mutual Funds as an Economic Market Researcher, and one at an Indian tourism company as a Sales Staff Assistant.

I was really lucky to have been assigned my first internship. As an Economic Market Researcher, it was my job to research all of India’s 33 provinces and summarize various economic and political data – such as major industries, and population demographics. Even though I have visited India before, I never researched it as thoroughly as I did that month – and what I found out was really fascinating! Each province is almost like its own country, and they are as different from each other as the countries in the EU. Each province has different customs, cuisines, different clothes, and completely different languages. By the end of all my hours of research I understood the topics on the news and the motives behind political conflicts, but I still felt like I barely knew India at all!

From the international business culture perspective… I worked on this internship at home by myself because there just wasn’t any room for me in the office downtown. I answered to my project manager, a quiet lady from Eastern India who had studied in New York, so she understood Western cultural norms better than I understood Indian business etiquette. As a result, she and I would go for meetings over coffee and chat about our personal lives as I would with any Canadian co-worker.

Did you know coconuts are filled with water? It's not milky at all!

My second internship taught me about Indian people. After studying India from a macroeconomic perspective, it was refreshing to be given this project. It was my responsibility to understand the typical Indian traveller that make up a tourism company’s clientele, and come up with ‘all-you-need-to-know’ reports on the major tourist destinations. The Indian traveller is almost the exact opposite of the western traveller. The Indian traveller needs to eat Indian food wherever they go (which led me to an anguished search of Indian restaurants in Italy…why would you go to Italy and not eat Italian food?!), need a tour guide, and prefer to travel in luxury. International travel isn’t as popular in India as it is in Canada because Indians are still used to travelling to different parts of India, so a lot of the clients would call in asking questions like “What’s in Switzerland?” and the Sales staff would answer “Ma’am, Switzerland is known for cheese, chocolate and mountains.” A lot of what I encountered with this internship would start me giggling, to the surprise of my serious coworkers.

As for the international business etiquette… Indians are more traditional than Canadians in general, so don’t be surprised if the coworkers seem judgmental. Some advice I was given was to be vague about your personal life so you can avoid being gossiped about. Another big difference between the Canadian and Indian workplace is the obvious hierarchy. Older coworkers, whether they have as much experience as you or not, are treated with more respect. The higher-level employees do not mingle with the lower-level employees, but are on respectful and formal terms.

But what if you don’t have family connections?

For people who don’t have strong family connections, I can suggest two ways to enter the Indian work force. First, you could start working for international companies with branches in India, and ask to be relocated. Giant multinationals that started in India include Tata Motors, Infosys and Ranbaxy, and being the upcoming economic powerhouse that India is, a lot of other companies are expanding into the country all the time.

Another way in is to get in touch with volunteer organizations in India, or just go to India and make contacts while you’re already there!

Quick Takeaways!

  • Make sure you have good contacts in India to set you up with an internship, since job postings will get a flood of applicants most employers can’t bother to comb through
  • Knowing Hindi is a very good idea, but most people in business can speak English
  • Be clear on the organization’s hierarchy, and respect it. Work relationships in India are more formal than in Canada!

And most importantly…

  • Get ready to learn a lot. Travellers have always said India is like sensory overload, so be prepared!

Culturally yours,

Shiv 🙂

Where a lack of ambition has got me

If you’re in high school/university, you’ll know just how often you’re asked what you plan to do when you graduate.

For those who forget, we are asked this a LOT.

What if you don’t have any idea what you want to do for the rest of your life? If you say exactly that, just watch the disapproving faces appear. Or sit back and listen to a 10 minute lecture on what you should do with your life.

I’ve never had a clear idea of what I want to do for the rest of my life. Sure, I have some guidelines, but I prefer to apply for everything that sounds interesting and see where that gets me.

So here’s a question for you: Does being flexible mean the same thing as lacking ambition?

I don’t think so.

Besides, who holds the same job for the rest of their lives these days?  According to the reputable source of Wiki Answers, people hold 5-15 jobs during their lifetime!

Since I’ve only ever had a vague idea of what I’d like to do, my answer to the question “What are you going to do with your life?” is the equally vague “I’d like to do something that pays me to travel, but I’m flexible.” And that always seems to be the wrong answer. I don’t know any adults who are doing exactly what they wanted to after they graduated, and people misinterpret my flexibility as a lack of ambition.

To those people, I would ask if my resume (http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/shivani-mukerji/2b/a27/467) is that of an unmotivated individual. As I said, I don’t have a clear idea of what I’d like to do. However, holding lots of different positions and participating in extra curriculars does give me more options and helps me narrow down what I like to do.

Ambitiously yours,

Shiv 🙂

Studying abroad helps your career, so why can’t the reverse be true too?

After 5 jobs, an internship and a couple temporary positions, there are a lot of things I’ve learned at work that I’m excited to take with me when I go on exchange to Paris in September! So without further ado, I present to you…

5 lessons to take with you when you travel abroad!

1. Do things that scare you

As a pretty risk averse person, the only way to get me to do something I really don’t want to is to pay me. In all the jobs I’ve ever held there have been oh, 100+ tasks I don’t been comfortable doing but have to anyway, like drive a fully loaded golf cart down a steep, bumpy hill (and I can’t even drive a car) for example. And after doing the scary things a couple times, it’s not that scary and actually kind of fun. The big lesson from this is to GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE because when you’re abroad, you’ll have to do this on a daily basis to make sure you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

2. Get used to approaching strangers

One of the jobs I had this summer was being paid to ask low income people to fill in a survey for a research study at UBC. So basically, hours and hours of approaching people and asking them to do me a favour. And you know what? People can be really nice, and I ended up having some great chats with people I would normally never talk to. It’s difficult to take people’s rejection after you approach them, but it’s so rewarding when you meet such cool people and especially useful if you’re travelling alone. I’m very happy that I’m not afraid to approach strangers anymore, because when you travel you will be relying on the kindness of strangers to get you by when things don’t go as planned (which will, by the way, be more often than not). And in general, people are good and you shouldn’t let suspicion stop you from giving them a chance.

Your opening line... in English speaking countries

TANGENT: Businesses like Couchsurfing (http://www.couchsurfing.org/) and Tripping (tripping.com) base their entire businesses on this, and look how successful they are! I’m looking forward to using them when I’m travelling too.

3. Fill up your schedule as much as possible

Studying abroad means juggling studying, travelling, and having a blast with your new friends, so get used to being 100% busy all the time before you study abroad so you know how to balance it all! My 3 current jobs and an internship have taught me this much. And on that note…

4. Be self disciplined

There are going to be some things you won’t want to do but have to anyway when you go abroad. If you’re going on exchange like me, then it will mean actually cracking open a textbook once in a while and studying. Or abstaining on buying the kitschy tourist shirts. Or ordering a second dessert. Once I set the goal to earn as much money as possible, I said goodbye to my social life for the summer and gave my entire availability to my jobs. I only ever see my friends before and/or after I work, and it sucks because there are so many cool events happening in Vancouver during the summer. But c’est la vie! I live my hermit life, work as much as possible and can travel that much more comfortably later.

And finally!

5. Make lots of mistakes, but take them in stride

I don’t mean ‘make lots of mistakes and don’t apologize’ like so many tourists do just because they’re in a foreign country, but take them lightly and learn how to do it properly for next time. This has been especially hard for me since I’m so used to getting the hang of things so quickly, but let me tell you – learning how to waitress has been a very painful process. But making mistakes is bound to happen when you’re in a new environment, be it a new job or a new country and the best thing you can do is learn quickly and don’t get too discouraged.

I can’t guarantee that these lessons will make sure your time abroad is awesome, but I’m pretty sure it will be 😀


Excitedly yours,

Shiv 🙂

The professional and personal borders of a blog

Travel Journal

So far, my blog seems to have established itself as a personal blog when the reasons I started a blog were entirely professional: to get familiar with blogging platforms, learn basic HTML (which WordPress has thankfully saved me from doing), improve my writing and have some examples for employers to look at. I don’t think they really want to see my personal rants on life but rather my reviews on top business practices, excellent Marketing campaigns and analyses, and book reports on the best selling business bibles of the year.

Not to say that I won’t ever blog about those topics, but they aren’t what’s in my head 100% of the time. If Marketing was my passion, maybe they would be but it feels more like a skill I have to know, or something I do at school. What I really love is reviewing Travel blogs, tweeting with the top travel personalities and establishing myself in Tourism. Being a Marketing major compliments my passion, and I really do enjoy analyzing the trends in commercials and the success of companies. But do I want to base my entire blog on it? No.

What got me started on this topic are the innumerable blogs I’ve seen my peers start and abandon because they heard at a conference that starting a blog is a great idea, so they did. And they posted a couple blogs on their favourite businesses and some motivational posts but nothing that would set them apart from other business school graduates. I do hope my blog has something different to offer because if there’s something I can’t stand, it’s being like everyone else.

So this is my personal blog! It’s got a hint of professionalism to offset the self indulgence and an excellent after taste 🙂 I hope you keep reading!

Truly yours,

Shiv 🙂