Recently, I wrote an article about how people feeling during video conferencing. We are very self conscious and start to spend more time making sure we look good vs. preparing for a meeting.
Nisha Ahluwalia, chief marketing officer of Highfive, this video conferencing company. is a woman full of energy and I had the chance to interview after our chat on the stats of video conferencing. Her passion was empowering and I can’t wait to share about my interview with her!
Nisha, I had a blast talking to you using Highfive, a video conference meeting system. How long have you been working for them and what has sparked your interest in this field?
I’ve actually known the CEO and co-founder, Shan Sinha, for almost four years. He reached out to me while I was on maternity leave before Highfive was even named. I was still finishing another project and I was hesitant to take on a new role at the time. We kept in touch and a few years later, I was taking time off and Shan was in need of some marketing help. The timing was right!
I’m a fan of this space. It’s a large, expansive market that has broad impact and really changes how people work for every person, not just one group within a company. There’s a lot of technology out there that tries to bring people together, but nothing beats face-to-face conversation. With video conferencing, you can replicate that in-person feeling even when you’re hundreds of miles away. As a working mom, that’s been a huge asset to me. I feel much more comfortable working at home with my son when I need to, knowing that I can collaborate just as closely with my team as I could in the office.
And I really enjoyed my interactions with Shan and his team. I believe if you don’t want to have a drink with someone, don’t work with them.
When we talked, you shared about how Highfive has partnered up with a polling firm to find out how video conferencing makes people feel. This poll showed how women think they’re less attractive on camera than in real life therefore they often spend more time primping than preparing for the meeting itself. Very interesting data — can you share your perspective of what you thought when receiving the survey results?
It’s interesting that in a world with Facetime, people (including women) would still be so impacted by video meetings. It’s also interesting to see the intersection of technology and human characteristics, such as vanity, come to light and how it actually influences how we work. I’m actually on the other side — I’m comfortable answering video calls without makeup on or without doing my hair. That’s mostly because when I’m working, I dive in mentally and it’s difficult for me to think about anything else. The survey responses really highlight for me a broader conversation around what we think people expect from us in the workplace versus what our coworkers really care about. It was a little disheartening to hear how much people struggle with on-camera self-consciousness and how little it actually matters. We’re doing ourselves a disservice by focusing on something that doesn’t actually help us do great work.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
It has changed in the last couple of years along with life changes… I just finished remodeling a new house and spend much of my time researching plans for the landscaping and tons of decor design. I’m not a designer, so it’s not because I’m good, but because I love the creative aspect. I’m a new yoga fan and also spend time learning about ayurveda. I’m fascinated with the idea that I can control my mind and body much more purposefully, which is actually very applicable to how I work and handle the rollercoaster of working with startups. And walking is my sport of choice. It’s super boring and not sexy, but I love it! I’m always more grounded, light and content with life when I’m walking outside. And my favorite thing I do is spend time with my family. We have a crazy amount of fun just hanging out and launching toy rockets, racing RC cars and finding new movies we can watch that are appropriate (enough) for a 3.5-year-old.
In today’s society, women are faced with many issues. What do you think is the biggest issue and what are you doing to help us make that change?
We’re too hard on ourselves. We’re told that we need to lean in and have it all, so we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to win at everything we do — and when we don’t, we feel like failures. It’s not an easy problem to solve, but I think the first step is to just be more open about it. Admitting that many women feel this way sends a message that a) you’re not alone in struggling with self-confidence and b) you’re probably doing better than you think you are. We’re also a significant group of people that can make a difference in the entire world. I’d rather we focus on the issues we have as one people. We still have global issues that require all of us to work together if we’re going to make a difference.
If you could give advice to any woman, what would it be?
I would encourage women to define success on their own terms. It’s so easy to get caught up comparing yourself to other people, or trying to live up to somebody else’s expectations. But you’re going to be a lot better off if you can create your own realistic goals and hold yourself to them. Happiness and success can be found at every rung of the ladder, in any outfit and while driving kids to school. If you’re always chasing an unrealistic goal of universal approval, you’ll miss out on happiness that’s at your fingertips.