Writers Anonymous
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Collaboration from a Distance

How do you make friends, as you get older? I don’t go to a gym or frequent bars or restaurants. Unless you are committed to hobby, which I am (it’s gardening); my opportunities to meet new people are limited. I work with people and this has been a great way to meet people. Some you click with and they become lifelong friends.

Over the last few years, collaboration technologies make the work place more connected, more productive. However, I miss in person conversations over a cup of coffee. Getting onto a web conference is absolutely fantastic. I don’t deal with traffic. I don’t struggle with what to wear to the meeting. But, the downtime of coffee with someone was a learning experience in itself. You took the time to look at someone and get to know them. Each, a new experience, and the downtime left me recharged, ready to go back to work.

But sadly, I sit at my desk all day being more productive work-wise. I feel I am missing out on the fun. The thrill of connecting at a real, personal level is missing. Most of the time, we don’t think about it. We just finish our workday and go home feeling wearier than we did a few years ago. Is it because, I am older or is there more…

I love this article by Karen Sobel-Lojeski on The Subtle Ways Our Screens Are Pushing Us Apartthat appeared in HBR. I really do relate to it and I think you will too.

 

The Pace of Change

The writer in me rebels but, the businesswoman believes its time… So, here I am starting our blog and hoping someone will read it and, fingers-crossed, maybe even like yet.

To me, a technology writer, it is all about change and the pace of change. For me, it’s not about new, fancy devices and big ideas but how it really, truly allows all of us to do new things. I remember writing to the Post Master General of India in 2004 for a money order that didn’t reach the family of my housekeeper, Ashok. Persistence and calling-high resulted in the money reaching home but four months later. His wife lives in District Madhubani in Bihar, the poorest district in India for decades. She would call and the line would drop and we would try for hours, sometimes even days to get through to her to tell her that we were sending more, but, we weren’t sure if it would get there. Today, Ashok spends at least a couple of hours on the phone with his kids back home. It’s not just the network reach that has improved, but the costs are within his reach too. And for sending money home,he uses an SBI Mobile Banking Service. This is a man who can only write one word — अशोक (Ashok in Hindi). Its taken 10 years, it may seem very long to most. But for Ashok the distances aren’t what they used to be.

How Writers Anonymous Happened?

It literally happened to me. It wasn’t a well thought out business plan; it was an experiment with a one year time limit. My version of back-packing through Europe, I guess. I gave up a lovely job with IBM, that I still miss 11 years later.

Writers Anonymous started as a freelance experiment in 2003, only because the internet speeds improved when Airtel launched ‘broadband’ in India. It’s true, I could now work from home. And this experiment resulted in the first (I would like to believe) professional corporate writing firm in India. What’s more, we appreciated telecommuting. Most of our team works offsite, since our inception.

By 2009, we were a small company but with an enviable client list. I went reluctantly to an international writers meet. I thought that we were too small to be rubbing shoulders with full blown American and European agencies. This was a serious eye-opener for us. I met smaller niche firms like us, from US and Europe. Only they were raking in millions. This is what set us in the direction for growth. And here we are today, with presence in the United States and India, and gearing to launch an office in Singapore.