If you have not been to Silicon Valley before, you have not felt the vibe. It is more than the zing of things that are happening between buildings, it is the anticipation of brilliance when you meet people who look most unassuming and normal on the surface; yet astound you with their intellect.

I was a part of team visiting Oracle Open World and in our new Avatar of getting most of our channel ready to sell cloud, today I was going to meet the Chairperson of our ECEMEA Partner Advisory Board. A Board made up of 20 men. The chairperson was a woman. She was probably the youngest of them all but I had heard she was the most vocal and the most respected. I was excited to meet her.
Like most tech conferences anywhere else in the world, I was surprised, silicon valley was no exception to the rule. Men were everywhere. Women squeezed into available spaces, trying to fit into available spaces and conversations. Tech is such a male domination rodeo. And some.

And then a few heads turned as a lady walked across the room, not looking into any eyes or any faces for any recognition or approval or greeting, but purposefully making her way towards a chair across from me. Her eyes were laid high above anyone else’s gaze, refusing to acknowledge glances or stares and she waltzed with the ease of someone who knew she was being watched and yet very comfortable with it.

She sat in front me and looked at the speaker; ignoring everyone around her. Including me. I knew this was Meera Kaul. I recognized her from her famous pictures in every magazine and newspapers, receiving awards and with dignitaries of various countries, kings and CEOs.

In every cell of my being that day; I wanted to be that woman. I was inspired not by her words , or her speech or her lecture but by her demeanor. She did not for one moment make a fuss about her presence. She did not do anything that would call for attention. She had not dressed in any manner that would do so. There was nothing in her appearance that screamed -look at me. She did not make a big deal about her presence yet she created a big deal. She created a neutral presence. She presented herself in the most non-threatening manner possible. She did not look into anyone’s eyes. She did not make any attempt to smile or attempt to small talk or lead a conversation. She behaved like a man while being in a man’s body. In a room full of men who were expecting her break into something more familiar. An eye contact, a swirl of hair, a touch of ear ring, a click of heels. She did not use any of those distractions.

Once the speaker stopped the session, she leaned forward and looked at me and asked me if I was Sophia from Bahrain, I could not believe she knew who I was. Over the next 30 minutes, I had the most grueling 3 days’ worth of condensed ECEMEA partner roadmap briefs in my dairy. I could not believe the focus and the sheer clarity with which this woman knew how to lead enabling over a 100 companies across 3 continents into a culture of cloud sales.

5 days later, a roadmap in my hand and a very happy partners council deciding to meet at Istanbul in 3 months time, I boarded my flight back to middle east with a very different mindset. Working with Meera kaul had changed me in many ways. I learnt that there was never one way of approaching an issue and if a certain approach did not work, there was always a plausible approach that will. Al it took was conversation, patience and negotiation.

I learnt that you should never stop trying. The approach that Meera uses for resolution of most gridlocks as she likes calling them is – “work backwards” approach. She says – as long as you have clarity about two things

a. What do you want
b. What do you need to do to get to what you want

You will get what you want.

I also learnt a very important lesson. All my life and in movies I always saw a portrayal of powerful women that were arrogant, high strung and very unapproachable. Working with Meera changed all of that for me. Meera Kaul is the most decent, nicest, warmest, open person I have met or worked with. She binds people together with her warmth and compassion and brings purpose to everything she does.

She changed in me the way I thought about gender and myself. She changed in me how I held myself out and used my gender privilege not to do things that I did not want to do.

She instilled gender neutrality in me , where she does not expect favors for her gender and does not want to give any either. She taught me to demand respect and deserve it. And not to be ashamed of learning all my life.

I think I met one of the coolest women ever in my life

Author's Bio: 

David Miller is a man of many talents. This humanitarian by nature loves to write, cook and travel. He is a keen journalist by profession and always leaves his readers spell bound. Motivating people across the globe in his due travelling course has been his best version. This avid writer hopes to spread positivity round the globe by revitalizing human connectivity in today’s highly technology driven world.