Womenspiring Wednesdays…

Be The Change You Want To See !


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Bharti Dekate – Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it!

15,000 feet above the sea level, standing at the edge of a plane that I am about to jump-off, I try to rethink my decision. The fierce wind, the whirring engine, loud thumps in my rib cage, numb hands, the infinite space, my logical brain was screaming, “Woman, you are definitely out of your mind, step back NOW, you shouldn’t be doing this. This could be the end of everything”, I draw a blank, my reptilian brain gifts me a moment of nothingness….and a pearl! The picture of exhilaration at the end of this adventure eggs me to do it. I jump and experience the elusive union of mind-body-soul, in high definition, each sensation video-graphically etched in my memory.

This was suddenly familiar: the fear-reset-plunge-awesomeness cycle has been my story all though. It has made me who I am – I look at the reward, weigh my risks and jump. I imagine the endgame, picture the achievement and then pursue my vision relentlessly to make things happen.

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My name is Bharti Dekate. My story starts like every average Indian girl, born to middle class parents. I grew up struggling to make sense of the cultural contrasts offered by stints at Bhopal, Mumbai and Delhi. Thanks to dad’s transferable job, I went to all sort of schools, half schools, schools in slums, schools that used the stick to discipline, those that made me feel miserable, schools that helped me discover the national stage and schools that put me in the midst of intellectual elites. In hindsight they taught me about my country, about its fascinating juxtaposition, about its myriad diversity, about the splashes that relationships and work would make on the canvas of life. My dad’s job rendered us nomadic. I learnt about the transient nature of friends. The constants of family, books and nature that emerge as companions of middle age – I learnt to value them at an early stage.

4 parents 1 blessed life

I guess where I beat statistical average is having parents who believed I was meant to do big things. I had a say in the architectural consultations for the new house, my views found an audience with dad’s colleagues, while I heard stories of factory workers fearing my dad, I noticed a dash of pride when he lost after-dinner debates with me. My mom ensured my foodie brother didn’t polish-off my favorite kheer and dad ensured I always had access to books or a library.

In my family, excellence in whatever you do – academics, sports, art, performance – was considered hygiene. I saw my dad work hard and bag double promotions consistently in a government job. My mom is a housewife, who lovingly and patiently toils away to create artworks for everyday consumption – be it food or embroidered linen. I learnt handiwork from her and developed an appreciation for finesse. I learnt from them that details and excellence separated the ‘best’ from the good in work, art AND life. Excellence afforded the enjoyment of finer things.

Since marriage, I have two supportive set of parents who deliver sound advise, constant encouragement, uninterrupted support in domestic affairs and child care. All that I have learnt and achieved, I would attribute it to all four of them without a moment’s hesitation.

  1. Growth thrives in conducive environments. Choose to create a positive environment at home

Destiny has a grand plan, embrace it with grace: 

After Std 12th results, I was sure that I wanted to study Psychology abroad. By late 1990s, Internet search engines had begun to shrink the world already. I had done my research on colleges, I was preparing to write my qualifying exams, aiming at a scholarship. I needed to complete one extra year of education before I could be accepted in UK or USA universities. I had no plan for it. I was an adamant anomaly in my social circle full of prospective engineers and doctors. Out of nowhere, a cousin based at America called. He checked on what I had planned for my studies, he sensed my dilemma and shared that he had some really sharp colleagues who did their Human Resources from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. I could consider that institution since it was aligned with behavior studies and would provide me an interesting perspective to carry to post-graduate studies abroad. In a span of 20 years, this was the only conversation I had with him. He was destiny’s sutradhar – he spoke into my consciousness.

I went to TISS, stayed back to complete the program, was the first one to get a placement offer on campus from my summer-job employer, where I joined to eventually meet my husband. This episode underscored two lessons:

  1. Stay alert to signals: People, events, thoughts – the environment constantly speaks into your consciousness. Listen, observe and embrace with grace.
  2. Give it your personal best – anything less and it is not worth your time. Prepare and work diligently to cover the ground

Make one wise choice: Design your life
I was pregnant when my mother-in-law faced cancer a second time. In between the family’s numerous visits to the hospital, relatives generously staying over to help us, we all learned major lessons – and learned quickly. If we all had one choice to make, we’d not choose a career, or a role, or a location or a package. Experience taught us to choose life – rest would follow automatically. Design your life. Your health, work, earnings, happiness are all a function of how intentional your life is. Three things define quality of life for me: Happiness, Health and Support system. 

4. Happiness is an everyday choice – I learned from my gritty in-laws and supportive mom that one could be cheerful and grateful in spite of trying circumstances.
5. Health first – healthy, balanced meals, fresh food, exercise, peace of mind, minimized stress has long term upsides that can never be measured.
6. Build you inner circle – when things go wrong, it is this inner circle that is a constant source of motivation and support. But, it as to be nurtured when things are right with the ‘value of love’ as the senior Covey would put it. This circle is less about blood relations, more about human connections. Selfless advise, support and unconditional nourishment come from here.

Juggler’s Catch:
While I matured as a mother, I joined a boutique consulting firm. I was developing business, designing solutions and was responsible for delivery of large projects and prestigious clients. My workdays would extend to 12 hours while I learned to juggle home, kid and my various interests. I nursed my son till he was 22 months and that came with challenges of its own. I never lost track of my health and work. Yet, it was becoming clear that stress had begun to take a toll. By now, I had developed the knack to identify when a skydiving moment was approaching. This was another one. The stress was not worth it, my work was not enabling a better life (4) and all my work was happening because of AND at the cost of withdrawals on my inner circle (6). After 3 years with the consulting firm, I left it to choose ‘life’ again.

I started my own consulting firm. My son was growing up and I was working for about 100 days in the year, with selective list of clients. When my son started Std1, I was trying to be home by 3pm when my son returned. I was as busy as consulting days, but far more unproductive. This is when I noticed the phenomena of the Juggler’s catch for the first time. I think it is applicable to each mother. I was doing the most unproductive things. My daily routine was busy – making client calls, pitch presentations, answering the door bell, making tea, making learning worksheets for my son, organizing cupboards, grocery shopping ….what not. We mothers take great pride in juggling multiple priorities and roles. We all know that it takes a toll. Here’s the truth. If you are spending your time doing things that others can do more efficiently you are most likely falling into an ‘activity trap that soon degenerates into the jugglers syndrome. Compulsively taking on more makes us feel valuable, simultaneously diminishing the value of that task – because it’s is so effortless. The juggling act has a limited life – determined more by physics and biology than anything else. You can stretch of course, but I asked myself, “What’s the pay off”? I had learned this:

  1. Guiltfree delegation – I had only a few hours each day and I HAD TO choose my non-negotiable’s as priority. I HAD TO ask for help. In order to achieve what I thought was priority (like making this world a better place versus grocery shopping), I needed to give up on the others WITHOUT GUILT. Today I delegate ‘shamelessly’. My non-negotiable’s that I don’t want to outsource to anyone else are only three:

– my son’s all round development

– meaningful connection with people who matter

– reaching my full potential

Every once in a while, I ask myself “Who is you and what is your work?” Every time, the answer is slightly different, a more evolved one. Never irrelevant. Answering this one question helps me refocus, cancel out the noise and gain the courage to skydive all over again.

Reach me at bharti.dekate@gmail.com, @BhartiDekate, www.werdeas.in www.facebook.com/worldready


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Santhi Krishnan – “Don’t Stop. Keep Moving”

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It is an exciting time to be in India and to be part of the start-up scene, especially as a woman entrepreneur! The best part of my journey till now has been the myriad experiences at both personal and professional spheres gathered over the past 3 and a half decades !

Born into a very academically oriented family (most of my relatives including parents are either Principals / Professors or Lawyers ! ) and growing up in Kerala, God’s own country, my childhood had equal doses of academic and cultural inundation. When I was completing my BTech Degree during the early 1990s, India had started experiencing the positive ripples of liberalization and the IT revolution. I landed a dream job in Infosys, but chose to pursue further studies instead much to the chagrin of my father and teachers!

I pursued my MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies in Delhi, one of the premier institutes offering post graduation in Management in the country. However, the transition from the protected environments of one of the oldest Tamil Brahmin settlements in the Southernmost tip of India to the very modern and political atmosphere in Delhi was a great challenge and one for which I was least prepared ! But I guess, life has its own ways of throwing you into the deep sea only to bring out the best in you.

I spent the first year of my career with HCL Technologies and later moved to Maruti Suzuki as part of their marketing team. In the meanwhile, I got married to my colleague from HCL ( very much the 2 States way – Tam Brahm weds Punjabi ) and took a year long career break when our first baby was born. We had also moved from Delhi to Mumbai during this phase.

In 2006, I joined a start-up in Mumbai, much before start-ups were the “in-thing” to do! After almost 2 years, I took up the most challenging and most satisfying professional experiences that I have had. I joined an organization working with HIV infected/affected children as their Head of Strategic Planning & Research. I took another year long break when our second child was born. Later, I worked for a year as a Consultant with Tata International in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh but by then was already contemplating ideas for a new venture.

My earlier stint in a start-up was a good learning ground and gave me the motivation & confidence to start my own venture. Through Metrica, we work with organizations to improve their business performance through consulting, training & assessment services. Under our SkillMetrics(TM) vertical, we provide innovative training programs to help bridge the skills gap between the academic and the corporate sector. In 2016, we are branching out in the South and also starting our own Training Center- SkillMetrics Academy both in Mumbai and South.

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Being an entrepreneur needs you to believe in yourself more than anything else. One of the biggest challenges I faced was to enter and establish in a sector which is completely different from what you have been doing all along. Building the business right from scratch offers its own challenges. The other challenge I have had, like most working women have is to find the balance between work and family. I think each one of us is capable of managing this in our own ways and I am blessed to have a husband, kids and mom who are very supportive.

I personally believe that women succeed better as entrepreneurs and I am saying this not because I am myself a woman entrepreneur!  Women are mentally stronger, more adaptive, can definitely multitask, more flexible and receptive to change, less political – all characteristics which define successful entrepreneurs. 

I cherish the various experiences and learning that my professional, personal and entrepreneurial journey have offered me. And I am also all the more excited about the opportunities available to us these days – to do great work which will create impact !

www.metricasolutions.com


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Monica Arun- The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!

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It was my vacation time post 12th Std and I was doing nothing but sitting idle at home. I had no interest in household work, no serious hobby and very limited friends back then to pass my time. Life was boring.

I came across an ad in the newspaper which said ‘3 months travel and tourism course’ starting soon. I thought of checking it out, not to make a career, but because it will give me a reason to step out of the house and thinking that the certificate may help me get some job later. Took up the course and completed for the heck of it. Towards the end, the institute started sending our resumes to travel companies in order to assist us get an internship. Three months later, just when I started going to college, I received a letter saying that I was selected for an internship at Kesari Travels, Mumbai. With less interest in education and more fire to step out in the real (corporate) world, I joined them as the internship period was just for 3 months. After this, I continued going to college, but the travel job had enticed me completely for two reasons – I started feeling very good to start earning at an early age and secondly because I felt great to talk about London, Paris, Switzerland, etc. than learn about commerce. Though I had 3 years of commerce degree to finish at that time, but the thought that working in the travel agency ‘may’ get me the chance to experience a plane journey sounded more exciting. I continued to go to college for the first year degree course, however, I also continued to give interviews in travel agency in the hope that I may get a travel job. This was my motivation and my first struggle to find myself a job landed me in Orbit Travels, Mumbai. I was thrilled. I started attending college in the morning and my office after that. It was very tiring to start the day before 7 am and end the day after 10 pm as we used to sit back late in office due to the time difference between India and foreign countries we were dealing with. At the same time, it was important that I continued my studies. I wanted to do both – work & study. So, I decided to leave college and join Mumbai University distance education and I finished my graduation, at the same time, gaining experience in the travel industry and making more friends. It was through one such friend, I got a chance to go for an interview in India’s leading travel company, Cox & Kings. The moment I entered their huge office where everyone looked so professional,

I knew I have to get this dream job. And that I did.

Though my previous companies had taught me so much about travel, but this was the place where my ‘job’ became my ‘career’. I learnt how to work under pressures, under strict deadlines here. I enjoyed working here with some great people and started learning from great leaders. As this was a huge company where hundreds of employees were working, I also made some life-time friends here. It was like filling up the missing years of my college days, while working at the same time. By now, I had achieved both – a commerce degree  & a  dream job. But the wish of experiencing  a plane journey was still pending. Soon I got to travel abroad on my first trip to Singapore. It was an offer by the airline for the staff and I made it to the trip along with my bunch of friends from the company, much against my father’s wish to let his daughter travel in a new country without the family.

From here, there was no looking back then. My career graph started improving along with my salary as I went on to step up the ladder by joining Kuoni SOTC, Thomas Cook, TUI, each of which are well known travel companies in India and abroad.

Post marriage, I shifted to Bangalore as my husband had to join an ecommerce giant who were making their entry into India. At the time of shifting to Bangalore, we had a one year old son, for whom I had stopped working for a travel company and had started working for HIM. The discussions about the number of days required for a destination soon changed to number of times my child cried, slept, passed stool or did susu. My son was the one who kept me grounded from my high-flying career. Motherhood started becoming challenging, fun and exciting at the same time. Being a ‘mommy’ is a fun, full time assignment. However, something was missing. So, in the first half of 2012, I decided to put to use the skills that were lying un-dusted on my memory shelves. After shifting in Bangalore, we settled down in one of a residential complex. I realized that I cannot be a stay-at-home mother after working for so many years. Many people from the residential complex traveled on vacations.  I started advising people on their travel plans and as I know many of the overseas hoteliers & suppliers personally, would also book for them. With the word of mouth, I started getting many more clients and then there was a need to have an office and more staff to handle the increasing business. Being a mother to one year old, it wasn’t an option to step out of the residential complex to work. However, they say ‘Where there is will, there is a way’ ! I realized that there was a storeroom in the parking area of the complex where all the junks were stored. I spoke to society and convinced them to give that space to me on rent. They were kind to agree and my entrepreneurship journey began as I registered my company to name it as ‘Globetrotter Travel Club LLP’. I decided to encourage ‘mothers’ from the complex to start working for my company & I put up on this opportunity on the notice board of the complex. My first mother from the complex took charge of doing up the entire office, buying furniture’s, etc. while I took care of my kid, while the office was setting up. I offered the mothers to work for flexible hours and I made it an informal office environment with certain accountability and responsibility. This way, I built up not only a platform for them to work and still take care of their little ones, but also gave them a travel career. As I wanted to register my company as LLP, I needed a partner and I made my homemaker sister, a designated partner in our company.

Apart from work skills, extensive globetrotting has given me practical insights & helped me create a wide network of partners across the world, many of whom have now become my family friends! Hence I thought of creating a bouquet of travel products, that would serve not just my immediate clients, but the industry at large.

Being new to Bangalore with no contacts, keen to learn ‘business skills’ and to network with more entrepreneurs, I became member of most of the women entrepreneurs and travel related groups. During weekends, I started attending many professional head start meets. This helped me sharpen my business skills and through contacts, I started getting individual and companies as my clients. All this, without spending anything on advertisements or social media. Many travel agents push their clients to destinations where they get more commissions, we, however, being a personalized travel planner, work for my clients and give them a value for money.

As a travel professional, I am a personal travel adviser for charting out our client’s travel plans as per their budget, pace, style and interest. We work with our clients to create memorable holidays, holidays that are fun and flexible! It was the desire to combine passion for travel with years of experience to create something with a personal stamp. Globetrotter Travel Club was set up for developing & selling tailor-made, personalized travel-solutions.

I have done my share of cubicle time in the outbound ranging from individual travel to group travel. During this time I learnt to design travel products, negotiate vendor contracts, handle MICE groups and lead operational teams. Here, I gained wide exposure on designing travel itineraries.

I like to be on the go and perhaps my desire to push the boundaries is explained by my motivation to do a lot with life!

Reach me : monica@globetrottrertravelclub.in

 

 

 


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Kanchan Shine – Embrace Your Power!

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking that they don’t
have any. Alice Walker (American author and activist).
My name is Kanchan Shine. I am an Education Consultant – to put it in simple
terms; I study the science (yes, it’s a science) of how children learn. I work with
schools and organizations to create engaging learning experiences for children.
I did not plan to be an Education Consultant. For that matter, when I was
growing up, such titles or professions did not even exist. I was an average
student in school and college. In every class, you have that one student who sits
with her head down avoiding any kind of eye contact with the teacher, secretly
praying that the teacher wouldn’t ask her any questions – yeah that was me.
I did manage, with great effort, to pass out from each standard and move ahead
with the pack. At the end of 15 years, I emerged as a product called ‘B.Com
Graduate’ from the factory of education.

Kanchan Shine

I began working right after my 12th. And after graduation, I spent the next few years exploring different professions – aspiring software engineer, lab instructor, computer faculty, centre manager and business development executive, until I
arrived in education.

It’s not easy to find the right profession, or at least it wasn’t easy for me. Findingthe right profession is a combination of multiple factors – you have to first be able to find that one thing that you love doing, then find how you can get paid for doing what you love. Of course, then you need to also find the right boss/mentor who will guide you and the right leadership team to inspire you.

The quest to finding this perfect combination was not easy. I quit many jobs,
because it wasn’t what I wanted to do, or because of the boss, or because
working meant indulging in office politics more than indulging in work. But I am
glad I went through all these experiences, as they made me stronger and, I
believe, a little bit wiser.

In mid-2007, I quit my last corporate job, because I could no longer handle office
politics and also because I wanted to live a balanced life. It was a scary move
because I was married, and we were living the DINK (double-income no kids)
lifestyle. The lifestyle of two people earning a good corporate salary and living in
a city like Mumbai is quite different from that of a single-earning member
lifestyle.

I thought that I would take a break and enjoy life for a few months. But I could
not. The thought of one less salary drove me nuts. And after a one-week break, I
immediately started scouting for freelancing assignments. The next thing I knew,
I was overloaded with assignments and working all through the night, which was
worse than my full-time job.

That’s when the better half asked me to stop and think about what I wanted from
life:
• Did I want to earn the exact same figure that my corporate job was paying
me – more money meant working more hours?
• Or was I okay with earning less, yet enjoying my work and living a
balanced life?

The choice was easy. I chose the latter option.
In 2008, I set up my own firm, Episteme Learning Solutions Pvt Ltd. Through my
network, I met women from the same field, who were freelancers. I began taking
up projects and engaging freelance consultants on projects. My goal was always
very clear – I will do what I love and love what I do.

Today, my firm is almost 7.5 years old, as old as my daughter. It is a small-size
business, because I choose to remain a small-size business. This means that I
only take up handful of work; the size/volume allows me to enjoy my work and
leaves me with enough time and energy to dedicate to my home.

My team is my biggest strength and they are all women. Wonderful women, who
led great corporate careers, and then left their careers, because they chose to
live a balanced life. They are highly disciplined, committed and sincere to the task
they take up, and have the flexibility to work at their own pace – and they do a
fantastic job of managing work as well as their home responsibilities.
Being a woman makes you very powerful, as only women have the ability to
multitask, something that no man can do, as well as a woman does!!
Women are born to be multitaskers.

If you look back into your family, into the past generations, you will see many
such examples. It could be your grandmother or great-grandmother. That one
lady, who gave birth to six or more children, managed her children, the house
chores, the finances, the pantry, the cleaning, the rituals, the social obligations –
she was always on top of every little matter that related to the house or its
people – and she made it look like a cakewalk.

We all have that power within us. And we also have an advantage, because we
have resources at our disposal, something that our ancestors did not have. We
have access to cooks, drivers, maids, and can therefore choose to do only those
tasks that need our specialized skills.

I have a full-time maid at home to look after the needs of the children, while I am
working. And I have a help who comes to clean the house and to cook food. I do
not feel guilty about hiring help. Yes, I can spend two hours each morning to cook
up a tasty meal for my family. But I don’t, instead I choose to spend the time
with my children and the family. Sometimes, I use free time to do my bit to give
back to society. And of lately, I use it to study for my Masters degree, because I
firmly believe that if I stop learning I will become obsolete.

Kiran Bedi said “Empowered women who reach tough or unconventional positions
make choices, not sacrifices.”

I’m where I am because I recognized my powers and made choices about what I
wanted to do with my powers. And, I have a very supportive family who has
always stood by my choices.

I know that like me, you too are blessed with many powers – so look inside, find
your powers, make your choices and RISE!!

http://www.episteme-learning.com

 


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Amisha Sethi – In a long run inner peace is what matters and everything else is chaff!

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Amisha Sethi is the author of ‘It Doesn’t Hurt To Be Nice’, which was released in September 2015. Amisha has extensively researched ancient scriptures. In this book, she uses humorous, dramatic and enthralling experiences of a young girl to understand the ultimate purpose of life – to be a better human with each passing day.

Amisha has been a marketing and business leader with extensive experience in brand marketing, strategy and international consumer marketing. She is currently the CMO of the pioneering App called the Little App. She held the position of CMO global with a software MNC in 2014, was Chief Commercial Officer at AirAsia in 2013 and Director of Brand Marketing Asia at BlackBerry where she spent seven years. Amisha has won number of awards and recognition for her work in marketing in APAC including the “young women rising star” at World Women Leadership Congress 2014, and top 50 most talented brand leaders of India. She is an alumni of Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Chicago and also an MBA from Amity Business School and a science graduate from Delhi University.

She is currently also penning her second book which is on the beautiful nuances of love and its purity. A hilarious satire on how complex we make the simplest form of feeling which is “love”… Name of the book is ‘Love is simple, but why Men are so complex’

Her Purpose:

We all have purpose in life. Her ultimate purpose in life is to be a better human being with each passing day. And through her writing, she attempts to spread the messages of being nice and kind first before anything else. In the long run, inner peace is what matters and everything else is chaff !!

Challenges are just experiences for her. Also she strongly believes there is no success and failure. Life is about enjoying various moments that come your way. She have no regrets and has loved every bit of her experiences so far!  She believes in her divinity and hence no challenge is truly a challenge for her.

About the book ‘It doesn’t hurt to be nice’:

‘It Doesn’t Hurt To Be Nice’ is about rediscovering life with sprays of comedy served with a pinch of salt and sugar! Amisha attempts to spread the message of kindness, love, happiness and being beautiful inside out using dramatic and hilarious experiences of the character ‘Kiara’. This is a first of its kind book where teachings of ancient scriptures and global philosophers are transcended in the simplest form to reach millions of young people in a fun and entertaining way. She uses simple experiences to drive the concepts of professional compassion in work life, fearing nothing, mastering thought, the art of detachment and being kind and compassionate.


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Payal Kumar – Life is like a camera. Focus on what is important & you’ll capture it perfectly!

“Courage has Power, Genius and Magic in it!” The first time I heard this from my teacher, I just knew, it would sail me through my life from there on with lots of ease… just believing in it! I can assure you, my courage surely has made my life magical!

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I have been born and brought up in Mumbai although I come from a protective Punjabi Biz family, A Commerce graduate by qualification , who always wanted to be an Advertising Professional, (although a Creative one), however who feared she would be married off  due to family pressure by 21. Thankfully life had other plans, surely not the ones I had fathomed too.

I, still landed up being an Advertising professional, managing large MNC clients (in spite of not being an MBA, which I couldn’t, due to personal circumstances) and being part of all core Account Management teams of top Advertising agencies of India, specializing in Relationship Marketing / CRM for 13 yrs. (Please don’t judge my age by my work experience, I started early, I’m still young and Single! Hee hee). I was a workaholic and worked 16- 18 hours daily under stressful deadlines, yet my passion and love for what I did kept me going.

I never ever in my life thought I would quit a job, leave alone the Advertising Industry, as that’s all I knew. Then again, life had other plans (Thank God for that too!). In 2007, for a year I fought a life threatening illness that showed up unannounced.  No one could predict whether I would make it through it or not yet lots of grace, support and prayers of well wishers / strangers, my courage and undeterred clarity to be back to life and on my feet sailed me through it. I got back to work after a year and half. But the journey back wasn’t easy physically and emotionally. I had to face a lot of challenges, literally start from scratch in re gaining my confidence and more so fight my own inner demons at various levels to get back on my feet.

Something within me had changed, so had my priorities and the way I wanted to lead the gift of life I had been given. Nothing I had known or followed all my life made sense anymore. I felt so lost as I battled this NEW me that had begun to reveal itself! And then in 2011, I woke up one fine  morning, just knowing I was done with my Advertising career.

I never thought such a day would ever come. I didn’t know what next? It was shit scary, but my heart just wouldn’t agree to any logic or the fears that my mind kept throwing at me. I knew I had not battled death and got a 2nd chance to live, just to waste it on doing what didn’t make me happy. Such moments of certainty come once in a life time, I guess …

I resigned and told myself, “let’s see what life has planned for me, I will flow with it”.  Surprisingly over the next few days a friend I had met a year before, offered to set up a company and invited me to shoot weddings along with him. I thought he was insane. Photography was a hobby all along, since I was probably 5 yrs old. My friends would joke about it constantly. But “ME”, photography, professionally and that too ‘Wedding Photography’? I told him he had lost it. Candid Wedding Photography had just begun and there were very few brilliant unconventional photographers doing great work that I had met, seen the work of and I didn’t see myself in that league.

Yet I had nothing to lose, I thought, since I any way didn’t have a plan. I told myself, initially I would generate business as I was good at that, he would lead as a photographer and on the job I would learn alongside.  Life, yet again had other plans for me! Within 3 months of working and shooting our 1st assignment together we discovered a lot of fundamental disagreements and I chose to step out gracefully.

I was back to square one. What next, I wondered? In the next few months I tried my hand at all sorts of things like casting for a music video, selling jewelry, being part of a film unit, chain marketing  and creating and selling merchandise .Simultaneously, I courageously created my own facebook page ‘www.facebook.com/payalsallthingsnice’, putting up my captures from travel trips over the years and a best friend’s wedding I had shot as a gift for her. Little did I know? Just the week I had a break down and was about to give up on the photography endeavor, I landed up being signed up for 3 wedding projects, that too by  complete strangers who saw my friend’s wedding pics online and loved it, traced and hired me.

Payal

This October, I completed 4 years of being a freelance photographer, although I specialize in Destination Wedding photography, I have constantly challenged myself to explore and expand my avenues in related fields and categories. I am not a trained photographer, I have shot over 40 Weddings all over India as a “One Woman Army”. Whatever I’ve learnt and created so far has all been on the job thanks to, trusting clients, very supportive co-photographers, mentors, associates  and strangers related to the field I have met along the way, lots of self learning and motivation, huge inspiration I gather from a lot of international photographers I follow persistently and above all my own determination to never look back, come what may. It has taken me 4 years to come to terms with the challenges I still face, at different levels from business challenges, creativity, grooming my skill, to learning and constantly trying to upgrade myself to new technology. As a freelancer, it has required a huge mindset shift to live a life of financial /work uncertainty, explore the unknown and constantly self motivate to raise one’s own bars to achieve self defined targets and accept alot of rejections /failures too. When I look at my life today in totality, I am only immensely grateful for the path that showed up and my courage, to own it up joyfully. It has never felt more liberating, fulfilling and meaningful.  And yet, I feel the journey has just begun …


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Rakshita Dwivedi – Never Say Quit!

Opportunity knocks once but you can create it again.

Always be ready to pack your bags, life loves surprises.

When things go wrong, it is time to re-invent.

 The Journey

I have been an extrovert person right from my school days and somehow making friends came naturally to me. Most likely that explains my current bent towards Digital Media. I am a proud Mathematics graduate who opted for Business administration course and successfully completed it. Now you Rakshitacan’t be successful if you haven’t walked out of the campus with a job offer that too in one of the best Indian private banks. However cards played little differently (Yes , I believe in destiny as long as it supports me ;)) and I got married and had to move to US .So technically I left the job before joining it and offcourse gladly took all the curse from my batch mates who felt I wasted an opportunity. Little did they know how magnificent ‘Niagara Falls’ looks like and celebrating Diwali without any crackers is some rest to your ears.

So coming back to India started with some reality bites when I realised that ironically neither I am a fresher nor the one with an experience letter. After much twist and turns career started and this time in Human Resources. By all means I did good for myself and north was the only direction I faced for next four years. Working in IT industry and handling Talent Acquisition gave a lot of exposure and it did make me fall in love with technology.

This was the start of next chapter as my husband moved to Mumbai to pursue his residential post-graduation and I moved to Lucknow to stay with my in-laws. Sitting idle was never on my mind and I joined a startup and helped them catapult their HR function to next level by automating lot of processes and implementing an entirely new in-house HRIS. This definitely added feather in my cap and my first independent technical HR intervention.

Changing courses

Post this we moved to city of dreams, Mumbai for a much roller coaster ride of settling back in a new city and hunting for another opportunity matching my interest. I did pursue my full time work for sometime till I was on family way. Considering three months (I am glad now it’s six months) wasn’t enough for me to pamper my little one, I chose to take a sabbatical. Even before I realized courtesy the speed of light, my son was an year old. Around this time I wanted to get back to action but not full time and some four years back it was still not easy. I tried assignments which didn’t satisfy my learning quest and coming from a full time background didn’t know anyone who actually had an experience in what I was looking for. It took me almost three frustrating months before I got introduced to plugHR through Fleximoms.

Since then life has changed and I am in love with working from home. You can read my blog ‘HR Thoughts’ (https://rakshitadwivedi.wordpress.com/) where I have shared my experiences and learnings of last three and half years. It has been a journey of exploring my potential and expanding my wings in the social media space.

My Laurels

By god’s grace my blog has been rated in Top 25 HR blogs to be followed in 2015, got listed in Top 100 HR influencer on twitter, Top 101 inspiring Women on twitter, Finalist for TSCFM awards in HR Innovation and also had a published story in Economic Times on ‘Work flex’  with Sheroes.

My Passion & More

If this is not enough, I do pursue my passion of cooking and run a starter food blog ‘Recipe Dabba’ (www.recipedabba.com) which is focused on quick fix , healthy yet tasty vegetarian foods. My technical knack and techy life partner (read partner-in -crime) helped me develop a grocery listing app ‘List Your Grocery’: https://goo.gl/jta8di (Free on Android and ITunes) which takes over the mundane task of making a paper list every time you wish to buy groceries. This was also covered in IndianMomsConnect review: http://goo.gl/8lxhSu.

I am fitness freak and that just explains why I can’t miss my morning run and yoga. It not just sets my day right but gives me enough positivity to face everything with a smile, including my son’s tantrums 😉

To sum up my years have been quite action oriented and enough to keep me on my toes and this for me is just the beginning of the game. I can’t thank my stars enough to have an extremely supporting husband who has only made things easier for me.

Life has its own game where losing is new learning and victory is a celebration for a new journey.