How did you come to be an author, entrepreneur?
Right from childhood I was sure I would be an entrepreneur because I always seemed to love freedom. As an entrepreneur you get the chance of living your idea, your dream and sharing it with the world. It is not borrowed. It is not enforced. It is yours. How much you want to work is your choice. How fast you want to grow is your choice. What all your day should include, is your choice. I have had a great love for freedom – and hence, entrepreneurship always seemed to be my life’s answer.
I also heard a story that impacted me significantly. John Lennon, the famous singer it seems was asked in school – what do you want to be when you grow up? While all other kids responded with a lawyer, doctor and engineer – John’s answer was, “I want to be happy when I grow up!” To this the teacher said, “Sorry John, I don’t think you have understood the question.” And it seems John replied, “Sorry teacher, but I don’t think you have understood the answer!” I always wanted to do what made me happy – and hence choosing entrepreneurship and living life on my terms was my most natural choice.
I had a love for words growing up. I would sit upon my terrace, having bunked school – and would scribble away for hours. Words gave me peace. Words made me feel magical. Words offered me answers. The author was born very early in time – however, I established my company Wonders of Words in 2011. From then, there has been simply no looking back and its been one of the most enticing, challenging, rewarding and exhilarating journey of my life.
Tell us about your company and what it does?
After I became an entrepreneur, I wanted to take the love I had for words, and life to the world. I established an online writing and healing workshop called Wings On Words which I began just as a platform for many more to start writing.
Incidentally the way this journey began was – I had many friends and family people tell me – we love how you write, can you teach us. One of those fine mornings I woke up and did a post on Facebook – planning on starting online writing and healing workshop, drop me a mail if keen. Much to my delight and surprise, by night I had 36 people from across the globe send me mails letting me know how much of a desire there was in people to be able to express themselves. What began as a fun exploration took wonderful leaps as Wings on Words started helping people find peace, heal themselves, express themselves, publish themselves and many of my WoWers went on to winning blogs, story writing competitions, finding jobs in media houses, and even writing books (a few actually became bestsellers). I was amazed at the power of an idea – of faith and love in action.
The second vertical to WoW is WoW 3L’s curriculum for schools which is a Language + Life + Leadership skills curriculum. To put it in a nutshell, even after 12 years of studying in one of the finest schools in Mumbai, when I came into real life – I found myself floundering with –
a) Trying to understand myself
b) Know my emotions better – and how to handle them.
c) Deal with peer pressure and competition
d) Understand certain laws of life that would help me excel in life – for example, the power of gratitude, the importance of empathy, the need for excellence.
e) Develop my people skills
f) Develop better communication skills that did not necessarily mean standing on a stage and reciting a poem but simply being able to connect to a fellow human being in a more empowered way.
g) Use the power of words: spoken and written in a much more practical way, needed for life. Simply put, rather than writing an essay, knowing how to create a powerful resume, or my own profile in LinkedIn – telling my story in a way that the world would relate.
I wanted to be a part of a solution and all the answers that I found for myself – I felt the need to let youngsters know, right from the start. This gave birth to WoW 3 L’s – a curriculum from K-12, one period a week, that fits into every school model.
Over 1,00,000 students in the last decade have benefitted from WoW and other youth programs that WoW has conducted and my vision is to take it to a million.
Besides this, of course, as an author I write books – and my latest – The Breakthrough published by Rupa Publications went on to sell thousands of copies and has inspired people in unimaginable ways. I am also writing film scripts and some exciting things are brewing at that end.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
I ensure this by pressing the Stop button every week at a stipulated time is something I have been following for years. Just because I work from home, I don’t allow work to spill onto my family time or ME time. I usually begin my day by 9 am and end it by 6 pm and I stick to this discipline. I also ensure my team abides by it as I respect their family time as much as I do mine.
I also give quality time to things that matter to me. I love traveling – within and without. So both meditation, and my backpack are integral parts of me.
I cherish my time with four legged creatures as they are so simple, and easy to relate with.
Reading good books is as relaxing as a spa for me and I rejuvenate myself with both, as often as I can. I also love music, deep conversations, fun pyjama parties with my girls, long drives and am a yoga lover. Ensuring I invest some time in each of these helps me naturally achieve a better work-life balance.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as an entrepreneur?
I think when you love something – and it fulfils you, challenges don’t seem like challenges. Rather they seem like a part of the journey – adventurous and exciting. In that sense of the craziest part of the journey for me has been to grow in self-belief and my sense of self-worth. I saw myself as an author. I sat alone in a room, or café for hours typing. I felt at ease in my skin, being with myself – and my connect to the world was limited to my family, friends and readers at book launches. However, with the coming in of WoW – suddenly my life has become very people-centric. I find it exciting to see the various hues that people bring. Earlier, I would get upset, frustrated and hurt easily – but now I see people as extensions of me. I cherish all the good, and I actually get amused by their lesser pleasant sides.
Growing in ease with people, helped me become a speaker as well. I am no longer too concerned about how they perceive me – I simply stand there, sometimes even before thousands and speak my Truth. I was an author, but somehow, I grew into an author-speaker.
The next beautiful transition that I went through was, I used to do everything myself. I did not know how to delegate, and often worried things wouldn’t be done well. I have learnt to get over this and gain immense confidence in others and entrust them with significant tasks. This is empowering me to scale my business, it has freed my time considerably to do what I love and maximize our product and services.
I am crazily in love with the journey of entrepreneurship because no two days are the same and each day has some wonderful learning to be had.
Are you a decision-maker & risk taker?
Yes, I am both. I believe you can’t survive entrepreneurship unless you empower yourself with these two skills.
Describe the most memorable incident of your professional life.
One of the most defining moments of my professional life was on August 15, 2005. I was a very young writer who wrote to relieve herself. I wrote to express. I wrote to understand everything that was going on in my life. I used to write for a very popular magazine called infinithoughts which was read across 65 countries and had lakhs of subscribers.
I was invited for a function by its editor Mahatria – who is a globally acclaimed spiritual teacher who has been changing the world with his path braking ideas since 29 years now. I was sitting in the crowds, one among three thousand people.
Suddenly Mahatria announced that he would be giving an award to the most read writer for the magazine and he started describing me. My heart was in my mouth as I hadn’t expected this at all. He made three thousand people stand up and give a standing ovation, and there I was – in my twenties, on the stage, receiving an award from the person who everyone (including me) revered.It was life-defining. Until then I saw my writing as an expression – suddenly I realized what a difference it was making across the globe and the way I saw myself, my potential, my dreams, shifted in a single evening. I have goosebumps even as I describe the evening.
One word that describes you the best…
To me one of these words, without the others would make no sense. It’s the trinity and the combination that give meaning to my life.
If you had one piece of advice to rising entrepreneurs just starting out, what would it be?
The one message that I would like to give every rising entrepreneur is to do what makes them happy in life. Life is too short to be wasted in thinking – I can’t. It is too short to be wasted in thinking what others will say or feel. Life is too short to criticize yourself. And absolutely too short to be lived in fear. With a blink of an eye things go past – and it’s important to just keep doing what you love. I believe the secret to success for every entrepreneur is to love doing something so much, that it doesn’t even feel like work. Every day should look exciting and not a bore… that’s life!
How would you like people to remember you and your company?
WoW as a company has a 11-word Vision Statement. It is:
- To awaken humanity
- To a better life
- Through words…
- And Silence.
I would like us to be remembered as people who added so much WoW to people’s lives and changed the face of the earth forever through creativity, expressions, love and creating people to become their best versions.
What is your favourite metaphor for describing entrepreneurship?
Work hard, party harder is an old adage. My metaphor would be – do work which feels like a party and party all the time!