40 to 200 in 6 months

“We live in a world where there is more and more of information, and less and less meaning to it” ~ Jean Baudrillard

Exactly 6 months back, on this day, at 8:00 am I dragged myself out of bed, in my flat that I live by myself & stood in front of my mirror. I just stood looking at myself. The next 30 seconds, I dropped my night gown and I continued to stare down at myself in my birth suit, in its true self, no filters, no special applications that can shape my curves and definitely no one around who would give those socially correct statements such as “beauty is skin deep”, “there is nothing in the looks”, “you have a beautiful heart”… there were no voices, no comments, no likes and no heart emojis floating around.

The only voice I heard was of myself in my head, the only image I could see was my fat, flabby body, my tired eyes, hurting knees, high cholesterol & borderline sugar levels in my blood.

So, there was no role model, no masterclass, no coach, no trainer or a training application, no family, no friend, no neighbour neither did any knowledge matter, no social media was any more important, at that point, the only one thing I could hear myself say was;

“I will not die a fat old lady”

I got into my workouts wear, put on my walking shoes, plugged myself with my favourite music and stepped out of my flat and head towards the society gym. No plan, nothing in mind except for that fact that I will not return back to my home for the next 40 mins.

The first 3 months (Dec 2020, Jan 2021 & Feb 2021) I went raw on me. Just like one of the superheroes states in one of the marvel movies ~ “the plan is that there is no plan”

I was my only hope, guide, critic, inspiration and kick on the ass person for myself. I ensured I took zero advice from anyone or any source. I worked out for 40 mins, ate only 25% of what I would usually eat, cut out sweets, junk food & rice from my meals & did not have anything, not even a fruit after 6:30 pm. That is all I did for the first 3 months.

I was 8.3 kgs down after the first 3 months, by now, I was flooded with compliments by family, friends & netizens across platforms (thanks to my selfie addict posts) but the key was for me to keep my head on my shoulder and not get carried away with all this. 15 days after me starting out, my partner / friend decided to also start working out, Vivek is high-information consumer guy, so he worked out with a nike application, he ensured he measured his steps, he knew his shit. I was going with nothing but just my gut instincts, with just one intention that I had promised myself that I would not die a fat old lady.

But I was at a point where I have been in the past and it was not very difficult for me to let go, to give up and start heading back to my old unhealthy lifestyle. So, I knew that I had to do something that make me continue on this path and also make my body get that additional push to burn more fat and consume the stored calories in the right way. Now my last 3 months plan can hit back at me like it had done so many times in the past. So, I did the pivot.

Starting March 6th 2021 to June 6th 2021 (today) I added some basic tools to my day to day life. Things that were taught to me by my father, by my grandmother and my school teacher. I took no information from this present “information overload” virtual world that we live in. Sorry, this new world of paid media, irresponsible netizens who just seem to either vent out anger or vengeance, market their services / applications by stating all glorious pitches. I was not going to bite into any of it.

My father would always say, “keep it simple” – So, I kept it all simple… I started my intermittent fasting, but to give me reminders, I took the first application that I came across with basic information on intermittent fasting “BodyFast” and started fasting for 16 hours fasting / day. Today I do a 22-2 OMD plan, that is 22 hours fasting / day with just “one meal a day” plan. It is for the advanced people, who have got their bodies used to fasting.

My good old lady, my granny would also say, “walk to school lady, do not be a lazy girl” I started walking 15 kms, daily (25k steps & 3 hours). Along with these walks, I just stretch my muscles, my face / neck muscles, my sides, legs & arms. A 20 mins stretching regime

Finally, my 6th Std teacher who had a sweet innocent crush on my father, loved me and would always tell me – “Salma, you need to look up to the rising sun every morning and let the pure morning energy run through your mind, heart & soul” It took me literally 4 decades to really follow what she would say to me every time I would fuss about not getting any subject right. So, I started 10 mins of opening myself to the morning Sun. Yes, I face the sunrise from my society lawns, open my arms with palms facing the sunrise, close my eyes and just take it all in. Breathe in through my nose & breathe out through my mouth. Take in everything pure, bright, warm and healthy and give out all that is difficult, sad, ugly, worrying or unhealthy out of me.

Today I am 14.5 kgs lower then what I started 6 months back. I do 200 minutes of my morning routine, I have one meal a day, I drink 3 litres of water, I am happy, peaceful and lighter on my feet.

Today by the day end, I will have my next milestone. I plan to put two plans in place.

  1. For my 51st birthday I plan to reach 75 kgs, that is shedding 5.5 kgs in 45 days (totally doable)
  2. The next 3 months plan to be 68 kgs… Wowwww… looks like a dream come true after all…

So, all I have to tell you is… Do not follow my way, do not try something that you do not believe in it yourself.

JUST DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO & DO IT YOUR FUCKING WAY…. PERIOD

Trust the magic of new beginnings

“We cannot become what we want, by remaining what we are”

I really do not know why today, there was a message that I received in my heart, which said, you can now write your story the way you want it to be and I knew I was all ready for it. So, all that you know about me, all that you thought I was, maybe I was all that but starting today, this is who I am. Here below is my life’s story, a story that makes me who I am today and will go to become tomorrow.

But before I cross over, I have to just pass on few very important things that I realise, as I reach this point of my life.

  • Parenthood is so much more than just giving birth to a child or giving them the right education & support system. As parents, emotional intelligence, your ability to take control of your feelings is what, your child will pick from you for the rest of their lives.
  • Humans are deaf and dumb by choice. You cannot make them listen or speak anything, even if it is right for them. They will chose to do what they believe and think is right.
  • There is nothing called women empowerment or equality. The women are as unsafe as they were years before. We are still seen as a piece of flesh that can be owned by anyone around.
  • Relationships do not exist in this world. There is nothing called a family. There are people in your life, who give you the feeling of security, belonging and love. These people become our support systems & that we name it as family.
  • There is a clear line between professional and personal life and we must draw that from the get go. Being passionate about your work does not mean, you let go of your personal needs. By doing that, you have chosen to give up on yourself.

My Story – Personal

Born and brought up in Bangalore, I have been a “girl from the small town” by heart and mind. I have been the one who loves mixing with strangers as if they were friends. This comes from the morning walks I would take in Cubbon Park with my father and we both would smile & greet, speak too, with strangers walking by.

This comes from the time my father would pick me from my convent school, drive up to the local “Lobo’s Cutlets” store, pack 6 of them (3 for him, 3 for me) and drive to the near by park, (Jayamahal Park) and have those cutlets, while he would tell me how his day was and I would do the same and then head back home, this we did for all my high school days (7th std to 10th std). So being in a routine was my thing.

I love doing the same thing over and over again and feeling safe and secure with the routine. So, marriage did not change me much, it just made me stronger person by becoming a mother of 3 at a very young age of 27. Things unfolded itself in a manner that somewhere in the journey I started believing I was unpredictable, I hated routines, I was not a nester and I was a giver. I am non of it. I love routines, I am complete 100% a nesting person. I love being predictable, I love receiving as much as I love giving. So, in simple, if you are just a taker, there is no place in my life for you. But, if you give as much as you want to receive, my heart opens as wide as my arms and I welcome you to this world of mine which is filled with love, warmth, care, comfort, happiness & equality. I cannot change this world, I have control over my world and in my world, what matters is your intention, you being a male or female, does not make any difference. You both will have the same pedestal.

My Story – Professional

Business runs in my DNA, but it is now that I have found the true meaning of good business. Just bringing in revenues or closing sales deals is not business. It is a small part of the whole deal. So, today, as a founder to my own business & a primary mentor to 100+ founders, I am the driving force towards bringing the results, when it comes to compliance, execution, business development, customer satisfaction & go to market strategies. My company, Startup Squares, is one of the very few platforms that supports its founders with all the above, execution support and keeps motivating them to move ahead.

Before Startup Squares, I was the key person to build the widest startup community in India, my initial entity was into events and community driven activities. When it failed, despite being invested upon, taught me zillion lessons on what not to do when you have investors approach you to put money on you. It is these lessons that I pass to my founders, with whom I work closely.

Before the community driven initiative, I have been the managing director of an R&D firm in automobile innovation company. Have worked with the patent office directly for some of the innovations and have a strong relationship even till date with engineering universities which we use to work with for our projects.

In simple, I come with a vast sector agnostic experience of supporting businesses to overcome their challenges and grow fast. You can call me an “Execution / Sales Expert.

Closing Note

It really does not matter, what it took to reach here. What is important is, I am here and there is so much more to come for me and for my circle of people & I am blessed to have had this journey and I am looking forward for all that is to come.

Managing Menstrual

It has been a good 37 years that I have been dating my menstrual, periods, as we call it. Seen and been through it all is what I feel but there is so much more to understand and know. I was told during the training I got in my first month bleeding that one fine day, when I turn around 45 or so, this would stop, I would be free of it, I am still waiting to be free. I have moved well into my 50th year and am still going good. My menstrual dating is the most sturdy relationship I have had amongst all others.

So, let me give you a peak into my life that will give you a better understanding of how we are trained to not understand our body and menstrual system. So, if you are reading this, a girl can start these practices now and if you are a guy, it is even more important because you would be able to stand by your mother, sister, girl friend, friends and any female in your life in the most helpful way.

So, in 1983, when I got my periods for the first time, living in an anglo Indian populated locality (Benson Town, Bangalore), my father was considered the most rebellious in my traditional sunni muslim family, to not just send me to an English convent school but also to not keep me locked in a room for getting my periods. In fact, it was my father, I walked up to and told him that I was bleeding and the things started unfolding for me. The most scary thing that happened for me at that point of time was my grandmother coming with a cloth and a waist thread, asking me to tie it around my waist and use the cloth for my bleeding and an additional one in her hand, for me to wash and re-use. I still remember me stunned out of my guts on “why the fuck would I wash my blood of that cloth and re-use it on me?” every ounce inside me said to me that it was unhealthy, it was disgusting and I was not doing it. I remember I sat in the loo for the next 4 hours, not wanting to use the cloth or come out of there.

It was my father, who was actually called to take me out of the loo and I came outside, with that cloth tucked into my panties but not willing to re-use or continue doing that. I had weeped for hours, I was scared, I was alone and I was unaware of what was happening to me. I felt I was dying that day, That day, my father did something very brave, which even today, I think I love him so much for that. He held my hand and took me out, behind him, his mother-in-law, his wife, everyone kept yelling at him, for taking me out of the house, for not listening to them, for getting involved with the ladies stuff, but he paid little attention to them, he had only one person as his interest & it was me. He took me out of the house, drove me up to one of his friend who was an English man with an Indian wife living around Frazer Town. We did not say a word in the car. I went in and he told them the problem and the wife took me to the room and she gave me a sanitary pad. I looked at it with confusion. She pulled out one of her panties from the drawers, placed the pad on it and showed me how to use it. I went to the loo and did the same and when I returned, she sat me down and spoke to me for an hour. She told me about how I had to be careful about my body, about sex because now I could get pregnant and thereon she also added that I would have to respect the society that I was in and let the family do what they have to do.

That day when I walked out of that room, I hugged my dad and cried like a 4 year old toddler not wanting to leave the parent to be left in school. I knew nothing was to be the same again, but I believed he would be the same. He was my anchor. He drove me back with all the ground rules on how we together will handle the family monsters waiting for us at home, what would be my sos calls for him. What I will fight and what I will not. Also, from that month on wards, my sanitary pads were imported to India for the next 3-4 years till we could purchase it here easily. Let us choose to let go of the comments I have heard my mother & grand mother give my father, every time there would some financial crises, they would bring it up on how he was wasting money on my sanitary pads from abroad. (hahahah… yeah… abroad it was)

So, even today we know that cloths, are not healthy for us, that we cannot wash and reuse them for our periods. You know it too, so don’t give in for any thing. I am sure not many who read here would be using cloths, but I have in my connections, who live in rural India and many living in urban India but are mentally backward when it comes to family pressure, do not let that affect this decision of yours. It is your body & your choice to be healthy about it

I was married at 17 but I was already labelled with a legacy that I was conceived after 15 years of marriage and that meant, that from the first month, my in-laws, my mother and her mother with my aunts all feared that I had it in my genes to not have a baby, so the moment I was married, the family prayers were initiated and within a year, I was being taken to a gynaecologist for treatments to get pregnant. Funny how it is that my newly married husband was not ever asked to be tested. Anyway, coming back to us, I was induced with hormones and all kind of medications for conceiving. At the age of 19 years, my periods and the menstrual cycle was being fucked royally by doctors and family members expectations. Fast forward by 6 years from then, I was a mother of 3 but a body system that was so messed up that I had very heavy flow, month on month, cramps that would kill me for the first 2 days & let us not talk much about the emotional breakdowns, binge eating. I had touched 112 kgs, looked like an over stuffed cabbage and had no control over my reactions of anything that was just a bit challenging. I was just going on with it, we kind of settle into our miseries as well after some time. I was by now a very strong believer that my body type was obese, I was an emotional chaos as a person and I would die a “Fat old lady”.

So, here I am, a question mark to the same people who once believed and did the things that they did, not just to me, but to every girl that is born in the family & strangely they still continue to influence the younger generations, who are willing to abide with elderly advice. I was a rebel then, I am bloody well now.

Today, I am on the path of reaching my weight goal of 65 kgs, loosing a good 3kgs / month, I get my periods on time, I don’t get heavy flow, I workout even on day 1 & 2, I don’t binge eat, I am not an emotional reck, I meditate, I read, listen to music, I do all that, that makes me feel special, especially during those 5 days, I am everything what a woman is and I am very proud of being that.

But what the ladies of the family don’t understand is, how my body seems to not be closing in to a menopause, how I still get the 4 day heavy flow and 6 day periods on the exact date, monthly, how I do not get the cramps anymore, how I can be sexually active and desiring when I am suppose to be preparing myself for the menopause. So, It is a beautiful journey to understand your body, to speak with it and to relate your existence with your body and soul and lead a healthy life till you are in it. So what if we are the women, the humans that bleed once a month, let us bleed with pride & lead with health and love.

Things that I would request all women to do without fail from today

  1. Do your bit of daily physical activities (walks, run, exercise or just stretch)
  2. Eat less & healthy (just stop on oil, sweets, carbs & packaged stuff)
  3. Have safe sex (use condoms, even with husband / boyfriend)
  4. Spend 1 hr daily to do what you love doing (not children, family or even friend, JUST YOUR choice)
  5. Maintain a calm mindset at all times (no challenge is worth your peace of mind)

Mr. Right for a Ms. Strong

No child is born with a personality trait. We grow to become our own kind and most of the times, the personality traits are adopted from people around. You take every act of theirs as yours and soon, even before you realise, it starts to define you.

Ms Strong is labelled in many ways, most often, the reason is herself. She does not compromise, she is emotional, she gets stuck with what she want from relationships, she focuses on herself more than she does on others, her dreams are her priorities, she stands tall, she rises above and she keeps going.

Mr. Right most often do not arrive for us, the Ms. Strong kinds…

The First – Expectations to keep his family satisfied was to be her only aim in life. He was clear that he needed someone who cared, who understood, who was obedient and who was limited enough to find her happiness in his needs. Ms. Strong moves on, she wanted to be heard too…

The Second – A true believer in loving unconditionally but limited. Never wanted to be known or seen. Believed in walking the full mile but as a shadow. Never wanted to confront or take his rights and also give some to her as well. Experienced every joy, every moment and every challenge with her but within a story behind “hidden doors”. Ms. Strong moves on, she needed to be seen, hidden doors are not for her…

The Third – A true shining star, a royal prince riding a white horse, sweeps her off her feet even before she realises it. He makes sense, he sounds just correct, he says the right things, looks so perfect. He is magical and he uses his magical powers to get to her soul and takes away every bit of her existence. All she is left with are pieces of those broken self as he rides away into the clouds exactly like he had arrived. Ms. Strong moves on, this time for her existence…

The Fourth – It had taken mountains to find herself back. But, Phoenix rises from the ashes, so had she and this time, she wanted it right, she wanted to do it the traditional way. She starts to look for him in the most traditional way she could and she finds him and he seems to love her with her scars. Not very soon does she realises that he was her imagination coming to life. He was a mirage. His presence made her see what she could never get. Ms. Strong moves on, existing in “no hope” zone is not her thing

The Fifth – He seems just the one. He is truthful, he sets his limitations, he expresses his conditional love upfront. She accepts it all, she feels safe but just for a little while. Once again, she notices the cracks, the missing bricks within the walls put in place. Important pieces that defines trust and faith. Ms. Strong moves on, she knows by now, a relationship with missing pieces will leave her broken sooner than later

Then all Rest – Ms. Strong’s personality super shines, the aura around her existence is worth a million dreams and men love dreaming even though they lack the ability to fight for them. So, every second day brings a new arrival of “HIM”, who seems to say the right things but then, Ms. Strong is already moved on for all of them and the ones to come. She chooses herself, she decides for what she is, she is ready to stand tall by herself and be proud of it. She knows to take care of her needs, desires and dreams.

She believes that Mr. Right is in the making, she still listens to loves songs, she still cries watching chick flicks and she looks with cupid eyes at the stars, but nothing within her feels weak, feels left out, feels incomplete or feels any less than who she really is.

Goodbye 49, you did good…

It was much much later in my life that I realised that my life could be lessons to thousands out there. I am the way I am because I can pass lessons to all out there. What better way to welcome my 50th Birthday than by penning down the lessons that I learnt in 49 years of my life. If these pieces of my journey can bring about some meaning to your happy moments, your tears, your challenges, your relationships and your life, I take a bow to the universe, because that would make one of my dreams come true. These lessons are free-flowing thoughts, so it could be personal lessons and professional ones, take what you love and leave what you don’t for someone else.

  • Health is in your HEAD – I was born with a hole in a heart. It healed after 12 years without surgery. It was purely because of my father’s rock-solid belief that he would not put his daughter under the scalpel. He took the toughest route – Homeopathy and his trust on the universe that I will have the strongest heart that any human being could have & it happened. My heart has taken a million blows and it stands strong even today. I have been fat since my teens and my never-ending weight loss plans never got me to look slim.

    Today, I call myself “Fat & Fit” at this age. I can go hours of workouts, days without a meal, my skin still glows like a teen and not a single wrinkle on me. Also, I have not done and don’t intend to take any extraordinary measures to avoid wrinkles, I tell my kids, I would be the sexiest grandmom in town :).

    And finally, today, I might be COVID19 positive (awaiting results). I was one of the direct contacts, as I got my mother admitted into the hospital and she tested positive, but who cares? I test my stats every day, I do my workouts at home, listen to music, dance my moments out and smile at what tomorrow can bring and be grateful for what I have this minute. So, remember – shit happens! You cannot run from it, all you can do is pass through it. As you do that, you don’t have to feel miserable, you don’t have to feel the “why me?’s” “why now?’s”. Leave that to the universe and walk like a boss through it all.

  • Mistakes are meant to HAPPEN – You are not a machine, you are a human, humans are meant to make mistakes. I did not fight to continue studies after 10th. I did not say a no to early marriage. I did not demand my basic rights in my marriage. I did not put my needs out there. I fell out of love with my husband and did not let him know. I never nurtured my kids like a mother. I walked around with my heart in my sleeves and fell in love every second day. I gave everything I had to every on-going love. I took my professional decisions based on my personal attachments to people. I let go of my sensibilities for other’s foolishness. Never questioned other’s wrongs and took the brunt for their wrongs on myself. Always felt I had to give to be loved, I gave to family, friends, neighbours, partners, investors, employees, connections and kept giving, never ever questioned if I was getting anything in return.

    I have burnt out myself, my health, my dreams, my wealth and everything in-between. Today, I would not want to change any of it. Because if I take anything out of this equation, I would not be who I am today. So, I accept every bit of it as mine – mistakes as mine and I am ready to undo the wrongs, take lessons and walk with my head held high.

    Can I assure I will do no more mistakes going ahead, hell no… I am just ready with my bag full of lessons from my past 49 years to make a new set of mistakes in the coming times. So, remember, it is of no use to avoid mistakes. It is going to happen to you, you will end up doing something wrong, so do it, realise it, correct it, pick your lessons from it & move on with it…

  • Life is meaningless without a DREAM – Life in its whole is a dream to our soul. I dreamt of growing old & dying; when everyone thought I would die of my heart condition. I dreamt that I would go to be a business leader; when I was married off at 17. I dreamt that I would die loving my husband; ended being separated. I dreamt that I had found the love of my life and then my soulmate; nothing of that sort happened. I dreamt that I had found my dream unicorn business in 2013 and worked my ass off towards it for 8 years; shutters got pulled down on it too, I dreamt a million dreams and nothing seem to be coming true but it’s not over yet.

    I am here, just freaking 50 years, so all those dreams that I dreamt and feel that did not come true can actually still do. I would die healthy & warm in my bed, when really old; I would still find my one true love who could be my soulmate; I would still go to make my existing small business into a mega business; I could still do so much more.

    So, don’t let go of any of your dreams. If you stop and think, and you feel you do not have a dream, it is high time you have one. So, remember, a dream is like that cheese for the rat, that makes it run. So make a run for that dream and as long as you keep running, you would be healthy, you would find so many new things, people happen to you. Let life happen to you, dream away.

  • Being alone is not WRONG – There is an old saying “You were born alone and will one day die alone”. When being born alone was so beautiful, when did living alone become such a big issue. I have always been someone who felt I had to have a village around me. I grew up in a joint family with my maternal family all around, in fact, I did not even have a room for myself. I never raised a voice asking for my space. I was not supposed to; it was disrespectful.

    Then got married into a huge family, 7 brothers 1 sister and their families, Sundays or travel would be filled with people in every corner of the vehicle. My husband and I literally got a room, that was the size of a storeroom in the house. I loved every bit of that tiny space. Moving out of marriage, I lived in a house with my 3 kids and a friend for a decade. I never thought that it need not be that way. Finally, when I let everyone move into their own places and I moved into my own place; I felt miserable, sad, down, as if I had done the worst thing in my life. As if I was a bad person, a bad mother, a bad friend, a bad human being for choosing to be by myself.

    I remember, people trying to sympathise with me for being along at this age. Like literally. I can tell you this much after all this, you are alone in the crowd – always. You are just with yourself and your thoughts, deep inside your heart, you do not get everything that you want. If you think I am wrong, close your eyes now, think for a minute, who are you and what do you want in life? If the crowd (family, friends, neighbours) is able to give you want?

    You will get your answer. We are anyway incomplete. What we want can be got only by ourselves. So, remember, being alone is the best thing that can happen to you, you are true to yourself and to everyone you come in contact with. You do what you believe in and you do not fear being wrong. At least once in life, before you are done, you must choose to be alone. Know yourself, the true self you are.

  • Own your own SHIT – All my life, I told myself that the world had wronged me. My parents got me married young; my husband loved me less or showed it rarely; my love never loved me back as I would have wanted him to; my soulmate could not connect; my business could not be run well; my partner could not be more; my team could not be enough; my life was a result of everything going wrong for me.

    It is these last few months, I decided to own my own shit. I literally took my whole life and turned it open for myself (with professional help) and it all unravelled itself to me. All I had to do from the day one was to own what was mine. My life, My mistakes, My choices, My wins, My defeats, My slips and My climbs.

    Once I did that, there was no way, anyone external could touch me, hurt me, make me feel any less and stop me from what I plan to achieve. So, remember, you have to take what is yours, even if it all stinks like a dead animal or rotten garbage. You take it and own it and you will see how things will change for you from the very next minute.

As I said, 49 did good for me. I am even more excited for the coming years. Especially in this new COVID world & to see what the universe has in store for me. But, whatever it is, I am bloody sure, that it will be one hell of a ride. Welcoming my 50 and plus years with super wide open arms…

Diamonds are formed 100 miles or more within the Earth…

Diamonds

Why do most of the people have tears in their eyes, feel as if time stopped at the moment when they have achieved something that they have worked really hard for, for a long time? those of you who have experienced it at least once in your life, will know what I mean. If you have not, then, you surely need to want something badly in your life, what’s life without the experience of bursting emotions as you stand achieving a goal. 

I asked myself when was it I felt this way? It was not the best day of my life but it was the most important day of my life, because that day changed me forever. The Salma people new before DemoDay 2018 was dead that day. 

Frankly, I am a very emotional person, so I can recall many small achievements that has got me to tears, but one such moment I remember of being there, when I cried like a baby, laughed with tears rolling down my cheeks and felt my knees go weak is when I had completed the 2018 Demo Day, our annual event that was taken up as a mammoth of the task. Post the completion of the event with 5000 attendees, when the curtains closed, I went through the whole emotional roller coaster ride. But why not, that was the final moment of something that had me going through the worst phase of my life. 

It was around this time in 2018, it was decided to go for an annual event this big and I made it my life’s mission to achieve it. That is where the journey began, as time kept moving ahead, plans became useless, bills kept piling, monies did not show up, expectations started rising, anger & disappointment was all I got, loneliness and desperation was all that I had left, every day added a few lakhs of liabilities on the company & myself, I lost my own share holding of the company to someone who came in showing that they care, one week ahead of the event & I was still going on, still running helter skelter with no care what so ever for my well being, life or any sensibility to my actions, all I wanted was to wrap this event, end what was started 6 months back and once done so, if that would go to become the last day I am alive, I was okay to take it with open arms. 

So when finally the moment arrived, I had done the impossible, I stood there at KTPO and looked around, I saw that I had done it, “India’s largest Startup Event” but from where I stood, I saw lost friendships, broken relationships, pending liabilities, disrespectful employees and a scary life ahead. I forgot how to breathe after that, I could not stand, I collapsed on the back door staircase and I needed a hug, a hand but I got an associate, standing guard at a distance looking out to see if no one comes that way. 

But I wanted to scream & cry, I wanted my breath back, I wanted to live and I wanted my life back from the clutches of DemoDay2018. It took me 700 days after that to get a grip on myself, on my life, on my professional & personal journey. But it was totally worth the effort. What I found within me in these past 2 years, has empowered  me to a level that it is rare to find, it has made me strong in ways I never thought I could ever be. So, I can say with pride that I survived through these last 2 years and found the best version of myself as I touch my 50th Birthday in the next 35 days.. 

So, today I tell you, go for the big one, reach your rock bottom to find your best version and fall in love with yourself all over again.. Diamonds do get formed deep within the earth.. ❤️

Born to be an Alpha Female

Alpha

Dedicating this post to the ladies of my life, grew up watching for the last 50 years. Love them all…

Let me start with my mother, someone I am born to and who is strong-headed in ways that today we call the Alpha Female, someone who could get her voice heard across hundreds, oh… she has a beautiful voice, her singing is something I would love, I could never sing but she has a voice of an angel, her voice was and is mesmerising and she knew it, she was proud of it and she never hesitated to show it off. Someone who dared to fall in love in the 1950s and stood with her guy, my father, against their families to get married, someone who chose not to run away but to gather the whole Khandaan (family) to take care of them within her love marriage, someone who did not get a child for 17 years of marriage but her husband or their families could never gather guts to approach her to adopt or to let her husband remarry (remember in muslims, 4 wives are allowed), someone who ran a retail business of her own in 1970s, someone who had the courage to tell her husband to pursue his dream of innovation and she took care of the complete family of 20+ (her sister’s family plus hers), someone who stood by her husband when he dared and decided to send their daughter (me) to a convent wearing short skirts & having night overs with friends in 1980s, finally, someone even today, who fights her own to protect what’s hers, I call this lady Alpha Female and I am so proud of to be born to her…

Now, let me introduce you to the lady my mother was born to, she fell in love with her dying sister’s husband in 1910s and when her sister passed away, she decided to inform her parents about her love and convince them to marry her dead sister’s husband but decided to take home his children too. She was the lady I saw stand up to the cops in the family-run retail business in the early 1970s. Yeah…. those days, cops would just come in to take freebies from businesses, she would not give in, I would be sitting on the portico playing with my stuff and I could see her yell at the cops, threaten them to be reported and feel no fear. I saw her talk to my mother when my mother would have her low moments on issues, telling her to not give a fuck of anyone or anything and do what she wants to, I remember the week she passed away, speaking to me, around 20 years back, I was in a bad marriage then, I remember her clearly, she was not holding my hand or telling me to be patient and take care of my family or be a “good girl” I remember her telling me to go after my dreams, to just step out of the cage I had created for myself and she said in her quivering voice, “don’t regret the time passed, fly for the time that is ahead” 

That’s my family line for you, these ladies define my life. For me, it comes in my blood, it is the only thing I have ever known or seen, so when I do not do anything less than what an alpha would do, you must know, that I know nothing other than being one. 

But what excites me even more, is what I am looking forward to, in my daughter, she now has a line of 3 super crazy, super driven and wonders women in her bloodline… I so look forward to seeing her wings grow, to see her fly, to see her achieve and to see her rebel… to shine and conquer… 

Disciplined Entrepreneurship – as SIMPLE as it gets

Disciplined

If you have ever spoken to me for even a 5 min conversation, associated for any form of engagement professionally, known me as a friend or just bumped into me for a couple of beers in airports/pubs, you would know I come with an abundance of experience, loads of challenges and some great learnings through these years, which I do not hesitate or shy away from sharing with everyone. Today morning, this write-up is from one such thought that passed through my mind and as I saw the time, I knew I had 40 mins to start my day’s work & so decided to share this with all of you.

Have I done mistakes in my entrepreneurial journey till date? you bet on that, in fact, I take pride in owning my shit to such an extent that the number of mistakes I have done till date, not many of you would beat me to it. So, what has all this taught me? it has shown me what is the best way to run a business, it has made me learn the hard way to be great at what I do, it has made me a stronger leader, a founder with her head on her shoulders and a woman with pride on her being and control over her emotions. Thus began my Entrepreneur 2.0 and one of the first things I put in place for myself is to designate myself as “Advocate to Disciplined Entrepreneurship”.

Since that time, I have been working towards answering some very important questions for myself, which when answered, gets passed on as lessons to our incubated startups at StartupsClub. Some of the questions are:

  • Why did I do what I did?
  • What is different in me now?
  • What will stop me from going back to who I was?
  • What will ensure my consistency remains?
  • Am I disciplined enough?
  • What is being better than what I am now? 

& these questions go on… Today I woke up and realised that I had a decision to be made, in regards to something related to compliance of the company. With the COVID situation in hand and all relaxed rules from the Government departments, I had the freedom of time to complete the task, I was tempted to take that time too, but then, I stopped for just a second & asked myself a question, “Surely I can delay this, but as a disciplined entrepreneur, is this delay the right thing to do?” the answer was staring back at me the very next second, “NO” and without the next thought or connecting any past experiences or present situation or any advice or suggestions, I just stuck with that answer in my head, a NO. THERE WILL BE NO DELAYS… That was it, we proceeded with what had to be done. 

So, if you think that being a disciplined entrepreneur, requires you to have some experience under your belt, you would need right mentors, you would need a good team around or you would have to have the knowledge, you are so WRONG. All you need to have, as a disciplined entrepreneur is clarity of thought and ability to make decisions when the need arises, decisions that are RIGHT FOR YOUR STARTUP, and stand your ground. Everything/everyone falls in line once you do so. 

Remember, your startup needs an advocate for itself, someone who will do what it takes to give it the best outcome, the question you need to ask yourself, is ARE YOU THE ONE? If you are, then, rest assure, being disciplined will be a cakewalk for you. Do not think a lot into it, just go with the flow, be the anchor for the right choices for your business and do not weigh yourself down to circumstances, people & challenges. 

You got this.. If I could, you could too..

Warriors in Apron

warriors

You will find my professional learnings and thoughts shared on StartupsClub and here you will get lessons through my personal journey… So, I want to share something that has haunted me for sometime now. Since my separation, I have played a fearless role of a mother and a father to my 3 kids, now when they have reached their adult lives, they look for a mother’s love, the nurturer, the care taker and the gatherer in someone else.

Why do we have to cook for the child, be the housekeeping support, person with an apron to come back to?

The more I thought about it, I realised, it is nothing to do with being a mother, it is nothing to do with the fact that mothers are expected to have the apron on at all times. It is not even a mother – child issues. The issue here is larger than just a mother figure. the issue here is about “Evolution of a Society” & the question is “Have we even changed a bit from the decade old belief system of what women are suppose to be doing?”

I believe that the belief system is fucked up in full. We were better off when we were at a time when men dominated the society, women were expected to be behind pardah, be the care takers and not raise their voice, be responsible for the everyone’s happiness and comfort at home, live a life of little and not demand more. At least, the society was behaving in exactly the same manner that they believed in and showed it out as.

These days, the society is fucked up, because, deep within, those old age beliefs is what we hold strong, we want the women in your life to be doing exactly those things as their grand father / mothers expected but then to put up a show, a face to this modernised, outspoken, social media driven world, they talk about women empowerment, working mothers, equality for women at work and play, respect for their voice, choice and decisions. Because these same people need to be seen as the civilisation of today. They have a say in everything great that they stand for. So, they are one of the great individuals, educated and a person with great values for today and the future.

But, let us step into their private lives, their candid existences, their dark nights, the times when they shed this worldly skin aside to be their true self and then you see that side of them (men & women). The side that goes centuries back for the women around. The side that says, take care of me, take the brunt of my short comings, take my shit on to you and make me feel good for all the wrongs that I have done or been through.

This is why, we still get to hear about:

  • Domestic Abuse
  • Rape within families
  • Less women in senior jobs
  • Less pay for women
  • Dowry killing
  • Honour killing
  • Acid attacks
  • Child marriage
  • Extra marital affairs
  • So many more…

These incidents when it happens, its not done because of some bad moment or something the victim did, it is purely because, it was during this moment, the person doing it, was being true to their inner most belief system.

I have been there, in the darkest of people’s sides and I am here to, at the front line of people’s worldly presence, so I know the two sides of the society. I am that person, the woman, who spent half her life, seeing the dark side of everyone around…

Disciplined Entrepreneurship

“Successful founders were not born with a magic wand; they happen to be some of the most disciplined people in the world.” – This was one of the quotes from the faculty in the executive course that I am taking through the Harvard Business School platform. This hit me hard. All through my journey as a startup mentor, I have been speaking about being at the right time and right place. There is a good part of that “right time – right place” that has some magic, some play by the universe here and there. 

I was working on this course where every word of it was opening 100s of thoughts that proved to me how correct they were. Saying that every successful entrepreneur has worked their ass off, in a systematic way and not for a few days, weeks, months but for years in a “one day at a time manner”.

Solving problems, taking up challenges by its head and making sure that it is beaten down to its minimum size and then solving it bit by bit has been one of my strongest skill set. So as these 2 words “disciplined entrepreneurship” settled in deep into my head, heart and soul, thus started my research, my reading, my connecting dots. How things have worked out for me when I have been disciplined, and how things have fallen into pieces even after tons of efforts without being disciplined. After hours and hours of breaking my head and putting down all my free time during the famous “lockdown” that is in progress, I am as of now the strongest advocate for Disciplined Entrepreneurship. 

So here below are well thought out 5 things that you can do to start your entrepreneurial journey in a disciplined manner:

  • Be clear on the purpose of your efforts as an entrepreneur – If you are unsure of what you are doing, you start being disciplined with it; it will get you to a place that you would not want to be in. So, get your thoughts as clear as possible, know your entrepreneurial self as clearly as you can, the purpose behind it and the problem that you are solving.
  • Categorise your tasks in priority brackets – If you tell yourself that you will be 100% committed for all your tasks, then you are lying to yourself and to your business. You are a human being and not a machine, it is okay to be less in some places. Once you put down your priority categories in High Priority, Medium and Low Priority. You can give yourself the space to fall behind in things at times in the low priority category, therefore, ensuring that you deliver a disciplined approach to get 100% results inconsistent manner in the high and medium priority tasks.
  • Forget long term goals once finalised – To be disciplined in an ongoing manner for a long time, you definitely need to have a long term goal, but once that is set, broken down to a daily goal, you need to let the long term goal be. Your line of sight must be to complete your daily short term goals successfully, every day. Taking it one day at a time is the only answer to the tasks becoming a habit. You don’t become disciplined overnight, you do, after doing things over and over again on an on-going basis for a long time.
  • Delegation is not the Solution – As leaders, we are always advised and we hope too that one day, we shall have all our R&Rs delegated to our teams. Yes, that is the long term goal. Especially if you are just about to become disciplined in your business, delegation is a long term plan. You will have to get yourself into a process, have well-structured tasks with clear deadlines and delivery dates. Those dates should be met on a continuous manner by you and then when you go about taking in the team, they fall in line with the disciplined culture of the workplace.
  • Finally, Measuring results with clear parameters – We all have a problem, a big one, we believe we are doing things and sometimes we go blind to the fact that the outcomes are not as per set expectations. So, if you set clear parameters to measure the outcomes of the tasks that you must execute as high & medium priority in a disciplined manner, then measuring them on weekly or even daily manner will give you a clear picture for you to understand if you are online with things as planned. Being the entrepreneurs we are, once we know we have slipped off the grid, we will figure ourselves to get back on track, the challenge is to accept that you have slipped and the faster you do it, the easier it is for you to get back on track.

Share your thoughts in comments and we could discuss this further…