Eternal joy comes with purpose driven approach

Hers is a story of discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary. Born in a simple, tight knit middle class family, she was brought up with extraordinary family values, credit for which goes to her working parents. Being the eldest with two younger sisters, responsibility was something that she learnt to manage at a very young age.

Graduating in mathematics followed by an MBA in Marketing and she landed a job in a bank. Didn’t spend much time to figure out what her passion was cause succeeding at work and climbing up the ladder was the primary focus. Most other things were either unknown or largely not encouraged by her conservative parents. So early offers for modelling and ramp shows were instantly shot down. She however did go on to win the Gladrags Mrs India crown later in life.

Workplace attitude changed when she became a mother to twins. As the only woman in the team, she had to face constant taunts by her boss for leaving ‘early’ (on time) and not coming on weekends which was never a working day anyway. Infact, after she resumed work from maternity she was thrust on a new business altogether making it very challenging. Basically, she was set up to fail. 

Feeling that the battle was not worth fighting, she decided to channelise her energy to create her own space and took to being an entrepreneur, a first entrepreneur in a family of bankers.

A Certified Leadership & Etiquette Coach now, Yukti Kapoor Mehandiratta is the Founder of SBY Academy based in Mumbai, India took time to share her story and views with AsiaBizToday.

Can you tell us briefly about the activities that you undertake?

SBY(Silhouette by Yukti) Academy is designed to boost the quality of your leadership skills, whether in business or personal, and enhance your performance levels.

Our world-class online courses, intensive workshops and personal coaching sessions reach out to a variety of audiences that include Corporate CXOs, middle-management, women returning to work, start-ups that need pitching, entrepreneurs getting their game right and even students prepping up to hit the road running.

By using techniques like case studies, role plays, interactive games, self-internalisation, meditations and discussions to connect with each participant, we aim to make deep and distinctive improvements to their leadership skills, in business and life. Our courses and workshops are customised and designed to be engaging, energetic, creative and impactful.

We assist individuals to excel in their leadership journey using various delivery format:

  • Online courses (basic & advance level leadership courses ) – Upskilling Leadership Blueprint
  • Executive coaching (one to one)
  • Team coaching (small core groups to be aligned to common goals/purpose)
  • Group trainings (larger groups to be trained on concepts)

What was your trigger and motivation to get into this?

I think as a person, I’ve performed best when I was given my own space. I’ve always gone beyond my job description and that has helped me to learn more and grow faster in my career.

It is the lack of space and rigid expectations that started taking shape post my pregnancy that I couldn’t stand after two years of dealing with it. All that frustration turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me and the final nail too. The unfair environment, limited roles and lack of real leadership pushed me to create my own world, and I did.

What have been your experiences in this leadership position?

In my corporate stint, I learnt more from bad bosses than good ones, also cause the good ones were far and few. There were a lot of things I could’ve done better had I know that leadership needs to be learnt and studied and doesn’t come naturally to anyone – just as how we learn any other skill like reading and writing. It doesn’t come to you one day. You have to learn it. While some may have knack for it yet they need to go through the learning curve to excel at it.

Another realisation came from my own growth in my corporate career, which I think was basis my attitude, executive presence and confidence. As much as I thought they were common traits, I realised how much it needs to be developed consciously for many, esp at a leadership level.

So Silhouette endeavours to bridge the gap between one’s capability and presentability while elevating your leadership capability through conscious learning.

Which are the important factors that keep you going?

I am firm believer of following your heart. As I often say, when you follow your heart, the rest follows. Its true for all and not just limited to feminine intuitive instincts. What’s needed, however, is the courage to listen to your heart and then trust.

I also believe that the world around you is a manifestation of your mental state. The more you keep yourself positive and constructive, the more support you attract from the world outside.

Nothing comes easy and ease should not even be the criteria to decide anything. Be ready for all that it takes when you take a plunge. And for that, its important to have the right reasons to take that plunge at the first place.

Had I plunged in with the intention to prove myself right or someone wrong, I doubt I would’ve met with much success. My intent was to make the journey of career growth easier for others than it was for me and contribute to elevate the business environment with better leaders. That’s all. And that is what drives us to do anything we do at SBY Academy.

Have you faced any obstacles in your initiatives? Do you think you have faced specific challenges because of being a woman?

Oh yes. Unfortunate but true. I don’t consider myself to be a feminist but cannot deny the challenges I faced just for being a woman.

Being called as a GLAM DOLL in the bank by a super senior as his way to appreciate my good work still hasn’t settled well with me.

As an entrepreneur, it’s a treat for people to see you wriggle out of unnecessary roadblocks they create, especially when you refuse to take their help. Have personally experienced someone trying to stop one of my events mid-way to satisfy his vengeance of being denied partnership. There are many such stories I can share.

But most importantly, it is the attitude of people to not take you seriously as a business woman and jump into mentoring role or to challenge your wits that’s such a waste of time if you allow yourself to indulge.

Even at home the challenges are many. As women we feel compelled to excel in every role – as a mother, wife, daughter-in-law, daughter, sister, friend – and then fill ourselves with guilt if we fall short anywhere. I think we need to get more real and play on the levered field as just how a man would, in his role as a father, husband, son-in-law, son, brother, friend – and an entrepreneur.

Where do you usually find inspiration from?

For me, any story from rags to riches is a story of a hero. I love to bring out the extraordinary from people who consider themselves to be ordinary. No one is ordinary for all that we have to offer to this world. It’s just a matter of time, and some guidance, before we light up the world with our extraordinary being.

I discovered myself after an ordeal of effort and went past a lot of self-criticism and victim stories. From being a brown skin, under confident introvert to being this stage lover and front runner has been a real metamorphosis of a journey for me.

What’s your proudest moment so far?

Motherhood is a proud feeling for all, am sure but I take pride in the fact that I handled by twinnies single-handedly (in partnership with my husband of course) without letting them be a burden on anyone and also without compromising on their well-being or my career growth. Handling it all with immense level of patience and a smile on my face has brought out my inner strength that I didn’t know I possessed.

How would you define success ?

Success is not a destination you arrive at but an experience in your journey towards a purpose. When you are driven by your purpose, you feel successful in every firm step you take towards it.

So I urge you to stop finding success in balance sheets and pay cheques. And start enjoying success in everything you do everyday, from rolling out an initiative to attending a meeting, from cooking a meal to making your lil angles sleep in bed – success is when you feel eternal joy in whatever you do for its purpose and your deep sense of gratitude to have found that purpose.

What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women?

Drop the guilt, love yourself and Be YOU, fearlessly. When you stand up for yourself, the world will stand behind you.