Who Are You?

Since you are reading this article, chances are that either you know me well or have been following me on social media.

Some of you would been intrigued by the name of this article, or by its visibility.

How you put your thoughts out there, what people know about you and how consistently they hear about you with a cohesive and authentic story, builds your personal brand.

For some people, building a personal brand is a deliberate effort, and so, by definition, it must be somewhat “made up”.

Yes, it is deliberate, but in the world today, it is quite stupid to pretend to be someone that you are not, as sooner than later, you will be caught. You will end up saying something contradictory at some time or the other and depending on how many people make it their business to know you, you will have to deal with a challenge that you would rather not like.

If you do not manage your brand actively, someone else will. One way or the other, you will end up with a brand image that you may actually dislike heavily.

Besides, why would you want to come across as someone you are not?

 “Your Authenticity is your biggest competitive advantage” – Carla Harris

How your job has worked out for the past 1, 2 or 3 decades is not how it will work out in the future. You need to be out there and be able to distinctly stand from the crowd.

Consider your job. If your manager, his/her manager or the top leader knew that what you do is very good, would it not be a faster way to get that promotion or the project you want or make more money?

You have to work on your personal brand actively. You could be as good as you want, the best in your field, but unless the world knows about it, it does not really matter.

You still have to work hard on your performance capital, which in turn attracts potential sponsors – who can then spend time in helping you grow.

Beyond a point however, the performance capital diminishes as people expect that level of work from you all the time.

Now they expect something more. A lot of people in their early career get lost here and consider this to be the only way forward, which means constantly upgrading their technical skills and becoming better and better.

We have all been part of a culture, where we were taught to be humble, keep our head down and just do our work, that’s what we continue to do.

Again beyond a point, it becomes hard for your work to speak for itself.

And this brings up the need to invest in relationship capital, which is about building connections across the organisation and across the wider industry as well.

All the important decisions about your career take place behind closed doors. So unless people can vouch for you when you are not present in that room, how are you going to cut it? It is essential that you invest in genuine relationships at the right level in the organization.

In fact, your world should not be limited to your organisation alone. Create a vast network. Leverage any tool that you like- use social media, networking, etc.. Show yourself up authentically and consistently by putting out useful content that provides some real value and soon people will know about you.

There is only one rule. You have to be authentic. You fake it, it dies! You have to be completely congruent with who you are.

Unleash yourself because the world deserves to know your excellence and gain from it!

It is about taking your strengths, your unique capabilities, your pockets of brilliance to the world and tell them what you are bringing to the table and why should they deal with you. 

Social Mastery is all about Presence, Branding, Relationships, Social Media, Networking.

To understand the brand that you carry in this world, let’s do a simple test.

Write down what do you think of your brand on a piece of paper. This is how you think others perceive you.

Now call 5 people who know you best (friends, colleagues or family) and ask them about the brand you carry.

Now compare both views- yours and theirs.

If there is a mismatch, that’s your gap. Either you are over-projecting yourself to the world or you are under- projecting yourself.

Once you identify the gap, write down 2 simple things that you can start doing from today. And then take MASSIVE ACTIONS.

 “For your growth, it doesn’t matter who you know but who knows you” – Gary Vaynerchuk

#brand #identity #personalbrand

I Hear the Chains Falling

Do you think that the Past defines us? It does and in ways more than we can imagine!

What if it is not letting us flourish? What’s the option?

Simply- LET IT GO!!!

Most of my childhood, I was a very average child, whose report card never looked too promising.

Coming from a middle-class family, I was struggling to keep my head above water in one of the top schools of Dehradun, India. And no one knew that.

I was that under-confident kid, who would find herself hiding in the school corridors, not only from the teachers but also from the students, not wanting to get noticed or asked for friendship. I was scared of my own identity or probably I didn’t have one.

When I started Commerce in year 11, it was a bright sunny day in April, as I reached my school on Day1 of that year. After the morning prayers, we were ushered to our new classroom.

 It was then that my new class teacher entered and he said something very profound, “No matter where you were in life until now- whether you were a topper or average or struggling- This is your opportunity!

Commerce, Accounts, Economics, Macbeth- these subjects are new to each of you in this class of 50. It is like starting all over again with your A, B, C,… and depending upon your commitment and the amount of efforts you put in, it will define how far you go in life.

That was the Day!

I felt that there was a chance that I could let go of that average child- I had an opportunity.

I do not know what shifted inside me- I gathered my books, my bag and all my confidence and went on to sit in the front seat… and I never ever left that seat!

I decided to make a new start!!!

Slowly I started getting 1st rank in all the subjects consistently, all through year 11 and year 12, till I went on to become a school topper for my stream and then went on to hold an All India rank in my Chartered Accountancy Exam.

How did this become possible? Because:

  • I decided to let go of my past failures
  • I recognized the opportunity to start afresh
  • And I gave it my ALL….

This kick-started the beginning of a new journey for me and once I tasted blood, must admit it was intoxicating. I could never let go of it!

I realised the importance of being visible, being out there in the open, in the arena, shedding sweat and blood- playing full on and….

also the fun of being a STAR!

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This is your day!

There is always a starting point.

It is the day when something shifts within you, which tells you that it can be your starting point  (for anything in life that you are dissatisfied with).

However the onus is on you to recognize that starting point!

It does not matter how you are doing in your life until today- whether you are outstanding or average or struggling, today is your opportunity to think differently and start afresh.

Do you think it is too late? I was a mediocre for 10 years in school and only in my 11th year I could acknowledged it. But once I did, I to set myself free. If I could do that as a child, you know it better!

Past does not matter. It never does.

Do not be a victim of your past. Do not establish a romanticism with your struggle or pain- it happened, it was unfortunate and sad- but it is over now.

Break free and make a new promise to yourself- promise to Play Full on in life. Come out of your shell and fly in open air- this space is for everyone.

I urge you to make a new beginning today….your path to Stardom starts now!

Brick By Brick – 6 Obstacles To Your Growth

There was no way, I was going to go up that 50 feet pole and jump. 

I had enrolled for a course in Fiji, where on day 1, we had to go on top of a 50 ft pole and jump. My first reaction was “No- they do not know that even a simple amusement park ride makes me dizzy, forget the heights. I am not going to land myself in any trouble. I will simply not do it.”

No amount of logic – “you will have a harness”

No amount of social pressure – “Everyone will be doing it”

No amount of emotional blackmail from my inner self – “It will feel awesome if I did it”

My hind brain seemed to be winning, keeping me safe in my shell.  But then different thoughts started to show up: 

I had decided to come to Fiji myself for this course.

I had decided to jump in the arena

And I had the responsibility to GIVE IT MY ALL.

And I jumped…

what I met with, was a childlike happiness in my heart and the pride in my own eyes. 

Have you ever wondered, when you eventually do something that you have been avoiding for a while, you often ask yourself, why were you putting it off in the first place?

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I have asked about 100 people this question in last 1 year and I have noticed some common elements, which I have listed below along with the solution:

1- The Value Question – you don’t believe that you will get adequate value

In this case, the action itself is under question. Take a smoker for instance. At the surface level, there is acceptance of it being bad and wanting to quit. However deep down, there is a fundamental belief that invalidates any action. “It doesn’t really hurt me”.

We don’t do what we don’t really believe in.

No action is possible when faced with this question. There is no way out of it!

2- The Capability Question – you are not confident of your own ability to pull it off

Most of us end up creating a façade of “not ready” or “do not have a capability to do it or “other things need to happen before this can be done” and put these things off, till we find ways to muster confidence in our ability to pull it off.

We have all known someone who has been putting off opening a business for 3, 5 or 10 years. To me, it is eye popping fact- 10 years, really? But to them, it is just a shrunk of shoulder “within next 2 years, I will get to it”!

There is a way out of this situation – not very difficult to do – Engage a coach, get some accountability going and you will be on the winning path in the next 6-12 months! 

3- The Motivation Question we need some external motivation

So much is blamed on this word “motivation” but it is a great responsibility avoiding mechanism for most people!

Majority of people live their life responding to external stimuli. And while under usual circumstances, it is a pretty workable strategy, it just fails flat when we want to do something substantial.

The way to get out of this situation- Know your “WHY”. It just cuts motivation question as it then becomes about setting new standards.

4- The Social QuestionWhat will people say

If you ask a 100 people, if people don’t sometimes take actions because they are worried about what others think – 90% will agree.

But if you ask same people, how much of their inactions are because of this worry – only a handful will agree!

Social approval has become a norm. A lot of great ideas, world changing thoughts just die because the creators stopped themselves from taking actions worrying about what people will think of them!

There is only one way out of it – Don’t worry about it. If you have conviction and purpose, you will find this worry disappear!

5- The Prioritisation Question other things come up that are of higher priority

With so much going on for each of us, genuinely critical things constantly pop up, leaving no time for the things that we want.

But ask yourself – if your life is all about these critical things all along, aren’t you really a slave to the external environment?

The way out-  Do something small everyday – in alignment with your purpose and goal and you will see tremendous success eventually.

6- The Question of Unknownthings are perceived as bigger they are

This is probably the biggest one – things are perceived as bigger they are!

When we really want to do something, most often, we look at the best and brightest out there doing it – and it is overwhelming!  There is a vastness around them in terms of things they do that. It can be absolutely fearful for us. 

To bust out of it – Read biographies of your heroes and how they did it. 

It will stamp the fact that they chose to create a life of their dreams. No doubt, they had their own struggles, but they built a character along the way to defy all odds and become an absolute winner!

"Brick by brick, my fellow citizens, brick by brick.” Emperor Hadrian after the devastating fire in Rome

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If you are someone who wants to grow in your career and feel stuck by the inner battles – you can get exponential growth and outstanding results, by engaging a coach.

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Chase your Dreams

for all aspiring models!

As published in the magazine “SupermodelsofAustralia”, April, 2019

It is often said that beauty is only skin deep.

Looking at strikingly handsome men and stunningly beautiful women on stage during shows, I often ask myself, what makes them tick. What’s inside them that is able to make them take brave steps in front of hundreds of people, with so much ease? What is their driver?

Over the years, many young hopefuls began to harbour secret desires to make it to the glamour industry one day. It is however known to be an extremely demanding profession, which comes with high performance pressure and has zero tolerance for mediocrity, which has eventually led many such people to give up on their dreams. They coax themselves to settle for a ‘safe’ profession where even an average performer can get a decent salary.

The beauty, visibility, speed of life, and social circle that models live in still make it a very attractive proposition for certain aspirants. And this is the group, from where we get our top Supermodels.

Modelling is a world beyond “beauty”. It is possible that someone who is strikingly pretty may not be able to perform well, particularly if he/she is not strong enough to survive in this high-pressure environment. On the other hand, an average-looking face can take the world by storm, purely because of the authenticity and ease with which he/she carries oneself.

In the world of bright lights and camera, it is always a pleasure to see someone who is comfortable in her own skin, who has not yet learnt to cake up her face and whose eyes twinkle with dreams of tomorrow. There is, of course, a learning period but if you are physically healthy and psychologically resilient, everything can be learnt- such as posture, camera, makeup, your best angles, etc., and that too in the most natural way.

The glamour world has some man-made standards, but the world is just waiting for someone to defy them. It might be YOU. Don’t hesitate to create YOUR niche. Understanding your own uniqueness and self-belief is the key to it.

Chantelle Brown-Young created her magic, while beating up vitiligo, responsible for her skin discolouration. In her TED Talk, she reveals how she created her own mould of beauty rather than trying to fit in existing mould as they were not for her. Lara Stone proudly carries the gap in her front teeth, calling it her lucky charm. Renee Kujur, who was earlier ridiculed for her dark skin, is creating a sensation in India. The common theme that comes out of these examples is that rather than giving in to the challenges of the mainstream world, these people proudly carried their distinctive feature to create their own unique brand.

If you’re one of such hopefuls; interested in the modelling industry, I urge you not to be put off because it seems like a superficial career or because it’s just too hard. Fight the stigma against the modelling industry. Create your own definition of beauty. In my experience and those of countless others, it holds incredible opportunities for both personal and global growth. Gather all that you have, hold your head high and confidently carve your path. Dream Big – because unless you know you want to be, how will you get there? Enjoy the joys of the journey as it takes you to your destination.

As in all jobs, there will be enough distractions to pull you back, but stay strong as you face rejections, keeping your self-esteem independent of them. Stay firmly rooted as you celebrate your successes and laugh in the face of the setbacks. Eat healthy, stay fit, invest in your relationship capital, seek and grab opportunities as and when they arise. Stay connected to your family and friends as they are the ones who we ultimately need to keep connected with our true self.

Start as a model, finish as a role model!

Author: Shilpa Kulshrestha is a Mindset transformation coach, mum of two beautiful young girls, and co-founder of Scintillate Coaching and Consulting.

In the clutches of an Average Life

Your family, religion and even your name was decided before you were born. You came into this world in a passive mode, eating what you were fed and learning what you were taught.

A good part of your early years was spent in school, where you did not have the opportunity to feast on the subject that you loved because it was all about passing in all compulsory subjects for a well- rounded development, irrespective of your own interest.  School boxed you nicely in a bright package that was best suited for the average challenges of life.

You did well in school or probably not so well and next came the university. It was a big deal as it was called by others as your gateway to the outside world. All the people who had any connection with you whatsoever, came into their best form to coax you to pick up a stream that will make you a corporate success. You were the centre of every discussion on the dining table and on phones with the extended family.  There was pride in those eyes on what you were accomplishing and how well behaved you were.  In other words, as most people do and as most people accomplish.

Once again, the important decisions of your life were being taken without you having a say at it, and you allowed yourself to be thrown into an ocean of conventional wisdom, by joining that Engineering, Medical or Accounting profession. After all, people around you wanted you to be successful and this “what everyone does” continued to be the ruling guideline.

But you were smarter than most and you figured there is something wrong – you decided to get to the top of the ladder by climbing higher and did post-graduation, which narrowed down the “everyone does it list” to a bare 10% than before.

You were then scooped up by a corporate giant, who came all the way to the campus to gobble you up before you got a chance to think about anything else.  You again couldn’t say no as you wanted to prove to others and yourself that you were so much in demand.  Perhaps your personal circumstances, financial constraints, sense of responsibility played a role as you took the wise path because that is what someone who is responsible will do.

Once you entered corporate life, you were imprisoned for ever by the corporate zombies, promotions, free insurances and off course, that fat pay check in your bank account every month.

This was amazing as you contemplated what to do with the significant money you made and how much better it was than rest of your friends!  You used some of that money to upgrade your technical skills as those were selling like hotcakes in the market and fewer people were doing it.  This paid back well. You went up the ladder and further shrank that comparative figure of the number of people in that top slot.

The rise to the top created a standard you had to live by- in the form of having a great partner, a palatial house and the best car in the market. 

However, in your late thirties and a rising star, you started noticing an uncomfortable thought.

None of it brought fulfilment. 

You remembered your parents’ wisdom how once you reach that level, which was impossible for them, it will bring in massive rewards and you knew that you had ticked all the boxes, yet you didn’t feel like you won.  Perhaps you needed to go beyond.

A little more time passed and then one evening, you recalled your school teacher’s warning not to loose track of your dreams and you started feeling that she was on the verge of being proved right!

The weekends you live for.

The vacations that you wait for.

The hobby that you keep pushing off.

The dream that you have but seems far away.

All in exchange for

An average life that you were running for but have settled in so well.

It is surely not possible to change now.

You can’t just throw it all away for chasing the dreams.  It will be childish.  What would your family think, what would your son aspire, if he sees you acting so recklessly?

A wise friend whispers in your ear – be contended.  Who are you to challenge that?  What are you but an average bloke who is doing amazing by the average standards of the society?

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While the story is that of a fictional “you” – seeing a life getting wasted like this is just too much for me.

Are you too struck in this automatic mode, playing ball by ball, taking life as it comes?

Do you depend on external events or circumstances to drive your direction?

Would you like to get on to the driver seat of your life?

How good will it be to take full control of it, pressing brakes at your will, to grab learnings along the way and accelerating at your will, to reach your goals with all those golden learnings?

Are you ready to make that conscious choice to get out of the average life and leave behind a legacy?

If the thought excites you, this would be the most powerful thought of your life.

Reach out if this rings a bell and talk to me – I want to hear your story and give my 2 cents.

For more details, keep an eye on my upcoming book, “Automatic to Deliberate”, co-authored by me and Kapil Kulshreshtha.

Beautiful the way you are!

“Killer looks!”, “Sexy!”, “Hottie!”- How many of us have seen such comments doing rounds on photos posted on social media?

While these are harmless comments, I often wonder why we give such importance to our looks – so much so, that as we grow older, many of us get frustrated by how we look, and end up doing literally anything to maintain that beauty.

I don’t intend to turn this into a conversation or lecture on what we should do or not do or about women’s right or any such larger thing. I just want my fellow women to consider their own heart and joy as a bigger priority than feel the pressure to look beautiful for the outside world.

There is probably no woman in the entire world who considers her appearance as the first thing that she wants to be complimented about. There is a lot beyond being pretty. As a woman, I want to yell out my views and the view of most women I know. Okay, I do like it when people tell me that I look good. I do sometimes spend time on myself to look my best for a party. But do I always, 24/7, 100% of the time care about looking beautiful?

Not really– in fact I like myself best when I wash my face and look in the mirror at the end of the day, when I am in my cotton pyjamas, feeling comfortable with how I am, and proud of my rawness and vulnerability. That is the time I tell myself that I am beautiful- inside and out!

I hang around with a bunch of friends who are extremely passionate, fun-loving and wonderfully pleasing – some love to wear makeup, some prefer to stay natural, but each of them is vividly beautiful. We may not have the perfect body ratio (frankly, I’ve never cared to find out what it is), we may not be the prettiest (as per conventional standards) but we find each one of us amazingly bright, valuable and beautiful. We crack the most insane jokes and enjoy the tiny joys of life with so much positivity, bringing out the best in each other. We can whip up a thousand solutions in a minute for a problem any one of us is facing. We may not know the perfect dance moves, but we dance joyfully with each other. We may not be the most accomplished cooks, but we try making new dishes soulfully, and then enjoy it heartily, complimenting each other for the love that has been poured in!

Many of my friends have stopped taking pictures which make us look beautiful or have the perfect angles, instead we opt for creating memories that capture our craziness, our fun-filled moments, memories that allow us to be ourselves and happy. Rather than concentrating on who looks the best, we concentrate on who is at their best – who first utters a funny sentence and makes the rest of us burst into endless laughter, sometimes even rolling on the floor

Ladies, do not let external beauty drive your survival quotient. As much as it may seem, you do not owe it to others to look beautiful all the time.

Do not give away your hard earned money to the diet industry just because others love to see us in size zero! Instead, eat right to maintain a healthy body for that sparkling smile.

Go for those hair extensions if you like, but remember to eat well to let your hair shine in their own luster- long, short, straight, frizzy- however you like to keep it.

Throw those high heels in the air at times and feel the pleasure of walking barefoot once in a while.

A little mascara never hurts, each shade of lipstick sets a distinct tone for your mood that day and your selection of that flowery, coloured or black dress magnifies a different side of your beauty each time. But do not hide yourself behind it, Instead, wear it to feel beautiful, for YOURSELF, when YOU want, where YOU want.

Express yourself freely and feel the excitement as your heart flutters with the joy of having spoken your mind. Take some time out to look within and connect with your own beauty. Explore, read, travel the world, work on your passion, experiment and be proud of the bliss you create. Let the happiness in your heart shine through your eyes and travel through every muscle of your face, creating that contagious smile.

As Dr. Steve Maraboli said, “There is nothings rarer, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself: comfortable in her perfect imperfection”.

You have everything within yourself to make you pretty. Your imperfections make you real, your smile makes you beautiful. Carry yourself with pride, be happy, laugh and radiate in your own shine!

#10yearsfromnowchallenge- Make a start today!

Seeing so many success stories on #10yearchallenge everywhere on social media, I am inspired to share my musing on how health is perceived in my immediate environment. 

While I cannot claim to be on top of my fitness game, healthy eating has always been a priority ever since I was old enough to have some control on my daily food. My mum thinks I’m obsessive, my daughters have always been intrigued by my recipes (which includes the likes of broccoli kebabs, beetroot cookies and zucchini pancakes) and my husband can’t stop feeling proud of it. However, it’s never too late to learn what’s missing, and it was barely a year ago that I joined a fitness centre, in order to have a more balanced lifestyle through regular exercise.

With time, weekend conversations with my friends – most of whom are in their early forties – have started to lend more focus towards a healthy lifestyle.  This topic creeps its way in every time, and it’s interesting to note different responses from different people when it does.

  • Analysts: These people genuinely want to understand every single detail of how best to stay fit. Their questions revolve around the kinds of foods to eat, the kinds to avoid, the new superfoods, the grandma recipes and various exercises. They’re even keen to read a few books to research tips towards a healthy lifestyle. These people may not have done much for their health in the past but are keen to do so, once they have all the information they need to make an informed start.
  • Observers: A slight extension of the first category covers the people who do want to know all details, but they choose not to carry the burden of this knowledge too far and usually get rid of it as soon as they reach home; just not quite convinced enough to push through their comfort level and make a change in their current lifestyle.
  • Rebels: This set of people find this talk boring and rather pointless. They exercise regularly, but don’t like to talk about it. They eat the right food five days a week and let loose on weekends. They find it unnecessary to share details of their healthy regime, which allows them this luxury on weekends, thus creating an illusion that this is their lifestyle every single day and it keeps people wondering how they keep fit.
  • Happy-go-lucky: People who are too content with their present lifestyle and love their food like anything. Their mantra is to enjoy life as it comes: eat, sleep and drink while they can. They believe that, sure, doctors may tell them to stop eating certain foods one day… but until then, enjoy! 
  • Reformers: Here’s also another set of individuals who are no nonsense, no junk-food eating people. They exercise profusely, eat by the book and have an opinion for each single bite of junk another individual eats. These people want to push it to the limits to spread health awareness. They are brutally honest about what they think and are, more often than not, perceived as rude due to their extremist views. 

None of the people in the above categories are necessarily right or wrong. Each has their own way of doing things, which has probably, but not always, served them well in the past.

My question to any of these people would be, “Are you doing enoughto take control of your health?” If the answer is yes, “fantastic! You are already on the winning path.” If no, “do you have the courage to challenge your current lifestyle and make changes – big or small – towards a better health?”. Some may require a doctor’s consultation to start with, based on their medical history. Some may need to consult a dietician if wanting to commit to a strict diet.  Some may want to join a local gym while others may want to commit to a badminton group or park runners in open air, to be surrounded by motivated people all the time. Do whatever appeals to you.

In last 2 years, I got an opportunity to witness several health transformations in my inner circle. My husband, who has been a born foodie, lost 16 kg based on his own discovery of mindset change (See Article). Another friend engaged a dietician and lost 12 kg as a fantastic start to a healthy life. Just by saying goodbye to junk food, my high-school nephew not only lost 14 kg but also gained the confidence to set and achieve huge goals in his life. Each of them lost 15-20% of body weight and ushering a new healthy season of their lives. Several other friends and family members have started their healthy journey and it is heartening to see them create tiny wonders in their own individual ways. 

A healthy mind and body are assets that you create for a lifetime, and you are its ultimate beneficiary. It does not mean spending 4+ hours daily at a gym and eating only raw salad. It means conscious eating and some deliberate exercise as part of your daily routine: it may involve making some small changes like taking stairs instead of a lift, lunch time walks, yoga or even signing up to prepare for a city run. One thing that has worked for my family lately is making our weekends more active while having some fun together –hiking, outdoor games, bushwalking or coastal walks. The key is to look for opportunities to make a start and explore what you enjoy most. Do not over-think; do not procrastinate. Reducing weight may not be your motivation, but being fit and healthy should be something each of us aspire to be, not for others but ourselves.

As Bill Gates once said, most people overestimate what they can do in a year and grossly underestimate what they can do in a decade. What are you doing today to create your success story? Are you ready for the #10yearsfromnowchallenge?