Meaningful work comes from finding your professional purpose and pursuing it against the odds. This section offers invaluable insights and guidance from those who have found success and happiness through their own enterprise. Through intimate one-on-one interviews, you will learn why their choices felt right, what challenges they overcame, the words that inspired them, the people who influenced them, and their ideas on what their future holds.
Writer & Best-selling Author
“We are all arrogant about something. One hundred percent you’ve got something too.”
Picture it…A blessed garden lined with bamboo and bougainvillea. Blossoms filling the air with hummingbirds darting here and there. A verandah, sunshine, gorgeous weather. There you’ll find her. A wide-eyed lady basking in the light. She writes to her heart’s content, happy in a world of her own making. Anuja Chauhan finds romance in the birds and the bees. And humor in her dogs’ wild calls of nature. She is as delightfully witty as she is charming. A self-proclaimed enthusiastic, opinionated, uninformed, control freak. Her joy isn’t in her famous Pepsi ads or in the scripting of Bollywood dreams. It resides far from the madding crowd. Deep in conversation with people who open their hearts to her. We are Anuja’s inspiration. And from us, she creates magic.
“Empathy comes when you slow down, patiently observe and listen.”
Life is a tapestry of moving images. A series of moments and memories linked together by the emotions we feel. But the warmth of these stories can only be felt by the people who live them. It’s the rest of us who are left out in the cold. Unless, of course, Sandhya Kumar happens upon those stories. While known as a National Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Sandhya is at her core a gifted visual poet. She keeps empathy alive. With butterflies in her stomach, she films real people, real locations and real events, trusting that she will be able to create a film that rings true. Then, with her moving images on the editing table, she chisels away layer by layer, to the “saar,” the essence of her subject. So when those images reach us on the screen, we too can feel what she wants to convey and reflect on the stories that she knows must be told.
Designer & Fashion Brand Entrepreneur
“It doesn’t get easy, you get better.”
It was always there, deep in her gut. A sense of something better. Something strong and true. Just like her. Shilpi Yadav started KharaKapas because she was starving for the freedom to create. Step by step, she broke from convention to conquer her fears, take on egos, and nurture her business into a brand that is only growing bigger and stronger. Shilpi accomplished it all while wholeheartedly embracing motherhood and its sleepless nights. It is hard to imagine how one person could have such inexhaustible inner strength. But when you have both the humility and the will of a champion, there’s no telling what you can do. Shilpi is unstoppable. I for one can’t wait to see what she does next.
Founder & CEO, Parikrma Humanity Foundation
"The best way to move ahead is to burn the bridges behind you."
When I first met Shukla Bose at a Parikrma school in Bangalore, she made a request. “Every visitor must light a diya,” she said. I did so and then sat by her side to watch a film about the Parikrma Humanity Foundation. “Education that is second to none,” the voiceover asserted. The conviction was striking. Shukla Bose is a bold, tenacious, principled powerhouse of a human being. Her vision, fostered from her childhood to her work with Mother Teresa and beyond, grows from her own success and her own circle of life. Today, her transformational leadership is impacting over 85,000 people. I truly believe that everyone, everywhere can benefit from the insights of the woman featured here. She is the change that we all wish to see. From the lighting of the diya to her view of the horizon, Shukla Bose gives me hope that the future is bright.
Filmmaker, Photographer & Craftpreneur
“Traveling is the best way to find yourself. The more you go outward, the more you go inward.”
What makes a handmade product? Chances are, most of us have one hanging in a closet, adorning our nightstands or draping a dining table. Neha Rungta looks beyond what meets the everyday eye - across rivers and landscapes to the villages where these crafts come from. There, she says, you will be amazed by the centuries-old traditions and cultural mores that bring those handicrafts to life. A natural storyteller with a gift for visual expression, it’s no surprise that Neha is on a path to document the beautiful experiences behind those crafts. Her life itself is a winding journey of personal growth, flowing ahead as she discovers new people and places. In her mind’s eye, she sees great beauty in the unknown. Because it’s only when you shed your fears and embrace what’s out there that you can begin to know who you are inside.
NAMITA MOOLANI MEHRA
Writer & Food Entrepreneur
“The fluidity of my life suits the way I think. I can really crank when I’m fired up.”
She writes and writes and writes. She cooks and cooks and cooks. She creates products. She tells stories. She delights children. She helps parents. She fills bellies. She busts myths. Without a shadow of a doubt, Namita works her proverbial behind off. And while her whirling creative energy amazes us in its multiple forms, none of what she does would even be possible without a singular purpose to bring it all together. Simply put, Namita is passionate about making nutritious, delicious Indian food accessible to you, your family and to those who need it most. Believe it or not, she said goodbye to a thriving career at Facebook to pursue her passion from home. She did so with her young son by her side and her love for India as her inspiration.
Design Entrepreneur & Blogger
“I always need to come back to the question, ‘Am I being true to myself?’”
How do you step out of the safe zone to travel through self-made territory? How do you cross borders to form lifelong bonds with complete strangers? You do this with a smile, the sweeping hand of self-expression, and arms wide open. Vineeta’s flair for design and writing have made her a much-loved inspiration for people the world over. Her path isn’t straight and narrow, it is filled with unfolding turns and first-time encounters. Vineeta left a job in advertising to build her own business - from scratch. Without the very ads that she once made for a living. And without the street skills that come naturally to people in business. What she did have was a brave sense of purpose, the support of bloggers sharing their stories, a family who taught her the virtue of patience, and friends who saw the truth in her talent.
Health Communications Specialist & Choreographer
"Why live an existence that doesn’t hope for and work towards something better?"
Meera is her own woman. She is fierce. She is true. Her strength gives others strength. Her outlook gives others their outlook. From the San Francisco Bay Area to the outskirts of Chennai and beyond, Meera’s journey has been filled with the lonely, the unexpected, the enriching and the wonderful. She has chanced upon people, places, songs, and cultures that have inspired her vivid imagination and enabled her to feel the way instinctively through life. Her symbiotic passions for public health and dance are intertwined within her - one fueling the other, inspiring an artist’s heart filled with the ephemeral, and motivating her activist spirit to carry on boldly towards justice, equality, health and happiness for all.
Research Scientist & Altruist
“Why? Why do I need to go that route?”
Everything in Sarayu’s life begins and persists with great passion. She is motivated by an innate desire to ask questions and seek out answers - step by step, slowly yet surely - with the constant determination of a woman on a mission. Her missions are, and will always be, diverse and many. She’s a research scientist working to unlock the secrets of our genetic blueprint, a wife and mother who pushed for three years to adopt a baby girl while raising her two sons, a caregiver who is planning a foundation for orphanages in India, and a professional who wants more women to succeed without having to choose a career over a family. Sarayu isn’t driven by self-interest. It is the human condition that interests her. Like a flame that burns with strength, Sarayu is a force of nature. She calls herself jack-of-all-trades, master of multitasking. I call her jack-of-all-trades, master of why. And why not?
Ceramics Artist, Photographer & Poet
“Don’t be restful. It’s great to be restless.”
Vishakha’s mind is brimming with ideas. There are many at once, pushing to the front of her brain, urging to materialize. In response, she wedges her clay, throws her piece, lifts the walls and gives each idea its shape. The process is meditative, unforgiving of even the slightest distraction and demanding her total devotion. Vishakha immerses, shaping meaning and exploring each idea as a series of new expressions. Once an architect, now a ceramics artist, a lover of photography and an unwitting poet, her sense of self lies in the act of doing work. Because work with integrity is love, connection, worship, freedom. Work is remarkable in its capacity to reveal opportunities for more work. As her favorite poet Rumi once said, “When you start walking the way, the way appears.” Piece by piece, series by series, Vishakha walks the way to a better world, inspired by all that is yet to be done.