An interview with Dhara Mehta. Founder of The Kids Company.
Tell us something about yourself.
It was 2008, I was a postgraduate, and worked as a media manager in a multinational media house I had a promising career ahead. That’s when I bagged one more qualification, one that needs no college or formal degree, ‘Motherhood!’ From a corporate working woman, I became a stay-at-home, hands-on-mommy, very content with my new responsibility. Little did I know then that the sabbatical taken to enjoy motherhood would eventually turn out to be my final goodbye to the corporate world!
Motherhood for me has been, and still is, an overwhelming experience: I was completely in awe of the wonderful surprises my little K would have for me every day. ‘Get a helper for your son’ was the most clichéd piece of advice given by most of my ‘well-wishers’. However, I decided to go against it. With each passing day, I was convinced of not getting back to the ever-demanding corporate world. However, the question ‘Where am I heading professionally?’ kept haunting me.
‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work’ – fortunately for me it looked wonderful!
How did you come up with the idea of ‘The Kids Company‘?
As my son grew from an infant to a toddler, he and I would often spend our noon’s playing board games or creating ‘robots’ with blocks, or solving jigsaw puzzles! That’s when I picked up a very important insight: ‘play is the work of childhood, and the highest form of education’. This thought that ignited a spark in me: to reach out to pre-primary kids with a service, which would bridge the gap between play and learning. It sounded vague to many but I believed in my dream.
I decided to learn everything about child development and care and took up a formal one year course. So strong was my passion for the subject that I topped my batch with a distinction and became a qualified Early Childhood Care and Education Provider. Theory and practical knowledge both complement each other when it comes to learning something new. To gain practical knowledge, when my son turned three, I took up a job in a day-care-activity-center for kids with only one condition from my side, that my son shall accompany me there after his school. These were systematic and planned steps to help me reach my goal.
The formal course and practical experience both reinforced my belief that early childhood education should be filled with lots of enjoyment and play, allowing children to live their childhood to the fullest and not miss out on the most important ingredients of growing up. Working upon this insight, ‘The Kids Company’ was born in 2013.
So what is the USP of The Kids Company?
‘The Kids Company’ is an intelligence building activity centre offering its fun filled and intellectually stimulating program to children between 3 – 7 years of age. We specialize in academic enrichment, brain games, building logical intelligence, instilling creative thinking and teaching through play.
Our program is designed to enable learning through a surprise mix of curated educational games, I.Q. sessions, puzzles, mazes, crosswords and many more brain tickling activities. The activities are aimed at improving the child’s skills related to logical thinking, problem solving, self – management, communication and inter personal skills.
What were the challenges that you faced in your Entrepreneurial journey?
Shifting gears, and industries from being a media professional to an entrepreneur in the education industry, starting my own venture, and raising a child in a nuclear set up needed a lot of self conviction. My journey so far has been fulfilling and an enriching, along with some challenges.
I started The Kids Company from my house by dedicating a room for the same. It wasn’t as easy and convenient as it sounds. To have a workspace at home, and with a growing toddler around all the time was taxing and challenging. Setting professional standards and overcoming clients’ (parents’) perception, who would misinterpret it as ‘just another tuition class’ was a herculean task. I’ve made a clear demarcation between my personal and professional space though they co exist in the same premises.
Another challenge was switching between professional and personal roles.A strict routine is needed to strike a balance between professional and personal commitments. Work starts when I kiss bye to my son and my husband at 8:30 am. I have an action packed day, juggling emails, planning sessions, filling up on groceries and all the chores, till 3:00 pm when I make it a point to pick my son from school. It’s child and mom connect time and once he’s settled I shift focus to my second baby! Typically, I wind up my work by around 7 pm and am in mommy mode till I tuck my son in bed!
Also, there are a lot of uncertainties associated when you start your own venture. Initially I got anxious and nervous, but I guess motherhood’s made me stronger, and more open to accept surprises that come along! There have been days when my house help took an unplanned leave, or K’s school declared a half-day, and once my husband ended up with a fracture playing soccer! Nonetheless, my work continued seamlessly.
How would you sum up your journey so far?
It has been an enriching and a satisfying journey so far. The Kids Company has also bagged some awards along the way which has always kept my motivation high and mood upbeat. At the RIVOKIDS Parents and Kids Choice Awards 2015, The Kids Company bagged the best activity centre (pan India) second runner up award. In 2016, we were honored to receive BABYCHAKRA Mom’s Choice Service Certificate in the category activity classes.
Sigining off with the thought, that inspired me in my journey: ‘Organize your life around your dreams – and watch them come true.’
In this Interview, Rachel Withers gives some Valuable Advice on Health, Wellness, and Wealth Goals
Rachel Withers, through her various programmes, helps people achieve positive results and success in health and wellness along with teaching them how to have mastery over wealth. Her programmes are carefully crafted to give optimum outcomes for their participants. In this Interview, Rachel shared some valuable tips on how one can have a fulfilled life. She also underscored how important it is to not lose yourself in the whole process.
It’s often said that in order to live a fulfilled life, we need to achieve just 3 goals. Health, Wealth, and Happiness goals. But for most of us, even achieving a single goal could take a lifetime. Where exactly do people get lost?
I think you have to first ask yourself ‘how badly do I want it’ and whether you are truly in it from the start. You’ve got to have that internal belief system of ‘doing whatever it takes’.
I also think to achieve a goal you’ve got to use the motto ‘one step at a time’ and avoid juggling too many things, as you end up splitting your focus over many tasks, which just makes you lose the focus and actually takes you longer to hit goals.
“Successful people achieve their goals not because of who they are but because of what they do.”
It’s important to break the goal down into smaller chunks, with each chunk having its’own deadline. Successful people achieve their goals not because of who they are but because of what they do. Aristotle nailed it over 2000 years ago when he said ‘’We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
What according to you is financial freedom?
For me, it means being able to make life decisions. It’s about much more than just having money. It’s the freedom to be who you really are and do what you want in life.
One of the biggest hindrances in the path of an individual’s financial or other life goals is Procrastination. What are your views on this? How can one overcome procrastination?
Procrastination is one of the leading causes of failure. Procrastination also means one’s lack of ability in differentiating important tasks with unimportant ones.
We all can put things off but for me, the trick is to do the hard and important tasks first. Manage your environment, make sure it’s conducive to the task, and remove all distractions.
It is also seen that many achieve their financial goals but fail miserably at their health goals. Do you believe that of the three goals, health goals should be given a priority? How can one achieve a healthy lifestyle when people seem to be busy all the time?
Looking after your health is really important, in order to perform at your optimum, you’ve got to look after your mind and your body, for me that’s key to success. The better you look after your mind and body the more you’ll thrive. Putting off looking after your health means you don’t respect your body, it’s not a priority and you are procrastinating. In order to have a healthy lifestyle, one should have proper time management skills. With proper time management, you will never be in a rush and will always find some time for your health.
You have an exclusive club where people get introduced to an improved lifestyle, and they learn how to achieve overall personal development. Tell us more about your club.
I’m the founder of the Rachel Withers Academy, an online community, a community of likeminded women, who support one another to achieve their goals in a safe and supportive environment. A community for women who have the belief to do more, give more, be more, and create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, become more.
For our society to grow in a desired pace and manner, women entrepreneurs need to take the centre stage. What suggestions would you give to young women who want to take the path of entrepreneurship?
Women entrepreneurs have shown time and again what they are capable of. To anyone who wants to take the path of entrepreneurship, I would say that you follow your dreams and live life being true to yourself. Don’t look to others, or their opinions to give you a sense of worth. The world needs us all to shine. And most importantly, be true to yourself.
In this Interview, Hollywood Actress and Filmmaker Giovannie Espiritu Shares her Tryst with Entrepreneurship
Her students include series regulars, an Emmy Nominee, and are signed with the top agencies in Los Angeles. She was also named one of the Top 40 Audition Coaches in LA.
Earlier, she was nominated alongside Academy Award Nominees Alfre Woodard and Amy Irving for Best Supporting Actress at MethodFest for the Mynah Films feature film Fiona’s Script. She also has several primetime credits to her name including a recurring role on ER (NBC), Bones (FOX), Gilmore Girls (ABC), and Trauma (NBC). We recently Interviewed Giovannie to know more about her workshop and her tryst with entrepreneurship.
Giovannie, Thank you for talking with us. Teaching others how to act is a different ball game altogether. Given your vast experience as an actor, how and when did you start teaching acting, and how has been your experience so far?
Thank you for having me. I started teaching acting for various schools in the Bay Area in 2003, so I learned and taught quite a few different acting techniques and finally branched out on my own in 2008. From the beginning, my students began booking major gigs. One of my first students, Rayna (last name withheld for privacy) was flown to Los Angeles to test for an upcoming Ben Stiller movie through a self-tape that we worked on and sent in. Since then, my students have booked major campaigns and signed with the top agents in local markets and in greater markets like Los Angeles and New York.
I have a few alumni students who have gone on to book series regular roles for Dreamworks (the Espina sisters who hosted, “Life Hacks for Kids”) and an Emmy nominee (William Lipton, who plays Cameron on General Hospital).
Your students have worked with some of the big names in the industry including Disney, Universal Studios, Cartoon Network, and Pixar among others. What does it feel like when one of your students make it big and have a taste of success?
I am extremely proud of my students. Not only the ones who have booked major gigs but also the ones who have made strides in their schoolwork or overcome their fear of public speaking. Although, booking gigs and signing with agents is a great goal that a lot of my students have been able to attain, there are also goals like better reading comprehension and emotional empathy/EQ that I think are just as valid.
Tell us more about your teaching methodology. How have things been during the ongoing pandemic?
I try to teach my student to the standards of the Los Angeles Market. Even before I moved down to Los Angeles, and taught locally in the Bay Area, I still taught to LA standards just because I wanted my students to be prepared for the professional world (if that was their goal). To quote Natalie Portman, acting is empathy in action, and I always try to teach from that perspective. What would it be to approach the world from someone else’s shoes and really take on their experience of the world? As far as the pandemic goes, I was already teaching my students online before it became commonplace to do so. The pandemic has changed the industry drastically though. Most auditions will probably now be self-taped without in-person auditions.
With the advent of Netflix and Amazon Prime, many actors have shot to fame thereby breaking the monopoly Hollywood had all this long. What are your views on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime? Do young actors prefer these platforms over making it mainstream?
I actually think that Netflix and Amazon are considered mainstream entertainment these days… especially now since the Academy has broadened its requirements on what qualifies for an Oscar to streaming platforms. I do think that platforms like TikTok have changed the game in terms of connecting with an audience and building a fan base which has changed the game for young actors. I know that a lot of agents have been asking about social media following numbers. It does help independent filmmakers to attach talent with a built-in fan base especially if their marketing budget is small.
To our readers, who are interested in the field of acting, what tips you would share with them? What should be their approach when they enter this field?
I have so many free acting tips and resources (including a 10 part podcast) on my website that your readers can access, but the number one tip I would give is to only get into the industry if you love the art of acting. The actual day to day business of the entertainment industry and movie making is tough, and if you do not start out with a foundation of loving the craft, the lifestyle is not worth it. I even tell parents that if the kid is not having fun, then it might be time to take a break. The mental health and well-being of my students is of the most importance to me.
For all those women entrepreneurs out there, please share your experience as an entrepreneur and how women can handle work-related challenges?
I have been extremely lucky in this business to have women mentors that I have looked up to and followed their footsteps. My current mentor is an amazing producer named Suzanne DeLaurentiis who is a veteran movie producer who has been working in the film industry for over 35 years and shepherded over 100+ feature films. She still had the tenacity and strength to make her films even when it was a boys club and there weren’t resources like Women in Film and the Alliance of Women Directors (which I am a member of). I also encourage other women to collaborate with other women – it is only by supporting one another and amplifying each other that we can create tangible change.
In this Interview, Marketing Guru Rachel R. Noall Shares Some Valuable Tips for Creatives and how Businesses Should look for Opportunities in these Tough Times
Rachel R. Noall is a Marketing Guru and the founder and CEO of RN Marketing Collective. The firm’s mission? To provide creative entrepreneurs with the digital marketing solutions they need to flourish.
I recently got a chance to interact with her. During my interaction with her, she talked about some of the biggest marketing blunders, areas where digital marketers can focus to get desired results and also about how the current pandemic has provided a plethora of opportunities for business owners.
Rachel, Thank you for having this Interaction. For the last few years, you have been helping businesses improve their digital footprint. For our readers, tell us how and where exactly your journey began?
I never sought out to be a business owner. That being said, to make money as a creative writer, one has to learn about how to run a business – there’s simply no way around it. As I was navigating how to market myself, I found that there were not many accessible options for everyday creatives, people pursuing passion projects, or even for small business owners.
After diving headfirst into all things marketing, I can now say, that 4 years after my journey began, I’ve worked as a consultant for some of the most successful companies within their given sectors.
With all of the knowledge and experience I’ve acquired, I want to bring the top digital marketing strategies to creatives. Creative entrepreneurs require out-of-the-box solutions, and these don’t have to come at a high price tag.
What inspired you to help entrepreneurs in their marketing pursuits?
Honestly, the lack of options and misinformation.
Unless you’ve worked in marketing you don’t know “what’s a good deal.” You also don’t know what questions to ask and what strategies actually produce valuable results.
I know so many people who are talented and they produce amazing products to their clients, but they don’t know where to begin when marketing is brought up. I want to help these entrepreneurs – those adding true value to their customers, tangible and affordable marketing options in a world that’s otherwise saturated with hefty invoices and false promises.
Being a marketing expert, tell us more about how marketing has evolved in the last couple of years?
There are a few things that have shifted marketing practices over the last few years.
Algorithms on all platforms are updated constantly. Whereas businesses could be discovered easily 10 years ago on social platforms, they are all now more “pay-to-play” arenas.
SEO practices, and particularly local SEO, are more important than ever. Competition is so high for popular keywords. Businesses and bloggers can’t just leave SEO to the “Google gods” anymore; being deliberate, purposeful, and paying attention to detail is key.
Some people do not see the desired results for their social media campaigns. How can they optimize their campaign for better results?
Invest in a good survey. Get to know your audience, and not just want they like, but who they are, their age, where they live, and about any related interests.
Having all of this information can help you paint a more specific picture of your target audience. The thing is, each niche audience encounters their interests differently, and the survey can help you nix or add strategies that probably weren’t on your radar.
Do you believe LinkedIn is an underrated marketing space?
Absolutely. All statistics show that LinkedIn is growing at an exponential rate. Additionally, the premium features offered on LinkedIn facilitate lead generation.
Every small business should be on LinkedIn. No exceptions.
How should businesses tune their marketing strategies during and after the Corona pandemic?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through Instagram and seen some cringe-worthy advertising during this crisis.
It happened so often, in fact, that RN Marketing Collective authored an article titled “Do’s and Don’ts: Marketing During COVID-19.”
Instead of asking anything from consumers, companies need to focus on what they can give – what value they can offer to make this unprecedented time feel less scary.
Right now, I suggest focusing on community-building and making offers instead asks.
Many businesses make a mistake in copying marketing strategies from other successful businesses. However, one size does not fit all and this holds true in the field of marketing too. Do you agree with this assertion? If yes, why?
One size DOES NOT fit all. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t learn from others.
Specifically, what businesses like yours, on a local level, are the most successful?
There are ways to emulate this success without mimicking it of course. For example, if local SEO is driving clients to their website, you should probably have local SEO at the forefront of your marketing strategy too.
I would never recommend copying another business’ marketing strategy. This ignores the fact that your branding, employees, and clients are unique – don’t make that mistake; if you don’t think you’re extraordinary, why would clients choose you over a competitor?
What tip would you give to young entrepreneurs who are reading this Interview and are in the process of launching their marketing campaign?
First of all, congratulations. This is an exciting time, and while all new business owners have some nerves to shake off, most of this journey should be thrilling.
Second, don’t feel like you have to do “everything” when it comes to marketing. Small spends and testing are your friends. Find what works for you, and that won’t always look like checking off all of the major marketing “boxes.”
Experiment. Hone your message. Dive in.
At RN Marketing Collective, your dream is our priority. If you want to learn more about how we serve creative entrepreneurs, reach out to us. We’re happy to be your ally and teammate as you grow your business.
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