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A truly inspiring interview with enigmatic and strong willed personality Dr Vahini Reddy

"The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands" stands very true for the versatile vivacious and vibrant Dr Vahini Reddy, who has carved a niche for herself by combating all the adversaries encountered in her life .

1. Tell me more about yourself? What kind of person are you?

I would say I’m someone with a need to produce results and practicing the virtuous path. I take little time to evaluate people, situation and then take up challenges head-on rather than sweeping them under the rug. I take responsibility for my actions, but wouldn’t take unnecessary blames or waste time in office politics. The child in me disowns such an environment.

I love reading books on various topics, and I can say my personal and professional growth is based on what I read. I am a person introspective on my thoughts and actions and see what I can improve upon the next time.

I love simple things like playing with kids and animals, cooking and serving, caring for the less privileged, crying while watching a movie, and flying kites and enjoying festivals. I believe in balancing myself in any situation (I try my best), I also believe in working hard and smart and consistently put self-targets.

At times, I am a bit harsh on myself expecting too much out of me to serve the purpose or to take up as well much of responsibility solve the issues. Then I define my benchmarks; I take the necessary steps to achieve those milestones. I’m a performance driven person who wants to work for a fruitful result in the company with strong leadership and long-term vision. As far as I know me as of today.

2. What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

My first driving force was, self-sustaining- when I was underway of my startup, I wasn’t even aware that I was going to get abandoned after six months of its inception itself. The reason behind the establishment of my firm was to support my foundation. As I wasn’t in favour of taking donations, so I thought I could raise funds by serving corporate through my services.

The second one was when I wanted to develop and seed funds for as many women as possible to start up their enterprises. I wrote clear goals along with different entity names back in 2010; even today I have that diary which speaks about a set of eleven entities naming Vahini at the end. Like if I seed funding a School; it will be named as VidyaVahini, if it’s a clothes store’s Vastra Vahini, etc. The main reason for giving such as a name was, as my birth mother has given me this name, I wanted to live up to that name doing total justice to it. I actually don’t even know my mother’s name, as a matter of fact, which is indeed a strange thing. Nevertheless, if I had known her name, I would have rather kept her name instead of using my name, and apparently, this is a personal reason also. And lastly is to contribute my part in enhancing broken or desperate women who feel powerless to care for themselves and their children thereby developing them into self-sustainable individuals.

3. What best motivates you? How have your entrepreneurial motivations changed since you first started?

The spark that ignites my motivation is working on solving problems, providing excellent services to the clients who remember us for the quality contribution and progress by associating with us. What motivates me more is to work on streamlining the organization system through comprehensive frameworks and creating healthier employee engagement practices. Apart from it working on leadership attribute with visionary and thought leaders in bringing up innovative solutions to address bigger issues. Above all, the propelling factor is to give a better life to my son. The motivations never changed, but the strategies, in fact, do change.

4. What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?

The best advice I can give is to have consistent improvement in the quality products and customer services to solve their issues or improve the existing quality. Focus on providing material assets, revenue generation and most importantly human capital.

Keep training, human capital with finest competencies to be more efficient; however, if you find any dead logs in human capital, do not hesitate to change profiles. Work and build your personal psychology, professional competencies, interpersonal and leadership to have a deeper understanding, optimum decision making and become resilient at the time of difficulties and downfall.

5. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Based on my experience, it is difficult to wrap up with three attributes. I would list three for the sake of answering, but that doesn’t mean the rests aren’t important.

1. Take a risk by keeping the big picture in mind. Meaning, risk-taking is important in business growth, but you cannot decide an action based on just present situation, ignoring future consequences, you have to revisit your vision on a wider horizon and then take a risk.

2. Hire,handover and operate with competent and committed people.

3. Be effective with your communications among all levels. It is the most important skills for any entrepreneur to connect, collect feedbacks, to implement new processes, learn and develop the team and to progress in business.

6. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

I don’t think so. What I mean by saying that is, that every entrepreneur has his or her own definition of success. For some, it can be making big money, for some, it could be making money in a speedy way, for some, it could be bringing change in society through their product or service with different business sectors and ideas. And they figure out their own way out in fighting their day to day challenges, reaching their goals. Nevertheless, if you ask me as qualities, I would say never to give up, have perseverance, update and upgrade yourself constantly.

7. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.

Progressive

8. From a successful entrepreneur to an upcoming author, how was this transition for you?

A bit of bit of curiosity on how the readers would take and a little overwhelmed, because working as full time an entrepreneur where I’m travelling, dedicated to clients work on one hand and on other hands first narrating the story, later dealing with unexpected and subsequently writing a book by myself, rechecking, and editing take not only different mindsets but had also cut me off from social life for two years now. Though there was a crisis in time and workflow management, I can say that this particular book worked as a therapy, a healer.

My next two books are totally for professionals on self-improvement for an excellent living and professional progress.

9. This is your debut book, how do you feel?

Honestly, I feel both agitated and contented at the same time.

10. Can you put some light on your book for us?

It is a nonfiction book that is written to inspire certain segment of society like women and youth. To give a message that it doesn’t matter who the villain is in your life, but what matters is to work on yourself to fight those villains. Sometimes the villains can be situations, people around or you, yourself. I mean your own weaknesses. I want to tell those destitute women, children and youth that if you build your courage, communications, hard working attitude and optimistic nature, then you can change your circumstances. I can say that You Can Design your better tomorrow.

11. What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?

Being resilient, constantly work on self-development and no matter how broken you are, you can still pick somebody by extending your hand.

12. How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Maybe it was seeded in my childhood, where I used to listen to one of my cousin sisters saying that this family has so much drama that one can make a big movie out of it. However, it came to me as a conscious thought when I got my first pay cheque as an entrepreneur. Being abandoned in a city of Pune without any known acquaintance, no professional network, no contact numbers of friends, nothing… it was a blank phase for me, and all I had was my six-month-old startup, one untrained fresh team member and my son who just finished his school.

I was handling turmoil of mentally, emotionally, financially broken state of being who is lost and hurt but can’t express as my son already deeply hurt, which resulted in his self-harming, due to such sudden uncertainties and on other hand, I was facing questions from society for being left. Even so, internally, I picked my own dismantled pieces of self nearly every day, pouring out my heart end of the day, self-motivating every morning to fight legal and life battles for a nearly next one year.

My corporate experience and expertise in HR and Training helped me to deliver my services to the client effortlessly, and those were my only investments in my firm. That day when I got my first pay cheque, I felt this was the story worth sharing, if not to everyone, but few who can resonate with my kind of struggles. 13. Are there any nuggets of wisdom you can impart to aspiring writers? This is my first book narrating about my own life journey. However, I don’t think I have reached a stage that I can share any piece of advice or wisdom to aspirant writers. At the same time, I can certainly share some thumb rules to take care if anyone is planning to get started as a writer. Whether you are talking to a publishing house, or you have engaged a writer to compile your narrated story, make clear MOU/ MOA with exclusivity clauses. Else after sharing your story, you may experience inconvenient demands of such as share 50% revenue from story compilers, or they might indirectly threaten you that your story can be turned into some fiction story with a change in character names and places and can be published by without giving you any copyrights and so on. The one whom you trusted can turn into fraud after receiving good reviews of your book. True story, I’m not kidding.

All this not only becomes a headache for you, but also takes away your faith and spirit, which you don’t need at all. Apart from taking care of strict legal procedures, I would say, write a book that you would love to read and enjoy or get inspired when you read it yourself. I have read my book a couple of times now and every time it gives me goosebumps, pain and tears of joy. And then talk about it whenever you have a chance. Promoting your book and the idea of writing that book to a large number of audiences can take time, so be patient and persistent.

14. What Was your journey liked to get where you are?

Honestly, I had near-death experiences in the personal and professional journey. Life tested me at every level. Be it about my courage or intelligence or my patience or be it my integrity, ethics and values. Good for me as I have learnt many lessons and understood people behaviours at different stages, kept learning new skills and knowledge. While I got to applaud for my courage and services, I got knocked down by relationships and envious people. I have seen both.

I have made a million-dollar business, and I have seen the rock bottom as well. I took responsibility for both and kept bouncing back. That never give up attitude and pushing my own limits has fetched me not only new opportunities, it has also introduced me to my innate competencies, which otherwise wouldn’t come out. Even so, in spite of all these roller coasters, I could create a much better living with my family, multiple business opportunities and also increase like-minded team to work on our foundation projects. In fact, we are now going to seed fund young entrepreneurs through EDP cells in universities whose enterprising ideas can solve India’s social issues.

15. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.

My most accomplished moments are

1. When my son scored topper rank and gold medals among thousands of students in the university.

2. When I received an endorsement letter from Ministry of Skills Development & Entrepreneurship to conduct social entrepreneurship program, a UNESCO program.

3. When I saw students whom I counsel and gave the scholarship to get them on track again, have continued their studies and settled into their lives. Similarly with women, whom we nurtured and supported to have settled in their lives,that gives me immense sense of satisfaction.

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