“Be in the present”, with Jason Remilard and Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia

Be in the present. Focus on your current work, instead of fretting about the future. Keep up a good rapport with your current clients, instead of finding ways to get new ones. Worrying about the future and lamenting about the past takes the focus away from the present, and you can lose yourself quickly. Asa part […]

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Be in the present. Focus on your current work, instead of fretting about the future. Keep up a good rapport with your current clients, instead of finding ways to get new ones. Worrying about the future and lamenting about the past takes the focus away from the present, and you can lose yourself quickly.

Asa part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women Leaders in Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing, Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia.

Ankitaa is the founder of AnksImage, a digital marketing agency that caters to small businesses around the world. Her work supports the brand’s overall marketing goals to increase the business profits and improve ROI.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for this opportunity to share my story!

I actually never thought I would be in marketing.

When I graduated from Michigan Technological University, I got my first job at Fisher-Price, New York. It was wonderful working there in the village of East Aurora. I loved every moment of it. But being a single child, I had to return to India to be with my parents. Still, I managed to work at FP for almost 3 years and then I got the ultimatum to return to India. And I did.

Once I was back in India, I realised I couldn’t find any job similar to the one I had at FP. I was in Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Reporting, and the software I was using in FP had not even arrived in India. So I had to find a new job.

In the meantime, I got married and moved to a small town in North India to be with my husband. Being in this location made my job search even more difficult since my place was far away from any major cities. So I finally decided to dive into entrepreneurship.

I had always been comfortable with website development and writing, so I got into freelancing. I had already set up a freelancing profile back when I was studying at MTU, so that helped. I won some bids, and started earning more than I had expected.

One of my early employers even mentored me for some time to get into freelancing as an agency. Under his mentorship, I was able to scale up and add more offerings to my portfolio.

AnksImage and Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia are synonymous, but under his mentorship, I was able to push AnksImage to the public eye more. I hired freelancers to share the workload, and one day back in 2011, I realised I am a digital marketer.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

There are many interesting stories I can share. But this one is about how I met my mentor.

I was freelancing on RentaCoder.com at that time. Every day, I used to bid on 10 jobs minimum. That particular day, I happened to bid on multiple jobs of the same employer. It was not intentional at all, but I had bid for copywriting, blogging, website design, as well as graphic design. So that employer replied to one of my bids and asked me why I bid on so many different lines of work. I replied that I wouldn’t have bid if I wasn’t sure I could deliver quality work on time.

He called me arrogant but I asked for an opportunity to prove myself. Maybe he was intrigued or he never got better bids than mine’s, but I won the copywriting and blogging bids. He told me he wanted a “real” graphic designer for the design work, but if I could share my old website work samples with him, he would give me the website design work too.

Fortunately during my college days, I had volunteered at both MTU and Keeweenaw Family Resource Center (KFRC) to maintain their websites, so I was able to share that work and I got that bid as well. But along with that bid came a warning that if I can’t deliver on time, he would give me a scathing review on vWorker.com (by this time, RentACoder.com had transformed into vWorker.com).

I worked hard. My blogging was good but I wasn’t that comfortable with copywriting. But I did my research and gave my 100%. Website design was a piece of cake. So all projects were delivered on time, and I waited. He didn’t reply for a week. And I was too scared to bother him. And so I waited.

When he finally replied, he sent me 7 ebooks on copywriting. His only comment was my work was good but I had to improve. He asked me for some rewrites after reading his books. I followed all his instructions and that’s when he told me that he worked as an ad executive in UK and would like to hire me directly for copywriting services, but only as an agency.

My husband and I rushed to get the business details in place. Till that time, I only had AnksImage as a website and business name. I had to get the business bank account and tax information.

I sent my business information to my mentor, and AnksImage bagged its first international client. I worked for him for several years. And he continued sending me ebooks on writing, web design, freelancing, business planning, etc. even after that. He also helped me understand how to hire people, how to delegate work, manage time, etc. His mentorship helped me become who I am today.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was starting out, I was desperate for work. I used to bid on at least 10 projects every day. Some days, even more. I thought if I bid in bulk, I will have a steady flow of work.

Like I said, I was desperate.

One fine day when I was bidding on blogging projects, I had the brilliant idea that I will copy-paste my bids — that way I can bid on more projects that day. Soon I was on a roll. I was copying and pasting bids like crazy. I remember I was almost on the twentieth bid when I noticed a message from my mentor.

Since I was working with him on another project, I quickly checked the message, and that’s when I realised that I had bid on his new projects as well, without paying attention to whom I was bidding to. His message said that he was expecting my deliverables for the current project since I had started bidding on his new projects. I was so shocked, I felt my legs growing numb.

After a few deep breathes, I decided I’ll just be honest with him. No excuses. So I told him about my “shortcut”, and braced for the worst.

He simply sent me laughing emojis, and told me to be more careful in the future. I felt so relieved that I didn’t work the rest of the day!

I vowed never to copy-paste my communication with anyone again. By not copying-pasting any of my communication, I was able to personalise and customise my communication to my intended recipient. And that actually helped me win bids more.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Working from home comes with its own unique set of challenges. I never get to meet the clients personally, so the chances of not getting paid is much higher. In the beginning, I couldn’t even ask for an advance to start the project because that would turn off the prospect and I would lose an opportunity. So I relied heavily on freelancing websites to generate a steady stream of income.

So when vWorker became (or was taken over by) Freelancer, I faced really hard times because I had to spend money when I was bidding. Till that time, I was bidding on projects for free. But Freelancer had different rules — to be eligible to bid on projects, I needed money in my account.

There were days when I would spend hours on the portal but didn’t bid because I didn’t want to spend money. That was a nerve-racking time.

Giving up was not an option. I didn’t want to undo all those years of hard work and get into any other line of work. I enjoyed my work, and my family had just started respecting my decision to get into business myself. So I decided to keep going.

But I did change tactics. I gave up on freelancing websites. There were too many trust issues there. Instead, I focused on LinkedIn. I started writing on Quora as well.

LinkedIn didn’t really work out so well, but quite unexpectedly, Quora started giving me more leads. Life was good again.

Being a mother helped me push through the hard times. I want to show my daughter that I can be successful in anything I want to be, as long as I am ready to work hard for it. So giving up was never an option. True she was only an infant at that time, but I felt that responsibility to challenge myself and push through.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have a lot of wonderful people to thank for helping me on my journey so far.

The one person I am grateful towards the most is my husband. He pushed me to step outside my comfort zone. He listened to my complaints patiently. He gave me the money to buy my domain and hosting to start the AnksImage website. He travelled with me to meet prospective clients in different cities, who used to insist that they had to meet me before taking the decision to hire me. Phone or video calls were just not enough!

There was this one time when we had travelled down to Delhi for such a meeting. Going to Delhi is like a 6-hour long road trip for us. And we were planning to return the same day since he had an important meeting the next day.

So we are in the waiting room at the prospective client’s office, and we had been waiting for almost an hour when we were told to come again the next day.

I was furious, but my husband never lost his cool. He requested the office staff to let us meet their boss, saying that we had come from far and couldn’t afford to come back the next day. Taking his cue — facing the problem rather than getting angry — I messaged the same to the client directly. Even sent him a short email that I had been waiting to meet him for hours.

But there was no reply. I was starting to feel disappointed because we had to come back home the same day. Knowing my face, he figured I was depressed, and he told me not to lose heart because if we couldn’t meet the client that day, we will stay another day. I argued that he had an important meeting the next day, and he argued that I was in an important meeting that day itself.

We were interrupted suddenly during our argument by one of the office staff. She said we could meet their boss. I rushed ahead while my husband stayed behind. Of course I came back and dragged him in with me although he insisted he wasn’t “AnksImage”. But for me, he was.

Without his persistence, I would have just upped and left, and never bothered to look back. It was only because of him that I stayed, persisted, and eventually bagged that project. That project lasted for almost 2 years — that’s a big deal for work-from-home entrepreneurs like me. And it was all because of my husband.

Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favourite quote is by Harry Winston — “People will stare, make it worth their while.”

We, human beings, are curious creatures. It is human nature to be curious, to stare. Making it worth their while is the challenge that inspires me to be more than how I’m seen or perceived by others around me.

I am more than just the daughter of a retired bureaucrat. I am more than just the wife of a businessman. I am more than just the mother of a 7-year-old. I am more than just a digital marketer. I am more.

This quote motivates me to be more.

When I started as a content writer and web developer, I craved to be more than that. As the years went by, I got into content development, web design, search engine optimisation, social media marketing, social marketing, branding, and such. I became a digital marketer.

Now I want to be more than a digital marketer. I want to get into mobile app development. I want to write children’s books. This quote gives me the inspiration to step out of my comfort zone and be more memorable than just “the girl who lives in the middle of nowhere and does amazing things to our brand”. That’s a direct quote from one of my clients.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?

My company, AnksImage, is a digital marketing agency. We are mostly sought after for content writing and rebranding projects. I help with online branding — making a brand look and feel more “human” online. My focus is conversion optimisation. And for that, I rely on search engine optimisation, content writing, and UX design.

The internet is facing a content overload right now. And my job is to make my brands more visible and approachable online, as compared to their competitors.

Most times when I am working with brand, their number one pain point is that they are losing money on their website. Websites are meant for so much more. They are supposed to support your work, even while you’re sleeping. But the truth is most businesses see websites as a create-and-forget asset.

So when I am called in, I redesign the website to improve the user experience through an optimised user interface. Then I work on the organic marketing of the website using search engine optimisation. Activate (or plan) social media marketing strategies that support the website. All of this is done from a branding point of view. And all this optimisation tactics help in boosting the conversion rate.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

AnksImage stands out because of me. People find me on Quora, look me up on LinkedIn or my website, and then hire me. And every time I ask them why they chose me, they say they did so because they found me so helpful on Quora.

Pre-COVID, I used to get 7–8 leads in a month. But post-COVID, the number of leads have shot up. Now I get 2–3 leads per week. People are finally starting to trust digital marketing as an effective marketing strategy.

There was one particular lead that caught my attention because he had messaged me through my website, messaged me on Quora, and sent me a direct email.

I replied to the one he sent through my website, and that’s when he told me that he had been following my Quora answers for years. And now that the pandemic had put traditional marketing on the down-low, he wanted to give digital marketing a try. But only if I agreed to handle all the aspects of rebranding.

Rebranding projects are long term projects, and since my hands were almost full, I tried to let him down. But he kept on pursuing and he was willing to pay me top dollar for my time, effort and skill. I was truly overwhelmed.

I had to make some adjustments to my schedule and he had to wait a couple of months to get started, but his project is on right now. He’s the perfect client. He never micro-manages. He lets me decide. And he never negotiates on my charges. All thanks to my answers on Quora.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am working on a few exciting projects right now.

One project is about helping a woman entrepreneur overcome the restrictions imposed by COVID. Pre-COVID she used to travel all over the world to conduct her training programs but once the lockdown started in March 2020, she lost all her gigs.

So we started working on strategies to conduct her programs online. We started with free webinars to build her subscribers’ database. We also did outreach programs to collaborate with other brands. And slowly graduated to paid programs.

Now she’s almost back on track, and I’m supporting all her digital marketing needs.

We leveraged the notion that lockdown is the time for learning, and that has helped us move her audience from the physical world to the digital world.

Another project I’m working on is rebranding a traditional business online.

That client never saw the need to venture into the digital world. And then COVID struck. So now I’m working on the rebranding to position the brand more effectively online. I am working on the user interface, user experience, and content across their website these days. And since it’s also a multilingual site, I have been entrusted to do the translation work as well.

Because of the various complexities in this project, I am challenged to find solutions that supports their brand message. So this has been a great learning experience for me.

And I’m helping that business get a foothold in the digital world and promote their products online. At this time, the products are sold through retailers in North America, Europe and Japan. Once my work is complete, we hope to build partnerships into regions like South America, Australia, etc. as well.

For the last few months, the commonality of all my projects has been the lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses are suffering due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, and I have been given the reins of these brands to push them through the noise and place them in front of their respective audiences clearly.

Let’s zoom out a bit and talk in more broad terms. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in Tech? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

Let me start off by saying that in the past 12 years of driving AnksImage, I have come across only a handful of women whose work portfolios match mine. That’s a telling point of the current state of affairs — there are far less women in Tech, as compared to men. And that just irritates me.

There’s a lot of talk happening nowadays regarding this. So the awareness is there, which is quite hopeful. But I believe in contributing to the change myself. Which is why I usually scour and hire female freelancers only.

I also mentor and coach female professionals at no extra cost. Most professionals or beginners come to me through Quora, and if I see that they are serious about their goals, I take them on. I’ve been doing this for years now, and every time I learn about their successes, I find more peace within myself.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

The most glaring challenge is funding. I remember standing outside the bank manager’s office, right under her doorway, and she wouldn’t even look at me till my husband ushered me inside. She kept talking to him, while I was sitting right next to him. I was invisible to her, even though my income tax returns for the last 3 years told her I had been running my agency successfully. She refused to believe I was running it without my husband’s help. It was quite a scathing experience.

I have had similar experiences where people refused to believe I was technical and smart enough to know what I was doing. Maybe I just met the wrong sort of people, but I quickly came to hate the whole idea of funding. Instead, I focused on working and getting paid to invest a certain percentage of my income back into my business.

Another challenge is gender. For whatever reasons, I’ve faced trolls and perverts who try to engage me in conversations or meetings unnecessarily. I’ve blocked and reported scores of men who have called me “dear”, “darling”, “beautiful”, or something similar. I don’t believe that’s something men in Tech (usually) face.

To address such challenges, we need a bigger forum of women who are willing to support other women. There are many organisations who tout doing this, but I haven’t really come across anyone genuine. I joined many “women” organisations, only to be disappointed that the executive decisions were being taken men who had no idea of the hardships faced by women entrepreneurs or professionals. Faced a lot of unnecessary and annoying mansplaining too.

As for me, I try to connect with women on LinkedIn through my women-only LinkedIn Group and lend a helping hand whenever I can. But most women I know don’t really ask for help. They are so used to rejection that they have trust and honor issues. So sometimes I get to help, sometimes I don’t.

What would you advise to another tech leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?

I rely on my powers of passion and persistence to persevere. So I would advise the other person to look within to find their passion. Doing what makes me happy saves me from burnouts, though I have been on the brink a few times. And it was mostly because of working with difficult clients.

Whatever the block was, I always jumped back on track after a break to revise my priorities.

Since the lockdown, a lot of businesses have suffered. And even if they know the solution, they are beset with budget restrictions. So it’s best to ask for help.

If you have a business, there is no room for pride or ego. You have to develop a thick skin and ask for help, whenever possible. Just think through your options first.

Another way to boost business is by extending your portfolio. I’m a certified image consultant and life coach, in addition to being a digital marketer, writer, trainer and branding consultant. I love each field of my work, and I showcase my work in these different fields to keep up a steady stream of incoming leads.

Do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?

One of my major clients is a corporate sales trainer. I have done a lot of research to develop content for her digital marketing over the years. So I can totally answer this.

A high-performing sales team can only be of sales professionals who have excellent communication skills, great attitudes and know their offerings thoroughly. All this comes in handy when building good rapport with their prospective clients, and with a good rapport comes trust. Once the trust is there, it’s easier to close deals.

In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?

When I start working on a new project,spying on the brand’s competition is the first step I take to find and attract the right customers. I emulate their competitors’ best strategies and work on similar channels to engage with the target audience. It’s one tactic that has always served me well.

Most clients who come to me don’t necessarily hand over their target customer persona to me to start my work. Sometimes it also happens that what the client thought was their target persona turned out to be quite different than the persona that was actually buying from them. So spying on the competition and deep-diving into the analytical data helps me find the right match.

Once there was a company that wanted to launch an IoT app in San Diego area. And they believed they were the first on the scene so there was no competition. So when I jumped in, I widened my research. I found similar companies in the UAE and South East Asia.

Even if there was no direct competition in the area, IoT applications being so popular made it necessary for me to think beyond the target area.

We forged partnerships with local businesses to offer coupons and free services for their patrons to download the app. Emulating some of the strategies of the competitors even helped us rake in the attention of local journalists and bloggers who went ahead to showcase the app. So that was a good run.

It’s always fun turning Sherlock!

Based on your experience, can you share 3 or 4 strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?

Here are some of the strategies I employ to give the best possible user and customer services experiences:

1. Map the customer persona to the customer journey you want your users to take on your website.

Your way of looking at your website and its elements can be vastly different from the way your users might be using your website. So it’s best to map out how your customers will navigate your website based on their persona.

You can map out possibilities like users who are generally browsing, those who are comparison shoppers, or those who are ready to decide. Then you can design your website in a manner where all types of users can have the best experience while navigating across your website.

For example, those users who are simply browsing wouldn’t be interested in longer content pieces, so you have to design shorter articles for them and link those short articles to other short articles to keep them on your site.

2. Plan and tweak as per your analytics data.

All your digital marketing efforts should be based on strategic planning and historical analytics data. And as you move through your plans for your website, content, social media, etc. you have to tweak those plans based on what you see in the incoming analytics data.

Your analytics data holds the key to your success. You can use Google Search Console and Google Analytics as your basic analytics solutions, but there are other tools like HotJar, Woopra, Ryte, SEMrush, etc. who can help you tweak and fortify your digital marketing plans for more success.

3. Always be consistent.

Likes and comments don’t matter. Many of your target users can be passive consumers. So keep your website updated. Post regularly. Be active online daily. Let them see you and get to know you. Once they have a good understanding of you, they will come out of anonymity and engage with you directly.

So to intrigue them out of the shadows, you need to stay consistent.

4. One size doesn’t fit all.

Your brand is unique because you and your people (who are running the business with you) are unique. Let that uniqueness shine through the digital noise, and you will find your target audience where you want them to be. So don’t follow standard templates of digital marketing plans to get more success.

Standard templates are a good point to start, but your brand voice and personality needs to shine through, so customise your efforts to support your brand message.

For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are both OTT platforms but they are unique in their own rights. And their digital marketing strategies, as well as your brand voice and personality, online are quite different from each other.

I personally find Netflix more saucy, so I’m more on Netflix, as compared to any other platform.

As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?

My strategy is simple — I am always polite, deliver quality work on time, and add unexpected bonuses in my deliverables. That’s how I keep my clients hooked. Some of my major clients have been with me for 3–4 years.

Being polite and following etiquette, especially in written communication, has always helped me build a good rapport with my clients. And I stay friends with all my clients. There have been clients who return to me after a gap of 2–3 years because they couldn’t talk to other professionals the way they could talk to me and connect with me.

Delivering quality work on time is always a given with me. I feel physically ill if I mess up something at work. So I always check my work and create my best work to deliver on time. This is one rule that my mentor drilled into my head in my early days and it has helped me go on.

Unexpected bonuses are like free content with website design so that the client doesn’t have to hire a copywriter separately. Or it can be a deep-dive brand audit report on the brand I’m working on, even though I only did the writing work on it. What I have noticed is people like it when I show a personal interest in their projects. And that’s what makes me indispensable.

Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful tech company? Please share a story or an example for each.

1. Choose a niche where you can provide a sensible solution.

I started AnksImage because I thought everyone would like a website for their business. I tried to cater to everyone. But I kept spreading myself thin since I didn’t have enough time or money to target everyone.

Once I stopped rushing around, and focused on more realistic goals, I was able to set up a steady stream of leads and opportunities.

This defining moment came when I was sitting in an office of a potential client who owned a bowling alley and a pizzeria. She wanted me to handle her marketing with the goal of increasing the footfall to her bowling alley. And for that she wanted me to visit the neighbouring schools and apartment complexes to hand out flyers with special discounts on them.

Of course this wasn’t digital marketing, and I told her so. She replied that since I had talked about digital marketing so fluently, I could handle traditional marketing as well. And as a bonus if I succeeded, I could make her a website too. That’s when I realised how wrongly I was positioning myself online. That lady was educated and a successful entrepreneur herself but she clearly misunderstood me and my website.

Since then I make it clear that I only handle digital marketing strategies, and I strictly work from home.

2. Be human online.

It is easy to sound cold and detached online. But people don’t connect with cold and detached personalities. People prefer to connect with happy people. So choose to be human online, even on your company pages. Just don’t overdo it.

In my early days, I didn’t pay attention to my social media. I used to post on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ pages and I was done. No engagement. No interaction. And definitely no messages.

Then one day, frustrated with my lack of audience engagement, I posted a quote something like “When someone calls you “BOSSY”, don’t get offended (or sad) — it just means you’re a strong woman.”

And that surprisingly garnered a lot of reach and attention. It was hilarious.

The one time I posted in a total unplanned manner, it struck gold. Usually I planned everything in advance, scheduled it and then it used to get published automatically. But this time it was just in that heat of the moment. And it worked.

That’s when I researched a bit more and came across the concepts of brand voice and brand personality. That’s what triggered me into other branding concepts as well. And I vowed to be myself online, no matter how quirky or silly it may sound. My audience seems to like me that way, so that’s good enough for me to continue like this.

3. Be in the present.

Focus on your current work, instead of fretting about the future. Keep up a good rapport with your current clients, instead of finding ways to get new ones. Worrying about the future and lamenting about the past takes the focus away from the present, and you can lose yourself quickly.

I was once working with a client who had hired me according to her boss’s advice but didn’t really like me. It was a tax firm who wanted me to get people to process their income tax returns during tax season.

She used to come up with issues with everything about my work. Complained continuously, and was so very difficult to deal with. Her boss was a good friend to one of my other major clients, so I didn’t complain.

I just suffered thinking I can lose 2 clients at once, if I complained about her. And I also worried that if the word went out that I was dropped by 2 clients at the same time, my reputation would take a hit. And I kept on worrying.

I was unhappy and it showed in my work. And then there came a time when the other client asked me if everything was going good in my life. He thought I was having issues with my husband!

So I told him the truth about the difficult client. And he was surprised I was thinking so much. He advised me to drop that client but after talking to him, I realised I needed to just toughen up and start focusing in the present. I endured 2 more months with Ms.Difficult and then she was out of my life.

Next spring, she emailed me to get onboard for another tax season. But I had learned my lesson. I politely said No.

Now I use breathing exercises to stay in the present moment, when I catch myself hyperventilating about the future, or lamenting about the past. It’s quite effective.

4. Take breaks.

Taking regular breaks during the work day, and a good vacation every once in a while is a good way to replenish yourself. When you’re working, taking breaks seems like a huge waste of time but that’s the only way to stay sane and healthy.

I once had a client who insisted I work 9 hours every day because I was in India and he was in USA. On top of that, he insisted on getting Hubstaff installed on my workstations to keep track of my work activities. Super micromanagement at work here!

Since the work fascinated me, I was fine with all his incredibly weird demands. I worked hard. I brought in the results. And all I got in return was “but why was your Facebook page open for more than 20 minutes when you could message that XYZ person in 3 minutes?”

His pettiness prompted me to work harder. I used to sit at my desk at 7 in the morning and worked till 9 in the evening, with less and less breaks in between as the days went by. I didn’t really feel different, I was happy in fact, but my family suffered. My toddler missed me and would climb up my chair to sit on my back while I worked.

But I still got the same response — “posting takes only 5–10 minutes of your time, so why was Hootsuite open on your desktop for so long?” or “Don’t talk to the client on a first-name basis — only I can do that”, or something similar.

And one night as I wrapped up a night call with him, my world tilted. I couldn’t stand straight without dizzying head-spins. And worse, I couldn’t even lie down on my bed without my head spinning. It was spondylitis. I was prescribed physiotherapy for 2 weeks.

When I talked to my client for a break, he said he was sorry he hired me because he knew he couldn’t trust women with kids. It was quite a discouraging moment in my career. But I quit and never looked back. He has messaged me a few times over the years to come back and work for him, but I can’t torture myself or my family again.

He definitely was a supremely difficult client but I was at fault too. Ignoring breaks affected my health. And even today when I am working, I have to be extra mindful of my posture and stand up every couple of hours to stay fit.

5. Ask help or delegate whenever possible. Know your limits.

To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to realise that you can’t do everything by yourself. You need help. And to get that help, you have to ask for help. And it’s so NOT easy to ask for help.

I’ve always been a self-made person. I studied hard in school and ranked first in class. Same goes for college. I even saved my report cards from the fourth grade to show my kids how brilliant I was.

When I was in Fisher-Price, I was the first woman of colour in my office block. I learned everything from the ground up. I like being independent so much that I even learnt how to check the oils in my car, and even change the tyre.

But as life progressed, my responsibilities and duties also increased. So though asking for help didn’t come naturally to me, I did get over myself to ask for help when I saw no other way out.

So when I was running short of cash to renew my hosting at GoDaddy, I asked my husband for a quick loan. I repaid him a few months after that, but I still remember it was so hard to do that.

Once I was sick and I was supposed to write for a wedding planner. I had tons of research to do, so ultimately I hired another writer to do the initial research and give me the article titles. We have kept in touch over the years, so I use her services from time to time. But designing and strategising is something I can’t afford to delegate. And that’s okay.

It’s already difficult to juggle work, family, friends, and life all the time. So feeling guilty on top of all that becomes just too much. So I know what I am comfortable delegating and what I absolutely have to do myself.

Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I feel there can be more women in tech.

I want to defy the myth that coding is too complicated for girls. I’ve connected with many organisations who encourage girls to code, but I want to see more activity there.

My daughter is 7 years old, and she finds my source codes “beautiful”. Though she doesn’t understand any word of it, she would stare at my work and ask me how to do that herself. But I have asked her to wait. Instead I have started her on code.org that encourages young minds like hers to get into coding. It’s a wonderful website.

However, the real problem is when her friends come over and the boys think it’s so funny that my girl is trying to code. They are also just 7 year olds and they are already set with their biases of what a girl can and can not do. And that’s just sad.

My daughter then points out that I code, and the boys finally shut up. So in my way of thinking, if there are more women in tech, it wouldn’t be such a strange notion that a girl would want to code.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I love Michelle Obama, and I would love to bask in her shadow for a minute or two.

She’s the epitome of my favourite life lesson quote that I shared earlier. She is so much more than the former First Lady of the USA. She’s an author, an attorney, an activist, voicing her opinions, keeping her family together, and what not. She’s one of the most inspiring people I have come across in my life. And I would love to meet her some day.

I would love to listen to her stories of how she juggles the different aspects of life.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

Thank you for this opportunity. Much appreciated!

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