Dr. Zabina Bhasin of In KidZ: “Patience”

Each of the women on my team uplifts and contributes to the success of In KidZ. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where my whole support team fights me on an idea, or has to rein me in, but without them in life, I would miss out on the amazing productivity that comes with […]

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Each of the women on my team uplifts and contributes to the success of In KidZ. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where my whole support team fights me on an idea, or has to rein me in, but without them in life, I would miss out on the amazing productivity that comes with collaborative work. I would never see other ideas or have to navigate disagreements, which makes us flourish and succeed.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in the second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Zabina Bhasin, MD.

Dr. Zabina “Zee” Bhasin, MD, is a diversity and inclusion expert, child psychiatrist, and entrepreneur. She is dedicated to helping parents and schools educate the next generation of global citizens.

Her culture-focused toys and educational products company, In KidZ, has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, Red Tricycle, PopSugar, RAISE Parenting and Thrive Global.

A mom of two herself, Dr. Zee lives by her own mother’s motto that, “We are more similar than we are different. Those differences make us unique, but they do not separate us.”

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Yes, thank you so much for the opportunity.

My family is South Asian (East Indian), and I grew up in Orange County, CA surrounded by extended family. Home was a unique blend of my father’s quiet strength and my mother’s determination all wrapped in their shared persistence to make their home in the US.

Although my neighborhood was culturally diverse, I was bullied throughout elementary and high school for my curry lunches, my large nose, and darker skin. My older brothers experienced similar bullying for their long hair and Sikh turbans. This was before the PSA era and before anyone knew the impact of kids being treated this way.

Of course, my childhood wasn’t just made up of feeling like an outsider, although I still feel the sting of those hurtful comments and actions. However, the louder (and more important) voice that I hear is my mother’s.

An educator for 40+ years, I remember these words. “We are more similar than we are different. Remember, our differences make us unique but do not separate us,” she would often remind me. My mother started speaking this message loud and clear many years ago. Today, I proudly have it stamped as my company’s mission.

As a young girl I didn’t understand the power of those words until she acted on them — because that’s when real change happens.

In 2nd grade, my mother asked my teacher if she could come and teach about Sikh culture. By sharing the traditions and stories behind our clothes, food, and hair, she allowed my class to experience life in someone else’s shoes. It’s hard to explain how this simple act radically changed my school.

The lesson sparked something beautiful. Other parents began to share their cultures, too. Korean parents, Pakistani parents, and Chinese parents began coming to the class and sharing the stories behind their food and traditions. This eventually evolved into an “International Week,” celebrating culture throughout the school.

I experienced firsthand how understanding different cultures cultivated empathy and curiosity. The experience made me acutely aware of how my family, and families around me were different; that these differences were valuable, beautiful, and something to be celebrated.

I am now committed to helping others learn more about culture, diversity, and inclusion. These lessons help kids appreciate differences, and studies show kids who learn about culture are kinder, more empathetic, and more adaptable.

Since it’s impossible to walk into every school in the country and teach about multiculturalism (although I’m working on it), I created In KidZ to deliver the world’s cultures directly to families.

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

This is a poem, rather than a quote. However, it speaks to me, especially as I have been reborn in my career.

“The Universe took its time on you, crafted you to offer the world something different from everyone else; when you doubt, how you were created, you doubt an energy greater than us both.” — Rupi Kaur

I went to school to become a physician, and really never thought I could even be anything other than a healthcare professional.

I believe being a physician was the first part of my life. I honor that essential part of my past as it has given me the knowledge and expertise that is now the foundation of a magnificent 2nd chapter as a CEO, a global diversity expert, a speaker, and a thought-leader.

But like the poem states, the Universe guided me towards my larger calling, shaping me to create the “something different than everyone else”. It’s what I now get to offer the world.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Patience: As a physician, we are taught to be patient; that does not always happen for me, but time and time again, I learn that when I am patient, when I wait, watch, and prepare myself for the next step there are always greater rewards.

Self-Discipline: The ability to be disciplined enough to develop healthy habits in all areas of life has radically changed my life. Developing habits, routine, and patterns help to structure life so that there is flexibility. This is counterintuitive, I know, but I find that by making a habit of even my most dreaded tasks helps open my mind up to more creativity, while still maintaining consistent growth.

Positivity: No, I’m not talking about “everything is always sunshine and rainbows” kind of positivity. Let’s be real and admit that is not always achievable. I’m talking about the kind of positivity within one’s self. When you can look at a problem and reframe it, magic happens. When challenges come up I really try to say, “This is awful, but I am sure there is something productive that can come from it. How can I make this better?” While sometimes difficult, having a positive outlook and shifting my perspective from the negative outcome to a workable solution has made all the difference for me.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

Right out of high school, I went to medical school in Bangalore, India. Not only was I barely an adult and starting a significant college degree, but I did so in another country. Scared would be an understatement. I was absolutely terrified, but I did it anyway.

As a physician I had a successful career as a Hospital Administrator for over 15 years. I always seemed to create the position I wanted or was needed within the healthcare world. I knew where there were gaps for physicians and hospital staff, and I built solutions to bridge them.

I worked hard to create a space where doctors and administrators could communicate with each other. In my last position, I was charged with building an integrative Cancer Center in the San Fernando Valley. It gave me the time to work with patients again. What’s interesting is I now realize everything I did in healthcare was preparing me to move my career to the next chapter — becoming a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) expert.

While in the healthcare field, I saw an alarming lack of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I did what I could to make changes but quickly noticed it was a larger, systemic issue for adults. Once again, I took the opportunity to find (better yet, create) that bigger solution. If we could start teaching DE&I earlier, maybe it would become the norm for the next generation.

This is what led me to move away from healthcare and begin developing ways to introduce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to a wider audience.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

Despite learning and hearing about the foundational work that must be done to help kids normalize Diversity, it did not wholeheartedly affect me until my children were born.

I knew firsthand that learning more about culture helps kids appreciate and respect each other as adults. I had the formal studies to show how kids who learn about each other’s similarities make them kinder, more empathetic, and more adaptable.

Yet, it was not until my children grew older and began to meet friends from different backgrounds that I started to see how important it was to share different cultures with children — just as my mom had done years ago.

When I realized the severity of the educational gap between cultures, I took matters into my own hands. I began to develop ways to teach my own children, later evolving into a bigger platform with In KidZ. Today we deliver the different cultures’ toys, books, and products to other families.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

Kids are the future in this beautifully diverse world, and they need to see how all cultures experience life uniquely. I believe that if we nurture the ability to understand and celebrate the differences for each culture, we can discover that in our differences lie our similarities.

When my daughter was born, I met a magnificent group of moms. We were a diverse group of women that bonded over our infants. Yet, after a few years, I realized other than being “mom friends” I did not know much about their background, culture, or traditions.

I started to invite them over to my home for all our traditional events and they got so excited that they began doing the same. I wanted to bring the richness that connecting with these diverse mothers brought into my life to other people. We all began discussing how we need to bring more diversity into our children’s lives, and eventually, I developed those conversations into In KidZ.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I don’t know if I “discovered” it in the traditional sense. I do know that I felt an emotion come over me daily as my kids were growing up, but I didn’t have a name for it.

My new skillset was my humility — my willingness to learn. In the healthcare profession, doctors are supposed to “know everything”. We are looked up to, and often become attached to the idea that we MUST know the answer to any question. Confronting the fact that I had some knowledge, but that the real experts were those around me — and the best references were their lived experiences — became my strength.

I knew my story, and I was committed to learning about the lives, traditions, struggles, and triumphs of others. This is not only essential for all, but we, as a world community, need to give the next generation the resources to become global citizens.

As my children met new friends, they began asking me questions about how and why their friends celebrated, worshipped, and just lived differently than we did. I realized I did not have answers. So, I started to get books and teach about their friend’s cultures, games, foods. But I also knew I was not the expert, so I would talk to their parents and learn to create new resources for my kids.

But doing this work in my home was not enough. I wanted to do more to help others overcome some of these barriers I was seeing.

I began taking what I learned and teaching others, which eventually evolved into the global lifestyle company In KidZ, a platform that I use to teach kids about diversity and inclusion.

As time has passed and while building In KidZ, I realized teaching and speaking about Diversity and Inclusion was part of my every day. That then became my new skill set. My words matter, my representation matters, and this will create an open conversation between adults, parents, and schools as well.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

When I am asked what I do, I proudly say I am a Diversity and Inclusion expert. A child psychiatrist turned entrepreneur, I am a dynamic speaker, and the CEO of culture-focused toys and products company, In KidZ.

All this has happened because of my willingness and courage to put myself out on a platform to speak and use my voice.

It was amazing to see the message of In KidZ being appreciated all throughout the US. Then organizations began reaching out to me for fantastic speaking opportunities. I think the most memorable was when I was asked to be the keynote speaker for the Poddar College in Mumbai because I was being recognized outside the US.

The audience was not young kids or their parents. It was Gen Z and they wanted to know how they could grow and make the world more Diverse, Inclusive, and Equitable. It made me feel like young adults were listening to my message, too. They knew we needed to make this mission the norm in today’s world.

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?

There are actually two people who helped me realize the dream that is In KidZ. The first is my mom. In a way, I am building on the foundation of what she taught me my whole life: that differences are to be honored and celebrated. Again, this is the mission of In KidZ.

The second person is my husband, my partner in crime, and the father of my children. Although his help was a little more unconventional…

My husband loves that I bring him so many ideas. Actually, he calls me the “idea queen,” and loves my imagination and ideas. He is an efficient communicator, a man with a plan, supportive, but also wants it all laid out. Every detail. He is the action behind my ideas, and is the one who holds me (annoyingly) accountable for even the craziest ones I bring to the table.

To say talking to him about my idea for In KidZ was daunting is an understatement. I had to find a way to tell him I was not going back to work, and that I was going to start a business; this was, in essence, my very first pitch.

When I took the idea behind In KidZ to him, he said “Yes, this is it! This is YOU! This is the thing!” before I could even finish the sentence. He has helped me every step of the way, through the various catastrophes that come with starting a new business.

In KidZ went through a few iterations and concept changes but through every step, tear, argument, and “I am not doing this” and” It’s not going to work” tantrum, he is beside me and keeps advising and supporting me as I move through it all.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

It was the beginning of 2021 and I received a call that Good Morning America wanted to talk to us about our America Box. I felt like I was about to fall and the world was spinning in the opposite direction. I remember thinking “This is it! In Kidz is no longer just a tree in the forest that nobody knew about.”

The mission and vision of the company would finally be out there. I went into that interview thinking that I would just be talking about the product, but after our interview with GMA aired, my life was flipped upside down.

They did not only appreciate what we were doing as a company but what I was doing as a thought-leader. My family turned to me and I could see the pride in their eyes, especially my mom’s.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

That actually is a great question, as someone who struggled with a learning disability growing up her whole life it was always hard to believe in myself. Even today when I am recognized for so many things I have a bit of imposter syndrome.

Struggling with dyslexia made public speaking difficult. There were not many resources to help me as a child, but I had a passion for speaking. Even when my words were jumbled.

I think the most interesting moment came when In KidZ became more popular and I was asked to do my first keynote speech at the University Of Poddar, Mumbai. I was asked to speak to a group of students majoring in Diversity and Inclusion. I actually for a second thought, “Who am I to speak on this? Are you sure?”

It was not only my first keynote speech, it was my first large public speaking opportunity with an audience in the hundreds.

The words of a dear friend rang through my head, “Z, remember we all earn our positions in the world when we face fear and failure and overcome them. We are all working to make this world better. And it’s a part of our ability to achieve success, to manifest what we want, and work towards that.” — Emily Pardo.

I was terrified, but I knew I had to say yes. I knew it was the next step in spreading my message. So, scared or not, the work was more important than my self-doubt.

Not believing in myself is not really a choice for me anymore. Even when it is a struggle, I find that being challenged and knowing that I will show up for the work and do the best I can for myself helps me to adapt and grow.

In my own work, I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

My support system is my women-run team with In KidZ.

Each of the women on my team uplifts and contributes to the success of In KidZ. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where my whole support team fights me on an idea, or has to rein me in, but without them in life, I would miss out on the amazing productivity that comes with collaborative work. I would never see other ideas or have to navigate disagreements, which makes us flourish and succeed.

Along with them, I have my “Circle of Life.” These are my friends. Those people around me who have not left my side or have come to me later in life but see and support my vision and mission.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone; how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

It was not as difficult as I thought. The challenge was the launch of In KidZ rather than creation of a new chapter.

I knew what I was doing needed to be done, and the effect was for more than one family or one person. It was for the growth of the world and the future of our children. So, in that sense, I was ready for my new chapter, but I was forced out of my comfort zone by the sheer size of the mountain I was attempting to climb. I knew healthcare, not business. I needed to learn what it meant to be an entrepreneur.

At first it was daunting, but I was committed, so even in my discomfort I found security in that. The fear of being uncomfortable did not matter as much as the importance of the vision and mission to bring about a more diverse and inclusive world. Even when I am out of my element, I make sure I keep working towards that.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. No Fear, More Excitement: If you have a passion for what you are doing, then there is no fear, only excitement. In medicine, they say the same emotional reaction occurs when you are fearful and excited. You choose which one you want to feed into. If we let our minds work towards excitement, we will work towards our dreams and not fear.
  2. Failure is Success: Failure is not bad; it will lead you to success because when you fail, you LEARN. I get excited when something does not go right because I am learning how to make it better and figuring out what I need to change to succeed. Don’t get me wrong, it still doesn’t feel great, but embrace failure because every time you fail, you are actually setting yourself up for eventual success.
  3. Never Stop Learning: We are never too old to grow, to be inspired and to do and be better. Leaning on and learning from experts and ambassadors has been incredibly valuable to me. I have only been able to build In KidZ because I continually learn and read all that I can find.
  4. Celebrate the Wins: It does not matter if they are small or big; it will ignite a happy emotion. Taking a pause and celebrating a victory will progress the goals that make us feel comfortable and satisfied.
  5. Remember how far you have come: We are always talking about how we should live in and look into the future. But we forget the present needs to be seen and celebrated. We forget how far we go because we are continually focused on how far we have to go. Find value in how far you’ve come and not how far you have left to go. I leave you with a quote from Rick Warren: “Remember how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.”

You are a person of significant 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?

Teaching Diversity and Inclusion to all, but especially to our children, the next generation.

For a long time, the accepted practice was to avoid talking about race, diversity, culture, equality, and inclusion. We, as a society, willfully turned a blind eye to these topics under the premise that “well, we are past all that now. We are all equal.”

We avoided these conversations for fear of being labeled “racist,” “insensitive,” or “radical” but this kind of colorblind ideology perpetuated privilege and prejudice.

We are now only publicly recognizing the cataclysmic damage we have done in our silence. Now, we are in a place where there is no more room for justifications or explanations. It’s a time for true change, tolerance, and acceptance.

This is our “boiling point.”

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment 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, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

While initially I would have said I want to have lunch with Michelle Obama, Oprah, or Madame VP Kamala Harris, I would actually want to meet our heroes of the next generation.

I want to sit with, learn from, and see how these heroes will guide me to help, not only them, but those younger than them make a better and more beautiful tomorrow.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

To stay in touch with us, visit our website www.inkidzco.com

Follow us on social media @inkidzco & @zabina_bhasin_md

Follow my philanthropy work @theChaimommas


Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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