Connect with the audience. Every audience is different. If you feel the audience’s energy, you will know what they need to hear from you. Once you do, the audience will connect with you instantly. My main concern every time I speak with a new audience is to ask, “How do I connect with this new audience of complete strangers?” To help me, I have started a practice before going on stage. I stand still, observing with my eyes, mind, and body. I tune into the energy and simply ask how I can best serve my audience that day. What do they need to hear from me? This has helped me instantly connect with my audiences and say the right things in the way that serves them best.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women of the Speaking Circuit, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Seema Giri, a best-selling author, high impact leader, entrepreneur, coach, storyteller, and platform builder. The unique combination of her personal testimony and her extensive expertise makes her a skilled expert to all who want to tell their own stories and impact the world through her Shine Your Brilliance as an Author program and storytelling platform. She supports her clients as they write high-impact books, sharing wisdom they gained from life-altering experiences. Over the last 20 years, she has helped nearly 100,000 leaders expand their consciousness, tap into their inner power, and unleash their true potential so that they become unstoppable in business and life.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me! My childhood was quite interesting and adventurous. I was born in a small city in India near the Himalayas called Shimla, capital city of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. A famous holiday spot for vacationing and honeymoons, it is well-known for its Victorian architecture.
I was curious as a child and explored any place you could imagine. As far back as I can remember, I pushed past the ordinary and embraced life out of the box. For example, I remember turning my chair upside down and sitting in it during preschool. I didn’t know it then but that spark would serve me well in life! In the mid 1970s, my mother and I joined my father in West Berlin, Germany when I was 5 years old. I remember exploring the city on my own — walking, biking, and using the buses to get around. As you can imagine, I was scolded many times for such things! But I was undeterred — my sense of exploration could not be tamed. I also loved being around people and would talk to anyone who was willing to talk to a curious child. My extroversion drove me to help people in many ways: parking the car, crossing the street, and carrying groceries for the elderly. As an 8-year-old, I moved to the United States to Baltimore, MD. My personality was well-suited for the immigrant lifestyle of always striving to do better, think differently, and keep life simple. I can see now that my love for showing people the path by filling them up with joy and empowering them to feel good in their own skin started in my childhood.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
My life’s work is to empower entrepreneurs, coaches, healers, the everyday heroes, to share their transformational stories. What I am doing today, I can honestly say that it is not something that I had consciously planned to do. Up until high school, I was a science geek and thought medicine would be my career path. I even got accepted to several pre-med programs. At the last minute, my father made me switch to a business major because he didn’t want me to go through the grueling hours of work as a scientist as he had done. I graduated with a business and finance degree.
A few years later, in 1998, my motherhood and entrepreneurial journeys converged as my husband, Upendra, and I started a project management consulting and training company. I was quite content as an entrepreneur in the project management domain where we were making a powerful contribution of transformation in people’s lives. We used project management principles to enhance people’s lives and help get them results in a continuously changing environment. We were able to impact people’s lives in several ways. First, we intentionally hired people from Tier B and C cities. Even though it took more effort and longer to train them, we knew they were diamonds in the rough who just needed the right polishing. This changed the trajectory of not only their lives but their families too. In some cases, we impacted several generations. Second, we aligned people with their talents to the right positions and helped them thrive instead of just hiring them in the positions they had applied for. Our training was comprehensive and hands-on, often enabling people to grow in their careers with fortune 500 companies.
I was happy with my contribution and impact at that time. Little did I know that the Universe would grant me the honor of an even higher service — bringing forth a collection of real-life, extraordinarily intimate, and introspective stories that changed the perception of everyday life.
After my first book, The Authorities, I saw the profound effect it had on people. It was offering them hope, inspiration, and guidance! That’s when I realized that there are people who need to hear someone else’s specific story before they will take inspired action to make a difference in their own lives.
There is immense need for HEALING right now. Some ailments can be taken care of by the medical world but others need the stories of others who have crossed the most painful period of their life to create a more joyful life. As they see others living their purpose no matter what, they decide that if they have to settle, then they will settle for MORE.
There are many people among us who have transformational stories that the world needs to hear in order to heal. That’s why I felt compelled to create a platform for the everyday heroes to share their amazing stories and become known, seen, and heard. As they tell their truth, they help HEAL the WORLD.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
In 2016 I was at a seminar with Upendra where we learned of an opportunity to write a book. I encouraged him to participate in it. I felt he had a remarkable story as the first generation who grew up in a village but went on to a private engineering school in the US and became an entrepreneur who transformed thousands of lives. My encouragement to Upendra became my own opportunity! He decided not to write a book at that time. Before I knew it, I was the one writing the book! As the Universe would have it, I was a published author sharing my healing journey in “Breaking Free from the Pain Cycle.” I didn’t even realize that I had a story worth telling but the Universe knew it needed to be told!
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 first started to write my story, I was trying to make it as perfect as possible — with perfect words, perfect stories, and perfect scenarios. I was really stressed out about it and often felt like a car with one tire stuck in the mud. Instead of moving forward to my destination, I was grinding my wheels in the same spot and creating a bigger hole for myself. Every time I would read and reread my writing; it didn’t seem real. I finally realized that the best way to share my story for maximum impact was to be authentic with the courage to be vulnerable. Now, I keep it simple and share from the heart.
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?
There are so many people who have supported me in who I have become! A few that come to mind are my parents, my friends, and other people who have come into my life over the years. There are two people who have helped me in profound ways. The first one is my sister-in-law, Nischal Goswami. She reminded me that I am a powerhouse on my own, a leader in my own right — not just a behind-the-scenes supporter. The second one is Sherri Coffelt who instilled in my heart that my recovery story from autoimmune disease was an important one to share with the world. She told me that my story mattered and that by sharing it, I could be adding massive value to other women. She became my coach and got me started coaching other women. In addition to these two important women, I have to mention my own family. When things have gotten hard along the way, my husband and children have been my greatest source of strength to stay focused and on course.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Failure is actually a gift. It means you are in action; you are taking steps. Follow your passion and don’t be afraid to follow the path less travelled. It is not a straight path; it is a journey. Be open, be flexible, be authentic, and most importantly keep taking your next step.
What drives you to get up every day and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?
I love that I get to make a difference in people’s lives in two major ways. First in showing my potential authors how their story matters and giving them a vision for how it can impact the world. It allows me to be a catalyst in helping them to the next level of transformation that comes from writing their story. Second, by giving the message of hope, possibility, and ways to take inspired actions. The bottom line for me is getting to tell people that “Your story matters and you are not alone!”
Can you share with our readers a few of your most important tips about how to be an effective and empowering speaker? Can you please share some examples or stories?
1. Connect with the audience. Every audience is different. If you feel the audience’s energy, you will know what they need to hear from you. Once you do, the audience will connect with you instantly. My main concern every time I speak with a new audience is to ask, “How do I connect with this new audience of complete strangers?” To help me, I have started a practice before going on stage. I stand still, observing with my eyes, mind, and body. I tune into the energy and simply ask how I can best serve my audience that day. What do they need to hear from me? This has helped me instantly connect with my audiences and say the right things in the way that serves them best.
2. Be Your Quirky Self. People want to experience you and your authenticity. It also helps you stand out and be remembered.
3. Become a great storyteller. People engage and relate better through storytelling. When I started to really tune into storytelling, it improved the delivery of my speech and people remembered the important points even more.
4. Create a speaking self-care practice. Speaking takes a great deal of energy. Have a special self-care practice for speaking that you start a week out and do until the day of speaking. You want to make sure that you are physically well-rested and so is your voice. Focus on energy-giving food, drinks, physical exercise, and mindset exercise.
As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?
I know how that feels. I would have rather jumped off a building than speak in public! The only way to get over any fear is to actually do it. Start small in a supportive environment. Consider joining a group like Toastmasters International where you can receive feedback in supportive ways. Practice as much as possible. I practiced 100 times for my first speech. Before you know it, you will be speaking like a pro.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Start from where you are. You don’t have to have all the expertise or knowledge. If you have received an idea in your heart, that means it is your unique vision that needs to come forth. All other skills can be learned or hired.
2. Listen to your instincts. Learn to listen to your inner wisdom; it is often the best GPS you have.
3. Lead with Strength. Too often we spend too much time seeking to improve our weakness. Instead lead with your strengths and improve the skills that will help you propel faster.
4. Don’t Pack Your Schedule. Leave some breathing room to handle urgent requirements, emergencies, and celebrations or just to catch your breath.
5. Celebrate even the small wins. Baby steps add up over a period of time as they have cumulative benefits. It is these small wins that keep you motivated and build your confidence to keep the momentum going.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I am so excited to be focusing my energy by blazing a trail to help others bring their stories forth through the power of anthologies. To that end, I have four upcoming summits and book launches this year. The Break Free International Summit takes people from their imagination of possibilities to actually creating the reality of going beyond the imagination. We showcase real-life examples through the stories of the people in your own backyard who have done just that! Possibilities grow exponentially when a group of like-minded people gather and share their potential to: imagine, impact, and inspire the change.
Each of the books are a multi-author compilation of unique and wonderful triumphs by everyday heroes from diverse backgrounds. The co-authors are entrepreneurs, humanitarians, mothers, daughters, fathers, husbands, neighbors, and friends. They are heart-centered leaders who believed that by uniting together as one, they could make a bigger impact in the world to bring healing and loving kindness in these uncertain times. By coming together to tell their stories, they took a leap of faith to be vulnerable in order to bring the world to oneness, humanity, and compassion. I am thrilled to be supporting them and offering them this space!
In addition to offering this book platform, I will also share stories of changemakers through my Break Free to Brilliance Podcast.
Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
I have been called the self-care queen. This is one area that everyone needs to take very seriously. Self-care was a very essential part of my healing journey. The mantra I teach is that “Self-care is a necessity not a luxury!” I make sure that I am daily nourishing my body with healthy foods and exercise and nourishing my mind with daily meditation. As I grew my spiritual practice when I was recovering from autoimmune issues, I became a Reiki Master and Pranic Healing Practitioner. Since then, meditation has become an integral part of my life so much so that I lead Break Free Master Your Inner Game Meditations. The key to well-being is to build a strong body, strong mind, and strong spiritual practice: body, mind, and soul.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is by Lao Zu, “The journey of a thousand miles starts with one single step.” This means that you don’t have to know the whole plan ahead of time. You don’t have to see the whole staircase; you just need to keep taking the next one step. This became very obvious to me during my recovery from autoimmune disease. When I was told that being bedridden was my future. I couldn’t accept it. I didn’t know what I needed to do or how. I just took the next logical step. Soon I had forged a path that I could lead others on too.
You are a person of huge 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?
I feel I am in the initial stages of the movement to set people free by telling them that their past doesn’t define them. A person’s past doesn’t create their reality or their future. Bringing forth these stories and the Break Free International Summit & Book Launch is the way I can bring people together to create this awareness.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I have a tie. It would be Oprah Winfrey and Michele Obama. I chose Oprah because I feel I am doing something similar to her by sharing transformational stories of people’s courage, strength, and perseverance. Like her, I have experienced personal battle. I chose Michele Obama because of the way she has been able to connect with almost every group. She spoke up, stood up, and gained respect worldwide. I would love to collaborate with both of them in some way to serve more people.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
Yes, I am. I would love to connect with the readers on social media!
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!