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Spandana Govindgari: How dancing helps bring new energy to work

A rising technology leader talks about how dancing helped her transition successfully from a corporate to a fast-paced startup world and what everyone should learn from dancing

Photo by Juan Camilo Navia on Unsplash
Photo by Juan Camilo Navia on Unsplash

What does dancing mean to you?

For me, dancing is not just swinging my arms and legs but a way to express myself and unleash my energy. I started dancing when I was 10, all through school I danced almost every day. But as I ventured out into college and then corporate life, i could no longer find time for my favourite hobby. The sacrifice didn’t pay off, I kept getting stressed, my performance was not at my absolute best and I had no way to let out my energy. Then i decided to give my favorite hobby another go, and almost immediately I realized how much it rejuvenated me, uplifted my spirits, calmed me and in fact brought new creativity to my existing work.

How has dancing helped with your success?

Dancing is primarily an art form. Going back to it after so many years helped me look at it in an entirely different perspective. Earlier I used to think that it was a show, a performance perhaps, you just memorize your steps, sync them to the rhythm and perfect your movements. But now my perception has changed, dance has taught me a lot of valuable lessons in life and work such as communication, teamwork, and discipline.

Dancing is a lot of physical work.

In today’s world, we barely do anything that involves physical strength, especially being a software engineer, most of my time at work is spent in front of a computer screen.

Dancing teaches you to constantly learn.

My memory muscles got a real exercise when I went back to dancing. I could not google the last move my teacher taught me, I had to actually remember every single move and how to practice and perfect it.

Dancing is all about teamwork and synchronization.

We work with teams all the time and communication is very important. But what happens when you cannot talk and only communicate with your movement — this is where it gets very hard. Dance taught me a new form of communication, to perfect my body language. We practice speaking and writing but we do not often work on our body language which is the first thing people notice about someone

Leading comes from following.

When you are dancing in a group, you learn that leading actually comes from following. You cannot outstep your partner then you are not in sync. You have to sync, bring in energy, come to a consensus then lead the group and all of this happens in split seconds. It is simply magical.

Lastly, dancing taught me to take more chances. 

The most important learning for me was to take chances and try new things. We as humans, we like to be creative and challenge the status quo. Dancing taught me to always keep learning and bring new ideas to the table

How has dance helped with your transition from corporate to startup world?

After a dance session, I got immense clarity to think about what I wanted to do in my life. It also helped me become very confident, independent and resilient. A transition from the corporate world to startup is very stressful. It requires courage, patience and perseverance and dancing prepared me for the journey. When I was working at Snapchat and Apple, my decision to make time for dancing helped me bring new energy and ideas to the table. I just noticed a dramatic shift in my creativity whenever I used to come back from my dance class.

Spandana is a seasoned technology leader who has worked at companies like Apple and Snapchat. Spandana is currently leading an augmented reality startup, Hype AR, pioneering 3D ads based on the context in AR. She is a member of the Forbes Tech Council and Silicon Valley Bank Brain Trust program. Spandana has her BS from Cornell University. In addition, Spandana was involved in helping organizations like Facing History, a non-profit which helps break stereotypes in high schools and cultivate an inclusive culture.

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