…Time for reflection. There are a lot of people who say, “I hustle hard,” “I grind the hardest,” “I work the most,” right? But there is also a time where you have to take a step back and reflect. There is always a bigger picture. If you are the leader of an organization and all you’re doing is grinding, that can mean you’re not listening or hearing the people around you. Take the time to stop, rise above the water, take a deep breath, collect yourself and go back under when you’re ready. If you grind until the end, there will be nothing left.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vishaal Pandya.
Vishaal Pandya is the president of AnjoyX, a full-service creative & digital agency servicing Los Angeles, CA. As an experienced thought leader in brand marketing and digital strategy, Vishaal has consulted with enterprise clients and mature brands about digital transformation, online & offline marketing, product strategy, and brand marketing on a global scale. Most recently, Vishaal took notice of the poor quality of PPE available for consumers and founded WAITTKIT, an essentials kit with a charitable aspect that includes effective products made in the U.S.
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?
Absolutely! As a child, my mother taught me early on about delayed versus instant gratification, specifically when it comes to making a deal. As she would take me along for weekly errands, hopping store to store, she would start the day by saying, “Look, if you’re a good boy, I can buy you a toy now and you can play with it while we shop. Or, I can get you something bigger at the last store we go to. Either way, you have to be a good boy.” So, what I learned at a young age (we’re talking 5–6 years old here), was that if I played by the rules and choose between these two opportunities, I could get what I wanted. However, the bigger toy at the end of the day means that I had to fully trust the process. What if she ran out of time and couldn’t stop by the toy store on the way home? It was a risk I had to calculate early on in life.
Without even realizing she was teaching me these fundamental guidelines, I was learning the simple keys to business deal making. As I grew older, I started to push the boundaries and break the rules to see what else she would come up with. Sometimes she would come up with a new incentive for me.. While other times, she would just say no, flat out. This pushed me to make my own rules and drove me to my entrepreneurial playground at the bold age of seven.
Growing up. we lived in suburban New Jersey. One day our community was having a yard sale where many people showed up. Because we were one of the first five or six houses in the development, shoppers would frequently turn around and pass by our house twice. After the first few hours of noticing this, I got on my bicycle and headed to the homes who had very little action and noted their inventory vs ours. Things like Fisher Price toys, Easy Bake Ovens, GI Joes, Barbies…anything I thought kids my age would want. The next morning, I asked my Mom if I can I have 3 dollars or 4 dollars and she said “for what, you’re supposed to be helping sell this stuff not buying somebody else’s stuff?!” But I had a bigger plan in mind. The next morning, I got back on my bike and found items for my test that ranged from 4 dollars or 5 dollars. I negotiated the price from .25 or .50 cents to 1 dollar, purchasing these items at a discount, then bringing them to our house to mark up and sell for a profit. Before we knew it, all the kids (with their parents by their side) would come to our house because we had all the cool toys. Their parents would find value in the items mom and dad were selling and at this moment I learned that my plan had worked! On day three (the last day) of the yard sale, I asked my dad to go to Dunkin Donuts so we could give out free donuts and coffee and attract more people to come buy our stuff. Both my parents saw the ingenuity behind this, and mom nudged dad to grab the DD order that morning. By the afternoon, everybody was stopping by our house. We’re giving out donuts and coffee and selling more items that both days combined. We ended up doing really well and I think that’s when my parents really knew I was on to something.
When I was in my early-twenties, I realized that it was the lessons I learned as a child that helped me become who I am today. I graduated from neighbor’s unwanted items for a profit to listening to my client’s needs and offering a turnkey solution. If you have leaders in the home who teach success principles and they take a chance and encourage the best in you, you’re able to mimic the way they lead. As humans, we depend on different people to set the path in life. For me, that was my parents.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is actually from my father. He says, “Do the best job you can do without any expectation and whoever finds value in it will come to you with an opportunity.”
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
There was a time in my career (my mid to late twenties) where I had a lot of ideas and felt I knew how to execute them. However, I was lacking the ability to place everything in order so that they could come to fruition. I was lacking strategy and was deficient in the ability to present the executional plan. So many ideas, not enough time. I started to practice this skill and one of the books that really opened my mind was The Art of War. I caught on to the planning, executing, strategy and leadership. The strategic decisiveness that opened up my risk assessment and leadership capabilities gave me the deepened ability to trust myself and clearly explain where I wanted to go, then dominate. The Art of War helped me realize that it’s ok to fail and succeed. In actuality — all you’re doing is tweaking the results and reapplying. I got what I needed from The Art of War combined with life experiences. I’ve purchased that book for every staff member who stays at our company after their initial 12 months to inspire and encourage them to grow in their leadership roll.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
In 2009 (my mid-twenties), I had a distributorship selling no sugar & no carb energy drinks and concentrated energy-mixers made by a health-focused startup company based out of Laguna Beach, California. I took to the B2B sales approach as others went direct-to-consumer. Apparently, I took the lead selling their concentrated mixers — maybe it was because I felt a sense of ownership of the product I was selling. I received a call from the founder explaining how they had taken an interest in my B2B approach, and wanted to know how I was attaining success. Later on, he connected me with the marketing director of the company who asked me to come to their creative office in the greater-Seattle area. I hopped on a plane, took the meeting, gave them the secret sauce to the success with one caveat — I could take marketing materials back home with me so that I could sell more product. Needless to say — they chuckled & agreed, then compensated me for my time. Three years later, I became a consultant for the company and traveled around the country teaching, training and becoming a thought leader in sales and marketing as an ambassador for their brand. I created and implemented practices that would help small business owners increase traffic and awareness to their own distributorship, and ultimately sell more product. By 2014 I had become their Marketing Manager and built multiple systems to train their global salesforce. The brand sold to their exclusive buyer and I became a member of the small internal staff. In 2016, I went from a national to global scale with the company, hired and lead my own team, now with a greater responsibility to help achieve the business’s core KPI’s.
After the buy-out and completion of my contract with the start-up brand, the corporate marketing team at the entity who purchased us approached me to assist internal efforts for their brand, in addition to other global brands they owned. After accepting an offer I could not refuse, I took this role as a thought leader and formed a new agency, AnjoyX Agency. We provided strategic planning to their C-level for digital transformation, and in partnership, built vast global digital eco-systems from the ground up for their emerging product lines and brands. I’ve been blessed to have traveled all over the globe with the purpose of helping SMBs rebrand and build a successful marketing strategy and clear execution plan.
Today, AnjoyX Agency assists start-ups and medium-sized businesses to find their target audience and totally dominate their market. In each position I have held, I was able to help and guide those in need. We take that same philosophy and ethos at the agency and run with it to exceed our client’s desired results.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
Ringing in 2020, agency life was going great! We were on the rise in LA as an up-and-coming contender. However, when the pandemic hit in February, we lost our first customer. By April, most of our business was on hold. We started creating emergency strategies for our clients who were in desperate need, unknowing if they could pay their bills or not. Many of them closed their doors and we, their marketing team, were right there with them, ‘in this together.’ As we began efforts to expand our client-base, the pandemic progressed with even more literal and figurative doors closing. Determined to keep our doors open — we couldn’t stand back anymore. We had to make our own opportunities.
With a deep desire to support local businesses and our frontline workers who were working tirelessly around the clock, all while trying to help do our part to keep our family, friends, staff and clients safe, we brainstormed what we could do as an agency. It dawned on us — we are in this together, right? No one had connected the dots as of yet — so we went on to create the first and only essentials kit in the market. We named it the We Are In This Together Kit, waittkit for short. Keeping our agency’s philosophy and ethos in mind, I was able to pivot to a whole new start-up in just under six months. A DTC and B2B brand, based in Los Angeles, toting a sales staff, legal team, operations team and fulfillment out of New Orleans while keeping our marketing agency afloat — we were off to do some good and give back!
All of the products we wanted for our kits came strictly from USA vendors who made products locally. Supporting and buying local was necessary — we needed to support our national economy any way we could. We partnered with local and national brands who also pivoted and hired US workers to fight the pandemic. Another core value of waittkit is with every purchase we donate to charities who feed, support the mental health of and protect our frontline workers through our Impact Fund. This includes organizations like Frontline Foods, National Council of Behavioral Health and Project C.U.R.E.
When building waittkit we chose to only work with brands and organizations who believe in a common ethos — support local and do good — because we are in this together.
How are things going with this new initiative?
There is something about being able to sleep at night because you know you’re doing anything and everything humanly possible to land on the right side of history. We are so blessed to have one more day on this planet. I wanted to do more and be more during this time, which is something I brought with me from the energy drink days. Self-elevation impacts all. Those who wish to remain socially responsible say that our brand is a great idea and have supported us since day one! We are hyper-connected to our customers — we listen and hear each customer because we are assisting them and the ones they care about. Providing quality products to those who need them and helping decrease the spread of the virus is critical to our success as humans, not just as a company.
A few weeks ago, we launched our Gift Giving Program for brands, businesses and organizations. With a minimum order of only ten units, you can fully design and customize any kit, select the quantity of items you want and write a personalized message card for each individual kit or pack. We handle all the logistics, so if your team is working from home, we can ship the items to one address or multiple addresses, globally.
We are growing as a brand and are proud of our team and partnerships. Recently, we’ve been featured Forbes, USA Today, Business Insider, Yahoo, MSN, MarketWatch, Thrive Global and a few others. Big names for sure, but to me it means we’re doing something right for the humans who align with us.
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 believe it comes down to believing in yourself with faith in a higher power. The thing that drives us daily is our thoughts — what you put in is what you get out. Each leader in my life has allowed me to take from them, with the anticipation of giving back. I’m grateful for each individual I’ve had the pleasure of working for, alongside and with. These key take-aways, along with my personal faith system, have truly shaped who I am today and allow me to become the person I will be tomorrow.
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) Patience. It’s important to remember that not everything will happen on the timeline that you believe you deserve. It will happen when it needs to.
#2) Communication and Partnership. It is important to know how to communicate and partner with people. Ensure that the partnerships you get into are honest and clear from the beginning, understanding the common goal and being able to communicate to achieve that goal is key. Always make it a win-win.
#3) People will leave. Whether it’s employees or customers, you have to be willing to fight the fight with the people on the same path as you. There will always be individuals who believe in your mission, so stay true to yourself and do it for the team.
#4) No one cares. Keep the personal agenda, self-pity and negativity out of the team’s way. If you’re coming to the table, bring something with you — an idea, an unknown problem or a creative solution, hell a round of coffee…something other than your personal issues. Too many of times when our personal lives come in the way of our greatness. It is a good idea to clear yourself of these problematic areas by taking some time for yourself. It happens to all of us, but consciousness is the first step.
#5) Time for reflection. There are a lot of people who say, “I hustle hard,” “I grind the hardest,” “I work the most,” right? But there is also a time where you have to take a step back and reflect. There is always a bigger picture. If you are the leader of an organization and all you’re doing is grinding, that can mean you’re not listening or hearing the people around you. Take the time to stop, rise above the water, take a deep breath, collect yourself and go back under when you’re ready. If you grind until the end, there will be nothing left.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
Focus. I stopped watching and I started doing. I noticed that if my mind was idle even for just a moment, the information that was going into my brain manipulated my common sense due to the dramatic broadcasting. So, I shut off the news and focused on my opportunities while remaining socially responsible.
It’s the staggering loss and deaths that this pandemic has brought to our communities that drives us to a somber place. I can’t imagine a day without a loved one, and for those who have lost, I feel for tremendously. To honor those who have been lost, we must come together and take care of ourselves even more. Use the time to focus on your health with meditation, drinking more water, reading more, facing your fears, attaining a deeper understanding of your mind and body, moving around, standing up for what you believe in, shocking yourself and learning from it, reducing the sugar and processed foods, creating new goals and daily objectives and do something for someone you’ve never met — all while remaining 6ft apart ☺
You are a person of great 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 would urge everyone to find themselves during this time and be ready for whatever comes next. Life will never be the same, so if you’re looking for the past, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Embrace the change and help yourself to new things to start fresh and start again. There is no better time to wipe the slate clean and do what you have always wanted. If you’re breathing, you have no excuses.
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 would say Bill and Melinda Gates. I think what they’ve done is tremendous. He started off with “I need to solve a problem” and then surrounded himself with individuals who said, “I am willing to be a part of your vision”. They’ve moved from profits to passion, becoming masters of solving a real, life-threatening issue with their knowledge and experience.
I see myself following in these footsteps. Doing something for yourself, doing something for others and then taking the lessons learned and leaving an impact & legacy for others to follow. So, I would love to speak with Bill and Melinda about connecting some of those dots, and what their vison is for the next chapter of helping humanity.
Ultimately, I think the conversation with anyone influential come downs doing good and paying it forward. We aren’t defined by how much we make, but what we did with the time when we had it.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!