LEADERS CREATE MORE LEADERS
Yukti Kapoor Mehandiratta, SBY Academy is one among a few women, who just ‘dared to be’. As the CEO of the Silhouette and Concept Exhibitions, she has traveled very far in an achiever’s graph. Being the second runner-up of Gladrags Mrs. India 2008, she could have opted to stay in the glamour industry. She also dared to quit her career, at its upward trajectory- to listen to her heart and her passion. She found her true calling in helping others to unleash their potential and attain their dreams. Besides, her love for children, made her take more and more crucial decisions on child welfare too. Yukti Kapoor by every means is a leader- a leader who has many feathers on her cap. Amidst her busy schedule, she found time to respond to our queries in an extremely graceful manner.
Yukti, as a runner-up of Mrs. Gladrags and with such a charming and vibrant personality, why didn’t you go for a career in visual media?
Well, I am in fact gearing up for it; not in a typical way by endorsing a brand, but by engaging with the dynamic community of students and inspiring women clan. As we speak, we are curating courses to be released soon that’ll help students to crack any job interview in the world and for women to come back to work with a bang post-maternity.
I read that you had to grit your teeth and move through a trying time, while you decided to do something that really excited you. How did you stay motivated during that period? How did your family and friends support you?
Through my experience I’ve realized that you get all the support you need from the world around you but only if you are convinced yourself about your path and determined to walk the talk. When you show the courage to jump in with all you have, the rest just falls into place.
The path you had chosen is really an offering of a great service. Helping somebody to realize their full potential is a big help in one’s life. This kind of mentoring is indeed a big help for many to get out of their frustration and helplessness. What are the methods that you have adopted for creating such a sea change in many?
While SBY Academy conducts experiential training workshops, executive (one-to-one) coaching, and team coaching for the top management of corporates, my goal this year (2020) is to reach out to at least 1 million people and contribute my two cents to add some value to their life. That’s the motivation behind stepping out of my comfort zone and putting myself in front of the camera again. I realize that there is only as much one can do offline but through technology we can connect with many more and perhaps create a ripple effect of positivity that one day will grow into a sea change. Amen!
Your love for children made you create the concept exhibition and what are the other initiatives on your part for the benefit of child welfare?
Children are really close to my heart. If I could afford it at such an expensive time, I wouldn’t have had an army of my own. On a serious note, I believe that any initiative we take to develop children is a direct contribution we make toward the progress of our society as a whole.
Our researched and fun-packed content is curated to develop the necessary social and life skills in children from grade 4 onwards. From making children feel at ease in a variety of social environments through good manners, to preparing teenagers for adulthood by equipping them with the skills they need to confidently navigate social, academic, and professional situations, our courses are designed to boost their self-esteem and lay the foundations for a smooth and joyful transition into adulthood.
While we deliver quite a lot of talks and workshops in schools all over the country, our endeavor is to partner with progressive schools that could see real value in this intervention and integrate our content with their curriculum. We hope that more and more schools provide this strong foundation in etiquette and manners to directly contribute to children’s future success by helping them develop into independent, confident, and respectful adults.
I read that there was a certain time in your life, when, you have to prove that the family comes first before anything. What are the challenges that you faced as a woman entrepreneur?
Phew…This question takes me back to a few uncomfortable moments in the past. In a way I am glad that I’ve experienced the hypocrisy of our society firsthand cause that challenged my own conviction about what I’d set myself out to do. Deciding to quit a high-paying Banking job to plunge into the unknown was not easy for me but the easiest to go by from society’s perspective. It was when I started investing the time required to shape a thought into a real business that many close relatives started reminding me of my duties as a mother.
Let me confess that motherhood is the best thing that has happened to me. What I’ve discovered about myself after being a mother has made me fall in love with myself like never before. One of them was to maintain the balance between my parental duties and career demands. And that also included the ability to encourage my spouse to be a partner in the real sense of the word; having twins didn’t leave us with many options I guess, I call it a blessing in disguise.
Here is a message I want to leave for all the mothers out there – let no one tell you how good (or bad) a mother are you cause only you know how you stretch yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally to do all you can for your children. Trust your intent and pat yourself for the effort you put behind that intent in the best you can. Quoted references can also be helpful. References to people can also be made through the written accounts of interviews and debates.
The challenges don’t end with the questions people ask a working mother more than a father; it increases manyfold when you are a sole woman entrepreneur. There were times when some ‘successful’ men offered business partnerships that I didn’t consider necessary for my business at that point and that was enough for their egos to be hurt to the extent of backstabbing my growth. These are the times that make you stronger than you ever thought you could be. Today, when I look back at all those times, I genuinely thank these people and circumstances for adding more grit to my zest.
In your blog, there is Your Valentine’s Day message. It is something from a different angle of view. Can you please enlighten the readers?
No matter what we achieve in life, I think what makes us truly happy is to be loved by someone. Valentine’s Day probably is a celebration of that someone in your life. However, waiting for that someone before you can feel love is a huge injustice one can do to oneself. It’s only when you love yourself do have the ability to love anyone else. So I look at this day as a reminder of self-love and self-care. Once you fill up your reservoir of love then gear up to offer LOVE to others – Listen to them and not just hear them out, Optimize the time you spend with them, Vulnerability allows you to be authentic with the one you love and, explore new experience to enrich their lives, and yours.
Yukti, how can one find their own passion and zoom into that call? Are there any tips on your part to find out one’s true passion?
Passion is overrated. Don’t get me wrong – I am living my passion through all that I do but here is the fallacy in our understanding. While I might be one of the few who stumbled over the opportunity to make my passion (of adding value to people’s lives through meaningful conversations & coaching) into a profession, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, I quite lived my passion even before I started pursuing it professionally. My submission here is that when we put the burden of survival on our passion it loses its charm. Passion is to merge yourself with something in a way that you lose yourself in it. Nothing feels like work when you are engaged with your passion. But making passion your work and working passionately can be two mutually exclusive things. I can work passionately about learning the new tech platforms to release my courses but it doesn’t mean that technology is my passion. Hope you get the drift.
You encourage everyone to dream and dream. What’s your dream when it comes to the silhouette as well as the concept?
Over time, I’ve found a way to merge Concept Exhibitions with Silhouette, by creating a separate vertical for children’s development through our courses. My dream is to impact 1 million lives through our interventions and conversations that make people live happily in their relationship with themselves, and others.
Does a glass ceiling exist when it comes to women’s leadership? If so what could be the possible measures to break that ceiling?
Yes and NO.
No, if that’ll be your excuse to not even give yourself a chance, as a woman. And Yes, if you are determined to break that ceiling with your determination and profound capabilities. As women, we must learn to:
- Put our hand up for every opportunity that comes our way, even if we are half prepared (cause we know how to bring in the rest half on time)
- Ask for support and not try and excel at every role and every responsibility, just to prove ourselves to others.
- Not just have the courage to follow your heart but also the compassion to include your support group (friends & family) by sharing your conviction with them.
You are more spiritual, you are into Reiki healing and you believe in karma. Can you throw a bit of light on this aspect?
Spirituality, for me, is the reality of our spirit. I believe that we all are born with a certain purpose and it is through the journey of self-reflection and internalization that we connect with our true purpose. As much as we understand what we see, what we see in fact is not all that there is. There are many things just as true but can only be felt by those who are ready to go beyond their limited understanding of things. Spirituality is not religion. Spirituality is to respect every soul around for their presence and beauty. It’s a conscious effort to awaken our Buddha (inner goodness) and contribute meaningfully to the world we are born into. No matter what we do at SBY Academy, spirituality is (and will always be) right in the middle of it.