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Shilpa Venkat: Iconic Nation Builders Of 2021-Excellence In School/Entrepreneurs
RNTalks: Good morning, Shilpa Venkat. It’s great to be chatting with you here. Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
Shilpa Venkat: They say Geminis are highly creative, that they make great entrepreneurs, that they can be highly artistic and inventive. Well, I am a true-blue Gemini ?. I love to dabble in multiple things. For me, learning is a never-ending process.
I have completed my Masters in English Literature and a PG Diploma in Journalism and Mass Media. I started my career as a Sub Editor in Mumbai, later worked as a Senior Editor for a financial firm.
Marriage brought me to Pune, the city has opened so many new avenues for me and given my life a new perspective in many different ways. I am a go-getter and have a flair to learn things on my own.
I strongly believe in hard work and strong determination. Nothing comes easy in life unless you have the willpower to achieve it.
Choosing to stay away from a fixed full-time career allowed me to try out different experiences over the last decade or more.
I have written travel blogs from my own experiences, made and sold quilled and terracotta jewelry for a while, took up amateur and then professional photography.
Eventually, what started off as just a simple women’s group to help me market my own services ended up being my largest initiative yet.
RNTalks: Wow even I am a proud Gemini and fully understand your creative bend. I indulge in lots of de-stressing activities because of my high energy usage. What are your hobbies that destress you and what do you like to do when you’re not on job?
Shilpa Venkat: I love reading! I am a very creative person, so I utilize my free time by learning new artwork. I am passionate about experimenting with new ideas in home decor and keep trying new ideas in my home.
Listening to music and taking a walk is a big stress-buster for me. I do not spend much time on social media, rather I love spending my time on learning new things.
Photography is something I totally love and is my hobby turned freelance profession. I even learnt paper quilling during my pregnancy and went on to make it a super-profitable business!
RNTalks: There are so many things that are common between us… like the love of reading, blogging, and photography. Was there a time you messed up and felt like you’d failed? How did you bounce back?
Shilpa Venkat: Yes, there was a time in my life when I was a complete wreck! Totally aimless, lack of motivation, no clear thoughts about what I intend to do in my life.
I was doing professional photography before pregnancy, which completely took a back seat once I had a baby. Things became extremely difficult as I faced severe post-partum depression.
It took me 6 to 7 months post-pregnancy to realize how my life had completely changed and how I completely lost the zest in life, mainly due to sleepless nights and managing my colic-cranky baby!
I bounced back slowly with extreme willpower when my child was 7 months old. I still remember staying up until 2 am (so exhausted after a hard day with my baby), making quilled jewellery, and putting it out on sale.
Slowly, started getting so many orders from my friends and that’s how I slowly bounced back.
RNTalks: Your will and zest to bounce back is definitely awesome! What are your views on risk-taking? Have you taken risks in life? How did you learn to embrace risk-taking?
Shilpa Venkat: I believe that until we take a risk in life we won’t ever understand if that particular thing will work out for us or not. I took a chance 6 years back to build Pune’s biggest business group on the Telegram messenger app.
I initially started a small WhatsApp group exclusively for women entrepreneurs running small businesses to give them a genuine platform to promote their business.
As the group grew steadily, I chose to migrate the entire group from WhatsApp to telegram as the app had amazing features to manage bigger groups. However, unlike the terrific reach of WhatsApp, 6 years back nobody knew about the telegram.
I received a lot of flak and negative response from people, about my decision. But, I chose to stand my decision and today 6 years later WOW Women of Wonder Group Pune is the biggest women’s business group on Telegram.
RNTalks: Tell me about a recent business/ professional setback, if any. How did you recover?
Shilpa Venkat: The initial phase of covid had a bit of a downfall on the growth of the group and the business of entrepreneurs.
Slowly, things picked up. The only setback is I haven’t been able to arrange WOW exhibition/flea events from the past year.
I keep on marketing about the group on social media and have a positive approach that things will get better and I organize an event soon!
RNTalks: Shilpa, I want you to think back to five years ago. Did you envision your career as it is today? What are the changes that you can see?
Shilpa Venkat: Absolutely not!!! I look at myself in awe! I still recollect the phase when I had zero motivation, such low confidence, was completely in a shell, introverted with a lack of interest in life.
Today, as I look back it’s hard to believe I have tried to achieve so much. The hard work and determination I have put in to bounce back is unimaginable.
Currently, I am the Founder of WOW Group Pune and I am also a freelance child professional photographer.
I am a strong believer in Buddha’s life lessons. A lot has changed in my life once I started following his quotes ardently.
This is the quote of Buddha that I standby: Each morning we are Born again, What we do Today is what Matters Most!
RNTalks: Was there ever a role you applied for and landed, but weren’t 100% qualified to do? How did you proceed from there?
Shilpa Venkat: No. Have been more of an entrepreneur and community builder last 6 years!
RNTalks: Your journey as an entrepreneur is indeed inspiring. What do you wish you had known before taking your first responsible role?
Shilpa Venkat: My first role in a full-fledged job was as a sub-editor in a publishing firm in Mumbai. I loved that job and couldn’t wish for more!
RNTalks: I won’t say you have seen it all but can definitely say you have seen enough. Which leadership skills were the most difficult to develop?
Shilpa Venkat: Running a group is not child’s play! I have honed my skills at managing a group of 2600 women. The skill to manage such a large and diverse group, while maintaining the focus of the group was not easy to acquire.
It requires persuasion, cajoling, sometimes taking a stern line, and also plenty of conflict management amongst the various members. It took a clear vision to keep the focus of the group steady over the last few years so that it would acquire its own identity.
The entire learning curve to build the group to where it is today, required skills that I consider the hardest for me to develop.
RNTalks: Wow managing a group of 2600 women is a lot of work. Somewhere at some point in our lives, everyone encounters a difficult boss. Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult boss? How did you handle the situation?
Shilpa Venkat: I have always been blessed with amazing bosses in my previous work from whom I have learnt a lot!
RNTalks: That is really positive approach. What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how has it proven invaluable and helped you grow?
Shilpa Venkat: Patience, understanding people, politeness are the three most important lessons in leadership according to me.
Being patient and polite with people in the group helps me to connect with them, understand their issues and handle them in a good way.
Charles Swindoll says Leadership is all about Influence, to the extent how we influence others and lead them!
RNTalks: Absolutely… I agree with you 100%. You speak so well can you tell me how did you develop the skill of speaking so engagingly in front of groups?
Shilpa Venkat: Experience matters. Initially, I lacked the confidence to talk or engage members in WOW. Over the years, I picked up more confidence and started engaging in group meet-ups in a very interesting way.
RNTalks: Are you considering a career transition in the near future? What are some other areas that might be a good fit for you?
Shilpa Venkat: No. I wish to continue growing WOW Group Pune to a higher level and wish to do more professional photography.
RNTalks: I wish you success for WOW. Shilpa, one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of self-awareness, meaning the ability to see yourself as others view you. How do you think others perceive you?
Shilpa Venkat: I think many do take inspiration from my hard work and success story.
RNTalks: That I am 100% sure you are. Is there a skill you’re currently working to enhance, such as project management, long-term strategic planning, delegating, or public speaking?
Shilpa Venkat: I’m working hard to learn how to build both my personal brand, as well as the brand of WOW. Brand-building is a long-term activity, where one must invest consistent efforts over a sustained period of time, in order to see results.
RNTalks: I agree with you on the Brand building. I have always been a daddy’s girl and am proud of it. Both my parents have always been role models in my life. Do you have any role models in your life?
Shilpa Venkat: My biggest role model is my mother. She has inculcated all the strong values, ethics, honesty, humility that I possess today.
She has always inspired me to achieve more in life and never take anything as a barrier. Every challenge can be overcome with mental willpower is what she says!
As an entrepreneur what do you think are the 3 main areas where people make mistakes?
- Lack of motivation/focus: many a times, a flawed business venture or a bad decision in the entrepreneurial journey might lead to low focus in the business venture. This definitely hampers the growth
- Comfort zone: I have come across few entrepreneurs who aren’t ready to take risks and are more into their comfort zone. Unless we have the mindset to take a minimal risk we can’t succeed as an entrepreneur
- Lack of consistency: any business venture needs us to be highly consistent. Eventually, this leads in building a brand name.
RNTalks: From your point of view, what role has technology played in your entrepreneurship?
Shilpa Venkat: The role of technology has played a major role in my entrepreneurship venture. I am a digital community builder, connecting 2600 women from all over Pune on Telegram App. Covid 19,
RNTalks: What do you think should be the main focus when someone wants to become an entrepreneur?
Shilpa Venkat: Think out of the box, be persistent- it might take years to get success, stay dedicated in your ideas and keep your goals and vision always in mind. Do not deviate from your ideas.
RNTalks: As an entrepreneur, how would you go about building a relationship of trust and collaboration with staff, business partners, and clients?
Shilpa Venkat: I have always made it a point to connect with my group members at the grassroot level. Being the Founder, I make sure I am approachable to members when they contact me. Over the years, I have built a brand, and members of the group trust my work. I believe in respecting people and being courteous and polite.
RNTalks: Shilpa, please accept our heartiest congratulations on receiving the RSRA: Iconic Nation Builders Of 2021 Award at RNTalks Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Awards under the category of Excellence In School/Entrepreneurs. How do you feel about it?
Shilpa Venkat: It is a really great feeling. I’m honored to be receiving the RSRA award. I am earnestly grateful for the recognition I have received from RNTalks and for being the recipient of this award.
RNTalks: Shilpa, any special message or any suggestions you would like to share with your visitors/fans which you think would help them evolve as an individual?
Shilpa Venkat: Believe in yourself! Never give up. Try to pursue and learn things in life. And always have a mental ability to take calculated risks to achieve greater things in life!
RNTalks: WOW, that’s awesome! Shilpa, on behalf of RNTalks, I wish you all the best for your future in brand building and for your WOW group. It was really a pleasure interacting with you.
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