Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
I am the youngest of four daughters born to two very educated, liberal, forward thinking and loving parents in Navsari, Gujarat. We were each encouraged to peruse our choice of educational stream and thereafter follow our passion and pick our choice of career. My father always told us sisters that it was important to be self-reliant, financially independent and confident in whatever we did in life.
I was fortunate enough to be married to a man who like my father encouraged me, supported me and pushed me to do better in my chosen pursuits – be it my Training Academy – Rhhyns Academy Pvt ltd or my Entrepreneurial venture – Mocktail Gazebos or my Forum for Women - LAJA. Each time, he has stood by me as a rock, silently holding my hand as I reached for the stars. Never one has he interfered in the workings of my ventures, but has always stepped in when I sought advice. My young son too takes the same pride in me and my work as my husband does and these two leads my squad of cheerleaders.
From young, I have always been sure of what I wanted to do and always positive that I wanted to do something for society. Learning from my father to be self-reliant and not depend on anyone; I’ve started each of my ventures with my own funds and worked hard to make each one of them a success.
Q2. As somebody who has achieved so much, where do you get your inspiration from?
I have always been inspired by my Late Father Mr Ajay Doshi. He was a self-made man who came to the city with very little cash in his pocket and yet made a name for himself. He left a very promising job of GM with TATAs and started his own venture when he was on the top of his career. My mother Nalini Doshi who left her career to concentrate on the upbringing of her four daughters and made them independent and achievers. I am inspired by these two hugely. But, I also cannot forget my husband Tushar Patel who always believed in me and my ventures. My sisters Kshema Desai, Maitree Shah and Urvi Shah who always made me feel complete by saying, ‘Do whatever you want to do- we are there with you’. I know I cannot fail when I have such a huge line of inspiration and support system behind me.
Q3. What inspired you to take this challenge and start Rhhyns Academy Pvt Ltd?
Educating and teaching has always been my passion and I was doing that via small workshops for a small batch of children known to me. However, one day, overhearing a conversation by young teens in a Café made me start Rhhyns Academy Pvt Ltd.
The teens were in total disdain of their parent’s efforts to give them good education, a good life and all the luxuries they had. They behaved like they deserved it by birth right and did not have to earn it. I realised that, youngsters needed to reintroduced to their roots, their origins, their Indian culture, their tradition and these had to be tied to the modern outlook and expectations. I started by conducting workshops to build self-confidence and develop Personalities; then moved on to leadership, ideating and public speaking.
Each workshop is tied to what we learn from our culture as well, so it’s a wonderful mix of modern with traditional. I am also one of the first to be appointed as an Advisor for the TEDEd Club and have launched 16 TEDEd Clubs across the country, successfully helping children as young as 8 put their ideas on paper and deliver talks that are both inspirational and futuristic. Rhhyns Academy Pvt Ltd is doing very well as a Training academy helping children, young adults and women become confident
and better versions of their true selves. At Corporates, we have helped companies streamline their processes and lead their staff towards leadership and growth.
Q4. After launching a successful venture, what inspired you to start LAJA?
LAJA, happened as I was interacting with the mother’s who came to drop their children off at Rhhyns workshops. Each of the women were talented, multi-taskers, capable of handling multiple roles and responsibilities with ease and yet had very low self-esteem and very little value for self. I realized that women needed help to look within themselves and see their inner spark. They needed an external force to tell them that they were capable of much more than they gave themselves credit for. They needed validation in terms of acknowledgment, appreciation and encouragement. That is when I set up LAJA in 2014.
I started with one single chapter in Mumbai and now have chapters in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad with a few more in the offing. We have members from overseas as well and each one of them is a testimony to the difference LAJA has made to the lives of the women associated with LAJA.
With mentorship, trainings, workshops, skills-development, talks by experts and handholding by seasoned entrepreneurs; the women have a diary full of learnings that have helped them improve their lives and those of people around them.
Q5. As someone who is dealing with children and women and parents for your entire professional life, what is the biggest challenge you face?
The biggest challenge, I’ve faced is of self-acceptance by the women and by parents. It is only when you are ready to look at yourself, within yourself and identify the pain areas; only then can you work on improving yourself and the quality of your life. Since women are the main contributors towards a child’s development; unless the women identified the pain areas, we could not work on the women nor their children.
This tendency to turn a blind eye towards one’s own limitations is the biggest challenge we have faced.
Another challenge that I’ve faced as a Child Psychologist and a Parenting Counsellor is that oftentimes if I err as a Parent, my credentials are questioned. People forget that I am human and I too can err. If a Software developer mixes up codes, he is forgiven and given a change to fix the bug; the same applies to a Child Psychologist and Parenting Counsellor too; doesn’t it!!
Q6. What has been your proudest moment?
The product moment for me was when Facebook acknowledged LAJA as a Community that brings people together, brings awareness and makes an impact. For me, it was like my baby had graduated with flying colours. This recognition and every recognition that my team at LAJA gets from external agencies through awards, speaker opportunities and invitations to other community events is what gives me pride.
Q7. What part of your life experience would you alter if you had the chance to?
Honestly speaking none; I would change nothing from my past; because I believe each experience, each rise and each fall has taught me something and made me the person I am today. Without the trials and tribulations, I’ve faced, I would not have been aware or informed or any wiser.