The Power of Positivity and Humility with Akanksha Adivarekar

What would you do if you were cut off from the profession you trained for years to do?

In a new continent. In a new culture. Without a network.

With the one thing you’ve dedicated your life to be good at, cut off from you.

This is Akanksha Adivarekar story. It’s a story about the power of positivity and humility. Of making the best of your situation and asking how you can do better.

Akanksha is a Dentist by training.

And despite the desperate need in the UK for Dentist’s she was unable to practice in any form here. But Akanksha looked for the positives. She began sharing her feelings and experiences, anonymously at first.

Soon she grew to 9 – 10,000 followers.

She had to begin a new career from scratch and started out as a crew member at McDonalds. She rose to manager and then in the learning and development team. Then she developed a career in HR.

All from finding Mentors who could help and asking for help when she struggled.

In our conversation she shared her passion for helping people through her HR roles.

And also her belief in seeking advice and feedback from others.



Akanksha: [00:00:00] It was 2021 when I decided to make a career shift.

Akanksha: I qualified as a dentist. a dental surgeon and things were not in favor. 

Akanksha: They were not working out for me. I tried, did my research, but it didn’t work out for me. I wanted to change my career and I was thinking, what should I do? There are so many careers and I’m passionate about so many things.

Akanksha: How do I get myself onto one path or just one journey? 

Akanksha: Then I just connected the dots. I came to the UK and I did random jobs, but let’s connect the dots. Let’s find a commonality between all those random jobs. And when I found the commonality, I realized that I was a very good collaborator.

Akanksha: And despite of being in a current role, I always reached out to different other teams to do a collaboration and come up with either a DEI campaign or do some artwork or do some writing piece for the communications team. So that’s when I realized, okay, this is the commonality people team it is.

Akanksha: And I spoke to my [00:01:00] manager and I said, this is where I want to grow. And this was back in Bupa when I was just a health care consultant. 

Akanksha: So I decided, okay, I’ll grow here and it took me, I think six months. I took a break of six months to take care of my newborn because of course, I took a leave after my extended mat leave, I was home looking after him.

Akanksha: And then I picked up a HR administrator role in a company called QA limited, which is in Slough. Great company enjoyed working there, however it was fast paced and I learned so much that they gave me a promotion within two months. Again, that was only because I carried. I think a lot of experiences from the past and the element of care, and this is where I started to understand that what works in HR is you really have to be authentic and care for the people.

Akanksha: When you care, you just follow the process. You do what you can at your very best for them. And that, that [00:02:00] certainly brings a great impact. as a HR professional on the organization. So this is me I’ve been very lucky because I approached the right mentor coach who shares similar value, it’s very difficult to analyze that, especially when you want to start a journey, you don’t know someone.

Akanksha: So I’ve been very lucky on that end because I just tell them I’m struggling. Can you help me? 

Akanksha: That has made massive difference to my career path. I’m in HR now, currently on a break, but I have been a senior HR coordinator for the last two years, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my journey.

 What got you into dental surgery? 

Akanksha: So what got me into dental? That’s a very good question. Honestly, I was 16 years age. And my father he’s very disciplined. He made most of the decisions in terms of what career we should choose. He also funded them. So we didn’t have such a concept.

Akanksha: I would say as where you are a student and you can [00:03:00] work, you wouldn’t find that in India as much as You find it here. And I love it. I totally love that. Independence that you have to earn as well as when you’re learning. In India, that’s not the case. And it’s a cultural thing. Most of the families, they just spend on their children until they get married.

Akanksha: So coming with that background we tend to obey it. And listen to everything our parents have to say. He decided it’s either engineering or dentistry for me. And I was like, no, engineering is not for me. Biology, I like science. I was not a bright student, but I wasn’t that bad.

Akanksha: I just followed what everyone else did. I didn’t have a brain to myself when it came to choosing my career in my teens, but I passed all my five years of education that you contribute towards earning this qualification. And I passed with good grades. I started to practice as a dentist in the afternoon assisting some great practitioners around in [00:04:00] Mumbai because that’s where I come from.

Akanksha: And I practiced for three and a half years. Then I got married and came to the UK. 

Rob: Given that your dad had made the choice and he’d funded it, was there a problem for you to give up or pressure not to? 

Akanksha: Pressure, definitely. I think I’m very emotionally attached to my parents.

Akanksha: I am not a rebel. For me, the pressure was enormous. And during every examination, I used to think, how am I going to make my parents proud? So it was not about me. I’ll be honest. It was always about my dad. Even if he put me in an activity it could be a singing, a classical Indian classical singing.

Akanksha: I used to go there and I used to be like, how will I perform so that my parents are happy. And more than my mom, it used to be my dad, because for me, performing, was equal to making him feel proud. So yeah, a pressure, a lot of pressure, I would 

Rob: say. Has that changed now? 

Akanksha: A lot. I think I’ve become a free bird since I came to the UK.

Akanksha: I think when I came to the UK, I saw the culture here. And I loved it as much as I love the [00:05:00] Indian culture to some extent. It’s all about what really feeds you in a good way. So when I came to the UK, I started to like the way, like I told you, students they do a job on the side, they earn money.

Akanksha: They have the freedom to come home whenever they want to in the night. I didn’t have that. So little things that I saw here in terms of the neighborhood. In the UK, which is totally different to India. And things like this. And I started to enjoy that freedom because I never had it. Let’s say that.

Akanksha: I was married when I came to the UK and when my husband used to go to work, I used to particularly just go on a day trip, like by myself, solo trips. And I used to just explore Manchester because that’s where we started from. Then I think I did a lot of exploring, discovery. 

Akanksha: Then I just went for a job search. I was a dentist, but on my residence permit, it was written basically I’m restricted to do any dental work, a dentist work. So I couldn’t even be a [00:06:00] hygienist. Even if I gave any examinations the whole process was to go back to India apply for examinations, get a student visa, et cetera.

Akanksha: But then I didn’t know whether I live with my husband, if I get the same university, which is closer. So lots of ifs and buts and a lot of funds, which I didn’t have at that point of time and I didn’t want to ask my parents because they’ve done a lot. So yeah. Rob my answer would be yes to your question. 

Akanksha: A lot has changed because independency with freedom, what comes is also the courage to be yourself. I think until 27, I was just not myself. I was like how my parents wanted me to be. Which is a nice thing. I’m not saying it’s, they didn’t want me to be, in fact, they wanted me to be really perfect, approachable people should like me.

Akanksha: So a lot of discipline came from that area and understanding. But when I came here, freedom got me independence. It got me courage to be myself. I started to talk. I started to talk about my failures. Then I started to write about it. I [00:07:00] created an anonymous account on Instagram. Because I didn’t know how would people take that, but when I started to win followers, I think I got around like 9, 000 followers and we shared the same commonality.

Akanksha: So I was like, okay, it’s time I just show them who am I. And then from there I started collaborating with fountain pen brands. So all this wouldn’t really happen if I wouldn’t know the culture here in the UK.

Rob: So it sounds like it was a positive cultural shock. Was there any negative aspects? 

Akanksha: As a person, even if there is anything that is negative, I tend to forget it. And I’ve learned this over the years because in my initial twenties up until twenties, it never worked in my favor, even if I thought this is negative.

Akanksha: Instead it backfired. So it, so I evolved as a woman and I tend to not think about the negative side of it. Even today, if someone comes and tells me, but this doesn’t happen in India. So what? Embrace it. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. Just adapt, be flexible. And somehow [00:08:00] that negative turns into a positive.

Akanksha: It’s the attitude that changes. 

Rob: What’s clear is you have a very positive attitude. Now I’m trying to link the work that you do now so your HR And so I can see dental, I can see the reasons you went into dental.

Rob: I can see, it’s crazy that in the UK that you weren’t allowed to practice when we’re so short of dentists. And this. Such chaos in the NHS for dentistry. 

Akanksha: I’ll be very honest, Roe. When I came here with the qualification, I was like, wow, I’m going to be such a good dentist here.

Akanksha: And dentists earn so much here. This was all on my mind. And then I come down here. Okay, fine. It’s not working out. Let’s find about the visas. Not working out. I don’t have the funds. Okay. So what next? And then I used to think about, I’m working in McDonald’s. No, I’m not going to do that. I have a qualification in my hand, but then I did it because you have bills to pay.

Akanksha: So I worked in McDonald’s right from a crew member and the people manager really liked me there. So she trained me as a shift [00:09:00] manager and then a training manager. And then I looked into the L and D side for all the employees who were hired. But this is what I mean to say I was not ready for this, but I was just.

Akanksha: Stuck like your post said today and then I wanted to move out of it. So I was like, let’s embrace it. It’s okay. Even if I have a dentist qualification, I’m going to work in McDonald’s. That’s how it 

Rob: was. 

Rob: When you look at your work now, what has dentistry taught you, that’s transferred into the HR realm?

Rob: Is 

Akanksha: the fact that you have to care, the element of care. which comes with empathy, but you don’t have to be emotionally attached to your patient. So to your employee, and that’s very common here. And that’s the power of empathy in HR professional, where you know how much to get involved and bring that person out of that problem as simple as that.

Akanksha: And it’s just like a patient coming to the clinic. I have massive pain. Care for the person. Give him the right medicaments. 

Akanksha: If you cannot do a root canal at that point of time, he may be having [00:10:00] swelling. Give him antibiotics, anti inflammatory. Send him back home. Give them a good course of how do you put these hot and cold ice packs. And no warm fluffers, etc. 

Akanksha: But but that’s the same thing you do in HR. It’s just that they’re not patients. They’re employees. If they come to you with any concerns, don’t get emotionally attached because that’s where empathy can become your weakness. So keep it strong. 

Rob: Are you comfortable telling me what you like and dislike in HR? 

Akanksha: So what I like in HR is what I’ll start with. I think teamwork is an integral part when it comes to Any successful organization. So you want to compare organizations with successful organizations, and I would say it’s the teamwork that makes it successful.

Akanksha: And what it means from HR perspective, Rob, is that HR is responsible for managing people and also monitoring so that management becomes a little easy. And hence it plays a very crucial role in fostering team efficacy or efficiency. So this is what I like about HR when it comes to understanding the [00:11:00] role of different teams.

Akanksha: Every team is different and every team has different common goals. So that is a step higher to understanding the role and then the common goal of that particular team. Then you also look like HR wouldn’t view a team as just people. It’s not just a collection of people. It’s like a single unit and they’re working towards a common goal, like I mentioned.

Akanksha: So that is one part of HR that we understand. People as single unit and not as individual people when it comes to teamwork. Team and work together also means team is people for me, work is process. So people and process together make teamwork possible. So that is another aspect of HR that I like, that we look at it together and we balance it out.

Akanksha: I think there’s also team dynamics that I really enjoy as a HR professional, Rob, which is nothing but Paying very close to the behavioral relationships that people share with each other, and [00:12:00] this is where it can get either too easy or too difficult at times, too challenging at times, because when you have effective team dynamics that can lead to improved communication, you will have Problem solvers.

Akanksha: A great problem solving abilities and in house, you will have increased productivity, which is great performance. But when you have something that takes a team dynamics, say, poor team dynamic, then in that case, it would result in conflict in miscommunication and reduced efficiency, bringing the performance down.

Akanksha: Hence, when it comes to managing people, it’s important to monitor them as well. So that we can bring the best for them, because their success together is organization success. And what people look at HR is basically it’s employment law and law is. Always looked at as a boundary or restriction limitations, but that’s not true.

Akanksha: It means to protect you. Law is to protect people. And [00:13:00] if this is something that we understand our life as an employee gets very easy in any organization when it comes to the different laws and rules in place of following them. It really gets very easy. So yeah, team dynamics, like I said, and building effective teams as well.

Akanksha: I really enjoy workplace development activities that we do as a HR professional and these activities, they just don’t bring bonding. They also make you understand the different personalities in the team. And that opens up the communication. If there is confidentiality to be maintained. At some point, then even that is communicated in a way that it is not communicated.

Akanksha: So I think that balance that HR brings when it comes to communication within a team in terms of confidentiality is also is also great that is also I would say something that I have learned in HR. Yes, so these are a few things that I [00:14:00] like about HR.

Akanksha: What I dislike

Akanksha: I dislike that people are scared of HR. That’s one thing I should say. I’ve seen most of the employees say this, that, ooh, HR is yours. No need to do that. It makes me feel like, Have I chosen the right career because I want to be really close to people and help them.

Akanksha: So that is only one thing that I would say I dislike because HR needs to come out and tell people that we are monitoring you to protect you. As simple as that. And I think that would make a big difference, Rob. 

Rob: HR is an area I don’t know a great deal. What I’ve noticed is in the time when things aren’t going so well, there’s downsizing or something like that. That’s usually when you see HR. 

Rob: Maybe that’s where Often the perception is it’s about disciplinaries. It’s about coming in when there’s redundancies. And some of my observations have been, it’s very much about, or the perception has been of it’s protecting the company.

Rob: And it hasn’t always come across as protecting the [00:15:00] people. But I suppose really the only times I’ve come across that is when it’s as a group. So I suppose the individual one to one thing might be more supporting them. 

Rob: So I’d like to ask you about, the idea of human resources I think that name is outdated and it’s comes from an idea, like in an old factory where people were resources. 

Rob: I understand at the time what is it, 100, 120 years ago, it was Frederick Taylor and then it was about let’s make people better because then the business will be better.

Rob: Through the thirties, forties, fifties, it was often used as, it made people more like numbers or certainly feel like numbers. Do you have a view on 

Akanksha: that or? 

Akanksha: So when it comes to thirties, forties, fifties, Rob, I would just say I haven’t really traveled retrograde to that extent to understand how HR was understood at that point of time, but about today.

Akanksha: The reason why I made a choice to get into this field and knowing me, people know how much I love people and I love [00:16:00] working with people. So when my colleagues, my other dentist friends, they got to know that, okay, I’ve chosen HR as a career field. They were very happy for me. And they told me that AK you’re going to do so good there because you’re a people person.

Akanksha: So that’s the first thing when they complimented me, they also said and meant that HR is for you. Those were people person. When you say in terms of disciplinary grievances, yes, these are certain processes in an organization and an organization must must take into consideration the aspirations and its capability.

Akanksha: And when there’s a balance, I would say, if you exceed If everyone exceeds their aspirations over the capability of an organization, that is where most of the times you would come across certain unforeseen events, but that is all about management and how you look at it how you want to present it and hence we monitor and manage together. 

Akanksha: When I say that I [00:17:00] have read this and learned this from the famous Dave Albridge. He said this in one of his videos that aspirations can definitely exceed the capability. But again, you need to keep some control over it. But this is where I think if we work on monitoring and managing them together, an organization can definitely be successful. 

Akanksha: In terms of disciplinary grievances, it’s all a part of the culture. When the culture is thriving there’s very less of it to to damage the organization’s reputation. So I would say that, yes.

Rob: What I’m reading into that is the role of HR depends on the way that the company is managed. 

Rob: So I’m thinking if you are in a company that is very beholden to next quarter’s earnings. And it’s okay, let’s downsize. Then HR is probably often quite negatively seen, but if you’re in a company that’s growing and thriving, then HR is probably a positive impact.

Rob: Does that make sense? 

Akanksha: It does. That is what companies [00:18:00] and the nature of their work scope brings in like small companies, you have startups, you have ambitious companies, and you will see the cultures different everywhere. So when it comes to the type of the work scope that these companies bring along with them, I think every HR professional would act differently in the role that they’ve been given to be able to keep that team work together, which is people and process, like I said, so there has to be a balance. 

Akanksha: This only comes with effective communication from the leadership team as well. That is not to miss out. So the leaders who have led the organization all this while, they have a lot of insights to share, and this is what you build up your perspective on, your ideas on, and then yes, it’s all a teamwork.

Akanksha: So I would say yes. 

Rob: You’ve talked about monitoring and managing. I’m very interested in what that actually looks like and how you would do that from a HR perspective. 

Akanksha: In terms of [00:19:00] monitoring and management, so when it comes to monitoring, this is where your disciplinaries come in and so that you don’t have to end up having too many disciplinaries.

Akanksha: You just have to monitor, pick up volunteers in the particular teams that you know need attention. Ask them to daily go through or weekly or monthly go through certain team huddles. Keeping them aligned with keeping their values aligned with the organizational goals as well. So there’s a lot of work done behind in terms of bringing this to effect.

Akanksha: We always want less reporting because that makes us feel that people are happy as simple as that. So in order to achieve that, I would say monitoring is all about placing volunteers in place. Having volunteers in place and ensuring that they are conveying the right strategies that we have planned in terms of increasing the team efficiency and [00:20:00] morale because and that can be done through various workplace development activities as well.

Akanksha: So yes, there’s in terms of monitoring and managing, monitoring is more of a bit of a motivational zone as well, where we motivate people and managing becomes effective. 

Rob: Okay so my work is relationships, helping teams unite through relationships. And. I’m always obsessed about how do you measure improvements?

Rob: And so it’s a very difficult thing. And I came up with the idea that you should if people are working for a business and they’re being paid then there should be a return on that. That’s a measure. And I was Googling around and I understand that there is a measurement of employee return on investment or team return on investment.

Rob: Is that one of the things that you would use in monitoring? So this is 

Akanksha: in 

Rob: terms of? I was looking at the concept. So I came up with an idea that really, if you’re going to look at a team and you’re going to look at individuals, you want to. In order to invest and to improve them [00:21:00] to work better individually and as a team.

Rob: Then you need to measure what impact that’s having. So it seems to make sense that if you’re paying like staff costs are pretty much fixed, but the return on those costs it could be minimal. It could even be negative or it could be usually. A great return, so it seemed like to make sense to measure that.

Rob: When I Googled it to see if anyone else had that idea, there seems to be a concept of employee return on investment is, I was just wondering, is that the kind of tool that you would use? 

Akanksha: I think this would really sit in terms of even budget planning or even If any retention rate needs to be calculated, we look at costs occurred.

Akanksha: So all of this would be sitting with the people partners at that level. So yeah I wasn’t exposed to this level of involvement or even assistance. So it would be wrong if I comment without an experience in that particular area. 

Rob: So you’re looking [00:22:00] at helping people to thrive, helping a team to thrive. What in your experience, what do you see works? What do you see as most? I’m assuming that there’s a budget and you have to look at how do you allocate that money? What are the things that you look at first? And in a ranking.

Akanksha: I think recognition comes first to see them happy. So even if I have a team of four and they all have different strengths. That they bring to the team. Recognition and rewards. They could be For certain acts of kindness say if it’s a customer service role, and we’re doing daily calls maybe we are answering 20 calls per day, and if one customer was really lovely we do an act of kindness for them.

Akanksha: When we do an act of kindness for a customer the customer also sometimes writes back saying, or giving a recommendation, feedback, or a review for the person who basically gave them a good customer service. [00:23:00] So these things are also implemented, which is not just straight from, like sometimes recognition only comes from your manager or your seniors.

Akanksha: But we also try to bring that recognition from the customer to the employee who’s just dealt with them. So this is one of the things we also implement a tool where feedbacks can be so I would call it a performance tool. So you give a service, it could either be from sales, you could be from HR, but if you’ve given a service to someone and you’ve made them happy then this person comes back to you with a nice feedback and we pick up those nominations towards the end.

Akanksha: We do a little Award ceremony, and we would have like top 50 nominations and a little party, which is well controlled. And and yeah, so recognitions like these, but there’s a lot of strategies like we put in place, like a performance tool where this feedback can be gathered nominations for which value do [00:24:00] you want to nominate this particular employee for?

Akanksha: Not just for the last picture of holding an award in your hand, but it is also for basically going through that process, you received a feedback, Oh, this person has given me a nomination for this particular value that I aligned with that this organization. Oh, what does that mean?

Akanksha: Okay. I’m going to try more on this particular value. It motivates you as well. So yeah I would say recognition comes first. Second thing is I would say check ins if it’s your team, just do some regular check ins. Hi, are you okay? It’s the energy in the end that we feel, Rob because when you do check ins, people feel nice about it.

Akanksha: And there’s no better feeling than just feeling nice sometimes. Then the third thing that I would say is help them manage their workload. throughout the day. If they need help, just a quick check in the morning. It barely takes two minutes when I used to do that in my previous workplace.

Akanksha: Just ask them what’s on your to do list today. Is everything manageable? And they will [00:25:00] surely say, no, this is where I need help. Then just ask them, are you comfortable to reach out to this person? Because sometimes You may have introverts in your team who are not very comfortable reaching out.

Akanksha: So knowing that personality type, it is your duty to know that, okay, you just need to reach out to someone. I can do that for you if you want, but if they say no, it’s okay, I’ll reach out. Then that’s great. But having that conversation to just make them feel a little light to get that day started.

Akanksha: So I think, yes, check the to do list. And then you can also check whether they’re having their regular breaks, because it’s very important that when you are working you take your breaks on time. And that has always been on my mind. Yeah. When it comes to a team that every member should take that break.

Akanksha: It could be a different hour, not together. That’s fine. We can manage the workload, but a break is a must. So that it just gives you some relaxation time, no burnout zones. It’s just beneficial to take a [00:26:00] break. I also check whether the employee is making, benefits from the benefits that we give.

Akanksha: For example, you have gym membership, you have say early Friday finish in certain organizations. It could also be a well being hour that we give for meditation, yoga. So are employees really making the most of it? Why are they not making the most of it? check their workload, have a conversation.

Akanksha: Do they want to have that kind of a benefit on their plate? 

Akanksha: If not, if they’re not interested, for example, I was never interested in the gym membership because I hate going to the gym. So yeah, there could be someone like me who doesn’t like going to the gym. So yeah, keeping a check on whether they are making the best of the benefits that have been provided.

Akanksha: Keeping also a check on their sickness record. Why are they falling sick all over again, communicate with them and all these things, Rob, when you communicate with your team members when it comes to sickness, the annual leave, have you taken your leave why are you not taking your leave, just book them off, go somewhere, [00:27:00] have a nice vacation, some people just want to work, work and work, and have seen them, they just don’t want to take a leave, but having these conversations is very important, and this is where we monitor them, how they take their breaks, how they go on, whether they go on a leave. And this is to ensure that all the benefits that they have, they’re really managing it really well and using it. So yeah, there are plenty, many others. This is the best I can think of so far. 

Rob: They’re important ones.

Rob: They’re basically showing that you care and showing that you value them as a person. Which is fundamental core thing that people want. Okay. So you’re giving me a different insight into HR. 

Rob: When I look and basically, like the environment, the business environment at the moment, I see you’ve got the problem of Gen Z.

Rob: That’s a lot of people talk about. You’ve got burnout is a big issue. Mental wellbeing. Increasing workload. So I’m just wondering, sorry, of all the issues that businesses are currently facing, what do you what have you noticed is impacting you in the [00:28:00] HR sphere as the biggest constraints to teams working well together?

Rob: I think, Rob, when 

Akanksha: one goes through burnouts or any such stressful events at workplace, they naturally stop or lower their pace, tone, and interest towards having a communication and that creates a communication gap. So for me, that’s the first thing I see, even if someone is feeling low, they don’t want to communicate. And this is where mental health plays a big role, especially with burnouts. We know what several burnouts and the effect that they can have. It all deals with hormones in the human body. So stress is not good. And the moment you feel that you’re stressed or you’re struggling to speak to someone, that’s the first thing I would say open communication is a must.

Akanksha: And this is where your relationships at workplace can help you. Whether that person is a leader Or your senior, or a manager, or just your colleague. Just have a conversation, because communication just opens all [00:29:00] channels, and it brings opportunities that we can’t even imagine. It’s beyond our expectations as well, at times.

Akanksha: We may be expecting really little, and what we get is a big reward. And communication can bring that in place. So I would say during any burnout, during any mental health any signals that you get that, okay, I’m not feeling well, psychologically, approach people. Only people can help you.

Rob: When someone’s going through something like that, often that’s when they shut down communication. 

Rob: There is lots of this cultural stress, cultural shame, stress. Yeah, I’m guessing that’s probably when it’s difficult because I don’t know, for whatever reason, we’ve always been told just stiff upper lip and just get on with it.

Rob: And there’s something wrong with you if you’re not feeling like that, this is how people feel. So I can see where that would be so difficult. And it’s probably also, I don’t know if it’s something you experienced, but it’s difficult to open someone up when they’re feeling like that. It’s very [00:30:00] difficult.

Akanksha: It’s very challenging. Yes. Rob, I agree with you to have someone open up their worries to you. The concerns. It takes a great deal of energy and commitment, and this can only be driven if you are genuinely interested in helping them come out of it. So I would say a lot comes with your maturity to handle such circumstances or events.

Akanksha: This is where I always talk about maximizing well being. And for me, it’s very important that. You take a point of your overall well being rather than just that one thing. Okay, I’m performing. I’m a great performer. Oh my God, I want to hit my targets. I want to achieve this. But are you happy doing all of this?

Akanksha: Do you feel relaxed when you go back home? Do you get a good night’s sleep? Do you drink plenty of water? Because that’s essential for your brain to function in the long term. So asking these questions to yourself you will realize that you’ve come to this particular Questions regarding maximizing being and you have come to this particular stage of life [00:31:00] where you can have these conversations with people who are facing mental health issues.

Akanksha: It’s very important because you’ve seen what stresses you’ve seen what challenges are, struggles are, and you just want to help someone, but that has to be genuinely felt, and I think everyone understands. the energy we give each other. So yeah. 

Rob: Okay. In terms of the constraints just to clarify that, would you say, what would you say was the biggest, would you say is burnout or would you say it’s in terms of people working as a team?

Akanksha: Maybe I would say it’s culture and I will also give you an example around it because Most of the times when it comes to say, I was saying, I was speaking about this to another friend the other day about mentorship. I was four years old and I remember my mom teaching me a Sanskrit quote, which is on mentors and the importance in your life.

Akanksha: So it’s a little prayer that we offer to God. And we say that Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, [00:32:00] Guru is Maheshwara, Guru is Sakshat Parameshwara, Tasmai Shri Guruve Namaha. In this quote, we are literally praising the mentor. We are saying that you are the creator. You are the one who is preserving our journey.

Akanksha: And you’re also the one who is destroying the weeds of ignorance in this journey. So for us, the role of mentor is Oh my God, it’s next. We place them next to God. And when I speak about this to my colleagues, they’re like, seriously, okay. And I’m like, yeah. It’s a prayer we offer as a child, and this is what we’ve learned about.

Akanksha: So culture plays a very important role. It’s something that we bring along with us, especially when you change a geographical location. When it comes to being stressed out and not being able to talk about certain things, but I would say if I’m speaking to a mentor for me at my workplace during such times, for me, it’s easy to open up myself.

Akanksha: Rather than to someone who doesn’t know where I come from because it’s been because I’ve been made understand that mentors understand you. They want to help you. They want to [00:33:00] destroy the weeds of ignorance that come in your journey. And that could be anything. So that’s my understanding. So culture, definitely.

Akanksha: Yes. Burnouts for sure. Sometimes you just don’t know how to manage your workload. So in that case, you don’t know what to say to your manager. You don’t want to show that you’re not worthy of the role that they have hired you for. And you just want to prove that, no, I have achieved so much and I will keep achieving.

Akanksha: So you just want to run around the maze and there’s no direction there, and hence you don’t communicate because you’re wanting to find your door but the door is already there. You just have to knock, talk, and just get it out. So I think burnouts, definitely. Culture, yes. Another thing that really holds them back, I feel, is their personal life.

Akanksha: And personal life means when you come to work, you come with thoughts, you carry them from your home. Maybe a little fight that you had with your family, your partner, your husband, wife, or probably something where you feel you’re not being a good parent because [00:34:00] you’re working. It could be anything. It could really be anything on the back of your mind and you don’t want to communicate about that because it’s very personal to you.

Akanksha: You don’t want people to know that, oh, she just had a fight. What are people thinking about me now? Am I arrogant? What’s well? And then people have these judgments, they have these gossips, little gossips around you. Sometimes I think people don’t want to talk about it because of the same.

Akanksha: So it could be for any reasons. 

Rob: That’s so true. I’m trying to remember this, there’s some research, but about if you have a fight the night before, how much it affects your thinking. So like 15, 20, 30 percent of your Cognitive resources are going on what’s gone before. And yet people are like, just be professional, leave your emotions at the door.

Rob: It’s not physically something that we can do. Okay, so I see a glimmer of something. If you were to give a TED Talk, write a book, what would be the topic? If you could wave a magic wand, right? And this is your moment, it’s a TED Talk, it’s a book. One thing that businesses should do to implement more, [00:35:00] and because I’ve picked up an idea and I just want to see if that’s true.

Rob: What would it be on? 

Akanksha: I would say having a buddy, a coach, a mentor, in order to Emphasize on your overall well being in the workplace to enhance your performance. Is what I would talk about. 

Rob: Brilliant. Because that’s what I thought. There there was a change in your energy when you talked about mentor and you talked about something deep from your childhood.

Rob: And so that’s where I wanted to a little more into that. So I understand the culture in India is very different from the culture here. It’s collectivist and guru is a. I know the, like here, when you say guru, you being rude, like you’re up yourself and you think that, everything, the best, everything.

Rob: Whereas there’s a different path in the Eastern traditions where it’s about surrendering to the guru. And it’s about the sanctity of a guru. I think perhaps in the West, we’ve had, if you look at almost every president. Prime Minister, anyone who’s put in a guru position, they [00:36:00] soon get exposed for abusing their powers.

Rob: And while that happens in the East, it’s traditionally hasn’t or has, or I’m not aware of, but there seems to be a different relationship. So could you that quote guru, And so was that talking to the gods? Because you said a list of names. 

Akanksha: So it’s a prayer we offer which goes like Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwara, Gurur Sakshat Parameshwara, Tasmai Shri Gurve Namaha.

Akanksha: So here we bow down to our Guru. To the mentor and the mentees praying to the mentor that you are my creator. You are the one who’s helping me preserve my journey. And you are the one who’s also helping me destroy the weeds of ignorance that is coming in my way. And. For all these acts of yours, I bow down to you and I want to offer my gratitude.

Akanksha: So this is the prayer we say ever since I’ve been a child. And even today when I wake up in the morning, and now my son also, he’s just picked it up from [00:37:00] me. He’ll sit beside me and we’re praying to the God, Gods and When we ring the bell, we just say this very quickly, Maheshwara. It’s just set now in, in the tone, in the genes, everything.

Akanksha: So yeah. But that is where the whole thinking comes from, Rob. Can’t separate it out of me and I cannot think of why my mentor is not great. Anyone who’s helped me in my journey, where I was stuck, just even when they asked me, are you okay, AK? And I’m like, that makes a big difference to how I feel.

Rob: Okay. So in the West. There’s great pride. You get George Bush, Jr. So the son of the American president says, I’m a self made man. His dad was the American president, the most powerful man in the world. And he claims to be self made. Donald Trump got all his money from his dad. I’m a self made man.

Rob: So the West is very much grandest on self made. We’re maybe three, four by the time we have conscious four, so we’ve had several years, [00:38:00] like 70 percent of our neural network is built up by the age of seven. And. I don’t know about you, but by seven, I didn’t have a lot of critical thought.

Rob: So we’re just taking everything in. We’re built by our culture. And yet in the West we keep going by I’m self made. I did it myself. Nobody ever did because the richest people, they’re not coming from Cambodia or Ethiopia or Vietnam. They’re coming from somewhere where you’ve got a built platform where you’ve got access to money, you’ve got access to resources, you’ve got access to education.

Rob: So all of that is what’s making you successful. Not. Like I did it on my own will because, someone doesn’t go to a desert island suddenly become a billionaire and say I’m a self made man. They did it from the structures that have been built. And what you’ve spoken of is entirely different orientation.

Rob: And I think this is why you appreciate mentorship. Tell us if you can. Think about if you’re going to give that TED talk and what you’re saying is. [00:39:00] You, we get stuck the weeds of ignorance is we don’t know what we’re in. And if we’re going to go, I’m self made, I know it all. Then we can’t learn. And we’re just going to keep bashing our heads and failing.

Rob: And what you’re, I think what you’re seeing is sometimes we need outside an outside perspective. We need fresh eyes. We need someone to tell us what we can’t see ourselves. If you were to talk about the key three things, like if there’s a structure of the book or the talk is going to have three points, what would they be?

Akanksha: The first thing would be creating your journey. A mentee can be at different phases of their career. They could either be at the start and they don’t know what to do in their life. 

Akanksha: They could either be right in the middle and they don’t know how to manage that journey, how to preserve it. And towards the end or I’d say not towards the end, but when it comes to facing changes, challenges anything like deep fears, and you just want to have a [00:40:00] communication with someone who understands you, can guide you through that path.

Akanksha: So a guiding light throughout that journey. So I would say these three things, creating, preserving, and a guiding light. 

Rob: Are you familiar with the hero’s journey? 

Rob: It comes from something called the Monomyth, but Joseph Campbell popularized it. And he basically he just spent five year, he wanted, he was gonna do a PhD on European fairy stories or European stories.

Rob: And then he said I found all this stuff in the east and I wanna add this. And then I said, no, you’ve gotta stick to this. And he said sod it then. And he went off in the woods and he went five years just reading, literally 40 hours a week reading in a cabin by himself. And what he saw after that as he came out, he wrote this book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Rob: And it’s called The Hero’s Journey. And so basically he says every great story has a, the same structure. And what you have is you have a hero.

Rob: And something happens and he gets called to adventure. So are you familiar with Star [00:41:00] Wars? Yes, star Wars. George Lucas had Star Wars for years and he couldn’t write it and he read Joseph Campbell’s book and he got, okay, this is it. So here is the archetypal hero’s journey. So Luke Skywalker’s off, feels like he’s built for more, but he’s there with the farm and he gets the call from Princess Leia and he’s I want to do this, but no I’ve got my obligation. So he refuses the call and then the army comes in and raids or something like that. And then he’s that’s it. I’m going on the adventure. And then he’s he’s faces his fears. He faces. The enemies. So he, you’ve got the enemies of the empire and the storm troopers and then it’s friends and allies.

Rob: So he has these alliances, but a key part is the guide and the guide is the one that helps them make the jump. 

Rob: So the hero leaves the ordinary world. They go into this other world and they face tests and trials and they face the fear and the big like boss enemy at the end and they prove themselves and they cut and they learn something.

Rob: And, but then the key is that they return they [00:42:00] return to the ordinary world, but they return with a gift. And so they changed, like Buddha is a, is another story. So that, yeah, so that the Buddha did the 40, 40 days, 40 years, where he meditated. Yes, he had the trials of Krishna and every kind of. temptation or fear, he resisted it and he came back and his gift was to educate the world. Yes. So yeah, the hero’s journey and that to me is the best use of the mentor. Because, like Yoda. Or Obi Wan or whatever, they are the one who’s been through it. They know what you have to do.

Rob: They’re not in the fight, but they’re just going to give you the tools. They see the path. You need this, and they, Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid is another one. And. So that’s what comes to mind when you’re talking about, and I listening to you and I don’t know a lot about HR, but I do know often people talk of them only when there’s a problem.

Rob: And it can seem like that, but you’ve given me an entirely different perspective. 

Akanksha: Yes. HR is [00:43:00] lovely. It’s 

Rob: lovely. 

Rob: It’s like wherever I’ve worked, I’ve never really dealt, I’ve never been a problem that I’ve had to go to them or I’ve never the only time was like redundancies or something like that.

Rob: What I see from you is you want to be like the person that sets up the makes his employee a hero on their journey. And 

Akanksha: that makes a huge difference. If anyone comes to me saying, Aki I don’t know how to do this.

Akanksha: And I’d be like, do you need help? Let’s get you help. And someone who’s done that with confidence. I would really enjoy if that person mentors that particular employee. Not just for the lessons, but also for confidence for their journey ahead in life and to understand that they also in return have to mentor someone.

Akanksha: In the future. So I think it all comes with understanding and just filling in those needs and gaps. And you can do that only if you are, like I said, you can only manage it if you’re monitoring it.

Rob: I think absolutely this is where I looked [00:44:00] and found out about the employee return on investment, which I understand it has a lot of criticism, but I think in the end of the day if we’re working in a business, then the purpose is profit or purpose or whatever the goal of the business is. And we have to come together and we have to agree on, we work as a collective, this is the collective, this is our goal, this is what we’re going to be measured by and we have to stand off.

Rob: Or fall by the measurements and then it’s only by measuring that we’re going to know if we’re doing a good job or not, because if we’re doing a bad job, whatever, it’s never going to work out. It’s always going to crash. 

Akanksha: And so your relationships can only help you understand how you’re doing in that job.

Akanksha: Like I’ve had constructive feedback. And I’ve always chased people for feedback hi, I just assisted you on this. How do you think I was? Like, you’d see me after this call, I’d be like, hi, Ro, how was I? How can I be better? So I think this helps building relationships to understand where you are.

Akanksha: It also helps to build your identity, your beliefs and [00:45:00] set new habits. It just makes you improve yourself. And improvement is progress. So people should not think that I know it all. They should just learn and learn because there’s 

Rob: lots to learn. Definitely. And for me learning is like oxygen.

Rob: I it’s what I have in orientation that the future is better. And the future is better. The more I learn today, the better the future is. And I don’t know, it’s deep rooted because for me, learning is. The way I feel more competent so I feel better about myself when I learn more and I feel like it opens up more potential.

Rob: So let me just go back to what did you say? Beliefs 

Akanksha: identity beliefs, little habits, good 

Rob: habits. My thing is helping teams get to unified action. And I think it starts with trust trust. So then you have more communication when you have communication, then you can agree and you can have commitment and then you get unified action.

Rob: But the last step, which is really key is feedback. And I think too many companies are, it’s like an [00:46:00] after thought. They do a one-to-one every year. 

Rob: I work somewhere and we used to do a one-to-one, and our boss was always busy, so we just used to do our own. And we’d just go to her with a wow

Rob: And she was a great boss. She was the best boss I had. And so we would always be talking. Informally, like I used to give her a lift home cause she didn’t drive. And we’d always be talking about what was going on and the challenges. And she was the kind of person that she would look at you and see what you were good at and shape your role to your thing.

Rob: But she was just so busy that she wouldn’t do a one to ones or, cause we’d do the other ones, and then my colleague and I would either do it. Do it together or each others and then just hand her the paperwork and she just sign off on it. But but yeah, a lot of organizations, it is just, okay, we’re going to wait for a year and then suddenly it’s a shock to someone to hear that they’re not being seen as a team player.

Rob: They’re not being productive for or whatever. And it’s and that’s where people get resentful and feel they’re being victimized. Where the earlier you can give [00:47:00] feedback, the more productive and positive it is. 

Akanksha: I totally agree, Rob. And even if there are times when your manager can be busy and they want to postpone your one to one, I would say always make sure that it is in your diary.

Akanksha: Check with your manager because yes, they can be busy. But one to ones are critical. They are like essential To basically just help you continue or to navigate. And still continue. So for me, my one to ones have always been about my personal journey in the company, my relationships with my colleagues in terms of benefits.

Akanksha: How am I being benefited? For my growth, for recognition that I would like to receive. I’ve done this, how do you think I did it? And I love to have an eye to eye contact in my one-to-ones and speak about what is it that I wanna do in the future. I think that incredibly shows your commitment towards something that you want to do.

Akanksha: Your body [00:48:00] language. When you have your eye to eye contact made and you wanna say that this is what I want to do it has an impact on your manager. They know that you will do it. You don’t feel daunted, you’re confident and you’ll take that up even if you’ve not done that before. And that is a risk taking ability.

Akanksha: So there will be certain projects in the house which. otherwise wouldn’t would remain untouched, but just show your excitement, show your nervousness as well. Say you need help, you need guidance, but you’ll take a lead. This is all that you do in your one to ones. At least I do that. So yeah. 

Rob: Yeah, it all comes down to so important to have for people to feel that they trust and they feel safe in order to say that because it’s difficult to say, I need help.

Rob: Particularly, I think probably more for men. I think I don’t know, but typically or men of my age, maybe. It’s they typically don’t ask for help.

Rob: Why? Or is that not your experience? 

Akanksha: No, I haven’t come across I’ve mostly worked with women around me. Even in my last job, no, [00:49:00] there was my yeah, the team leader was but he was very young. He was younger to me. So I would say previous job, all women in the house empowering. But yeah, never came across someone of your age, Rob, who would not express himself.

Akanksha: So yeah, no comments there, sorry. Okay. But why wouldn’t you say, if I may ask you, why wouldn’t you express yourself if I may ask you? Not 

Rob: so much me. But typically when you look at men. So men from teenage to 49, the biggest killer, second biggest killer of men is suicide. Just because they don’t open up, they don’t talk, they don’t, typically I think it’s been a an issue of patriarchy that to ask for help.

Rob: Was a sign of weakness. So I’m talking stereotypically that yeah traditionally it’s been a difficulty for men to ask for help, to show weakness.

Rob: But I think things are probably changing now with Gen Z and millennials who are much more open, I think, [00:50:00] than my generation. 

Akanksha: I would say so because I’ve worked with a few who’ve been younger than me and Yeah, they do express, it’s, yeah, it’s just that they don’t express at a length, a woman does, so you’re right there, I’d agree with that.

Akanksha: It’s just like you’re just talking to the point and I’m yapping here. 

Rob: Yeah I think, yeah, there is a difference in Yeah, women have better social skills. Women are better on teams. I don’t know if you’ve read Google’s project Aristotle where like the presence of having a woman on the team, the social skills of a woman communication is much better for, from women.

Rob: So yeah, that’s yes, it seems to be some research, 

Akanksha: which I think they just have a natural nurturing side as well. to them. It just shows like it’s natural. 

Rob: I think looking back reading from anthropologists and looking back at, if you look at hunter gatherer tribes and communities, men typically go off.

Rob: Like when they’re being shadowed by anthropologists, men will go off and they’ll hunt. They don’t talk because obviously if you’re hunting [00:51:00] something you, any noise. So it’s all quiet and it’s working on your own, but as a team. Whereas the women are, it’s a very social thing. The women and the children, they all come out and they sit down and they start picking off the fruit.

Rob: Yeah. They’re having fun, they’re chatting. I agree. Yeah. And so if you look at evolutionary, if that was the way that we evolved which it seems to be probably when you look at men are looking or more driven, tend to be more driven by accomplishment and women tend to be more driven by connection. So yeah, maybe that’s the reason for the difference.

Akanksha: I agree. I also agree with the patriarchal side that you spoke of. If you ask me, do your parents know what you’re doing right now? No, like they think my ultimate job is to look after my husband, feed him twice a day, look after my son, all his needs, make sure everything he’s receiving everything that he needs from both his parents.

Akanksha: And that’s it. That’s your job. Okay. So even if he’s been an ambitious father, even if [00:52:00] he’s given me all the resources he’s Basically invested a lot of time, effort, money in me towards the end of the day, if you ask him, what is it that you want your daughter to be? I want her to be a good mother and I want her to be a good wife.

Akanksha: So that’s my father. Yeah. And this comes from. Like you said, yes. So it’s very true what you said. 

Rob: So how does that feel like here you are setting people off on a hero’s journey, helping them and providing the framework and the support that they need to thrive. Does it feel frustrating that you’re not recognized for that?

Akanksha: I feel amazing. I like the word performance and I’m quite a performer myself, Rob. And when it comes to work. People call me speedy Gonzales because they’re like, Aki, you’re speedy and accurate. How? 

Akanksha: For me, performance is the key to achieving maximized well being. And performance in all areas. It doesn’t mean you have to be the best out of everyone.

Akanksha: It just means your [00:53:00] performance should make you feel satisfied. The quality of the work you do, whether it’s the household chores you do, or you arrange a birthday party for your son. I like performing and my performance is to make everyone happy. It’s not to put anyone down. It’s basically to seed in the thoughts that we are a community.

Akanksha: We need to perform together. So I always have this togetherness in my thoughts whenever I do anything. And that really shows. So for me, when somebody else performs, I’m like, well done. And that really comes from my heart. I love to see people perform thrive. We all have our ups and downs. I’ve seen my very own.

Akanksha: And it is all temporary. Everything changes. There’s nothing that’s permanent in life. We don’t stop or we don’t hold, or we don’t pause on high peaks. We all travel. So for me, just applaud, just make someone feel good. It’s their time. Let them enjoy, celebrate themselves, and [00:54:00] they will do it for you as well.

Akanksha: It’s all about being in a community. Thrive together. That’s it. Yeah. 

Rob: Absolutely. And that, that sounds like a great ending for your TED talk. Thank you. Thank you. It’s been lovely to speak to you and your positivity radiates through. And yeah, I can see how you perform and help other people perform.

Rob: Thank you Rob. I think it’s a gift that you bring. Oh, thank you. 

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