Source: Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Personal Leadership Brand

This is part of a coursework that I did during my ‘Management in High Tech Industries’ course at Duke University.

The personal WHY in my life is to be the best version of myself so that I can be worth everything that is present in my life and to have a positive influence on the world. I want to touch the lives of people who are struggling to be heard and make the world a better place for future generations. I want to be thankful for this beautiful life and the wonderful people present in my life. My parents and my ancestors have sacrificed a lot in their life to create a comfortable life for me and my siblings. If I don’t respect their struggles and pain who would? The main goal that I want to accomplish is to support my parents as they’ve sacrificed their youth to provide me with everything that I ever wanted. Taking over the family financial burdens and letting my parents have an early retirement is the best I can do right now.

My purpose or reason for being is a combination of the following elements:

  • Providing for my family
  • Feeling loved and respected
  • Touching the lives of the others
  • To leave a legacy

From the most amazing 23 years of my life on Earth I’ve understood that the values with which I’ve been brought up stayed the same but how I prioritized them has changed. I believe that identifying what value is important at each stage of my life has shaped my character and is rooted in my core beliefs.

When I was a child, I used to question everything out of curiosity. Why do we need to respect elders? Why do we need to be thankful for what we have? I was not satisfied with the answers then. But now I understand that there is no perfect answer to these questions. Years of searching for the perfect values and morale made me realize that there is no perfection to values but depends on how we perceive them. They define me as a person and form the foundation of my identity.

The values that I live by made me realize that I should stop trying to become who I am not and live life with gratitude. Some of them which are ‘never for sale’ are:

1. Authenticity – Staying the same during every occasion without being afraid of other people’s judgments. ‘Be your authentic self’ is the go-to mantra that I chant every day right after I wake up. Saying this over and over every single day since my 17th birthday has made me more confident and happier.

2. Gratitude – I’ve made it a practice to write a gratitude list every day. The list is not long every day, but this practice is a reminder for me that I shouldn’t take everything in my life for granted. This has helped me to understand the importance of feeling gratitude and expressing it in my words, thoughts, and actions. A small ‘Thank You’ can make someone happy.

Once I have a steady income, I’d like to fund the education of a girl child in my neighborhood back in India. This is not to show the world that I did it but to show others that a small help can change lives.

Personal Leadership Brand

Passionate and compassionate to inspire others to find their true self by being a catalyst for positive change. I’d like to be part of multiple lives & leave the world better than I found it. I want to pass the good in me to others, so their lives are better and happier in some way because I was part of it.

There are multiple factors that shaped my true self – my family, tech communities,coaching programs and amazing mentors. I’d like to highlight 3 of the best brand shapers in my life:

1. My parents

They’ve sacrificed a lot in life to provide me with the best education and beautiful life. Hence, I dedicate all my success to them. They taught me to be selfless and compassionate. From their lives, they’ve shown me that even the smallest things in life can make someone happy. No matter how rich or poor you are, every human life is the same, and no one is above anyone. Their invaluable life lessons about work, marriage, life, and relationship form the stable foundation for my life and future.

2. My mentors

Throughout my life, I’ve encountered many mentors, at school, college, and work but one specific person has made the greatest impact. She was my coach initially but became a mentor for life in the past 2 years. ‘Why blend in when born to stand out’ mantra has inspired me a lot that I started to chant it every time when I felt low and doubtful. We often cannot see ourselves the way others in our life see us. So, it was important for me to have a mentor who can understand, listen, reflect, and hold me accountable as I grow every day. The dedication from her side pushed me to challenge myself. I now mentor some undergraduate students to guide and ground them in today’s chaotic world.

3. STEM communities​

I’ve been part of women in tech communities since my undergraduate studies. In my sophomore year, I realized that I wanted to combine my passion for technology with giving back to the world before I officially started my career.

I started to volunteer in some non-profit communities to understand their idea of ‘giving back’ and gain professional development that is required to create a healthy community mindset.

The biggest highlight was that I was able to lead a community called Google Women Techmakers and help a diverse set of women and underrepresented groups to break into tech. The main lesson from these 4 year long leadership roles was that it is fine to feel intimidated but be ready to take ownership of the programs that you want to do. Talk to a diverse set of people and ask questions. When I talked more and asked ‘stupid & meaningful’ questions, I gained more perspective.

The main elements of my Personal Leadership Brand are compassion, inspiration, true self, and positivity. These components clearly reflect what I will deliver as an individual and how it’ll be done. My goals as mentioned are centered around people, families, communities, and empathy. The Personal Leadership Brand illustrates how well it is in alignment with my goals.

  • I can make more changes to bring better alignment between my goals, actions, and Personal Leadership Brand. I need to ask for feedback from people to make sure that my actions are creating positivity. Tracking progress, evaluating the lesson learned, and referring to them periodically will help me to reinforce my learning and make required changes. This will aid in bringing a better alignment between how I am perceived, my leadership principles, and how that translates into my actual behavior.
  • I believe that Personal Leadership Brand influences how I approach the team activities and understand my team members. Initially, when the team was announced, I created a WhatsApp group so that team members could say ‘Hi’ to each other as we haven’t met each other in person. This effort from my side not only increased the bonding but also the team spirit. The PLB has pushed me to challenge myself and stand up for my team whenever required.
  • I love to listen to the stories of others and I’m glad that I stayed back last week to listen to Prof Ted Ryan and Prof Allegra Jordan. It made me understand that storytelling is an art, and it can bring out the emotions of people. I was able to share my story and I believe that I was able to make others think the same. In such ways, I believe, I have been influencing the lives of many throughout the 23 years of my life.

I’d like to specify an initiative I started last week. Finding an internship as an international student in the USA is a difficult and daunting task. It requires a lot of patience, resilience, and perseverance. I talked to a couple of students and understood that they were not satisfied with their job search process and were struggling. Every day I dedicate around 2 hours to apply for jobs, and I enter the details of the applications into a database that I’ve created for my future reference. Last weekend I had a realization that I could help a lot of students by just making this repository/database public so that others can also apply for jobs easily. I created a system where everyone can contribute to the system and help each other. This became a reality last Thursday and I’m receiving constant love and support from students all over the USA. This initiative is clearly aligned with my PLB – to give back to my community.

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