How Brevis Consulting is building communication as a life skill through executive and life coaching

Shivraj Parshad
Brevis Consulting
New Delhi

Size of Business

N/A

Number of employees

Sole proprietorship – Hence I lead the practice and work with 2-3 specialists should the need arise

Uniqueness

Brevis was set up with the belief that presenting your ideas or yourself in a cogent way is a life skill and is underrated as a tool.
Underpinning that belief is the one hypothesis; ‘communication is a life skill’. Brevis Founder Shivraj Parshad offers three specific ways he can help ‘individuals and institutions get their story right so that they are inspired to win’:

  • Individualized Communication, Executive and Life (Coming Out or Relationship) Coaching

  • Tailor-made Soft Skills and Communication Training

  • Content Curation – Podcasting Assistance, Hosting and thought leadership event EMCEE

1. Hello! Who are you and what expertise-based business do you own?

I am Shivraj Parshad, Founder of Brevis Consulting and I have over 25 years and 1000+ hours of experience as a Communication, Executive and Life Coach, Soft Skills Trainer, Media Educator, Podcaster and Presenter/EMCEE. I have worked across a spectrum of corporate, institutional, and individual clients.

Brevis was set up with the understanding that in a post-millennial workplace – one has to be an early adopter to avoid the stress and complexity of meeting leadership/business/personal objectives. So, we offer solutions that are individualized or tailor-made across Coaching (Communication, Executive and Life), Training and Content Curation (Podcasts, Videos and Emceeing). Given the breadth and depth of experience in specific industries over the last 3 decades, we work primarily with overwhelmed folks in the age range of 27-60 years old.

 These have been in the following areas:

a. Shift driven, public-facing and multicultural fields like the Media, IT, Consulting and Manufacturing and not-for-profit sector

b. Individuals or groups at the cusp of taking over as mid-level or senior management or looking at being more effective in leadership roles.

c. Individuals grappling with professional and personal issues related to their sexuality or interpersonal relationship

We stay laser-focused on helping overwhelmed companies, individuals, and institutions gain clarity on their current realities, goals, building a better vision for the future. At the end of the day, we share the same values: creating that authentic thought leadership through clear communication, strong interpersonal skills, and storytelling.

Images from a recent Group coaching session:

2. What were you doing before starting this business and what is it that you wanted to accomplish?

On the 1st of September 1995, as an impressionable 21-year-old, I stepped into the Archana complex office of a growing production house called New Delhi Television (NDTV). Bear in mind, it had just become one of two private players in India to produce news and content for the public broadcaster Doordarshan.

A bunch of us were hired as researchers/producers on the track to either reporting or programming. Quickly we realized that in a world of analogue, hard copy, landlines, and sheer legwork, we would be required to do everything. I remember a week where I transcribed interviews from Nepal and Gaza for 72 hours at a stretch, covered a local Delhi fire, court cases, and then chased down a prospective Prime Minister and prepped to do an anchor spot to showcase that newsbreak.

 Researcher, reporter, writer, producer, editor, and presenter – I spent the first five years moving from local news reporting, specializing in legal and court beats, social and human-interest stories, cross-border issues, lifestyle spots for India’s first breakfast show to covering the 1998 nuclear tests and really discovering my true interest – International Affairs and Diplomacy.

As NDTV grew to become a global news provider for Rupert Murdoch’s STAR News and then its only bouquet of channels, I grew professionally from Reporter to Special Correspondent, News Anchor and then Deputy Foreign Affairs Editor.

I remember it being a very heady mix, the adrenaline rush of chasing the news, interviewing world leaders like Benazir Bhutto, Vladimir Putin et al. to watching regimes rise and fall and being sought after at career symposiums and as a mentor and teacher on multimedia production and new trends, both at the workplace and elsewhere. That is where I found my sweet spot: the ability to take the complex and then humanize and simplify it.

So, if you were to ask me what I wanted to really accomplish, in all honesty, apart from the recognition and acknowledgement of my domain expertise and thought leadership, I sought a reputation of being an influential communicator that passed on that knowledge and those skills to develop the abilities in others.

It was only during a mid-career Masters degree in the UK, that I discovered that while I was rising exponentially as a professional and an expert, it was at the expense of my personal growth. On my return to NDTV, it was apparent that I was pushing the envelope, was overwhelmed, and really missing that equilibrium (what we now refer to as the work-life balance) in my life.

In a rush to build on my accomplishments, I hadn’t really dealt with a deep-rooted personal identity – my sexuality. I recently wrote about it extensively in a blog, but to explain it simply, living at home, being a public figure and experiencing what I experienced in the field, my ‘coming out’ was a journey fraught with self-doubt, indecision, and fear. At home and in professional spaces.

I chose to act out, quit NDTV after a nearly 15-year career and change tracks to join a 9-5 job at a strategic communication and PR firm. In the interim, I decided to focus on myself and turned to counselling. While the entire exercise was a process of self-discovery, it resolved only my past issues and left one big unanswered question, where do I go from here?

At the firm – The Practice, under the guidance of its charismatic Founder, Nandita Lakshmanan, I found the space to explore that. As head of Training and New Initiatives, I built programs for top leadership across industry, public institutions, and advocacy bodies. They ranged from spokesperson training, public workshops on communication and stakeholder management, storytelling, and the use of new and innovative platforms like podcasts and vlogs.

I took those away as my area of expertise when I started Brevis in 2013, broadening my experience with every new project and a better understanding of the Learning and Development (L&D) landscape. My first brush with leadership coaching came when I was asked to prepare the head of a Global Leadership Institute for its launch in India. The 5 training sessions became an occasion for mutual learning as I built on the individual’s goals, self-discovery, personal beliefs and then transformation. You can see a testimonial video here

Brevis Consulting was originally built on the premise that communication is a life skill, and we offered training, advocacy, and content, but I always knew there was more to be achieved.

It was in 2017, while setting up a new TV channel, I met my first real Life Coach and now close friend Susmita Sen. At her behest, I was formally certified as an Executive & Life Coach, Behavioural Trainer and NLP and Mindfulness Practitioner.

It was an awakening that told me that you must learn first from your experience to change the way you see things so that you can put your best foot forward to change other people’s lives. It took me back to my brush with counselling, where I knew there was one thing missing.

I now make it a mission to draw out my expertise as a Coach in everything I do for individuals, teams, or organizations. Simply put, I am Not a counsellor or consultant that makes you dwell on the past to resolve the present, but a Coach who works with current realities to guide you to

a future of your choosing.

The Coronavirus pandemic and all the angst and anxiety it has brought with it also forced us all on virtual platforms. Ironically at this time, I found that my Coaching added much value to clients I worked with. From a series of communication coaching to corporate executive sessions and then starting my own podcast, I have realized my full potential.

I have a twin purpose; to create a second income stream from podcasts. I now offer overwhelmed businesses, brands – corporate and individuals my broadcast skills as a curator and producer of podcast content and outreach. Personally, my conversations across my 100 episodes and 4 seasons on the Live & Learn Podcast has fueled my desire to continue to be a perennial self-learner, personable communicator, and Coach. Especially in the areas of personal strife that I had to overcome.

At a deeply personal level, I want to do more. It is a pity that when I search online for niches like Coming Out Coaches in India, there aren’t any. After all, there are many folks on the spectrum of LGBT who operate at leadership levels and dare, I say probably not at their full potential, because of that one thing holding them back.

It begs the question. Why should you have to rely on providence to have access to the best there is for you?

I say that unabashedly to anyone who reads this blog and needs a Coach whether it is for their professional development (communications or executive coaching) or even personal growth (relationships or Coming Out)

3. What problems were you facing in achieving your dreams before this business started?

Hindsight is a powerful tool, and during my coaching education, I learnt the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.

Let me explain. In our formative years as young professionals, we are often told that we are limited by a certain knowledge set, intellect, capabilities, and belief system. I call it the workhorse syndrome, where you are expected to do it all, even encouraged by odious comparison, at the expense of asserting yourself and demanding your true worth. The room for personal growth and evolution is limited by what you do professionally and how you live up to others’ expectations. I think the belief that only unless I did something someone else deemed worthy could I demand more value or ask for more compensation really held me back.

The one missing piece I think, was that ability to operate fearlessly and be empowered by the thought that I was unique and special as a domain expert, thought influencer and empathetic communicator. Starting Brevis on my own has been a tremendous learning curve and awakening.

4. What insight led you to start this business?

Following on from the one big hurdle in the way of achieving my full potential, i.e., the workhorse syndrome, it was when at the PRactice the founder handed me the reigns of Training and New Initiatives that I really felt the possibilities of leading a business on my terms.

To grow the business, their insight on my capabilities really powered me through for at least 5 years. It was a belief that I had experience, wisdom, and leadership in 3 key areas. Firstly, having been in the media; real-time experiences and perspective on people’s stories and retelling them, secondly, as a communicator being able to advise others on crafting their narratives and finally, as a presenter, giving them the tools and techniques to take charge and be fearless of public judgement or appearances.

We built the practice, with the belief that for our clients, everyone they employ is a spokesperson. That for their businesses to thrive, their people are their ‘gold dust’. We offered, training for management across levels to speak to the media, public speaking workshops for any level, presentation skills and more critically crisis communication and management.

Yet, as I pointed out earlier, I felt there was a missing piece. Do we just do a program, and that is where it ends? Is it about a training or coaching session, and our relationship ends there? As I got busier building a business development pipeline for my employer, I realized there had to be more. The point of departure came from staying within the mould of working under a fixed framework. I felt that it was sole, my mind and thinking and doing, as a one-person show, that drove the revenue; I felt I didn’t have the flexibility to grow those relationships at a pace of my choosing.

When the opportunity arose to do some projects independently, I parted way from my full-time job and built my own practice with Brevis. The previous hesitation that I needed some sort of support from others melted away, and I have been able to work closely with innumerable clients that haven’t always been in the realm of training or coaching.

I have managed to build extensive expertise and experience across areas like public affairs, behaviour change communication in areas like HIV/AIDS and sexuality, fundraising and program design, media education as well as setting up new media entities. Offering my services as an EMCEE and Anchor for different events too has started giving me interesting leads and insights into the market need.

5. How did you acquire your early customers, and validate your market?

The first few clients we got at Brevis really came from word-of-mouth marketing. We began by doing email marketing with existing clients and prospective clients and announced we had arrived.

Some of the prospective clients were discovered in the process of researching individual entities and organizations in the news for the wrong or right reasons. After all, this audience set needed the expertise I had to offer. Our first few workshops were around ‘Media Training’ or equipping company spokespersons – designated and undesignated with the right tools to speak to the media and manage the message or limit any damage.

After the first few series of workshops, Brevis received queries to facilitate a varied number of programs around communication skills – public speaking, presentation, personal branding, crisis management and handling et al.

Some of these interventions led to long term projects with organizations operating in the not-for-profit sector, private agencies and even large corporations around content creation and advocacy.

6. What were some big setbacks in your early journey?

Brevis faced its first real setback in the second year of the business when a co-founder decided to part ways for full-time employment. It was an amicable parting of the way but nonetheless a bit of a demotivator. Personally, I felt maybe the time had come to work solo and not in a team.

Which luckily was belied by the number of consulting roles I managed to accomplish working in teams at client organizations.

 It’s no secret that at times of challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all dabbled with prospects of getting a full-time job. If an opportunity comes along to take on a leadership role where I can continue in my mentoring and coaching capacity, I remain open to the idea, Although every time I get a new challenge and new project, I do have second thoughts. Here’s hoping I can continue this trajectory.

7. What were the big achievements after your early journey?

After my business partner’s departure for a full-time job, while I dabbled with the idea too, providence brought some very interesting projects my way.

I was hired as a training and content consultant for a public affairs consulting firm, to turn reams of content and policy documents into learning and marketing tools. Additionally, I was signed up as a Communication Consultant for one of the world’s largest charity organizations, The Resource Alliance, which operates in the space of providing fundraising and leadership training to the not-for-profit sector, everywhere.

Both projects allowed me to apply my communication, capacity building and training skills to address entirely new audiences from government and corporate relations leaders to heads of charities.

For the Resource Alliance, I began a monthly digital newsletter which included a fresh podcast with trailblazers in the sector, a blog as well as a showcase video. I was also able to accompany the India Director to the International Fundraising Congress or IFC in Holland and Thailand as a critical resource person for the organization.

The two retainer clients allowed me the freedom to dip into a whole new market for my own training and coaching business, and it has been very interesting. From advising some on changing campaign and program design to Coaching spokespersons, the mix really changed.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work with public health organizations like the WHO on its pandemic communication via training as well as with global thought leaders and spokespersons.

Once I began also talking openly about my own Coming Out journey (video) I have had individuals and institutions reach out for my interventions as a Coming Out Coach or Diversity & Inclusion Advocate. I’ve moderated critical discussions, anchored literary festivals, and provided direction at D&IE organizations on communication and coaching.

My podcast channel – https://liveandlearn.buzzsprout.com has seen some traction with its marketing leading to new projects & clients. I have conducted numerous Podcast training and have two new client podcasts in production: One on Women in Science in Engineering and another on the Future of AI.

Podcasting Masterclass – https://youtu.be/rAFykR_Pesc

Moderating Diversity & Inclusion Dialogues – https://1drv.ms/u/s!AkLeqRa2gg1biKcXCCfSF5YWhzP g?e=04eGkF

WHO Testimonial – https://1drv.ms/u/s!AkLeqRa2gg1bg8ltAxlR39muZJPoJg?e=dQSTJr

Client Testimonial – https://1drv.ms/u/s!AkLeqRa2gg1bg8lvVS8Pgot_LoV0rA?e=UmdW68

McKinsey’s Global Leader Institute Testimonial – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxF7vdhnYmg

8. Which tools were useful in growing your business?

Social media platforms such as Facebook for Business, Linked In, Instagram, YouTube, and WhatsApp have been immensely helpful tools/platforms for me to get the word out, get organic business leads and truly engage with my audience.

 Content creation tools like Canva, learning sites like Mentor box, audio editing with Audacity and video editing with Filmora Wondershare, Buzzsprout for hosting, have all helped enhance my offerings as a podcaster trainer, and mentor.

I have only just begun using Calendly to manage Coaching schedules and want to transition podcast editorial assignments there too.

9. What habits and systems did you build for your growth and transformation as an entrepreneur?

The one thing that changes when you switch from being in a full-time job to being an entrepreneur is that your time and value isn’t regimented. You also must be wary about not getting too complacent or too caught up in what you do.

As I said my awareness about my own beliefs really grew in my training as an NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) and Mindfulness practitioner.

It was like flipping a switch, building habits that created a self-motivating, positive and influencing environment. The most critical being learning how to set boundaries, getting used to hearing the word ‘no’ when bidding for work and always seeing it from differing or different perspectives.

It means undoing and unlearning at some level and creating your own coping mechanisms to lean into becoming more resourceful during times of stress and having the mental flexibility to problem solve.

So, I decided to — 

  • Create space and time for personal wellness (exercise, mindfulness, and socialization) in the first part of the day.
  • A time and space for networking and outreach using email and social media and
  • A large chunk of time learning and skilling as that linked back to my productivity and evolution as a perennial mentor, teacher, and coach.
  • As a communicator, I use Sundays to sit down and plot my content strategy for the week. I find sometimes they provide great conversation starters.
  • I work with communities to ensure I am networked offline – be it on the Committee of InsideOut Delhi that organizes India’s first national LGBTQ+ art competition to fund projects. Or my local area animal rights and civic amenities boards. These bring me not only much social capital but also an opportunity to build on qualities such as empathy, compassion, and purpose.

 All these things have served to build resilience in the times when you see unplanned ups and downs. So, from that impatient and ever eager professional, I now find that personally, I have become far more mindful of where I am and what I am doing so that I am not overly reactive or overwhelmed.

This is the foundation of a lot of my coaching and mentoring I do with clients at a personal or professional cross-roads – to respond to life in its fullness and not be reactive. It is very fulfilling.

10. Which books, podcasts, blogs, or newsletters have influenced your work the most?

a.       Top 4 books that influence my work –

b.       Name of 2-3 podcast shows you regularly listen to, and why

  • The Training Business podcast with Mark Garrett Hayes. It helps learning and development professionals like me connect with ideas to grow and scale my coaching, training, or consulting business.
  •  The Will to Change with Jennifer Brown. For critical conversations on Diversity and Inclusion.
  •   BBC – Global News Podcast and 6 Minute Grammar – Both keep me abreast with the news and the latest on communication and grammar.

c.   2-3 influencers you follow through their blog or newsletter, and why

  •  Marshal Goldsmith – He is the Gold Standard in leadership coaching and has great insights in dealing with difficult people and situations
  • Kaushik Mahapatra – Founder Indian Leadership Academy, for insights on the Indian way of building one’s training and coaching business
  • Rajdeep Sardesai – Mainly because he is a great newsman and my favourite boss.

11. What advice would you give to a 5-years (or 10-years) younger self?

The one major piece of advice I would give my ten years younger self is not to be reactive and so hard on oneself. You don’t have to live up to everyone’s expectations and be good and perfect at everything. After all, you learn from what you see as failure. As my mentor once put it, the acronym for F.A.I.L is the First attempt in learning.

Whether in the professional or personal sphere, if you hear a no or are challenged by clients or peers or near and dear ones, know that behind every behaviour may be an unconscious positive intention. Ultimately, flexibility in thought and behaviour has more influence, especially when you are challenged.

Critically, it is what you say to yourself day in and day out about your self-worth and value and build on it in your interactions with the external world, that will create that cache. The moment you do that, others will follow along. It’s a learning curve, but with greater experience and practice, achievable.

12. Where can we learn more about you and your business? Social Profiles:

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/shivraj-parshad-brevis/

& https://www.linkedin.com/company/brevisconsulting/

Twitter –https://twitter.com/shivrajparshad and – https://twitter.com/BrevisConsult

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/shivraj.brevispodcasts/

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCna6nPhgdWb8LRVg8FVXyug

Podcast – https://liveandlearn.buzzsprout.com/

Email: shivraj@brevis.in

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