How Indraneela Padmini is building a second home at offices through Mind Your Soul
Name of the Initiative
Mind Your Soul (A Employee Wellness Space)
In our workshops, we never advise the participants about a specific framework or a method to be a successful employee at the workplace. No rules are our rule. We just point out a direction and help people figure out how to get there. We understand everyone has their own pattern to learn and absorb things. Our post-session challenges help people to take some time, think about themselves, understand things happening around them and react to these in a mindful way. Our challenges include communicating with people, networking, colouring, drawing, story making and much more. Doesn’t that seem interesting for a workshop to be like?
1. Hello! Who are you and what initiatives are you associated with currently?
Hi! I am Padmini, an Aeronautical Engineering graduate and an Art Of Living Volunteer, and I eventually shifted my career to Front-End Development and Digital/Recruitment Marketing at Randstad Sourceright. I have won several awards and been recognized as an ACE in my work. Throughout my work life, I had to constantly acquire new and useful skills to apply them in the workspace.
This ability of mine to multitask and wear several hats according to the modern age work structure has inspired my peers and bosses in my workplace and set me apart. I believe that hard work, consistency, taking responsibility, being less dependent and being a creative problem solver are some of the key values that made me what I am today!
In my free time, I love to paint, do interiors, convert Crap into Crafts, practice Meditation & Yoga and practice Carnatic Music with my mom.
I am the kind of person who just does not do my job, but also loves to mentor/coach/support people, organize Employee Wellness Workshops, Guided Meditation Programs and Fun Friday Sessions wherever I work. I believe happy people help in making a merrier workplace. Join me to create a better Workforce.
2. Tell us about ‘Mind Your Soul’, your employee wellness initiative. What made you start that?
Mind Your Soul is an initiative, started by a group of four friends who strongly believe that one’s office is a second home and it should be one of the happiest places to work. All of us worked together in the past and each of us is not only good at doing our jobs, But we also used to go Above and Beyond in our companies and took on the additional responsibilities of hosting informational sessions, exciting workshops and fun sessions at the workplace.
Considering how it was tough for us to adjust in the corporate world as someone who’s just out of college and we learnt things the hard way!
That’s when we decided that it’s time we give back something to people around us who needed that additional support. All of us tried to put together our two cents of knowledge as concepts and on these concepts, and we created interactive workshops.
And guess what? The response was amazing and people loved it!
We are a fresh leap of air to a stressful working day. We are not a startup. We do not charge anything for the workshops we conduct. We are a bunch of people, who love to make every employee feel worthy about themselves. Our workshops allow every participant to introspect and reflect upon themselves. The modules, the post-session challenges, break-out rooms within the sessions create a safe space for people to openly talk about their challenges. The breakout room has a smaller group of people than in the main session. Once people talk it out, they feel their problems/bottlenecks/issues are of the same kind but maybe in different situations involving different people.
This sort of creates like-mindedness between people and together they chalk out how to overcome their setbacks. It creates a space for networking and sharing individual experiences and ideas to overcome setbacks in regular work life. And our guided meditation sessions are a magical inclusion to these workshops. It can remove all the tiredness one carries all day.
We marketed our initiative and we pitched our idea to many startups. We were finally able to collaborate with a few startups and hosted these workshops for them!
So far we have done 6 workshops, 12 learning hours with 147 people. We never thought we would create such an impact. We are further motivated to host new workshops in 2022. We are working on our ideas!
3. What problems were you facing in achieving your dreams before this business started?
Nobody actually believed that there can be workshops done on a concept called “Employee Wellness.” My idea was straight away rejected by my current company. I was told to change my ideology and make it more like leadership talks. My company was already doing some wellness programs and that nobody wants more wellness, but if popular leaders within the organization talk, people would listen. I couldn’t agree more. I understood that this is not the place I should run this idea across.
This didn’t knock me out. I am still determined to do this workshop out of my organization. I was sure there will be many startups who work under stressful setups and my workshops can definitely help them.
I reached out to friends and their friends and their friends too who were like Startup founders, owners etc. This was during the end of August, where I got rejected several times by several startups. They said they didn’t have time for wellness, some wanted to do this in January, some startups had very small teams and they are super packed. Somehow, at the starting of September, 2 of these startups named SumHr and Startup Times loved my idea and wanted the MYS team to do this workshop with their employees. From then, we never looked back!
4. What challenges did you face during the early days of starting your initiative?
- Bringing The Awareness: Most of the small startups aren’t ready to understand the concept of Employee Wellness and how companies do not bother about wellness and leading to Talent leaving the organization. This is because they are a very small team and they do not have separate employee wellness groups like big companies have!
- Ideas Got Rejected: There were days when people cut the call while we were trying to talk to them about our workshops. But we didn’t give up!
5. How did you acquire your early customers, and validate your market?
We shared colourful posts over LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram within several employee/job opening groups. From there, we picked up on people who were interested and rolled out Google Forms to get them registered.
We conducted an intro talk session to give an idea of how the entire workshop can look like for them in the coming weeks. This allowed the participants to take some time just for the session every week. This was the stage where the participants were still in dilemma and not convinced to continue for the entire workshop.
We understood our audience in the intro-talk. We knew what they were expecting from the workshops. We re-worked our modules and added some interesting group- activities (star- yourself, something you are proud of within the workshop. So each workshop had this 15 mins ice-break that prepped our participants to focus on the main workshop for 1 hour. After our first session, people were more energetic and wanted to continue. We matched up to their expectations.
6. What were the big achievements after your early journey?
100% of people (93 filled responses out of 145) say that the workshop met their expectations and that they learnt something new.
More than 50% of people loved our meditation sessions:
98% of people want to be part of our future workshops:
7. Which tools were useful in growing your business?
We turned to utilising Job Groups on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn to win an audience. For building and maintaining a stronger relationship with our clients we created Whatsapp Groups, Zoom Calls and Colorful Mailers. To develop more we use tools like MS PowerPoint for modules, Google Docs.
8. What habits and systems did you build for your growth and transformation as an entrepreneur?
I told myself that things will not go in the same way as I have planned, but as long as I know where I am ending up it’s okay.
I had people leaving the entire work on me. I was okay to play several roles in the team when any of my team members were not able to support me. I respect their reason. I told myself that today I am learning something new.
There is no negative in a Feedback system. Every feedback is positive. I took loads of feedback from my participants and worked on them for the next workshop. I also made it so much evident for them, to gain that trust factor. Now, they know their feedback is valued.
For a girl living far from home for a job, there is a lot to take care of. From home to paying all the bills, to managing food. Before I started MYS I sat down one day and just wrote down on how things can look until the end of the year.
On Weekdays I work at my regular job. On weekends I use to fully immerse myself in building MYS. I would never mix both of them.
I called myself the “Project Lead @ MYS.” So I did everything that a Project Lead/Manager would do. Do the planning, set realistic deadlines, ensure my team is not overburdened with the work and more. We used to catch up in cafes and discuss our ideas to keep it more joyful.
- Habits/systems for learning and skilling: I read free articles on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit and more. Articles are short and have interesting concepts to explore. To build and run MYS I enrolled myself on some Project Management courses in Udemy. I might not be an MBA from a prestigious university, but I think I am street smart to do the courses and run a project simultaneously. This gave me practical experience. If you learn something, always find a way to implement it. In that way, you will never forget it. I strongly believe in it and it’s my Mantra!
- Habits/systems for growing your professional network and social capital
- I genuinely listen. Whether in an office meeting or with a group of colleagues or friends, I always listen and understand. This is a life hack. When you listen genuinely and respond accordingly, your connection with that person becomes more meaningful. They will like to talk to you more and more.
- I am an introvert. I do not talk a lot. But wherever I work, I remember people’s names. Every day before I start my work, I greet people and wish them a good day at work. Wouldn’t you be happy if you received a text in the morning, saying something like “Morning Ahira! I hope you have a great day at work. Tc!”
- Habits/systems for managing work-life balance, personal relationships:
- I try to keep my work – life interesting. Working is not just the only part that motivates me to work. I attach my motivation to work on several other things like hosting team building activities at the workplace, participating in cultural activities, taking breaks with my favourite people and more. So at work, it does not just work I look up to but many other things.
- We all have burnouts. It is very important to be more watchful of ourselves and understand when is the time we need to take a break, pause from everything and relax for a while. Whenever I notice whatever I am doing is not giving me that sense of accomplishment, or makes me feel tiresome, I understand that I need a break.
- I stay away from office gadgets post my shifts. I spend my free time doing yoga, painting, spending time with kids in orphanages, movie night with friends and family or it could be me making biryani at home. I have learnt to live in the present and enjoy whatever I do. I hence do not hold on to any feeling for a longer period of time. This motivates me to keep trying and pushing myself to accomplish more things.
- Internal transformation I have experienced since starting this business:
- Starting MYS had a great impact on me.Never in my entire life have I thought I would go out there, talk to people, form a team, and do workshops where people are ready to listen to me. Often, we keep ourselves in invisible cages and limit ourselves. We self-reject ourselves and we are hard on ourselves when it is not even necessary.
- I had the courage to break these cages around me and try out something new. I overcame the fear of judgement or failure. For me, the idea of being the first one in doing something is more important than breaking my head changing the existing process. I am a torchbearer.
9. Which books, podcasts, blogs or newsletters have influenced your work the most?
- My favorite 3 books are:
- Tough Times Never Last Longer But Tough People Do – Robert Schuller
- The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
The above are some self-help books that really inspired me to cope up with complex situations in my life.
- 2-3 influencers I follow through their blog or newsletter: I enjoy reading articles/newsletters from Harvard Business Schools, Forbes, Hubspot and more. They fill me with the latest market trends around the world.
10. What advice would you give to a 5-years (or 10-years) younger self?
What comes easy goes easy. Believe in yourself, have dreams, have visions, set realistic and timely goals and mainly create micro-actions to achieve your goals. And every time you do an action that is taking you ahead, do not forget to reward/treat yourself. And take it easy, do not compare yourself with others. You are at your own pace and you are doing great! Don’t forget to have fun!
11. Where can we learn more about you?