1. Hello! Who are you and what expertise-based business do you own?
My name is Misha Bajaj. I am an entrepreneur and own three distinct businesses – Katalyst Marcom, a visual communications agency, Leap pad Ventures – A marketing strategy and market access firm and Voila – leadership and team coaching vertical within the company.
For each of the businesses, there is a separate audience that we cater to. In Katalyst Marcom, we specialize in creating visual communications for employee branding and internal communications for large corporations who need powerful and impactful communication for their teams.
Leap Pad Ventures works largely with international companies looking at accessing the Indian market and helping them with marketing strategies to establish themselves in India. A new arm of this business is focused on developing human capital and we coach leaders, entrepreneurs, and teams to enhance performance and transform behaviors.
2. What were you doing before starting this business and what is it that you wanted to accomplish?
For the last 20 years, I have been working with various organisations and my first full-time role was to head three centres at NIIT. I learnt a lot during this time since I covered sales, marketing as well as operations for three of the top centres in the network. I took a sabbatical in a few years as I experienced motherhood for the first time. When my son was born, I felt that my new full-time job was to bring him up! But as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be someone who does it all – family, kids, career, friends, community work, and does it all with perfect ease and grace. And sure enough, while I was at home, and when my baby used to be napping, I would be up on the internet looking for that perfect job that would give me the balance that I needed. I interviewed for a position and was fully aware that I had been out of the workforce for a bit and might not be able to make it back so easily.
But the Universe had its own plan I guess, and I got back into the workforce at the British High Commission in New Delhi. This was an excellent learning phase for me and I am grateful to all my seniors and colleagues who shaped me during this time. During this time, I completed my Masters in Business Administration with International Business and Marketing as my specialisation. While it was challenging to work and study while also caring for an infant and a family, it was all worth it and I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten by without the support of my family.
During my time at the British High Commission, I moved to different teams that opened up a whole new world for me. I worked with some of the best known and loved British and Indian companies, British and Indian Government and Ministers, Media personalities and many leaders of the industry. I spent 13 years at the British High Commission in various capacities and the last role that I took on was as the Director Marketing & Communications at the Scottish Development International – the International business promotion arm of the Scottish Government.
I began my full-fledged entrepreneurial journey in 2018 and began working with large corporations on designing their internal communications campaigns and employer branding. The bigger vision for this company is to create change in culture through effective communication within teams.
In the same year, I also took on the role of Country Head for the Indian operations of the Economic Development arm of the Government of St Gallen Bodensee Area, Switzerland.
2021 was a turning point in my journey. As the world began to feel the repercussions of the pandemic, it became clear to me that it is also my duty to do something for the community. I signed up with voluntary organisations to support COVID affected women who had lost their family members. Since I already had experience in coaching people, I decided to get trained and certified as a professional coach from the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Ever since my training, I have been working with entrepreneurs and teams on improving performance and quality of life at work and home by sharing business insights.
Creating financial security for myself and my family was the primary motivation for me to venture out on my own in more than one business stream.
There were many internal desires that I wanted to achieve for myself as well, some of them being:
- creating something valuable and nurturing it to become a known brand
- creating jobs
- contribution and giving back especially for women and children
- personal growth and development
3. What problems were you facing in achieving your dreams before this business started?
Starting on my own makes me feel like I’m in charge of my life and all success and failure is a function of what I put into my business coaching business. This sense was missing before I started on my entrepreneurial journey. I find comfort in the fact that I am able to look after my family, make a decent living, provide employment and income to multiple families and am also able to help others in living a better life in spite of all odds; all at the same time. As I talk, I am getting present to the fact that I really am living a whole life as I had always imagined!
4. What insight led you to start this business?
Large corporations always have a lot going on but not all of it is communicated to the teams. This makes it challenging to retain talent and also does harm to the employer’s own brand. This insight led us to start our visual communications agency to help communications and HR teams strategize and design campaigns that would help them.
5. What were some big setbacks in your early journey?
Some of my professional setbacks included unreliable vendors, the difference in vision with partners, lack of the right people resources. I also experienced personal setbacks due to the entrepreneurial journey – a loss of identity as I had always known, loss of some personal relationships due to business commitments. Yet I never considered going back to my older business.
It was the hope I felt, the last opportunity I saw – the freedom of being on my own, the feeling of humility, the knowledge that I was contributing to other lives were all reasons and hopes to persevere.
6. What habits and systems did you build for your growth and transformation as an entrepreneur?
I believe in a distinction known as – This is it. To me, it means that whatever happens, it is a reality and we have to accept it and work with it rather than complaining and getting upset about the whys and why not. I feel that time optimization is important and it is essential to use every second of the day and not procrastinate. Voracious reading, signing up for courses that can help you, meeting people can also aid the process. Professionally, Take the opportunity to meet new people and join professional networks and add value to everyone you meet. To maintain work-life balance, say no to commitments you can’t keep, Utilize all opportunities you can get to create memories, delegate and coach your people to help them grow into successful managers. Before I started as an entrepreneur, I was known by my network because of my position and the organization I worked for. Now, I am known for who I am and what I stand for and it is very humbling and encouraging. It makes me work more consistently on myself and my work.
7. Which books, podcasts, blogs or newsletters have influenced your work the most?
- Books I like include:
How come no one told me that – Because it is simple and logical
Mistakes were made (but not by me) – Because it gave me the essence of why we behave the way we do
The power of Now – Because it helped me in centring myself
- I like listening to these podcasts:
Bill gates – futuristic and thought-provoking
Sadhguru – Makes me hopeful
8. What advice would you give to a 5-years (or 10-years) younger self?
- My professional advice would be – knowledge is of no value unless it is used. Don’t spend all your time getting prepared for the job by knowing. Just go for it and build on what you already know by doing it.
- My Personal advice would be – you cannot change situations and people but you have a choice to accept, adapt or move on.
9. Where can we learn more about you and your business?
- LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/mishabajaj
- Email – firstname.lastname@example.org