Meet The SHEROES: Rinku Paul, Life Coach And Author Of Dare To Be
The first 16 years of Rinku Paul’s career were spent in the corporate space. However, she wanted to realise her long-term dream of impacting people’s lives, and became a life coach, corporate trainer and neuro-linguistic programming practitioner. She also co-founding a writing studio, The Muse, and went back to writing, her first creative passion.
Rinku has co-authored Dare To Be with Puja Singhal, the collection of life stories of women who followed their passions and redefined their career. She recalls her journey with Karuna John, our writer.
Excerpts from the interview:
How do you look back on your career graph?
I believe I am on a journey. I spent the first 16 years of my career in a corporate job, working with a large media organization. While I enjoyed what I did, somewhere I also let my designation and pay-packet become an intrinsic part of my identity. When I took the decision to take the leap, it wasn’t surprising, therefore, that most people around me saw it as a “fall from grace”. That the timing came dangerously close to being qualified as a “mid-career crisis” didn’t help matters either!
However, I firmly believed that I needed to move on to do something a little more impactful. It is this journey that led me to the book Dare To Be--an attempt to chronicle the lives of women who dared to stand up against various odds to follow their passion. The book, however, isn’t an irresponsible call to dump your corporate careers. It is an impassioned appeal to be true to oneself and let that guide your life and career path.
I have also co-founded a writing studio, The Muse. My journey has also led me to study to become a Certified Life Coach and an NLP (or neuro-linguistic programming) practitioner. It is hugely gratifying to be able to help empower people to find their own answers to issues holding them back.
What was your childhood ambition, and how did you share it with family and friends?
Growing up when there were few gadgets to keep me occupied, a large part of my childhood was spent reading. People remind me how they had to peer over my book if they needed to talk to me at the dining table then. Very early on, my parents instilled in me the need to carve out a career for myself. I don’t think I knew what it would be, at that stage, though I recall taking a lot of ‘classes’ playing teacher with imaginary students.
Did your formal education lead you towards what you hoped to be?
I did my Bachelors in English Honours and then went on to do an MBA where I specialized in marketing. My large media stint, where I headed advertising sales, clearly drew from my MBA. However, the love for writing instilled early on never did leave me, and that perhaps led me to the book.
How and when did you chose to launch the Dare To Be movement?
When I started my own journey, I didn’t know that it will lead me to chronicle the journey of many others. But perhaps the seed of Dare To Be was sown there. I realized the many issues one had to face when venturing on an untrodden path, especially when you do it after a “stable” career.
Then there are your own fears and vulnerabilities to contend with, the innumerable naysayers who you need to outshout, and for women, more often than not, there is a patriarchal setup to contend with. The idea was to infuse women’s entrepreneurial and creative ecosystem with meaningful storytelling, tales that fellow travellers could draw inspiration from.
These tales are even more precious in the light of the fact that India ranks a low 70 among 77 countries covered in the 2015 female entrepreneurship index, brought out by the Washington-based Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, which measures the health of the entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Fortunately for me, my immediate family was extremely supportive. The 14 women that my co-author and I reached out to graciously agreed to share their stories. We found a star literary agent who led us to a publisher, who believed in the concept of the book--so here we are. All we hope now is that this movement does not end with the book, as it is only by sharing our collective experiences and beliefs that we can outshout that persistent naysaying voice in our own head.
What do you see changing for women professionals in India?
The change may be slow, but we are definitely headed in the right direction. Today, women aren’t just taking leaps in the corporate world; we are hearing of women-led entrepreneurial ventures--they are getting into the consideration set as far as VC funding is concerned. The numbers may be miniscule but we are slowly but surely learning to “sit at the table”. I think that is a huge change.
The 14 women we featured in Dare To Be are from across the professional spectrum; that filled me with immense hope. There are many others who have remarkable stories. We need to be supportive of each other and help create an ecosystem that helps us all. The conversation clearly needs to change from “what we cannot do” to “what we can”. Clearly, we need to continue to “Lean In”.