PR with Pizazz – Keka’s journey

1) Briefly describe your entrepreneurial journey.

What I didn’t realize when I was in-house at both IKEA and the ad agency, DDB, is that these companies were trailblazers. They love to take smart risks and break boundaries, so that became my norm. I certainly never had a boring day at work!

When my first son was born 11 years ago (I now have two boys), I wanted to spend as much time as possible at home, so I left to start my own boutique consultancy. Through my company, Precision Marketing Group Inc., I served some renowned brands, such as: Disney, American Express, Winners and HomeSense, the government of Ontario, and now a host of high-impact entrepreneurs.

I also continue to consult with DDB PR and serve as their vice president, but in a freelance capacity.

Today, I am also pursuing a passion project, running gratitude workshops in schools and to executive audiences across Canada and the US.

What I love about being an entrepreneur is that you have freedom to pursue the work that you love, on your own terms, even if that means working twice as hard sometimes.

2) When you look back, what would you have done differently?

Way back, as I was graduating high school, my drama teacher urged me to pursue an acting career. I was too fearful of potentially becoming a “starving artist,” and I said to my teacher, “How many brown Cinderellas do you see out there?” With my South Asian heritage, I didn’t want a life playing second fiddle. Today, the successes of actors like Mindy Kaling have taught me that I can create my own “brown Cinderalla” role in life; I don’t have to wait for someone to give me an opportunity.

Last year, I made it my goal to be a TEDx speaker in 2018. I attended a TEDx event in New Bedford near Boston in December and took my family with me on the business trip, so we could enjoy some family time together too. As we were leaving the hotel to head back to Toronto, I said to my sons, “Maybe, next year, if I’m chosen as a speaker, we’ll be leaving a hotel like this after I’ve spoken on stage.” My older son promptly responded: “Mom, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

Incidentally, I’ve been chosen as a speaker at this year’s TEDxWindsor event in March.

3) What advice would you give to mid-life women who are looking to change their situation in life?

As women, we tend to put the people we care about first, making them our priority which often results in us putting ourselves last. But I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned and want to share is that I have to walk the talk for the people I love. I want my sons to grow up pursuing their highest potential, believing they can reach it. Therefore, I have to do it myself, to show them it’s possible.

In doing this, I realize that when I am most comfortable being myself, that is when I can give the best of me to the people I care about most, and to the world. That is where I can have the greatest impact on others.

To get to this place, I have also learned that it’s really important to be nicer to ourselves – more kind and caring. We tend to be our own worst critic, but the best advice I received is: we must learn to be our own best friend.

4) What is your opinion about women having it all (with reference to career and family)?

I think we can “have it all” but we can’t “have it altogether” all the time. That is a false expectation and unnecessary burden many of us carry. Moreover, here are some truths we need to acknowledge:

No one wins alone: Some of the most successful business people have teams of experts surrounding them, coaching them. So do the world’s elite athletes. We, as women, don’t have to do everything on our own. I have a lot of help from my husband, my mom and my brother and I couldn’t do it without them.

Something’s gotta give: In trying to have it all, some compromises must be made. We only have 100% to give, and it’s up to us how we cut each piece of our pie. The key to our happiness is that split has to be made purposefully and on our terms. And where we fall short, we must have support to step in on our behalf.

There will be warts: Through social media, we are witnessing people’s highlight reels every day, and we are tempted to think that is their life. Then by comparison, we start to think that we need to live such a life too. That is a fallacy. It’s not delivered in a beautifully, gift-wrapped ribbon. I think we have to embrace our life’s lowlights, just as we relish our highlights. That is part of having it all.