At BrilliantRead Media, our aim is to bring to our community some of the finest stories from the startup ecosystem. As part of this endeavour, we invited a passionate entrepreneur – Anisha Sharma for an exclusive interview with us. She is an Entrepreneur, Leader, Coach, Consultant, Change Enabler, and Mentor. Anisha is the Founder of Asketa Academy. Let’s learn more about her exciting journey, her background and her advice for our growing community.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Anisha:
We are aware of your contribution to the ecosystem, talk us through your background and your journey, please;
My background is from the armed forces. My education and family took me all over the country. I did my schooling from Kendriya Vidyalayas’ in almost all the regions of the country. Schooling was followed by B.Sc. From St. Francis, Hyderabad.
I completed my M. Sc. From Osmania University as a Gold Medalist in Zoology, Environmental Biology. I was quite a sincere student who tried balancing academics with co-curricular activities and sports. I was very active in dancing, theatre, debating, basketball, kho-kho and high jumps. I was selected as house captain and school captain, primarily because I wanted to lead from the front.
With the dawn of the IT era, I did a certification of programming from CMC, Delhi, followed by becoming the first person to get certified by WWWI, Delhi in a course which was recognized by Geneva, Switzerland as a full-fledged Web Administrator, Developer and Designer.
After the certification, in 1999, along with two friends, I launched a web designing company, Graffitti, wherein we designed some of the first generation websites and web portals.
In 2000, after getting married, my life partner and I started our own IT company – Acumen Software which was a custom software development company. I have been a part of the company till 2015 after which I decided to quit that and start an Edtech company integrating the field of education with my knowledge and skill-set in IT.”
That is how Asketa Academy was born and we started our ICLPO program for the students wherein we understand the unique needs of each student and provide academic learning in a way so that they excel in their respective subjects.
During my college days, I took part in major contests and competitions since I was an all-rounder in studies & cultural activities. Other than academics, through 1995 to 1996, I had a brief stint (1.5 years long) in modelling (print and ramp).
What made you passionate about ‘Coaching’?
It is more of a calling I would say, while I would try to close my eyes to meditate – to think about what it is that I would like to do day-in-and-day-out… I had only one word come up in my mind – Helping others.
I once had a near-death experience in 1999. Ever since, I knew one thing for sure…. It is not money and material things which would drive me to achieve something credible. Death is inadvertent. And, since I had received the blessing of a life a second time…. I realized I should make use of it in a way that my life and I served the purpose of being here on Earth.”
For a while, I was clueless as to how to manifest this calling in a way where it would lead to helping people in their lives. This is when I decided to change my field from IT to education, coaching and counselling. I didn’t see much point in helping with materials and money, I sensed the need to guide those who will build a better future.
I knew my strength of being able to understand the problems of people and hitting their core problem point(s) will allow me to help them become a better version of themselves and my counselling skills will aid them in making proper conscious choices in life, career or relationships. Happy and healthy people only can make a better world.
‘Asketa Academy’ is such a unique name; talk us through more about it, please. Our audience would also love to know what kind of problem you are solving?
Yes, it is indeed a unique name which was suggested to me by my son when I was finalizing the name for the academy. The vision of the academy and I, as its founder, is to empower students, parents and trainers.
Our academy caters to students and mentors/guides them into becoming proficient in the subject(s) academically in a very specifically tailored program for each student individually. Our student base is from grades 1 to 12 and University students worldwide.”
Our primary focus is on struggling students who do not grasp things and perform very well in a rigidly structured environment of a school and get disinclined/disengaged in a subject(s). We have a mixed lot of students ranging from high performers to strugglers’ and we also cater to students who are in a spectrum (ADHD/Autism) or simply in a grey area of learning having some cognitive/learning/retention issues.
We not only teach our students academic subjects but also train students behaviour and mindset towards things and life, in general. Our work involves guiding, tweaking and teaching our students to be strong mentally, emotionally, behaviorally and academically which ensures holistic development. We also counsel the parents within our Academy whenever needed so that they can understand their ward’s issues and help us help their children become a better version of themselves, both academically and personally.
Apart from this, we also conduct our in-house “train the trainers” program wherein we have enabled at least 50 people who were qualified with degrees but had not worked anywhere due to personal/family issues or other constraints. Right now they are working as full-time professionals giving me excellent results with students.”
Personally, they feel a change in the way people around them respect and appreciate their contribution to their families. During Covid’s time, many of them were sole earners of the family as we all know how all professions were impacted. At the same time, many teachers were fired from their jobs and were under serious debt during the pandemic.
We took it as a challenge and trained them from scratch to teach online using our methodology and they have become debt-free in less than a year of working with us.
How do you manage to keep going despite the challenges? What drives you?
Empowering and helping others is the vision which keeps me going strong. It is pretty normal for every work to have its own set of challenges but if your purpose is aligned with passion and commitment then you have a work which will never feel like work because it simply isn’t.
It is your dream, passion and desire, and once that fire is lit within you, then challenges don’t feel so overwhelming and an individual can find plausible solutions in such a mindset. Having a mentor in your life is very important to make you see the light when your own vision becomes clouded.”
Apart from this, I have a very strong support system in the form of my life partner, Shakti Dhar Sharma who has been the guiding force and mentor from the beginning. His positive and motivating words always push me beyond my comfort zone to face the challenges head-on.
Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?
The biggest source of motivation is the desire and passion to achieve my purpose of helping those in need. In achieving my dream, my life partner Shakti is my strongest and unconditional support system apart from my children Kriti and Agastya.
I have an inner circle of close friends, both personally as well as professionally, whom I rely on completely and who are always there without a question whenever I need them. My close friend’s positive and optimistic words in all situations are a constant source of encouragement but I also know that if they see me stumbling or taking a wrong decision, they will be the first ones to bring it to my attention.
When you have people who can call a spade a spade when needed to correct you, then, to be honest, I am blessed to have such a circle of wonderful friends and family who support and stand with me all the time.
What are some of the strategies that you believe have helped you grow as a person?
There are a few:
(1) Identifying my purpose and passion and complementing it with sincerity, dedication with honesty.
(2) Being mindful and resourceful
(3) Taking ownership and responsibility for my actions
(5) Ability to take risks & venture into uncharted territories
(6) Empathetic nature
(7) Ability to hit the core problem points and work on their solutions adeptly
(8) Commitment towards Responsibility
(10) Accepting things as they are and adapting as per the requirement.
You are always positive and motivated, what keeps you going?
My motivation comes from music, dancing, reading online articles/posts and talking to either my hubby or my close friend. Music fills me with energy and that energy keeps me in high spirits.
The motivation to work hard focus and stay disciplined comes from the passion to help at least one individual every day in some manner. It drives me and keeps me upbeat.
I keep learning something new every day and also am trying to set boundaries (a work in progress!) which takes practice, so that I don’t get bogged down by my student and coaching clients’ problems.
I schedule some time in a week for self-care, even if it’s just alone time or a time out with friends for a movie or just a relaxing dinner with friends. Watching comedies (movie or stand-up) or romantic comedy lightens my mood and rejuvenates me.”
I am an avid reader and love to read diverse genres of works by people whether it is philosophy, self-help, fiction or nonfiction. I love biographies or stories with uplifting material that reminds me of the power we all have within us.
I think the most powerful motivation comes when I am able to help someone and see the results of the same. For example, when I see my students in the Academy transforming into the form that they wished for academically/personally. The results speak for themselves.
Or, when a coaching client has that look of revelation on their face and eyes. It gives me a boost as I know that my job is done and done well. Or, when a trainer comes in to tell me how they have changed their lives financially, personally and socially since they started working with the Academy. The impact we create and the footsteps I am going to leave behind are what motivate me to do the work every day.
Please share with us, how do you motivate your clients?
My work involves empowering students, parents, individuals and trainers to realize their potential and purpose in life. We always focus on their why’s and what’s so that the “how” can be worked upon. Once these parts have been taken care of, then the individual automatically takes on responsibilities for their own self-development and works on themselves to achieve their goals.
In your opinion, what are the keys to success?
I firmly believe in the quote that “Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.” – Orison Swett Marden
Success is –
> Accepting & Loving myself unconditionally
> Responsibility for my actions
> Standing up for myself
> Courage to risk and persevere in the face of difficulties
> Hopeful, Positive and Optimistic Attitude
> Taking massive action (execution) with consistency and belief
> Focused mind
> Belief in one’s own self
> Ability to begin again in an event of failure
What about your journey makes it satisfying/exciting?
Success is a team effort and in my field, it requires building trust first and delivering next. When we get results, it feels good. But when I get feedback from someone who followed the steps and found the results to their expectations or at times more, it fills me with joy and boosts up my energy to deliver more value to them and others.
Before seeing positive transformations in them and in their journey, they overcame their inhibitions and not just hoped for better, they also put forth their trust in me. I see this as my most outstanding achievement and success and it makes their breakthroughs as mine just as much.
In such people, I see the potential that the torch of helping and guiding others will be passed on further.
What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?
Students and young professionals often get waylaid in the choices that they make with respect to their careers. More often than not “a job” is often mistakenly thought of as one’s career. Seek and be open to guidance from professionals to make a better decision.
The usual trend is to follow their peers’ advice or follow parental guidance or simply see what is the “in-thing” at the moment. I think the best advice would be to work on finding their higher and inner calling and then follow their passion and heart in regards to their career.
Students/professionals should understand that once you make a decision based on their correct evaluation of strengths and weaknesses, interests and passion, they tend to stick to that route longer, perform better and are happier in life. Set SMART – (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals, develop a proper mindset towards the goals and setbacks and last but not the least attain a skill-set to achieve your goals
Even if your desire is to work in a field which is not the “in-thing”, a career choice made based on passion rather than pressure will always make you a happier and more successful person.