At BrilliantRead Media, we always strive to bring to our community some of the finest stories from the entrepreneurship world. As part of this endeavour, we invited yet another passionate women entrepreneur – Vaishali Bafna for an exclusive interview with us. Vaishali is an Entrepreneur, Leader, Coach, Consultant, Mentor, and Change Enabler. She is the Founder of Thinkashram. Let’s learn more about her inspiring journey, her background and her advice for our growing community!
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Vaishali:
We are aware of your contribution in the field of education, growth and development through your entrepreneurial venture “Thinkashram”, talk us through your background and your journey as a women entrepreneur, please.
I hail from a family of professionals who are financial experts. I studied Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in Finance following my family’s lead. However, after completing my education, while I was in search of a product or service to start my own venture, I chanced upon the opportunity to teach in one of the finest schools in the country – The Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai.
Wired to think from a business perspective, my teaching experience triggered a curiosity in me – “As a teacher, I am in the ‘business’ of developing brains but I have no idea about the brain and how it learns. How can I do justice to developing something that I have no understanding of?” This curiosity set me on a search about the human brain. This is what happened to me somewhere around the year 2008.”
A teacher needing to know about the brain was perceived to be a ridiculous thought back then. However, I continued with my pursuit and received support from various neuroscientists and mammal brain researchers who discussed their research and clarified many mysteries about the human brain and its connections to me. For about a decade, I explored multiple aspects of the teaching-learning process: curriculum development, instructional design, critical and metacognitive thinking, creative thinking, content creation, teaching in classrooms and those with additional learning needs along with studying the human brain as well as graduating in education (B.Ed) and studying various programs from Harvard School of Education.
It was in 2014, I discovered the field of educational kinesiology, and I knew what I wanted to create. Thinkashram was set up with a clear purpose of growth and development that would be facilitated by bridging the gap in learning with the science and spirit of learning.”
I am an international instructor and consultant for Brain Gym. I specialize in not only academic aspects but also physiological aspects of learning. This amalgamation of the academic flow of learning with the physiology of learning is the USP of my entrepreneurial venture – Thinkashram.
I have always been passionate about creativity and innovation. Each day at Thinkashram ends with the creation and implementation of novel interventions and heartwarming success stories. The scientific knowledge and teaching-learning skills, where our expertise lies, opens new insights for us each day.
Learning is not just a child’s job. It is a part of our lifelong journey even as adults. Today, the programs of Thinkashram are extended not only to children but also to adults. I thrive on this beautiful, rewarding experience that makes my team and me part of the successful and happy journeys of so many children and adults.
Today, Thinkashram has a reputed presence in Mumbai and virtually across the globe. We contribute to global platforms of research, sharing and learning through presentations at national and international conferences and collaborations with neuroscience lovers from all over the world. The idea that began with curiosity as a seed led me to the path of creation of a unique learning and growth platform, Thinkashram, that continues to offer sustainable solutions to all ages for any need – academic, behavioural, emotional, social, health, functional or others.
What attracts you towards entrepreneurship instead of a professional career in teaching?
The act of creation and innovation nourishes me. The rewards I receive from the community of children and adults whom I serve nurture me.
The freedom to take all decisions and initiate steps that fulfil my goal of truly holistic development for all humans, empowers and fuels my passion.”
A professional career in teaching could be gratifying but could never match up to this level of satisfaction and joy for me. This satisfaction drives me to be a lifelong learner and researcher.
‘Thinkashram’ 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.
The name ‘Thinkashram’ is a blend of ‘Think’ and ‘ashram’.
‘Think’ represents the mind. ‘ashram’ represents our body as a spiritual abode. In a nutshell, Thinkashram embodies the philosophy of ‘mindful thinking and living’. It is about blending the physiology of learning with the spirit of learning.
Our logo is depicted through a tessellated pattern. A tessellation is a pattern of shapes which fit together perfectly, without any gaps. Our logo represents a tessellation of thoughts that build smoothly on each other without leaving gaps in learning or thinking.
What does your company specialize in?
Thinkashram is an all-inclusive learning experience for the growth and development of children and adults. The backbone of each program is evidence-based educational and developmental sciences.
We offer programs that include kinesiology-based solutions designed to overcome any hurdle that deters the mind to move forward with respect to any intention, goal or decision in life. Our programs, therefore, address not only academic and cognitive goals but also emotional, social, behavioural, relationship and performance goals for all ages.”
Our programs are personalized in nature and focus on daily living and learning goals. Our approach is based on kinesiology, which involves specially designed movements that affect our mental and physical growth in a positive way establishing a smooth connection between the brain and body functions.
The range of our programs includes:
– Think:me – This program is designed for personalized one-to-one intervention for children and adults.
– Think:we – This enrichment program is designed for groups of children with focus on creative and critical thinking and visualization.
– Re:think – This program is for teenagers and adults where tools of kinesiology are used to facilitate self-awareness, stress management and develop a balanced perspective.
– Key: This program is designed for parents and babies in their first year focusing on enhancing the natural growth and development process of their babies.
– Hands – This program is designed for toddlers and preschoolers with focus on developing appropriate motor abilities leading to readiness for school.
– Hybrid – All programs are offered in person as well as online.
– Workshops: As an international Brain Gym Instructor, I teach three essential Brain Gym courses to adults from all walks of life – professionals, homemakers, parents, teachers, school heads, musicians, actors, etc. The program teaches them simple movements to keep themselves in a balanced mind body state leading to ease in daily life functioning and living.
During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?
We did not pause for a single day during the pandemic. Overnight, we shifted from real to virtual sessions. We share freely and generously empower adults with knowledge and awareness. This has helped us partner with them for all aspects that require physical intervention for children.
Our resources have always been available on a virtual database which made resource handling and sharing easy amongst the highly flexible, dedicated, and skilled team members of Thinkashram.
How do you manage to keep going despite the challenges? What drives you?
Happy faces of children and adults and seeing them shifting gears towards the curve of positivity and growth-oriented mindset is the greatest joy and reward we receive.
Their heartfelt gratitude, blessings and love, their faith and commitment to our philosophy, and the participation of the whole family in creating the whole support for their child or another family member are rare and magical gifts we receive on a day-to-day basis.”
This keeps our passion and hope alive. We are a small team and may not be able to reach out to a wide group of people at this point but the drops of magic that we witness and become part of gives us the reassurance to move forward slowly and steadily ensuring to maintain the commitment of excellence in the quality of our programs and interventions.
What are the business mantras you have embraced as you sought to establish your success story?
Trust and honour your clients.
Be honest and sensitive to their needs.
Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?
The biggest and continued source of motivation in my daily life has always been and is my family and mentors.”
From my parents and siblings, I have imbibed the values of the 3 Es – empathy, ethics, and excellence.
From my husband and son, I have received faith and encouragement, feedback and guidance, love and support throughout my professional and entrepreneurial journey.
My mentors and teachers have always held my hand and directed me to step up to greater heights with confidence with the relieving assurance of their strong backing.
Given the rapid pace at which the world is changing, what are the leadership traits that are necessary for success?
Empathetic and clear communication, expertise in core and applied skills, and being up-to-date and active participants in communities of changemakers are essentials for successful leadership.
What are the three most important lessons you have learned while building your startup?
(a) Your critics are your best friends.
(b) Your mentors are your torchbearers.
(c) Your values and beliefs are your priceless reserves in uncertain times.
What are some of the strategies that you believe have helped you grow as a person?
> Honesty and transparency in the workplace and communication
> Focus on the goal and shape it at each step rather than looking out to compete
> Being inner-directed and patient
> Growth by word of mouth instead of creating any media hype
> Driven by the passion for community service
> Having a strong spirit of learning
Please share with us – what has worked well for you so far?
Transparency, generosity, sharing in-depth knowledge, have been my strengths.”
In your opinion, what are the keys to success?
Learning is the key to growing. The more we learn about life, people and ourselves, the more we become at ease with the ups and downs of circumstances. Success and failures are short-lived phenomena. They can be celebrated or moaned for only a few moments.
What is sustainable and everlasting is the spirit of positivity and learning that holds and keeps us together all the time.”
What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?
(1) Learn, but respect who you learn from as well. Mentors are essential directors of what we intend to play out in our lives.
(2) Let the outcome not be your goal, instead, let the rewarding experience of the process be your goal. The more you enjoy the ride the more you will retain it in your memory for future use.
(3) Focus on shaping your own values, motives, and philosophy rather than wasting time over-analyzing these of your counterparts or competitors.
BrilliantRead is committed to bringing stories from the startup ecosystem, stories that reshape our perspective, add value to our community and be a constant source of motivation not just for our community but also for the whole ecosystem of entrepreneurs and aspiring individuals.
Note: If you have a similar story to share with our audience and would like to be featured on our online magazine, then please write to us at [email protected], we will review your story and extend an invitation to feature if it is worth publishing.