Jun 13, 2015

9 ways to be a travel hack and enjoy great destinations @ great prices

Published in IndianMutinies.com
9 ways to be a travel hack and enjoy great destinations @ great prices

Disclaimer:This one’s for those who believe in the good old funda of getting value for money, being smart and spending wisely. If a holiday for you means dashing off to the nearest airport, booking an exotic destination and returning home a few lakhs lighter, skip this. If you like to plan your things out and feel happy at having a great holiday and still getting great bargains, read on. Practical advice from a much-travelled travel freak and writer.
Ditch the long weekend: Yes, I know what I am saying. Don’t do the clichéd thing of planning a holiday on a long weekend because all those super souls like you across the world would also be planning the same thing. Chances are that you will find your neighbor and his cousin ending up at the place where you landed. Not a pretty scene, right. Let go of the long weekend. Stay at home and watch movies or hang out with friends. Soon after long weekend when there is loads of work piled up at office, sneak out on that holiday. Since the whole office is in full force, you won’t have a problem getting a few days off. This way, you avoid the work, the crowds, get the best off-peak bargains and lots more. Most resorts and hotels have offseason and long weekend special rates. Once the crowd clears, you get the same room for 30 per cent less and 50 per cent fewer people in the pool. A true holiday is one where you get the time and space to enjoy things. Not stand in queues and come out of the pool because it was too crowded.Travel Hack ditches weekend©TierrainIndia

Forget about the public/government holiday: Replace the long weekend with a public holiday in this one and you will get what I say. Indians get greedy and club one Sunday with the next Tuesday which may happen to be a government/public holiday. But really, neither the pilgrimage you want to visit not the park your kids demanded will be any pleasant. Try visiting the Qutub Minar in New Delhi on a holiday like October 2 or Dasara weekend. You won’t have space to sit at a place and pose for a pic. Ditto with the Pav Bhaji or pizza joint there. Try it out on a working day morning. It is so blissful, you can spend half hour watching the squirrels in the garden. Trust me, been there, done that.

Whether the weather matters: It does, every bit of it. In India, if you plan any south Indian non-hill station anytime between March to July, you will be barbecued alive. The trick is to have three lists and put your destinations list in those lists. One list for each season! For example, you want to go to Varanasi, plan between October to March. Avoid the monsoons as well as the river will be in spite. If you want to go to Kerala, any season is okay except peak summer – March to June. Same with Goa. In the US, some states have subzero temperatures and unless you enjoy snow, it makes sense to check the weather and go with the right tools. If you are planning Tirupati, research reveals that planning on a Tuesday morning, Bhadrapada masam, Pitrupakshalu (considered inauspicious time) is the best time to have a good darshan of Srivaru. Who cares about the day as long as you can visit your dear Lord and get an eyeful of him.! All that talk about spontaneity sounds great if you are solo and don’t have a family to take care of.

Factor in kidomania: If you’re single and without kids, essentially anything goes as you don’t have the hassle of factoring in the moods and sulks of these little people. Kids and shopping is a bad combo. Just when you’re trying out a sexy Camisole, your toddler will scream for potty. Parks, amusement rides, open air spaces that encourage running around and kid-friendly fast-food joints with ice creams, snacks are great bets. Forget about visiting an art gallery, museum, beauty salon, a crowded church or temple that has a long winding queue. Not factoring their likes and dislikes can make or mar your trip. Imagine a toddler meltdown at Costco or a Dubai Mall. It is a waste of time, source of embarrassment, not to mention feeling bad for dragging the child that far. Don’t ignore the needs and desires of the tweens. Ensure there is shopping, eating out and outdoorsy fun for them.

Jun 3, 2015

Telangana- A Desi Outfit of the Travel Industry

Published in IndianMutinies.com
Telangana- A Desi Outfit of the Travel Industry

By ManjuLatha Kalanidhi

We all hate clichés in life. Then how come we embrace clichéd holidays and weekends with great glee. Beach sunsets, night safaris, waterfalls… haven’t we been there done that? How about busting the stereotype with a trip to an ancient temple on the banks of a riverbed, with or without the river? Suppose you could ditch the tea garden trip for one where you can trek the untamed wilderness, desi style? Why not a Biryani trail across 18 eating joints?

If you are ready to trade a mundane holiday into an offbeat one, Telangana – the shiny new inland state in south India is the one for you. Well, this state with ten districts may not boast of any coast, but it’s gotta what it takes to keep you engaged productively over the weekend or the vacation.

While you are here, expect to wipe your forehead sweat with a soft tissue every two hours, say no to a chai every 40 minutes, utter an ‘arre arre’ sympathetically every… Ready for this bumpy and exhilarating touristy ride across this newborn?

The state is taking its tourism seriously and as a first step, Yadagirigutta, abode of Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy will become what Tirupathi is to Andhra.

Why stop at seven when you can touch nine? The Yaadadri project promises to be a cluster of nine hills and the development plans include stepping up of statues representing 32 forms of Lord Narasimha Swamy on Yadagirigutta. On offer are six track approach roads, luxury valley view guesthouses, cable cars and more.

We give you a snapshot of ten districts and ten highlights. You take your pick.

Indian mythology believes that Shakuntala (mother of emperor Bharatha) was an epitome of beauty. Kuntala waterfalls in Adilabad – 300 km from Hyderabad, in Neredigonda, is named after her and without doubt is among the most beautiful waterfalls in India. At a height of 147 feet, Kuntala is wild, ferocious and tempestuous waterfall which takes you into another world altogether. A great weekend getaway from Hyderabad, it is at its best between July to December.

Kuntala waterfalls Telangana

Adilabad also boasts of another unique temple. The Saraswathi temple is perhaps the only of the three or four in the world where the temple foyer is dotted with pre-schoolers. The world-famous Gyana Saraswathi temple at Basara is perhaps every lucky Telugu would have written his first ABCs. A five-hour drive from Hyderabad, don’t forget to take a dip in the mighty Godavari river.

Saraswati temple Basara Telangana

Vemulawada Shiva temple is perhaps the only one in the country which offers a unique boiled rice pooja (anna pooja) where cooked rice is offered to the God. For the whys and hows of it, watch National Geographic for the info or get there yourself.

Vemulawada Telagana(©hamarakarimnagar)

Relive the most touching moment of Sita’s abduction and the way the heartless raven Ravana sever Jatayu’s wings at Parnashala, a lovely installation art form that gets you all moist eyed. Khammam also serves as a stopover in the Paapikondalu day tour. One can see the beautiful mountains of Paapi range circumambulated by the pristine waters of Godavari river. Take a day boat trip to the Paapi hills to experience the best of Khammam.

Papi Hills Telangana

Let the neighing of the horses of the bygone era reverberate in your ears. Let the Her Majesty’s 2 pound heavy anklets take you back into another era, thanks to the famous Gadwal Sasthanam. Gadwal is also famous for handlooms. If you’re looking for an art and craft weekend, try this place.

The Medak Cathedral is a magnificent structure that attracts crowds not just during Christmas or Lent but throughout the year. Without boring you with useless information of how tall the main pillar is etc, suffices to say it is Asia’s biggest church and a must-see for its Gothic Revival style architecture marked by decorative patterns, narrow, pointy lancet windows, ornate spires etc. The imported mosaic tiles and grey stone pillars are a treat to the eye.

Medak Church Telangana

You’ve played Candy Crush or High School Story on your smartphone. Can you laugh out loud and suspend yourself upside down on a banyan tree? Pillalamarri offers you the chance to embrace your childhood at this cluster of hundreds of banyan trees. Besides this, Nalgonda also boasts of the magnificent Bhongir fort. Trek it up and look back every 20 steps for breathtaking vistas of the nearby farms and Yadagirigutta, the divine abode of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. The fort atop the hill takes you back to at least 500 years back in time. Carry a soft drink, some water and some classic chips to celebrate reaching the top. Plan early morning treks for best experiences.

Narasimha swamy temple nalgonda Telangana

(©explore Telangana)

Pillalamarri Telangana

Bada Pahad is a dargah in the picturesque forests where you can shut up your boss. That is right. Shut up your boss or spouse or friend who talks too much by putting a symbolic lock and key combination to the God.

Bad pahad scenic view Telangana

Anantagiri Hills offers vistas of greenery that you can witness when you trek up the hill. It is here that you can see natural swings formed because of banyan tree crossings. edak:
The Medak Cathedral is a magnificent structure that attracts crowds not just during Christmas or Lent but throughout the year. Without boring you with useless information of how tall the main pillar is etc, suffices to say it is Asia’s biggest church and a must-see for its Gothic Revival style architecture marked by decorative patterns, narrow, pointy lancet windows, ornate spires etc. The imported mosaic tiles and grey stone pillars are a treat to the eye.

Medak Church Telangana

You’ve played Candy Crush or High School Story on your smartphone. Can you laugh out loud and suspend yourself upside down on a banyan tree? Pillalamarri offers you the chance to embrace your childhood at this cluster of hundreds of banyan trees. Besides this, Nalgonda also boasts of the magnificent Bhongir fort. Trek it up and look back every 20 steps for breathtaking vistas of the nearby farms and Yadagirigutta, the divine abode of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. The fort atop the hill takes you back to at least 500 years back in time. Carry a soft drink, some water and some classic chips to celebrate reaching the top. Plan early morning treks for best experiences.

Narasimha swamy temple nalgonda Telangana

(©explore Telangana)

Pillalamarri Telangana

Bada Pahad is a dargah in the picturesque forests where you can shut up your boss. That is right. Shut up your boss or spouse or friend who talks too much by putting a symbolic lock and key combination to the God.

pahad scenic view Telangana

Anantagiri Hills offers vistas of greenery that you can witness when you trek up the hill. It is here that you can see natural swings formed because of banyan tree crossings.

Apr 25, 2015

Published in Ravishly.com

By Manju Latha Kalanidhi http://www.ravishly.com/ladies-we-love/alexandra-levit-workplace-expert-author
Alexandra Levit: Workplace Expert, Author
Alexandra Levit practices what she teaches; the acclaimed workplace expert, author, speaker, columnist, and consultant has built the kind of career she's helped countless others build for themselves.

A columnist for The New York Times who previously opined for The Wall Street Journal, Alexandra has authored the bestselling books They Don't Teach Corporate in College, How'd You Score That Gig?, Success for Hire, MillennialTweet, New Job, New You, and Blind Spots. She served as a member of Business Roundtable's Springboard Project, which advised the Obama administration on workplace issues. And she was instrumental in creating JobSTART 101, a free online course that better prepares college students and graduates for the challenges of the workplace, as well as a U.S. Department of Labor course that helps military veterans switch to the civilian workforce.

A well-known face and voice on NPR, CNN, ABC News, and in CNBC debates, she was named an American Management Association Top Leader for 2014, and received the prestigious Emerging Leader Award from her alma mater of Northwestern University. Alexandra resides in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband Stewart and their two young children; we caught up with her to glean some expert insights.

According to your website, your goal is "to help people succeed in meaningful jobs, and to build relationships between organizations and top talent." How do you define a meaningful job? Most people aren't even sure they're happy with their job . . .

I think meaningful work means different things to different people. Some want to feel that they are making a tangible difference in the world. Others just want to pay the bills so they can spend as much time with their families as possible. There is no perfect work situation, so every individual must carefully consider her own priorities and look for a fit that's "good enough" for a positive overall life.

You participated in Business Roundtable's Springboard Project, where you advised the Obama administration on workplace issues. This must have been quite the experience. Can you describe what it was like? What advice did you offer to Obama and his team?

In working with the Business Roundtable, I liaised with the U.S. Department of Labor. I was pleased that they wanted to focus on community college students, because these are the ones who often get lost in the "career preparedness" shuffle. My guidance was to put my most critical content about succeeding at a first job into a format for that these students could access universally and for free, and could digest in short bursts. That's how we came up with JobSTART101.org.

How do you manage your busy schedule? What's your time management mantra?

A typical day involves dropping the kids off at 8 am, working in my office by 9 am, and concluding by 5 or 6 pm. Sometimes, if I need to go the gym, an offsite meeting, or one of the kids has an event at school, I work fewer hours during the day and will resume after the kids are in bed at about 8 pm. During the days on weekends, I spend time with my family—doing activities with the kids and hanging out with their/our friends. I often work at night on weekends.

My time management mantra is that I try not to travel more than twice a month, and that if two things conflict, I prioritize what I feel is most important. For instance, I might miss my kid's Halloween party at school for a business meeting because Halloween parties happen every year. But I would not miss his first piano recital because that will only happen once.

What are some career tips you can offer to women just starting their careers?

My advice to women starting their careers now would be 1) Your first job will not be the be-all, end-all of career satisfaction. Instead of expecting to conquer the world, just make an intelligent first step that will allow you to practice transferable skills that will be helpful across a wide range of industries and roles, and 2) Understand that people's perceptions of you is more important than what you actually produce. Focus on making a stellar first impression in work relationships, and practice being assertive—or expressing your views while respecting those of others.

What is your next book about and when is it coming out?

I plan to write something in 2016. I published quite a lot of books in a short period of time, so I want to wait a bit before deciding on what to write next!

Losing a job is traumatic for any working professional. What's your advice on dealing with this . . . and bouncing back?

Give yourself a few weeks to grieve while seeking the support of friends and family, and then commit yourself to a new project—whether it's finding a new job, engaging with your network, or taking action to refresh your skills. Both for your personal and career health, the important thing is to do something so that you don't lose too much momentum.

It seems like everyone aspires to become a CEO or top executive. What is the one quality you often see in CEOs and top executives which makes them what they are?

This is an interesting point because I have observed, actually, that not everyone wants to be CEO. Some people just want to be part of the action and are content to leave the running of a company to someone else. However, among the CEOs that I have had the pleasure to meet, I've noticed that the most successful ones are humble. They recognize they don't know everything, and they are willing to admit mistakes and learn from them. They understand that one never stops learning, even when he or she has reached a top position.

Jan 10, 2015

ladies we love

Shanoor Sana: Accomplished Actress

It's a pretty universally held belief that being an actor is cool. Being an actress who is instantly recognized in the movie-crazy south of India? Decidedly even more so. But being the mother of two twenty year-olds—while looking like a 30-year-old—hailing from a super-conservative Muslim family, and getting her mother-in-law to accompany her on her shoots during her debut days of modeling and acting all when working for movies was considered a taboo . . . well that’s not just cool—it’s one helluva achievement.
Shanoor Sana, better known by her onscreen mononym Sana, is enjoying her space and place in movies from the south as an artist today only because she took the first tentative steps with great confidence. In her own words, it is not as much about her roles in movies, but her ability to break the shackles of traditions to do movies and yet manage to stay grounded with her family. This is what has moored her in her myriad accomplishments.
Sana never imagined that her professional journey, which started as a feeble request to her husband and mother-in-law 20 years ago to allow her to shoot for a sari ad, has evolved into a war cry for her favorite political party during the national elections that took place this summer. She is currently working for a daily soap called Pratibhimbam on ETV, the magnum opus mythological film Rudramadevi, and a Tamil movie. Her filmography has Telugu (a south Indian language) blockbusters such as Ninne Pelladatha, Pandurangadu and Sriramarajyam.
She covers this sprawling evolution, her roots, and of course that awkward moment when she posed for a bathrobe ad right in front of her mom-in-law . . .
Back in the 90s—when working for movies was looked down upon—how did you, a married woman, mother of two, and the daughter-in-law of a conservative Muslim family manage to gain a foothold in showbiz?
Frankly, there is no big story. I was an active student who loved taking part in theater and who wanted to try her hand in the arts. My parents are pretty progressive in their outlook. In fact, they had an inter-religious marriage (my mom is a Muslim and dad’s a Christian) in the 70s, which was a big deal in India. But even before I could have big dreams of a career, I was married off. My dad had suffered severe losses in his business and he was at an all-time low. His friends and family advised him to get me married as in India a girl child’s marriage is considered a big event and ticking it off one’s list is a big achievement in and of itself. So I was married off to Sadath and life was a merry ride with cooperative in-laws. I had a lovely family comprising a big, joint family, a son, a daughter and lots to do in life.
However, I always wanted to go beyond the four walls of my home and prove myself. When my children started going to school, I was checking out the local newspapers for job placements and found an ad for a sari model. I had no idea what modeling was—I thought it was another profession like teaching or banking. I never knew that modeling would put me under the spotlight and that my pictures would be on posters or newspapers. In a traditional Muslim family, being a dedicated wife, daughter-in-law or mom is core to her very being. The goodwill of the family is actually imperative. So I asked my parents-in-law to accompany me to the shoot. No one had any idea of what it was going to be. Soon after I went, they did a screen test and I was selected and given an assignment. Within a few days, I got another offer. Even before I could actually sit and plan or decide on the ground rules I would play, things started moving. Modeling gave way to roles in television and then movies.   
Did showbiz turn out to be the way you had expected it?
I think it was easy for me because I was playing character roles that didn't demand that I show skin, wear skimpy clothes or get too intimate with my co-stars on-screen. Fortunately in Indian movies, once you decide to stick to character roles (as opposed to playing the main female lead), there is plenty of work, less pressure—though a few negative aspects as well. But yes, movies can be demanding as sets don’t always close at 6 pm, which is the announced pack-up time. One may have to travel out of town or country. I have a joint family so when I was out of town, I had the others in my family to babysit my children or send them to school. I am happy that despite all odds, I have worked in over 600 movies so far. I have to attribute my success to my husband, children and parents-in-law.
What is the best thing and worst thing about being in your position now?
The best thing is that if you are good at your craft, you get pampered. Unless you hate to put on makeup, it is like a picnic every day. In India, a politician of 30 years may not be recognized nearlyas often as an actor who has done three movies. The love one gets from people, the fame, money . . . I love all of it. The worst bit is that people always expect you to look gorgeous—even if they catch you at 4 am in the airport after a 16-hour flight. Fans just don’t want that star quality to ever vanish from their idols. So the worst thing is the constant pressure to keep your fans impressed and happy. And yes, even being terribly sick on a set rarely guarantees any sympathy or rest, simply because there are too many things at stake to let you take rest on a day you are expected to shoot. There have been days when I have shot with a high fever, a really bad stomach ache or a sprained leg. Another negative aspect of my life is the loads of trolls with bad comments on their fan pages in Facebook or Twitter.
Any funny rumors you had to face in your career?
That I had married my nephew! I mean I was acting in a daily soap called Chakravakam for Telugu television and the protagonist Indraneel, who plays my nephew, had married the girl who played his mother-in-law in the serial. In India, since both the relationships (aunt and mother-in-law) are addressed by the same name, websites put up my photograph with the groom’s and wrote announced some spicy news. Later, I had to clarify that it was not me.
What was the most challenging assignment you've faced in your career?
When I was in the beginning of my career, I learned that an ad company wanted a model for a bath towel ad. The ad demanded that I wear nothing, just drape myself with a terry towel to look hot. The only thing that was going in my mind when I went for the audition was to just prove to myself that I can be very professional and do what my job demands of me, without having to cringe. Although my prime motive was just to prove a point to myself and many others that I did have the looks and talent to do any kind of ad—I ended up doing that ad, and in the presence of mother-in-law, too.
What roles do you think you have excelled in?
I take it as a big compliment that I often get offers to play Hindu goddesses like Shakti and Kali. Indian goddesses are gorgeous, intense and divine. In fact, after playing a role like that, if I went to villages, people would offer me prayers and holy gifts. Such is the fan following. I have played Shakti in several of my movies. Although it is a tough scene with so much make up and sometimes requires sporting eight hands too, at the end of the day, it's all worth it.
What are your plans in near future?
I am a trained teacher and I would like to open a model dream school soon.
How do you keep in touch with your fans?
I opened my Facebook page just this year and I am humbled that today I have more than 100,000 fans who are following my updates. My son who is 23 years-old and runs his own TV production house and my daughter, a fashion designer, help me keep my page updated and connect with my fans every day.
We hear that you are all set to take a plunge into politics. How are you preparing for this new role?
I had campaigned for the Telugu Desam Party in the twin south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in May 2014. The party chiefs said they were impressed by the way people connected with me, my ability to communicate with them, and the fact that I was a familiar face that had a good recall value. So far I have played it safe in the movies. But politics is a different ball game. I must be ready to be criticized, run down by detractors and be at the receiving end of several jibes. I am fully prepared for all eventualities, including being issued a Fatwa. But I hope that good sense and good luck will always remain on my side.

Dec 11, 2014

ladies we love

Natasha Lindor: Work-Life Balance Guru

Until two years ago, Natasha Lindor was a typical office-goer—which is to say, she perpetually felt dissatisfied with her life-work balance. Today, not only has she achieved the equilibrium she once coveted, but she's become a leading source of inspiration for others to do the same. Her websiteTheANDFactor.com revolves around an acronym for Amazing New Dimensions, but also applies to the underlying idea behind work-life balance. Lindor's goal? Help women achieve career success and financial security and sustaining relationships and . . .  you get the idea.
Using her own experience climbing the corporate ladder for 15 years, Lindor guides clients during indivdual and group coaching sessions to become the antithesis of what she herself once was.
We caught up with her to talk about her tips for balance, what successful people share . . . and the power of green smoothies.
When did you launch The AND Factor? Was there a particular incident that served as its impetus?
I started The AND Factor in March 2013 after I left my corporate career to help go-getters have a fulfilling career and time for whatever is most important to them—whether that’s friends, family, kids, love, health or just time to reflect and relax.
In my last corporate job, I was a communications consultant helping leaders and middle management improve employee engagement. At that time, I was coaching on the weekends to meet the number of hours I needed for my coaching certification. Then one morning it hit me in the shower (don’t all great ideas seem to start there?): I had a gift for coaching. My coaching had led people to make big, positive changes in their lives—such as going from a sedentary lifestyle to working out three times a week, or feeling confident enough to interview for a dream job, or falling in love with themselves and realizing the negative impact of habits such as smoking and eating out a lot. I realized that I should put my skills to good use to help myself and those around me. So I gave my notice and haven’t looked back since.
Your work centers on the "Amazing New Dimension" factor. How do you define AND? What do you do personally to find your own AND factor?
Too often, we get caught up in one dimension of our life, such as kicking butt at work, being a great mom, or being a great wife or girlfriend. One of the best parts of being human is that we get to experience life—and it’s too short for us to miss out on what we really want. We’re meant to have the career we want AND the relationships that fuel us AND financial security AND health AND whatever else we desire.
The AND factor allows people to experience work-life harmony and get things done with effort, joy and ease.
I find and maintain my own AND factor by living in alignment with my values. Everything I do supports my core values of connecting with others, walking my talk, and creating abundance, order and inner peace. And I guide those that I coach to do the same.
Many of your clients seem to be those who've lost their groove and need a lifestyle wake-up call. From your experience, what is the typical profile of the people you work with—and what contributes to the necessity of the work you do?
My typical client is a go-getter who is smart, dedicated and wants to live a meaningful life. While she might have invested tens of thousands of dollars and hours in her education and on-the-job experience to get where she is today, she’s living in a place I refer to as The Land of Settling. It’s where people live a life that’s very different from the one they set out to create. Most of my clients traded in some part of their dream to please someone else—whether it was a parent, family member or peers. And they now find themselves in a stressful job or relationship and are too busy or drained to go after their dreams, true values and passions, as well as what is good for them, such as working out, eating better and taking time off.
Where do you think people tend to go wrong in their career, such that they miss out on the “bliss and balance” critical to healthy living?
I’ve found that people go wrong in their career for three big reasons:
1. They make career decisions based on an old set of values. 
While everyone has values, very few people know what their own core values are in relation to who they are today. Even fewer people are making choices about their career based on their current core values. To position themselves for a fulfilling career and a life of bliss and balance, people must recalibrate and make decisions based on the values that are important to them today.
2. They let the “inner game,”or mindset obstacles, talk them out of what they really want. 
Four main inner game obstacles impact success in all areas of life: belief blockers, assumptions, gremlins and stories. I have a whole program that addresses all of these, so I’ll focus here on the biggest of the four—the gremlin. This is people’s inner critic, inner bully or inner mean girl. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t have a gremlin. It’s that little voice in people’s heads that tells them to not try, never take a risk and play small. It has one simple, destructive message: You’re just not good enough! Everyone has a gremlin, but the most successful and fulfilled people know how to effectively manage it. If people don’t know how to defend themselves against their gremlin’s messages, they’ll never get what they want because they won't bother trying.
3. They don’t know how to say no, so they say yes to experiences, projects or opportunities that don’t fit with what they really want.
Many women base their concept of success, self-worth and happiness on someone or something else. They have a hard time saying “no” because they want to seem helpful or polite, they want to avoid conflict, or they fear they won’t seem serious about their career and will be passed up for the next opportunity. By not saying no mindfully and respectfully, they end up in situations that are very different from the ones they imagined.
You work with many high-profile clients. Are there two or three specific traits you've found that contribute to people achieving huge success in their personal and professional lives?
I’d say the three traits common to my most successful clients are:
1. Clarity: They let go of the how and focus on the what. They get clear on what they want and which factors should most influence the way they live, work and play (their current core values). This clarity helps them say yes to the right opportunities and no to the wrong ones—which allows them to go for what they really want rather than settle for less than they desire and deserve.
2. Alignment: They strategically align their life choices and approach to career, relationships, health and finances with their current core values. They also have daily practices to support their aligned life and build resiliency to help them recover when life throws them a curveball.
3. Support: They understand the powerful role that community plays in their success. There’s a saying, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with!” These five people create what I call people’s circle of influence. One thing I know for certain is that people’s circle of influence is key to their success or failure. The most successful people I’ve worked with have continued their momentum because of the support they’ve received from those around them—whether their circle of influence holds them accountable or embodies the qualities they want more of in their life, such as knowledge, positive influence, happiness, wealth, inspiration, fun and health.
What do you do to find your own bliss and balance in life?
Once I uncovered my top core values, I determined that living in alignment with these values is my secret to bliss and balance. For a long time, I didn’t have regular practices that supported what I said I wanted in life . . . so it was no surprise that I didn’t have what I wanted. Now, I have daily practices such as my FREEDOM morning ritual to ensure that I maintain peace, order and flow in my life. It’s been such a powerful tool that I’d like to give the ladies in this community access to it.
I’m also a spa buff. I love everything about spas—the way they feel when I walk in, the aromas, the yummy food and the treatments. My home reflects this love: I have a steam shower, rolled towels in the bathroom, bamboo bath mats, a fireplace with stones instead of fake logs, scented candles and a green smoothie habit.
I even lead live workshops and retreats at spas and other wellness-centered establishments as part of my business.
You send out a newsletter, update your website, do videos and run a business, thus seeming to be on your toes at all times. How do you keep yourself organized and on top of things? Are there any specific management mantras that you follow?
Planning, trusting my intuition and working with an amazing team keep me on top of things.
Clarity is power. Having a clear plan allows my team and I to know what to work on every day, every month and every quarter, so we can focus on what will ultimately support our clients as well as The AND Factor/Bliss & Balance community.
People can’t create what they can’t envision, so I approach planning in a way that integrates my work and personal life with my core values and life mission. Too many people get into action mode and skip the planning (I used to do it myself). When they take the time for clarity, however—using their intuition to envision what they want and how they want it to feel and then backing it up by creating a plan and enlisting a strong support system and team—they are unstoppable.
What things do you think are absolutely essential in order to have a "soul-satisfying" life?
I’d say it’s essential for people to know their current core values and align their lives with these values to create a strong foundation for a purposeful, soul-satisfying life. Then they need to keep up the momentum by:
· Following daily practices, such as a morning and evening ritual. Here's a free gift for Ravishly readers:http://theandfactor.com/ravishly 
· Surrounding themselves with supportive people. Considering the fact that people are the average of the five people they spend the most time with, it’s best that those people support and represent the kind of life that fuels them.
· Integrating emotional intelligence and a positive mindset into how they communicate with themselves and others.
· Giving their bodies the exercise, fuel and attention they need.
· Revisiting their vision to make sure it’s still the vision they want and making adjustments as they learn and grow from life experiences.
Think you'd be a Lady We'd Love? Or want to recommend a lady you love?Please drop us a line!

Dec 8, 2014

ladies we love

Richa Anirudh: Prime Time News Anchor, Revolutionary TV Personality

Perhaps one of the best ways to get a snapshot of a person is to look up his or her schedule. Were you to do so for Richa Anirudh, India’s prime time news presenter, radio personality, talk show host, motivational speaker and more, and you would be bowled over by everything she manages to pack into a day—and all with a beautiful smile, words of wisdom, and a vibe of warmth and hope.
Most mornings, while you're still struggling to get out of bed, Richa is on Big 92.7 Delhi FM giving a wake-up call to New Delhi's masses on her breakfast show Dilli Meri Jaan. She generally devotes the pre-lunch segment of her day to speaking at a college, moderating a panel discussion, reading at a book launch event, or serving as a motivational speaker to a group of women. Then she's dashing off to her office to edit her new monthly magazine publication for school students. After a quick catch-up on home affairs and updating her 90,000 social media followers with her thoughts for the day, she drops by the IBN7 office to read the 9 pm news—the most-watched time slot in all of India.
She attributes her ability to excel at so many roles at once to having interacted with several hundred people at close quarters daily for her landmark talk show Zindagi Live a few years ago. The show was India’s first talk show and has touched on a swath of important matters in Indian society—including some that are taboo. Best known for her sensitivity and ability to empathize with her interviewees, she says: “I am a woman, and that warm, soothing and nurturing streak comes naturally to me."
She filled us in on how her childhood shaped her success, the role of a broken hand in the genesis of her marriage, and the nitty-gritty of being a star media personality.
From the small town of Jhansi in North India to a primetime TV host of a high-profile show in Delhi, your journey has been remarkable. Can you describe your background a bit, with maybe a few glimpses into your childhood and how it shaped who you are today?
I was born as Richa Badal (my maiden name) in 1975 in a family of grounded and hardworking people. My dad was a doctor and my mom is a homemaker. I studied in a regular private school in the historic town of Jhansi in North India. My mom has always been a very progressive person and even in that small town, she always wanted me to make it big. I wasn’t exactly sure what I had to become to make her proud. But I was always good at school, public speaking, community work. In general, I was an active and sociable student throughout my childhood.
We hear that while you were the one who fell and broke your hand years ago, it was really your husband, Anirudh Tatte, who fell for you—hook, line and sinker.
Yeah. Funny story. I was 14 years-old and broke my hand. My future-husband Anirudh’s dad—who was a family friend—was an orthopedic surgeon. I remember running into their house to get it treated and demanding that they switch on the TV because my favorite show was on. Apparently Anirudh was fascinated seeing how sociable I was—also the way I mingled with everyone. He wooed and pursued me for the next three years and we got married when I was 22 and had just finished my degree. It was all so smooth, as we used to hang out with each other frequently and our circle of friends was sure we would tie the knot. Surprisingly, we never had the formal "will you marry me" moment. It was a very casual and natural progression to getting married. Then my daughter Ayesha was born when I was 25.
So you started your professional journey in 1997 after you were married?
No, in 1995, I started doing a computer course with ApTech Computers in my hometown Jhansi. They were looking for a student counselor, and 
asked me if I wanted to work—I jumped at the offer. In 1996, I moved to the national capital of New Delhi where I had to finish the last leg of my 
computer course. It was at that time that I got an offer to work with an art and culture organization called Spic-Macay for whom I had volunteered 
when I was in college. They were paying me Rs 3,000 (about $50). I felt grown up and independent. On one occasion, when I was talking to the local press about the impending concert of a highly talented musician, someone from national television suggested that I give them the "bytes" about the show. That's how I made my first, unexpected debut on national television. Knowing Hindi (India’s national language), being articulate, and being photogenic did help. Later, a senior producer gave me the opportunity to work as a freelance news presenter.
A few years later, when I was willing to work full-time, a few of my initial contacts helped me land a job at Zee News, a 24-hour Hindi news channel. In 2007, I got bored with it and just then the TV channel I was working for proposed a talk show. That's how India’s first talk show along the lines of Oprah came to be. In the very first year, my talk show,Zindagi Live, won the Best Talk Show award given by Indiantelevision.com for its episodes on relevant social issues like student suicides, female feticide, child sexual abuse. We tackled subjects that are generally taboo in Indian society, such as homosexuality. After that, I took a break and I am back again in 2014—both as a news presenter of a primetime 9 pm news bulletin and as a radio compere.
Your website defines you as a "speaker, mentor, author, host, friend." What is the real Richa like? Which role do you most enjoy and why?
Aaah. Tough one. I enjoy being just simply Richa, a small town girl—sans makeup and pretensions, comfortable in her own skin, at home, just being me. It’s not my role, but my soul, that defines me.
Zindagi Live is a landmark show in Indian television. How do you think it has impacted society? What goes into the making of the show?
I think it touches a lot of people. For example, a young girl from Allahabad in central India told me that she dropped the idea of taking sleeping pills and ending her life after she watched a special episode of women braving the odds stacked against them. We often get to hear about Zindagi Live helping people choose the right profession and path for them.
And on a personal level, I have become a better person. After having heard the gut-wrenching stories of so many people—mothers who lost their only children to a war, people making it big in life despite their empty stomachs and grueling poverty etc.—I have become more tolerant and feel more grateful. I've stopped asking "why me" and instead have adopted the attitude of gratitude.
You have been vocal about the Nirbhaya rape incident that shook the nation in December 2012. What do you think is the solution to the widespread issue of sexual violence against women in India? Having worked closely with many rape victims for your show, do you have any sense of what their perspectives might be on addressing this issue?
Frankly, I don’t feel safe anymore. A friend once went to a lady police officer to complain that her husband was beating her up. The cop said casually: “That’s no big deal. It's part of every marriage.” In such circumstances, it's important that women learn to stand up for themselves. Unless they are assertive, they will never be able to fight issues such as gender bias in workplaces, sexual abuse of women and so on. The first step to getting safer and find one’s right place is to stand up for yourself.
You are currently juggling the TV show "Dilli Meri Jaan," hosting the news, and running a school magazine—School Live. What else is in the cards?
For now, I am back on primetime television. Hosting the radio show is immensely enriching as I am dealing with trying to find solutions for day-to-day issues in New Delhi. Hosting the news keeps me updated on all the current affairs. Working with students to gather feature stories for my monthly school magazine School Live helps me stay young and enthusiastic.
How do you keep yourself updated and prepared for all that you do? Do you have a management mantra?
Yes, my management mantra is: "Let it go, don’t fuss." Prioritize your work, but choose your top three tasks and don’t get worked up on what you cannot do. I practice Osho philosophy which advocates doing the right thing and not trying too hard to accomplish everything and please everyone in one go. Slow and steady does it.
As such a busy woman, how do you unwind from all the pressures? Do you go on any fun vacations with your husband and daughter?
I love to drive, sing, dance—my daughter Ayesha Anirudh Tatte is my dance partner. I am also into Osho meditation. It helps me de-stress. I take off on ten-day spiritual camps to hills.   
You are among the best dressed of all the television hosts in India, looking contemporary and chic both on the air and at events. Are your clothes and accessories from your personal collection? Do you have any style suggestions for women who want to look their best?
For some shows, the production house sponsors it. In other cases, I choose from my own wardrobe. I would like to believe that I have the right sensibility and judgement when it comes to wearing an outfit. I try to wear something ethnic for a social event; something more funky when I go for a college or youth event. I love to stock up on quirky jewellery and accessories.
Do you have a wish list for 2015?
A to Konkan with family, lots of hope and love. At the end of the day, I will take one day at a time and relish it fully.
Think you'd be a Lady We'd Love? Or want to recommend a lady you love?Please drop us a line!

Nov 17, 2014

ladies we love

Contributed by Manju Latha Kalanidhi | 11.16.14 2:19am

Suchitra Karthik Kumar: South Indian Singer

If you have ever been to South India and traveled by road, chances are that any one of the radio stations are playing a peppy "Suchi" song —no matter the hour of the day. And why not? South Indian live and playback singer Suchitra Karthik Kumar—"Simply Suchi" for her fans—manages to impress not just her music directors and fans, but even the irate drivers negotiating peak hour traffic with her repertoire of 500 songs.
Suchi shares her interesting journey into the world of music with us.
You are a popular playback singer and a peppy on-stage performer down south (recently at the Mirchi Music Awards). How would you sum up your journey? Was it smooth sailing? Or very tough with struggles and tears?
Pretty smooth. I’ve been blessed with composers who recognized that I have a specific tone, and "created" songs for it ("Yen Idhayam" from Singam, ‘Tharai Erangiya’ from Eeram and "Kanninima" from Anwar are examples). It also keeps me exclusive, not overworked and therefore no burnout!
You have a hectic life with a playback session on one day, a live performance for an awards function another day and perhaps giving a voice-over for a character another. What is a typical day in the life of Suchi? Do you have a mantra that allows you to balance all these and still be able to give your best to work?
Some days are packed with 17-18 hours of work and some days go by with nothing at all. I love this kind of life. And some small routines of mine, like a shot of apple cider vinegar in the morning, and half an hour of guitar practice, are constant—no matter what the day looks like. These things keep me centered.
You transitioned from an IT job to radio hosting a few years ago. Why did you make this transition?
It happened organically. I always rely on common sense and instinct to make my decisions. So when such opportunities came alone, if it "felt" right, I went for it.
You've had a successful stint as a radio jockey for Radio Mirchi but your primary profession is singing. In such an industry where new talent and new faces often get the attention, how do you maintain your personal brand?
Again, it happened organically. Maybe my personality helped too. Sometimes having a personality to go with a voice makes one more of a media person than just a singer.
How do you keep yourself updated on your skills, your looks, the latest musical equipment etc? What do your read or watch to stay on top?
I learn all the time. All the time! I'm a curious student of everything—music, food, fashion, life.
Any specific hilarious or memorable moments from your time in the limelight?
Yeah! One day, this guy comes up to me and says, "Hey I'm a huge fan of yours. I follow you on Twitter. May I please have a picture with you. . . . . Chinmayee?” Haha, I simply said "thank you." [Chinmayee is another popular singer, a contemporary of Suchitra.]
With late night shoots and rehearsals, how do you stay safe and secure? Is there is a small emergency kit that you often carry in a big, bad city like Chennai, India?
Chennai is absolutely safe! It has the most helpful, respectful people. I have never, ever faced a problem here.
As a playback singer for films, there are times when a movie doesn't do well and your song barely gets heard. How do you handle the disappointment of a song you love—and put a lot of work into—not getting much attention?
By detaching. I don’t associate expectations with any song I sing. I love it for the way it makes me feel when I sing it, and I have it on my iPod for life. It makes me feel blessed and grateful each time I listen to it, and my life is more beautiful as I have that song in it. What more do I need?
Who are your musical role models, and why?
George Michael for the longest time; I love the way his personality shines through his music. Each time he has reinvented himself, his music has reflected it. In India, Amit Trivedi and Rex Vijayan. To me, they come across as musicians who have let their music organically flow through them. Almost like they are a conduit to it, and not really the "inventors." Early Ilayaraja music feels like that to me too.