Analyzed & found solutions in polewear industry

A few years ago I read a post called “Solving Problems” on Seth Godin’s blog. I printed it out for inspiration. Since then I have been practicing either leaning into a problem or running away from it. When I came across the problem that pole athletes were facing with their polewear I could not run away. Instead I found myself leaning into it, owning it and committing the next several years to solving it. 

The pole dance and fitness industry has seen tremendous growth in the last 10 years. In recent years pole dancing has gained popularity amongst athletes looking for strength, fitness and fun in their workout. Data shows that over 350 studios are now offering pole dance as a fitness option in United States alone. It is currently under consideration of being included as an Olympic sport. Pole dance combines dance and acrobatics and is not restricted by gender or body type. However, even though pole athletes come in all shapes and sizes, pole wear does not. Currently the majority of pole wear is catered to small sizes leaving the non-small sized pole athletes wanting for more.  And so, the concept of Lasya (pronounced la-sya) was born.

As I dug deeper into this problem and listened to the women taking pole dance classes I began to understand their frustration and the desire for something better. I conducted focus groups and product testing groups to gain a better understanding of my customers. I learned about who they are, what they want and what they like and dislike about their unique workout choice. After many layers of market analysis and research I narrowed down the segment that is most overlooked by pole wear manufacturers. What I discovered was that the most neglected group of pole athletes is the beginner level athlete. If you are a woman just starting your pole dancing experience, but you do not like what you are wearing because everything available in stores is for a more experienced (and toned) pole dancer, then you are my customer. With the problem and market segment identified, I dove into designing the product and figuring out the supply chain. After many months of research, numerous design iterations and series of tests, Lasya came to life. 

LASYA polewear addresses the following concerns:

1.     Sizes – Made for sizes beyond what are considered small & medium by industry standards

2.     Pricing – Transparent pricing, pay only for the cost of the product

3.     Fabric – Not having to choose between quality and comfort

With this post I announce the launch of LASYA's website

The journey of creating Lasya has given me the opportunity to learn how to take an idea from concept to product, thus creating a business. I did not do this alone. I was fortunate to find people who were willing to share their knowledge with me. All I had to do was to identify the problem and seek its solution. I want to acknowledge all those people who believed in me and helped me launch this website in 30 days.  My journey has just begun. 

Finding your passion can wait

Many successful people have shared the secrets to their successes and almost all elude to one or all of the points mentioned in this post.  As a responsible leader to many of my readers, I find it my responsibility to really put it in simple words that can help many in being ok with not having found their passion yet.

Yes, you may think that finding your passion is the secret to happy days and end of struggle.  Few things that you didn't know about the path of following your passion:

1. You will not enjoy every moment of it.  Nope, not when you get stuck and there's no one around you who understands why you are doing what you are doing especially when it's bringing you no money.

2. You will feel alone at times.  See #1

3. You will want to throw in the towel and give up and walk away

4. You will work harder than you ever did before or you ever will

5. You will understand struggle

6. You will understand YOURSELF as you get challenged

7. You will find your strengths and learn what you can do.  See #6

8. You will know what falling and getting back up really means

9. You will know REAL pain

10. You will speak your mind

11.  You will stand up for yourself and for others

12. You will learn patience

So unless you are ready to take on the journey your passion will bring you, hold off on finding your passion.  You want to be ready.  You want to be tired of being lazy and also tired of making money.  You want to be ready for doing things for free for others.  You want to be ready to be generous and giveaway your learnings for free.  You have to be ready to breathe your passion.  If you are not ready, it's good and it's ok because once you find your passion, real work begins.....

Doing interviews the right way

In these past few quarters, I have interviewed over two dozen people for my Podcast.  Before starting the journey and deciding on the interview format, I learned interviewing techniques by listening to Cal Fussman, Tim Ferris, Krista Tippet, Jenny Blake, James Altucher, Tony Robbins and a few more.  There were many takeaways that I gathered from the lessons on “art of interviewing”.  “Being Present” with guests was the theme that played in all interviews.  What is “Being Present”?  It’s essentially listening to your guests and listening intently. 

How easy is it to get answers to socially controversial topics?  It’s easy if your approach is right.  I get to have people talk about their marriages, their families, and the challenges that they face.  I prepare but I also let my guests create a comfortable space for themselves so they can share openly.  Yes, there are many ways to interview but there definitely is a right way to interview if you want QUALITY. 

You may have your own questions that you prepare and that is excellent as to create foundation and format for an interview but the quality of an interview gets compromised when your focus is on you and your questions only and not the person you are speaking with. 

Here are a few points that will only help you and will not take anything away.  Though all are important, if you pick only 2 from the list, you will be able to do a pretty decent job in interviewing people and learning this skill:

1.      If you ask rehearsed questions don’t be surprised by rehearsed answers – Ask questions that you really want to know the answers to and not just what you think others would like you to ask.  You are going to be working with this person in some capacity so find out how the individual fits in the company and in your environment.

2.      You have heard; to deliver a great speech and to provide quality presentation, engage with your audience, try the same when you are selling your company to a prospective employee.

3.      Taking from #2, ask follow up questions which takes us back to really listening to your interviewee.

4.      Be prepared – you expect an interviewee to be prepared so deliver the same level of professionalism.

5.      Quality of your questions is important.  High quality questions will help you differentiate among the candidates based on their qualifications and experience.

6.      Really study a candidate’s resume before the interview.  You will be able to fulfill #5 by doing this.  Know that YOU are given a RESPONSIBILITY to hire the best for the company so do your job well just the way you expect others to do their jobs well. 

7.      Interviewing is an art and it requires practice.  Develop interviewing skills by learning from leaders in the field. 

I have tested most of the ideas on the above list and they have been profitable in my opinion.  In believe #7 requires more attention in our businesses.  In the corporate world, the thought process is - Because a person has a senior level title, that individual has interviewing skills and doesn’t need help.  This is where companies need to be careful as the interviewer is presenting the company to a potential employee.  A company may miss out on high level candidates because of the lack of interviewing skills of a hiring manager.  How many companies offer training on developing interviewing skills?  I believe that developing interviewing skills in individuals is undervalued but it is as important as developing public speaking skills. 

There’s more to be shared on this topic and I will continue to share with you.  Give the above list a chance.  For starters, just pick any two and really try those on and you will definitely experience the difference (for the better). 

My Commencement Speech - love and inclusivity

Seth Godin's words are to live by.  I read 'Pick Yourself' by Seth Godin a while ago and it made an impact on me.  But I failed to make good on the learnings from that writing.  I quote Mr. Godin here, "Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you--that Prince Charming has chosen another house--then you can actually get to work."  Basically, if one wants something, he needs to stop waiting for someone to give permission but take charge of his/her own destiny and do all that needs to be done to get to that destiny.

I can regret never taking the steps described in his post but what good is it going to be now.  I also believe that at times it's not until one needs to take action from the learnings that everything clicks and makes sense.  

This year has pushed me to being brave and taking actions in areas that I'm not an expert in.  Because of small and big steps that I took to reach my goals, I was able to contribute plenty in other people's lives.  And that's the lesson I am very proud to have learned as well. 

My Podcast is picking up and I'm getting encouragement from my listeners and I'm thankful for that.  I get the opportunities to make differences in others lives.  Recently, I had to address a few questions that my listeners asked me and I thought of doing something that is a dream of mine.  I want to offer my commencement speech to a graduating class one day.  So I wrote a commencement speech and delivered to my listeners addressing my listeners' questions. 

If one wants to lead and create a path for himself/herself then he/she doesn't need to wait for someone to give permission.  I give myself permission to create my commencement speech because that's what leaders do.

This link will take you to the Indian Interracial Marriages Podcast Episode 12 where, you can listen to the whole episode or skip to 5 mins. 45 sec. part where I start my speech. 

If you enjoy it, share it with others.


Leadership is an action, not a Role

Earlier this year I had the chance to go to the Director’s Guild Awards with my husband (A show he worked on was nominated for an award).  The first speaker at the event was the President of the Director’s Guild. He knew there were new directors in the audience who had never been to a show like this before and were nominated for the first time. He could’ve used his time to talk about himself or his latest projects, but instead he used his time to set the stage for these new directors.

 He gently lead the audience through how to accept an award, saying things like, “If I were winning for the first time, the most important thing I would do would be to thank my family and the people who got me here.”

Families are often put on the back burner when a crew has to go out and shoot for 2 or 3 months straight and can’t make it home. Or they’re living on pennies because all of their money is tied up in making a movie. They go through so many challenges. They stay through the tough times, and they deserve to share in the good ones. 

 Sometimes on set, your crew starts to feel like your family too. And when a movie is great, it is because the director or the show runner communicated his/her vision with every person on the set, so everyone had the chance to do his or her best to bring that vision to life. The leader gave respect, love and care to the crew, and in response the crew showed up, gave it their all, and created the best possible product.  Well, that’s what happens in the entertainment industry.

 What about our companies, the world outside of the entertainment business?

 Let’s acknowledge the families of the people who work with us. Kids who sometimes miss out on having their parents at their games or theater performances. Wives and husbands who can’t make it home in time for dinner some nights. A strong family and healthy home life makes a difference in our workers’ work. As leaders, we should take responsibility in creating a culture that respects and acknowledges the families of our fellow workers.

 If we want to be strong leaders in business, we need to remember to acknowledge each and every person who is a part of the team, not just the people who give you money. The receptionist who shows up to greet visitors.  The customer service representatives who handle complaints. These people are just as much the face of your company as the sales representatives. Show everyone that what they do, no matter how big or small, is important. And don’t forget to thank them in your award speeches!

Thank you to my coworkers and their families, my mentors, and my family for helping me be the best version of myself everyday.