Meena Bindra did it. Jasu Shilpi did it. Nina Lekhi did it. 'Follow Every Rainbow' is the story of twenty-five enterprising women who took up a challenge. They raised a family as well as a company, with love, laughter and patience. Managing multiple equations - never giving in or giving up. These stories say one thing, loud and clear. Women think and act differently than men, but they can be just as successful. What 'success' means, is something only you can decide.
The author, Rashmi Bansal, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on her book on 25 inspirational women entrepreneurs.
Q. Would you define yourself as a writer first or a woman first? Asked by: Ashwini N
A. First a writer, then a woman. I never thought much about gender difference because as a child I was brought up to believe I can do and be whatever I want to be. I was never held back.
Q. Why is it that women entrepreneurs after making it big with business leave it to male for carrying the business instead of developing more females? Asked by: Ravi
A. I don't agree with this statement. Women are inheriting the businesses started by their fathers - whether it is Preeta Reddy of Apollo Hospitals or Priya Paul of Park hotels. With women-owned businesses also, if they have daughters, these women are likely to join the business. There are such examples in my book.
Q. Are the political stunts like opening up of women bank by FM in budget and help in improving predicament of women as common man is still not involved with the issue. Asked by: Manush
A. SEWA Bank is an example of a women's only bank which has made a huge difference to the lives of ordinary women who run their own business and need small loans. They would never have courage to go to a regular bank. I feel we need many more banks like this so that a vegetable vendor or a small tailor is freed from taking loans from sahukars and middlemen. It is a positive step IMHO.
Q. What/who inspired you to start writing or become an author? Asked by: ranjan
A. I studied in Allendale Elemntary School in Pasadena, California in grade 3. There, I had a teacher Ms Edith Monteroso who encourage me to be a creative writer. She also got my very first article published in a paper called Christian Science Monitor when I was 7 years old. I would like to thank her for igniting the spark within me to become a writer.
Q. Happy Women's Day, ma'am? Asked by: rishabh
A. Thank you Rishabh
Q. Why are there lot less females in corporate boardrooms discussing more serious corporate problems while they are still used in glamour industry like films, advertisements etc Asked by: Manav
A. Women are equal to men in intelligence and capability but the primary responsibility of raising a family rests with the woman. The corporate culture is a cut throat one where there is no scope for having a balance between home and work life. Hence most women find it impossible to rise up the corporate hierarchy. Somewhere along the way they drop out.
Q. I want to be a writer too. Can you give some tips? Asked by: Pawan
A. Write for fun and not for any 'purpose' like making money. Write to express yourself, do not write for others. Write in your own unique style, never copy another. Start by writing on some subject where you either have depth of knowledge or depth of feeling. Once you start writing, keep writing, make it a habit. You will get better and better at it!
Q. Can you share some writing tricks? Asked by: Honey
A. A good beginning and a good end make the middle portion a breeze. Always maintain flow in writing, don't jump from one thought to another and back. It confuses the reader. Say more with less words, smaller sentences and paragraphs.
Q. I for one, don't believe that celebrating "Women's Day" on one designated day will make any difference to what is happening in India. What in your opinion can change this? Asked by: Harsha
A. You are right - Women's Day is more commercial in nature, an opportunity to promote shopping and jewellery to women. But still, on the positive side, it is one day when we do see wide coverage of the women's achievements as well as their challenges. This kind of discussion and awareness is helpful. FInancial and mental empowerment of women is what will make the real difference. Entrepreneurship is one such tool.
Q. What qualities have you learned from the women leaders you most admire and why you admire them? Asked by: sumeet
A. Leaders - whether men or women - must be passionate, purposeful and they must persevere to attain their goals. Women also have the ability to create balance and harmony in whatever role they play. They are, in my opinion, more honest, more ethical and more focussed on long term than short term. They also have a way of smiling through all their problems and staying positive!
Q. Could we expect a book from you regarding global warming? Asked by: Nirmal
A. Hmm. I am always open to new ideas but no immediate plans on that topic!
Q. What is your writing schedule like for books? Asked by: Jyoti
A. I write in spurts. Some weeks I travel, meet people, collect stories. Then I go silent and sit and write. I find it always helps to have a deadline. Maybe it's my training as an MBA, where we always somehow submitted the WAC report at the last moment :)
Q. I'm big fan of yours.who're your ideals who inspire you? Asked by: umesh
A. Among people I have never met - Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, writers like R K Narayan, Malcolm Gladwell. Among people I know - my dad who came from a small town and became an astrophysicist, my mother for her ability to always be positive and giving and my teacher Sunil Handa who is a mentor and guide in everything I do.
Q. why don't you try on fiction,which inspire people as well as entertain them, too? Asked by: umesh
A. When I get an idea for a fictional book I will surely write it. Waiting for the 'download'.
Q. Some of the women entrepreneurs come up after inheriting family business so are they lot more indifferent towards other feminine problems at workplace Asked by: Hitesh
A. I can't comment on that as I don;t have any women in my book from that profile. Like all my previous books 'Follow Every Rainbow' focuses on the first generation entrepreneurs who have built a business from scratch
Q. Thanks for the previous answer. ISB has been working really hard towards empowering Women Entrepreneurs with its regular courses. Why don't government take any such initiative? Rather is comes up with silly initiatives such as "10000 INR for every girl child that is born in this financial year." And then they stop that half way through? Asked by: Harsha
A. In many Indian families girls are still seen as a 'liability' and killed even before birth. So perhaps there is some merit to such schemes if implemented properly, We need higher education for girls but also basic things like health and nutrition.
Q. Hi Rashmi, How do you handle work and family? Asked by: mansi
A. I do not try to achieve 'perfection' - it is not possible. I have a lot of support from my family and I have a very good housekeeper who I trust with all the routine jobs of the home and I focus on my work. I also practice yoga and meditation, it makes me calm and I no longer get bothered by minor problems or even major ones. 'This too shall pass' is what I believe!
Q. Do you feel there should be reservation for women in every filed. Not that I would like to but men have left us with no choice. We need to exert ourselves ? Asked by: Soniya
A. Reservation for women in some fields, like politics, is useful in my opinion. But reservation alone may not solve the problems of women managing both home and career. That needs change at organisational mindset level and also within society itself.
Q. I too want to grow up in corporate world, please give me some tips Asked by: Rekha Garodia
A. Work hard, stay focused and take ownership of your job. ie do not work only for paycheque. Put in more effort and take more initiative, as you would for anything very important to you. Focus on positive qualities in others instead of finding fault. Have patience, do not keep hopping jobs in search of a few extra bucks!
Q. I too want too become an entrepreneur what are the steps I should follow. Asked by: Saloni Garodia
A. Saloni - You need to have an idea and then act upon it. You don't need big money to start a small enterprise. Read my new book - you may get more direction abt what exactly you want to do. Best is to start something in a field you are very interested in
Q. How many women did you meet and talk to before finalizing 25 for this book ? What was the criteria for selection. Asked by: Ravi
A. I do extensive research and then decide which subjects to meet and interview. The criteria is both factual and emotional. My subjects must be first generation entrepreneurs with an inspirational story. The business must be ethical. And I look for variety - East, West, North, South, different educational backgrounds, different industries and age groups. This book also has 3 stories from outside India.
Q. Hi Rashmi, Are there any women entrepreneurs/pioneers in the business areas of ecology/environment protection, universal healthcare and education? And what do they bring extra to the table? Asked by: Shshank Srivastav
A. There are several women in these fields doing stellar work, A few have been covered in my previous book 'I Have a Dream'. I think women bring a high degree of empathy to whatever they do. They understand the problems at grassroot level and are effective communicators and persuaders.
Q. What is 'women empowerment' to you. Asked by: Nighat
A. A woman who has the right to speak her mind, to follow her dreams and to make her own choices is an empowered woman.
Q. Hi Rashmi, your books are inspirational and love the real stories with no preaching and biases.You bring out the best and leave the rest to the readers to implement in their lives. I liked Poor litle Rich Slum as what you have highlighted in the book is juxtaposed to how Dharavi is 'only' known for. I hope the foreign countries take a cue from it and also incorporate it in their study and books. Asked by: Samanvay
A. Thank you Samanvay, for your kind words of appreciation. God willing, everything you say will come true.
Q. I am big fan of your book Stay Hungry Stay Foolish; do you have any future plans in releasing second version book, regarding few more young entrepreneurs who are successful in IT, Consulting and or Stock Market Businesses? Thank you. Asked by: Nirmal
A. Maybe, someday.
Q. Thanks again. Do you think the idea of Disturbing the status quo of the past and present stopping men (Not all men. I am talking about the some who are against this idea) from supporting Women Empowerment? Asked by: Harsha
A. Society cas a whole changes very slowly but definitely individuals can change within themselves. Yes, men are in a sense lost and confused as the traditional role they played is no longer enough. Somewhere I feel they wish things could remain as they were in an older time, when roles of men and women were clear and there was no blurring of lines.
Q. Wish you a happy and fulfilling Women's Day. I hope that 2013 is watershed year in fight for women's right, dignity and freedom in India. Asked by: Shshank Srivastav
A. Thank you Shashank. Change starts with the way young men like you treat the women in your home and workplace. So if you have good intentions it will definitely do good.
Q. Namastey ma'am, Happy Women's Day. My question is, do you believe that situation can change by giving reservation to women candidate in parliament or at other govt post, as the ground reality is a bit different. Seats of some panchayats have been reserved for women but what we see there is women panch or mukhiya are mere puppets. Asked by: Ashish kumar (JST )
A. We can be cynical about this but I have met some lady panchayat leaders who are doing excellent work. And the admit without reservation we would not get this chance. So I feel there is some merit to reservation for women in politics from Panchayat to Parliament level.