Meet Anu Sehgal. She’s a gifted multi-careerist who is an entrepreneur and educator. Of course, I’m a fan of almost anyone with the last name of “Sehgal.” And no, we’re not related (at least I don’t think we are). We met here on LinkedIn, and I’ve been fascinated with how she’s created a multicultural way to educate children through rich media. She is certainly someone to celebrate, especially during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
- Entrepreneur: Founder The Culture Tree
- Mindful Eating practitioner
- Cultural Educator
- Language Educator
- Content creator
- Produced and directed several cultural and environmental puppet shows
On her motivations for many careers
A deep desire to make positive change around me and to build empathy and cultural sensitivity in everyone and especially in kids. I see value in connecting children to their native cultures and languages, so that they are informed, confident and proud of their roots. I also want to expose children to other cultures, so they appreciate other ways of living and doing things. I want to encourage healthy eating habits amongst kids, connect them to their food in a much more profound and gratifying way, so that they honor, value and spread mindful eating habits. I want to make the world a better place for my kids and all kids.
On how long she’s had these careers
I am a marketer by training and have a MBA from Yale and have worked in traditional CPG companies for most of my career. I became an entrepreneur and educator after I had my kids, when 10 years ago I realized that there was a critical need for real, authentic and accurate depiction of South Asian culture and practices in children’s programming and education. There was also a big gap in teaching South Asian – American kids their native languages in a more relevant, fun and consistent basis.
Advice to aspiring multi careerists
Take the plunge and do it: You can start in any capacity, big or small, but the key is to follow your passion and start somewhere. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.”
Connect with people: Network in any way you possibly can, events, social media, elevator. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourselves to anyone and have a memorable story (“pitch”) ready to share.
Figure out how you will keep your life organized — this will help you keep your sanity, because there will be a lot of juggling and curveballs!
On overcoming obstacles
COVID posed a significant setback to my business — within a week all my in-person programs and classes came to a
complete stop. I am in New York City and we were hit badly. I made quick changes and in a single weekend I pivoted and moved all language classes online while also training my teachers to teach online. My cultural programming also moved to virtual format. Adapting fast and with grace was key. The silver lining has been that since our program went virtual, we are now a national organization. Our cultural programs have benefited as we work not only with local artists and experts, but with cultural icons from all over the world.
On how multiple careers are mutually beneficial
Since I was educated in business management, I conceptually understand how to run a business, create convincing proposals, “pitch” an idea. I use my marketing/research skills in all aspects of my business, whether it is customer acquisition on social media or creating a value-add for my clients.
On how to manage personal time
I am quite organized and follow my schedule diligently. I start my day with my workout while listening to a podcast (something I do to honor myself). I typically keep my mornings free so I can focus on strategy and creating new ideas for my business. Afternoons are packed with meetings, while juggling children’s activities and pickups. In the evenings I try to spend some time with my kids without gadgets or distractions, so we can fully enjoy our time together. I typically tune back in and respond to emails an hour before bedtime.
Something you wished she had learned earlier
That it can be extremely fulfilling and exciting. When people notice the passion and drive, further opportunities arise all the time. I wish I had followed my passion for cultural education earlier in my life.
On the stigma of having many careers
Some people do think it demonstrates lack of focus. However, I think it shows commitment, versatility, hard work and passion. I frankly would not pay attention to those comments. The results of my work as well as the recognition and profitability of my business are enough to prove them wrong.
On sublimating ego
I take a lot of pride in anything I do – creative, strategic or banal. I know that having a vision without an action plan and a focus on the details will not lead to the best outcomes. I think caring about the broader goals but also the small steps to achieve those goals has really helped me juggle and effectively manage all my projects.
A Day in the Life
- 6.30 am – Wake Up, go for my run and listen to a podcast, get my coffee upon return
- 7.30 am – Attend to my kids / Drop-offs
- 9 – 11 am – Strategy / Client Proposals
- 11 am – Brunch, check emails and return calls
- 1 – 4pm – Meetings and Calls, check in with my teachers
- 4pm – 7pm – Pickups / Spend time with my kids, dinner
- 9 pm – Check emails and read a book or watch some TV
- 11 pm – Sleep
On why she started mindful eating
I have always had a healthy lifestyle (both working out and eating healthy). However, in 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, without any family history or preconditions. This was a key turning point for me. I started practicing Mindful Eating personally and with my kids. Since then I have seen a tremendous change in the way I feel and interact with food. I have seen a big transformation in my children as well. I want to share these experiences and practices with anyone and everyone I meet. I am currently leading Mindful Eating classes at Whole Foods, New York Public Library and several museums, and am also I am writing a book on Mindful Eating.
Where to find Anu
Kabir Sehgal is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winner, as well as New York Times bestselling author.
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