In a world where people are busy trying to increase only their database of contacts, it is refreshing to meet and know someone who prides herself as a people collector. Entrepreneur and speaker Lakshmi Pratury, founder and CEO of INK, “India’s foremost platform for cutting-edge ideas and inspiring stories”, loves meeting and listening to people, beyond boundaries. She encourages ideas and is amazed from the corners they stem from. She co-hosted TEDIndia in Mysore in 2009, and inspired and encouraged by the response, introduced the first INK conference around the theme of Untold Stories; all this catapulted her to being one of the Women to Watch for in Asia as listed by Forbes Magazine. Among many awards also followed being Inspirational Icon at the Audi Ritz Awards 2015.
Lakshmi’s relationship with people grows from the belief that every life comes with experiences, stories, ideas. “I always believed that if you get to know people for what they are, the collection makes sense. You need to connect the dots… Get to know them, learn about what they do, who they would like to meet, what they would want to do, why they are a certain way and learn from them. Once you learn from them, there’s more you know. There need to be conversations without ulterior motives. I am interested in knowing what is it that makes you, you,” she says, recalling how she did the most talking in her class when in school. “Also, my father who was a doctor would talk a lot with me. He took me everywhere with him; everywhere he gave lectures I was along. I heard him and absorbed a lot from life around me. In fact, I did pretty much the same with my son, who’s now 13. I took him everywhere until he was in class II and he is used to everything. I make sure he meets interesting people. Because, ultimately, it is all about people. I remember when I was in technology, venture capital or NGOs, I met a variety of people and there’s always enough to learn from each. One tends to learn a lot from learning about people,” she shares, making every bit of sense about people and conversations.
Among a host of things, she bonds with her son over Uno game and television shows. She enjoys reading “everything”. Lakshmi loves movies, and is addicted to TV shows, especially the law and order kinds. “I read fiction, non-fiction, even Telugu books, a good quote, just everything to do with the act of reading. At any point, there’s always a book in my bag,” says the people’s person who also absorbs a lot from observing culture of different places. “How you absorb or observe culture makes you the person you are. When I go somewhere, I check out their life, their art and rituals. I can be me but still succumb to that culture,” she points out.
Learning and sharing, Lakshmi believes we need to learn story telling. “There are lots of people who do amazing work but don’t talk about it in a concise, interesting way. It is possible to grab someone’s attention in three minutes. Stay authentic, but be articulate and allow them to know what needs to be told. Be true to who you are. We need to be aware of the good and bad about ourselves. We need to have conversations with ourselves,” she believes. The key also is in staying focused, in doing what one is meant to. There will, of course, be those who strike it and those who don’t. “Indeed, you have to speak up, be willing to go the length and keep doing till you are heard. There are those who have substance; if you are patient enough, substance wins,” says Lakshmi, injecting the positivity mantra. But often, life throws negative situations and people who try to bog you down as well… “True, you have to help people to be heard. If they are not heard and don’t get attention, they get jealous. Just pull them and get them on stage. If they continue to desist you from your goal, get away. There will always be naysayers. Don’t be around those who pull you down. You must either get above those kinds or move away. It might be a tough road but surely worth it if you have the choice to run your life the way you want and can.”
A major issue plaguing our society is the need to appear perfect. “I always tell people to stop being perfect because I think in our effort to look perfect, we are worried about what people think, about how we look, how we act. If we stop that and say, hey I want to do this…I don’t know how but I’ll figure it out. I may face rejection or look like an idiot or may have to knock on the same door fifty times, but I have to keep doing it to move forward. If we actually try to stop pleasing everybody, we will move forward.” She insists it is important to tirelessly pursue what you really want. “If you believe in something truly, you have to be persistent. There are many things you want to and can do. But you need to be persistent and know what price it will come at. Nothing comes easy. You see, people are often always looking at things or people after they have made it. How many know what they had to do to get there, the struggle involved? For example, we talk of Infosys today, it started in 1981 and for 10 years nobody even knew about it. It is only 15 years after they started that people began paying attention to it. You see, you need to look at the back story, about what people have done to get there. Looking at it the way the world views it makes it seem like it was all very easy. We cannot see the end, the journey is always important.”
Photographs : Marmik Shah
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