Namrata Jain, psychologist & corporate trainer features in our list of exceptional, enterprising women this year. When she couldn’t find her calling in a 9 to 5 job, and in spite of resistance from her family, she moved out and started a company by herself. In a short span of 5 years, Namrata has founded 3 companies in the mental health space and each of them is flourishing. In conversation with her, we find out what it takes to wear multiple hats and yet become successful in this field.
- A lot of people don’t find their passion until much later in life? When did you find your passion and decide to become an entrepreneur?
From my 8th grade I had it in mind that I want to work in the mental health space, so I had this focus very early in life. After doing a Master’s Degree in counselling psychology, I worked in the formal sector for 6 months. But soon I realised my calling was not in a 9 to 5 job.
My calling was in starting out a business on my own… There is far more work a counsellor can do if she is on her own. It started with just a thought. I wanted to work as a consultant to corporates. I believe if your mind is set on something, and you focus, the universe conspires to bring it to you. I kept focusing in the direction of corporate consulting and within no time, opportunities just came my way. And that’s how I began Out A Loud: a company which runs Mental Wellness Programs for Corporates and educational Institutes. It’s close to 5 years since I’m running Out A Loud. Along the way, I have also started two more firms: Art Ally and Passion to Profession. Art Ally is my brand where I run art-based mindfulness workshops for corporates. Passion to Profession is a firm that trains people to find their pet passion in life and use that to become successful.
- Can you briefly tell us about your entrepreneurial journey so far? Which are some of the biggest challenges you faced as a woman entrepreneur… how did you tackle them?
I come from a traditional Marwari family. The conditioning is one where parents are usually protective about girls. Hence, when I insisted that I will go to a co-ed college, I was the 1st one to do that. Years later when I decided to start a business on my own, I had to break a lot of stereotypes within my family itself. No one in my family has done work in this space, so there wasn’t any precedent. There were a lot of breakthroughs. Another challenge I faced in the initial year is people’s perception of me. I was 23 when I started my business. My clients were people in senior management, working professionals, Directors, CEOs…people very senior to me. Before my 1st session, initial reactions from clients would be along the lines of “Isn’t she too young to be running this?” “She doesn’t have the experience that we have, so how can she advise us?” However, once I would start my session, these questions would gradually dissipate and people started placing trust in my work. People found value in the work I was doing for them… so after the 1st time they came for therapy, they would ask to see me for 2nd ,3rd ,4th session and so on. This was 5 years back. Today I am a self-made person….For a woman entrepreneur the challenges are not very than those for men.
- How important is goal setting?
Very important. If today I have achieved the goal of working with one of India’s largest IT conglomerates, it’s because I had set a goal, saying that’s what I want to achieve.
- What typical attitudes do you look for while hiring a team for your company?
It’s been my nature, when I fix my focus on something, I make it happen. When I hire, I look for people with a similar attitude to life. In the counselling space preaching and teaching don’t work, one has to come with the spirit of empathy and wanting to learn about the other person. I choose people with a “constant learning” attitude.
- You’re dealing with people and their minds. How do you steer away from negativity? What do you do to invest in yourself?
That’s an amazing question, a lot of psychologists should read this.
I’ll tell you something, my practice makes me meet a lot of people. Every person’s situation is unique and needs to be dealt with differently. There are constant changes on a case by case basis. And it’s not easy to constantly help people with their states of mind, especially since they are dealing with some kind of stress. Since I’m human, there are chances those cases affect me. Then, I make it a point to observe what I’m feeling on a day to day basis. Just bringing attention to my mind makes me see if there’s anything in particular that may be bothering me. If there is, then I consciously meditate and work on that area.
If I’m creating mental wellness for others, I must be able to invest in and take care of my mental wellbeing first! So 1st and foremost I have a mentor and counsellor for myself. There’s not a day when I don’t speak to my mentor.
Also, I have been rooted in spirituality since a very young age, I attend spiritual seminars regularly. My training in spirituality has allowed me to manage so many types of cases. I am glad to have increased not just the value in my work, but also the number of lives I influence
- Do you have a person that inspires you? Who would that be and why?
My mother. She always gave me the liberty to choose what I want to do. She’d say do one thing, but do it well. In fact after my Bachelors, there was a point when I wasn’t sure how to proceed. She encouraged me to complete my masters saying: you’ve worked hard for these 5 years… a Masters is just 2 more years. 2 years and you will be sorted for life. I’m glad I listened to her. As far as inspiration goes, I take and imbibe one good quality from every person I meet.
It’s been a beautiful journey and I’m blessed to have had the right people and mentors in this journey.
- How do you unwind… what are some of your favourite hobbies?
I pursue calligraphy. I’ve always loved it, and I find it therapeutic. I have been an artist and calligrapher for the past 12 years.
- What’s on your travel bucket list?
Greece, Prague, New York, Ladakh and Kerala, for sure.
- What are some qualities one needs to have as a mental health practitioner?
I would say, the person should have a few qualities that will help him succeed. Qualities such as being grounded/down to earth are important. Few more are: Being a learner for life and a good listener. Someone who is non-judgemental, and is able to accept others without personal bias.
- Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
I would say, age is no bar. If you have a great idea, you don’t have to wait to be a certain age before you start out on your own. I was 16 when I started earning on my own… so what stops you from doing that?
Have clarity in what you want to do. Have a purpose, a goal in mind. Even if you don’t know the specifics of how to get there. If you have passion, purpose and you believe you can implement your idea, go for it! When you are ready for them, opportunities will emerge.
- What are the key Ingredients of a confident mind-set?
I don’t think there’s a formula, but there are a few key pointers. Don’t waver, once you have chosen a path. Have will-power, be a risk-taker. Before making others believe in you, you have to believe in yourself and your value.
- Company Name, a link to your company’s website:
Out A Loud