This week, we have Vasavi Kumar, the founder of the Mind Your Own Business membership community and the upcoming Hit Publish Mastermind. She opens up about being in toxic relationships while being an addict, all while running a successful company. She lets us know that her greatest learnings have come from her mistakes and when she realized that she had the bright, shiny object syndrome.
VASAVI’S LEARNING JOURNEY
The Mastermind Effect: 02:52
Let’s start in education. The availability for the information that we have access to today has drastically changed over the last 5 to 10 years. How we’ve learned has drastically changed over the last 5 to 10 years. In my opinion, when you and I were younger, it was textbooks and teachers, family and friends, and then eventually became our co-workers. How has your learning changed from your early years versus today?
Vasavi Kumar: 03:22
That’s a great question. As a first-generation, Indian immigrant woman, formal education was something that was heavily ingrained in our minds. My sister did her medical residency at Harvard and I got my master’s in social work at Columbia. I do think that formal education is great. If you want to get become specialized in something, go and learn your subject matter, so you have a good solid foundation. But for me, personally, the greatest education for me has been the mistakes that I’ve made and the number of times that I have fallen on my face and gotten back up. It’s also been my willingness to experience and experiment new things and not just take this one conventional path or just one way of doing things. I’ve always had a very creative and scattered mind. I’ve learned how to create structures, strategies and systems in my life so that I can allow my creativity to come to life. For me, education has always come from actually doing it, not just talking about it, or not just reading.
The Mastermind Effect: 04:35
Taking that hands-on approach and knowing how to implement it. You can watch someone and you can learn from how they’re doing it. But once you actually take the hands-on approach, that’s really where it’s your bread and butter.
Vasavi Kumar: 04:48
I am going to say that everything starts with mindset, right? It’s the reason why I started the membership community. It’s called “Mind Your Own Business” because so many people who get into business are like, “Oh, I just need to do this. I just need to have a website. I just need to have a few servers.” versus “I just need to put myself out there, whatever it is”. But that’s not how it goes. I always say, starting your own business is the deepest and most intense personal growth course workshop you will ever take because it will show you all of your insecurities and weaknesses. It will also show you your strengths if you allow yourself to just deepen your trust and faith in yourself and what it is that you’re here to do.
It’s not just all about strategy. It’s all about the mindset. Your mind literally will tell you what you can and can’t do. It’s the beliefs that we hold about ourselves and the things that we’re telling ourselves that will dictate whether or not we go take that risk, whether we go put ourselves out there. That’s what I like to help people with— to give you the strategy to go from point A to point B and start to look at who you are and look at your strengths. I use a strengths-based approach. I always want to highlight what your strengths are.
Also, let’s take the darkness, which are your limiting beliefs, negative thoughts, and your insecurities. Let’s look at them. Let’s confront them. Let’s be honest about the things that are holding ourselves back. Because if we do not confront those subconscious beliefs, those are always going to be driving us. Then we’re going to be wondering, “Why am I not farther along? Why am I so scared to do X, Y, and Z?” I have to say, as a recovered addict and alcoholic, I use this approach with all my clients. What got me sober and what helps me stay sober every single day is rigorous honesty. It’s why I’m so transparent on my podcast.
I’m so honest about the fact that I am a recovered addict and alcoholic. Sharing it holds me accountable. It keeps me accountable to myself. When we take the thing that is holding us back or when we work with a mentor or coach to deck and reflect back some of the things that they’re seeing, we no longer can hide from it. We can’t run from it. We can’t just sweep it aside. We have to see ourselves all of us for who we are. We have to see it with compassion, grace, and no judgment. And then really ask ourselves, “How do I want to handle this moving forward? Am I going to let this control me? Or am I going to deepen my faith? Am I going to move from fear to faith and deepen that trust and belief in myself and keep taking action one day at a time?”
The Mastermind Effect: 07:29
One of the things that you said was addressing our successes and addressing our strengths. Also, when you address your weaknesses or failures, it’s being open and honest with the world. You’re not using it an excuse or a crutch. You’re not letting it define you. You’re able to reframe your past. I love how you how you framed that and you’re open and honest. Moving on, there are so many ways to take in information more than ever before. Some people look for mentors, accountability buddies, masterminds coaches, online courses and a lot of ways to learn. Who are you currently learning from? And more importantly, how did you find them?
Vasavi Kumar: 08:21
I am currently learning from my mistakes. I’ve been in business for 10 years and my biggest problem in my business was I had a lot of ideas and I wanted to implement all of them at once. I had a lot of bright shiny object syndrome. I’m over a year and a half sober. I spent a lot of time in solitude and self-reflection. I spent a lot of time asking myself, “How do I want my business to look? What is the bigger picture here?” I do believe in investing in communities and investing in mentors and coaches. I had done all of that. My issue was that I was trying to implement all of it all at once. It was like these one-time offers or there’s no strategy to what I’m putting out there. I had to buckle down and get really quiet.
Number one thing is that I have to ask for help. Where am I right now, in terms of my own support, is that I have a team now. I’ve hired a company called “Remote Rockstars”. I love Oxana. She’s really helped me just have that overall system in my business. I found someone who is supportive of my creative wildfire. My issue was never that I lack inspiration, or I lack motivation. My business is the number one thing that I have never lost drive to go out and take action on. What I needed support in at this point in my life, after 10 years and having learned so much and done a lot of the internal work and getting sober, is get someone to really kind of see me and see my ideas. I have a team now that takes care of a lot of the admin stuff. I was a one woman show Brandon. I was doing everything like editing podcasts, sending out invoices, responding to them. So, I had to get really clear on and really asked myself, “What is my zone of genius? Where do I really want to spend my time? Where do I shine?”
I realized where I do shine are creating the podcasts, writing, doing these interviews, reaching out to my clients, and getting them enrolled. It’s those conversations, the nurturing, and it’s the creative aspect. Everything else I’ve outsourced. So that’s where I’m at in terms of support. I was my biggest obstacle because I needed that support. I really needed someone outside of me to see me and to see the gift that I was bringing and being like, “Hold on, you’re going to set yourself on fire if you don’t slow down.” It took a lot of self-reflection and solitude and quieting of my mind to even see what I wanted to create. Then bring in the support.
The Mastermind Effect: 12:01
Now you said that you were working with Oxana, is she the one who built the team and helped you build the team around you?
Vasavi Kumar: 12:41
She is the head of Remote Rockstars which is a team of virtual assistants. I have my own designated account manager. I basically buy a package of hours every month. I have like 18 hours with her. Every Monday, we have our team call and we look at where do we really want to allocate this time. Right now, what the team really works on the bulk of the hours is my podcast editing and the management of that which is perfect for me. I have so much more space and it feels so good. I’m going to do three episodes per week, they’re going to take care of all the editing. All I got to do is show up and speak.
Now, more people are listening to my podcast. I just restarted the podcast back in May of 2020. I’m almost at 10,000 downloads. That was my goal for the end of 2020. I want to hit 10,000 downloads. I’m now charging people to be guests on my podcast. They pay for guest appearances. I never even thought I could do that. What I’m really valuing what I’ve built. I’m valuing myself and I’m valuing the time that it’s taken for me for what I have built.
Vasavi Kumar: 14:44
What I really want your audience to hear is this is not about paid guest appearances; this is really about is valuing our work. I think, as entrepreneurs, the creative side comes so naturally to us. We sometimes feel scattered, anxious, and just all over the place. When we really spend that time in reflection and solitude and we really lock into this core of who we are, you got to see yourself as a beautiful human being who has all these creative ideas and really pay homage to those ideas. Because those ideas come from a very deep place. They come from pain, knowledge, wisdom, and from seeing things. We got to have more respect for ourselves in our ideas. I’m over feeling guilty asking people to pay to be on my show because I know that my gift is to be able to bring out the best in other people. So, I want to be compensated for that.
SELF-EDUCATION AND MASTERMINDS
The Mastermind Effect: 15:44
Absolutely, love yourself first and everything starts falling in place. Talking about people in general, I feel that we get stuck. We don’t know how to execute what’s in our head. We were kind of just talking about how do we execute the plan that’s in our head. We’re still going through the pandemic. It’s allowing us to reset and find new ways on how we can accomplish things. How have masterminds helped you when you’re looking to reset and get unstuck with your ideas?
Vasavi Kumar: 16:20
This is such a timely question. I recently just signed up for a group coaching program. You can call it a mastermind., I signed up for a $4,000 book proposal coaching program. Six years ago, I had actually completed an entire book proposal. It’s like the one thing in my life that I felt unfinished. The one thing that I never really brought to life. I had this opportunity to join this woman’s book proposal coaching program. She’s the former book marketing manager for Hay House, which is a huge, self-help publishing company. I came across this opportunity to join it. It’s $4,000 and that’s a lot of money. I had the money to do it but for me to spend that type of money upfront, it was a little scary for me. I’m a mindset coach, and I still got my own mindset issues. I just know how to overcome them a lot quicker than other people. I gave myself four days to get to a very quiet place. Then when I finally paid, I was like, “I was good to go”.
To answer your question, what it’s done for me mentally is it’s created a domino effect. This is what happens when you invest in yourself. It does something to you. I’m mentally ready. I have a space where I can write. I’ve been waking up at six o’clock every single morning just getting myself back into better habits because I fall off the wagon too. It’s a beautiful thing to be in a community of like-minded people who are all having a shared vision. It may look different than your vision, but it’s a shared value. The goal is we’re going to complete this. We’re doing it separately but together and there’s power in that. There’s only like seven or eight people in the group. It’s an intimate group. It’s what you’re essentially saying to the universe, to God, and to yourself when you go ahead and you and you pay for the thing is, “I am worth the time, I am worth the effort”. It is okay that I do not know what I’m doing so I’m going to ask for help and support. I acknowledge that I do not know what I’m doing and I’m going to get the help. When you put yourself out there and when you put your pride and your ego aside, good things happen.
The Mastermind Effect: 20:50
I can’t wait to see when that book comes to light next year and see how it goes.
Vasavi Kumar: 21:19
What I really want is to help people make sense out of chaos. If there’s anything I know all too well is living a life of chaos and being addicted to that chaos.
The Mastermind Effect: 21:48
Masterminds have been around for a long time. Then eventually, Napoleon Hill talks about in a book called “Think and Grow Rich Masterminds”. I see that there’s been this huge boom of self-education moving away from traditional education over the last few years. You were brought up more in the traditional education and that’s how your family had it. Where do you see self-education versus standardized education going forward?
Vasavi Kumar: 22:21
I want to say this first, even though I was trained with formal education, I was raised Hindu. I would go to temple every week with my parents. I’ve known the power of being a part of a community. I’m a first generation Indian and my parents always had my sister and I be a part of like Indian cultural groups, so we wouldn’t lose our sense of self and culture. From a very young age, I was trained to be around people who look like me.
As far as self-education versus formal, I think formal education is valuable. But my tagline is “know yourself and do anything”. It’s not “know your textbooks and do anything”. Self-education, for me, has been the greatest investment. The greatest amount of time that I’ve spent has been on myself, and it’s every single day. As long as I’m alive and breathing, I can still change. There’s still an ability for me to micro evolve every single day. Self-education for me has been the greatest education because we are so limitless in who we are. It just goes to show like there’s so much depth to who we are. There are so many layers to who we are and I’ve just always wanted to know who am I? I find myself and I say this to everyone listening, “we are so complex yet we are so simple.” I’ve just always been so curious to know more about myself. I just want to know who am I? Then I can be whoever I want to be and that’s even a greater freedom. I can be whoever I want to be and someone who was experimented by taking unhealthy paths and healthy paths I see I literally can be whoever I want to be. That is the greatest and scariest truth in the entire world. The most liberating truth in the world is to have the power to be whoever I want to be and it all starts with what I choose to believe about myself. That’s why self-education is so important because we are conditioned to believe certain things about who we should be as a human being in society. What I think about myself is so much more important than what anyone tells me. That’s what I always try to encourage with my clients is to get to know yourself. Ask yourself where you came from. Ask yourself what it was I talked to believe about this. You have to answer to yourself and that requires self-education.
VASAVI’S REALITY AND MASTERMIND
The Mastermind Effect: 26:23
Absolutely. And with that, the great thing about self-education is it’s limitless. It’s never-ending and we can always continue whether we are 15, 45, or 75. We can continue to learn from the people around us and other people’s experiences. If you focus on who you want to become and who you want to be then it allows us to rewrite our past. When people start investing in their future, they’ve got a better idea what they’re going to get out of it. We’re able to have some form of expectation about what we’re going to learn when we go into someone’s mastermind or program. What should people expect when they enter your reality?
Vasavi Kumar: 27:08
That’s a good question. When you enter my reality, whether as a friend, a client, or mastermind membership, you can expect to be cheered on but also be told the brutal honest truth of what I’m seeing and hearing. You may be asking, “Well, why should I listen to you?” Well, as someone who has had to confront her own deepest, darkest demons, and get sober; I would not be where I am today, without the practice of rigorous honesty, whether it’s my sponsor, my counselors that I’ve worked with, or my own parents. My mother is an Indian immigrant woman. She is scary but she has been the most honest person in my life even when I don’t want to hear it.
That’s what I use with other people. I will let you know if you are making excuses in your life and if you’re letting yourself off the hook. I’ll also nurture you, be kind to you, and let you know that I understand that you’re afraid but here’s what you’re going to do anyway. I think, ultimately, we all want to see our greatness come to life. We cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created that problem. I can be your best friend, your cheerleader, your coach, and just human to human. I’m not going to let you off the hook. I want people to see themselves like the way I see them, which is “you’re bright, you’re brilliant”. You have everything inside of you and you’re getting out in your own way. I’ll do whatever I can to help you get out of your own way by holding you accountable to what you said you wanted.
The Mastermind Effect: 29:31
That’s just raw and beautiful. You’re just like, “Listen, this is where I was, this is who I am and this is how I’m going to help you get there.” Because you’ve actually had these life experiences and you’ve actually been able to own your own.
Vasavi Kumar: 29:50
I’ve had to take one for the team multiple times. I do offer that understanding like, “I get that you feel insecure and I understand that you’re scared. You’re not alone in this process.” That’s why I don’t like people to become reliant on me because I think we need to learn to be emotionally self-reliant. I also feel like, it’s scary to do this thing called self-expression alone. It’s scary to put yourself out there, because of what will people think. My goal is always to be like, “Listen, I got you and I’m not going to leave you, I’ll be there for you no matter what.” That’s what has always helped me and that’s what I hope to be there for other people.
The Mastermind Effect: 30:35
You’re an extension of them. I feel that people have a way of surprising us. Has anyone, through your coaching, through your mastermind, and what they were able to accomplish, surprised you based off of the people and the program that you put together?
Vasavi Kumar: 31:06
Nobody has surprised me. I’m not surprised by anyone’s transformation because I truly believe everyone has the ability to change. Everyone has the ability to shock themselves. They’ve been astonished by their own ability to change. My job is to be a consistent and to be a solid sounding board. I don’t know if that’s the right answer to your question. But people who come to me usually are not “wishy washy” about changing. I focus more on client retention than client acquisition because I know that not most people are not ready to change, no one’s ever ready to change. What it takes for people to change is usually you have to become very sick and tired of yourself. Your life also has to be on the line. You also have to be in a lot of pain to change. I don’t think you have to be all of those things but what I’ve seen over the course of 10 years is that unless you are truly sick and tired of yourself, you don’t actually change. I know that most people are not going to come work with me because they know that when they come to work with me, we’re about to start to peel back all those layers of your insecurities, your beliefs, your ego, your darkness, all of it. I’m going to have you take action. Most people don’t want to do that because it’s scary. When the people who do come to me, when they’re ready to invest financially, mentally, emotionally, those are the ones that have been hand selected by God, the universe. They’re ready. I’m not surprised.
The Mastermind Effect: 32:53
Is there a success story that, without giving any names or any specifics, something you could give us a little more specific and say, “they went through this, and they were here and they were able to accomplish this”?
Vasavi Kumar: 33:04
I will talk about my one client and she’s been working with me now. She’s my one-on-one client. She came to me, and she was like, “Boss, I’m like really ready to stop holding myself back”. She’s a local business here in Austin. She has gourmet cookies. She was someone who is excellent in business but the one thing that was holding her back was her own personal life, her ability to stand up, communicate for what she believes in, and really have some structure and systems in her creativity. Her self-talk was always telling her like, “Oh, you’re not going to be consistent. You’re not going to do this.” She would start and stop, start and stop, which is like most of us. We start and stop and start and stop.
Now, we’ve been working together now for six months. She consistently works out every single morning. She’s paid off all her credit card debt. One of the things that we did within the first three months of working together was we went through every single chase statement, every single credit card statement, and Amazon statement. We spent four hours with each other and we looked at where she was frivolously spending money. We took a hard look at how much money she’d been spending and she was like, “Okay, I’m going to get a handle on this”. She needed some hand holding. She had the courage to really say, “I need someone to help me with this”. She’s now completely debt free. She has about $12,000 in her savings. She’s now putting aside money to invest back into a business. She’s hired delivery people in her business. She’s hired people in her kitchen to help her.
The little things that we’re now working on, which she’s seeing catching up to her, are those little power leakages. She’s like, “I need to write down my delivery process. I need to write down my kitchen process.” I was like, “You need to have a system for everything. If you really want to expand your business and you want to be able to have other people manage your business, you need to know what that process is. We’re now working on the little things that she kind of like holding off, but she’s willing to do it. All she needed was someone to just sit with her and help her do it. There’s no shame in that. She came to me open but slightly skeptical. Every call that we have, she’s like, “Boss, this is the agenda. This is what I want to talk about.” She’s now becoming the most honest person in her life. She’s now calling herself out with me and that is rigorous honesty. She doesn’t have to tell me and she can keep those secrets to herself. I’m not badgering her to tell me. But she knows that the way to grow is to hold herself accountable to somebody else. Your secrets keep you sick. If you want to stay sick, keep lying yourself.
The Mastermind Effect: 35:48
Brilliant. I love it. That was a great success story. I appreciate you sharing that with us. I was working with a coach recently and we talked about success. When you define success, you also have to define failure. There’s a lot of things that go into being successful and defining your success. I think mentorship, willingness to fail, experimentation, and partnerships are a few things when it comes to the pillars of success. With the sensitivity of social media out there, I think we’re afraid to talk about our successes and be successful. What do you think it takes to actually get over the hump of being successful?
Vasavi Kumar: 36:35
The first thing that you have to do is define what success means to you based on your own values, and getting over the hump of being successful. I believe that while a lot of us have a fear of failure, we do have a fear of success because we’re afraid people are going to think we’re bragging. They’re going to think we’re arrogant. It’s lonely at the top. If you have been raised in a family where there’s a lot of jealousy, and there’s a lot of comparison, of course, it’s going to be scary for you to overcome those own inner battles of being successful. You’re afraid that other people are going to think, “Who do you think you are?” This is what I say, ultimately, you got to be willing to be alone. You got to be okay and comfortable with yourself. I’ve come to the point where it’s like, “Yeah, I would miss people in my life”. But it is more important for me to be fully self-expressed and be used up by the time that I die than it is to live with regret and be comfortable. I play on my own insecurity, so other people don’t feel insecure. I downplay my own gifts, so other people feel more comfortable. You got to ask yourself, what’s more important than that. I can handle being alone but I can’t handle living with regret.
The Mastermind Effect: 38:15
As we’re coming to a close here, I think there’s always new ideas brewing during prosperity. I think ingenuity and innovation really come when we feel the squeeze. I think there’s a little bit of squeeze out there in the world right now. What are you working on right now that’s going to take place over the next 12 months that excites you?
Vasavi Kumar: 38:34
Awesome. I already shared about the book proposal. That’s definitely going to be the focus. At least until December, I am going to be writing my book proposal. Then 2021, shopping for agents and a publishing deal.
Vasavi Kumar: 39:06
Over the next year, we’ll definitely be a lot of book stuff, continuing to grow my membership community and serve the existing members in the membership community. Because like I said, I focus more on retention than acquisition. Also, I would love to meet the love of my life.
The Mastermind Effect: 40:08
Put it out to the world and see what comes back on there. Because It doesn’t matter what other people think, it’s what you want. What is a tip, tactic or an actual item that, if someone listening to this right now or next 30, 60, or 90 days, if they actually took that they could see real action and real results in their life?
Vasavi Kumar: 40:41
Every time you hear a thought in your head that is condescending, discouraging, cynical, or fear based., notice it. Then I want you to say back to it, “Not true”. Then take the action. You got to have that self-talk dialogue. I’m all for hiring coaches, mentors and all that but you got to be able to address those demons in your head by yourself. Because you can’t have a coach on call every single minute. You’re going to have to be your own coach at some point, like when people are not around.
I’m going to share a really quick story. This is like after a year and a half of sobriety. Yesterday, I went out with my friends. I had not been out in a while and I don’t go to bars because I don’t drink. We went to this outdoor kind of pickleball court. I guess. And it was really nice outside. I had this thought in my head that was like, “Man, a drink would be really good right now”. And I was like, “Why do I still have this thought?” Then, I was able to just kind of observe my mind. The fact that it was a beautiful day. I’m doing great. I’m feeling good. Why is my mind telling me that I needed a drink right? The old Vasavi would get a drink. But the Vasavi, who has been sober for a year and a half, observes that thought. So therefore, your mind is telling you that you need a drink. Obviously, I did not drink. I had this dialogue with myself. I was able to see my thought as just a thought and not as the truth. My mind is telling me to get a drink. But then I have to reconnect back with my core values. I asked myself what’s more important? Is it more important for me for that instant gratification and have a drink? Or is it more important to be able to openly share on this interview, I’m a year and a half sober? It’s more important for me to share a year and a half over a year and a half sober.
I use the conversation that I had about alcohol yesterday as an example. But it’s going to show up even entrepreneurship. Your mind’s going to tell you “don’t hit publish on that blog post, don’t put that video out there, don’t talk about politics on your podcast, don’t share your opinion on your podcasts.” Then you got to reconnect with yourself and say, “What’s more important to me?” Is it more important for me to be liked and loved and just kind of show this like shiny? Or is it more important for you to be self-expressed? Is it more important for you to be aligned with who you really are and say what you really what you really think? You got to know yourself and be true to that.
The Mastermind Effect: 43:22
I think that’s the best way for us to end it. We have Vasavi Kumar. You have been open and honest about your own struggles that didn’t define you but have made you why you’re one of the top people that we’ve had the fortune of talking with. You’re the founder of the Mind Your Own Business Membership community, the Hit Publish Mastermind and also the podcast host of Being Human. Thank you and I look forward to our future conversations. Thank you so much.
“Formal education is great. But for me personally, the greatest education has been the mistakes I have made, and the amount of times that I have fallen on my face and gotten back up.” – Vasavi
“Self-education is the greatest education because we are so limitless in who we are.” – Vasavi Kumar
“When you put yourself out there, when you put your pride and ego aside, good things happen.” – Vasavi Kumar
“As long as I’m alive and breathing, I can still change.” – Vasavi Kumar
“I’m not surprised by anyone’s transformation, because I truly believe everyone has the ability to change.” – Vasavi Kumar
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