I live in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and our wellness company, The TouchPoint Solution, is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. I am a “first generation”—my parents emigrated from India before I was born and raised me in Georgia. Childhood was awesome. My sister and I grew up poor, and my family worked in a hotel, but from my childhood perspective life was great—sometimes being naïve is your greatest asset. Since we lived in a hotel, I had the biggest pool of all my friends! I got to spend time as my mom’s helper—carrying towels and spraying air freshener. The days were long for my parents working 24/7, but they were working for something that was theirs. When I was in first grade, we moved into a real house!
When I was seven years old, my mom bought me my first ever bottle of perfume—tea rose perfume. My brothers thought it would be fun to spray it all over the house, and they emptied the bottle. While I was crying, my brother attempted to console me. A light bulb went on in my head, and I ordered one brother to boil water and my other brother to gather rose petals from my mom’s rose bush. I boiled them and made my own tea rose perfume. After refilling my bottle, I realized we still had half a pot of tea rose “perfume.” I poured it into baby food jars and sold them around the neighborhood. I was hooked, and at that point, I knew I was meant to be an entrepreneur.
When I was twelve, my parents told me they were uprooting me from my southern roots and taking me to Arizona. Being in a new place was scary, and everything was different—buildings changed from brick to stucco, and greetings shifted from “Y’all” to “you all”. I slowly settled in, and life was still blissful. Over the years, I watched my dad live the American dream—from working in a motel to owning one. He inspired me so much that when I was fourteen, I started my first company, a one-stop reservation company, a forerunner to what Expedia later would become.
Being a businessperson and entrepreneur is simply in my DNA and a part of my heritage as both my grandparents and parents were entrepreneurs as well. Seeking out and owning my own business, however, was never consciously pushed on me. I firmly believe that having strong business skills—both tactical and interpersonal—provides personal benefit irrespective of a career chosen. I believe this so strongly that I often share and explain business decisions with my kids, just like my dad did with me. They regularly see the behind the scenes of owning a business. You can never start too young!
Owning a business is a 24/7 job. You don’t have the liberty of being able to hang up your coat at the end of the day and say I’m done now. In a lot of ways, it’s like being a mom. You may not always be with your kids, but you think about them all day, especially when you are away from them. And like children, while they give you the greatest joy, there are also moments when you feel like pulling your hair out.
When I was twenty, I adopted two boys that had been abandoned by their parents. The boys at the time were thirteen and fourteen. This life-changing moment gave my life perfect clarity. I believe my greatest obligation and joy in life is to help people, and I am therefore most proud of my work around helping people. I’ve intertwined this belief in my personal life (building programs for foster youth) as well as our business (we give TouchPoints away to others who can’t afford them via our Touch of Hope Scholarship fund (TheTouchPointSolution.com/pages/scholarship).
In business, I believe in good old-fashioned work ethic and being scrappy. I am definitely a follower of the Lean Startup methodology. This is how I grew my last four companies, including Valor Global, to over $80M in revenue—without any outside capital. I believe the true formula for success is: hard work + persistence + creative thinking + marketing skills.
Creative thinking, in particular, can come to you if you stop for a second—look up and look around—there’s so much inspiration. From the sweet elderly couple holding hands at the grocery store to the teenager with an amazing indie outfit waiting for the bus. Today everyone walks around with their face glued to their smartphone living in a double reality—in a real world and a virtual Facebook/social media world. I’m guilty of it too! And, being present can sometimes be a struggle, but it’s when you are present and truly living that you find the ultimate inspiration.
“Don’t just think outside the box, get rid of the box.”
I think of life like concentric circles. You are located in the middle, the next ring is your husband and kids, the third ring is your other family and close friends, the fourth ring is work, the fifth ring is acquaintances and so on. The biggest challenge can be “keeping a balance”. Far too often ring four will come zooming inside ring one or two and take away from my ability to be present and engage with my family. I believe my family is my first priority so this is problematic. People ask me how do you achieve balance, and therein lies the problem. Balance is a misnomer; it implies that there will be equal parts on one side of the scale and equal parts on the other. The reality is that there are times your family will get lots of your time and other times when work will get lots of your time. As long as you understand and pay attention to the priorities, where you spend your time will work itself out.
FOR FORMULA PROSPERITY
1. Read your contracts carefully. The devil is truly in the details.
2. Adhere to the concept of the “Top Five”. Before the week starts, make a list of the five things you need to do this week. They should be broken down small enough that they can actually be accomplished within the week. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. If you simply focus on five things a week, you will see your business grow exponentially.
3. Don’t be too busy working IN your business that you don’t work ON your business.
4. If you are stuck between making a decision too quickly or slowly, make a decision quickly. In the world of business, time is precious and sometimes speed is your only asset.
5. A/B test EVERYTHING. Business is like a science experiment. Formulate a hypothesis and then test it, observe, modify and test again.
6. Create a base of raving fans. You will end up asking this group for testimonials, press interviews, and to assist in evaluating new product launches.
7. You will inevitably end up working with/hiring your friends. Before you start working with them have a conversation to set clear boundaries between your work relationship and your friendship. The goal is that, in the worst case, if your work relationship doesn’t work out, you can still be friends.