Interview with Successful Indian Entrepreneur Yeshasvini Ramaswamy
What first drew us to Yeshasvini Ramaswamy was her description in the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) Compendium on Women Achievers from the 5 Southern States of India:
“A die-hard entrepreneur at heart, Yeshasvini helps people define what true entrepreneurship is and what it takes to be a leader, and helps people dispel the myths of businesses.”
We are grateful for her valuable time as she shared her successes to inspire other women entrepreneurs around the world. (If you missed the first part of her story and her journey and newest role as an innovative entrepreneur, read it here.)
ES: What has made you so successful as an entrepreneur?
YR: For me mentoring has helped a lot – I learn from everybody, and I am always learning. Some of the things that have really helped me is that I always seek help. I know I am not perfect so I am shameless about asking for help. And I don’t take myself seriously. We are going to die and go – the question is what are you holding on to?
“I know I am not perfect so I am shameless about asking for help.”
I don’t believe you have to leave something meaningful for generations to remember you . You have one life to live. I haven’t planned out my life and I think that’s why I’ve been so successful. I believe that if you plan your life completely you’re not letting your mind think about other stuff going on around you. I read a lot; once you pick up something you have to focus on it. Otherwise you will have a personality crisis because you are trying to do so many things.
“I haven’t planned out my life and I think that’s why I’ve been so successful.”
Something I’ve believed is that we are more scared of our success than of our failure. Forget all your limitations, this is all I can do. Tell your own mind ‘You shut up!’ We are so scared if we have everything – the talent, the will, so we become lazy sometimes and use as an excuse. I want to be successful and create a difference. It is not about me, it’s about the jobs I generate and the jobs I help.
ES: How would you define true entrepreneurship?
YR: First, to do the stuff I want to do, but you have to deliver value and do it consistently, and second, you should be able to have a clarity of thought. A true entrepreneur can explain what they do in any language that his stakeholder needs to understand it. You should be able to explain it to yourself and have clarity.
ES: How is entrepreneurship and working women important for India as a whole?
YR: From an Indian context, we need more women entrepreneurs. It is important not only for economic well-being, and that it makes business sense, etc., but also from a societal perspective. If children have working mothers, they treat women very differently, with a lot of respect. So when they marry, they will treat their wives differently. They will give their daughters a chance to succeed.
“From an Indian context, we need more women entrepreneurs. It is important not only for economic well-being, and that it makes business sense, etc., but also from a societal perspective. If children have working mothers, they treat women very differently, with a lot of respect.”
It’s better when a woman can be a role model for her son. It changes a person’s life forever. And she has something to look forward to. We have a long way to go for women’s empowerment in India, but it will create a whole generation of citizens who are more inclusive in their thought. Right now, we are behind on creating these generations that could be thinking differently forever, so this is very important for me that we are changing lives more and more in that way.
[With e2e People Practices] we do a lot of mentoring for women, training, speaking, funds to start their business.
For a woman to run her business it is her identity and passion; for men it is [usually] maximizing a return. It is more sustainable to invest in women enterprises because they tend to think long term than the other gender – it comes naturally to who we are.
ES: What advice would you give to women who want to start a business?
YR: Listen to your heart. We want to but we get so scared of it. We may take the first step, but to take the second and third step becomes difficult; continue to listen to it.
As women we are very judgmental – even of ourselves we are self-critical and we tend to carry a lot of baggage. Even in the simple stuff like looking good, dressing appropriately, always seeking external feedback – this is not good! I don’t know why we have put it on resolve to be perfect all the time; men don’t’ talk about work-life balance, we do! We have to be a perfect mom, but men don’t say perfect dad or perfect anything.
It’s a global thing. We’ve done a lot of studies on [the pressure to be] a good daughter, a good wife.
When girls in India come back from school, they go straight to the kitchen. The boys go out to play. I was into a lot of extracurricular activities, a tomboy. When I was in the kitchen I told my mom you have to bring my brother in here too. [My mom] is a gold medalist in economics so I can see that with education and the way one treats their children. She was given an opportunity and gave us one too.
“Listen to your heart…DREAM. Look inside yourself and you will find all your answers…You are your own best friend.”
We’re just human beings at the end of the day, with one life to live. Just go out and do that! DREAM. Look inside yourself and you will find all your answers. And of course it’s hard work too. Nothing comes without sacrifice and hard work. You’re your own best friend.
(Sources: FORTUNE/U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership 2012 Mentee Bios and her CV)