Creating Purpose Driven Content, Changing the Narrative and Adaptability: An Interview with Sonali the Endless River
This Episode of the Student Influencers podcast was unique. Sonali, an influencer, blogger, and all-around up-and-comer reached out to us to collaborate. We had no idea the depth of knowledge, wisdom, and quiet strength Sonali, otherwise known as Sonali The Endless River, would share in our conversation.
Sonali the endless river with black shirt and white bowtie
Humans are Endless and Adaptable
In preparation for this special interview we visited Sonali’s website and YouTube channel. It was the testimonials on the About Me page which first caught our eye:
● “There is some aura in her that makes you like to get hooked into conversation with her.”
● “She is our energy power bank.”
● “It would be impossible to count all the ways that you have helped me in my career.”
These speak to the vibrant energy we felt when speaking with Sonali over Zoom. Sonali identifies as the “shy kid” who transformed to an author, marketer and online personality, though there is so much more to her essence. It is Sonali’s energy which captivates people, and draws them in. Her gentle toughness allows you to feel safe and yet challenged at the same time. And through that persona, Sonali manages to impart wisdom to youth, students and adults from across the world. Sonali’s mission is to inspire people, and help them to parent themselves toward their highest potential.
The Endless River, Sonali’s online brand, has just as much depth as its creator. When we asked Sonali about the decision to name the blog and YouTube channel, she shared a story.
When Sonali began working in the online space, the general advice was that in order to maintain a foothold, it was necessary to create a niche. Sonali was told that the name of the blog should reflect that niche. This did not sit well with a person who resists boundaries. Sonali was creating an ever-changing brand. As Sonali changed as a person, so would the content. The name had to reflect this. Sonali sums up the brainstorming process best:
It has to be something that is a representation of me and as human beings we’re not defined by only one thing. We’re a combination of various factors. And I feel like the word endless kind of breaks though you know the boundary orientation offered. That you’re endless. You’re like freedom-oriented. There are no boundaries. You can be anything you want, you can do anything you want. And with the word endless, mentally also it gives me a lot of peace to find that you know I’m not bound by anything it’s just free, free, free.
Then came the ‘river’ portion of the name. Sonali, an Aquarius water sign, lives by the Bruce Lee mantra, “Be like water my friend” believing that it is essential to adapt to everything life throws at you. The concept of water also speaks to Sonali’s desire for change and excitement. Just like the water is ever-moving and changing, so too is Sonali. By combining the notion of endless with the concept of water, Sonali had developed a name for her brand which resonated with her personality and with her audience.
YouTube icon on white iPhone
Way Beyond YouTube: Purpose Driven Content
With the uptick in online marketing and the increasing importance of having an Internet persona, being a blogger and YouTuber is more of a legitimate career path than it ever was in the past. Many people make a viable living working hard to create consistent online content. Others work as freelance marketing professionals to help businesses in the online arena. Though she also works hard at creating content that connects, Sonali does not see online content as an end in itself.
Youtube and blogging are tools that help Sonali pursue a purpose. By reaching young people online, Sonali hopes to fulfill the aim to “be the person I needed when I was younger.” In other words, the work Sonali does is all in pursuit of a higher purpose, way beyond YouTube or blogging. It is a means to an end to supporting young people through mentorship and authentic connection.
When asked about the motivation to help young people, Sonali cites an experience in highschool. As a young person Sonali identified as an introvert, shy, always relying on a best friend to speak up first. When Sonali’s best friend transferred to another school, Sonali was left without many close connections. A the same time, Sonali transferred educational streams from sciences to business, which further ostracized her from her classmates.
However, instead of cocooning into her shell amidst these challenges, Sonali took the opportunity to re-create herself. She felt that people did not really know the ‘real’ Sonali so she began to show up differently. Instead of being shy and introverted, she made an effort to be outgoing, friendly and say hello to everyone. Eventually, people began to warm up to Sonali and she was being asked to sit at everyone’s table at lunch time. Through a difficult experience, Sonali made a conscious decision to confront the narrative she had come to know and embrace all her life, and reframe her story. Sonali is now recognised as an outgoing, charismatic personality, who spreads light and love throughout the world.
It is Possible to Change the Narrative
One of the themes that ran throughout our conversation with Sonali was the idea of narrative. From the story of how the blog name developed, to the anecdote of being ostracised in school, Sonali has a way of delivering wisdom through story.
Sonali also represents the ability we all have within us to change our stories. We all have certain narratives we tell ourselves and which are re-enforced by our families, institutions and society as a whole. For much of her life, Sonali believed she was an introvert. It was not until she had an opportunity to recreate who she was that she recognised that she is multi-faceted, just like the rest of us.
None of us are one dimensional. We are all multi-dimensional and that means that we have the power within us to create different versions of ourselves.
Another personal story Sonali re-wrote was the story of not being a reader. Up until this past year Sonali had not read any books. As she began to encounter the world of personal and professional development she recognised that there was some value in exploring the library of wisdom which existed on the topic. She presented a challenge to herself to read and review each new book on YouTube. This kept Sonali accountable and to date she has read 12 books this year, with many more on the list.
Person typing on red typewriter
In this way, Sonali quickly shifted from a non-reader to a reader simply by setting goals and following through. Now, Sonali has people sending books to her from all over the world and following her YouTube channel to see what book she might review next.
Recognise Fear, Then Challenge It
Sonali also had some advice for our viewers who are in the process of learning English. First, she suggested that the reason many people in her country, India, struggle to learn English is due to fear. Fear of being judged, or criticised. Sonali’s advice? Just learn and go for it. Recognise that the fear is there to motivate you and begin the process of learning.
A second suggestion Sonali made to our audience learning English is to watch the television show Friends. She said that Friends presents an opportunity to learn English as well as facial expressions. Here’s Sonali’s step-by-step advice on how to learn English from an episode of Friends.
● Turn the episode on with the subtitles. Watch the episode.
● Watch the same episode back without the subtitles. This will help you practice listening to English.
● Watch the same episode again without the volume or subtitles. This will help you to learn body language.
Most of all, take steps toward your goal of learning English and do not be too afraid to try. We are here to help if you need some assistance!
It is difficult to convey the bright spirit that Sonali embodies through text. She left us with hope for the future and a genuine sense of connection to her as well as to the larger picture. Her energy was palpable even through the screen and across the distance. Throughout our conversation Sonali left us with many tidbits of advice to pass on to students:
● Be adaptable and embrace change.
● Change the narrative. Change your story.
● Everyone is multi-dimensional. Explore the different facets of your personality.
● Be genuine, kind and giving with your energy.
● Find a purpose and work with it daily.
Sonali’s gentle strength can be witnessed and heard on our podcast. We encourage you to go listen to hear more of Sonali’s wisdom on our Student Influencers podcast.
We hope you continue to join us on this journey of talking to successful student influencers who tell their stories of struggle and triumph! To follow along, please visit our Anchor site and stay tuned for future episodes.
FULL TRANSCRIPT FROM OUR PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH SONALI THE ENDLESS RIVER BELOW
Cath Anne [00:00:05] Hi everyone and welcome back to the students influencers podcast today. We are so happy to have Sonali with us. She’s coming to us all the way from, you’re in India, correct?
Sonali [00:00:17] Yes.
Cath Anne [00:00:19] Yes. So amazing. Thank you so much for making the time. There’s a little bit of a time difference. So here in Canada it’s the morning for me and it’s the evening for you I believe, right?
Sonali [00:00:31] Yes, yes.
Cath Anne [00:00:31] Yes yes. So thank you so much for making the time and so we’re doing things a little bit differently. Usually, we just do this in a podcast format where we record the audio. And today we’re doing it in video format. So this is really exciting something a little bit different. And Sonali reached out to us to collaborate with us on some different pieces of content. So we’re really excited to have her. So welcome Sonali. Thank you so much for joining us.
Sonali [00:01:01] Thank you so much. Such a pleasure being here.
Cath Anne [00:01:03] Thank you. So I’m just going to jump right into the questions because I have some I think I’m hoping. Interesting questions. I was looking at your amazing content and it was very inspiring. So I think a lot of the students that listen to our podcast are going to get an awesome amount of creative amazing content out of this. So so. So I was looking at a little bit what you’re doing with your personal brand on YouTube and Instagram and I really want to get into how you got into YouTube and podcasting but first I’m really interested in the name of your channel. So, Sonali The Endless River. I’m wondering if that has any certain significance to you or if there’s some meaning to that name?
Sonali [00:01:54] It certainly has. So, I’m a lot about stories, right. Everything should have a story hidden meaning behind it. If it’s just random, doesn’t make sense to me. I’m always looking for the story you know some kind of interesting factors about anything. So, when I was starting out with this initially it was not me building a personal brand I just started off as a project. It was just you know me trying to learn something using the internet, a bit of online marketing and stuff. So I wanted to name something for my blog. And I was coming up with names. And usually when people were like giving me ideas or even I was brainstorming, the majority of the people were trying to tell me you know get my name attached to a niche you know have any industry specific words so it would be good for SEO. But since I was just starting I was like, “what if tomorrow I don’t like the industry?” What if tomorrow I want to change? And I don’t like to have any kind of boundaries around me of any sort. So it was like that kind of restricts me if I want to change or if I change my content. It’s kind of pulling me in a loop here. I have to create something way different and then start creating niches over niches over niches. So it has to be something that is a representation of me and as human beings we’re not defined by only one thing. We’re a combination of various factors. And I feel like the world endless kind of breaks though you know the boundary orientation offered. That you’re endless.
Sonali [00:03:24] So you’re like freedom-oriented. There are no boundaries. You can be anything you want you can do anything you want. And with the word endless mentally also it gives me a lot of peace to find that you know I’m not bounded by anything it’s just free, free, free. So I can do anything I want, I can see anything I want because again I’m endless. So that was a part of that. And then the word ‘river’ is because my horoscope is Aquarius. I really relate to that. So I’m very influenced by you know Bruce Lee’s very famous quote, “Be like water my friend.” So it speaks about adaptability. You have to be like water and just like water takes the shape of any object it is poured into, a human being has to be adaptable to change in that format. And I’m a person who loves change just because I’m looking for excitement all the time. I can’t sit in one place for a long time. I can’t just do only one thing that has to have an element of excitement. Which is why I love change, I love anything exciting, challenging. So, I just thought you know the combination of this could be really interesting and just like that you brainstorm and this is how it came off.
Cath Anne [00:04:31] Oh wow. That’s an amazing answer. My goodness. So I love that idea of freedom. And like you say not being restricted by these boundaries and the word ‘river’ also evokes to me kind of this endless flow, you know you’re flowing down the river you’re always evolving like you say and being adaptable. So from that, I’m guessing, I’m kind of wondering, how did you get into YouTube and podcasting. You tell a little bit of that story on your website but I’d like to hear kind of how you got into it and how you became inspired by that.
Sonali [00:05:08] True. So, I wanted to start Youtube for a long, long time. So, I was I was heavily into music, I had my own band. I was writing songs, composing music. So, I wanted to start off something on the instrumental side of it. You know just pick up songs I like and create an instrumental version of it on the lead guitar specifically. So that was my that is kind of what I wasn’t thinking and I was kind of writing in the seventh or eighth grade when I had that idea. And back at that time, YouTub, was like it was just something which interested me and I saw that you know this could be something I, it’s just an experimentation but I lacked that confidence. And it’s not an idea that when you share people will tell you, “yea you should do it” because there’s no end route. YouTube is booming right now if I go and tell anybody that I should I do this, they will say “yeah you should do it !” It’s very, you know, it has a path. You can get success. At that point of time. there was no roadmap. And I didn’t discuss that idea. I let it be. And over the past couple of years after that, I was resenting myself. I was like I wish I had started, I wish I had started but still I was not making up my mind. I was changing industries, I was changing careers. And then finally when I started blogging I thought, this is a good arena for me.
Sonali [00:06:30] I don’t have to create something, I don’t have to go out of my way I just have to share what I know, my journey, my learning in video format and with video I’m not like I’m not someone who’s camera shy I’ve always been in front of the camera. Like I have like an album on video of my entire childhood covered. Entire childhood right from my birth till now. So I’ve been in front the camera all the time. Like I was a performer, I was a dancer at very early age. I went to music, sports, all the other things. So I was always in the public eye doing something or the other. So I just thought you know why don’t use that as a motivating factor. I know how to speak all I have to do is to get over my mental barrier that you know no one’s supposed to judge you’re just supposed to put yourself out there do this. If it doesn’t work you can just delete your account. No one’s gonna bother after a couple of months everybody will forget that that channel even existed. So that’s why I started YouTube and then podcast eventually happened in that manner and like I got a lot of ideas that audio is you know pretty happening. But now my podcast is a little bit on hold. I’m trying to figure it out a different concept for the podcast altogether. So yeah I think that’s how it happened it started with me writing down my thoughts then transforming them into video format.
Cath Anne [00:07:50] Wow. And so how long have you been doing YouTube.
Sonali [00:07:54] I guess around two, two and a half years.
Cath Anne [00:07:58] OK. Yeah. And like you say I know. Like when I was you know in high school and early university same thing, YouTube wasn’t really a career path. And now it is. People do make a living doing that. So is that a goal of yours? Would you like to make a living or is it more about sharing your story and sharing your experience?
Sonali [00:08:19] No, it is more of a tool. It’s not something that is a full-time thing. It is a part of my journey. It helps me brand myself. It helps me put out content without thinking about anything and everything. I don’t put out a lot of polished things. A lot of people tell me you should hire a videographer, you should go and shoot in the studio. And then I’m like, no, I wanted to be raw I want it to be real. I want to capture the journey and not give them something which they’re seeing in other channels They’re seeing everywhere. It has to be a little bit different.
Cath Anne [00:08:49] I agree.
Sonali [00:08:50] And for me I just feel like my end goal is way, way beyond YouTube. YouTube is a part of it that can definitely help you boost that part up. But I often, whenever somebody asks me what do you want to do in a very simplified manner. I read this quote somewhere which says that, you know, be the person you needed when you were younger. So I want to be the person I needed when I was younger. I see a lot of students get struggling and I see a part of myself in them and having the privilege to transform myself from being them to what I am now I feel I have a duty towards them. Somewhere I feel some kind of privilege as well as a responsibility towards them to get them through that journey. So that’s my purpose.
Cath Anne [00:09:36] Wow! That’s amazing. I love that. So, I guess going from what you were just saying. You know you talk a little bit on your website about this I’m just going to check my notes here, sorry, little bit on your website about this about. How in high school you kind of had this experience where you were into sports, you had all kinds of friends, you had supportive parents, you were involved but that didn’t necessarily translate to how you felt as a person. And I think you’re kind of speaking a little bit to that. You know, how students kind of feel a little bit limited and maybe they have some low self-esteem. So, I’m wondering what kind of advice would you give to a student who’s experiencing those same things that you went through.
Sonali [00:10:25] Right. So first of all just to acknowledge the fact that it’s not only them. Everybody is going through the same thing. So like we have different kind of personalities and growing up when you become a bit on the adult side, you understand that and there’s something called an ambivert which is a mixture of an introvert and an extrovert. But back in high school there are two extremes introvert, and extrovert. So introverts kind of feel like okay so the extroverts are like super popular, they have everything going for them, they can express, they can impress and we can’t do anything. Whereas the extraverts they’re like okay, so we have this image we have to live up to and we can’t show the softer, that sensitive side of us. So that’s what’s going on inside their brains. Right. And it’s that’s for everybody. So the first fact just to understand that your problems is nothing special. The moment you know anybody kind of acknowledges that factor this kind of load that unloads on top of your head. You’re like whoa, you’re feeling OK. Off the pressure. Right. And the second thing I would just say that you’re to find a way to find that out. So find a person you can speak to. For me, I didn’t find somebody because again I was an introvert. So the Internet was almost nonexistent and I was not into reading books. There was no counselling sessions happening. I didn’t have an elder sibling. I didn’t have anyone elder in my age group. My parents were busy and I didn’t know like this is something that has to be pointed from the outside, rather than from the inside because inside I’m already freaked out. I really don’t know what’s happening. It is kind of like an identity crisis. Like who am I, what am I, why am I not like that. What’s wrong with me. You know, all these kind of questions. So if you’re a person who can find somebody just to confide in even if it’s somebody on the social media so many kids reach out to me via DM. I’m replying to them all the time. I’m e-mailing them I’m voice noting them. I’m doing all of that and you will not believe the kind of things they tell me like that deep, deep, deep secrets. The absolute inner things. And I’m like a nobody I’ve not met them. People and kids from all around the world but I know the thing that I’m doing for them. It’s just like. I know that four years, five years, at least two years down the line they’re going to be like, “Oh that conversation, that was like a milestone for me.” So if you you can find someone who can help you at least start with researching on the Internet. You know just listening to other people, just getting empowered. And it’s just a phase, it’s just a phase you’re supposed to be confused if nobody teaches us how adult.
Sonali [00:13:07] We’re all sort of illiterate yet. We are all taught to get degrees and get skilled, get married. Nobody teaches us how to adult. And then nobody teaches us how to become a parent. The two most important things in life. So there’s no course. There’s no things, there’s no guidance. So you need to understand it’s a very big deal. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, just talk to people
Cath Anne [00:13:32] This is this is not on my list of questions but I do want to ask you a question. I saw on your YouTube channel you do have a video about you wish you had a mentor and you’re kind of speaking to this a little bit right now and that’s definitely something that I wish that I had when I was younger especially like you’re saying coming out of university starting your career. I think that’s something that is so lacking and so do you think there is a way to kind of mediate that or address that that issue? Is it through social media like you mentioned – connecting in that kind of way?
Sonali [00:14:10] Absolutely. Yes. I think people who have who are kind of speaking to this audience like people like me and you were creating content specifically for that audience. We need to do this. We need to take up this responsibility. We need to tell them that you know like counselling and going to a counselor is kind of treated like a taboo especially here in India. Yeah. If somebody went to the counsellor people feel that, oh she might be crazy. It’s not like that. You’re not supposed to be crazy. You’re just a person who needs guidance. You need support. That guidance needs to be like that is a way that we need to educate these guys. And I feel like schools and other educational organizations plus parents, they need to encourage this. There has to be some kind of sessions every month or once or twice in a couple of months. That happens in school as a part of the curriculum. There have to be sessions for the parents to you know kind of bond them out with the children. Where are the children standing. Are you really connecting with your children? And that is another part of my passion project that I’ve been very blessed to have really supportive parents. Truly really supportive parents. And. But still in a way I feel like my peers they’re lacking that even though like I’m 24, I know people who are you know younger than me or are much older than me. I can feel that gap between them and their parents. And that needs to be addressed again coming back to the topic that parenting was not taught. So parents need to take this up, put their ego aside, and say hey we need to learn how to really connect with our children. We need to, without the taunts, without the scolding, without showing that, hey I’m elder, I know I am experienced. No, you’re not supposed to tick us off. You’re supposed to be a friend and guide. So, parents, teachers, and people like us we have we huge duty over here. We have to do this for them. And like I said we didn’t have social media. We have social media. They have online bullies. They have so many things going on for them. The world is so competitive right. So they’re seeing their friends getting millions and millions of views getting you know becoming a social influencer they’re like What am I doing with my life. Right. So those kinds of things needs to be addressed and from a very, very early age.
Cath Anne [00:16:28] Oh that’s amazing. I definitely agree with the idea that you’re saying about no one learns how to parent. It’s it’s such a true point. And it’s something that I never. You know it’s something you realize maybe in retrospect that your parents were never taught how to be a parent. There’s no guidebook but you’re right it’s something that we need to talk about for sure and address it in kind of a holistic way.
Sonali [00:16:53] Absolutely, absolutely. So I’m working on this project. I’m actually working for children from classes 6-12. We’re having workshops which develop their emotional, like EQ over IQ. Help them with their social skills, help them with their like mindset. Correct. And we’re having workshops for parents as well. So they need to come. They need to get trained they need to understand how are they supposed to navigate the children of this generation. Because very simply like tomorrow if I become a kid. Who am I going to take the guidance from? I am going to take the guidance from my parents. Of course. Third generation is guiding the fourth generation that I have no idea about my generation and how they’re going to like try to guide me for my kids. So that needs to be done by people who are involved with the kids. Who are studying the kids, who are studying the environment that they’re supposed to grow up in. Right. So parents really, again. Again education. Right. Parents need to get educated. Why do parents need to come? There’s a lot of ego, there’s a lot of taboo, that needs to get broken. It’s a long-form process but it could definitely be done.
Cath Anne [00:18:01] Absolutely. And the other piece that I really like about that, so my background is in social work, and I you kind of spoke to the idea that there’s a lot of stigma around going to like a one on one counselling. And I think there is definitely a need for that one on one support but something that we used to talk up a lot about in social work was that it’s not an individual problem and that’s everyone’s experience if that’s what you’re you’re saying. So I think that educational piece where you’re you’re kind of levelling the playing field and making people understand that everyone’s going through the same experiences and that we all have to learn and it’s more of a social societal issue as opposed to an individual issue.
Sonali [00:18:46] I absolutely agree. You know and as parents come and meet other parents, other kids. They’ll understand that it’s not just my child who’s is kind of struggling with something. Everybody’s you know we all are unique. So there’s somethings that we are great at, somethings we are not so great at. Parents only see one part of the story. They see this one kid who is excelling and they compare us to them. You’re getting to see all of the people, the people who fail, the people who have excelled, the people who are in the middle and then compare it to where does my kid stand and why. And how can I help them? Not like oh you’re this you’re that, no. How can I help?
Cath Anne [00:19:24] Right. Absolutely. That’s amazing. Amazing work. Wonderful, so needed.
Sonali [00:19:31] Thank you so much. So let’s see what else.
Cath Anne [00:19:42] OK so you kind of spoke to this a little bit already but so you identified in high school as an introvert and I’m wondering if there was a moment that things kind of changed for you or was it more of a gradual process.
Sonali [00:20:01] There was definitely a moment. Yeah there was. So up until like 10 standard I had this group of friends and we were always together and there was this one best friend of mine was a huge extrovert. She’s like a bold person. She used to be the spokesperson for me. She used to be out there. I would be like timid and shy more of like you know settling down in the patient version of that one. So after the tenth standard she shifted from my school to another school. And I had to change my stream from science to commerce. So my entire group of friends, the people I grew up with I spent so many years with them along with my best friend, all of them have gone. Now I was in a different class with different people. And I knew nobody, right. And I love my school. I think given the chance I would go back again. I love it. I remember like going into this walking into this class of people that I didn’t know. I knew some faces, some people’s first name but nothing else. And at that point of time I was going through a very terrible breakup and that breakup was very public. So everybody knew what’s going on, right. Yeah. There were gossips and rumours and whispers. Like the typical high school drama. All right. This is just perfect. All I need was this. You know? The icing on the cake. So that was the there was a couple of early months in my eleventh standard that I actually sat in the first bench, kind of like the first bench of the class, for the first time in my life. I’ve always been a backbencher. Right. So, I was like Oh my God. So when you sit in the first bench I realize that you actually have to listen to the teacher, you have to pay attention and you have to take notes. I was like Okay this is turning out to be what is wrong with me like what’s happening. So I remember I went my mother and I said that I need to change my school. She was shocked. I love my school. I’m so devoted to my school. She said it’s wrong with you and what’s up? I told her like you don’t I don’t have any friends. All of my friends are gone and blah blah blah. I was like I just can’t take it anymore. I want to just change. She told me that, listen whichever school you go to you’re going to feel is the exact same thing. It’s gonna be new for you right. And at least now you know your school, you know the vibe, you know the teachers, you know the process everything. Over there you’re actually going to have to start right from the bottom, right. So why don’t you figure it out it’s just a matter of two years. I know you can do it and consider that there is no option of changing, there’s no option of transferring. So I was like, okay I got to figure this out. So at that point of time I was really really struggling as to what do, there has to be some kind of way out. So I started to kind of convince my mind that the people don’t actually know how I am. They have heard the rumours and they’ve seen my face and somewhere they’ve seen version of me but they’ve not actually seen me in my actual sense. So whatever I show them that’s how they’re going to take me. Right. So if I show them my introverted side they’re going to take me as an introvert, shy person. You know, keeps it to herself. If I show them the more friendlier version, they’ll treat me like that. And let’s face it we all have different versions of ourselves. You know if if somebody thinks that, oh no I’m I’m an introvert. You have to sit with five of your most closest friends in a room where you’re very comfortable, have a drink and then we’ll talk. You’re going to become the most fun person ever. Right I am. And even if you had the most extraverted person put them in a crowd where they do not resonate with anybody and you’re going to see them go cucoon into their shell. It’s very environmental and it’s a lot of the mindset game. I said, why not I try the experiment and things are not yet lost. Let me just go out of my way make some efforts. And that was when things started triggering from eleven, twelve and again in college I did the same experiment I started to feel like no I’m not introvert. I’m happy go lucky, fun person, everybody wants to be my friend and I’m just awesome, I’m amazing. I keep telling myself that I went out of my way said hi to people and I saw more and more people were attracted to me they were like well we told that you’re this person but we were actually wrong about you. You’re completely different, in a span of a couple of months. I really I had a bunch of different groups. Everybody wanted me to sit with them. They were like, “hey come here” “hey come here”.
Cath Anne [00:24:49] Oh my goodness.
Sonali [00:24:53] So that’s I think that was a very big triggering point.
Cath Anne [00:24:57] OK. So you had amazing wisdom in grade eleven and twelve so that’s wonderful. But wow. Yes such a good mindset shift. Amazing. And I love how it’s almost like you were reciting this mantra. You know it’s it’s reconditioning your brain to present something different to the world.
Sonali [00:25:19] Absolutely absolutely. And it’s so weird because now now I’m I’ve become like reader. I read a lot of books right. I watch a lot of videos broadcast episode, all related to personal development, mindset, law of attraction. All of these things. It’s almost like it’s like there’s a kind of synergy. I was not introduced to these books or videos or people before but I almost feel that I was as a destiny. I was supposed to go this far. Because nobody told me that you know you have to tell. It’s like a narrative, you have got a narrative you tell yourself that’s how your story is going to be. These are the things that I’m learning right now but back then there was nobody, it was just something that I came up with out of fancy.
Cath Anne [00:26:04] Right. Right yeah. And now you’re stepping into that realm when your personal development is definitely becoming more popular I think. And I guess to transition you talked about you’re reading a lot more books and I see that you said on your YouTube channel that you used to be a non-reader and now you’ve transitioned to becoming a reader. So could you talk about that process a little bit?
Sonali [00:26:29] Sure. So I had read zero books up until last year. This year I’ve read twelve books already. Yes, 12 books read, reviewed it is on my YouTube channel. And a lot more like I have a bunch of books left to be read this year. I’m going to do I think four to five more. So like I said, that when you’re an introvert it’s kind of like you like being by yourself. It’s kind of like you like your own company. Not a lot more on the shy side. It’s like more than people, I enjoyed myself so that’s a little more advanced version of being an introvert. So when I was all by myself I used to figure out ways to communicate my thoughts. So at the beginning it was through dancing and then music and then writing. So a lot of people told me that you know your communication skills are really, really great. You like your communicating. You need to get strong but then you really need to do it in a more structured manner. There are there are resources available. Why don’t you read. Why don’t you read a lot of your doubts are gonna get resolved. Why didn’t you read. There are experts, there are people all around the world that have written books and those are for us. There’s a knowledge bank, whole knowledge bank in the books out there. You need to tap into that. And there were people telling me like for years and years and years. So last year around I think when I was making my you know so-called resolution list we all do. Right. So one of the goals was like I’m going to read one book a week and we’re not only able to read them I’m going to put myself in a challenge. Just to keep myself accountable. I’m going to read and review them on my channel. So you know it keeps me going. So that was going on for a couple of months but of course I lost track because of work and everything but I fell in love with reading and I initially I was running away from books. Now I have a whole library in my room. There are books everywhere.
Cath Anne [00:28:41] Oh my goodness.
Sonali [00:28:44] I’ve become such a fan of reading whenever I go people are gifting me books now. They ask, what book is on your list. They buy me the books that are on my list if I haven’t bought it yet.
Cath Anne [00:28:56] Wow. Yeah. Holy moly it’s like yeah you changed and in a year or so that speaks to like you keep saying you know if you just put those efforts. Put that little bit of effort towards something, you can see significant change in a short time. And I see that you’re reading the 5AM Club that is on my list. Oh you finished that one? Well I’m. It’s on my list to read. Could you tell me a little bit about that book and how you enjoyed it?
Sonali [00:29:29] Of course. First of all earlier when I was like no reader I wouldn’t judge a book by the particulars of the book which was like a thinner book I’d be like ok I’m going to read this one right. The 5AM Club is like a really fat book. It’s like more like a history book, like it looks like a history book. I was like, oh my god really? OK but then Robin Sharma is like we all know him we know his work. There was no doubt about it. So when the book released I was like I need to get this book. And at that point of time I was actually training myself to wake up in the morning and because I’m like a very lazy person. I’m like a night owl and there was this whole taboo or I won’t say taboo, there was this whole thing about successful people wake up in the morning. Okay I’m going to try this one before actually telling other people yes or no, I should try it out and let’s see what happens. So I was training myself and I came across that Robin Sharma is promoting this book and I ordered that. And I remember I had two books on my list for that week. So I had the book by Dale Carnegie. How Win Friends and Influence People. And I had the 5AM Club so I put up a story on my Instagram and saying you know which book should I read. And I tagged Robin Sharma he replied on my DMs saying, why not option b?
Cath Anne [00:30:54] Oh my goodness.
Sonali [00:30:56] That’s really cool I was like right. Now I’m going to read this one for sure. And I started reading. And there’s, something about, see in the self-help category even there are fiction and non-fiction but even that in the self-help category even it is if even if it is like nonfiction that are a variety of ways books are written. There are books which are purely storytelling and there are books which are instruction. So when you’re reading How to Make Make Friends and Influence People it’s a very instruction based book. And if you read The Alchemist it’s a story based book. So me I can work more with the instructional based book because I like systems I like structures but I would not mind a bit of story again I love stories. Yes. So 5AM Club is a beautiful combination of both. It has a beautiful story in the underlying. It keeps you hooked, like, what’s going to happen, what’s going to happen. And then there are formulas and structures and patterns. Like he’s done his research. There are graphs, stuff that you can follow. And I was waking up a drone sevenish, sixish, fiveish, before I was reading, while I was reading that. After I read it I think that was another motive for me. After reviewed you the book so many people came up to me said after viewing your video, we bought the book and now we’re waking up at five am. You can see the comments right. I was like, oh great. Wow. Every time I feel like you know if I was waking up one day, or a tailed to wak up or I had some kind of a night out. I would tell myself people are actually telling me that due to my review, they’re waking up. I have to put up my game. So the book has brought about so many things. I think it’s a great book.
Cath Anne [00:32:47] Amazing. OK. I’m definitely going to have to read it. It’s on my list. So. Yeah. And people should check out the review as well.
Sonali [00:32:58] Definitely.
Cath Anne [00:33:00] So we’ve kind of talked about this a little bit but speaking of those kinds of goals, you know, short term, long term goals. How do you keep yourself motivated? Is it intrinsic motivation? Is it something from outside that motivates you? Or is it a little bit of both.
Sonali [00:33:20] More on the intrinsic side I’d say. So whenever somebody asks me, “what keeps you motivated”. I see that it’s a really interesting question to ask where are you going to get a sneak peek into the head and how they think. I like to hear answers on that as well. So for me I always say that my ambitions are huge, huge ambitions. You know, if you see how operate on a day to day basis you’ll see that I do not indulge in any form of comfort things. Like I do not spend so much money I don’t have any you know kind of wishes or demands like that I’m a very minimalist person. I can go with small little things usual basic stuff but when it comes to my ambitions there are there like huge, huge ambitions like like houses and cars and everything but all that. It’s not only materialistic it’s more of purpose-driven. Like coming from a background of being a person who is this shy, this introverted and transferring from that like point A to B. Again I feel like there’s a beauty that I’m holding and there’s this kind of again it’s a kind of responsibility that I have towards the others, my peers, my juniors. And even it’s not only age oriented it’s more impact-oriented. I’ve actually trained people who are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s and even they’re kind of like in their shell just because they’ve not been trained. Nobody has handheld them out of their cocoon. So for me I want everybody every person on earth to know my purpose, to indulge in my purpose in any way, shape or form.
Sonali [00:35:02] And if you have an ambition so big. Like my mother has done so many things for me I want to buy her a big house. Like I have a sister she was like obsessed with the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I want to go and take her there. So it’s either like purpose driven. Sometimes I’m like alright I’m gonna go spend money, I’m going to invest in this because I have a house to buy my mom. I have you know I have to buy tickets for this tour for France. Do all of these things. So whatever gets you going and sometimes it has shocked them as well. So if I have a project coming up in the next three months I know what I have to do in these three months. So whether it is health-oriented or mindset oriented or just getting my work in the current projects done fast I need to pay attention to the short term goals as well. So in my opinion like I have like a desk in front of me right now. And then there’s a like a cupboard so I have like stick ons and pictures and like people is like more like a vision board kind of a thing. And I look at it and I get motivated. So for anybody who wants to stay motivated I’ve done everything, shape or form I have books, whiteboard everything. Whenever I look any place in inside my room at least I see something that’s kind of pointing it to me: like you can’t be lazy, you can’t waste time, you can’t waste money, because you have this purpose you’re walking towards. So get it up and work.
Cath Anne [00:36:34] So it’s definitely intrinsic. Do you have a process, like you’re saying you have your sticky notes, you have your whiteboard? This is something that we talk a lot about on the show some you know everyone has their different way of actually getting like so it’s one thing to have goals but then the tasks in between that. So how do you go about doing those daily tasks? Because sometimes those daily tasks can be mundane and people you know it’s one thing to have these big motivations and aspirations but it’s another thing to kind of do the work. So do you have any thoughts around that?
Sonali [00:37:12] Yeah, it’s a great question. So I’m like a planner. I like to break things down. Yeah. So I have weekly goals I have daily To-Do list. I have monthly,, yearly six month, three months all of my goals are aligned. They are done and dusted and every once in a month or every once in a couple of months I review them. Where am I standing? Is my day moving towards it? Am I like am I getting kind of late in the process? Am I moving towards the direction I’m supposed to move? And then on a day to day basis like the night before if I have a call with you today the night before I’m going to write down all the stuff that I have to do tomorrow. If it is like two or three things I can remember my mind. If not I’m a big-time advocate of writing things down you journal things, you write things down. The more you write the more you remember, the more you affirm that things are going to happen. And you know different things work for different people. Like I used to always joke that though the first employee of my company will be my PA because I keep missing called people back, responding to emails and I know those are important but my PA is going to take care of that. Whenever I’m doing this stuff I’m like it’s just a couple of months I’m going to get my PA very soon and he or she is going to handle that.
Sonali [00:38:31] My process is pretty simple. Just have a notepad for your to-do list, have reminders on your phone, sticky notes whatever works for you. And make sure you have something to keep you accountable. Sometimes it would be a movie, a treat or a night out with friends. A holiday you’ve been planning. Anything that keeps you motivated short term things or buying dress or a phone or anything that keeps you on and working towards it. Giving yourself some treats in the middle. I don’t think it’s a set learning process. You’re parenting yourself. Noone’s going to do it for you.
Cath Anne [00:39:05] Absolutely yes. It’s so important to have I think that those little rewards like you say are they’re small. They could be small like you say a treat or you go to a movie but the it’s important to do that.
Sonali [00:39:20] Absolutely. Absolutely. So very simple. For example if I have like a travel plan in the next say three months or four months and today if a couple of my friends are calling me for a night out or a party. The only thing that’s going to motivate me to say no to them are two or three factors. First I’m gonna miss out. I’m gonna I know this time kind of this time in a way if I have some work pending I am wasting time. As simple as that. That’s not a break that’s me wasting my time so it’s wasting my time. I’m wasting my money and I’m taking away money that I’ve saved for my travel expenses. When I travel I do not restrict myself. I go and eat and whenever and whenever I want. I do not care about this side of the menu card, not the prices I see over here. I do not indulge in any like I travel in Uber. I want my comfort or I stay in good places and good localities. I spend. I shop for my family. So if I want to indulge in all of that these little things have to be taken care of. So in your day to day, you keep yourself motivated. Hey, I have something coming up in the near future or by the end of the week. So right now if I want that treat, this is what I need to do.
Cath Anne [00:40:33] Can you tell me a little bit about travelling?
Sonali [00:40:36] Oh yeah. Yeah. I love it. So my parents have been immense travellers right. So I think I was very small when they start travelling they’ve been all around India and I remember being in cars and trains and planes all my childhood. Then as we grew up you know study pressure and good career pressure. So my parents had to kind of stop travelling. They give us more focus on the study part. And I remember that when I was growing up I was like I want to do something which again goes back to freedom. I’m a very freedom-oriented person.
Sonali [00:41:12] I want to do something where I can do, be, see, eat, whatever I do. I have to live my life the way I want without taking any permissions without thinking a lot. Planning super, super much. It has to be a very free flow of resources. So travel gives me that freedom and you get to learn so much. And for me, there are different kinds of travellers. They are travellers who only go to tourist places. There are people who actually want to stay in remote areas, know the culture. For me travelling is like a work-ation. Anywhere, my family says should we travel to this place, I’m like Okay, is there any event that I can go there, a conference or someone I need to meet over there. I don’t want to have a guilty trip that I’m here, but in my brain, I’m like well I’m not working I’m missing out on some time. So wherever I go I have some work. If I don’t have work I make sure I have some people to meet. And this year I’ve travelled to three to four cities. Wow. And I’m relocating to one city by the end of this month. So that’s going to be a whole different experience altogether. It’s great. Next year I have a plan of doing my first abroad trip. Hopefully it’s gonna be great as well.
Cath Anne [00:42:35] Where are you planning to go?
Sonali [00:42:39] I plan to go to California now. So I have someone I know there. She’s like pestering me to come. She was from India. Her and her family moved there and I telling her, “why don’t you come here because you are from here?” Like if you want to meet. You should come here. She’s like, nah, Nah. This and that. So finally like we’ve been planning for like 10 years. It has been 10 years. And I’m like listen you stay there.
Sonali [00:43:05] I say now, I’m going to come and meet you like it’s like you’re that lazy.
Cath Anne [00:43:13] California will be like you say it’ll be a work vacation. I’m sure you’ll meet some people or there might be an event happening. There’s always things going on in California.
Sonali [00:43:22] Absolutely. I really plan to like I’m going to start planning way in advance and start connecting with people. Just seeing, even if I don’t get to speak or at least I get to attend. I get to meet people, like the more people I meet the better it is for me.
Cath Anne [00:43:37] Absolutely. Oh that’s awesome. That’s really exciting. I’ve heard really good things I’ve had some friends that have gone to California and absolutely love it. So I’m sure it will be wonderful.
Sonali [00:43:48] I’m going to share all my experiences with you as well as well.
Cath Anne [00:43:51] We will definitely make sure to follow along. So just a couple of more quick questions and we will wrap it up here pretty soon. One is we have a lot of non-English speaking students that are following us and we’re currently trying to kind of work on producing a little bit more English language content. So I’m wondering if you have any advice. I know you do have a few videos on your channel about how to learn English. So my first question I guess it’s kind of a two-part question. My first would be: do you have any advice for students who are looking to learn English? And the second one would be: do you have any advice, I get this question a lot when I do the Live my life sessions on Instagram, which is do you have any advice around how not to think in your native language? Do you know what I mean? So, learning how to think in English so that’s a different question I guess.
Sonali [00:44:49] Right of course. So again like since I’m from India this is like a really big problem. The problem is it’s not only because of our native language is not English. It’s not because we don’t have enough English speaking people or schools or curriculum or learning experiences solely here. It’s because people are afraid. They’re scared. They’re scared to make mistakes. They feel like, oh like I don’t know it yet I have not learned it yet so I’m going to make a mistake and people are going to laugh and what they fail to understand or realize is that every person who was born who has been born and brought up in India none of us have started speaking English. When we were born we know how to talk but is not our native language. Forget the people who were outside of India. Indians outside of India forget them, but the people here even I’m not a native speaker. My native language is different. So I’m not perfect. I’m learning that’s number one. About thinking in English. It comes from listening. So since your native language is English or any native English speaker if you ask any kid before they join school proper education school before that they can at least speak a couple of sentences in English they can communicate. How did they know that you learn that by listening? Right. So I tell people you have to you have to put English inside your lifestyle. You have to read, write, listen, watch and very simply if you can just pick out a couple of songs put it in your earplugs start humming then start understanding the way they pronounce the words, the way the flow goes, you know and very simple things. Because if somebody teaches English like in a very formal manner that you know Z is not Z its Zee. A little bit boring. It has to be a bit interactive. Learning has to be experiential. You already always tell them you know start watching. The best advice I will give us like start watching Friends.
Sonali [00:46:53] Right. You know turn on the subtitles at first. Watch your watch one episode with the subtitles on. And watch it again because you’re not going to get bored. Watch it again with the subtitles off and then watch it again without any volume. Understand the body language, understand how they communicate. So, a lot of learning goes and it starts with understanding that this is just something you have to learn. First, there is no option. It’s the global language. All across India. Forget the world again, all across India. There are so many languages we speak so many languages. The only thing that binds us is this language in which the only thing, how we form relationships is via communication.
Sonali [00:47:34] If I can’t communicate with you I can’t I can form a bond with you. It’s done via English. There’s no way out, there’s no excuse, there’s no reason not to learn and you have to learn. And again each one of us has done it. What makes you feel you can’t do it. Just do it, just learn it up.
Cath Anne [00:47:53] No. That’s awesome advice. And I’m glad to hear that I’m on the right track because I don’t really you know I’m I’m a native English speaker so I can provide some support but those are kind of the things that I say to and a lot of people do say. Like you say it’s fear-based it’s people are nervous to speak English and make a mistake. But like you say I feel like English because it’s now a global language. It’s going to start shifting really rapidly and we’re all going to have the shared way of speaking. But I think it’s going to change. The language is going to change because that’s what language does. Over time it takes a while for it to change but we’re all going to have different ways of speaking. I’m from the East Coast of Canada and I have a maritime accent people you know if someone lives across the country they’re gonna speak different differently than I do. And I think that yeah like it is. It’s about learning the language and it’s about the communication process. So thank you so much for sharing that.
Cath Anne [00:49:02] So I think those where all of my questions for today. But did you have anything that you wanted to share? Before we jump off the call. This has been so amazing.
Sonali [00:49:13] Thank you so much. So I just want to say that I’m really impressed by the work you guys are doing though again I deal with the younger crowd: youth, students, kids. People who are super unheard of when then they’re making a lot of difference in the world. And their voices need to be heard. They need to get supported and again and it all starts with communication. It starts with the way you’re teaching English and I’ve not come across a lot many people who are native English speakers but actually helping other non-native people speak English. In India or in other countries where we have so many languages we tend to do that. But I think when the support comes from the source itself it’s really different the way you teach your language is going to be very, very different from the way we teach it. I’m sure I’m going to make a lot of mistakes when I teach because I don’t know the perfect way to do it because I’m also a learner at the end of the day. But that’s like embedded in you it’s your language the way you teach it is going to be very different. So I think what you’re doing is great. I think the scope is humongous and you know I’m sure a lot of people are benefiting and a lot more are in the loophole of benefiting too.
Cath Anne [00:50:31] We’re really enjoying the process. It’s been. Yeah well, I guess we’re just kind of responding to what the audience is asking for. So it’s been great and it’s been really cool to connect with people you know from Brazil from India from Iraq. Yeah, we really have an international kind of audience now which is really kind of cool.
Sonali [00:50:50] So of course definitely. And I think motivation when it comes from your end it’s going to affect a lot more versus the motivation which comes from my end. It’s gonna be a bit different of course. The dynamics are going to be different the way you connect and the way I connect it’s going to be different. Then the if you motivate someone and see that hey you’re speaking correctly. I think they’re going to get a bit of a bigger boost than if I say, hey you’re doing it correctly. They think I am giving them a sympathy vote. But if you would you say it, they gonna get oh I might actually be sounding correct.
Cath Anne [00:51:24] Right. But it is so true because I think like you say I think people are so hard on themselves when they’re speaking English and it’s important to just think of it as a tool for communication if you can get your message across. If you can speak in a way that I understand you’re speaking good English you know. So it’s yeah I think that’s thank you for that advice. That’s really, really helpful really.
Sonali [00:51:52] So I yeah. Before we end off I have a couple of add ons you can say.
Cath Anne [00:51:58] Yeah.
Sonali [00:51:58] Maybe we can think about that. So since you’re teaching the language it’s communication at the end of the day and maybe you can include something in the range of facial expressions. Voice modulation, body language, cultural differences, accent. You know put in a lot of flavors because if they only learn the language they might sound robotic. Yeah, they need to know how the voice is supposed to change up and down, their face, their hand movements, their body. It has to be a complete transformation. That’s kind of like my tip. You can say and suggestion.
Cath Anne [00:52:41] No that’s awesome. And I think I love the suggestion about watching Friends. I think that that’s such a good show to watch because it’s so like you’re getting the humor. You’re getting the drama of it. You know you’re getting like you say the body language and things like that. So that’s a really good tip as well. Great. Yes. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you so much. So is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Sonali [00:53:09] Well, I just that it was really wonderful communicating with you. I think it’s gonna be surprising for people when they see this video then they gonna to think that we have spoken before a couple of times. It feels so like we’re all across like from across the globe from one point to another. I can still feel the connection I can feel the energy coming it’s so warm, it’s so beautiful and it just feels it feels like home.
Cath Anne [00:53:38] And I agree with that.
[00:53:40] Using that example to make the people understand that you know I really am getting connected or I am rather connected to you again. It’s like a two-way process. I alone can do it. I think you’ve been so welcoming so wonderful. The questions the way you have added you are two pieces to my answers and the way the discussion evolved from one point to another it was just amazing. So I really want to acknowledge that fact and really compliment you on your work you know and everything this whole you know. Thank you so much for having me.
Cath Anne [00:54:10] Oh you’re so kind. Thank you so much. And you are doing such amazing work. You are. You are such an amazing speaker. Your energy and just your authenticity just flows out from you. So thank you so much for joining us. We’re so happy to have you and we’re so happy that you reached out. I think this is going to be so beneficial for our viewers. And like you say it’s just all about the purpose of sharing with other people. So in giving to other people so your that comes through in everything you do. So thank you. Thank you so much.
Sonali [00:54:49] Thank you so much.
Cath Anne [00:54:51] Well that’s wonderful so thank you so much. I guess we’ll end the call here. I’m sure we will. We’ll keep in touch. And I’d love to do some more work with you if we can in the future.
Sonali [00:55:04] Definitely and I’m looking forward to meet you in person super soon as well.
Cath Anne [00:55:08] Yeah. That would be great. Good. So thank you so much Sonali. Have a great day.
Sonali [00:55:16] Thank you so much. You too.
Cath Anne [00:55:18] Thanks.