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Making others feel ‘Spa’-cial

September 1, 2009

Knotted muscles relax, knitted eyebrows unfold, and a sigh of relief looms around when we enter a Spa. Imagine how it would be if you have to spend your life there!

These days, with the growing number of affordable spas, more and more people are of availing their services.  Similarly, everyone wants to look and feel their best. Thus, the market for spas has risen to a new level in recent years with a profound shift toward more holistic health and beauty. Beyond just a normal massage, more women and men are looking for a time-out, an escape and an opportunity to treat themselves. The spa and beauty industries have become an antidote to the fast-pace lifestyles of the information age. Especially in India, the boom of ayurvedic treatment has truly kindled the spa industry.

All this translates into incredible growth for spas. The spa industry is booming like never before, making today a great time to join the industry. So, if you are people-person and love to pamper others, then you should think of exploring this industry. The beauty of this business is that you can open a spa wherever you live. In fact, even if you live in a scenic small town, most likely your clientele would be city people who are tired of living with the smog and traffic. This could be a strong selling point for your business.

But it is not that easy to fulfill your passion of opening up a Spa, as it involves a lot of investment and also research. Unless you have enough money to create your dream Spa and hire enough experts, (from consultants to a great Spa Director to all the technicians you will need), you will probably have to be the Owner/Director or Owner/Technician. This requires you to make sure you set yourself up for growth and replacement of you in your technical capacity. You are planning to avoid feeling as many owners do; exhausted, disappointed, frustrated, and wondering why did you become a Spa owner at all. If you believe this is your passion and that you have what it takes to be one, then ensure your success and your sanity by taking the time to set up your foundation the right way. Would you build a house without planning, creating blueprints, agonizing over designs, fixtures and cost? Same with a Spa, you shouldn’t own one without studying, analyzing, planning, creating, setting it up as a ‘real business’ with policies and procedures, business plan, marketing plan, standard operational procedures, job descriptions, and retail campaigns, etc.

Before starting up a Spa, read some books, attend some lectures, be a part of some association related to Spa industry which can guide you on the same. This industry is different, has a different history and it is forever evolving. The more you know the better equipped you will be for success. However, knowing and doing are two different things; we need to learn and we need to execute the lessons learned; we need to recognize our strengths and our weaknesses; we need to use our talents fully and find expert help to compensate what we don’t know. Above all, we need to be passionate about our dream!

So, what are you waiting for? Do something ‘Spa’ – cial today!


From Databases to Wine – The story of Rajeev Samant

August 31, 2009

We’ve all heard stories where someone leaves their job in a big multinational, to pursue his / her dream. One such person, who left his career to pursue something which he wanted is the CEO of now famous Sula Vines, Mr. Rajeev Samant.  He left his job as a manager with Oracle and came down to India. He tried his hand at farming, on some land which his father owned, at Nasik. This experience lead to the realization that the land and the climate of Nasik was immensely suitable for growing Grapes. A little research quickly showed that the Nasik climate was not only perfect for wine grapes, but was also on par with wine growing regions in Spain, California, and Australia. His determination doubled, Rajeev returned to California in search of a winemaker. In Sonoma County he found Kerry Damskey, an eminent Californian winemaker, who enthusiastically agreed to help start a winery on Rajeev’s 30 acre family estate.

In 1997 the first step was taken, the duo of Rajeev and Kerry planted French and Californian varieties. Now this was a first in India and history was in the making!

The first Sula’s released in India in 2000 were hailed as the best white wines in the country. Since its inception, Sula has rapidly established itself as India’s leading premium wine brand, helping spark a wine revolution that has seen consumption grow at 25% annually and several new wineries come up in the Nasik area. So much so that in November 2002, Wine Spectator – the world’s No.1 wine magazine – did a five-page feature on Sula, a proud first for an Indian winery!

Despite a great deal of initial resistance – the wine business in India was practically nonexistent, and getting a winery license was difficult – Rajeev’s dream to craft good wine in India has quickly become a reality. In fact this has sparked a wine revolution with wine being available on the shelves of many departmental stores these days.

In a way, Rajeev Samant has become the face of this Wine Revolution taking the country by storm, a guy form Oracle who could have decided to stick with his regular job and made a tidy sum of money there as well, is now doing what he was passionate about and changing the face of the Liquor industry in India, doing something which was almost unheard of about 10 years ago.

A small idea has changed the drinking habits of an entire nation. Wine, which was thought to be the drink of the rich and elite, is available to anyone who wishes to buy it. An ideal example of what passion can do and why you should follow your heart!

Sanjeev Kapoor – the Master Chef!

August 31, 2009

Cooking may be an everyday activity for many of us, but is it something we love to do? Not really! A few, though, think of it as their calling. One such person, probably the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine, is Sanjeev Kapoor.

Chef extraordinaire, cookery show host on Zee TV (which has been winning the ‘Best Cookery Show’ award given by the Indian Television Academy year after year ever since its inception in the year 2000), author of best-selling cookbooks, restaurant consultant, architect of an unique range of food products and winner of numerous culinary awards – titles are manifold for this dynamic and proactive chef. Sanjeev Kapoor is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the best cuisine in the world. Mr. Kapoor owns 10 restaurants all over India, under his brand The Yellow Chilli and other restaurants named Khazana and Options in Dubai and again Khazana in Qatar.

Recently, he has been busy designing a brand new menu for Singapore Airlines. Also, he has been working on a new venture called Wonderchef for which he has trained a group of women to market a new range of imported kitchen accessories that he has handpicked from all over the world. To add to this, he is also in the process of finishing his new cookery book for fussy children.

Several thriving endeavors have not kept this man away from pampering his passion as a creator of culinary works of art. His passion and skills have found its expression in the numerous bistros to which he has granted his know-how and franchise, each one bearing his personal stamp of authenticity and brilliance. As a restaurant consultant, he has granted his franchise to a number of restaurants both in India and abroad which have all been very well appreciated.

To quote Mr. Kapoor, “It (cooking) is my first love and I will always have time for it!” Little wonder that he does his television show Khana Khazana on Zee TV completely impromptu. In an interview he had revealed, “I never prepare for my show. I’ve given a list of about 200 ingredients to my producer which he keeps available for every shoot. And I think up my recipes as I go along, before the camera. I have found that this is the best way to keep the show spontaneous and my adrenaline flowing even after so many years of doing Khana Khazana. I like to think on my feet.”

Keeping his dream alive, isn’t he? More power to Sanjeev!

Shaheen’s ‘Akanksha’

August 29, 2009

Young, luminous, dynamic… just some of the adjectives you could use to describe Shaheen Mistry. These days, when people prefer to settle abroad for financial security, Shaheen stands out as someone who did exactly the opposite. She essentially gave up a comfortable life in the U.S. to run a school for Indian children living in shanty towns in Mumbai and Pune.

Shaheen Mistry, an alumnus of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, is the mastermind behind the Akanksha Foundation. She started it in the year 1989 when she was visiting her grandmother in Mumbai. In India, she realized the need for education among the poor section of the society. She started the Akanksha Foundation with the vision to one day give children from all strata of society the following things: education, skills, and most importantly, Character which they would need to lead empowered lives. Akanksha works primarily in the field of education, addressing non-formal education through the Akanksha centre and also formal education through the Akanksha Schools.

Most of her childhood was spent in foreign countries. Her father, being a banker, had done stints in Lebanon, Greece and Indonesia, besides U.S. and Britain, and all this drew Shaheen Mistry to her roots. To quote Ms. Mistry, “I’ve always volunteered with kids with some kind of problem or the other, largely kids with disability, wherever we lived. I thought whatever I did in India would be more meaningful.” She, therefore, decided to take a year’s leave from Tuft and see for herself if her plans to remain in India worked out. Eventually when Akanksha was born, it was built as an informal college project to educate 10 children in one slum in Mumbai. Now it is a recognized NGO, educating 1,500 children in Mumbai and Pune. At present, the organization has an annual budget of a little over $180,000.

In the year 2007, Shaheen embarked on a movement called ‘Teach for India’.  The movement was established when a group of individuals working to reform education in India came together to seek an innovative solution to ending educational inequity. Here’s what Shaheen has to say about this, “We believe that every child has immense potential and that it is only our belief and skill in enabling them to get there that limits the realization of this potential”

Shaheen Mistry and her folks are indubitably doing an incredible job! But this is only possible because of her conviction, faith, and passion to attain her ultimate goal!

Retirement – The World’s Best Job

August 29, 2009

When your passion becomes your job, work becomes matter of the past. That’s when you know, you have THE WORLD’S BEST JOB! Yes, this is what we believe in and is the concept for our new website


We believe that retirement can be the most beautiful phase of our life, when we can do what we want to do with all our passion – be it dairy farming, opening a book store, being a magician, an astrologer… the list is endless. But it is very important to remember that every passion has a cost attached to it. In addition, there is the cost of maintaining your current lifestyle post-retirement.

We at ICICI Prudential will help you identify your passion and also calculate and plan your financials accordingly. In our retirement calculator section, you can essentially key in details like Current Age, Retirement Age, Current monthly expense, Current cost of passion, etc. and get to know the exact amount of investment that you have to do for fulfilling your passion after retirement.

On the website, the most interesting section is the Experience section, where you’ll find a number of passions that you can take up and details about those. Here we have listed careers like business consultancy, sports, creative talents, nature and environment, food, teaching and education, adventures, etc. Within these broad categories, you can find sub-categories of career options. For instance, within business and consultancy, you can find bookshop owner, restaurant owner, boutique owner, etc.

The other interesting section of the website is the Myth Buster, which is again an interesting section where we have tried to bust certain myths that we all carry with us. For instance, we may say “I am too young to plan for retirement.” The Fact, of course  is “It’s never too early to plan for your retirement. The sooner you start, the more you can earn post retirement.”  Likewise, you can also find other such myths listed here and corresponding facts.

So, now if you are planning to follow your passion after retirement (and you most probably are) you know where to look!!

So you want to be a Yoga Instructor?

August 28, 2009

These days, even getting a few minutes of relaxation a day is a luxury. From small kids to adults to older people, everybody seems to be stressed out. Kids have huge syllabi to study, adults have their personal and professional responsibilities, and old people are stressed because of their health problems. So is there a remedy to all this? There is, and its not really new. Yoga!

In India, yoga has been practiced since ages, but unfortunately it got its popularity only when westerners eulogized it for its benefits. People all over the world are taking to yoga for keeping themselves healthy and fit. Be it Hollywood, bollywood actors or the common man, they are all drawn towards it. Hence, many people are taking up yoga as a career option in order to pass on their learning to others.

Yoga can be taken up as a full-time career as there is a lot of scope across the world for yoga. These days many people go to a studio or classes to practice yoga or have a trainer come over to their home to teach them. Even big companies, schools, hospitals, colleges etc. seek yoga trainers for their staff. Yoga instructors are in great demand and if one is committed to it, then it can be financially lucrative as well.

But there are certain skills that need to be developed to become a yoga instructor. You need to understand the philosophy of yoga. There are deep lying philosophies that go on to give it a holistic effect. You can get oneself trained under some experienced yoga instructor or can enroll into institutes providing this training, which will certify you as a qualified Yoga instructor.

Once you are through with the course and have this certificate to back you, the next step could be becoming a part of a premium yoga institute as a trainer/teacher. There are several schools that include yoga training within their curriculum. You can always apply for the post of a yoga teacher in one such school. These days there is also a high demand for effective yoga trainers with the various NGOs. You can opt for a full-time engagement with them or can get employed on a part-time basis, so that you are free to run your own yoga studio.

Empathy, sensitivity, and a caring nature are equally essential for being a yoga instructor. So what are you waiting for? If you have these skills, then you know what to take up! Being a yoga instructor, you will not only help others remain calm and peaceful but you’ll also feel tranquil every day of your life!

Sudha Murthy – Not lost behind Murthy!

August 28, 2009

Choosing a career or living one’s dreams is still not considered that easy for a woman…  especially in India. Lot of things come in the way – parents, husband, children, and responsibilities. In this blog, we will be witnessing a woman who has lived her dreams even with all her responsibilities. Now, isn’t that commendable?!

Sudha Murthy, a B.E. in Electrical Engineering from the B.V.B. College of Engineering & Technology and M.Tech in Computer Science, is an Indian social worker, an accomplished author, and a teacher. She is known for her philanthropic work through the Infosys Foundation. She was also the first woman engineer to be selected in Telco (now Tata Motors), Pune. An electrical engineer turned teacher turned philanthropist turned author! Now, this is beyond praise!

Recently, she wrote a brilliant piece, in which she says, “Have I lost my identity as a woman, in Murthy’s (Mr. Narayan Murthy, the non-executive Chairman and Chief Mentor of Infosys) shadow? No, I might be Mrs. Narayan Murthy. I might be Akshata and Rohan’s mother. I might be the trustee of Infosys Foundation. But I am still Sudha. Like all women, I play different roles. That doesn’t mean we don’t have our own identity. Women have that extra quality of adaptability and learn to fit into different shoes. But we are our own selves still. And we have to exact our freedom by making the right choices in our lives, dictated by us and not by the world.” How thought provoking!

It’s her passion and commitment to use what she has been blessed with for the benefit of others that keeps Sudha Murthy ticking. Very few are aware of Sudha Murthy’s achievements. She has many accolades to her credit like the most precious ‘Padmashri award’.

Sudha Murthy gave up her career after she had children not because her husband had asked her to but because she felt that Mr. Murthy’s dreams encompassed not only himself, but a generation of people. But this didn’t stop her from fulfilling her zeal. Though she stayed back, she didn’t sit back and do nothing. She pursued her writing career and authored around 92 booksin various Indian languages. Gradually, when the children’s dependence on her became less, she got into social work and single-handedly evangelized the move towards corporate social responsibility. She has worked almost for a decade to change the lives of children in the heart of rural Karnataka by giving them access to food and education.

Mrs. Murthy loves to travel around the world and she does that without being assisted by her husband (Mr. Murthy hates to travel!). She also goes out for movies with her students and secretary every other week. Mrs. Murthy had said in an interview, “I am still young at heart. I really enjoyed watching ’Kaho Na Pyaar Hai’; I am a Hrithik Roshan fan.” 😀

Mrs. Murthy might have given up her career for her husband but that didn’t stop her there. She made choices that are effective in her life and that is the very reason that she is still enjoying her life to the fullest! To quote her, “when a woman gives up her right to choose for herself, that is when she crosses over from being an individual to a doormat.”
How true! Not only women but it is true for everyone. Once you start choosing for yourself then nothing can stop you from being successful, independent, and happy!