Interview with Akshat Shrivastava
Communication and Public Speaking Coach
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey with us?
I completed my BTech from Amity University, Jaipur in 2013 and got placed in Wipro Technologies. I went to Bangalore with the hopes of making it big in IT industry, but just after a year, I understood I had no future as a software engineer. I did not enjoy coding or running software in any way. I felt that I had wasted these many years pursuing something I had no passion for.
I wanted to be in front of people. That’s what I used to do in college. Rather than focusing on studies, I was all-in for organizing events, leading teams and hosting programs. So, after an year in IT industry, I started looking for front-end jobs, where I could talk to people all day and not to a computer. I used to get rejected at every such job because they demanded an MBA degree. I neither had resources, nor interest in pursuing MBA. I was tired of getting rejected and of what I was doing.
It was during this time, a friend of mine started a business and asked me to join him. I enthusiastically started working with him part time. In one year, I had lost so much money that I had no idea what the hell I was doing. However, something in me asked me to carry on. Over next two years, things changed! I traveled around 4 countries and made some decent money.
Even though things looked pretty good on the surface, deep down things were falling apart. I was working 14-16 hours a day, travelling on weekends and had no proper diet, schedule or exercise. It took a toll on my health. I realized that I had gained 18+ kgs in last 2 years. Also, my family was super angry with me as I had no time for them. Even though I felt successful, I was miserable.
In 2018, I couldn’t take it anymore. I left everything and moved back to Bhopal, my home town. I spent one year recovering my health. Once again, I was clueless of what I should do. It had been more than half a decade of failures.
I explored many opportunities in my city, but could not find anything meaningful. By this time, I had understood that I need to work on something where I can balance my health, wealth, family and social life.
I was speaking at non-profit organizations and events in Bhopal just to explore things, meet people and possibly feel better about a terrible career I had had. It was during this time that someone observed my talent for speaking and training. They invited me to speak at their institute. Slowly and steadily, more people started inviting me. Soon, I was training people as a profession. I also found my first contract from an MNC.
In 2020, things turned off again. The pandemic hit and my contract was taken back. Trainings and events industry had taken a back seat. Some of them moved online. So, I decided to start fresh and start training digitally. I learned from some of the best people in the industry. It has been more than an year since, and things seem to go smooth one more time.
In last 10 years, I’ve tried and failed so many times I can’t possibly tell in a short interview. Most of the time, I did my best and still I failed. All of those failures were very bitter when they happened, but today when I look back, I realize that each and every failure took me to the next level of growth. I have so many stories to tell, so many skills to teach and so many people to inspire. This is what keeps me going.
Q2. You are a computer engineer then what did attract you towards to become a Communication and Public Speaking Coach instead of any IT job?
I did not choose my career; my career chose me. I had never thought that I would be where I am today. I feel it is all destiny and there is a grand plan for each of us. All I can say is that I enjoy being a coach more than being a computer engineer. I connect better with people, than with software. Also, I see better career opportunities for me being a coach. However, I would still say that there are forces of universe that are bigger than our desires and choices, and those forces want the best for us.
Q3. You worked in Toastmasters International club at different position for many years. What was your experience and how it helped you to become a good coach/speaker?
Toastmasters had been one of the best experiences of my life. I received lot of appreciation, respect and love from a lot of people around the world. This is what led to a better self-esteem. Toastmasters came in my life when I had failed miserably in life. I was broken, and people at Toastmasters built me up. This high self-esteem led me to try one more time. This time as a coach and speaker. As far as I can see now, I am doing good. If it was not for Toastmasters, I don’t know what I would be doing in life.
Q4. People say that Communication Skills come in any person by birth. Is it possible to develop it by learning?
Whoever said that found a very good excuse to not learn. It is a big myth that communication skills come from birth. My communication skills were terrible when I was a teenager. Today, I speak to people around the world on a regular basis. Anyone can do that with right guidance and experience. If you wish to polish your communication skills, feel free to reach out.
Q5. What other skills would you recommend in order for people to grow their career?
Yuval Noah Harari is called the smartest man on Earth. He is the author of bestselling book Sapiens. In one of his books, ’21 lessons for 21st century’, he said that the speed at which everything is being automated, the jobs that exist now might not exist in 20 years. Things are changing faster than ever. Earlier, people used to spend their entire lives in one job. Today, we change multiple professions in a life time. So, if you wish to make sure that you have a job in future, you need to learn something that artificial intelligence or machines cannot do. He calls these skills as the 4Cs – Communication, Creativity, Collaboration and Critical thinking. No matter what you learn or don’t learn, don’t miss to master the 4Cs.
Q6. Tell us about one of the moments which changed your perspective towards life?
There are many actually, but if I have to talk about one, it would be my experience with a man who used to be my inspiration. If you meet him, you’ll feel that he is living an incredible life. He drives an Audi Q3, travels business class and makes about INR 6Cr every year. There was a time when I wanted to be like him, but when I got to know him personally, I found out that I’ve not met a more miserable man than him. He is constantly worried about business, can’t spend quality time with family, his health is falling apart and has terrible self-esteem. It was then I realized that things are not always as they seem. I need to stop envying other people because I don’t even know what challenges they have in life. God has given different things to different people, and I need to be thankful for what I have.
Q7. What do you want to achieve in your life and what are your interest?
My only goal in life is to live a balanced life. As long as I can strike a balance between Health, Wealth, Family, Profession, Spirituality and Social life, I feel I am living my best life. I’ve observed if one thing goes extreme, it creates a lot of chaos.
My interests are in spirituality, reading, and travelling.
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