Geerthana Uthayakumar Successfully Launched Social Responsible E-Commerce Brand Devi Wellness Company In The Midst Of a Global Pandemic

Geerthana’s journey into natural, homemade, bath and skin care began a couple years ago when she was on the search for products to nourish and balance her children’s sensitive, often dry, and eczema-prone skin. When she couldn’t find products that worked for her, she resorted to learning about ancient ingredients found in the Eastern parts of the world and age-old routines practiced by her ancestors.

What made you start the Devi Wellness Company?

When I shared my children’s natural skincare routine on my Instablog, I received a lot of positive feedback and requests to sell what I was using on my kids. I hadn’t really put any thought into selling or launching a small shop prior to then but once I had that encouragement it seemed like the perfect thing to do. 

I feel like this is the “Golden Age of the Creator Economy” where it’s never been easier to be a creator and monetize as a creator.  Would you say that this statement is accurate – has this been your experience?

I would definitely say that this statement is true in the sense that we are fortunate to have free apps like Instagram which we can utilize as a professional portfolio to showcase skill, talent, and essentially our work. As a content creator, just posting on Instagram has brought forth many opportunities and collaborations my way. As a small business owner, it has brought forth not only many customers but repeat customers in such a short amount of time. 

How do you manage your time between being a mother of 4 kids, homeschooling, blogging and managing your business?  

Finding a balance between all of the above has proven to be much more difficult than I had initially anticipated. My first and foremost priority are my young children so whatever time is leftover after making sure their needs are met, is what gets devoted to either blogging or the business. Planning everything in advance from meals and lessons to product launches and blog posts has helped me make efficient use of the time I do have. The reality is I hardly get time for myself, I simply cannot take on all opportunities that come my way, and I don’t have as much time as I’d like to devote to my small business. However, I take what I can get and make the best of it. 

How have your family and friends supported you through your journey?

My husband works long hours to support our family so that I could stay home with our children and my parents are still working. As a result I have very minimal access to physical help. However the support I have received from family, friends, and the Instagram community via encouragement through messages and shares has been vital to my success. 

I noticed that you’re a vegetarian which is something more people in general are trending towards.  What pushed you in this direction?

I have wanted to become a vegetarian since I was a child but I wasn’t able to persuade my parents until I turned 13. I could never justify the idea of an animal being raised, many times in poor, unethical, conditions, with the intention of being slaughtered for food. It just seemed very wrong to me even as a child. As a result, I have been a vegetarian for about 19 years now. 

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Sathish Muneeswaran Wants to Change the Conversation in The Tamil Community Around Strength Training, Fitness & Healthy Eating

Personal trainer Sathish Muneeswaran has been involved with sports and athletics for most of his life. His passion for fitness grew out of an interest in enhancing performance and preventing injuries. With a Bachelors of Honours in Kinesiology, Sathish has a deep understanding of anatomy, biomechanics and exercise physiology. Sathish’s training approach is grounded in strength training but also incorporates structural balance, bodyweight training and metabolic conditioning.  He firmly believes we should all strive to find our true potential and to become stronger than we were yesterday. He also believes that with a smart approach, along with some good old fashion grit and hard work, anyone can reach their goals.

You don’t see that many Tamil people that have impressive physiques, and you are one of them (your lat game is crazy).  Why are you so passionate about strength training (along with eating right, etc)?  

Appreciate the kind words sir! I would love to put all the credit to Amma’s curries but that wouldn’t be 100 percent true. I believe the passion truly began when I first started playing sports. I was always one of the top players in most of my teams except when I got to my senior basketball team and was not able to hang with the rest of them. They were all much more skilled than I was. I quickly realized that I needed to either be faster or stronger than my teammates in order to make the starting line-up. 

From then, I have never stopped. I fell in love with the pursuit of improving my mind and body through strength training and nutrition. Whether it was from Tamil Movies as a kid, or influence from role models around me, I always viewed being strong as a personality trait I wanted to be associated with.

My passion then grew to how can I provide this same sense of fulfillment to others around me.  I went on to study Kinesiology and become a Personal Trainer and a Strength/Conditioning Coach. I believe strength training is for everyone, and everyone should be able to know what it feels like to be capable. 

What are some common mistakes you see people make around training?

This is a loaded question as there are many avenues to consider. I would say there are 2 common mistakes that I see people making.

1. Prioritizing Intensity over Consistency 

When most people start their fitness journey, the usual pattern starts with high motivation and excitement. This usually leads to high intense sessions and extreme nutrition restrictions, which puts too much stress on the body too quickly. Often you will see people following approaches that are rooted in quick fixes and diet trends (Keto, Paleo, etc.) instead of following science-based approaches. I understand it is much more attractive to loose 30lbs in 12-weeks instead of 30lbs in one year, but the unfortunate truth is most people who use extreme approaches often gain it back once the time frame is done. Also, training with high intensity all the time usually can potentially lead to injuries which usually stops activity all together. 

Instead, I recommend clients to start initially with creating small habitual changes in daily lifestyle. Implementing simple strategies that are easy to stick to and have lasting changes. Starting with daily walks, morning mobility, and ensuring adequate amount of nutrition is met (often suggesting more protein). Every gym session does not need to be a hard one and the same goes with your nutrition.  It does not need to be extreme. The routine and diet that provides the best results is the one you enjoy doing and the one you can stay consistent with. The goal of fitness is to be sustainable. Consistency trumps intensity, and always yields results.

2. Training Muscles not Movement

The top goals most people have when starting are usually related to aesthetic goals (building muscle, losing weight, “toning” body). However, I believe this can be problematic if it is the most important goal you have. The unfortunate truth is that most physiological changes take a long time and building muscle isn’t an easy avenue. 

Instead, a different way to approach this is to consider training movements. There are 5 movement patterns that should be a staple in everyone’s training: Squat, Hinge, Push, Pull, Lunge.  As you become stronger in these movement patterns, you will notice the muscles that control it will start to grow. A perfect example would be myself – my favourite pattern to train is pulling and I perform a lot of pull ups, which is why my lats are so developed. Building your body is like building a house – before you start doing any decorating, you need to have a solid foundation. Big compound movements are your foundation. Single-joint isolation exercises are the decorations.

When I first met you playing basketball, weight training and eating right weren’t a big thing in a Tamil community.  I see this changing quickly – what do you think this is?

This is very interesting, and yes, I totally agree. I do think a big part of this has to do with being first-generation children: the struggles and priorities of our parents coming to a new country were more focused on becoming financially stable. Our parents constantly instilled in our heads, growing up, that wealth and education are the means to a successful and fulfilling life. However, as we reached these goals, (because we had no other choice haha) I believe we started to notice the decline in our well-being and also with our parents. Most Tamil parents, have many health problems, that I believe could have been easily prevented if they considered exercising more and eating better at a younger age. I do believe, we are learning from these mistakes, and much more people in the Tamil community are finding ways of making this a priority in their lives.

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Suresh Sriskandarajah, Lawyer, MBA Grad & Engineer, Overcomes Extreme Personal Adversity To Achieve Success

Over the course of his professional career, Suresh has held executive roles with various organizations, launched three ventures and mentored dozens of startups.Suresh Sriskandarajah is a lawyer at Suresh Law PC with a background in engineering and entrepreneurship. He completed his articles at boutique firms in the areas of corporate, technology and administrative law. Over the course of his professional career, Suresh has held executive roles with various organizations, launched three ventures and mentored dozens of startups. He has also worked for leading companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and BlackBerry. Suresh speaks English, French and Tamil.  Suresh has earned four prestigious degrees: Juris Doctor (JD) from Osgoode Hall Law School, Strategic Management (MBA) from Lazaridis School of Business & Economics, Electrical Engineering (BASc) and Liberal Studies (BA) from the University of Waterloo.

Anecdotally, I see a lot of inspirational stories like yours in the Tamil community.  Each person has been shaped uniquely based on their experiences during the civil war and being forced to immigrate to a new country.  How did this experience specifically shape you? 

Escaping the civil war in Sri Lanka and immigrating to Canada has been profound for so many Tamil Canadians. My experience of immigrating to Canada when I was 9-years-old made me not only appreciate the opportunities this wonderful country had to offer, but also the entrenched values of respect, dignity, appreciation and celebration of human life.

Your story is remarkable.  The fact that you are now a lawyer with your own law firm must have been unfathomable not too long ago.  Why made you persist for years with the Law Society of Ontario to get accepted?

My life experiences inspired me to pursue a career in law, so that many especially in the underrepresented communities have their voices heard in the halls of Justice. I set my mind to achieve this goal and worked hard, so that our lives are not whimsical but purposeful and beneficial for society. Like many great institutions in Canada, Law Society of Ontario is part of that heritage.  

Your criminal case was fairly high profile in the Tamil community (Article published by the National Post: “A man of good character: Law society answers whether a tiger can change his stripes”).  Did you feel supported by the community when you were going through this difficult time?

I am grateful for the support that I received from family, friends and the community to overcome the challenges that I faced. Many great friendships were forged during this difficult time and I appreciate the many who never wavered in their commitment to support not just me, but always willing to support many in challenging obstacles in life.

What do you think you learned the most about yourself during the experience of going to trial and the time you had to spend incarcerated?

Humans are enriched and moulded by life events. The solitary times brought in so much of ethical enrichment and strength to face challenges, which I made sure to share with those who are in similar situations with education and discipline to better their prospects in normalcy.

You are obviously a person who values education – as you have an impressive trio of degrees in engineering, law and an MBA.  Do you think these degrees will continue to hold value in the future?

Absolutely – a well-rounded education brings in a complete perspective of life and its potential. Education is never wasted but becomes a guiding light in putting together in forging a niche career with multidisciplinary expertise. Education combined with passion or interest can propel anyone’s career.

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Award-Winning Division 1 Basketball Player And Pre-Med Student Shayna Mehta Challenges The Notion That Brown Girls Can’t Ball

Shayna Mehta is a recent graduate of Brown University where she majored in Biology and played four years of NCAA Division-1 Basketball as one of their star players, modelling her game after Steph Curry. She won Ivy League Rookie of The Year award in the 2015-2016 season.

Growing up in a South Asian household (including a Tamil parent) where typically the focus is on academics versus sports, how did you convince your parents that you wanted to play sports?

I was fortunate enough to have parents that did not put up a red flag to girls playing sports as many Indian immigrant parents do. My parents have allowed me to challenge cultural barriers in athletics with their guidance. Growing up, my parents put me in various organized sports such as basketball, soccer and softball. But as my dad is a huge basketball fan, I ended up practicing and playing more basketball as we would go to our local YMCA and shoot around. Having his support as a basketball player at a young age drew me to the sport. With so few desi women athletes in sports to follow as role models, my parents support has been the key to my achievements.

How did you balance the demands of going to an Ivy League school, in a demanding program, with being a Division 1 player which has its own rigours in terms of time requirements?

Balancing a Division I basketball schedule consisting of 30-40 hours of practice, games, travel, film/scouting, weight training, and conditioning a week with a pre-medical academic course load had its challenges. It definitely was not easy! My resilience, focus, and ability to handle stress were continuously tested and refined as I adapted to life as a student-athlete. I learned time management skills, how to prioritize my tasks and to reach out for help when needed.

You’ve won a number of awards for your basketball play including Rookie of the Year in the 2015-2016.  A South Asian woman succeeding in a competitive league (Division League) must have turned a lot of heads since it’s probably something that most other players, coaches and fans don’t typically see.  Tell us about this experience and how you achieved this success?  

When I first came to Brown as a freshman, I remember just hoping to be able to get playing time in games. I never imagined being the starting point guard for a Division I basketball team. Being 5’6” and coming from an ethnic group not known for our athletic prowess, I was not recruited by many programs. I enjoyed being able to prove people wrong when unanimously winning the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award. This award was also special because I had torn my meniscus during my rookie season and underwent surgery in December, in the middle of the season. The fact that I was able to come back from knee surgery and win the award is something I am very proud of.

Becoming the 2nd all-time leading scorer at Brown University, the 11th leading scorer in Ivy League history, setting the record for most 3-pointers made at Brown, setting the record for most steals in a single season at Brown and garnering All Ivy League awards while leading my team to the first ever Ivy League Tournament has allowed me to defy expectations and surprise many.

You mentioned that basketball allows you to exhibit a creative side that most people don’t get to see and called it a “medium of expression” which I found interesting.  I’m a huge basketball fan and played it – but never thought of it from a creative point of view. Can you elaborate further?

As point guard you can be as creative as you would like with ankle-breaking dribble moves, no-look passes and Steph Curry-like shot selection. You can control the flow of the game, entertain the crowd and show your swag. 

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Australian Social Butterfly Swarnaa Rajalingam Is The Influencer Educating Thousands About Colourism, Disability Awareness And Mental Health

Swarnaa is super passionate about topics close to her heart including colourism, disability awareness, mental health and other issues considered to be taboo especially within a South Asian household.

You have a significant following on social media – how did you go about building the community?

Thank you, I’m truly grateful and thankful for this online community. I have been online creating content, connecting with people from across the globe, finding commonality in our struggles, in our experiences and also passion. I started off on YouTube and Instagram in 2014 and it’s been quite the journey. My content started off with me sharing vlogs of my lifestyle as a Tamil living in Australia. Many people from across the ocean were curious about Australia and it was nice to give them a small peek through my videos. Instagram made me look at content differently. I find solace in writing and I found a place to share my voice on topics that were close to my heart from colourism, disability awareness, mental health and other issues considered to be taboo especially within a South Asian household. As we didn’t have much representation at the time in mainstream media or social media I was able to grow a community of people who were able to relate to what I was talking about. 

What did you decide to call your account “Life of a Social Butterfly”?

I’ve always had a love for meeting new people, yearn to connect, hear their stories, be inspired by their experiences and build meaningful relationships. This has been a core part of me from when I was younger. So this led my friends to give me the nickname ‘The Social Butterfly’ in high school and consequently I decided to use the name as a username for my social media channels! 

You’ve mentioned your brother as a major source of inspiration.  For the benefit of people not familiar with your story – can you tell us why this is?

My brother’s name is Athavan, he’s 21 years old and he’s the baby, the king of the house and apple of our eyes.  21 years ago when my mother was giving birth to him, a medical mistake had occurred causing for him to be born with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is due to injury of the developing brain. My brother’s is considered low functioning so he is always with 24/7 supervision. He is my major source of inspiration as there is so much of life he has been robbed of. He can’t walk without our support, he can’t talk, he can’t bathe himself or eat on his own with us. Despite his challenges including the inability to express himself and not always have his needs met, he is so full of life.  He is one of the strongest people I know. With a cheeky grin plastered across his face, he’s taught me to appreciate the little things in life. We have to accept the cards we’re dealt with and make the most of what we have. 

You specifically highlighted a challenging time in your life where you were living a secret double life where you were battling mental health issues, disliking your degree and not being able to be open with your parents.  Can you talk a bit more about this experience?

My parents never coerced me into picking a degree and I’m extremely grateful for that. I went into Psychology thinking this would be a great degree for me to understand my brother better. However, the degree was not what I anticipated.  I also experienced a great deal of anxiety and depression that I was finding very hard to manage.  I had lost a large group of close friends, I lost the motivation to get out of bed and no matter how hard I studied, my mind always felt clouded. If I was a few minutes late to class, I experienced a great deal of social anxiety that would take over my mind and body which led me to missing classes, missing deadlines and I was drowning in my problems. I didn’t know where to go, where to start and I had a bad habit of brushing my problems under the proverbial rug. Mental health is not something that’s discussed openly in Tamil households so it was really hard for me to grasp what I was going through or speak about it with my parents. I started to think I was a really bad student, avoided seeing people in social settings and was trying to just sleep my problems away. Eventually my parents found out I had left my degree and had started working in a marketing and events role. This wasn’t the ideal situation but looking back I’m glad it happened. I was able to express to my parents to an extent of what I was going through and had told them I am going to switch my degree to something I am truly passionate about.  I just wanted a chance to restart my life. I couldn’t go into detail about the depression, anxiety, loss of friends but I explained I needed a change in scenery and working in marketing made me realise this was a degree I would truly love. I didn’t seek professional therapy at the time but I did make changes in my lifestyle by changing my physical environment, prioritising me, surrounding myself around people who genuinely cared about me, uplifted me and inspired me.  

There have been more people being outspoken about the impact of colourism within various communities including the Tamil community.  You’ve spoken about this in a few interviews including favourite phrases of parents including “Stay out of the sun!”, but can you describe how colourism has impacted you and how you plan to fight it?  How do you think we as consumers can make a company like “Fair and Lovely” cease to exist in the future?

Colourism is an issue that has plagued my life for as long as I can remember.  From a young age, I was told that I was the odd one out in the family, put in the back of the line in photos/productions/musicals as well as given back-handed compliments to sometimes overt insults really impacted my self-esteem growing up.  As a young, impressionable child I grew up thinking that since I was dark, I was automatically considered unattractive.  I felt like I didn’t deserve opportunities, that people wouldn’t like me or want to be, which all came with being dark.  I became obsessed with the complexion of my skin by the age of 12. I would spend hours researching videos and any content that would help lighten my skin. I constantly pondered questions like “What foods should I ingest?”, “What homemade face masks should I make?” and “What colours should I avoid wearing?”.   I used to be a carefree, athletic child who loved the outdoors.  I gave that up to stay out of the sun.  The criticism with my skin never escaped me as when I attended family gatherings, the first question that would be asked of me or my mother would be around how I got so dark.  “Karuthiteengal” to be exact. However, building this platform online and finding out that I haven’t been alone in my journey really facilitated my growth in the face of colourism. I started to share my journey and realise how wrong this was. How beauty and confidence, having self-validation and self-love has nothing to do with the colour of your skin. It’s about what’s within and it’s time we started educating those who believe otherwise. The first step to fighting colourism is continually pushing for awareness.   This includes sharing content online, running campaigns, sparking conversations in social settings, creating resources and showing support to other advocates doing the work in the space of colourism. I am currently working with a team on a Colourism documentary and written publication which will be exploring the experiences of those from different parts of South East Asia, Africa and Indigenous communities who have also experienced the wrath of colourism. At some point in our lives, many of us may find ourselves in positions of power. By raising awareness and challenging people to check their bias, we are pushing people to think twice about the decisions and choices they make when giving people opportunities. 

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Sathish Bala is a distinguished business leader in advertising and emerging technology. Motivated by innovation and creativity, he currently applies his insights and curiosity to enable entrepreneurial ideas, champion heartfelt causes, and mentor young professionals. Best known for creating high-performance agency BlueBand Digital and Canada’s largest South Asian music festival; DESIFEST as Co-Founder and CEO, Sathish has been a trusted strategic advisor to some of the world’s most admired brands. For 20 years, he collaborated, connected, and inspired brilliant talent to create award-winning and brand-building platforms for clients. He pioneered the development and launch of 3 digital companies, totalling $50M+ in sales with 150+ staff across 5+ countries.  He now works at the forefront of the Bala Group, a consulting and investment group focused on supporting early-stage startup founders. Sathish serves as a digital wayfinder, charting possibilities for promising companies and entrepreneurs. Sathish also supports Canada’s brightest student entrepreneurs through his work as an Advisor with various incubators and accelerators.

You seem like you have the same challenge as me because you have different projects you’re working on. If somebody asked you what you do, how would you respond?

Good question. While i have multiple projects/startups on the go, I tend to have ONE umbrella company that is the lead project. I am currently the founder of Bala Group Inc – a consultancy focused on helping early-stage tech startups get to market with clarity, product and sales. One of our companies is Schoolio – an education startup helping innovate the home education market. 

I’m sure the story starts when you were even younger (as it does with a lot of entrepreneurs), but I think it was the experience you went through BlueBand Digital and getting acquired that really kicked off everything else you worked on . Tell us more about that experience.  

I started my first while finishing computer science at Ryerson during my 4th year. I didn’t want to join the co-op program as I felt it would teach me anything for the future. I learned so much on my own that it became addictive. I am in the ultimate ‘self-help’ game and with each startup – good or bad, success or failure, I won with personal growth. So, when my 3rd company BlueBand Digital launched in 2007, I finally blended my creative side with my techie side into a perfect business model. When I sold the agency in 2017, I was no longer learning or growing. I was lucky enough to recognize that and get out before I got stuck in a routine. During the last year of BlueBand, I was really enjoying mentoring and helping other founders with their startups. Finding a place to share your experience, your scars and your skills as you get older is as important – and is my new addiction. How many other people in our community can I help achieve success?   What is the impact of having representation for the next generation to see?  These are the things I am exploring now. We need more leaders from the Tamil community to share and give-away their blueprint, network and, when possible, funding to help build the next batch of entrepreneurs. 

In addition to marketing & technology, I know music is a HUGE passion of yours and a big reason why you started DESIFEST. You’ve been running it now for 15 years, which is remarkable in age when I feel like working on projects for a long-time is almost frowned upon. What makes you continue to run this passion project of yours?  

The impact of DESIFEST on community development, empowering young people, and breaking down stereotypes fuels me! When we started 15 years ago, the world was much different – communities self-isolated. We divided ourselves by language, religion and country of origin. Being born in Tamil Nadu, moving to Singapore from the age of 3 to 14 and then arriving in Canada – Scarborough (1989), I need to figure out what culture meant to me. How to live in an east-west lifestyle? How to get along with strict parents who had their vision of MY future. So, yes, we are a music festival, but that was a way to bring the communities together – to have a deeper, more important conversation. 

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Dr. Harshini Sriskanda opened Star Kids Clinic in August 2019 – building it into one of the largest pediatric clinics in the GTA, while balancing the demands of being a mother to three active children.

What made you decide to become a doctor, specifically a pediatrician?  

After I graduated high school, I entered the Biology & Psychology program at McMaster University. I was good at the Sciences and I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Science, but I had no interest in lab work. I applied for and was accepted to Queen’s University School of Medicine and it was during my rotations that I found I enjoyed Pediatrics. I found it deeply rewarding to care for children and families and to help set a positive course for a child’s life. Children have a great capacity to heal and overcome challenges. As a community pediatrician, watching a child grow is one of the best parts of the job. I started practicing independently in 2015, and my first patients, who were newborns at the time, are now in kindergarten and starting school and I find this amazing. 

I have several friends who are now doctors and the journey is a long and demanding one.  How did your friends & family support you along your journey?  Did you ever want to give up?  If so, what made you push forward?

My parents supported me from the very beginning and provided me with absolutely everything so I could focus on my academics and my career. Later, my husband did the same – I would not be where I am now without them. I don’t recall a point where I ever wanted to give up, but the hardest time for me was at the end of 2011, after I went back to my residency training after taking one year of for maternity leave. We had our first child and this was the longest break I had ever had in studying or working in my iife. 

When I returned back to work, I felt out of sync with everyone around me, and no longer had the time after work to devote to studying or preparing for rounds for the next day. I wanted to be with my child, but also be a great doctor. I came up with a solution that still works for me 10 years later and helped me achieve balance in my home and work life, which is to spend my home hours with my children and family, go to bed early (usually falling asleep during my kids’ bedtime!) and waking up in the early morning hours to study, catch up on emails and prepare for the day ahead. 

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Losing his job due to COVID-19 was a low point for Arun, but he bounced back by creating something of his own in Pyxlfox (marketing agency) and KitchonApp (to help the struggling restaurant industry).

What made you decide to become a web designer?

As a child, I loved to draw, watch cartoons, and loved 3D animations. I studied 3D models, created animated drawings, and used to draw 3D sketches of human bodies. Originally, I wanted to become an animator and work for Hollywood in Pixar or any other movie production company, but I did not have enough financial support to explore this opportunity. So, I chose the next best thing for me, which was a designer.

What made you take the jump from working for somebody to starting Pyxlfox (services-based business) and then more recently KitchonApp (product-based business)?

I worked as a graphic designer for multiple companies over the span of 10-12 years. I did freelancing on the side but when I lost my job due to COVID-19; I made this my full-time job. I wanted to take this opportunity to make a name for myself and create my own branding. I wanted people to know me as Arun Prashad, the founder of Pyxlfox, and not Arun who works for someone else. I think Pyxlfox and KitchonApp have both given me some sort of recognition where people know who I am and what I am capable of.

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Arivozhi Adiaman, also known as Vozhi, is a passionate Tamil-American real estate entrepreneur, rap artist, and community activist. He is also the recipient of “425 Business Magazine, 30 under 30 award.”

Vozhi’s purpose is to build vibrant and encouraging communities, particularly around his ancestral identity, Tamil. As a deep lover of technology, Vozhi started his professional career by getting his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering in 2011. The next several years, he worked technical, and later managerial positions, with companies such as SAP, Microsoft, Accenture, and T-Mobile.

Always wanting to become self-sufficient entrepreneur, Vozhi found his lane by founding his real estate investing and consulting company, ‘VOZHI LLC’. Over the years, Vozhi and his team have quickly been able to establish themselves in the Seattle real estate investor community as trusted agents, partners, consultants, marketers and facilitators for various real estate projects.

You seem like you have the same challenge as me because you have different projects you’re working on.  If somebody asked you what you do, how would you respond?

I’m a real estate investor, rapper and a community builder. 

It’s not easy having multiple projects happening at once, but I do my best to categorize my brand into three main buckets: entrepreneurship, music, and community impact. Anything I give attention to gets prioritized within these buckets, and I just pick and choose the most pressing thing(s) I want to work on. Over the course of my journey, these three verticals have proven themselves to have complimentary effects towards one another, and I attribute that to the specificity of my mission statement:

 “Vozhi is a company that integrates real estate entrepreneurship with culture, music and technology to inspire positive change in the community.”

It seems like the first half of your career was a bit more traditional with stints at Microsoft and Accenture.  It looks like the last 2 years have been more entrepreneurial-focused.  What prompted the switch?

The short answer is that I always wanted uncompromised creative, and financial control in my life. 

I recall a while ago, before I went full time with my mission, I wanted to take time off between jobs. Then someone told me that the gap would “look bad” on my resume. Though this is a question I would’ve thought about differently in the past, at that particular moment I sincerely asked myself the question “look bad for who?” A deep reflection led me to realize that I don’t want to work for anybody who judged how and when I work. So I decided to not look for a job and pursued freedom instead.

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The son of two immigrant parents who taught him the importance of hard work, vision and the belief that nothing worth having comes easy- Dr. Ranjith Mahen owns and runs 2 successful multidisciplinary clinics in Ontario.

As the owner of 2 successful multidisciplinary clinics in the Durham region in Ontario (Durham Spinecare & Rehabilitation Centre), Dr. Ranjith Mahen says he’s been fortunate to care for more than 15,000 patients, helping them recover from injuries, chronic pain and improving their health naturally. He believes in the “one life” approach, giving back and having a massive impact on people.

When did you know you wanted to become a chiropractor and why? 

I knew I wanted to be a chiropractor in my first year of undergrad at the University of Toronto. I was studying kinesiology at the time and was looking at various healthcare professions that emphasized health education, fitness and sports. Chiropractic seemed like such a great fit given my background in playing competitive sports and my interest in healthcare. A classmate of mine got me thinking about Chiropractic. 

Back In 2006, many people didn’t really understand what Chiropractic was and it was very much a profession on the margins of healthcare.  What made sense to me about Chiropractic was the emphasis on the biopsychosocial approach to healthcare. Chiropractors take a holistic approach to health and use many manual therapy techniques to address pain and function. The idea of helping people improve their health with my hands was really appealing. Another reason I chose Chiropractic was because of my mother, who suffered from chronic back pain since her 40’s. She had very limited success with traditional approaches. I knew there was more out there and this passion to help her and others gave me that extra push to pursue the field. After being accepted and anxiously waiting to start school in just 2 weeks, my mother passed away suddenly. It was the hardest thing for me as a 22-year-old. I accepted she was gone, I rolled up my sleeves and then devoted my life to being a student of this profession and finding ways to help others just like her.

What made you decide to open up your first clinic (instead of continuing to work for others)?  How did you decide on opening up subsequent locations?

After graduating from Chiropractic, I worked as an Associate for a busy clinic making ends meet. After 9 months there, I decided to take the leap and start my own practice. I had used those 9 months to learn everything I needed to run a practice from the back-end admin work, billings, insurance, accounting and all day-to-day tasks of running a clinic. I was tired of making a fixed income and working crazy hours. I had a waiting list of patients and was marketing to bring more patients into the clinic. I knew it was better to start sooner than later and having the confidence I had built up in those 9 months really helped. After 5 years of practicing at my primary location, I opened my second practice. The need for the second location was based on the extra space needs and meeting the demands of our growing community.    

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