Apurva Purohit is the president of the Jagran group and the writer of the novella, Lady, You’re the Boss. This is not her first book, however it is a sequel to her Lady, You’re Not a Man. Her first book received accolades for her guidance to younger girls who after getting married are unable to continue with their careers. The self-help book gives ways in which a working woman can manage both and survive as a professional. It talks about the issues faced by women in the work space because of their gender. And the biases they have to overcome.
Her second book is for slightly more senior women and their transition into leadership roles.
Apurva believes that every woman has a path ahead for themselves, which can seem difficult to handle by being a mother and a wife. Her only advice to this is that when the battle seems so immense, one must persevere. One quality she says that is essential for one to make something out of themselves is perseverance and not giving up the fight while you’re at it. “So many women minimise themselves because of what they are taught from the beginning. Parents want their sons to maximise themselves and are lauded for their achievements. While women are told to be quiet, not put red lipstick on, and not voice their opinions. Our environment does all of this, and we should not fall for it,” she adds.
In a recent conversation with Shaili Chopra, founder SheThePeople.TV, Apurva Purohit talks of women and women in leadership positions. Read on.
Tackling the imposter syndrome
“I was studying in IIM will all these talented people around me. All of them were from IIT, and I was a non-engineer. I often thought I don’t deserve to be here and because of this underperformed. However, when I realised that I too gave the tough entrance test, that I deserve to be here, then only I started performing optimally. It took a lot of self-talk and encouragement. But now I can safely say that circumstances do not pull you down, the imposter within is diminishing you.” added Apurva. “The only way to tackle is by looking around you. Knowing that it happens to so many of us, and then realising that you’re not alone. A whole lot of self-talk goes into it and having positive people around you who support you makes it easier.”
“Men are still considered to be primary citizens in the world. In society, we are women who are privileged but still suffer from this feeling to be needed whereas men do not. We feel good about it when we are appreciated and there is nothing wrong with people wanting to recognise you. However, then a woman just becomes satisfied in feeling needed. Our individual growth is hampered and the desire to feel needed overwhelms.”
Women must understand that leadership or parenting is not a popularity contest. Some tough calls need to be taken to be a leader, and women often fail at this because they want to be liked. They then have to choose between being liked and being ambitious.
How to tackle stereotypes
While men are faced with stereotypes such as being the primary breadwinner, the decision-maker, etc., women are either categorised as bitches or bimbettes. A man is simply a leader when he is giving instructions or orders to be followed, while a woman is bossy for the same. These stereotypes box women into roles, such as mother, seductress or pet. And then women start playing to this stereotype only to be part of a gang, and not be an outsider.
“This reminds me of an anecdote with my mother. I have always loved my mom, and she has always supported me, so when I wrote my first book, it was ‘To mummy’. My mother later pointed out why I had not used her name instead. This taught me that women often remain addendums, playing roles of wives, daughters, sisters and not themselves. So it is time to regain our individuality and not be just Mrs. so and so,” added Apurva.
Rapid fire round
- When being asked who her biggest supporter is, Apurva answered most candidly that it is her mother who has taught her everything and never differentiated between her and her brother.
- She continued to say that she has no specific role model and the ‘everyday women’ inspire her for their multi-tasking and zeal to balance life.
- The role which she has not been able to reconcile with is the concept of Bhabhiji, which she amusingly said is absurd to her.
- To match the wavelength of her team members as a leader, she ensures that she stays up-to-date with all the technology and is willing to learn.
- The personal challenges she has faced are what other ordinary people face. Often, she is told that she must have got many opportunities. To which she disagrees and says that she has worked hard to get those opportunities in the first place.
- Writing her book has been a cathartic experience for her as she has always taught her team through stories. Thus, every instance in the book is a lesson from her personal life. Her writing style is disciplined, and the difficulty of writing 55,000 words could only be overcome by writing anywhere. Most of her book is written during her flights.
- Her latest buy is Utopia based on universal basic income and a vintage edition of poetry by old English poets.
Her advice to women
Statistically, there are 13.8 million single women in India alone. Purohit believes that single women are always at the forefront of any feminist movement because they have not chosen the conventional path of marriage. They face more biases than even married woman and thus, this attitude against the norms makes them not settle for anything other than who they are. She feels that such a spirit should exist in all women. Building an ecosystem for women to pull each other up, where the sisterhood supports them and asserts to them that their choices are valid, is most important like what SheThePeople is doing.
As a disenfranchised woman, a manager and even a leader, Purohit adds that women need a reliable team to be an efficient leader who voice different opinions which are taken into account.
As a disenfranchised woman, a manager and even a leader, Purohit adds that women need a reliable team to be an efficient leader who voice different opinions which are taken into account. Equally, as a woman, we need to unlearn what we’ve been taught over the years and change our socialisation. She emphasised on the need of voicing what you want, be it your food choices, to your goals in life.
The conversation opens up
On being asked by Zeba about what steps to take to take tough calls, Apurva answered most candidly that practice is essential. Start with the little things she said and then move towards the bigger things in life. Taking a stance once in a small matter can give you the confidence to stand for yourself next time when a more significant issue comes through.
Kiran Manral’s question about tackling the imposter syndrome, made Apurva affirm that it is not an easy task. And that it comes back to you after every milestone. However, the world cannot help you since it’s an internalised problem which needs constant self-talk. To which she added that self-talk means not talking about things which they did poorly. It is instead concentrating on their strengths and repeating it to yourself until the blocked reality becomes one’s living reality.
In the end, Apurva Purohit busts the myth of women not liking other women. She narrated her personal experience of women around her always supporting her, be it her mother, her colleagues, her bosses or her employees.
In the end, Apurva Purohit busts the myth of women not liking other women. She narrated her personal experience of women around her always supporting her, be it her mother, her colleagues, her bosses or her employees. She asserted that women should not subdue their ambitions to fit in and should make their voices are heard.
Saumya Rastogi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV