What I’ve been up to: Ishita update 2016

It’s been a lovely, full, exhausting year.

I know I’m capable of living a big life and handling a lot, but 2016 put that to the test.

This year the pendulum swung from adventures and travel – lived in Thailand for two months, taught 200 girls confidence, swoon-worthy road trips – to things that confronted me to my core:

    • Family – specifically healing my relationship with my parents from the root. I’ve accepted some things and can *almost* surrender the rest, but there’s work to be done yet.
    • Health – taking care of my own and my family’s.
    • Society – decades of Indian cultural conditioning that continue to do damage, particularly to women. I’m *somewhat* immune because I’ve had my own GPS since I was young, but that’s not true for the people I love. As a feminist, for the first time “patriarchy” was more than just a word; I saw and felt it every day. It’s REAL. It is Ew.
    • Stress management – how I ran my business and my mom’s without losing my mind. Yeah right! I lost my mind all day err day.
    • Mental and emotional health – I rebuilt my self-care practices this year.
    • Healing my heart – I’d experienced this one before, but soul-level partnership meant new soul-level healing.

2016 also took the notion that I’m all about my career and threw it in the trash. Like one of my favorite memes:

[Mine never goes in the trash. I love KFC coleslaw something FIERCE]

My concerns went beyond me as an individual, and now that we’re near the end of 2016, I’m still integrating, healing, and expanding, but one thing’s for sure: I am not the same woman I was last year. Not at all.

I’ll write about each phase since I learned from each one, and while it’s scary to share, it’s scarier NOT to. When I share, I try to keep it real. It helps me make sense of things so I hope you find it useful, not gratuitous. In my own life, when someone’s chosen to intentionally share it’s often changed my life, not just subtly improved it. So keep what hits your core, chuck the rest with the coleslaw.

To kick us off, here’s what I’ve been up to in the last four weeks:

Early this month I wrapped up managing my mom’s medical practice. Since 2012, I managed it from NYC with a consultant on the ground. When I moved to Detroit, I took over the role in person. I made lots of mistakes; a real office with real people is the opposite of me sitting at my laptop. But I learned fast. I hired employees at all levels (could write 30 posts on this alone), oversaw operations, built systems from scratch, built a reputation, created marketing materials, learned how to work with family (aye) and built professional relationships over handshakes, not email. Three weeks ago, I hired my replacement.

Biggest lesson? I’m way bigger than I thought. You’re way bigger than YOU think. I have huge capacity and it took this experience to prove it to me; just like I did when I worked with Seth and pitched Steve McCurry and expanded my business and asked Iman on the street to be in my magazine. (She was gracious, gave me her publicists name, I forgot it the instant she told me because Iman.)

It’s only when I’m pushed to the edges that I AM more, do more, hold more.

It requires major surrender and lots of “Shall I quit?” talks with God.

I completed three Landmark Leadership Programs in the last 4 months; I’m in the third one right now. Landmark’s marketing is definitely weird; I threw it in the trash. The course itself? Helpful. The first one helped me solve a problem I’d had for years: not keeping my word. The second allowed me to genuinely connect with others, a skill I thought I’d already mastered. The third is helping me identify what stops me from leading powerfully; I’d wanted to get deeper into this skill set for years and now every Monday for 4 hours and once a month for 12, I get deep whether I like it or not!

you-are-too-big-pic“You’re too big to quit.” That’s Rod. He wrote that on the board last night because I was whining about how much time this took up!

I took two back to back weekend trips to Chicago and NYC to see friends and family. I LOVE solo trips on the open road, nature all around, animals, MUSIC, and car dancing. These elements and being with myself not just by myself, are essential to who I am. Deep nourishment. I’m going to do more in 2017. I also learned that I’m not flexible when it comes to basic needs. I’m not the woman who’ll sleep on the couch, hang out all night, or “go with the flow.” If my self-care isn’t in check, you can pretty much count on me to be sour. Even as I write that I feel slightly embarrassed, like I should be more easy going, but I know better than to go against my basic nature to please others – it always produces bad results. Plus, sleep.


Four weeks ago I walked into the only all-girls public school in Michigan and pitched a mentorship program for 6th-12th graders. After driving by it many times, my steering wheel pulled me into the parking lot. I went in with a big idea and no plan. Just the desire to give young black and muslim girls a real chance to hone their leadership and confidence. Of the 15 organizations that pitched that week, the principal said to me, “Look, we like you.” I said, “Cool. I like you too.” But with more enthusiasm. Intuition wins for the millionth time.


Last week I led a 3-day retreat for 5 entrepreneurs. They flew in from NYC, Portland, and Canada to detox stuff that’s not working and step powerfully into 2017. The blank slate was scary, but together we mapped out amazing possibilities for each. They’ve already accomplished a lot but want to play even bigger in 2017. What’s on the table? Racial justice and Wieden + Kennedy Agency, buying a new building and expanding a studio, a plan for $10K in new revenue by next month, getting flown to a business meeting via private jet, seated at the table for her BRAINZ. It’s not about the flash.

When YOU finally get clear on who you are and what’s possible, cool things happen. Outside always reflects the inside.

We also went to my parent’s house for home-cooked Indian one night, which was hilarious and sweet to see my family and work world’s collide. The power went out, which was even more dramatic and fun.

Last Monday, the same five women and I put on an assembly on confidence and leadership for 200 girls. They rocked the stage and told stories about business, failure, OWNING IT, leadership. The young girls also shared their thoughts on each speaker, followed by a Q&A panel and a group dance. I wanted to bring legit conference format and production to the event, so we hired a videographer to film it and a photographer to take stills. I cannot say it louder: WE BROUGHT THE HOUSE DOWN. Both the women and the girls became the BIGGEST versions of themselves on stage and you could SEE it on their faces as they spoke.

THIS is what potential looks like, the moment a woman discovers her VOICE and POWER.

There’s nothing like it. I’ll do a separate post on this because there’s so much to say.


I also just got back from 5 days in Boston with my family. Here’s our cray cray Thanksgiving selfie. Click below for the behind the scenes video (what you can’t hear is us shrieking in the background ;) )

Oh yeah, and we elected new government officials in the U.S.A. The effects of which were real and physical and undeniable for me. I took time off to nourish my spirit because I couldn’t fake the funk: I was sad. Millions of people around the world have historically grappled with this situation, but I’d never *really* contended with the short or long-term effects of a government so misaligned with my fundamental values of humanity. This was new. It challenged me and took time to adjust to the new reality.

That’s what’s been happening over the last month.

If 2016’s taught me anything it’s that there’s a world beyond me and that it’s useful to step into it.

xx Ishita