Wisdom: ‘#Beauty’- by Paulo Coelho

This is ‘Beauty’ as written by #PauloCoelho in his book: ‘Manuscript found in Accra

Shared from here:  http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2016/10/19/beauty-2/

‘People always say: ‘It’s inner beauty that matters, not outer beauty.’

Well, that’s not true.

If it were, why would flowers put so much energy into attracting bees? And why would raindrops transform themselves into a rainbow when they encounter the sun? Because nature longs for beauty, and is only satisfied when beauty can be exalted. Outer beauty is inner beauty made visible, and it manifests itself in the light that flows from our eyes. It doesn’t matter if a person is badly dressed or doesn’t conform to our idea of elegance, or isn’t even concerned about impressing other people.


Beauty is present in all creation, but the danger lies in the fact that, because we human beings are often cut off from the Divine Energy, we allow ourselves to be influenced by what other people think. We deny our own beauty because others can’t or won’t recognise it. Instead of accepting ourselves as we are, we try to imitate what we see around us. We try to be what other people think of as ‘pretty’ and, little by little, our soul fades, our will weakens, and all the potential we had to make the world a more beautiful place withers away.
We forget that the world is what we imagine it to be.
We stop being the moonlight and become, instead, the pool of water reflecting it. Tomorrow, the water will evaporate in the sun. And all because, one day, someone said: ‘You are ugly.’ Or: ‘She is pretty.’ With those three simple words, they stole away all our self-confidence.
And we become ugly and embittered.

At that moment, we can draw comfort from so-called ‘wisdom’, an accumulation of ideas put together by people wishing to define the world, instead of respecting the mystery of life. This ‘wisdom’ consists of all the unnecessary rules, regulations and measurements intended to establish a standard of behaviour.
According to that false wisdom, we should not be concerned about beauty because it is superficial and ephemeral.

That isn’t true. All the beings created under the sun, from birds to mountains, from flowers to rivers, reflect the miracle of creation.
If we resist the temptation to allow other people to define who we are, then we will gradually be able to let the sun inside our own soul shine forth.
Love passes by and says: ‘I never noticed you before.’

And our soul responds: ‘Well, pay more attention, because here I am. It took a breeze to blow the dust from your eyes, but now that you have recognised me, don’t leave me again, because all of us desire beauty.’
Beauty exists not in sameness but in difference. Who could imagine a giraffe without its long neck or a cactus without its spines? The irregularity of the mountain peaks that surround us is what makes them so imposing. If we tried to make them all the same, they would no longer command our respect.
It is the imperfect that astonishes and attracts us.


When we look at a cedar tree, we don’t think: ‘The branches should be all the same length.’ We think: ‘How strong it is.’
When we see a snake, we never say: ‘He is crawling along the ground, while I am walking with head erect.’ We think: ‘He might be small, but his skin is colourful, his movements elegant, and he is more powerful than me.’

When the camel crosses the desert and takes us to the place we want to reach, we never say: ‘He’s humpbacked and has ugly teeth.’ We think: ‘He deserves my love for his loyalty and help. Without him, I would never be able to explore the world.’
A sunset is always more beautiful when it is covered with irregularly shaped clouds, because only then can it reflect the many colours out of which dreams and poetry are made.

Pity those who think: ‘I am not beautiful. That’s why Love has not knocked at my door.’ In fact, Love did knock, but when they opened the door, they weren’t prepared to welcome Love in.’
They were too busy trying to make themselves beautiful first, when, in fact, they were fine as they were.
They were trying to imitate others, when Love was looking for something original.
They were trying to reflect what came from outside, forgetting that the brightest light comes from within.’

taken from “Manuscript found in Accra” 

Images:Added from Pexels

#Technology: SHAE – Siri Virtual Health – It’s Personal

Excerpted from: www.indiegogo.com | ph360.me |

Imagine having a whole encyclopedia just about you – your health history, your genetic circumstances, your optimal lifestyle. 100% specific to you. And imagine this encyclopedia had been built by the most incredible minds in science and medicine from all around the world. It even knew how any specific food would interact with your body to support, or challenge, its biochemistry, physiology, and genetics – the things that determine its health and wellbeing.

Meet ‘Shae‘  –  your very own virtual health assistant that uses interactive voice and text conversation (hence ‘Siri’) to communicate a personalised health plan with you in real time via your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, smartwatch, or any connected device.

Siri stands for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. It also means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory” in Norwegian.🙂

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Video: ph360 on Youtube.

Our bodies have an in-built code that tells us how we can eat, live, love, work and play in order to thrive.

Shae is an intuitive, interactive and personalised technology that manages your health for you.  This tech ‘follows’ you through every day and responds to you as your circumstances change (environment, stress levels, brain frequencies, blood readings, etc).

Shae lets you know exactly what and when to eat & drink to be healthy, formulating advice 100% specific to your body, lifestyle and preferences – not one person in the world receives the same information.

Imagine: A virtual health assistant that can intuitively read ahead, and notify you in advance of what to eat and how to live to keep your body at it’s optimal health all the time, without you even asking it.screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-6-47-59-pm

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Dreamt up by ph360, Shae uses complex algorithms developed by their researchers to translate the distinct relationship between your body’s measurements and physical traits to its physical functions, hormone secretions, metabolism, and lifestyle preferences.
ph360 uses anthropometry (scientific assessment of your body’s measurements), family history, and assessment of your lifestyle and environment to determine your phenotypic and epigenetic profile.

Shae was created by an international team of leading medical doctors, scientists and researchers who have been working on an evidence-based solution to prevent chronic pain and disease on a global scale for more than 10 years.

Shae is more than your average health / fitness app.  This is what it can do for you:

image: www.indiegogo.com

This incredible pioneering technology takes scientific measures of your body, health, lifestyle and ancestry and utilizes advanced medical science and next-gen body profiling to crunch more than 500 scientific formulas and ratios and over 10,000 data points, considering filters in endocrinology, anthropometry, phenotypology and neuroscience to remove the need for any blood or genetic tests.

Described by Consumers Digest as “just like having a team of doctors and health professionals in your pocket”, Shae technology has been helping thousands of people in more than 17 countries to improve their stress, sleep, weight loss, energy, fitness and digestion while reversing signs of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, among other chronic conditions.

After 2 years of time-tested, life-changing results backed by our world-class medical team, we are ready to complete the technology that can deliver this personal health information directly to you on any connected device, in real-time, via your very own virtual health assistant.

Here’s an example of what a day in your life could look like with Shae:

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-6-33-04-pmVideo and image: www.indiegogo.com

Shae is mobile and designed to remove the hard work from health, giving you the personalised advice you need when you need it, and removing the effort for you where it can. For example, Shae will update your breakfast menu if you work out harder than you thought you would in the morning so you have plenty of energy for the rest of the day, or Shae might order a personalised meal to arrive at your door right when it’s the perfect time for your body to eat.

ph360 invites us to join them in the Personal Health Revolution – to live to our full potential and to take control of our future.

You can learn more about their crowdfunding campaign here.

Rock Your Health | Rock Your Life.

Researched and written by Yolanda Brand.

Social Responsibility & Sustainability Showcase – Maya Shahani

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Maya Shahani

One of Rock Your Life’s greatest reasons for existing is to assist people to become their best selves and in doing so, making a difference in the world with what they do.

With every interview that I do, I get to understand what the true impact of the above words are in relation to the assistance that Rock Your Life provides.

Rock Your Life has been involved in numerous philanthropic projects, including sponsoring the Happy Family Orphanage in Siem Reap since 2007, training teachers in India, planting trees in Asia and promoting and assisting in many different causes.

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Helping out in Cambodia

As part of Rock Your Life’s mission to encourage and support our Circle of Excellence members, we have started interviewing them to showcase the impact of the Social Responsibility and Sustainability work that they do and how that makes the world a better place.


On the first day that I walked into Rock Your Life’s office here in Cape Town South Africa; I heard the name Maya Shahani, linked with ‘Global Sage’. Since that day I have heard her name countless of times in Rock Your Life conversations and mentioned by Mike, Dave or Landi at our events.

There are many unique quotes of inspiration and hope in what Maya shares with us in her interview.  Maya’s life story and her wisdom shared holds lessons for all of us.

Something else also came to light for me. Due to the circumstances that they were born into and / or  how poor they are, many people may believe that they are not deserving or worthy of a better life, a quality education or being treated like a human being. I believe that the work of Maya, The Sage Foundation and The Shahani Group touches and heals these very aspects of self-worth in each of the lives that they interact with and assist. I also believe this to be one of the greatest gifts that Maya brings to their lives and to the world.

This is our showcase of the remarkable impact of Maya Shahani and her family’s work.

To lend insight and depth to the interview, allow me to first share the following with you:

Maya Shahani is the Chairperson of the Shahani Group and the Chairperson of the Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management, which imparts global quality management education and focuses on creating heart centric, ethical business leaders. TSCFM has won the DNA award for the best business school for industry academia linkages.

Maya is the Chairperson of the SAGE Foundation, the CSR arm of Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management, which educates and empowers the under resourced. The SAGE Foundation works closely with the Clinton Global Initiative , with a commitment to build a model village which could be replicated globally.

She is also the Trustee of Shahani Trust, founded in 1952 by her father-in-law with the prime objective of promoting quality education, healthcare, low cost housing and poverty alleviation.

As the Vice Chairperson of Global Dialogue Foundation/Unity in Diversity, Maya is working under the aegis of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations to bring in Unity in Diversity through embracing all cultures. She will help in building Peace Gardens in different cities of the world, promote multiculturism in the business environment, and open civil society country chapters under UNAOC.

She is also the Governing Board Member of the HSNC Board running 27 prime educational institutes in Mumbai with over 50,000 students graduating every year. The Thadomal Shahani Engineering College, named after the Shahani family, is a premier institute of the Board.

She is an active member of XL Nation, and was awarded the Extraordinary Lives Award from over 5000 members globally.

At Rock Your Life‘s Entrepreneur X-Factor Business School in Bali, SAGE Foundation under the chairmanship of Maya, was a winning team out of 80 business plans submitted globally.

Maya is working with Rock Your Life‘s Mike Handcock & Dave Rogers on their vision of building transformational leaders across the world.

She is a Founder Trustee and Chairperson Emeritus of the Women’s Movement for
Peace and Prosperity, an initiative of the Times Foundation which gives a voice to the voiceless women.

As the Vice Chairperson of the Bombay Mothers and Children Welfare Society,
Maya helped to redevelop a tribal school with the active involvement of Inspiring Lives Global which has become a role model for other rural schools.

She is the Chairperson of Justice H.K. Chainani Senior Citizen’s Home, one of the first retirement homes set up in Mumbai. Maya is on the education board of Priyadarshni Academy and Sadhu Vaswani Mission.

As a Patron of the Cancer Patients Aid Association, Maya helped to set up the Lila Shahani Centre for the Early Detection of Cancer and the Ajit Shahani Diagnostic Centre in loving memory of her mother- in- law and brother- in- law.

SAGE Foundation is the Indian partner of PATT Foundation, a UK based charity and has planted thousands of trees across the country.

SAGE Foundation is a close affiliate of Buy1Give1, a global organization which connects corporates with NGO’s and has donated thousands of dollars to the various charities like Mid Day Meals, Shikshan Gram Shelter for the Homeless, Geeta Nagar Slums and others adopted by Maya.

A focus on the villages adopted by Maya is created through SAGE Tours to India which bring voluntourists from all parts of the globe to Mumbai to share their expertise.

Maya is a Dreamcatcher. “Dreamcatchers,  a full length feature film by Mike Handcock with an International cast and crew, showcases Maya as an ordinary person achieving extraordinary results. She was a motivational speaker on the Celebrity Cruise of “Dreamcatchers”; taking off from Beijing in August 2010 and is now working with Mike Handcock’s team on “The Reluctant Heroes”movie, based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.


1. Maya, how did you get involved with doing what you do?

I like that this is the first question because this starts with the story of my life right from the beginning, from the day I was born. Our life here begins not just in our immediate past life, but from our previous past lives and I believe we come here with a purpose.

  ” Whatever we do in our life on earth is an extension of our past &  past lives and we are destined to do it.”

In this life I was born on the day that the United Nations came into existence – that was the 30th of October, 1945. A month before I was born, World War II ended, so my parents always told me that I am responsible for World Peace and as a kid when you hear that, you feel that to be your responsibility.

I’ve always been a seeker.  When I was a little girl I asked my mother why am I here and what she said was really beautiful; she said ‘You are here to bring smiles into peoples’ lives.’ This made me wonder about how to do this, so I made it a point to do something good every day so that somebody somewhere would smile.

So that was the beginning of my journey to doing the type of work that I am doing now.

My childhood was pretty interesting because when I was born, our family was seen as pretty rich; we had a horse drawn carriage and seeing that there were not any cars around, it was viewed that anyone with a carriage, especially with two horses, were supposed to be very rich. I don’t know if you have read the history of India; it was partitioned in 1947 and it became India and Pakistan. We were born where Pakistan is now, so when the country became partitioned, we had to flee for our lives and people were being butchered, it was such a tremendous upheaval and it was very traumatising. Fortunately I was spared to remember any of that as I was too small to realise what was happening, but my Mother told me that it was really traumatising.
So we fled as refugees from there, came down to India with absolutely nothing in our pockets and we were really like the slum children that I look after now. So I have been through all of that and that is where all the empathy stems from, because when you experience a life like that, you know what it feels like to have nothing, not even a roof over your head. You can understand the kind of upheaval and experiences that a refugee goes through. So that was a good grounding for me.

My life has been such a rollercoaster ride, because I had absolutely nothing – no money, no looks, no brains either – I used to come last in class in those days!  But somehow from that time onwards I noticed that I was catapulted in some way into a higher level, I always feel that it had to do with my past lives or karma, because I did not understand how that happened.

So with no looks at all; at least I thought I had no looks, I managed to win a beauty crown, and from coming last in class, I came first.

“There is no such thing as impossible, you can achieve what you set you heart onto.”

So then, because I won the beauty crown, my prospective husband spotted me, married me and overnight I went from having no money to being rich, as this is a very rich family. Money of course does not buy you happiness, but the good thing about this family was, that their money was spent on other people so they were known for their philanthropy. That’s why I like this family.

So that’s where destiny comes in – remember that I asked my Mother why I was here, and she said you are here to bring smiles to peoples’ lives – becoming a part of this family was a God-given gift to me, like God was saying to me: ‘Here it is, you have all the money and all the wealth, you can now do whatever it is that you want to do.’

Everything was laid out for me and it was up to me to choose to do it in a right or a wrong way, so I chose to do what my heart told me to do; which is how I ended up doing what I am doing. When I look back on my life I feel so fortunate; it was all being orchestrated for me and I was being prepared to be propelled into what I really wanted to do. So I wanted to tell you the whole story so that you can understand where I come from and how that led to me doing this work.

My father-in-law started the Shahani Trust and I earned this legacy from him because I always looked up to him, he never forced me into anything and because I was so receptive to what he was doing, I was ready to receive whatever he has passing onto me indirectly. When he passed away I took it head on and I said that this is my home and I really wanted to carry on with his work. The Shahani Trust is very well known in India and is highly respected because my father-in-law was known for his giving.

 ” If a business is in the business of giving, they are remembered and loved more than other businesses that are bigger. If they don’t give back, they are not remembered and loved.”

No matter how big a Trust is, the need is always much bigger than the supply. The Shahani Trust never accepted any funds from outside, we were restricted by family resources. We had to say no to people because we just couldn’t cope, and I felt very bad about it. So then we started the Sage Foundation, which meant that we could accept funds from outside, being foreign and local funding. I’m not very good at raising funds, but whatever comes in has been very, very helpful.

Mike Handcock and Rock Your Life has played a very big role in the growth of the Sage Foundation, because ‘Sage’ would have remained where it was if it wasn’t for him.

When Mike walked into my life I did not know how dramatically it would change after that. Mike is an excellent mentor and coach and he pushed me as far as I could be pushed, insisting that I should go to Bali to the Rock Your Life Entrepreneur Business School. I said but I don’t like to travel alone, only ever with the family and I’m not ready to submit a business plan. Something was always holding me back.

But Mike said – ‘Don’t think, just take the plunge and Go!’.

It was only when I went to Bali, the first time to visit the XL Nation Business School event, that I connected with so many global people.  I was previously just working in my own little realm in India before. But once I had the global exposure in Bali, I submitted my business plan at Rock Your Life’s Entrepreneur Business School and surprisingly we were one of the winning teams with Sage Foundation!

As I told you, for some reason I get catapulted into the limelight when I was just happy to be a wallflower; something happens and then suddenly I’m up there. So of course this was a very good thing, because many people became interested in giving funds for ‘Sage’.

Buy1Give1 started with funding us then and they still contribute to ‘Sage’ in a very big way, they are helping with all of our village and slum projects.

I also met Andy Steel who runs the PATT Foundation in Bali. So we’ve been planting a whole lot of trees too. I never thought of tree plantations before but getting in touch with Andy got me into that business and of course the environment is a big concern these days.

On another trip I was also introduced to Pece Gorgievski – C.E.O & Director-General of the Global Dialogue Foundation.

Here again, Mike said I must join Global Dialogue Foundation and I’m very happy that I met Pece and joined as he is doing extremely good work and now I’m into Unity in Diversity, working with the United Nations. This gave me the opportunity to interact and be on stage with global leaders such as Gordon Brown and others.

I am also part of the Clinton Global Initiative where again, Mike had a role to play! I didn’t want to go but he made me fill out the form and said: ‘You’ve got to Go!’

I went during that terror attack on Mumbai, that was a very brave thing to do during that time, but I’m glad I did it as The Sage Foundation is now a part of the Clinton Global Initiative.

“If a mentor comes into your life, it can transform your life completely. I am not the same person anymore, I was pretty much keeping to myself, quietly doing things behind the scenes, a little here and a little there.  Then Mike arrived!”

“The more people you meet, and the more you give, the more you get.  Giving gives so much joy, but then you get so much more in return.”

“If you throw positive energy out there, a whole lot more comes back. So it’s all very fulfilling, and I feel so blessed all the time.”

2. What are you doing at the moment?

[There are many social charity activities that Maya is involved in, which is all a part of her daily life in assisting others. These are all mentioned in the prelude to this interview.]

It all stems from the work that we do as The Shahani Group; it is like the roots of a tree, and from there the branches and the fruits and the seeds come out. It was started by my father-in-law in 1952, and the main objective of starting this group was to promote quality education. Since 1952 to date, we have had many people in the field of education, healthcare, housing, environment and eradication of poverty involved in this group.

“I believe that education is the biggest service that one can offer to humanity.”

Just as Mike and Dave are building transformational leaders globally with Rock Your Life’s Entrepreneur X-Factor Business School, the Circle of Excellence and all their other events, similarly here, with the Shahani Group we have set up colleges and centres for particularly Management Students and we have also set up a Media School and a School for Film Making, Digital Marketing and Photography, for the liberal arts.

And this brings in our bread and butter right now, we have not broken even yet, but we are almost there. It has to be a revenue generation model, so once we break even, the floodgates can open – when more students come the earnings will be used to create more and more institutes and of course to give back!  A very exciting time in my life.



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Image: www.shahanigroup.com – visit for a clearer view & access to websites.

So this is what I am doing at the moment!

(I said, WOW, that’s a LOT! So how do you do it all Maya, how do you find the time?)
Maya just laughed and said: ‘I’m busy all day, on my toes until late at night, I wish the day was longer. If you do something that you know is creating  change and you are seeing the results, you don’t really get tired.  If I don’t do anything, I start to feel miserable.’

3. What is your mission with this?

Education is the key to everything. It begins with spirituality of course, but the next fundamental is the right education. Once you give an education to a child, you empower that child for economic independence and employability.

“Our mission is that every child should be educated, empowered and be employed in the right niche.”

Once you have that economic independence, it is not only good for the individual, but if you see all the wars and upheavals that are taking place, it all hinges on economy. Where there is poverty, there is dissatisfaction. It is not a fight between religions, it is a fight between the ‘Have’s’ and the ‘Have Not’s’. Religion is just a factor that people with agendas have thrown in. So once the economy is stabilised in countries, it will be a world of peace and prosperity. If you provide the right education to everyone and they have economic independence, people should in general feel fulfilled and satisfied and why should there then be any more wars? And by right education I don’t just mean education that gives only financial gains, you educate the child as a holistic being, a good, spiritual human being.

Working with UNAOC on Unity in Diversity, by celebrating all cultures and reaching out to each other, we should be able to put an end to all conflict and war.

“So, my ultimate mission is to build one world, one people, a world filled with peace and prosperity. Single handedly we cannot do it, but if we work on this collaboratively, as more like minded people are coming together, we can do it.”

4. Tell me about a time when you were challenged to stay committed to a project

You know we all try to live by the saying to take every challenge as an opportunity, so that’s what I try to do. Challenges would be there for anyone. A challenge would not make me stop doing what I want to do; that would be like taking away my breath or telling my heart to stop beating.

“A challenge should not come in the way of doing what you really want to do. Challenges are just like road bumps – they make the journey more interesting and fulfilling.”

My biggest challenge has always been my work-life balance, like all women. I have my biological family which is very important to me, and then there is the family outside, which beckons all the time. Quite often my work clashes with the needs at home.  I have a big family, there are 10 of us, so there is always someone somewhere who needs me! And we also have extended families, the Indians are very family orientated and we like to do things for one another.

Something that could be a challenge is the responsibility of allocating other people’s funds. If you use your own funds, there are no challenges, as you just give the funds away into the right hands. But when you give other people’s funds, you are accountable for those funds and have to ensure that it is used in the way it was intended to be used. So we have to check on how the money is spent and what is happening, and sometimes those charities don’t always give you the reports required, so you have to keep going after them, which can be a little stressful, but if you have open communication and the correct systems in place it really helps to make that process go a little more smoothly.

The other thing is my paranoia of traveling alone, that has always been a fear within me. But with Mike and Dave and their interesting and amazing Rock Your Life tours that I went on when I had more time on my hands, this has somehow mitigated that to an extent. If you travel alone, it gives you a sense of freedom and empowerment, for other women this must be a run of the mill activity, but I am still hesitant, as I was brought up in a very sheltered way, so this was a difficulty for me to overcome.  I did it, enjoyed it and achieved great results, it was very satisfying.

“How you deal with challenges has a lot to do with your attitude.”

Sometimes things do get overwhelming and you might feel that you are overworked and can’t cope and you feel that you want to just pack up and leave – those thoughts do come at times.

I am however a Scorpio; so if I start something, I have to see it through until the end. Of course at times I’d rather go sit by the seaside and read books in my rocking chair and enjoy life. I then just tell myself that this is my mission and I have to finish what I started as I hate letting people down, if I made a promise I stick to it. And this is something that everyone goes through in life.

“At the end of the day we are all human, we all have negative thoughts at times, so we have to accept it – take our weaknesses in our stride and say ‘How do I overcome this?’ “

5. What is your greatest success story?

The Shahani Trust has existed since 1952 so there have been many success stories, which makes it difficult to pinpoint just one, as we have assisted thousands of families during this time.
If I have to think of a past success story, it is about Varalaxmi (Laxmi), the daughter of a housemaid, who was very keen on studying but of course she had no resources. We nurtured her, from a child up to college level and she did extremely well. Laxmi earned a scholarship to the University of Westminster! She is a a great inspiration and role model for other aspirants and this was covered in the media to a great extent.
Today Laxmi tells people her story and assists other children in how to stand on their own feet.

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And now for our current success story.
We started the ‘Right to MBA’ because every child has the right to a MBA whether he or she is rich or poor.  Money should never stand in their way to achieve this and that is why we created this scholarship scheme for the poorest of poor children. To make this possible, the Shahani Group has partnered with the Anglia Ruskin University via their distance learning academic partner, the London School of Marketing, for getting MBA degrees for our students here in India.
We have a young girl, Pooja Bhatt, who is a paanwallah’s daughter who wanted to do her MBA. A paanwallah sells ‘betel’ leaves on the side of the road and they are very poor. The London School of Marketing offered to provide the Anglia Ruskin Scholarship because of the great human interest in the story.

Olga Kutsenko of the London School of Marketing is flying to India to come and gift the Anglia Ruskin Scholarship to Pooja at a special ‘Right to MBA’ launch ceremony that will be attended by celebrities and high profile corporates. I wish that Mike, Dave and Landi of Rock Your Life were here for this ceremony, as they were the ones who got us started on this journey.

Mike always said that we should start business incubators, so we are actually starting an incubator on the new campus, a Centre for Media Studies with a special place of Entrepreneurs to set up there.

[ Here is a news paper article of the launch which has since taken place on 12 August 2016:

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Maya’s feedback about the event:

‘The launch of our “Right to MBA” was very well received by Industry, Academia and the media. As requested, here is a press coverage which captures our vision. Pooja Bhatt, the student who was awarded the scholarship, is seated between Olga and me along with her mother. She had tears in her eyes when she received this scholarship as this was her fondest dream and she could not believe that it had actually come true. Olga Kutsenko, Relationship Manager of London School of Marketing had flown down from UK specially for this event. ‘]

Everyone has the right to an education. And this is the beginning of even more scholarships such as this one, and hopefully with more sponsorships from corporates and others, we are starting a global movement of ‘The Right to Education’, where education is everyone’s birth right. If this could happen for a paanwallah’ daughter, this could happen for children in Cambodia and all over the world, all those who are yearning for a quality education. The money is there, but people who would like to contribute do not know where to give the funds to. The Sage Foundation accepts funding for scholarships and it will be used for children from all over the world.

Olga will also be spending time in India to interact with the people, as immigration rules have changed and where before Indians used to go overseas to study there, the children of other nationalities can now come and study here. Sadly there is still much racism globally and many parents from other countries still do not want to send their children to study abroad because of this.

“This is one of the reasons why I am working with the UN on the Unity in Diversity program, so that people can realise that in the end we all have the same colour blood in our veins.”

6. What is your best advice to others about raising funds for sustainability projects?

Sustainability is crucial for the life of a charity organisation, because if you are not sustainable you can’t exist. You can’t go about with a begging board all your life, so you have to find ways to be and continue to be sustainable.

For long term sustainability you need a very high level of management and financial planning, you have to continually work towards building a very healthy Trust corpus.

If the Trust has a healthy corpus, you can survive on the interest amount on a continuous basis. If you spend all the money that you receive, you cannot sustain yourself in an emergency or a crisis situation and then you cannot help anyone.

So while you are distributing funds to your different causes, ensure that you have a buffer to maintain a healthy Trust corpus. You can request your donors to contribute to the corpus, which is what many charities do, and most donors understand this and like to contribute towards the sustainability of the Trust. All the administrative costs and other costs comes out of the interest amount of the corpus.

“A donor’s funds should go 100% toward the charity that they gifted it for.”

Crowdfunding and fund raising events are the standard methods that all charities use for fundraising. To attract funds though, you first have to build your credibility and your brand, because if you do not have a credible organisation, people will not contribute in a long-term, sustainable manner.

“Walk your talk, be congruent in what you say, be consistent in your delivery and share your results.”

If you have a compelling story, such as Laxmi or Pooja’s story, share it with the world as people enjoy funding a great human interest story – but make sure that you story is the truth and you have shown the world what you have done.

To be sustainable you also need to cut costs wherever you can, and one of the first ways to do this is to enlist the assistance of volunteers who enjoy helping charities.

Once you create a value, you can leverage on that and then it will grow exponentially as more and more people come in to assist.

It is also important to work together in a collaborative way, no one is higher or lower than the other. Reach out and communicate in a straight-forward, transparent and humble manner, people are bound to come and join hands with you.

“The foundation that your work should be built on is trust, ethics and transparency, as this is what builds your credibility.”

Aim towards continuous learning, developing and capacity building. You can’t stay static, learn new methods and stay up to date with trends and what others in your line of work are doing. Social and digital marketing is very helpful; also look towards technology to see how it can assist in improving your cause.

“The world is full of opportunities. If you have a clean heart and you are ready to receive, the universe just helps.”

7. What would you like to inspire people to do when they read about your work in this article?

I want to say that it is never too late. I’m 70, a grandmother, I’ve had quadruple bypass heart surgery and for me life has just begun. I’m really enjoying my life.

“Just dare to begin!”

Like Mike told me, just jump in and do it! So, if you jump, you loose the fear of the water and you jump out of your boat – just dare to begin because life can really be fun and exciting.

“It really is easy. All you have to do is bend down and lift others and that is the best exercise for the heart.”

– Maya Shahani –

  • If you would like to contribute towards Maya’s social Charity work or fund a Scholarship for an underprivileged child, contact the Sage Foundation.
  • If you or your child would like study at the  award-winning Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management with accreditation from a top UK University or partake in their excellent Diploma Courses, have a look at their programs for Graduate Students, Under Graduate Students and Working Professionals and contact them here



Interviewed & written for Rock Your Life by Yolanda Brand of Illumineer Media + Design


Hologram Technology – A new Reality and Business Future with HoloLens & Magic Leap

Researched and Excerpted from various sources:      

microsoft.com | magicleap.comwired.com |austininno.streetwise.co

For quite some time now a new disruptive innovation technology that generates live holograms has been creating excitement waves in movies; recently in tech headlines and now also in the business world.

I remember seeing holographic User Interfaces in movies such as ‘Minority Report’, ‘Iron Man’, ‘Mission Impossible 4’ and ‘Avengers’ – and rewinding again and again to feast my eyes on the utter beauty of the designs; delighted with the magic of it all.

Holographic technology brings an evolutionary way of doing business in the future, transforming all methods of education, storytelling, business and remote collaboration into new worlds of possibilities, seemingly without any more boundaries. Not only in the corporate & entrepreneurial business world; also in how we explore outer space and planetary systems, human anatomy, anthropology, design, architecture, construction, production – you imagine it, it can take you there.

The thing is though, it’s not so far in the future – some people and companies are already working and playing with it, right now.

Two of the biggest, most innovative (- putting it mildly) players in the field of holographic technology are Microsoft’s Hololens and the until recently very secretive start-up, Magic Leap. (Ok, they are still very secretive…)

Although there are other players in the holographic technology field, these two are the giants, so let’s take a closer look at them.


Pushing the limits of storytelling, bringing ideas to life.MSHoloLens_Hero1_RGB     Image: Microsoft News Centre

Microsoft’s Hololens is the worlds first fully self-contained holographic computer, enabling you access to interactive holograms in your own world.

For decades, we have seen holograms in sc-fi movies and TV shows such as  “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”.   Remember when R2D2 projected a 3-dimensional image of Princess Leia pleading for help from Obi-Wan Kenobi?

We have all heard and dreamt of VR, Virtual Reality. Then there is also AR, Augmented Reality. However what Microsoft and Magic Leap have / are busy developing for us is called MR, which is Mixed Reality.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 3.46.24 PMimage: www.microsoft.com

Mixed Reality blends 3D holographic content INTO your real world, with your holograms in real-world context and scale and not just on top of your real-world surroundings but immersed with it. This enables you to interact with both the hologram and your immediate surroundings simultaneously.

Therefore the new hologram technology embraces virtual reality and augmented reality and with the addition of mixed reality understands your environment, enabling the holograms to look and sound like they are a part of your world.

Hololens provides you with the ability to create holograms with a gesture, use your voice to communicate with apps and navigate with a glance. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Talk about futuristic!

This brings the future slap-bang right into our own environment, now.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 3.51.00 PM.pngimage: www.microsoft.com

The Hololens allows you to interact freely with holograms, people and the surroundings in your world, allowing you to see detail where it really matters as the holographic frame positions holograms where your eyes are more sensitive to detail, leaving your peripheral vision unobscured.

Holographic tech will transform the way that you communicate, educate, collaborate, create and explore.  The way you do all things called ‘Entrepreneur’.

Imagine being able to do just some of the things that it could do:

  • Enhancing educational and instructional moments on Skype – You and your Skype contacts can draw on the screen to place holograms over physical objects in your view. You must see these Skype app Videos to appreciate what it can do.
  • Creating what you imagine – Shape holograms to fine-tune designs in relation to your real world surroundings.
  • Collaborative remote-location 3D design with others. And visualising your work in 3D – allowing you to make smarter decisions and prototype faster when you can inspect your design from every vantage point.
  • Viewing holograms from your colleague’s perspective on the other side of the world, exploring places and ideas in their reality and surroundings.
  • Using well-known apps from a holographic perspective, including hundreds more for Hololens via Windows Store. An entirely new way of using e-mail and social media too!
  • Building your own Holographic apps.

Transforming How we do Business

Partners of Hololens, such as Volvo, Autodesk, Case Western Reserve University, Trimble and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory have moved beyond proofs of concept and have started to use Hololens in their real business scenarios.

To see how and what they have been up to, you can learn more here. Scroll down… Utterly fascinating!

Do you want a HoloLens? Apparently the cost is $3,000, and is available for purchase if you live in North America. (This could have by now opened up to other countries, not sure.)

Sales were limited to only developers earlier this year, but at the beginning of August Microsoft has opened up availability to anyone willing to pay $3,000 for the VR headset in the US or Canada.
The Hololens Commercial Suite is now also available, ready for business. (Not sure if there are country restrictions on the Commercial Suite.)

Go here for more info and to place your order.

– Source: www.microsoft.com


Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 10.06.31 PM.pngImage: www.magicleap.com

Magic Leap has been named the  world’s hottest startup and it isn’t located in Silicon Valley—it’s in suburban Florida.  Like Hololens, they are also creating Mixed-Reality holographic technology, but they are in the lead regarding the quality of their virtual visions – not a pixel in sight. And even though they have let the world in a tiny bit more, they are still very secretive about exactly what they are busy creating and what it will look like.

This article by www.wired.com‘s Kevin Kelly provides an excellent overview.

Here’s an excerpt:

‘Magic Leap is not the only company creating mixed-reality technology, but right now the quality of its virtual visions exceeds all others.

Because of this lead, money is pouring into this Florida office park. Google was one of the first to invest. Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and others followed. In the past year, executives from most major media and tech companies have made the pilgrimage to Magic Leap’s office park to experience for themselves its futuristic synthetic reality. At the beginning of this year, the company completed what may be the largest C-round of financing in history: $793.5 million. (Alibaba). To date, investors have funneled $1.4 billion into it.

That astounding sum is especially noteworthy because Magic Leap has not released a beta version of its product, not even to developers. Aside from potential investors and advisers, few people have been allowed to see the gear in action, and the combination of funding and mystery has fueled rampant curiosity. But to really understand what’s happening at Magic Leap, you need to also understand the tidal wave surging through the entire tech industry. All the major players—Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung—have whole groups dedicated to artificial reality, and they’re hiring more engineers daily. Facebook alone has over 400 people working on VR. Then there are some 230 other companies, such as Meta, the Void, Atheer, Lytro, and 8i, working furiously on hardware and content for this new platform. To fully appreciate Magic Leap’s gravitational pull, you really must see this emerging industry—every virtual-reality and mixed-reality headset, every VR camera technique, all the novel VR applications, beta-version VR games, every prototype VR social world.

Then you will understand just how fundamental virtual reality technology will be, and why businesses like Magic Leap have an opportunity to become some of the largest companies ever created.’

 – Source: www.wired.com –  read the full article.

To have a sneak peek of what they have thus far revealed their product can do, watch what happens on their home page. That whale in the gymnasium is astounding! Click on the image below.

maxresdefault.jpgImage: www.magicleap.com

At the heart of Magic Leaps’ technology is a photonics chip, which is a 3 dimensional wafer-like component, contains small particles that manage the flow of photons that ultimately create a digital light-field signal.  And it also sounds as if Magic Leap’s technology will make any other screen device obsolete – such as your computer, TV, laptop and phone. That’s about all that they are willing to divulge!

Here’s a great overview video by www.wired.com with additional information to explain a little bit more about what Magic Leap is.

And 4 days ago, at a grand opening attended by local tech and political leaders, it came to light that they have secretly been building a 40 person strong VR team in Austin for the past two years.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 10.58.08 PM.pngImage: austininno.streetwise.co

To read more about the Austin opening and their latest news, click here.

Well, all I can say is that I am sitting on the edge of my seat, wishing with all of my heart to one day have such holographic technology strapped onto my face.

Rock Your Life.  Rock Your Business.  Rock Your Future.

– Written by Yolanda Brand for Rock Your Life.

Hot Technology -Vitrima’s 3D GoPro Camera Lens

Taking Video Recording to the Next Level


Excerpted from:  Vitrima and their campaign on IndieGogo. Images: Vitrima

Vitrima‘s latest technology hit has been launched. It is the first GoPro Camera Lens that records in 3D. And it is cheap.

Imagine reliving and sharing your first extreme sport experience, your Camino de Santiago pilgrimage adventure or the beautiful locations that you have travelled to on a holiday – in 3D.

When you record in 3D, you aren’t just recording a video, you are recording the feel of the experience. You can show others exactly what it felt like to do that great cooking course in Thailand or when you stood in front of the Victoria Falls.

Or when you did your first shark cage dive.

You need a  VR / 3D headset to watch your video experience.   Vitrima sells those too.

So: How does the lens work?

Simple answer: Optical science / mirror magic and clever brain tricks.

You see depth because you have two eyes*. Vitrima uses mirrors to create two different images for your left and right eyes. When you watch the video through a VR headset your brain puts the two images together into a 3D experience. Thanks brain!

*Don’t believe this? Try catching a baseball with one eye closed.

Cool Stuff about the Vitrima 3D GoPro Camera Lens:

  • It’s Waterproof.
  • Ready to mount onto anything. Attach it to your surfboard or take it kitesurfing.
  • It comes attached to a standard GoPro® Camera housing. Connect it to any of your mounts.
  • Your videos are ready to watch in 3D instantly. You can even live stream in 3D!
  • Conveniently portable.

How to do it:

Currently the Vitrima 3D Lens works with their Hero 4 and Hero 3 GoPro Camera.  More versions could come out in the future.

How to Watch Videos

You’ve got options. The best way is to watch the videos on your phone through a 3D headset. Vitrima has a video that explains how this works. You can also upload you videos on to YouTube and check the 3D option. Then YouTube automatically will make your videos into the red/blue 3D.

Here’s How To Watch 3D Without A VR Headset

There is a trick you can do to watch 3D videos without any fancy gear. All you need is an open mind and a bit of patience.

Dubbed “The Cross-Eyed Trick”, this simple technique will not require any equipment and will let you see Vitrima videos in 3D.

Let’s give it a try — first with a simple 3D image.


  • Look straight at the picture. Make sure your head isn’t tilted.
  • Cross your eyes and look “through” the picture until a 3rd dot pops up between the other two.
  • Keep focusing on the middle dot until you see it in 3D.

The third dot is the left and right one merged together to create the 3D effect.

Now, let’ try a real picture.  Follow the same steps and try to see it in 3D.


  • Look at the picture.
  • Make sure the image is in the centre of your vision.
  • Now, cross your eyes. Look “through” the picture until a 3rd image pops up on the screen in between the two existing ones.
  • This center image is the left and right one merged together to create the 3D effect.
  • Keep focusing on the middle image until you see it in 3D.

Did you manage to see it? 

Helpful tips for viewing 3D this way

  • Be patient. Mastering this method might take a while. But once you get it, you will be able to focus and see 3D in a matter of seconds.
  • Smaller images are easier to see and won’t strain your eyes as much. Start with simple pictures and move on to more complex ones. Take breaks.
  • Make sure you are in a place with good lighting, yet there is no glare on your screen
  • This method is suitable for most people. However, if you have impaired vision, the 3D effect may not be as prominent.

That was fun to try, right?🙂

Vitrima is currently running a fund-raising campaign on IndieGogo, their campaign is here. They have very cool special deals running, including their latest update offering of their 3D Lightweight Lens.

Worthwhile to check it out and there are also cool videos to watch.

The Vitrima 3D camera lens promises a whole bunch of fun in recording and watching 3D experiences, without having to pay an arm or a leg’s worth of hard-earned cash for the privilege.

Let us know if you saw the 3D image without using a headset!

Researched by: Yolanda Brand



Social Responsibility and Sustainability Showcase: Shazar Robinson

One of the reasons why Rock Your Life does what it does is to assist people to reach more of their full potential than they would have and to make the world a better place.

If we all just did a little more we would help keep the world safe, clean and those less fortunate better resourced and able to cope.

Rock Your Life have sponsored the Happy Family Orphanage in Siem Reap since 2008, plus we have trained teachers in India, planted trees in Asia and promoted many different causes. Now we want to step it up a notch.

We are now going to encourage and track our Rock Your Life Circle of Excellence members and the impact that they have. We know that many of them do so much and we want to recognise that. So this is the start of interviewing them to hearing their stories to help spread their message and the great work that they do to the world.

All entrepreneurs create a legacy yet for many it is a negative legacy.

Rock Your Life are stepping up and assisting people to leave an incredible legacy.

Our sustainability showcasing journey starts with Shazar Robinson.


Shazar is a spiritual activist, health facilitator, a writer and transformational educator. And passionate in her quest to be of service to the earth.

She is also part of the reason why many people in many villages in India have water, can stay on their farms and have crops that grow to feed their families.

So here follows a bit of her story.

How did you get involved with doing what you do?

I was on a cruise with Rock Your Life, with Mike and Dave, and was looking for a change of direction, it was time to shift. I was waiting for someone to come to me and say: ‘Why don’t you come and help us? Join our team – our Cause needs you…’ I was waiting for an invitation.

On this cruise I got thrown  deeply in connection with the Indian people who was on the tour. I sat at their table and there was a lot of synchronicity between us and I suddenly realised that it had nothing to do with someone inviting me to help them, it was up to me to step up and say: ‘I want to do that.’

One of the Indian ladies had photographs of the kids that she was working at their shelter with, that she was fund-raising for and I realised that’s where I want to go. I spoke to Maya Shahani who was also on the tour and she invited meet come to India. So I went to India and were involved in that children shelter organization for about 6 years.


What are you doing at the moment?

During this time, I started asking why there were so many kids on the street in India, looking for what the underlying problem was. We were working with kids who have been rescued from the railway platforms, rubbish dumps and street corners –aged 3 to 15. The problem came from the rural farming areas, where there was not enough water, so the farmers came to look for work in the cities. I started investigating water and from that I am now involved working with Sikandar Meeranayak, doing bore well recharging and rainwater harvesting for individual farmers.

What is your mission with what you do?

Working on sustainability, particularly related to water.

Something else also led me to what I am doing now.  I also went on a Soul Journey to Peru with Mike and Dave. I thought I went on the journey for myself. At the very last ceremony that we did at a ancient temple, Dave did a very powerful circle meditation with us, I found myself lying on the ground on my face, with the sense that I hadn’t come for myself, I had come for Mother Earth. From that time on I understood that I am in service to Mother Earth, nothing else, that’s my purpose.

Tell me about a time when you were challenged to stay committed to a project.

The shelter and my work there was a challenge from the beginning.  I just hung in there and at a certain point understood that I had to move on.

The challenge was between me and the man who ran the shelter, who is a creator extraordinaire, who started one project after the other, so passionate about what he is doing that he loses his team and I could not handle the  dissipation of energy forward from project to project without any completion. Incredibly painful experience though, because I was in love with one hundred and thirty kids! There are always challenges though, from a language and cultural perspective and people do not always communicate transparently. It’s about different ways of being.

What is your greatest success story?

The NGO that I’m working with now, The Sankalpa Rural Development Society entered a challenge by Water.org, Matt Damon’s charity organization, where they had $20.000.00 up for grabs.  It was all about communicating and connecting and as Sikandar Meeranayak, who I am working with, does not speak English very well, I offered to submit all the information, made a video and connected with many people in the process.

We didn’t win it, but in the process of connecting, I make contact with a guy in the States who has a NGO called Save the Indian Farmers.  He is very passionate about and works in the Maharashtra area where they have huge amounts of suicide due to the societal repercussions of water shortage. This is an area close to my heart and I have personally  previously fund-raised and built a check dam there.

By the way, this dam was funded largely via crowdfunding by Rock Your Business Malaysia with Mike and Dave donating and a lot of people in Malaysia also donated to the project.

shazar dam

The check dam that Shazar and her team built

The Team, and the check dam celebration 

So the man in the States got very interested in the work we are doing here and now we have a collaboration with him where he has funded us for ten bore well recharges. And when we have done the ten and he is happy with our work, he is funding us for 500!  He is finding the individual farmers and doing the funding.  So I feel delighted about the effort that I have put in to the challenge with Water.org, as the result was all of this funding. It is not just my work, if it was not for all the work that Sikandar Meeranayak has done and all the pre-work and the workers, there would not have been anything to present this man, but having presented it to him, we now have all this funding. Sikandar themselves also got funding for 225 bore well recharges more, so this year we have to do a total of 700 bore well recharges in the next dry season. One bore well takes about 3- 4 days, it’s all about the team and training them.  Now it is time for logistics!

Bore well recharging

What is your best advice to others about raising funds for sustainability projects?

Tell good stories, personal stories, that’s what people want to hear.  They want to hear about people’s individual lives.  Of course accountability too, but also fast response; don’t make people wait for 3 days before you get back to them. BE there and be absolutely transparent. And follow up. If someone gives you money and they don’t hear from you for three months, that’s not good. So in summary: story telling, transparency and relationship building, these are the most important aspects of fund raising.

What would you like to inspire people to do when they read about your work here?

I would like to inspire others to really seek the biggest WHY they can – beyond their own desire for creating wealth or fame or power. Because once you reach outside of your self to a why which is giving back – life simply changes and becomes a journey that is more fulfilling than ever imagined – not that it is easy – but when you uncover this path everything else becomes less important. When we are on track and embedded firmly into our WHY everything that is needed for the journey is available.

Dear Reader:

Do you want to go on an Eco-Sustainability Journey that’s completely off the beaten track?  Do you want to learn about water harvesting and meet someone like India’s Waterman Rajendra Singh who has regenerated 7 rivers in one area?

Come get an experience like you would not get elsewhere – Shazar puts the money made from the trip straight back into water harvesting in India.

Read more about Shazar’s event next year, here:

Eco-Sustainability Journeys  – Solutions That Work on The Adventure of a Lifetime

To get in contact with Shazar, to learn more or to contribute towards her work:



Websites to see more:



Facebook links:




Website Development Service: 

One of the ways that Shazar make some extra cash to support this work she does is by creating websites and Facebook business pages for people.

All of of her websites and the srdsindia.org and the shikshangram.com sites have been made by her,  including most of the content and the photography and sometimes video content  and editing also.

Interviewed by Yolanda Brand.


3 Minute Elevator pitch funds IDEA

Corporate Governance: the three-minute chance to fund your idea

Innovation needs investment funds. Entrepreneurs need investment funds. Entrepreneurs inside corporations, sometimes called intrepreneurs need investment funds. The process of research, development, product design and finally commericialisation is the end-to-end innovation process. The costs are incurred before the sales revenue is earned. Entrepreneurial spirit is required in all businesses. P.F Drucker thought that innovation and selling where the two critical management processes and capability for survival and growth. So how does an entrepreneur get the investment funds?

The venture capital (VC) approach is the easiest to describe and the principles apply everywhere. A VC wants a single page summary followed by a 5-page business and financial plan. If after they screen this plan they are still interested they will ask for the management team to present themselves and explain the: business model and franchise; management team and track record; and investment opportunity. This presentation needs only the last three minutes as they are assessing the calibre of the management team and understanding the investment opportunity. VCs are usually polite and let the entrepreneurs have 30 minutes and waffle. If the VC is convinced on the calibre of the team, then they may discuss the investment opportunity. VCs contrary to popular belief is in reality an administrative screening process of thousands of candidates ideas to find a few good ideas that have investment merit. The Entrepreneur needs to help the VC get through the process. Get the single page submission correct first time and know what and how to present the key points in three minutes.

In the corporate world the investment approach is similar it is just not such a transparent and simple end-to-end process. Many well-run corporations have a step-by-step investment process. First a good idea is approved by the department head.  Then it is submitted into the investment process, which is often led by the finance group. Different levels and depth of submission are needed at the feasibility stage, production planning stage and the final commercialisation stage by the sales force. Often there is a investment process committee chaired by the finance group, with representatives from corporate strategy to review and approve strategic fit, sales to review and approve fit with customer base; production to review and fit with production capability and so on. However even in a large corporate, a chance meeting with the CEO in the lift, gives the chance to tell the story and jump several steps in the investment process.

Any entrepreneur seeking a discussion with a business investor must describe in less than three minutes, one minute for a journey in a lift, the following: What do you want? What will you offer in return? What is your business model? Why do you have a great franchise? What is your management team track record? When do I get my investment return? Again for simplicity lets demonstrate this by considering getting attention and investment funds from a venture capital or business angel investor.

Entrepreneurs always think they have a great business idea and are baffled why they cannot convince others, apart from family and friends whom are duty bound, to investment in their company. Even more difficult is to get a discussion with a venture capitalist and the mythical business angel. Entrepreneurs need to understand the investor’s viewpoint and get a powerful first conversation.

Venture Capitalists have preferences for types of deal, company size, industry and investment approach. VCs invests a pool of private equity funds. They also often syndicate investments with other VCs to share the risk by taking smaller bites.

A business angel is investing their own private money, sometimes on behalf of a small private partnership or syndicate,in areas they can understand and are interested in.

The first step is to find the investor. The second step is to ask yourself if your idea fits their investment profile and selection criteria. If not move directly to the next, otherwise your time wasting reputation will move ahead of you. VCs follow a standard process starting with the one page initial application format. Get it and follow it. Business Angels tend to be more individualistic.

The best way to get an investor interested is to get referred by a friend whom has a professional connection to them. In California, this traditionally approach centered on a couple of coffee shops in San Jose and Stanford Village California. Often over early morning breakfast after jogging. This is California VC guanxi. Asia entrepreneurs will not have the guanxi so the office front door is the next best option. For an entrepreneur seeking a discussion with an investor be prepared to describe in less three minutes the following areas.

What do you want?

Be clear about how much money and when you want it. Be specific on any other business capabilities like alliance partners and distributors you want. Say if you want hands on involvement by the investor and even help in filling management team gaps.

What will you offer in return?

Be specific in what you will be offering in return such as interest, equity stake, share of franchise fee, consulting fee and royalty.

What is your business?

Describe what your business is about from your perspective. Then describe the business from the customers’ perspective of features, benefits and value adding. Specify how your product serves the customer’s need in terms of: a solution, solution options, and getting into action.

Why do you have a great business model and franchise?

Describe why you have a great business franchise, which means you will be better positioned than current competitors and new entrants. Describe your competitors and their products and their likely reaction to your product.

What is your management team capability and track record?

What is the capability and track record of the entrepreneur and the members of the management team? What gaps are there and how and when will you fill the gaps?

That’s all there is to the pitch.  The investor will be judging the calibre of the team first and the opportunity second. Always be convincing, committed, expectant and passionate.

Remember, the investor does not invest in business plans, ideas or technology they invest in people. Investors, in the west favour entrepreneurs whom have a track record of starting business, even if the businesses failed. In Asia, failure is often seen as losing face. This is a poor perspective to hold as a VC as untried entrepreneurs increases the risk profile of the investment over tired and failed entrepreneurs.  The profile of a good entepreneur is being committed, passionate, flexible, innovative, balancing risks, visionary and having multiple back up plans. The investor will first assess if the entrepreneur and the management teams values in the above and then functional and customer know-how in terms of innovation, financial control, marketing and sales. Do not be surprised if a condition of investment is to strengthen the management team, which will mean sacking a founding buddy sooner or later.

The investor needs to know the investment return, the downside and upside investment risks, and the exit approach. He will be assessing if the business can be sold to a trade investor or listed on a public security exchange. Investors tend not to lend money that is the province of banks, rather provide equity, which they later sell for a capital gain. Often the starting point is a mixture of equity plus debt with the debt later converted into equity or just repaid at the investor’s discretion or subject to pre-determined conditions. So do not be naïve and ask to borrow money and return it with a good interest rate, or ask for equity and suggest you will buy the equity back from your share of the profits. If you do not understand why this is naïve do not even attempt to raise investment funds.

The investor will also be looking to see if the entrepreneur is wedded to the business model. Passion and commitment is wanted but not ownership. After all the investor wants to sell the business to a new owner either a trade investor or the public via a listing. Many new listings of companies have the founder and majority owner stay on for too long and the listed company fails after a few years. The new owners will choose the Board of Directors and streamline the old management team and the founding members. Many great investment deals never get started because the founding entrepreneur and family members are fixated on owning the business. This approach largely precludes venture capitalists and business angels from getting involved. A true entrepreneur is motivated by starting and growing a business, and recognises that they will exit themselves when the business has out grown them. Professor Henry Mintzberg a expert in business organizations and strategy suggests there are six organization states, the first being direct supervision, which is suitable for small business, family run or entrepreneurial. To grow into a large organization different organization states and capabilities, processes, and structures are required. Simply, entrepreneurs have skills, capabilities and passion for creating a business and not for managing a large business.

Good hunting

Paul A Zaman is the CEO of Qualvin Advisory, would you like to know how to create sustainable wealth and become a good corporate citizens  email: pzaman@qualvin.com or visitwww.qualvin.com.