So I was in Hyderabad yesterday and I had to talk to a room full of people about myself and my work. This is usually super simple because I’ve done it so many times that I’m on autopilot with my story. But somehow, when I was writing this talk, something didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to stand in front of a room and not disclose what I was currently feeling. So that’s what I did. I’m not sure how it was received and I’m sure I could have done better, but hey, points for being brave right?
Hope you enjoy the talk, leave thoughts in the comments section please!
No Sugar Coat
5th May, Hyderabad
I wrote and rewrote this talk several times. I honestly thought Jo’s team would kill me if I dodged anymore of their calls. It took me a lot of time to decide what I wanted to talk to you about. I initially wanted to start with my story. The one where I tell you how I love baking and for a brief time I wanted to be a lawyer. I literally tried that for 2 weeks. And then I moved to Switzerland and fell in love with the pastry kitchen and moved to Paris. Paris is where I had my first macaron and knew that this is what I wanted to do with my life. Then I wanted to scratch that story and tell you the REAL story behind why I went to Paris in the first place. I was in love, silly young love, that I thought was everything and I followed my ex boyfriend to Paris. Then I thought that was too much information and we don’t really know each other that well (yet) for me to revealing this much to you.
I’ve always had problems accepting my achievements and I don’t take compliments well. So I thought I’d overcome that today and tell you about what all I’ve done in the last 9 years. You know like changing the way pastry is seen in the country, bringing macarons to the country, being on several lists- fellowships, baking for some super incredible people (including Ratan Tata and teaching the Trudeau family how to bake) , writing 3 books, winning awards, truly creating a brand of value.
Having young girls come to me and tell me they want to be chefs and really seeing that as my true contribution to the industry. And then I decided I would sound like a pompous ass (pardon my French) if I spoke about my achievements so I cancelled that.
I went back and forth in my head of what I really wanted to talk to you about. I thought I’ll talk to you about fear and overcoming your inhibitions by telling you a few stories. One story was about how I overcame a fear of dancing on stage by pushing myself to join a hip hop class and perform in front of a large auditorium. I did that for 3 years in a row! It wasn’t easy at ALL. I was petrified and honestly very terrible in class for the first month. I was lost and every class was a challenge. Till suddenly one day, it wasn’t. I changed my mind again and thought maybe I’ll talk to you about the time I ticked something off my bucket list and ran the half marathon in Mumbai. Yes, me, I did that 4 years ago. I was going to talk to you about how that was physically and mentally the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. About how when my running coach met me for the first time, he just looked me up and down and said NO. He really just said No, you can’t do it. I wasn’t a runner, I was overweight, we didn’t have enough time etc etc. I cried when he told me that and was ready to give up. I thought that was it and if the coach didn’t think I could do it, I probably couldn’t. Then I decided I had 2 choices – I could just give up, or I could just put my running shoes on and show up to practice each day. That’s what I did. And somewhere between running, walking, jogging and literally crawling… I managed to cross the finish line. Please, don’t ask me about the time because I definitely took wayyyy longer than I was supposed to – but hey, I did it!
I thought that would inspire you. And my fickle mind started playing games again.
I thought I’d tell you about the time 2 years ago when I decided to give a talk – in French, in front of 5000 French people – in France AND I didn’t speak much french. I thought I’d tell you about how hard I worked and all the lessons I took, all the podcasts I heard and all the rehearsals till I finally not only spoke in french – but made a room full of 5000 french people laugh (at my jokes and not my French!) Greatest. Achievement. Ever. I think that was a big accomplishment. So I wrote all of this down and I was going to send it to Joseph’s team. And then I read it all again and hey don’t get me wrong it sounded super amazing and wow what great inspiring stories these are. But to be very honest with you, the night before I was going to send this talk out – I was in bed crying till about 3 am. Like not like sweet cute tears but like actual full ugly sobbing. And I thought to myself – wow I have to wake up in the morning and write a talk that would somehow inspire this room. And then I cried some more. And a bit more. So to be very very honest with you, Im standing in front of you saying – it’s HARD! When people hear my story or when they write about me it’s usually – her life is a “cakewalk” or a “piece of cake”. And it’s really not. What my life is like is me trying to figure out a recipe written in Greek, with one hand tied at the back AND I’m blindfolded!! And I feel like we all feel like that sometimes. Entrepreneurship is lonely, it’s hard, it really entails you putting in your everything. It’s about being vulnerable and being brave at the same time. So I didn’t want to stand here and sugar coat anything for you. I’m not going to say following your passion is easy and life will fall into place if you do so. What I am going to say though is that it’s okay. It’s okay if you’re lost, it’s okay if you don’t have things figured out, it’s okay if you’re struggling, it’s really okay if you don’t know everything at this point in time. What I don’t think it’s okay is to stop trying, to feel like if you’ve failed at something then that means that you are a failure. I think it’s human to not know how things will turn out, to be unsure of what’s going to happen next.
It was still 3 am in the morning when I wrote this and I had just finished my sob fest. And I asked myself, after all this, what would be the one thing that I tell this room that would truly resonate with where I am currently in my life – and that is that NOBODY ever has anything totally figured out. Life is so dynamic and changes so fast each day. And for that it’s up to you to decide how you deal with life and all its changes. For me what usually works (besides chocolate and crying, clearly) is knowing that EVERYTHING is temporary. Whether it’s feelings of extreme joy, extreme happiness or extreme sadness…everything will pass. And what truly matters is how you remain in balance and remain centered in what life is going to bring to you. At all points in your life, you’ll have the choice to either give up, or just put those running shoes on and show up. And what you decide to do, will change everything.