He inspires change in big brands to top bands and college kids to corporates. In an exclusive interview with ParentCircle, Akash Gautam talks about loving his family and living life to the fullest.
By Aarthi Arun
As one of the top motivational speakers in India, Akash Gautam has helped many corporates and changed the lives of many for the better. His relatable, down-to-earth persona is what makes him a winner. And Akash's sessions are 100 per cent gyaan-free. Blending humour with a touch of sarcasm, Akash has aced many stages — from big auditoriums and boardrooms, to open fields and even, Tihar jail — to make a difference in the lives of others. On the personal front, this father-of-two is also a very hands-on parent. He believes it is essential we give 100 per cent in order to become better parents. And to live more fulfilling lives. Here are excerpts from an interview:
You say that your talks are about motivation minus all the gyaan. Can you explain to us how you do that?
Usually, motivation is all about quotes and books, which are 99 percent data. This data just comes and goes. But I try to talk in the language that people understand. I achieve this by using humour, sarcasm and storytelling. I tend to question the norm, take a contrarian view and try to break the mould.
You have a degree from NIFT, and you worked in the fashion industry. How did you become a motivational speaker?
From fashion to passion — that is my story (laughs). I was fired from my job for demotivating my colleagues. So, I decided to become a motivational speaker!
Have you always wanted to help and inspire others?
When I was young, I didn't. I just wanted to earn money and become famous. Later on, I realised that those were flimsy goals. Now, with the work I do, I add meaning to others' lives, which is fulfilling for me as well.
Tell us about your childhood.
I grew up in Dharamshala. I am a small-town guy, who was not over-exposed to big city life. I am from a family of doctors. I was average in studies, but I had a good memory. I always had the knack of winning people over. I think that is what led me to this career.
Who is your inspiration?
No one. When I was young, I never read a single self-help book. I learnt to do this based on my experiences — I am an observer of people, and I study life.
Can motivation help one's physical and mental well-being?
It does. It definitely does... but probably only two–three percent. You simply can't change people. Everyone has their own vrithi (momentum), and they keep going in their momentum. Some have a relationship momentum, a money momentum and so on. Some have no momentum at all, that is also a momentum. Breaking that is very difficult. You can talk to people, and they'll listen to you, yet they won't change — they change only when their momentum changes.
Are you a spiritual person?
Yes, I am. I meditate every day. Though I don't follow it judiciously, I try to meditate twice or thrice a day.
Wealth and fame don't bring happiness after a certain point. How can we find happiness?
Money and fame are important. But, we only want to grab more and more. We are not givers — we don't give anything back. That's our problem. For example, you buy a 750 square feet, two-bedroom, slum-facing apartment on the 40th floor in Mumbai. You commute for hours by crowded train every day and pay EMI for the rest of your life. Society perceives this as a good life.
Any stress-busting ideas?
I have a very practical rule that works well. It is called the 90-60-30 rule. For the first 90 minutes after waking, don't touch your mobile phone. It is a time for you to reconnect with yourself. You can't deprive your mind of this sacred time. Similarly, after you come back from work, don't check your mobile phone for 60 minutes. This is your time to renew and restore your energy and connect with your family members. And, stop using your phone 30 minutes before going to bed.
Can you tell us about your children?
I have two children — a 12-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. My daughter is the first girl in our family in six to seven generations. Having a daughter is the most amazing feeling in the world. It makes coming back home after trips so much more special. There is truly a magical bond between a father and a daughter.
What is your parenting style or philosophy?
Children will only listen to you only until 12–13 years of age, then they become independent. We have not been using the TV for the last eight years, and I haven't been on WhatsApp for the last one year. We purposefully avoid this in our home for the benefit of our son. And the first five books that my son read, I read it with him. I play with my son — we play Ludo as a family. We also play vocabulary and mental calculation games.
What challenges do you face while parenting your children?
My son has taken after his mother, and not after me (laughs). That is the first challenge. I think when both parents work, parenting and spending time together becomes difficult. My wife is around to take care of the children, and it works for us. Children also need to stay close to their grandparents to learn values. And, love your spouse — that is the best thing for your children.
Has parenting changed in the recent times?
Yes, of course. Parents have become more loving. And children get specialised attention. It was not like that before when parents had four or five children to raise. Nowadays, if there are three persons in the house, they call it a joint family!
Has becoming a parent changed you? Have you become more patient?
Parenting has changed me, yes. But, I have become more impatient. Now, I look forward to coming back home. Staying in hotel rooms and living out of a suitcase has reduced. It's like mithya (unreal things) has become sathya (meaningful things). I want to be with my family more.
How can parents motivate their children?
Parents should do things that they want their children to do. Children simply copy their parents till they turn 13 years old.
How can one pursue motivational speaking?
Every day, I get 5 to 10 emails on the same question. But, there are no rules. You just need to maintain that eccentricity. You have to hang on for at least 10 years. It is not magic, and you need to be patient. Even in a marriage, you need to wait for 10 years to see if it works! Then, you can build thought leadership that is symbolic of you, and it can work out. But, it will take years.
Any message for PC readers?
The best gift that a father can give his children is to love their mother. That's the important thing. Play a lot with your children. The best investment that I made was the Rs 200 I spent on a Ludo game.
To know more about the motivational speaker check: www.akashgautam.com
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