Episode 3

Going Big and Bold in Your Business

with

Anu Bidani

Anu Bidani is a passionate innovator, leader, and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of STEM MINDS, a company that empowers our youth to become fearless leaders, game changers and problem solvers by developing a love of learning through science, technology, engineering, and math.

In this conversation, you'll enjoy 3 BIG things:

Episode Transcript

This transcription was made for your convenience. Please excuse any mistakes the automated service made.

Anu: [00:00:00] So when I did switch my careers from corporate to entrepreneurship, the same fear kicked in my God, you’ve done, you know, 20 years of financial services, you’re going into education. How can you do it?

so I actually was, I was born in India, but I left India when I was 10 years old. My dad was an expat. So we traveled around different countries, you know? So my whole life growing up as a young individual was all about change every three to five years, which countries we lived in different places. So I to change was part of my DNA.

I grew up. Always being in new environments, learning to adapt and integrate. I was always about integration. And so my last, my dad’s last posting was in Egypt where I actually graduated with my computer science degree from American university in Cairo, which is affiliated with Columbia university in us.

So from there coming to Canada, uh, you know, but my degree was actually a breeze for me. I came in, I was by degree, was recognized. I right away, got into work and have to. This computer science was such a field in demand. So it was easy for me to get into work. And it was interesting. I hadn’t degree in computer science, I got my first job in coding and I actually hated coding.

I did not enjoy it. And I’m like, Oh my God, I spent all this time thinking this degree, what I’m looking to do now. But it was interesting. Cause I ended up getting a job in the it audit and I suddenly realized. Computer science was a lot more than coding technology management, patient management, cyber security.

There was so many other fields that I could work in that I never recognized when I got my degree. So looking at audit was my, that pivoting moment where I realized, Oh my God, I can learn so much. I can see organizations from a lens that most people don’t see.

Hilda: [00:02:09] It’s true. Cause you get the full picture as you’re looking at that.

Anu: [00:02:13] Yeah, absolutely. So I spent my first 10 years of my career actually doing technology audits. Um, I would audit domestic operations and insurance. I did financial services. I did two years international audit, which was a real growth opportunity for me because I traveled all around the world. I was in Argentina.

I went to Chile. I Caribbean, like I was, it was a highlight of my career.

Hilda: [00:02:38] I can see the smile and the twinkle in your eye. When you say the travel part.

Anu: [00:02:45] My experiences with my kids. Like what are the enablers as a young person out of university, been given those opportunities to experience very powerful made for me. And I think that’s where in my mind, I went to the journey of fearless learning myself. Because every time I went into this new experience, I learned something new about myself.

And, and so what happened was in my, and I stayed in, in, you know, my last. Carpet could for over 20 years. And I grew in that company with different roles every three to five years. So I really, I got the benefit of great leadership and opportunities to grow. And so change. Learning was always in my mind.

And I think as I grew in my career and I matured, uh, you know, that company, I, I wa I went in there as a junior auditor and I left the company as a managing director. I think highlights successes you can have in any organization. Um, you know, when there’s a support network to help you grow and become good leaders.

And that was, for me, it was very key. Um, and in those roles is I think, where. The whole seeds of skills germinated for me, because I would hire co-op students in tomato internship students. And I realized the talent and skills I was looking was, was really not up to par as I would like to have seen it.

And then I was seeing my kids, my kids at that time were both in elementary school and I’m like, My kids would never, ever make it to a pile of a review of a resume just because they will kill just one shine. So I reached a point in my career where it was pivoting time, you know, should I stay in corporate and do something else?

And I opted to go into entrepreneurship. Um, and that’s where, you know, my, all my years of experience and mindset just kind of melded together and created a perfect opportunity to launch their minds. So my kids were my inspiration, um, in how do I address this issue of disconnect? And skills that employers were looking for and what kids were learning in school.

And, you know, I have to say I was blessed with the opportunity where I could put my kids in good programs to give them those experiences. And I did spend the money and time doing it, but I did not get the value that I expected. So I had to literally step back and say, okay, I see this disconnect. I know there’s a problem.

I gotta fix it. And I have to fix it. From my mind, like as a parent, as, as an employer, what would I want my kids to do? And that was the inspiration for launching STEM minds. Um, it was truly about, it was truly about making sure my kids two already. And as I did my deep dive, I realized, Oh my God, there’s a whole.

Group of kids would all fall in the same category that would need the help. And that was the journey of, you know, STEM mind starting out. And I’ve never looked back truly, truly enjoy that journey, that experience. And I still do every day.

Hilda: [00:05:42] I love the vision that you have. It’s fearless leaders. You want to create fearless leaders for the future and hearing about your experience growing up. Really, I think does summarize what you you’ve done yourself. I think it’s very. Poignant when people have that opportunity to work or to, to grow up in a village, right?

You have different backgrounds and experiences, and you talked about change and you talked about integrating, and I think that seen that, that early experience has really brought you to where you are today. So tell us a little bit more about that. Fearless learning that you’ve, that you’ve really enjoyed embedded into your, your company.

Anu: [00:06:27] I, I, I do want to acknowledge how that I wasn’t a fearless learner day one. Every time I had to make a change. I was afraid. I was afraid of how I would be perceived. I was afraid, Oh, I’m an April former. Will I fail? What would that do for me early stages? I would always have butterflies in my stomach.

Every time I did a change, I would look in the mirror like, Oh my God, can I really do it? Self doubt was always then. And what I recognize is that every time I actually went to a change, I was always successful. I never failed. And I think that’s what led me to constantly keep on moving forward and recognizing I’ve done it before I can do it again.

So when I did switch my careers from corporate to entrepreneurship, the same fear kicked in my God, you’ve done, you know, 20 years of financial services, you’re going into education. How can you do it? Right. But it’s reminding myself. I’ve done it before I can do it again. I, you know, I solved a problem for others before I can solve my own problems going forward.

So I think having gone through that experience, that journey, um, makes it more attentive for you. I can go talk to my staff about authentic leadership. Because I’ve done it myself. We can talk to kids about being fearless learners and being fearless leaders because we’re doing it ourselves. Um, you know, even all my team that I hired, we, even though, you know, we teach STEM content.

Majority of my staff are non STEM teachers. And there was a very deliberate strategy in hiring non STEM teachers, because how can I go up there and the teachers, but teach coding to your children in the classroom or app development or web development. If all I hired was STEM professionals, how would they relate to them?

You can’t. So I think that would tend to city of how you yeah. How you address that problem. And you create that fearless learning environment. That’s where then how you do the engagement and connection. So my staff can now connect with kids because they themselves learn. Right. They can connect to teachers because it, themselves learned.

Hilda: [00:08:33] I think this is a good point that I want to draw attention to the listeners because so many times in. In working with some of my clients, they want to hire, but they, they want to hire, well, they have to have this and this and this, and they don’t want to hire based on potential and the capacity and the ability to learn certain things.

You can’t hire somebody who has checks off all of the boxes. There’s no room for growth. There’s no challenge. So for you to share this with the audience is powerful. That please, when you’re looking at resumes, don’t look for everything that you need, look for what you need, but does there, this person has the capacity or the potential to do that.

So, so that, that’s amazing. That’s an, because you would assume without you pointing out that everybody should have had been STEM, STEM, experienced people, right.

Anu: [00:09:29] And I think the hunger for learning. Is what drives curiosity. It drives the desire to want to learn more of the passion for impact. I think there are so many soft skills that we do not highlight when we’re looking for hire in my career. I’ve always hired on potential and I’ve had the best. Team. Um, and it’s because people have so much room to learn and grow.

There’s never a dull moment. I people get excited about that. So it’s a very important point. And I’ve seen like I’ve seen a success of that model and I stick to it. So hopefully, you know, as people look into growing their teams, I look for that passion. Look for the soft skills. They’ll take you so much further ahead.

And somebody with a package of all technical skills together.

Hilda: [00:10:17] Have you noticed that mindset of fearless learning in either some of the students that keep coming back or your staff? Can you give us some, an example of, of what you’ve seen.

Anu: [00:10:31] Oh, yeah. I mean, feed my staff that fearless learning is there because fearless learning comes with a few more. Strings attached to it. Fearless learning comes with the fact that I will make mistakes and it’s okay. No, one’s going to judge me for making those mistakes. So creating a safe environment to experiment and try new things without worrying about.

Consequences do you personally, I think is really important, but create the safe place. Um, and I do do that and my team also does this same thing. We all recognize we’re going to try new things. Some may work great. Some may not work, but we’re going to learn from it and we’re going to move forward. And the same value we instill in our children.

Like, you know, if you’ve never done, you know, Courting with electronics before. Quiet, if you didn’t like it, no issues, anything else without any, um, any penalties or any financial implications for parents, we really make it risk free. And I think if we’re going to talk about fearless learning, we need to create a safe place with no strings attached, to be able to do that.

Um,

Hilda: [00:11:36] what advice would you give to people? Who really have that kind of fear of making mistakes? Cause you said you in your life you’ve experienced that because I know some organizations, some people I say, you know, we want to have a and culture, their mistakes will happen and it’s part of learning. But I think sometimes.

Some organizations don’t have that or they say they have that, but they really don’t. You make a mistake, you are felt, you know, you feel the, the brunt of, of that. Yeah. You know, so it really isn’t that kind of learning. So how, how do you, what’s your recipe for success on that? What advice would you give to people out there?

Anu: [00:12:23] I think it’s really important as a leader to recognize that if things go wrong and they don’t go your way, you’re going to lash out at your staff. You’re not going to point fingers at anybody. I think it’s really important if you’re going to instill that culture to recognize. And if it’s just happened, take a deep breath. Learn from it. See what happened. And this worked and deal with the consequences. I have never, ever held myself staff accountable when it comes to making mistakes. I take that accountability as a needed, because I’m the one who wants to create a safe place for them. I never want them to be afraid to put their hand up and say, I want to try this and I do it.

So I take that accountability for myself and I am very cautious of it. Um, and I have always. Made this as in the choices that I never let anyone feel that having gone through that experiment was a bad idea. So I think it comes from a leadership that you have to instill that at a leadership level, at a cultural level and demonstrate not just by words, but by examples.

But it’s okay. And you know, and I’ve had my, as I said, as a teacher, we all make mistakes. And if I make a mistake in a decision that I made, I’m also not shy and acknowledging to my team saying, Hey, you know what? I tried this, it was my choice. My call didn’t work out. No big deal. Let’s go forward. So I think as you exemplify, you know, that value system yourself and allow your team.

To do the same. You naturally build a collection. You’re in an environment where people are okay with it. And then, you know, especially when it comes to talking to people, they can relate to those experiences themselves. And I think it’s really important, especially in the business of kids where, you know, the, the bar is much higher in terms of the value system that we showcase the kids.

Right. It has to be authentic. It has to come from a real place because kids look up to role models. That’s what sometime influences who they are, what they’re going to do. So it’s really, really important that it is instilled in the companies. Cultural DNA from top to bottom, and everyone believes in it consistently.

Hilda: [00:14:36] Yeah, and I think that’s so important when you establish your culture, you make sure it’s consistent and you practice it. Cause when you say something and the minute they try it like failure and they get yelled at, they realized that that was just lip service. So love, love that when we were talking earlier before the, the, the, the interview, you talked about another thing about making big and bold decisions.

Do you want to share some of those, those big and bold decisions that help have helped STEM minds be where they are right now?

Anu: [00:15:08] Yep. Yep. Um, I, as, as you know, you and I both were part of the master class with Eleanor and I have to say that coaching was my pivoting moment where I recognize that that having the self confidence is the key ingredient. And making big and bold decisions, especially as women entrepreneurs, we eat sometimes hold ourselves back, thinking small listing, you will risk.

You know, I just want to be successful in what I do. And what I’ve learned is making big and bold decisions. Even if they’re mistakes in it is actually very powerful. And it, it, it has meaning gave me more comfortable in my own skin. And in my boundaries where I can push myself. So I’m a firm believer that making big and bold decisions are very important.

And I made that big decision, but year and a half ago, when I opted as my growth and scale strategy to go online. And I did that decision. Um, without funding, I had no investor funding. I’m still a self funded business and it was like making the big decision. I want to go global. I want to go with every country with my online platform was a very big, bold move for me.

Um, but I, even though I knew I didn’t have the funding to do it, I still made that call because in my mind, I know I can get there. And I know I can get there because I’m confident in my abilities as a business leader, as an entrepreneur, as a mother who knows as a problem, either that has to get fixed, you really bring it all together and that it just supports your ability to make those decisions in confidence.

And I have found since that pivoting learning moment of my own personal growth, I am not shy now and thinking big. I do not think small. I don’t look at making small increments. I am happy for big increments. And when people say, how are you going to get it? I have the, I have a good thought process behind it and I can justify it.

So, you know, I made a common saying in three years, I, I can be a $5 million company and somebody goes, how will you get 5 million in revenue? Like, you’re just a small entity. And I’m like, Well, if I grow, if I have a platform that I can grow globally, I can do sales here. I can do sales. You look at the volume, the numbers of market size it’s supports it.

And suddenly that I’m okay. I can understand that. So I think, you know, I would have never said that before. If I didn’t have a financial model where every little thing checked off before, but now I’m comfortable in my own skin that I can make those decisions. I can make those calls and I will still be okay.

So I think, you know, being bold is really important because you will see yourself growing way more exponentially. If you did not make this moments.

Hilda: [00:17:55] And I find that as women, sometimes there is that self doubt, but, but why to hear through your story is that it started off. Having that opportunity to be. In various places in your life, you know, Egypt, one moment and all over the world. So yeah, after a while you say, Hey, I can do this. And I think that’s brought you, everything that you’ve done before that international exposure early in life has made you say.

Hey, I can do that globally. I I’ve been around the world. I I know enough and your computer science degree. So all our computer engineering degree, all of this has really brought you to where you are today as a CEO self-confident women. So for those males and females out there, it is about building is about trying.

And the more you try, the more you realize I can do this. And that gives you that self confidence. So, so keep at it, those of you who are still trying to figure it out, learn more about yourself, gain that confidence. So, you know, power, powerful lesson for our listeners, and I’m just happy for that success for you.

What are the things that you were going to talk about in terms of these big, bold decisions that, that you’ve made? What’s another pivotal point for you?

Anu: [00:19:15] I think also to the journey, what I recognized is, you know, I can’t do it by myself. Uh, there’s not enough hours in the day, even with all this portfolio of experiences I’ve built, I don’t know everything. And recognizing that to scale and grow, you need partnerships. And I think that’s a very, very fundamental ingredient for success and growth.

Um, so in my case, you know, there were things that I was good at, and there were things that I knew enough about. But just didn’t know how to execute. So when it came to building the culture of the team, you know, as you know, I, I invited you to, to help us out with that training leadership training for my staff, helping us build that whole HR model, um, of, of a platform, which I could replicate that cultural experience again, was very key.

So I think it’s really important to identify where in your portfolio work you’re good at and where do you need help from me? I recognize. HR training skill development was one area where I partnered with you. Marketing is another area. I understand marketing. I am not the creative person who can create the beautiful infographics and pictures and videos.

And I can’t do that. So I also said function to, to, uh, to other businesses that support me in that strategy. I’m not big enough to hire a CTO. So I actually have an outsource technology development company here locally that works with me in my techniques. Um, you know, I wanted to build ours for our online platform.

So I partnered with New York university. So I think it’s really important to recognize that you can scale to partnerships because making big and bold decisions equates to. Growth and scale, but then do growth and scale. You need partnerships. So there are all these interrelated disciplines. You do have to understand because that will help you actually make those all decisions in reality.

So I think it’s really important and recognize that where you need help and get that help.

Hilda: [00:21:18] aye. I, I want to draw upon that decision that you made to use an HR person and particularly want to focus on you decided that you wanted to have manager training. Your staff were. Fresh out of, of, out of it, teachers college with very little experience, but you saw the gyms in them. You saw that potential.

And what I admired in you, you said Hilda, I want these people to understand their, their roles. These are my feature direct. They’re my directors, but they’re my future directors as we grow global. Okay. And you said, we need a 10 week course, you know, one hour a week, some coaching with them. And what I found in that journey with you was that these people were given a gift that most managers don’t get many managers, don’t get some formal training and then many managers don’t have coaching.

And these people were getting coaching on how to be good managers in their twenties. Most of us don’t even get that information training until we’re 30 or 40. So. This is example of you and this full decision. And I watched these, these people grow in their confidence of being the kind of leaders that they wanted, because part of it is not being the leader that other people expect you to be.

But being that unique self. And taking your uniqueness and making yourself the leader that you’re confident and comfortable with. So kudos to you on that. And I am very, very honored to be part of that journey of your growth. It’s STEM mind.

Anu: [00:22:54] and I have to say, hello, your training and coaching was very, very critical. To the success that we’re having as a vistas today, because my team is so ready to embrace new opportunities and grow, and they’ve all been given the freedom to be their own leaders in their own skin. They don’t have to replicate me or anybody else.

They just have to be themselves and their best will shine through their process. And you give them those tools, those strategies to be, become those comfortable leaders. And, you know, then reality is, um, in, in university colleges, I wished it was it’s more training has been given to students on leadership.

A lot of them come out of graduate degrees, but they really don’t understand how to be in a work environment. And the communication aspects, working with peers, there’s so many aspects that will make somebody successful. And I know a lot of small businesses thinking what I don’t need, that I’m too small for it.

And I’m going to encourage them to say, we think that because your success, your growth will depend on how good your team is in supporting your vision and vision. And, and having that then mindset edit in your team. Look, first of all, as a business owner and entrepreneur will give you the confidence that you’re not alone in it.

You have an entire team that has been growing that mindset and will be there to help you.

Hilda: [00:24:18] T tell, tell the people how many people staff you currently have so that they might not know how big your, your team is.

Anu: [00:24:26] I have a team of 16 staff now. Um, you know, when I started my business in 2016, I started with four part time staff. Um, and I’ve been growing since then and during Canada during summer and doing project peaks, we go up to almost 20, 25 people. Um, so, but I have a core team of 16. I would say all of my team is under 30.

And so they all are learning and finding their own group, finding their own leadership, they finding their own passion. Um, and I have to say it’s very energizing to work with that. The vet team, because I learn every day from them. Um, and I am blessed that we’re together because we feed off each other’s energy and, and we have fun.

And then you bring the kids in the mixtures and it’s even more fun.

Hilda: [00:25:16] Yeah, I really appreciated being part of that team for about, you know, for about six, six or seven months. And it was kind of sad when I had my last class, my last coaching, you know, but I’d seen them so evolve in that period of time. I wanted to share that the size of your organization, cause people would probably say, Oh, well, she’s about 40 people and she can afford this.

But one thing I want you to share with people is that you actually. As a manager, nurture and support and allow your team to grow, grow by mistakes. A lot of people who are entrepreneurs, a lot of people who are managers have trouble letting go. They need that control. They need. They don’t seem to have that different levels.

So do you have any tips and strategies on how people well can get that comfort or move towards that to be a better leader or be a better boss?

Anu: [00:26:18] Um, I have realized in my life micromanage actually inhibits creativity. It inhibits growth, it impacts confidence and it does not allow people to grow. So I have a framework with which I work and that framework is based on guidance and support. So when we have this big, bold decisions to make, there’s lots to do, I will set up the framework.

And even though I have the answers of how to do it, I will let the team discover it. And the reason I do that is because if everything was only done with my mind, I will not have another perspective to work with. So the framework creates a container. But how we execute within that container is a freedom.

I give my staff and I learned this very early on in my career. I went to a, and then I was in my corporate career. I’ve been to a leadership training program and it was, I was selected in a lead 12 candidates were selected in the entire organization to go to this training. And I was an April former confident I could never do anything wrong.

I was just so perfect that it. I went into this program and I miserably failed my day one. I had tears. I was like, how could I, who was an April form of failing my first leadership task? And that’s where I learned the power of leadership to delegation. I had made the big mistake of thinking I can do it.

Let me pull my sleep. I’ll get it done. We’ll be on time. We’ll be the top winning team. Well, it wasn’t the fact that I did the job. It was how I did it made a big difference. So I, it was a learning moment in my life that I have never forgotten. So even when I launch my own business, I always had that perspective in mind that if I want to ever grow and scale my business, The art of delegation needs to be upfront.

And I need to give people the freedom as part of the law, that delegation to come up with choices. The way I do that is, as I said, I have a framework I’ll give direction to my staff and I will always tell them when you don’t know where you want to go ask me. I will always have an answer for you, but I want you to reach that journey yourself.

And I think having that mindset, you know, since day one, I have not reached a point where my team actually thinks like me because we have all now realized that we started from different points. But because of this mindset of learning to our own experiences are all kind of intersecting together that. We are able to look at opportunities from different lenses, but so drive the same end result.

And I think that’s been very fundamental for my ability to grow and scale, because if I had done everything myself, I would have never been able to train a team to think like how I do. And you can’t expect people to pink. Like you do my talking, it has to be done. And it can only be done when you allow people to do it and make mistakes with that and being patient with them as they go to the journey of learning.

Right.

Hilda: [00:29:31] Yeah. It’s so important. I think, you know, people have gotten a lot of. Of insights thrown from you today. It’s just been an amazing year. You can tell you’ve got a computer engineering brain. It’s very systems. It’s very systems processing. It’s analytical. I remember one time in our. Are our coaching sessions with Eleanor and she asked about metrics you had your Excel spreadsheet and, and everything.

And I mean, this is I wasn’t on phone that day, so I couldn’t see anybody’s face, but I could just imagine everybody’s jaw dropping because everybody’s kind of here in their infancy about learning how to do metrics. And then there’s a new, like way out there. He’s got it all kind of calculated and figured out and I’m sure.

Everything that you’ve done is really brought you to where you are today. And that’s actually a quote from, from, um, Chris Hadfield. I was, I was on an airplane and I was reading an article and somebody said, Oh, Oh, so Chris, what’s it like being a former astronaut? To which he actually said he’s, I’d like to, to think that everything that I’ve done before besides being an astronaut and you know, has brought me to where I am today and that resonated with me because I started off as a nurse.

I ended up, you know, It’s launching a company with my husband and engineering company from a nurse to an engineer. And then I’ve launched my new company that focused on human resources and every experience I had really helped me with all the previous. And I hear that in your company too, you know, that all the things that have brought you to STEM minds has really helped.

You to, to, to escalate, share with us where we’re STEM minds is now. Huh? You have pivoted. So, so remarkably during COVID-19 I’d like you to share with our listeners, what you mean did, um, to, to move from a period of COVID-19 where afterschool programming essentially was kind of put on hold for a while.

What happened there?

Anu: [00:31:44] So, you know, 2019 was the year we actually had done a lot of content development, built up a platform. We were ready for sale. We had, we went on a good growth trajectory for 2020, and we actually had a lot of business already booked. Um, Ben Corbett hit us. So it was March 13th. We’ll always been gamed on my mind.

When we, as a team, all sat in there, looking at each other, like, okay, we’re going to lose all this money now because we have to. You can’t do these things, but what are we going to do? And you know, that was a pivoting moment. And we said, you know what? We spend all this time building online platform. That’s a journey.

That’s what we’re going to do. So we pulled together ourselves as a team and overnight launch. I wish for cam starting the first week of the March break week and Helda, we haven’t stopped. We have gone from running two camps a day. Do we almost running three to five camps? Dave? The majority of my camps.

Yeah, but most importantly, I have just expanded my entire client base before a lot of our clients were from New York region. Now I have province-wide clients. I have national clients from different provinces coming in. I have a lot of us clients coming in to the point that. I’m actually launching the U S website in a week’s time now, because we’ve got an entire audience from there.

You know, we launched a carpet membership program where companies, whose employees were working from home, we could do camps for the kids while employees were busy. And I now have companies from us contacting us saying, can you run those programs for us, for our kids in us? So I it’s interesting, the market was ready for a product and COVID just fueled it.

To make it happen. So we’ve pivoted really well. And even when everything was back to normal, the reality is now I will have to diversify streams of revenue and in-person programming, which we do in our learning centers and in public schools. And the second would just totally a global international platform for virtual learning.

So, you know, it. It was, it was, it was a few hours of grievance that we went through. Nope.

I, I, um, I, and I wouldn’t underestimate it because I think going through the grieving process was really key to recognize. We are all people, we work really hard. We spend a lot of money in marketing and selling a product and we lost it. All overnight. And I had to go through the grievance to get the energy and fire to pivot because it made me more hungry to want to win in the pivot.

Because it was like, I am not going down my 20% growth trajectory. I need it. I’m going for it. And that’s fire is what fuel the pivot. And it gave me the energy to do all the things I needed to do. And now, as I said, I’m super excited. Virtual camps are going well. I’ve got national audience coming in USA.

It’s going live in a weeks time. I’ve already got clients coming in. So I feel like finally that being a global business dream will come true.

Hilda: [00:34:54] I know it sounds almost like around the corner, right? I have to say that you’re right. Like I think each of us would have responded to COVID-19, you know, in our own different ways. And I remember myself saying, Oh, well, that’s it, you know, we’re, we’re not supposed to be, you know, we’re supposed to be work virtually or not at all.

And I thought, okay, well, we’ll just, just. Write it out for three months and we’ll see. And then, then like overnight, I thought, wait a minute, I’m human resources. There are so many businesses who need information about interpreting all the government changes. And what does that mean to their work culture?

What does that mean to their staff remotely? And within a week we said, we’re, we’re doing webinars to inform our. P to informed companies and human resources, decision makers. And so from the day we heard, one week later, we had a website webinar. We had a webinar running twice a week within one week and people were coming back like a month later and starting to introduce their webinars.

So I know what you mean, fire in the belly, getting. Don, you know, and we were primed, we were prime because we’d already done websites, webinars before, and we had our payroll system pay system to do it. So we were able to just pull all the resources. to

Anu: [00:36:19] So I was going to add one more thing. I was going to say, like, I want to give you kudos for being there for businesses in that moment, your webinars for amazing. I always look for the newsletter, the updates, because it always gives me so much information to vet and validate my understanding, but also give me an opportunity to connect.

So, and you know, and in these moments when you, we’ve all kind of been there for our community for our clients, I think is a very key factor. I’m pulling together through this phase and you did an amazing job.

Hilda: [00:36:50] Oh, thank you. And you’re one of my guests. I think that was one of the, the webinars people should listen to because it had four different people talk about their experiences, you know, early days of COVID and moving forward into what next kind of stuff. Yeah. Touched upon one other thing about giving back to society.

And I, I think, you know, you are a B to, um, what’s that call it B to a B Corp and beat Korea company. And, and that is a certification that has quite a bit of distinction to it. And part of that. The criteria is that you’re giving back to community you’re environmentally friendly share with, with our listeners, that part of you and your company that gives back to too it’s society and the community

Anu: [00:37:38] So when I launched my business in 2016, I had a big debate, you know, should I be a not-for-profit or should I be a, for profit? And I opted to be a for-profit social enterprise, because I wanted to make sure that I built a business in a way that it was self-sustainable that I could grow and invest in it.

But I also wanted to have a social consciousness, especially if you work with kids. I think it’s really important that inclusion accessibility of very key ingredients in making sure that every child has access to STEM education. This should not be an option. It should be a basic right of every child. So I knew that in my mindset, I wanted to do it.

And B Corp was a really good way of making that commitment. Not only just in terms of word, but showing it. And with BEACOPP certification, you have an independent party that actually does a full audit review of your practices and principles and how you operate to make sure that you deserve that suffocation.

It took me three years to get ready for it. And I have to say, I am so proud of making that decision because being a B Corp means that you do what’s right over profitability. And I have made those decisions to add my journey at STEM minds, where it hasn’t always been about money. It has been about doing right for the families, for the children.

And I do give back in that form in many way. You know, if kids can’t afford it, we will give free scholarships. We run free community events. We partner with organizations to make programming accessible. And even during this phase of COVID. Uh, you know, I price my products, not for profitability, just basically, so I could cover my cost to pay my staff.

So I have made those choices and decisions to make sure that we are available accessible and can reach every community that. Has a need for supporting the youth. Um, and so giving back in that, in the form of scholarships events, uh, you know, every time there are, uh, I guess community events that happen where they’re looking for a support for giving awards to kids, those things were always there to support that.

Um, so yeah, so I firmly believe in that giving back to the community in whatever capacity that you can do in corporate. You know, when my, my facility was shut down, we converted it into a. PPE production facility and all my Tweedy printers, laser cutters, everything was used to make PP for health and workers.

And again, it was getting back to the community because the need was there. So I’m always looking at, you know, where the needs are, how we can support, um, and I don’t make those decisions based on profitability. I make it on what’s the right thing to do for the larger goodness. In our community and our society.

And then that, that principle not only just resonates with me, but my entire team, we all have that ingrained in our mindset of how we, how we engage with our community.

Hilda: [00:40:30] And I see the joy, uh, in your, in you, when you talk about that gift of giving, giving back. And, and I think one of the beauties of being an entrepreneur and hopefully you have enough money to do it, is, is that ability to give back when my husband and I had had our own company, I trans we actually yep. At one point, we said, we can afford it now let’s, let’s give a scholarship to your Alma mater.

So U of T actually has an I trans uh, Ontario government’s scholarship for graduate studies and it’s in perpetuity so long after my husband are on, are gone, that I transcribed we’ll we’ll carry on in it’s that gift of. Being in a position where you can influence people running a business and then you can give back.

And so we always looked at the opportunity to give back to our community and our community was our professional community and our geographical community. And I see the joy in your eyes as you talk about it. And, and the thing that you’ve. Acted as a role model and hired the people, people who also want to do that, you know, that that’s part of the DNA of STEM minds.

That’s part of the DNA of you and the staff that, that you hired. Is there anything else you want to share with our, our listeners too today that, that, um, I haven’t kind of gotten you to yeah. Kind of share at this point.

Anu: [00:41:58] No, I think you’ve really captured the spirit of, you know, what I truly believe are ingredients for success. You know, making those big, bold decisions, being fearless in your experiences and learning, um, scaling through partnerships, you know, power delegation, like all of these to me are such critical components to be successful in your, whatever your venture is.

These things don’t change venture by venture. They’re there. Um, give yourself, give yourself the freedom to experience it. Right. And I think that’s what key message here is.

Hilda: [00:42:30] And I think in, in, in these COVID-19 times right now is we’ve all learned how to be flexible, to be more adaptable and forgiving of people would when the first days of zoom happened, you can remember say, now, now go, there’s a chat button there, or you put it on. You’re on mute. You need to push this button here.

And everybody was just so flexible. And yet, so many people now are using zoom who would never probably have done it for another decade because they couldn’t see the need for it. So we’ve taught ourselves to try and to, and, and to be it’s. Okay. You don’t have to be perfect. Just get it going and tweak it later.

Okay. It’s been a joy to have you a new, I want to make sure people know how to get ahold of you. If they’re interested in some of the afterschool programs, can you give your website? And if you want to give your email, if you want to have people contact, tell us a little bit more about how we can help, um, others who are listeners and yourself in terms of your company.

Anu: [00:43:32] Sure www dot  dot com. You know, look at us websites, see what we do. Um, if you have any, where we send them to Intuit STEM, minds.com, VRA responsive, you know, we will get back to, um, check out virtual camps. Um, you know what I mean, doing this COVID period, um, even run. We’re running some amazing programs that kids love.

Um, so give yourself the opportunity to explore that with your kids and see where the passion is. Um, and you know, and, uh, we’re here for the community and, um, we will all come through this covert phase as successful and stronger community leaders than anything else.

Hilda: [00:44:10] Well, thank you. I have found your, your sharing of your experience to help. Us as listening in our journey, whether it’s in a career or in, in an entrepreneurship. I just love the gyms for us to be bold, to try to gain self confidence in what you do, and to have some real core principles of partnership of.

Of having a vision and like yours, you know, your fearless learning and use that as your platform to hire the staff, you need to drive the business, connect with the, with the, the clients that you need. I just enjoyed our chat together and I love what you do, and I continue to follow you and, and partner with you as, as you need.

So a new, thank you very much for being one of my guests.

Anu: [00:45:03] Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s such a pleasure to have these conversations with you. I get all excited about it. So thank you for instilling that energy and also creating a platform for sharing these stories, because we can all learn from each other. So thank you for taking that leadership and, you know, giving this opportunity to your audience.

Hilda: [00:45:22] Well, I’m so excited about this opportunity because I think it is through storytelling and those who love to hear stories that we learn, and we know that we’re not alone and that we can try and we can learn from your experiences and avoid them, or we can, we can, we can, you know, improve on what we’ve done.

So I think you’ve brought a lot of. Bright light information to people today to help them on their journey towards their self discovery and their success. So thank you very much and you

Anu: [00:45:54] Thank you. Hope to have a good one.

EPISODE LINKS

SPECIAL GUEST

Anu Bidani

HOSTED BY

Hilda Gan

PRODUCED BY

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Meet the Team Behind the Podcast

Founder of People Bright Consulting, which provides strategic Human Resources support to businesses, including recruitment, employee engagement, manager and team training and HR policies and procedures to organizations that recognize that People are their great asset. 

Founders of 6 Story, a Toronto-based video production company that helps businesses attract their ideal clients by capturing the heart of their business.

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