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Episode #124: Monday Morning Inspiration, with Neha Saxena

Grad Conn

May 3, 2021  •  21 min read

Neha is back, and we have two flavors of inspiration for you today. First, an inspiring story to start the week. Then an inspirational breathing exercise to spur your creativity and get your brain functioning at its full potential.

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Grad 
Aah! Okay, it is Monday on the CXM Experience. And, as always, I’m here with Neha, my breath Yogi. Hi, Neha.

Neha Saxena 
Hi, how are you?

Grad 
I’m good. How are you? It has been an interesting, tough week, tough week, we did our last episode on what’s going on in India, that continues to be challenging. But I know that you’re in there working with the teams, that’s great. I really want to applaud you for all that work. I know it’s making a huge difference.

Neha Saxena 
You know, it’s been very heartwarming to see just how everyone’s coming together and supporting each other. And you know what, it’s a hard time but the human race is resilient. And I think we’ll get through it together.

Grad 
Yeah, well, at Sprinklr, we always say that we treat each other like family. And this is a really good example of where we’re doing that. And, you know, as an ELT, we constantly ask ourselves, are we doing this as a family? Are we doing this in the Sprinklr way? Challenging ourselves continuously about it, it’s a very interesting and very motivating moment to see how company values and company culture come into play when there’s a crisis. So today, I think you had sort of made a request that I talk about something inspirational. So, I have kind of a story that I think is kind of interesting and I’ll share that with you. So, it’ll be my inspirational story for the day. And it’s not one that I’ve talked about before. So, this will be new, and I’ve never structured this story before. So, we’ll sort of see how this comes out of my brain, it’ll be interesting to see how it rolls out here. Buckle up, because you know, we don’t really edit this show, so you never know what’s going to happen. That’s the first thing. And then we’re going to go to an inspirational breath exercise with you. For people that are looking for inspiration, Neha is going to help us think about breathing in a way to drive inspirational thinking which I’m really looking forward to. Not that I necessarily need inspirational thinking, I feel very inspired every day. I’m motivated by the people I work with, really, really having some incredible experiences with customers, incredibly motivating. And I’m surrounded by motivating people in my personal life, but you can always breathe better. I’m looking forward to doing this exercise with you today. So, you want to hear my story?

Neha Saxena 
Yeah. And like, by the way, I thought of you this week, because I’m working with some sales teams to curate the QPR meeting. And I was like, “You know what? We should think about it as an experience.” And I thought of you. I was like, we need to think of this meeting as an experience. So, I was like, I should talk to Grad about that. But thank you for making us think of the experience.

Grad 
Yeah, well, that is essentially my job. And it is a great, great job. Because every day I’m meeting new people who are focused on, obsessed with, and thinking about experience, experience is the new brand or realizing that their brand is essentially the sum of the experiences that the stakeholders have with it. And then, really knowing, really understanding the experience track that everyone is on is going to lead to the brand value. And I think one thing that people kind of get fooled about, is they have a brand that they want to project to the world. But that’s just what they want to project. They’re not really thinking about what people are saying about them. And the reality of a brand is a brand is what people say about you, not what you say about yourself. And being able to measure and understand what people say about you is critical to really understanding your brand. And what people say about you is essentially their reactions to the experience that you’ve given them. So, the experience someone has with a brand is the reaction they have to that brand is the brand itself. And that is a very much an outside in way of thinking about brands that’s newer, because we have tended to think inside out as companies, based on what we want, and we project that out and we broadcast it. This is a bit of a broadcast mentality, that broadcast mindset for the 20th century. And the 21st century, which is a conversational mindset, you have to remember that you are the sum of what people say about you. So how you behave is what causes people to say things about you, that becomes your brand. And so very interesting inside out perspective that I’m really enjoying landing this with people, people like it a lot.

Neha Saxena 
You know, and it was amazing, because I think in this virtual world, I think even if people are thinking about experience, it’s hard, right? It’s also an opportunity to be creative. Now, how do you deliver a quarterly new business review meeting, which is engaging and makes people feel fired up? We can’t just think about the agenda, we have to think about the experience. Right? So, it’s creative. So, thank you for that. And maybe I’m going to offline this with you, but I’m enjoying it. It’s quite a creative process. It’s making me think outside the box.

Grad 
Awesome. Awesome. Okay. Well, let me tell you my inspiring story. So, my inspiring story is about my sister.

Neha Saxena 
Okay,

Grad 
I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my sister on the podcast before.

Neha Saxena 
You’ve talked about your brother.

Grad
 
My brother. Yeah. Okay, my brother. I’ve talked about my brother. He’s doing some pretty cool stuff. But my sister’s really cool as well. I’m very blessed to have two amazing siblings. And I don’t think she listens to this. So, I’ll just say whatever I want to say. It’s actually great. Most of my family don’t listen. So, I can sort of at will say what I like. It’s fun actually. So, my sister. My sister is a very interesting person. She lives in Toronto, in Canada. Toronto’s the largest city in Canada. And she started her career in marketing and was in marketing for a long time. And then made a decision that she wanted to be closer to people; didn’t want to sit at a desk. And she felt like she was just withering away and not really having very much fun. And she wanted to be out there and to be part of it. And so, she went into food service. And she became a bartender. Which, yeah, it’s an interesting move. I mean, a lot of people would be like, “Why would you go from an office job to be a bartender”, but she loved it. And she did some incredible stuff; met a ton of really cool people, and by all accounts and measures is an excellent bartender and worked in a whole bunch of different establishments. And, with one, the Firkin company she went around the world opening Firkin bars in all sorts of different locations across North America and outside the country as well and, and just had this pretty cool lifestyle. And she became a very, very good cook, because she was around people cooking all the time and knows how to make things and whenever I’m making something new for dinner, I’ll call her up and I’ll say, “Hey, listen, I’m doing buttermilk chicken tonight, tell me what spices I should be putting in”  Of course, there’s a little bit of translation, because she’s like a cook that just like “you put in a little bit of this, a little bit of that, I don’t know, if you’re feeling it this way, if you’re feeling it that way …” “Feeling it? What are you talking about? I need a recipe here”. She’s very good. And we’ve had some really fun interactions, especially over the last year, since COVID came into being, spent a lot more time talking to her and connecting with her. Of course, you know, obviously COVID has had a huge impact on her career. And a massive impact particularly in Toronto, where I’m not going to get into the political issues, but the human issue of what’s happening in Canada is pretty horrible as well. Though Canada is the worst in the developed world and is behind many of what you would consider less developed countries in terms of vaccinations, the way they’re doing it is a mess. And the country is in shambles when it comes to its’ response to COVID. And there’s a whole bunch of good reasons for that. But everybody is blaming everybody but in a kind of a classic Canadian fashion. But the fact of the matter is that it’s a disaster from a vaccination standpoint. So, they’re still in lockdown in Toronto and in many other places. And so basically COVID started, let’s say a bit over a year ago, middle of March. And as soon as the lockdown happened, the owner of the restaurant where she was working, and they had been working really hard to make this restaurant successful. And they were at that point where she could just feel they were turning the corner. People were coming back. They were getting regulars, they had heavy, heavy Christmas bookings, things were starting to really look up and it was really getting to that momentum point where the restaurant starts to become a thing in the neighborhood. And the owner decided to not only shut down for the lockdown, but permanently close the restaurant. So, she didn’t temporarily lose her job. She lost her restaurant, and obviously nowhere else to go. And suddenly, she found herself completely without work and completely without income. The thing about my sister and one of the things I’m proudest of about her, she’s incredibly independent, and amazingly self-reliant, sometimes maybe a bit too much like, she never wants anything ever, and it’s really hard to buy a present for someone like that. But she’s very independent and very sort of stands on her own two feet. But this is going to make it very difficult. Now, the unemployment insurance system in Canada did kick in. So, people were able to get a little bit of money, but it’s hardly what you’d want to live on. So, what did she do?

Grad 
I think this is an inspiring story and many of her friends tell her that she’s like the good story that came out of COVID. Like, whenever they talk about something that potentially positive happened during COVID time, they’ll talk about my sister Meredyth. And what she did is she decided to change careers. And she’s always had a green thumb. And we come from a very green thumb family. My grandmother famously, could plant anything and have it grow. We once jokingly would say that she could put a broomstick in the ground, and it would sprout. And I’m not kidding. She actually did put a stick like that in the ground once as a stake, and it started budding. Yeah, it was bizarre. And my mom had that. Although I will say my mom has more recently stopped gardening. And I scolded her the other day because my grandmother would not have stopped. So, my mom needs to snap the garden gloves back on, get on the waders and get back out there. But I’ll save that for another podcast. So, Meredyth obviously comes from a line of people who know how to plant things and know how to grow things and like to be in the dirt and like to help things grow and like to make things and my grandmother had a garden, she pickled, she put things away for the winter, she must have had a negative carbon footprint. There’s no way they had any kind of carbon footprint. Theirs was a self-sustaining household. So, Meredyth has been planting, kind of putting things in her garden on her balcony. She has an apartment in Toronto, and she grows things, tomatoes, and different sorts of vegetables. And she has this sort of whole kind of cultivation that she’s been doing. And she thought to herself, you know, there’s nothing happening in food service and who knows if, when or whenever it comes back. And she was right on this one. I think at the time, a lot of people thought month or two. Meredyth was like, this could be a while. And I was kind of coaching her that this is going to take a while. And so, she’s like, I’m going to switch careers, and I’m going to go into gardening.

Neha Saxena 
Hmm, nice. That was smart.

Grad 
Well, it’s a pretty big shift.

Neha Saxena 
Yeah, right.

Grad 
Like it’s not like, you know, “Well, what would you do after being a really world class bartender for 20 years?” Oh, I know, I’ll be a gardener. It’s not a natural transition. Anyway, I don’t know how she did this but she found a group of people who are mostly in the lawn maintenance business, but were looking to expand into the gardening business, pitched herself and they bought it. And now she’s got this flourishing gardening business, and she’s does lawns and she’s doing gravel and she’s planting beds and she’s removing hedges and she’s putting in plants and she’s setting up people’s gardens and now they’ve got a business now in people who are moving and want to have a better-looking garden. She’s setting that kind of stuff up. But it’s actually kind of amazing. She’s done this entire career shift. And now she’s taking courses at the university in Toronto called Ryerson. She’s taking courses on the architecture of planting and flowers and horticulture and all that kind of stuff. So, she’s now studying in the field and really making quite a booming enterprise out of it.

Neha Saxena 
That’s incredible and I was thinking as you were speaking, Grad, you need to help her start a YouTube channel or something like that. I want to consult with her. I think one of the industries that has done well is like everybody has a plant now. Everybody has a house plant. And I want to start a garden. I want to start a kitchen garden, but I have no idea how to do it. And there’s just so much out there. I think she needs to start something like a YouTube channel or like a school, Meredyth School for Home Gardens, or something like that.

Grad 
That’s a good idea. Home Garden School. Yeah, and she does have some clever home hacks. You know, she makes all her own meals. And she’s a great cook. But she always has a little left over and so what she’ll do is she has her freezer set up in such a way that there’s one flat area in the freezer, and then she’ll take that food and stick it into a Ziploc bag and seal it. And she puts it in the freezer flat and flattens it out and waits until it freezes. And now she can pull it out and she could turn it like a book and she shelves it like a book and she’s got frozen dinners in a row. It’s a really clever idea. But anyway, she’s great. Anyway, so that’s my entire story. You know Meredyth is not 22, you know, she’s later in life. I’m not going to say how old she is specifically, because she might listen to this, but she was in bartending for 20 years. It gives you an idea right there. But she’s not just out of school. And I think sometimes people get into a mindset where, well, “it’s too late to change, it’s too late to change anything. I’m stuck doing this. I don’t know how to do anything else”. People say that all the time. “I don’t know how to do anything else”. And I always beg to differ. Human beings are very adaptable and pretty smart. And I just like to say, “Hey, you know, anyone can change careers any time. My sister did”. And you know, I will say, I think the most important thing about it is she is loving, loving what she’s doing. She comes home, she’s tired. I mean, she’s physically tired at the end of these long days, and she’s sweating up a storm while she’s out there. But she’s loving what she’s doing. She’s got a real sense of accomplishment. It’s a great COVID job because you’re not near anybody. No human beings are near you. It’s one of the few industries that’s not locked down. You don’t have to take a break. So, they’ve been able to work continuously the whole time; garden centers are still open. So, it’s been a brilliant move. It’s been a brilliant move. So that’s my inspiring story. Let’s say that it’s never too late to do what you want. And no one ever give up on a dream. And sometimes, when an opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it.

Neha Saxena 
Just the fact that she took the risk, right? She took the risk and I think that in itself is like … just take the risk, what can happen? Anyway, she didn’t have a lot to lose, and it turned out to be the best thing so I’m so happy for her. That’s very, very inspiring. It is. I do want to have a consult with her if she can help me. I have never been able to keep an orchid alive. Can you believe that?

Grad 
Really? Orchids are tough. Orchid’s not a low bar. Orchid’s a high bar. Orchids are super hard, they need special food, special light, special water, and the right amount of water. Orchids are really hard. However, when an orchid loses all its flowers, it’s actually not dead. They do come back.

Grad 
Sometimes people throw orchids out before they’re actually dead. I mean, just imagine your orchid’s going, “I’m not dead yet”. But yeah, they’re just in another place but you haven’t necessarily killed it. But orchids are super hard. So don’t be too hard on yourself.

Neha Saxena 
That makes me feel better because I always thought orchids were low maintenance. You only water them once in two, three weeks and you give them like, shade. And I was like okay, great. So now I have snake plant because it needs nothing. It’s really, really low maintenance.

Grad 
Succulents are easy, right. So, get cacti or get a bonsai tree. Those are easy.

Neha Saxena 
Yeah, I like snake plant because it also purifies the air. So now it’s snake plants. But hey, great story. Thank you for that. So, it’s never too late to adapt.

Grad 
Never too late. Alright, so let’s do let’s do a breathing exercise. I’m looking forward to our inspirational breathing exercise today.

Neha Saxena 
So yeah, we’re going to do something called the alternate nostril breath. Have you ever tried that? So, it’s very simple. Alternate nostril breath. So, we’re going to alternate between breathing from one nostril at a time …

Grad 
And so, it’s a very appropriate name.

Neha Saxena 
It’s a very appropriate name, yes. And, in the Vedic philosophy, there’s a whole subject on nostrils. There’s so much to study on just nostrils. What it does is it balances the left and the right brain activity. So, it’s going to help you. If you’re too left, you know, if you’re too logical thinking, it’s going to help you call in that creative side of you. If you’re too creative, then it’s going to help you balance it out and use that network which is going to help you be a little bit more logical. So, it’s very simple. Let’s get started. And this is a breath that has no contraindication. So, everybody can do it too, at any time. So, let’s sit up nice and tall. and place your left palm on your left thigh open to the ceiling and bring your right index finger and middle finger place it in between your eyebrows. Take a normal deep breath in through both the nostrils. Close the right nostril with the thumb. Breathe out through the left. And keeping the right closed, breathe in through the left. Close the left with the ring finger, breathe out through the right. Keeping the left closed, breathe in through the right. Close the right, out through the left. In through the left. Close the left. Breathe out through the right. In through the right. Close the right, out through the left. And continue breathing out and in from one nostril at a time. And make your breath long, gentle, and smooth. Make it more effortless. relax the body. Keep your full focus on the breath. If the mind is wavering, bring it back to the breath.

Neha Saxena 
In through the left. Close the left, out through the right. In through the right. Close the right, out through the left. In on the left. Close the left, out on the right. In on the right. Close the right, out on the left. And continue a few more rounds on your own. Make the breath effortless, gentle, and long.

Neha Saxena 
The next time you breathe out of the left nostril, you can relax the right palm. Keep your eyes closed. Place your palm on your thigh open to the sky. Think just for a moment. Bring your attention inwards. Notice the state of your mind. Notice how you’re feeling inside. Take another deep breath in. And slow breath out. Relax. And breathe in again. Bring your palms together. Rub them, generate some heat, place them on your eyes. Let the eyes absorb the heat. Then when you’re ready you can open the eyes.

Grad 
Wow, that was awesome.

Neha Saxena 
Yeah, it’s a very calming breath

Grad 
Very calming. Yeah. Holy smokes. I love that. It’s interesting, one of the problems with breathing is that sometimes you hyperventilate, and then that triggers panic, anxiety, physiology reactions and then off we go, right? But that closing one, opening one, closing one, it’s so deliberate and it feels like you’re not really able to over-oxygenate. It’s a really neat way of breathing deeply, but not getting yourself triggered. It’s really cool.

Neha Saxena 
Yeah, it’s very effective.

Grad 
Well, Neha, any last thoughts for today?

Neha Saxena 
I just want to leave everyone with the thought that, it’s just a challenging time for humanity in general. Even if you’re not in India, and in an acute crisis, it’s just hard to see fellow humans suffer, or it’s like, hey, I’ve been in here a lot, like lockdown, like, how’s life can look like. And going back to the story you shared, I believe that every person is resilient. And every person can adapt. And we’ve adapted, and that’s how we are here. So, if you’re there, and if you’re feeling a little low, or not sure what to do, just take the risk, just take that risk, and see what happens. I feel like there’s no harm in taking the risk. And more often than not, you’ll be positively surprised by the outcome. So, I want to leave people feeling a little inspired, because you know, it can be a little not so pleasant outside these days. So, you can do that.

Grad 
I love that. Well, thank you. That was a great, great Monday episode. I enjoyed that tremendously. And I’ll see you next week.

Neha Saxena 
See you next week.

Grad 
Good night, everybody.

Neha Saxena 
Thank you for joining us.

Grad 
This is Neha, the breath Yogi and me, Grad Conn for the CXM Experience, and I’ll see you … next time.

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Grad Conn

Chief Experience Officer, Sprinklr

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