As part of our interview series on Women entrepreneurs, we got an opportunity to interview Shriya Boppana. Shriya is an Indian American pageant queen and activist. Crowned the first South Indian Miss India America, Shriya has gone on to create a buzz in the social media scene through collaborations with Bobbi Brown, Amazon, Bumble, Handshake, Adobe, etc. She currently sits on the board of her company, Liveplex, as a content producer and designer while juggling a full-time consulting career.
Here is her story in her own words.
1. What does success mean to you?
Success to me is being better than who I was yesterday. Having grown in the last week, month, or year and setting new goals, targets, or dreams is important to me. I intend to constantly seek bigger platforms and opportunities than I’ve had before.
I also measure success by how many times I have come back from my failures because I believe you can only succeed properly if you have failed properly. How many times have I fallen back and how many times I have continued even after being demotivated is what really counts as success in my eyes.
2. For people who are trying to grow their audience, what advice do you have for them?
I would say my number one advice is to be authentic. Many times when people post predominantly on social media, they try to cater to each platform’s needs and what does best for them. For example, what works for youtube might not work for Instagram. And while catering to the needs of these platforms, people easily lose their authenticity. By losing authenticity, you’ll also lose your followers as your followers are only there because you provide them with that one unique thing that only you can provide. So continue being authentic and keep your content on target regardless of what space you are spreading it on.
3. What is your favorite mantra or affirmation that you say to yourself to keep you going?
My favorite mantra is, “if you never ask the question the answer is always no.” My mother used to tell me if you never ask someone if you can do something the answer will always be no. This is the one thing I always remember while cold messaging or cold calling someone. Even if someone replies with a no to my message or leaves me on reading, the best thing I could do is to ask and take that chance, at least now I know. This one mantra has led me to get some very cool opportunities in the past.
4. Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently when you were first starting out?
When I first started out I mainly focused on the fact of how other people would perceive me. I would say I don’t want to participate in a pageant because people see it a certain way. I used to say the same thing about putting out content on social media. Being a child of immigrant parents, I had added pressure. My parents acted as managers for me. I call my mom my ‘momager’ now. Because they are constantly perceiving what I am doing, I was always worried if they’ll approve of the type of content I am making or if my family in India will like it or not. I overthought other people’s perceptions of my content so much that I refused to put out the content. But once I decided on sharing the content, I started attracting new followers that stayed with me my entire journey. Just because people that are with me from the beginning don’t see any value in my work doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t. There was clearly an audience out there who wanted to see the type of work I was doing and it took me some time to get over that hurdle to start attracting those people into my space.
5. Being an influencer is a full time job where you can easily lose the work-life balance, what do you do to maintain that balance?
I won’t lie, I am not great at managing work-life balance. I haven’t given up on my career pursuit nor have I given up on my social media presence so it’s not easy to do it all. I have a full-time job and once my 9 to 5 shift ends I have to start working on my social media content. I spend my weekends doing the partnership content, I make time during the day to go to my photoshoot and there is so much that I have to constantly keep track of. I have to get 8 hours of sleep, shower, eat, workout, and to put out content on my social media I have to constantly work on my pageantry because that’s how my social media presence started.
I do all this by sacrificing my social life. But I have realized one thing that if I have to make myself a priority for a few years going forward, the people who really matter to me would understand. So if someone asks me to hang out with them on a day when I am busy, I let them know about my prior commitments and they understand. I make it up to them later by hanging out with them whenever we both are available.
Isolating yourself from society or disappearing from friend groups is not the way to go about it. You need to communicate to your friends that this is your job and this is something very important to you and you might have to compromise on a few activities that everyone does. So, please ask how to make the friendship work, real ones will understand.