Mallika Chopra says she’s the typical child of immigrant parents—except that one of those parents happens to be the world-famous holistic health expert Deepak Chopra.
The serial entrepreneur has followed her father’s footsteps, but only so far. Like her father, she’s the author of several books. Her latest title, Living with Intent, is about finding inspiration in your everyday life.
But Chopra isn’t her father, and Living with Intent isn’t about achieving the perfect balance in life. She’s not even sure she’s qualified to give that kind of advice.
“Honestly, I am an irregular meditator, don’t do yoga, and am constantly struggling with my sugar addiction,” she says. “My intent in writing my book was to share that all of us have messy journeys and seek balance in our own unique ways.”
It’s more about finding happiness in wherever you are at the moment. We talked with Chopra—founder of Intent.com—about navigating bumps along the road, dealing with insecurity, and working toward a healthier work-life balance.
In Living with Intent, you describe intent as being different than purpose, goals, objectives, or focus. How so?
In my book, I outline a path to intent that recognizes the importance of smart goals. But first we need to be clear on what we want. I see this as our intent.
Purpose, to me, incorporates intent. It is about living each day, asking yourself, “What qualities do I want in my life? How can I serve?” and “How can I feel connected and relevant to those around me?”
You write that “the road to intentional living is paved with bumps, potholes, flat tires, and detours.” Does that mean we should stop the quest for excellence at work?
My father taught us through his example to always be truthful, and work for what you believe in even when others attacked you or you hit a brick wall. When faced with challenges, he taught us to be flexible, open, creative, and seek new ways of doing things. He taught us about perseverance, respect, and recognizing that the journey may be different than we initially imagined.
As CEO of Intent.com, you describe yourself as insecure and vulnerable, sweaty palms and all. Isn’t that a pretty unusual admission for a CEO?
Why pretend you are something you are not? I have grown up knowing many famous people—entertainers, politicians, writers, business leaders, visionaries. I have learned that all of them are real people with everyday problems and insecurities. This doesn’t take away their brilliance or uniqueness. As a CEO of a small company, I find that if I am honest and vulnerable, then others are more open to supporting me.
You talk honestly about a struggle when an investor of yours suddenly wanted out.
Oh boy, that was a stressful time! But it also demanded me to honestly ask myself if I believed in my company and what we are doing. In the midst of chaos, I reaffirmed our vision and was able to rally my other investors and supporters to get through that difficult time. I learned that I had to ask for support, as I could not get through it alone.
Do you find that women business leaders put added pressure on themselves?
Women often have many responsibilities outside of work that they are managing—family life, schedules, staying healthy, and connecting with friends. There is only so much one can do in a day, and the demands of the workplace never seem to cease.
All that said, I know my husband deals with similar pressures regarding the pace and expectations of his business, so I think ultimately we all need to challenge ourselves to be honest about what we want out of our life and why we are racing to keep up.
You’re the founder of several startups. Any words of wisdom on how to best maintain a work-life balance for fellow founders who are already winded from running a sprint not a marathon?
One important decision I made when starting Intent.com, my latest venture, was to seek investors aligned with a long-term vision to create a platform to connect people around shared dreams and aspirations to change the world. It was a different pitch than anything I had made before, but one that hopefully is allowing us to each realize that we can serve our communities in a meaningful way.