In this episode, the guest is Suman Kapur, a Professional Development Consultant focused on conflict management and culture change.
Suman's Story: Suman refers to herself as an accidental entrepreneur. She left her job to spend more time with her children and later started her venture called Well Balanced Solutions, first as a Virtual Assistant business, and later shifted to consultancy in her area of expertise.
Well Balanced Solutions: Suman offers bespoke educational workshops and helps facilitate conversations around calls to action. Her services also include surveys, data analysis, and path creation.
Business Impact: Suman's approach involves understanding the people she works with, bringing them together towards a shared goal, and guiding them towards it. She is committed to fostering transformative change towards a more inclusive society.
CEO Hack: Suman's productivity tip is about being conscious of the number of appointments she can handle in a week and sticking to it.
CEO Nugget: She advises listeners to recognize their worth or value and emphasizes on gratitude and patience.
CEO Defined: To Suman, being a CEO, especially as a woman, means successfully leading in business and making a positive impact on workplace culture.
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Suman Kapur 00:00
What is our ultimate goal here, right? The goal is going to be the same. How we get to that goal is a different story, but let's make sure we understand the same, that we're creating the same goal. And if we have the same goal then let's work towards that. So it's a little bit of give a little bit of take.
It's meeting each other on that same path.
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?
If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkness values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I Am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 00:46
Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I Am CEO podcast. And I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year.
And we're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics. Or as I like to call them business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, or what I like to call CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.
This month we are focused on innovation, disruption, women, entrepreneurship, DEI, gig economy, remote economy, even the cannabis industry. Think about these industries and these disruptive technologies that really sometimes aren't as disruptive, but there's people that are just paying attention to what the market needs and they're providing that.
So really think about the things that are quote-unquote outside of the norm, but really help entrepreneurship to grow and fully develop. I think it's an extremely exciting time when you're talking about any type of innovation or disruption, because I think that there's so many opportunities and needs that aren't felt that are starting to be filled by different groups, different organizations, or even different industries.
So what I want you to do is sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I Am CEO podcast.
Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Suman Kapur of Well Balanced Solutions. Suman, super excited to have you on the show.
Suman Kapur 02:11
Thank you so much for the space and I'm so excited for this conversation.
Gresham Harkless 02:15
Yes, I'm excited as well too, just to get the opportunity to hear about all the awesome things that you're doing. Suman has been super helpful in so many different ways. So she's definitely a giver. I love the opportunity to get the interviewer. So you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. But of course, before we do that, I wanted to read a little bit more about Suman so you can hear about some of those awesome things.
And Suman is a professional development consultant dedicated to supporting individuals and organizations through conflict management and culture change initiatives with a distinct focus on the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
She approaches her work with an attention towards self care, compassion, empathy, collaboration and awareness, all of which she recognizes as essential for transformation to a more just and inclusive society. Suman, excited again to have you on the show, my friend. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?
Suman Kapur 03:02
I am so excited. Let's get this going.
Gresham Harkless 03:05
And let's make it happen then. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock here a little bit more on how you got started. What I call your CEO story.
Suman Kapur 03:13
Yeah, thank you for that question. So, I've started calling myself an accidental entrepreneur. I never planned to be a business owner. It was not in. My vision was never a dream of mine, but 1 of the dreams that I did have was to purposefully take time off to raise my children.
So I left my job as a mediator purposefully to raise my Children with the hopes of going back to work. We know this area in northern Virginia outside the D. C. Area is super expensive. And yet I wanted that perfect space where I could put my son on the bus and not in the morning, get him off in the afternoon. and make the salary I was making before. That was not real in this area. And so I had a friend who was starting a boutique law firm and she asked if I would help with some admin work.
It's great. Helped while he was in preschool, earned a little bit of money. And I stumbled upon this thing called a virtual assistant. And so I started Well Balance Solutions as a virtual assistant business. I grew that for about six years that morphed into more of an online business management work.
But then I really missed the mediation work I was doing, but I wasn't ready to go back into the workforce. And I started dabbling with what this consultancy work would look like. And then COVID hit, George Floyd was murdered, the world shut down, all these just awful things happened all around the same time as I was trying to figure out what my next step in this business was.
And in conversations that I was having I realized that I was going back to my days of college when I was a social activist. And I was talking about racial injustices and the importance and benefits of diversity in the workplace and how we can show up.
As our full selves, and give space for the awfulness that's happening in the world. And from there, this professional development around D. E. I. work in conflict management. just happened, literally just happened from conversation.
Gresham Harkless 05:15
That makes so much sense. And I appreciate you taking the mantle. So many others to say that we're gonna be the change that we want to see in the world rather than just, see what's going to happen. We're actually gonna make that change happen.
Suman Kapur 05:26
Absolutely. And we've had so many atrocities. When it comes to racial discrimination and things in the world, many, many, many, my children are half black, so we've had these awful conversations with my children, especially with my son very early on, of course, all age appropriate conversations, but I feel like the George Floyd murder was a turning point.
It's still, we're still talking about it two years later, change is still happening. Work is still happening. What I call courageous conversations, these difficult conversations around race are still happening, right? And that wasn't that's not historically true for all the other atrocities that have happened.
And so I do think that there's. There was maybe it was the visual of seeing what happened to him that you can't turn a blind eye to that. You can't brush that under the carpet anymore. And it is sticking here. And while people are tired of these conversations, while even the work that I do can be tiring and overwhelming, we got to keep doing it.
And so, while the start of my business was awful, I'm hoping I'm making a positive impact with organizations and even communities. and opening up and having these conversations.
Gresham Harkless 06:46
Yeah, absolutely. So, I wanted to drill down a little bit more. I know we touched on a little bit. How are you working with your clients? How do you serve them? How exactly are you working with Well Balanced Solutions?
Suman Kapur 06:56
Yeah, thank you. So, it's really interesting. It took me a little bit of time to find my niche to find the people who were ready to do this work, right?
George Floyd was murdered. We saw every company out there putting out these statements, right? Left and right, left and right. These statements were out there, but what was happening behind the scenes didn't match those statements that were coming out.
And so it took me some time to Find those organizations who are genuinely ready to put in the hard work to put the budget behind that hard work to take the time out, allow it, giving their staff and their employees that space to do this work.
And so what I do is I work with these organizations, whether it's creating workshops. And so everything that I do is customized. I co-create with my clients if they're looking for educational workshops I will do that. I've done things on allyship on courageous conversations on calls to action.
A lot of times. You don't know what to do with this stuff. You're here. You're hearing it. You've done some reading, but now what? So I facilitate conversations around calls to action. At the same time, I also strategically help organizations create DEI path and what that looks like. So I do surveys.
I'll survey staff to understand what they're feeling about personally what DEI means to them, but what are they feeling and seeing in the organization? Are the words that leadership is putting out there matching the action that's happening.
And if not, what does staff want to see? So I do these surveys. I do some data analysis. I presented to leadership and then I help them strategically create a path that works for them as well as staff. So that turnover doesn't happen right now. We're seeing this. Great resignation that's out there.
People want to belong. People want a sense of purpose and until leadership recognizes that and puts that effort in, people are going to be leaving to find those organizations that are doing the hard work who are really putting that time and energy into creating a more diverse, equitable, inclusive work space as well as creating a sense of belonging for staff.
Gresham Harkless 09:16
Yeah, absolutely. And you feel like that's part of your secret sauce, the ability to understand each of the I guess the people at hand and be able to make sure that you are creating something that really resonates with a lot of people.
Suman Kapur 09:27
Absolutely spot on because that's exactly what it is, right? Especially with the mediation background. I always start with what do we have in common? What is our ultimate goal here? The goal is going to be the same. How we get to that goal is a different story, but let's make sure we understand the same that we're creating the same goal. And if we have the same goal then let's work towards that.
It's a little bit of give a little bit of take. It's meeting each other on that same path. to get to that same goal. And so I do find that, I'm able to get from my clients what they want, where they're trying to go, what are they willing to, while I use the word give up, more like what they're willing to give in order to receive, right?
That's what life is all about. You give and you take, you can't just be the, you can't only give and you can't only take. Because then you'll just be miserable. But life is all about giving and taking and that goes in the workplace that goes with leadership. And so I do believe that I have the ability to bring people together, have them see the bigger picture, and then to help guide them towards that ultimate goal.
Gresham Harkless 10:36
Yeah, absolutely. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack.
So this could be like an app, a book or a habit that you have. What's something that makes you more effective and efficient?
Suman Kapur 10:48
Yeah, so, as you can tell, I love chatting. I love talking. I love being around people. I just don't draw energy from that. So I have realized that I am an outgoing introvert. And so when I 1st started my business.
I was meeting everybody one on ones and, oh, schedule this and schedule that. I would have 15 to 20 one on one scheduled for a week and it was exhausting for me. So now what I've started to do, and it's really hard for me to do, but I have consciously set aside five slots on my calendar a week and It allows me to be more present the person I'm speaking to.
It allows me to build a stronger connection and relationship because I'm not overbook, right? I'm not pulled in so many directions. So I take my time. I have the opportunity to chat with them. I take my notes and it allows me time. Also, then in a month or so to follow up with that person so I can build relationships.
So I can, I'm at the forefront of their thinking as they're having other conversations. I have been very intentional on how many 1 on 1. I take on connect with the right people so that they can then do the work and recommend me to other people. So it took me about four or five months of being exhausted and just never having time to actually build a website to post on LinkedIn.
Because I was meeting all these people. So yes, be conscious, set aside X number of blocks a week and stick to it.
Gresham Harkless 12:26
Awesome. I love it. So, I want to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. So this is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would tell your favorite client, or if you happen to a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.
Suman Kapur 12:40
Absolutely. My biggest nugget would be know your worth, know your value. So for me, especially as a woman, I've always been told, be grateful for what you get, whether it's my job, the salary, the cost of living raised. Just be grateful. When I started my business, always second-guessed my rates, I eventually found out that those who are going to push back on my rates were not the clients I wanted to know your value.
Be patient. Those who are, who view you as valuable, they'll come around and just know your value.
Gresham Harkless 13:16
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show. So Suman, what does being a CEO mean to you?
Suman Kapur 13:27
Oh yes. So it's multifold. So be patient, please. So as a mom. Thank It's important for my son to see that women can be successful, that we can own our own businesses, that we can be leaders, that we can bring people together and create a business, and we can achieve really high goals. For my daughter.
It's important for her to see mommy at the helm. It's important for her to know that mommy can lead that mommy can be financially successful and be happy at the job that she's at the work that she's doing. And as a child of immigrant parents, I want other South Asian women, 1st generation South Asian girls to see that there is more available out there for us.
That we don't have to just go to school forever and. become whatever it is, lawyers, doctors, that you can own a business, that it is a very successful and viable way of earning a living. And then as a woman of color, it's important for other young people to see that I can make a positive impact in workplace culture, that I can, that my voice is important to change toxicity levels in the workplace.
So it's multifold that I loved that question. So thank you for asking. I took time to think about that one. I really liked that question. Thank you. That's a great question.
Gresham Harkless 14:59
Absolutely. Suman truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I want to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know.
And of course, how best people can get hold of you find about all the awesome things you're working on.
Suman Kapur 15:14
If anyone wants to reach out to me, I'm on LinkedIn just under Suman Kapoor. I'm here. I'm willing to have conversations. I'm willing to hear different perspectives. So I'd love to have a conversation with anyone who's open-minded and who's trying to figure out where they go on this.
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging journey. Thank you again, Gresham for this time. I really appreciate it.
Gresham Harkless 15:38
Yes, absolutely. I appreciate you for obviously taking time out and all the awesome work that you're doing. Of course, we're going to have the links and information in the show notes as well, too, so that everybody can follow up with Suman and find out about all the awesome things that you know, you're working on.
And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.
Suman Kapur 15:52
Thanks. You too. Take care, Gresham.
Outro 16:26 Thank you for listening to the IAMCEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. IAMCEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at blue16media.com. This has been the IAMCEO podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.