School. Memories. Dreaded Math. Boring History. Geography? and Biology? Too much work. Long hours in classrooms. Chemistry? Stand all day! Lunch with friends. Interesting snippets about the prude of the class. Or last week’s movie.
And then there is this ONE teacher who makes Trigonometry seem like its the best thing to happen to you! Those angles seem to be talking to you now. Every building seems to be screaming out a story. The shadow of that tree seems to be waving to you! What angle is it at? 35 degrees? 40 degrees? Maybe 37!
And suddenly, you wonder- why are all the other subjects SO boring? Is your liking for Trigonometry a touch of magic by the teacher? or is the subject itself? If it was the subject, why didn’t you like it so much last year?
Have you ever wished you were taught Math and physics and all those other ‘dreaded and boring’ subjects differently? Atleast, just a tad? Have you ever wished every subject has that magic teacher?
Well, what if someone set out to do JUST that! Someone made it their mission to make lessons come alive and tugging at the learner. Make learning an emotional investment for the student – rather than just a financial investment for the parents or a chore for the teachers? In simple words, make learning ENJOYABLE for the learner- no matter what is being taught!
Meet Deeptha Vivekanand, a corporate-trainer-turned-professional story-teller who decided to take the issue by the horns and make it count! After researching for months on end to convince herself of the unbeatable technique of teaching and learning through story-telling; she founded Ever-After Learning, a company dedicated to making teaching and learning both pleasurable and effective!
Read on for her exclusive interview with Kidskintha!
KK: Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your venture and your business partner(s).
DV: Well, for starters, I’m a professional storyteller. I’ve been a corporate trainer in the past, having worked with IT companies HCL and Wipro. In my 6 years as a learning & development professional, I was exposed to various teaching-learning methodologies. That’s when I realized the power of storytelling. The more I researched about this method, the more fascinated I became about the possibilities that a story-based learning environment offers. In 2009, I quit my job to pursue this newfound direction. I did courses in storytelling, attended festivals, learnt by watching international storytellers and read up every bit of literature I could lay my hands on. Through my research, I was convinced that storytelling was easily the most effective way to teach a subject, however advanced or complex.
This prompted me to launch Ever After Learning in 2013, a learning and development company that harnesses the power of storytelling to make education fun and engaging, across age groups and industries.
My co-founder, Nisha Abdulla, joined me in 2014. She is an actor, director and storyteller. In her earlier avatar, she was a consultant in the retail branding space, specializing in consumer behavior. She quit her corporate role to pursue the arts full-time and that’s when she found Ever After.
KK: What was the inspiration behind your start-up? Is your start-up an answer to some challenge you came across yourself?
DV: At the start of my storytelling career, I began to understand the neuroscience behind how stories work to illustrate a point. I wished my teachers had told me more stories to convey abstract concepts in Mathematics and Science. I may have appreciated those concepts better since I would’ve been emotionally invested in the idea of say, Calculus! Also, a story helps establish the interconnectedness of subjects like nothing else. It wasn’t so difficult to find a story to fit the subject but it just wasn’t being done. I wanted to help children and adults appreciate and connect with concepts better. With that hope, I started Ever After. We hope to achieve optimum learning through stories.
KK: What led you to believe that this would be your niche?
DV: I realized I had a natural ability to tell stories well and at the same time look at a story from multiple angles. Not many storytellers were focusing on the wide-ranging applications of storytelling so I thought my company could fill that void. Learning through stories is a vey effective learning medium, not sufficiently exploited in today’s scenario.
KK:What is your venture’s big picture? Do you believe you idea can change the world in some way?
DV: Our big idea is to have all educational institutions and corporate learning environments employ narratives in their teaching and training process. If we can put the emotion back in to the learning process, the world might be a better place!
KK: Do you see the Internet as your biggest online partner?
DV: It’s important to have an online presence but in our kind of work, on-the-ground activity is of prime importance
KK: What is your brand proposition?
DV: To design, develop and deliver highly-researched and customized story-based content and programs to enrich the learning process.
KK: How is your startup being funded? Are there any future plans of investments?
DV: It’s bootstrapped now; the first step is to make it self-sufficient. Investments in phase two.
KK: What are the current marketing efforts being incorporated? What do you see as necessary to take your business to the next level?
DV: We don’t advertise heavily as the nature or our work requires referrals, recommendations and word-of-mouth endorsements more. We have found a lot of success with media reports that have come out in the past about our work.
KK: What does your typical day look like juggling between mom responsibilities and owning a business?
DV: It’s like bringing up two kids at the same time! Everything revolves around my son’s schedule. I get to work after sending him to school, try to schedule most meetings and workshops when he’s away in school. Once he comes back home, it’s time to be with him and then I do some more work like answering emails, reading up etc. after he sleeps.
KK: What are the challenges on managing a growing business being a mom, which is never less than a full-time job.
DV: It’s not easy. My husband sometimes thinks I spend more time on my work than with the family! It’s a tight-rope walk. It calls for adjustments from both partners when one of them is establishing a business. Challenges will always be there, whether a mom or not; one has to learn to manage them, find coping mechanisms and not lose sight of what needs to be achieved.
It starts with understanding who you are—how driven and ambitious. There are women who have no problem giving up careers for motherhood and those who do. Either is absolutely fine. Having decided to take on both roles, I’ve had to come to terms with the idea that it’s not going to be perfect. You may not be able to receive your child from school when they come, may not be able to feed them every meal, may not be able to whip up yummies for snack etc. But the thing is to NOT feel guilty about it because being an entrepreneur/working mom has its upsides in the long run. Your children will draw strength from your life in ways you can’t imagine.
Another aspect is to find and establish a support system—nannies, daycare, house help, in-laws, parents etc. that you can count on. It’s also important to have your spouse’s buy-in on the idea of being a mother and a career woman because it will have ramifications on their work-life too. It takes adjustments from both partners—sometimes one has to do more than the other and be OK with it.
KK: What is your personal mantra for motivation?
DV: Just keep going! Don’t give-in to the ‘give-up’ mode!
KK: What message do you have for other aspiring Momprenuers?
DV: According to me, Top 3 things to DO and top 3 things to NOT DO
- Don’t give up
- Don’t settle
- Don’t give in
- Do find a mentor
- Do try and get a co-founder as soon as you can
- Do reward yourself even on the smallest achievements
KK: A few words about what you like about Kidskintha.
DV: I have been following Kidskintha for a while now. To begin with, I like the name! It reflects the playful, happy tone of the page. The content is rich, relevant and well-thought out. The variety of articles ensures there’s something of interest for all kinds of readers.
Deeptha Vivekanand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.