Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Keka DasGupta, Founder of Art of Life-ing, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business was born from observations I was making all around me: Too many of us today are suffering from anxiety, lack of confidence, limiting beliefs, and low self-esteem. We are struggling with our mental health, and it's impacting our work, school, relationships, and quality of life. I'm on a mission to change that.

I’m a professional keynote speaker, corporate trainer, and strategic C-suite advisor, and my company is called: The Art of Life-ing. I help people truly own their work, life, and play by getting them to recognize their own value, step into their power, and bring the best of who they are to everything they do.

For 25 years, I’ve served as a 50x award-winning brand marketer and PR professional. Today, I take those powerful global branding principles and apply them to our mental health. After all, have you ever met a brand with low self-esteem? No! :)

My customers are primarily leaders in the corporate sector and school communities, so I get to work with many generations of people, young and old. I also work with meetings, events and conference planners, and HR/Learning and development personnel.

Tell us about yourself

Ever since I was a little girl, though I didn’t know definitively what I was going to be when I grew up, I always knew I wanted to wake up and do work that made me happy – work that I absolutely loved.

Brand marketing and PR gave me that gift every day for the better part of two decades. I started my career working in PR and marketing at IKEA Canada. Seven years later, I left a job I loved to join Canada’s top advertising agency at that time, DDB Canada. I was beyond giddy with excitement at that opportunity. During my 16-year tenure there, my team and I were awarded the “Oscars of the PR industry” on a global stage, and I collected 50 international and national awards to my name.

But in recent years, I kept feeling a nudge inside of me to look for what was next. I kept feeling like there had to be more. Marketing and PR were just no longer enough. I spent a good three years searching for my following purpose workwise, and I always somehow knew that one day, I’d end up on large stages around the world, inspiring people in some way. I knew marketing wasn’t going to be the core message, but I didn’t know what direction I was supposed to take.

By then, I had been happily married for more than 20 years and was a mom to two beautiful boys. I decided, in the absence of clarity, to take action. I created an anti-bullying workshop that I tested out in schools simply because the mom in me didn’t want to see young kids suffering. This work led me to do a TEDx talk about the unexpected side effect of gifting gratitude. Soon, corporate companies wanted my workshops for their leadership training. And before I knew it, my brand, The Art of Life-ing, was born.

Incidentally, my brand messaging continues to evolve as I evolve in life too. In the past two years, I’ve been on a deeply introspective journey in healing some of my own unresolved childhood trauma, and in that process, I’ve realized how self-acceptance and self-love are so critical to us building our best life at work, at school, at home and at play (in addition to practicing kindness, empathy, and sharing gratitude). This process got me to the place where I now take the best of what I know from global branding principles and help people apply this intel to better their own mental health.

I’m so excited to say that what I see in this kind of work is just transformative! These results are what motivates me every day to do what I do. I want the world to discover this process, so we can all master the art of life-ing and fully live our best lives.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I’m on a mission to impact 1 million students and 1 million adults, helping them to discover how they can positively impact themselves and their peers through self-acceptance, gratitude, empathy, and quiet leadership. Just like an ocean is made up of a massive collection of tiny water droplets, so too, I feel like – with every presentation I make, and with every person that resonates with my message, I am one step closer to my big goal. I really see this – touching the hearts of people I speak to and helping them see what they can’t “un-see” as my biggest accomplishment as a business owner. Every time I receive a comment from someone telling me that my work has positively changed them, it fuels me to pursue this work with even more passion.

On a personal note, my biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been to have the freedom to prioritize my time with my kids, on their schedule, and to work my business around their needs (be it school pick-ups and drop-offs, field trips, month-long vacations, etc.). This has undoubtedly been my biggest accomplishment – to get to be the kind of mom I want to be and not have that compromised by my work.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

So often in business, especially when innovation is at play, as business owners, we’re not only charting a path from A to B, but we are also creating the entire map at the same time. This means we often have to be the cartographer, the captain of the ship/skipper, the navigator, the chief engineer, the purser, etc., all at once.

Especially when we are starting out or scaling up to the next level, we have to take on many roles that may not all be our bailiwick (e.g., recruitment, marketing, operations, financials, etc.). We must do this until we reach a certain level of success, at which point, we can afford to hire real experts for specific roles. Leading the charge while wearing many hats and often feeling untrained is one of the harder things business owners must do to succeed.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Trust yourself. When it comes to making key business decisions, respect and listen to your intuition – your inner voice, deep within you. It is your Yoda, guiding you through your universe.
  2. Seek out mentors who will champion you. Never be afraid or feel shy to ask questions, especially to those who are further ahead on the path that you are taking. Many people who have been there and done that want to give back and are happy to have such opportunities. So ask for help, guidance, key strategic introductions, and support in whatever way you need. They can help you maneuver around blind spots that you won’t see. Remember that support for your business is available to you. You just have to seek it out.
  3. Keep your mindset optimally tuned. It is as important for you to nourish your mindset as it is for you to be able to read your profit and loss statements. So invest in yourself and your personal development unapologetically. Your mindset will determine how far you get in your business, how fast, and in what way. It will also determine how you will rise in the face of your biggest business challenges and obstacles because success is never linear. Success comes from messy, erratic, scribbly paths – and your mindset must navigate that to get through to the end.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Yes! Here is an excerpt from one of my keynotes, where I talk about the connection between branding principles and our self-esteem. I hope you enjoy it.

Where can people find you and your business?


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