Name: Nidhi Banthia Mehta
Location: Jaipur, India
Industry: Healthcare, Wellness & Fitness
Reason for starting? I quit my consulting job to pursue my passion for dance in 2002. I have loved dancing since childhood. I always took part in all the school events and choreographed dances and used contemporary dance classes as my stress relief when I was in business school. But dance was for fun, and I never even once thought of making a career out of it. Besides what would my parents think! Dance as a career — no way! I was a good student, so a corporate job was the best option for a person like me.
One day my sister’s friends approached me to teach dance to her daughters for a competition they had signed up for. I had so much fun choreographing and teaching the girls, and they won the competition! I realized that not only was I good at dancing, but I was a good teacher as well. I could really break it down and teach! My business school education came in handy, and I started my first Bollywood dance studio (www.bollybeatz.com) in Silicon Valley, Calif., in 2002. The rest is history.
How do you define success? My life has been full of meeting great people, being inspired by others, following my instinct and dreams, striving to learn new things, and improving myself as a person. I want to share the same with others. I want them to believe that this world is a beautiful place, where we can make our dreams come true and live those dreams as a reality. Success is not defined by money that we earn or have in our bank. To me, success is being happy at what I do, maintaining a balance between my personal and professional life, seeing my kids play and laugh, cooking a hot meal for my family, helping a stranger cross the road, laughing with a friend, sharing ideas with a person who inspires me and helps me push my boundaries, receiving an email from someone who attended my lecture saying that they have decided to pursue their passion and not just become a doctor because that’s what the norm is!
Biggest success: My fondest memory (and I will call that success) has been seeing a crowd of 2,500 people come to see my students perform. These students came from all walks of life and all ages and both genders, from 5 years to 72 years of age — and seeing them perform with confidence and joy on stage was a moment of pride and accomplishment as a teacher for me. I had given them their wings to fly and to find something that was latent in them. I had been able to remove their inhibitions and start living again — pursuing their hobby and passions and living their life anew… making friends, gaining confidence, finding a purpose.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Finding and training the right type of instructors is always a challenge, and that creates a hurdle in being able to scale up. I have always believed in maintaining the quality and style of my creativity in all my classes. Also, for most people this is a part-time profession, and they don’t commit to it fully. I changed my way of operation. I started to invite those who wanted to teach and loved dancing. Whatever number of classes they could commit to, I would hire them for that. I trust my instructors, and I give them all the flexibility and freedom they need. I have been fortunate to find the best so far! I am giving opportunity to people who work in full-time jobs to teach part time for me on weekends so they can also live their passion for dance. It has became a community of dance lovers, Bollywood lovers. We all are a big group of friends… not to mention that we are earning well just working two hours a day. And the two hours that we work is not work — it is pure fun.
Who is your most important role model? My most important role model and the person who has influenced me and inspired me to always try new things, continue learning and be driven is my mother. She lived and spent 50 years of her life in a small town in India. They had no facilities and no learning centers. She taught herself how to run a business, how to grow bonsais (she has 250 bonsais, some as old as forty years). She learnt through books and watching television. She learnt how to file taxes, invest in stocks and create wealth. I watched her, and that inspired me. I wanted to be dynamic like her someday.
Edited by The Story Exchange