Learn When to IGNORE ADVICE and You'll Stand Out From the Crowd w/ Nileeka Bose

Oct 26, 2021
 
 

Welcome to episode 17 of the Mindful & Driven podcast! It’s all about how to not lose sight of what really matters whilst chasing your dreams.

Episode 17’s guest is Nileeka Bose who is the Creative Director & Founder of The Bollywood Co (IG) which is an elite South Asian dance group based in London. Over the ten years, she’s overcome many obstacles to now be working alongside some of the world’s most elite clients and brands.

Today the company is thriving, teaching a packed weekly schedule of classes as well as creating bespoke entertainment packages for clients across the globe. Nileeka has also choreographed for several Bollywood & Hollywood films and TV shows such as Dancing on Ice, and incredibly, in November 2021, her choreography and dancers will be graced Marvel’s The Eternals.

I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation! I’d love it if you could subscribe, leave me a review and follow me on social channels. 

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Why it’s important to ignore generic advice.
  • How to identify advice that works for you. How to know when you should be stubborn.
  • Why you should keep going despite pushback.
  • How to stand out from the crowd.
  • How to grow from a one-person business to an entire team.
  • Why it’s important to be skeptical of advice.
  • What advice you should pay attention to.

Keynotes:

  • Introduction (0:00)
  • Follow a career with a path (3:15)
  • Finding balance again (5:28)
  • Respecting boundaries (9:58)
  • Family time (13:59)
  • Talking about changes and routine (16:44)
  • Prove to yourself and not to others (21:52)
  • Planning and strategy (23:32)
  • Take risks and ignore advice if necessary (25:18)

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Intro Music:
“Himalayas” by Mona Wonderlick — bit.ly/youtube-monawonderlick
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
Free download: bit.ly/himalayas-download

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Nileeka: And to take risks. So take risks and ignore advice when necessary even good advice. It might not be the right advice for you and also to trust your gut, and if you really believe that there’s something that you should be doing, find a way to make it happen and just keep going.

[00:00:24] Amardeep: Welcome to the Mindful and Driven Podcast, where we help you to not lose sight of what’s really important whilst chasing your dreams. Today’s guest is Nileeka Bose who is the Creative Director & Founder of The Bollywood Co (IG) which is an elite South Asian dance group based in London. Over the ten years, she’s overcome many obstacles to now be working alongside some of the world’s most elite clients and brands.Today the company is thriving, teaching a packed weekly schedule of classes as well as creating bespoke entertainment packages for clients across the globe. Nileeka has also choreographed for several  Bollywood & Hollywood films and TV shows such as Dancing on Ice, and incredibly, in November 2021, her choreography and dancers will be graced Marvel’s The Eternals.I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation!

Welcome to Nileeka. It’s great to have you on the podcast.

[00:01:08] Nileeka: It is lovely to be here. Thank you so much for having me in person, not on Zoom.

[00:01:12] Amardeep: So, how I actually found out about Nileeka is, during the pandemic she was organizing these drive-ins and it was everywhere, all over my Instagram. So I wasn’t too familiar with Nileeka before that, but then I was just seeing everywhere that people were posting this big event that she’d organized. And then from that, I started following them as well. And some of my friends are parts of it. And now I go to her classes as well.

[00:01:34] Nileeka: Literally every part of the business, we managed to rope you in.

[00:01:37] Amardeep: Yeah. How was the drive-ins?

[00:01:38] Nileeka: It was quite a trip to be honest. It was not easy to put on. It wasn’t the obvious choice cause I think a lot of people were financially driven and not doing anything at that point because it’s an expense, right. To be working when, when nothing else is happening. And also it’s a risk to know if people would come because the advice was not to be going out, but then obviously drive-ins were happening and drive in cinemas were happening and we took it a step further and we did a drive concert. So yeah, it started off as mini cinemas, 50 cars, and then it went to a slightly larger concept, about a hundred, 150 cars between, between somewhere between them. And then we moved into the drive in London, which is the biggest drive in, in the UK 300 cars, the next year, on the next lockdown. So it started quite small, but then by the time we were doing, then it like back home, we then built like concepts around drive-ins and then so many people started following us.

[00:02:41] Amardeep: And the other big thing coming up as always your appearance in the Eternals.

[00:02:45] Nileeka: Yes. And Marvels The Eternals my probably biggest ever career highlight, like who knows when I’ll ever have a credit, that big guy. So my first choreography credit on a movie of that scale. Hollywood movies about stuff.

[00:02:57] Amardeep: First of many.,

[00:02:58] Nileeka: let’s hope. Let’s hope. I have had an assistant choreographer credit but not anything like this.

And this is November 5th. Fingers crossed all goes smoothly and that my scene hasn’t been cut, who knows.

[00:03:10] Amardeep: So from building this company from nothing to where it is today, What is some common advice you got along the way that you disagree with?

[00:03:20] Nileeka: I mean, everyone told me not to do this at the beginning. Firstly, I’m not, I’m not Indian by heritage. I’m Sri Lankan. I don’t have anyone in my family that dances, my parents have two left feet. They’ll tell you. No one runs businesses in my family. Like the closest person is my aunt. Who’s married into the family. She, she has a business background. You know, there’s not anyone that I can kind of say was my mentor. So all things were against me. I think the older generation who want to protect you we say follow a career with a path. And, you know, there are loads of people that follow careers with parts that are unemployed. So I don’t think that that necessarily is the way to get to a destination by just following a path, you have to have drive, you have to be passionate. You have to wake up every day motivated on days that you can’t really find it. So, yeah, that was the advice that I completely would say I didn’t take. Yeah.

[00:04:20] Amardeep: Was it hard to kind of reject that advice when you’re getting all these inputs from different people and how did you kind of manage that? Cause I know some people have a similar thing where they’re trying to do something new but the people around them are telling them not to do it.

[00:04:32] Nileeka: Yeah. I think you don’t necessarily have to address the fact that you’re not taking their advice. But I would always say, okay, that’s great. I’ll take that on board, but didn’t but yeah, it was, it was interesting to see the transition between like, oh, she’s got this little dance company, did you hear? like, my mom’s friends would be like, oh, Romney’s daughter is like a dancer. Did you hear? She’s doing this and that? And then now like, oh, did you know she’s in The Eternals? Like, I think people rarely back you when you’re starting something. And who knows, I mean, The Eternals is one credit. It doesn’t have to be that specific moment, but I think a lot of people won’t back you until there’s something that they can identify with but there’s been so much more before this point that it would have been great to have that support, you know?

[00:05:15] Amardeep: Yeah.

[00:05:16] Nileeka: It is what it is.

[00:05:17] Amardeep: You mentioned there about like some days where you struggled to have motivation. Was there any particular instances that were really difficult and how’d you come through that and find your balance again?

[00:05:26] Nileeka: I think the most difficult part of my career, aside from COVID, which has been difficult for all creative artists was coming out of like pregnancy and having a child, especially like quite early on in my career, because as a dancer, you’re sort of shelf life in a way, is somewhat designated, designated? It’s aligned with motherhood. And you know, a lot of people said, how are you going to manage it? And then even friends that weren’t in dance were like, you’re not going to keep dancing after you’ve got a kid, are you? That’s just strange. I was like, yeah, I think I will. Yeah. And I found it was hard to be motivated when people were expecting me not to be. Like you can take it easy, you know, you can, you can stop, but what if you don’t want to, what if that’s not part of your plan and, you know, my plan was to just keep going, so yeah.

[00:06:19] Amardeep: How did you find that again? So obviously lots of people do give up on dancing once they’ve got a family and things like. How did you come back into it again? And during that, both here with the pregnancy period, and like when the child had just been born, how did you manage the business side of that while that was all going on?

[00:06:35] Nileeka: so I had a team that I’d already built and they kind of took over for about three to four months completely where I stepped back from it.

But then coming back in, I’m a complete control freak. I was like, what has been going on here? Like where, what is this pricing? How has this been happening? But, you know, you have to sort of draw a line and realize, you know, when you hand something over, it just has to get done. It might not be your way. And my mum always said, look, you need to at some point that go of the let go of the reigns. And I think getting back into it, I couldn’t look at what had been, I just had to look forward and what the next phase of the company is.

[00:07:13] Amardeep: So it’s been eight years now of Bolly Co., right?

[00:07:16] Nileeka: Eight years of Bolly Co., yeah.

[00:07:18] Amardeep: So was that kind of like a sync phase before and after your pregnancy where having that bit of time away, I guess, might have been able to let you think about the longer term plans and the long-term strategy?

Did you change anything when he came back in terms of that vision?

[00:07:31] Nileeka: I don’t know why or how, but the company, I think it’s also timing a lot of this niche, which is the south Asian market. And it’s the same with other cultures. You have your moment where it’s trendy or it’s cool to be brown or, you know, something happens in the media and, you know, it’s that Jai Ho effect in a way. So there are times where you leap frog off things happening in the media, and the world, global events, something was happening at that time, and my career just kind of skyrocketed. And I would say that that’s when we were traveling five to six times a year doing gigs abroad. You know, I’ve heard the saying that where hard work goes, good luck follows and I definitely think for three or four years, I was solidly, solidly, solidly working, went to have my, my little one and then came back and then it was like a catalyst and came back and then all the work was, was there. So yeah, I think it was just a few things. Timing, hard work, and then just magic. Yeah. I, I call them the golden days, cause it was before COVID it was when you could travel freely, people were spending more money. They were enjoying entertainment and entertainment was very highly valued. Again now post COVID people want things. They want products that they can see and hold on to. So I think in a way that we’re going to have to work a little bit harder to remind people of the value of, of entertainment. It’s not that they haven’t missed it. They’ve missed it all the time, but they’re so like, it’s so much easier to be connected to entertainment now via device, so you can stream a show. You can listen to a podcast. You can listen to Spotify music, but actually buying an entertainment piece. I don’t really feel like people remember what that feels like. There are a few, I mean, we haven’t done too bad on the recovery, but for things to go back to normal, it’s going to take a while.

[00:09:34] Amardeep: Yeah.

[00:09:35] Nileeka: Yeah.

[00:09:36] Amardeep: Is there anything changed now? Cause obviously, you’ve done the drive ins and I think you mentioned in your story today about you think about doing more of those in the future, has it kind of changed your opinions on some of the things or do you want to kind of go back to the way things were?

[00:09:49] Nileeka: It has completely changed my opinion because when we are the entertainment that are booked by our client, the hierarchies obviously very different. Whereas when we are the people putting on the show, it’s completely a different respect level. It’s the way that people view someone that’s doing something versus someone that’s being booked to do something, is very different. And I think going from the very bottom to the very top, it’s been, it’s been a game changer because we’re so aware of what it takes, and when now, when someone comes to us with a show and they say, look, we simply don’t have the budget. I’m like, so how, how is that budget allocated? Just tell me a little bit, cause obviously, and then I call it it’s promotional and you know, it’s this show and it will be great exposure to the word that an artist dreads is when they use the, drop the E bomb, exposure. And then they tell you, you know, everyone that’s on board is doing it for exposures, particularly in TV.

[00:10:46] Amardeep: Yeah.

[00:10:47] Nileeka: But you know the cameraman’s not doing it for exposure. He’s holding the camera. He’s being paid to do it. Yeah. Dancers don’t get that say in respect and I think it’s so difficult to explain to people that, if you’re dancing behind, for example, an artist, once that work is finished, no, one’s going to say who would those two behind that artists? They look for the artist. And then even though we’ve enhanced the artists performance, we’re not getting a secondary benefit out of it. We are literally there for our hours. We’re doing the job. And if you want us to do the job to our best, we have to be motivated by being paid like any other job but it’s difficult because dance is it also a recreational activity? So because so many people do it recreationally, it’s where the line is between professional dancers and you know, those that do it for fun.

[00:11:37] Amardeep: Yeah. And obviously the line is obviously just the quality, right?

[00:11:40] Nileeka: Yeah. And the hours of training that we put in to make sure it’s a professional product versus, or we’ve had so much fun, there are a few moves wrong in the second burst, but you know, don’t worry. No one noticed. Like how, how would an artist feel? You know? And then when they tell us, you know, we can get people that will do it for free or for the exposure. I used to say, oh, but please. And now I’m just like, okay, that’s fine. Good luck. Enjoy that. Enjoy cleaning that mess.

[00:12:06] Amardeep: It’s one of the things I’ve realized since I’ve been in business. There’re different levels, right?

[00:12:09] Nileeka: Yeah.

[00:12:09] Amardeep: It’s that people often come to me for free advice, but me helping them, like I could do it, but then I wouldn’t have any of my own time. So by doing my own business stuff, plus the freestyle, that’s my sleeping time that’s going, that’s my time with my friends and family that’s going. And that’s something I don’t think people necessarily understand is that if you’re going to do that shift for free, that’s you not being with your kid. You’re not being your family. It’s not, you skipping family events.

[00:12:34] Nileeka: I have someone I’ve been doing private lessons with and they messaged me, asking me to do a recorded video for them this morning. I’ve already done that lesson and they’re coming again from more lessons. This is extra time and boundaries are so important because in creative industries, people don’t see boundaries. And then also, because I’m so open in my social life, they think on Instagram, if I’m on there posting something about where I am for class or whatever. Oh, she’s probably that’s also part of my business when I’m posting online, it’s part of my brand. Like I don’t think people realize not a lot that I do is not part of that branding. It’s not like every detail is calculated or strategic, but if I’m out and I’m filming, it’s because I’m on my way somewhere or doing something that’s related to my product. But yeah, I think social media is one of the kind of flood gates to leaving yourself almost overexposed, your time.

[00:13:34] Amardeep: So alongside that would be people respecting your boundaries. Where else are you struggling with your balance at the moment?

[00:13:39] Nileeka: I think as a mom, I always struggle because whenever I devote time to the business completely, I feel, oh, should I be spending more time with Gigi or, you know, vice versa. There’ve been times where I’ve spent the whole day off and spent time with her, and then a client’s been like, hi, haven’t received this. And you know, we are, we are struggling to go back to how we were before COVID and I can’t employ the same number of people I did before. So I think, you know, it’s always a struggle. However, I think I’ve realized that balance is probably not always achievable and it’s choosing and making those choices. And then once you’ve made those choices being okay with that, if someone does tell you, you haven’t received something, you just apologize and say, I’m so sorry. It won’t be, won’t be today. It will be tomorrow. As long as you’re communicating, I think you’re good.

[00:14:30] Amardeep: Yeah. And it’s one of those things where most things in life, aren’t that urgent. It’s, you don’t need to apply on the same day. So if it’s an event that’s happening tomorrow, it’s a good idea to apply today with this happening in six months time.

[00:14:44] Nileeka: I think COVID has put people into over anxiety, particularly with just queries about, will there be another lockdown? Will my event even happen? Are you going to run away with my money? What’s your refund policy? Like I’m very clear from the start, what all those questions, what the answers to all of those questions are, but I think when people get in that panic mode, they can’t find the answers and they’re just thinking, oh my God, I’m going to lose everything. And I think with weddings, it is quite sensitive. So you have to remember that this is a day in someone’s life that is going to be kind of the biggest event they’ll ever have. So you have to empathize and you know, you can’t just because you have done it a million times before you can’t be like, oh, we’ve done this loads. Don’t worry about it. We’ll just turn up. Yeah. Which I know sometimes I do want to say but until that confidence comes from them, it’s quite difficult to make them feel at ease, just to keep reassuring them.

[00:15:40] Amardeep: Hi everyone. I hope you’re enjoying the episode so far. I want to take a quick break to ask you to check in with yourself. There’s many people struggling with balance and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s tips that my guests might share can hopefully help you along the way, but if you already feel overwhelmed or burnt out, it’s probably best that you ask somebody for help too. For some, this might be a friend or family member, while others might feel like they have nobody they can talk to. If you’re one of these people, check out the link in the show notes, it’s for United for Global Mental Health. They’ve got health plans all across the world, with people willing to listen on the other side. It’s important to let somebody know how you’re feeling. Now, back to the show.

Do you find that as you’ve grown bigger and as you got the following and social media presence, that people are a little bit less worried?

[00:16:22] Nileeka: No, honestly, I never say to people like, oh, have you followed us on Instagram? Or have you checked me out on this or look at my LinkedIn or anything? Like I don’t, I just don’t. I, I come at it from the perspective, they don’t know me because there are also a lot of like frauds out there on, on social, and you could be someone who’s bought your followers. You could be someone who, you know, has bought a blue tick even cause you can do that now. So I think all,

I’m going to do that I think.

I think all you can go on is what you see in front of you and if they don’t feel comfortable with the person they’re communicating with, I’m doing something wrong. So yeah, I try not to,

[00:17:00] Amardeep: Not from your perspective in terms of the people out reached to you. It’s a bit easier cause they can look you up, I guess before they contact you?

[00:17:06] Nileeka: There’s a few times when they’ve said, oh, we don’t want to pay up front, you know, and I just said, look, here’s my registered company number.

[00:17:16] Amardeep: Yeah.

[00:17:16] Nileeka: This is company’s house. Please feel free to do the research. My counsel on file like, as you wish. And I think just because again with the dance, they are used to like cash in hand or whatever, and they always ask, you know, would there be a discount? And I just say no, like there’s no discount for anything. Cause we need to live and eat.

[00:17:38] Amardeep: Yeah. Which is fair enough, right?

[00:17:40] Nileeka: Yeah, exactly. So I think, yeah, there’s not been any real change from the bigger that we’ve grown. I think the quality of bookings has increased but you get the same number of confused people that call definitely. If they’re more confused, cause there’s more choice now.

[00:18:01] Amardeep: A normal day look like for you or do you not have a normal day because it’s bookings all over the place?

[00:18:05] Nileeka: At the moment, there’s no normal day structure. Before it would be sort of office work like, I’d say 10:00 til 3:00. I don’t really start early cause I do mum duties till about 9:00, 9:30, and then there’d be sort of email replies and then also just overall brand strategy because we have full classes a week. We’re also launching our Bhangra squad as well. So that’s a new initiative we’re launching. So we’d always look at our products as a whole, at the start of the week. And my Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is a mixture of replying to new business, existing business, and then looking at the class and what we’re doing with the business as a whole, then I’d have a few team meetings. My teachers are all sort of experts in their dance style. Well, then they teach individually. We are very much a brand, so they need to know what’s going on with the brand. Like what’s our direction this month. Like, what are our targets? How’s everyone doing? And then we kind of try and bounce off each other and, you know, try and help each other. And for example, if my class numbers have been great then I’d say, okay, so this week I’m not really going to talk about my class. It’s going to be a push on semi classical or, you know, I will look at which teacher wants the support, and then we’ll also look at what the new releases are in Bollywood. See what films are coming out. And yeah, a lot of it is connected to the industry that we’re passionate about. So yeah, that’s what I typically do.

[00:19:30] Amardeep: Yeah. And so obviously Gigi’s back at school now.

[00:19:33] Nileeka: Yes.

[00:19:33] Amardeep: Does that make things a lot easier or is it not too different?

[00:19:36] Nileeka: It is much easier because you don’t have, when you’re on a call, someone putting your leg going, mommy, mommy, I want to watch this or that, or change the channel, or she actually does not care. Like if I’m on the phone, she will talk louder. And then if I’m answering, for example, a wedding inquiry, like, oh, that’s beautiful. What a lovely venue. Can I come? It’s like, but yeah, it’s, it’s interesting. And I don’t think I’m going to be the first or the last person to run a business with a child, but I think because it’s dance, people find it so interesting. The comments that I get like, oh, you go back into shape and your, I can’t believe you’re a mom. And you know, you just think, what do you expect a mum to look like? Like dowdy, dried out, like from the shelf, like no, no motivation to live other than her child. I don’t want to be that person. Like I never wanted to be that person. And I want my daughter to look up to me and think, she can do everything. She doesn’t have to have to pick whether she’s a mum or a dancer.

[00:20:37] Amardeep: Yeah.

[00:20:38] Nileeka: Yeah.

[00:20:39] Amardeep: Do you think at the moment she kind of wants to be like, she looks up to you and the dancing in particular and tries to emulate you?

[00:20:44] Nileeka: Definitely. She can’t. She can’t actually, she can’t actually dance to the rhythm yet.

[00:20:49] Amardeep: Is it skipping a generation? You see the parents?

[00:20:51] Nileeka: Yes. My grand kids will be great. But, yeah, she’s not really into dance to be honest, she’s interested by the business, and she loves the idea of telling people what to do.

[00:21:02] Amardeep: Yeah.

[00:21:03] Nileeka: But not so much the dancing, yeah. It’s wasted on her.

[00:21:09] Amardeep: What you’re looking to in the future, now, what do you want your ideal lifestyle to be? Is it going back to that kind of 10:00 to 3:00 and doing dance in the evenings, or do you want to mix it up?

[00:21:19] Nileeka: I would love things to go back to how they were also the drive-ins that we mentioned earlier to build products, not necessarily drive-ins, but like that like concerts, awards shows, I’ve proven to myself that I could do it. And that’s what it was always about, proving it to myself, not to others, because I think if you start a project thinking that you’ve got to prove it to someone else, you’re never going to be satisfied because there’s always going to be negative comments. And we did get a few negative comments and because I did it for myself, they didn’t bother me.

[00:21:48] Amardeep: Yeah.

[00:21:49] Nileeka: So yeah, being able to charge whatever I want. Well, why I feel we deserve, like, even now I don’t feel like we’re charging what we should be. And then also just helping continually push the industry up and not just, you know, keeping all that good energy for myself. I like to spread that amongst the South Asian dance community as well. So more events that involve different types of dancers and different types of creatives as well would be amazing.

[00:22:15] Amardeep: Yeah. And looking at the team, you also mentioned that you previously hired a few people to work with you. Is that what you’re looking to do again, to kind of get rid of some of the, maybe day-to-day active from your plate?

[00:22:25] Nileeka: I do have a team like on standby waiting to be rehired. So honestly, they know that I can’t change the way the world’s working at the moment.

[00:22:32] Amardeep: Yeah.

[00:22:32] Nileeka: If things go back to how they were, I’d love, they still work on a freelance basis because they love the company so much, but I know that their ideal would be to go back to that situation, but it’s just, it’s just not picked up yet.

[00:22:47] Amardeep: Yeah. In an ideal world, which kind of parts of your job at the moment, would you get rid of or you push into somebody else and let somebody else manage that?

[00:22:56] Nileeka: Oh, the admin, like, I am not good at admin, like, you know how long I take to reply to like a WhatsApp or whatever, like, the little things that take time for me feel like quite big things, because I have got to a stage in my career after 10 years, I don’t really do them anymore. And I had a PA full-time for three years and to not have one now is really like, difficult, so that part I wouldn’t do, because I think I’m much better at the creative and you know, the top line decision-making and the planning and strategy, and you can’t do that at the same time as like placing a delivery order for 10 dancers, which now I have to do, because if you don’t do them, people don’t get fed and stuff like that. So. Yeah, it’s, it’s quite difficult to balance, but you know, I’m trying to see where we can get projects where I can bring someone in freelance to PA for a few days.

[00:23:49] Amardeep: Yeah. Because it’s some of the things I’m doing at the moment is that I’ve got the kind of biggest strategic thing. It’s like, I’m going to write a book, I’m going to do all this other stuff, but then at the same time, I’m a one person company, so I’m managing all these other little bits and pieces and what I’m trying to do,

[00:24:01] Nileeka: And you have to do them as well, because if you don’t do the little bits, you can’t work towards the big bits, cause people are like, oh, they’re rubbish. They haven’t got back to me on this, so.

[00:24:08] Amardeep: Yeah. And it’s what I’m trying to do is build their systems, which I can then palm off. And I think that’s because you said, mentioned before as well, like you like to control things. So if you’ve got your process, you can write that down and somebody can follow it. It just gives you that confidence. Right. And that’s what I’m trying to do too. It’s like for like editing this podcast, I’m doing it myself at the moment, but I want it to be somebody else who does it and then it frees up time every week. Right. And that’s time, which I can then do in the bigger picture stuff, like you mentioned.

[00:24:33] Nileeka: Yeah.

[00:24:34] Amardeep: So for the people listening today, what’s one mindset shift you think they could make that would make a positive difference to their lives?

[00:24:40] Nileeka: I would say, one thing that I did was learning to take risks. So take risks and ignore advice when necessary even good advice. It might not be the right advice for you and also to trust your gut. And if you really believe that there’s something that you should be doing, find a way to make it happen and just keep going.

[00:25:01] Amardeep: Yeah. Is there anyone like who you know, in the past where, they’ve taken that risk and they were really nervous about it and you help them to go through it and to then chase their dreams too. I guess you sort of trying for your dancers right?,

[00:25:12] Nileeka: Yeah. Actually there was someone called Sean who his name, Sean Thomas, and I met him on Instagram and he it’s a fantastic dancer. And he was posting just stuff where you could not see how great a dancer he was. And obviously as a trained dancer and someone who’s built my own brand, I would find things that he was posting and I’d send them back to him and be like, crop this second to this second, post this as a real, see if it makes a difference. And he started doing a few things like that. And he was like, wow, thanks so much. Like, why are you doing this for me? I’m like, because I believe in you. And, you know, you need to make things happen for yourself. So then lockdown happened and then I started mentoring him. He’s nearly got more followers than I have in such a short space of time, but he’s grown exponentially because he completely dedicated himself to growing a dance company, basically, similar to what Bolly Co. has, over in New Zealand and also exponential social growth, which is something he as a filmmaker, he had a background in film making. So I was like, dude, you got all the ingredients here for success. Yeah. He then just, yeah, made a great decision to full-time commit to dance. He’s doing really well. His classes went from like four people to 40 and you can’t even get a spot in his classes now. It’s amazing.

[00:26:40] Amardeep: It’s just that thing. I think so many people limit themselves because, they didn’t think they can do it, even if other people can see it in them. And it’s like, we did the thing where anybody who got to right. They’re all just normal people. They had to start from somewhere. What do you think, they were all born with it, came out of the womb with like this amazing talent. I was like, no, no, they had to work their way up. And they just had to have the confidence.

[00:27:00] Nileeka: A lot of people don’t have that person though, who believes in them and sees it through to completion. I think. With me and Sean, like, even now, if he needs anything, he can message me and I will help whenever I can. And I think that having someone that you can just ask is, you know, don’t underrate that. I say, if you’ve got someone in your life that you can literally ask a question at any time, it doesn’t matter if they’re in the industry or not, but, having somebody to lean on is the biggest thing an entrepreneur could ever ask for. And I’ve had someone, my, my best friend, Sonia, who, you know, her background is in social policy and also in understanding these minority groups and that’s not dance. That’s not fitness. That’s not any of those things, but that’s my target audience. And actually going to ask her a question, the response she gives is so thought out so heartfelt and so insightful that actually that has been such a, a benefit to me. I’m not just asking someone who doesn’t really care. I think you can ask friends that you go to uni weird or that you’ve had as childhood friends, but their responses will be, I don’t know, give it a try, like just keep going or whatever. But when you ask someone who has knowledge in that area, it’s like gold for an entrepreneur. Really.

[00:28:20] Amardeep: I think one thing that’s interesting about your relationship with Sean as well is that, what people often tried to do is find a mentor without really proving why you should believe them. Right. Whereas it kind of happened in the reverse way. I think it happens a lot with me as well is that, if I see somebody who’s doing something good and they’re trying their best, I want to help them.

[00:28:37] Nileeka: Yeah, for sure. Like he didn’t ask me to mentor him. I was, after a while of me sending him these messages and telling him what to do, he was like, do you want to formalize this? And I said, look, I don’t have time to build a mentee package, like mentor package or whatever. I don’t have time to, cause if I start doing that, it’s going to be another business, and I’m doing this from my heart, because I believe in you. So we would literally just keep it quite informal. However, if you catch ups here and there, and then I did this thing called the daily, which was daily motivation for people during the first lockdown, because we all thought that was fun and games. And we were like, what’s going on here? Like everyone’s on the house party app. Yeah. Let’s just make it into a morning club. And he joined that and we had a few entrepreneurs and celebrities on there. I think he, it gave him that spark to, to start thinking, I don’t need to just look up to one of these people. I can be one of these people. So the first thing I recommended him to do was to read the book, It’s Not Who You Are, It’s Who You Want To Be by, I think it’s by Paul Arden.

[00:29:40] Amardeep: Yeah.

[00:29:40] Nileeka: It’s a very short, easy to read book with just lots of bits of advice and I, to this day, if I’m feeling I’m motivated, I pick up that book and I’ll just flip to a page and I’ll read a page because it’ll give me something. And I said, before we start, read this book and he goes, oh, I don’t know if I’ll have time. It’s a long book. And I said, honestly, it’s not a long book. You’ll want to read it again. Now he quotes pages from the book every day on his Instagram. It’s just a great book. I’d advise it to anyone that wants to know about entrepreneurship.

[00:30:14] Amardeep: Yeah. I think it’s such an important point about just if you do the good work, like you said about you put in the hard work and then people recognize you later on.

[00:30:21] Nileeka: Yeah.

[00:30:22] Amardeep: It’s just such an important point about, don’t just expect people to do it for you. And if he’d come to you at the beginning, before I’d been making a video, [unintelligible], hi, I wouldn’t ever do this. Like, please tell me what to do. And he didn’t do that. He was trying his best. And you saw that and appreciated that. And that’s why you helped him.

[00:30:38] Nileeka: But I think in this day and age, everything is so instant that that’s why people want things the other way round. I was never brought up in this social generation where you would almost want the reward before you put in the work. So for me it doesn’t seem natural. Like I do get DMs daily. Hi, I’m just starting out. I wondered how I can get representation from Intertalent or a brand like you. I’m like it’s taken me 10 years to get an agent. I did it the other way round. Like I got all my own work and then I went to an agent and then I was like, Hey, can I be represented. People who have literally just come out of dance college, are looking to be represented by agents that, you know, are very difficult to, to get. So I’m like, I’m not the person to ask, if you want this at this stage in your career, you, you absolutely have to put in the work yourself. And even now, after 10 years of doing it was not easy. I did get rejected. The first time I applied, I did get rejected because they didn’t really see where they could place me. And then again, I had to re pitch myself and say, look, this is how I would position me. And these are the type of clients I would get. And when they said, oh, are you sure? Here is my client list. So I kind of showed them, I’d already done it. So I think to be able to back up what you’re selling people is so important. Yeah. Hmm.

[00:32:00] Amardeep: So it’s been a pleasure to talk to you Nileeka. Where can people hear more from you?

[00:32:05] Nileeka: Instagram, they can find me on Insta. My handle’s @Nileeka and then my company, the Bollywood [email protected] and then the website is thebollywoodco.com, and I teach a [unintelligible] every week. So if you just want to meet me like you did, which I thought was really cool, actually, that you came to our South Asian Heritage Month event, so I feel like from that you really got a feel for what I’m about and what the company is about. So I just love it when people actually engage with the product first before like, you know, sending me a message. So yeah, if you want to come down, our company’s very, very open to new people.

[00:32:41] Amardeep: Yeah. And final thing to end up on is, what’s one small thing that’s brought you joy recently?

[00:32:47] Nileeka: Well, my little girl, my Gigi and just spending time doing things I love like dance, family, and having a good balance of social and personal life. I think it’s been so hard to that the past year, so any moments that I get where I get to experience both I’m happy..

If you’re

[00:33:12] Amardeep: If you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, I’d love it If you could leave me a five star review, it really helps get the message out further. Wherever you’re listening, it would be awesome If you could subscribe and share in your social media channels. If you want to see more of my work and advice, you can find all of the links in the show notes.

Thank you again for listening and I hope you have a lovely day.

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