Different Strokes of an Entrepreneur: From Acing Adventure Sports to Running A Digital Marketing Agency
By: Ambika Sharma, Founder & Managing Director, Pulp Strategy
Ambika Sharma, a woman entrepreneur who has successfully balanced a business and a life of extreme adventure: the founder of Pulp Strategy a full-stack digital agency that offers transformational consulting and last-mile execution of the strategy to its clients, Ambika is an advanced open water diver, and an avid Motorcyclist, balances her business commitments with regular diving and motorcycling trips in India and around the world, and uses her adventurous experiences to inform and inspire her work. Ambika has a Harley Davidson Road King and a BMW GTL, in her stable.
In conversation with Women Entrepreneur Magazine, Ambika shares her views on successful and long-lasting career in a highly competitive business
With so many adventurous pursuits, how did you get into the business world? And how would you be stable in it?
I am a science student who decided to study Shakespeare, a software developer who studied advertising, a lifelong love story with communication and its strategic arts. Post spending over a decade in advertising I threw my hat in the ring and turned entrepreneur and became a 1st generation business owner from a family which have a long-standing tradition of serving in the Army for four generations.".
As an entrepreneur with a love for adventure and a strong sports background, I have found that these pursuits have made me a stronger and more focused business leader. The skills I've honed through these experiences, such as goal-setting, perseverance, and the willingness to take calculated risks, have translated directly into my business pursuits. My travel experiences have provided me with valuable customer insights and unique perspectives on business strategies. Meeting people from diverse backgrounds has given me a greater appreciation for the importance of building strong relationships and understanding different cultural perspectives.
My pursuits have inspired me with innovative ideas and creative solutions to complex problems. I've found that my risk appetite has been a significant asset in pursuing new opportunities and ventures. However, I also understand the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and dedicating time to personal pursuits. Simply put its time management, I work hard and make time for myself as well. My typical day starts at 4:30 AM, I train for two hours before getting to work. I use my “scary hour” to get one big item on my to-do list done before I get to work. An average day at work is 10-12 hours. I make my bucket list in January for the year and I plan my time off on long weekends, take a longish break once a year. It’s really not that tough to find time if its something one wants to do in addition to business.
Overall, I believe that those with a spirit of adventure or sports backgrounds make better leaders because they possess a unique set of experiences that enrichen their planning for business and their clients and enable empathy for their team mates who would like to have a life too. These experiences provide them with a broader perspective on business and life, allowing them to approach challenges and opportunities with a sense of creativity and determination.
What is something most people don't know about being an entrepreneur or executive that would surprise us all if we knew about it?
One thing that many people might not realize about being an entrepreneur or senior executive is just how much failure and rejection they have to face on a regular basis. Despite the common perception that successful entrepreneurs and executives are born with a natural talent or skill set, the reality is that they often fail many times before they achieve success. People see the success but rarely see the grit, rejection, failure and pressure that has sprinkled our path at every set.
In adventure sports we embrace failure as an opportunity, because success never teaches as much as failure, once you fail you learn what to change so the next attempt is closer to success, entrepreneurship is a bit like that failure is a necessary part of the process of becoming a successful entrepreneur or executive. Many successful entrepreneurs and executives will tell you that they have failed far more often than they have succeeded, and that it is their ability to learn from their failures and keep moving forward that has ultimately led to their success.
In addition to facing failure and rejection, many entrepreneurs and executives also have to deal with a high degree of uncertainty and risk, especially in today’s times. Starting a business or taking on a new leadership role often involves taking a leap of faith, and there are never any guarantees of success. This can be incredibly stressful and challenging, and it requires a great deal of resilience, perseverance, and adaptability.
Finally, being an entrepreneur or executive can be a lonely and isolating experience. It can be difficult to find people who understand the unique challenges and pressures that come with running a business or leading a team, and there are often very few people you can turn to for support or advice. This is why many successful entrepreneurs and executives place a high value on building strong networks and relationships with other entrepreneurs and executives who understand what they are going through.
You have established a successful and long-lasting career in a highly competitive business. What are some practical do's and don'ts in your opinion that will assist other women develop a profitable and long-lasting career in the Indian business landscape?
I believe everyone has their style and their own journey, It is important to embrace your own style and to find what works best for you. The Do’s or Don’ts I am listing here are based on my experience and my style of doing things.
- Be Confident and Never back down!, opportunities tend to hide behind challenges.
- Build your rock! Your family and a close set of friends and mentors. Include in your circle someone double your age and someone half your age, age changes perspectives you need to see all sides of life’s energy.
- Manage your time and find time for a personal passion. It keeps you sane.
- Embrace your unique perspective and experiences as a woman, and use them to your advantage in your work.
- Learning is continuous, take courses and workshops. Build a reading habit.
- Work at being strong, physically and mentally.
- Don’t let gender biases cloud your judgement.
- Don’t forget that you are powerful
- Don't let fear of failure or rejection stop you from taking risks and pursuing opportunities.
- Don't hesitate to speak up and share your ideas and opinions, even if or especially if they go against the norm.
- Don't allow discrimination or bias to go unchallenged in the workplace, and advocate for a more inclusive and diverse workplace culture in your business.
Tell us about some important factors to keep in mind when starting a business as a Woman.
I think the common factors of funding biases, networking, mentorship and market mapping etc everyone is aware of. I would like to share a point of view on the process. Again this is a personal view and does not necessarily have to be the way to go for everyone. Take a step back from everyone who is not a part of the building of your business for at least the 1st year. I don’t mean ghost them, but do not share what you are doing and what your goals are. Assess your networking needs and focus on networking with the right folks and mentors. This added time is valuable for thinking free of clutter. Talk to your family and establish ground rules, if you plan to spend 18 hour days at work tell them and get them onboard. Create a framework to ward of negative conversations from your life for the duration you are setting up your business.
How do you think gender prejudice manifests itself in the corporate world? Can you provide any instances or examples from your own experience when you saw gender prejudice at work?
Gender bias is real, it may manifest in unequal pay, stereotyping or microaggressions. A lot of times its not quantifiable. On the negotiation table is when its more obvious, there are some people who expect women to crumble under the strain of a long drawn out phased negotiation. I once had a client honestly disclose that he prefers working with men because he feels a better sense of camaraderie and on the other hand he feels he has to watch his language in front of women. At least he was honest a lot of folks are not.