In Our “Real Women, Real Style” series, we feature inspiring Sikara customers that are changing our world and making a difference in our communities.
Vaishali Jadhav is a leader among leaders. She’s built an amazing career in the professional development training field, helping others reach their potential even as she herself continues to grow. Currently working for Whole Foods Corporate and living in Austin, Vaishali is an inspiring woman who believes in collaboration and the power of storytelling.
S&Co.: For most of your career, you’ve been involved in professional development training. What type of training, in your opinion, is the best for long term health of a company and why?
VJ: I believe that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools companies can use to share lessons in an engaging way. Great stories spread like wildfire within an organization. When a leader can talk about a time she fell and got back up, you know you are hearing from a leader that has really shifted. When you hear a story about how a leader didn’t have all the answers and had to rely on others to find a solution, you create the space for your team to ask good questions and become curious. People may recall a framework, but they remember a good story.
S&Co.: What first got you interested in your career field?
VJ: I first became interested in the field when I was a consultant for the Gallup Organization. I didn’t anticipate that I would have to teach as part of my role, but my mentors asked me to try it. I am glad I did. It was invigorating to use the classroom to share tools and ideas that help people get their jobs done. We spend a lot of time working; we may as well make that time joyful and impactful!
S&Co.: You’re currently the Learning and Development Coordinator for Whole Foods. What’s the most important thing you teach employees about leadership?
VJ: One of the most important lessons I teach is one I learned from my mentor, Jessica Agneessens. She teaches that we all have to practice leadership in our roles, whether our titles say that we are a leader or not. That is a lesson that has really empowered me as a non-leader and a lesson I share with others.
You frequently hear leaders say that they strive to hire people smarter than they are. If you do that, you have to understand that you may not have the best ideas at the table and you have to create the space for these smarter people to be innovative and to share their thoughts. This requires a level of vulnerability that simply is not taught in business schools. This requires that leaders come to the table with curiosity and not with the answers. This can be challenging in a command and control setting where leaders need to appear strong and decisive. Great ideas are generated when people have to lead with curiosity and not ego. I love having that conversation with participants; it can really conflict with some of the more traditional management frameworks and create the space for a new, collaborative way of leading. But it can also be freeing for a leader to know that she doesn’t have to have all the answers; she has to create the space for ideas to flourish.
S&Co.: You are on the board of the Austin Chapter of Conscious Capitalism, the tenets of which are described in John Mackey and Raj Sisodia’s book, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business. Can you share the goals of this group?
VJ: Here is our mission statement: Conscious Capitalism Austin exists to provide the inspiration and know-how necessary to fuel a conscious capitalism movement in Austin, Texas. Through this organization, we educate the Austin community about the four tenets of Conscious Capitalism and inspire change through transformative thinking, programs, events and communities of inquiry. We believe Austin can be home to a thriving community of conscious capitalists and are excited to support our these leaders with the resources and tools they need.
Given that the book was co-written by Whole Foods Market’s co-CEO John Mackey and that Whole Foods is based in Austin, we feel a personal responsibility to use the organization to elevate the stories of Austin’s Conscious Capitalists and hear about the movement beyond Whole Foods Market.
S&Co.: Summer is over, sadly. But tell us, what was your favorite summer adventure?
VJ: I have a goal of getting my passport stamped every summer! Sadly that didn’t happen this year, I kept my adventures domestic. My favorite adventure was definitely seeing Duran Duran at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Not sure which one cooler – the venue or the music! Amazing!
S&Co.: What’s an adventure, or place to visit, you’d love to go to in the future?
VJ: Morocco! And after seeing Mousumi’s beautiful jewelry, Rio is now on the list!
S&Co.: Fall in Austin is still pretty warm, what’s your favorite current Fall fashion trend?
VJ: Um, is anything with pumpkin in it a good answer? Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin lattes – my most favorite accessories!
S&Co.: And of course, we have to ask, what’s your favorite Sikara piece?
VJ: Ah! My favorite is piece is one of your older designed vermeil earrings from your Brazilian Rio Collection. I wear them whenever I can. They make me feel fabulous .
S&Co.: Being around food, do you like cooking? And if so, what’s your favorite recipe to share with our readers?
VJ: I spent quite a bit of time with my mom this summer to learn all of her amazing Indian food recipes. I really want to tackle Biryani as I understand that is the hallmark of a good Indian chef! But it’s a family recipe, so I can’t quite share it…yet.
S&Co.: What’s you secret to being successful? What advice can you give to other women?
VJ: I love the Beatles song, I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends. This is simply the key to my success. I surround myself with amazing people and I try to take on the parts of them that I love. It could be one friend’s compassion, another’s bravery, another’s sense of humor, someone’s patience, etc. I would tell other women to learn from everyone around you; the best lessons occur outside of the classroom (and I am saying that as an educator!).