About iAM Business Consulting
- About the Founder
- About the Web Designers
- iAM Mission
- The iAM Approach
Shalini Bahl, Ph.D. and CA (Chartered Accountant)
Hello and welcome to iAM Business Consulting. This company is a natural outcome of my professional experience in marketing (both as an entrepreneur and as an academic) and my personal journey as a meditator. I have successfully started and managed new enterprises in the business and non-profit sectors. Some of my past ventures include creating and exporting in-house brand of Basmati rice and fashion garments, creating accounting and information systems for a trading company in Kuwait, and starting a new non-profit chapter in Salt Lake City, Utah.
As a marketing professor I enjoyed teaching undergraduate and PhD students. I taught marketing principles and qualitative research methods. My research has been published in top business journals like Journal of Consumer Research (forthcoming), Journal of Advertising, and Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.
As a meditator, my practice extends beyond the proverbial mat. Mindfulness is important to who I am and what I do. As such, mindfulness pervades every aspect of my life, including my meditation practices, relationships, cooking, walking in nature, singing, dancing, and my work. I like to do what ever it is I am doing with love, awareness, and enthusiasm.
What I love most is inspiring people to live their highest potential. I believe we each have a unique combination of passions, talents, experiences, and skills that can be expressed in ways that are authentic and profitable, if we are mindful and creative. Through my varied experiences in different professional and cultural environments, my academic training, and personal mindfulness practices I have developed the iAM approach - which stands for the Innovative, Authentic, and Mindful approach to business. I use this approach to help individuals, whether they are self-employed or employees, to become acquainted with what is unique about them and channel that for maximum productivity, engagement, and enjoyment in their work.
Along the way, I have acquired expertise in using social media tools because that is the new paradigm for authentic communications. I am successfully employing these tools in ways that are most natural to who I am. They provide perfect synergy as I listen, learn, think, express, and connect using these tools. Having researched and personally used these tools I now offer my expertise through individual consultations and workshops, but again emphasizing on the purpose, target audience, and individual mindsets of my clients.
In all my workshops and consulting services I draw from my research background, entrepreneurial experiences, marketing innovations, and unconventional methods such as breath work, dialog, and intuitive writing.
You can read more about me in the newspaper article called “A campaign for response-ability in business.”
You can hear my radio interview on personal branding in Voices of the Valley
Shalini’s Education and Affiliations
- PhD in Marketing, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts
- Chartered Accountant, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Delhi, India
- Bachelor of Commerce (Honors), Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, India
- Member of American Marketing Association
- Member of Association of Consumer Research
- Member of Integrative Health Network
- Member of US Volunteers Art of Living Foundation
- Founder of iAM Woman in Business Circle
- Director, MotherWoman Inc.
Ron Martinez, Web Designer / Drupal Developer
Hello, I am a web designer and Drupal developer based in Amherst, Massachusetts. I view web design as such an interesting hybrid art form of graphic design, programming, and interaction design that constantly evolves. Creating good websites is a fun challenge for me and I learn new things continually to make myself better at it. I have computer science as my educational background and my love of programming and software design is what drives me to delve deeply into exploring the technical side of web design. I have also done a few video projects which is also a passion of mine. Working with video has taught me important core concepts of design that are applicable to any sort of art.
Some of My Work
I designed and built the iAM Business Consulting website (Isn’t it lovely?) and here are some of my projects:
The mission of iAM Business Consulting is to inspire people to recognize their highest potential and give it expression in ways that are meaningful, profitable, and enjoyable.
We aspire to make innovative marketing, mindfulness tools, and customized websites accessible to all individuals, who may be self-employed or employees, so that they can build strong personal brands and market their unique potential in authentic ways.
Our personal branding services emphasize self-awareness, authentic differentiation, and effective communication using traditional and innovative tools like social networks and social media.
Our workshops and consulting services are founded on a combination of research in business, science, and mindfulness to provide new ways of thinking about business challenges. While we provide marketing solutions to navigate the external environment successfully, we also promote mindfulness to move with ease and grace in all aspects of our lives.
We are passionate about empowering individuals to live their highest potential.
Some of our guiding beliefs:
- Self-awareness provides the foundation for our life’s work including building an authentic brand and website
- We each have a unique combination of passions, skills, and experiences that can be channeled in meaningful and profitable ways.
- In addition to passion, there has to be laser beam focus on the purpose and 100% commitment to be successful
- Our inner beliefs influence our external reality; which is why we provide marketing strategy with a strong emphasis on mindfulness
- We can have a purposeful enterprise and be profitable
- We can be mindful, authentic, and profitable, only if innovative
- The only constant is change; we stop growing when we stop learning.
See how the iAM Approach differs from the traditional approach:
Focus on self awareness
Connect with purpose and move forward
Focus on unique benefits
Organic and natural
Builds relationships and creates Buzz
Career enjoyment and self-actualization
Focus on self presentation
Think of outcome and work backwards
Focus on unique selling proposition
Career protection and self-promotion
“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” - William James
We cannot change the external world without changing our inner world. This principle, stated by spiritual teachers since time immemorial and studied by scientists today, lies at the core of the iAM approach. Especially in the context of breaking down of old economic systems, this principle is pertinent at the macro level in pointing out that while we fix things in the external world we also need to attend to the inner workings of our culture and society that contributed to the collapse. At the micro level of individual businesses, we as business practitioners need to re-examine not only our external business operations but also our internal thinking patterns and motivations that drive our external behaviors. The iAM approach is based on this inside-out process to bring innovation, authenticilty, and mindfulness in the inner and outer dimensions of your work. This approach focuses on the following transformations:
What does mindfulness have to do with business?
“To be mindful is to be awake and present every moment to those around you and to what you are doing.”- Thich Nhat Hahn
it is estimated that U.S. companies spend over $300 billion annually due to stress related factors such as absenteeism, lower productivity, high turnover, and direct medical and insurance costs (Source: The American Institute of Stress). Mindfulness as a practice and personality trait has been shown to have positive effects on stress, change, creativity, clarity, and leadership.
- Manage Stress
- Increase creativity
- Cope with change
- Find clarity
- Lead effectively
(See research on mindfulness here)
Mindfulness is the foundation upon which the iAM approach rests. Connection with authentic purpose and innovation most easily happens in a state of mindfulness. The only time we are able to create the reality that we aspire is when we are “awake” and “truly present” in the moment. Mindfulness is not a sitting practice but is a way of being. Yet, because our mind is conditioned to living in the past or future, creating some time and space to practice mindfulness becomes pertinent. This time for hundred percent attention and reflection can be devoted to any activity that resonates best with us, as long as the activity allows us to be fully awake and attentive to what we are doing. Additionally, in cultures where ‘doing’ is the mantra, undoing the conditioned mind requires ‘not doing’ anything for sustained periods of time. Practices involving silent sitting, compassionate observation, and breath work need to be woven into our busy lifestyles to create the spaces needed for creativity.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” - Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Besides bringing authentic connection and creativity, mindfulness has many benefits at the physical level. One aspect of modern life that is ubiquitous across all cultures is stress. Again, breath work can be a powerful agent to release stress and revitalize our mind and body. An important aspect of progressive businesses is to recognize the importance of making mindfulness a part of corporate culture and creating the space and time for mindfulness as a practice.
“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are, what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.”
- Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General, UN
What is the meaning of authenticity?
Definition of authenticity: Authentic functioning involves four distinct, yet interrelated components: awareness and knowledge of one’s self-aspects, unbiased processing of evaluative information, behavior that is aligned with one’s true self, and a relational orientation with close others that fosters openness and connectivity. (Heppner and Kernis in Psychological Inquiry 2007
Qualities of authentic leaders: Authentic leaders demonstrate a passion for their purpose, practice their values consistently, lead with their hearts as well as their heads, establish long-term, meaningful relationships and have the self-discipline to get results. (Bill George, Peter Sims, Andrew N. McLean, and Diana Mayer in Harvard Business Review 2007)
What is the purpose of your company’s existence? How are you making a difference in the life of your customers, your employees, your suppliers, and other people whose lives you touch? What impact does your business have on your environment today and in the future? These questions are important not only at a philosophical level but because of practical implications.
Your customers have access to more information and more choices than ever before. What you have to offer, there is always some one who can do it better and cheaper. The only thing that others cannot duplicate is you, which makes self awareness an important aspect of authentic leadership. It is important to be clear about how you and your organization will uniquely create value for your customer because only then can you have authentic communications with your customers. According to Harvard professor, Gerald Zaltman, as much as 80% of human communication is non verbal. So, if you do not believe in your unique contribution to the customer, regardless of what you say, your customer will also not believe in you.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”- Gandhi
As a leader, in whatever capacity it may be, Self-awareness is needed so every aspect of your life is integrated with that knowing of who you are. When the business mission and personal mission become more integrated, the energy put into action is focused and not fragmented. Further, the journey itself becomes more joyful as work becomes a natural outcome of who you are and not something you have to do.
Coming back to the initial set of questions, is your personal mission integrated with your business mission? Are you working for the welfare of all your stakeholders because it is the new management fad or because it is an authentic manifestation of who you are?
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”- Einstein
How can you enhance innovative thinking in your organization?
How is mindfulness related to innovative thinking?
Meaning of Innovative/Creative thinking: Creative problem solving includes one or more of the following conditions:
“The product of the thinking has novelty and value (either for the thinker or his/her culture)
The thinking is unconventional, in the sense that it requires modification or rejection of previously accepted ideas.
The thinking requires high motivation and persistence: either taking place over a considerable span of time or occurring at high intensity.
The problem as initially was posed was vague and ill-defined, so that part of the task was to formulate the problem itself.” (A. Newell, J.C. Shaw, and Herbert Simon, Carnegie Mellon University 1959).
(See research on innovative thinking.)
It is said that humans have an average of 60,000 thoughts a day. More interestingly, 90% of those thoughts are the same as yesterday. Unless we bring mindfulness to our thoughts and understand our thinking patterns we are likely to remain stuck in old thinking patterns. External outcomes are based on our actions, which are based on our thoughts and feelings, which emanate from our perceptions, which are based on our deeply held beliefs. In order to change the external reality we need to become aware of the beliefs, which are often hidden but are shaping our perceptions and behaviors.
In Akiyoshi’s snakes’ illusion stationary objects appear to be moving. If we can misperceive physical objects, it is not hard to imagine that people with different beliefs perceive reality differently. Consequently, it is very easy to mistake our subjective perceptions to be objective realities. These perceptual differences are a major cause of communication gaps between companies and customers, between leaders and team members, and among team members.
Mindfulness brings awareness to the beliefs shaping our perceptions and those of others. Through mindfulness we can learn to become aware of beliefs that are limiting and ask the right questions to address the problem most effectively. Mindfulness practices have been shown to change the shape of the brain, just like exercise can change the shape of the body. Creativity, then, is not confined to being an in born trait but can be cultivated through mindfulness. Through mindfulness we disassociate from conditionings shaping our thoughts and acquire an ability to think creatively.