All of it started on a train. Somewhere between Kolkata and Delhi, on a Rajdhani express, I was desperately hoping for enough mobile signal to upload my first YouTube video on communication. That was 1st July, 2016.

Today, that first video and many other videos have led me to be featured as a Linkedin influencer – the top 15 in India and third on the list of ‘Linkedin Top Voice 2017’. It has also carved my consultancy – ‘AskAnnie Communication’ – I coach companies, college students and individuals on storytelling for business and personal branding, using social media as the key element. I have always loved stories – right from the time I sat in Prof. Partho Mukherji and Prof. Rohinton Kapadia’s class in room no 11 in SXC. My beloved college and my teachers and all the stories that the English Literature course exposed me to – the belief of ‘Nihil Ultra’ that drives me till today.

The drive to excel is what made me an entrepreneur – I loved the years I spent teaching in Bhowanipore college, Vidyasagar college and Institute of Engineering & Management. I loved transitioning into the two year fellowship of ‘Teach For India’ in Pune and getting featured in the ‘Jagriti Yatra’ jouney for entrepreneurs- 2012. The desire to keep trying something new and keep learning is something I learnt from my students.

2015 onwards, I started my journey as a public speaker and a corporate trainer, albeit part-time at first. ‘Toastmasters International’ changed my life. I joined ‘Salt Lake Toastmasters Club’ in Kolkata and delivered more than 40 public speeches and completed a year of leadership as ‘Area Director’, leading 8 Toastmaster clubs including IIM Ranchi; VGSOM IIT KGP; TCS; Cerner India and PWC ‘s clubs. In July 2017, I became a ‘Distinguished Toastmaster’ in 2.5 years, a record achieved by only 1% of members in TM clubs across 143 countries.

2016 was the momentous turn when I decided to start making videos to help my students do better in job interviews – my channel ‘AskAnnie’ was started with the help of my best friend and fellow entrepreneur, Avinav Gupta (Founder of ‘Bajugali’) – Avinav used to shoot my 5 minute videos at his home or after a Toastmaster meeting and I did the rest – script, presentation and editing, helped with another SXC mass communication student, Satakshi Nath.

The urge to keep going and learning made me take the leap to Bangalore and I have started my own consultancy. Things are just beginning and it’s pretty exciting, especially to share my story with students from my alma mater. The only thing I want you to take away from my story is that I started on my own at 33. This was when I felt ready. Don’t rush it – life is long.

Entrepreneurship is not a fancy word or a cool lifestyle – it is a choice we make – so make it wisely. Take time to jump into it – take a job first and learn skills in the area you want to work in. Build a personal brand by blogging and vlogging about your area of expertise. Build a community of networks – you can’t do this alone. Finally, do figure out how to make money – sales is key. Working on other people’s money is giving away your freedom and it’s not a sustainable model.

leave you with the best story ever – Harry Potter. As Dumbledore said – “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”