Priya Kumar - I am a woman and I get paid to talk

IJ Anita Tejwani
Published on: 24th September 2014
Priya Kumar is an immortal and a powerful soul who is driven by a purpose for this lifetime. Her purpose is to touch people's lives with truth, love and positivity. Without any formal training in public speaking or writing, Priya Kumar is a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, columnist, radio jockey and an author.

Priya Kumar is a motivational speaker who gives conferences, empowering people to do better, to believe in their abilities and follow the path their hearts point toward. She is also a writer who creates stories that empower, stories that uplift people with the truth, and stories that make you want to be a better person.

She wanted to do MBA and get a high paying job. Instead she flew around the country on speaking assignments and formally launched her own company in 2000. Being a motivational speaker was not even considered as a professional option back in 1998 when she started talking in public. Priya, at 24 years of age, became the youngest motivational speaker in India in 1998.

She did her graduation in Arts, majored in Economics and superior diploma in French and German. She did two diplomas, one in Sales and one in Finance, and finally, ended up being a motivational speaker.

"I was just a good storyteller. At that time I was a tuition teacher teaching French to students. I would share stories with them, which would motivate them and help them do better in their studies. And that 'informal talking' lead to invitations to Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs and so on, and from there it grew more formally into corporates and I realized that I had become a Motivational speaker," narrates Priya Kumar.

She started working at a very early age and she believes that it has contributed a great deal into who she has become today. All through her school days she was involved in everything she could; whether it was painting, singing, music, sports, if there was an activity, she was in it. So, when she went to college there was a sudden void. "The activities weren't organized and there was too much freedom so suddenly that I didn't know what to do with it. So, I decided to not wile my time away and enrolled into distance education programme by Mumbai University and continued with my hobby of teaching students and became a full-fledged tuition teacher. I taught over 1900 students in 9 years. I was busy and I was the richest kid on the block," says Priya.
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Working gave Priya a lot of confidence and independence. She learnt how to handle others and also learnt how to adjust with different kinds of people. She learnt how to manage time while she was still a student. She learnt how to bring out the best in everything one does and shine in one area and be nobody in another. Priya says, "I learnt the art of dealing with money; service in exchange for money was a big learning curve for me. And above all, I learnt to prioritize and judge where opportunities lay and move in that direction." She adds, "I didn't have a normal childhood in that respect but I had a wonderful time in my growing up years. I learnt life's lessons every day, and so, it allowed me greater understanding and speed to reach where I am today."

"When people ask me 'What do you do?' I often say 'I am a woman and I get paid to talk'," smiles Priya. She has been an avid reader all her life and has a lot of respect and admiration for many authors. "I have personally bought books that I liked and gifted them to people. But I had never imagined that I would, one day, be in the same league. So, it was a great surprise for me when people would come up to me, appreciate my books and want my autograph," says Priya Kumar.

"Once upon a time at a book-reading event, people lined up to get my autograph and I was writing personal messages for the readers. That's when one man came up to me and said "Madam, can you not write such long messages because there is a big line here." That was so funny to me. I learnt the meaning of autograph and learnt to put a kind expression in two words," she laughs.

Priya has been a good writer since childhood. She won several writing contests including topping all India contests. Imagining and daydreaming is her favourite thing even today. Everyone who read seemed to love the worlds she would conjure up. She kept diaries and filled them with experiences that she really never had in the day. So, it was a personal diary monitoring her life day by day, and it was purely fictional. "My brother once sneaked into what I had written and was aghast on the stories that I had put in there. He said that I was crazy," mentions Priya. And that madness still continues to make her laugh every day. Her coaches Gisela and Karl-Heinz have continually played a very important role in her success. They have been coaching her for over five years and she has prospered and flourished and has had an adventure on the path of greatness with their programs.

The challenge that she recalls facing was moving from being a tuition teacher to a motivational speaker. Giving up a solid platform and reputation that she had created for nine years and starting anew in an area, which had no certainty, was a big challenge for her. "That time was when for the first time in my twenty-five years I understood the meaning of hardship for it was a struggle for two years to get a foothold in the industry," she says. But she made it in less than twenty-four months. "Every day the invitation to quit and return to teaching was more than my own determination to stick on. It took every bit of focus and courage to stay on the path that I had chosen to define and I did it," says Priya.

"It's a great feeling always to know that your work is appreciated and respected. I think that I have the best job in the world; I end my day with my inbox full of appreciation and fan mails. What else could anyone ever want? It's not about the money, it's about knowing that you made a difference that someone somewhere had a good day, had hope, got a little more courage as a result of your work," says Priya with happiness.

She has a training company which offers motivation-based programs to corporates on leadership, team building and peak performance. She specializes in experience based learning where she engages participants in activities and helps them figure their own lessons based on their experiences. "I also believe in fun based learning, and so, I do activities which are fun and at the same time evoke the spirit of challenge. So, some of the activities which I would do are walking on fire, martial arts, bending steel rods with the neck, walking on broken pieces of glass and so on. It is an experiential way of driving home the message that impossible is nothing," mentions Priya.

Her clients are multinational companies around India, Europe and South East Asia mainly. On asking how she understands the youth in order to motivate them she says, "The main struggle that I see with the youth today is the diminishing attention span and their diluted focus. I do not see lack of talent or lack of initiative. But when attention and focus go on the diminishing side, then success is an elusive concept. We live in the age of speed. But speed demands hundred percent attention. You can't take your car at the speed of 160km/per hour and be distracted. That's the accident most youngsters find themselves in life. Else, the youth of today have everything at their fingertips. They are in a better position than any other generation has ever been on this planet."
Here is what she has earned in the form of awards and titles:

- 2010, Ranked number 2 Women Leader in India Award, Writer's Category, by igroup in New Delhi.
- 2011, awarded with the Citizen of the Decade honour, writers category, by Rotary International in Cochin
- License to Live was nominated in the long list of the Vodafone Crosswords Book Award in 2010. License to Live also won one of the five honourable mentions in the spiritual category of the Eric Hoffer book award in 2012.
- In 2013, I Am Another You won the Silver Medal at Living Now Book Award.
- In 2014, I Am Another You was shortlisted for the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize Award.
- I Am Another You made it to the final list for the Montaigne Medal.
- I Am Another You also won the First Horizon Award.
- I Am Another You won the Eric Hoffer Award - First Runner Up - in the category 'Non-Fiction Legacy'.

Here is what her bucket list says:
1) Get married
2) To start her own publishing house
3) To branch out her company in the UK
4) To publish six books this year and the most exciting of all to launch her own chat show.

All of her stories are close to her heart, but her personal favourite is 'The Perfect World'. She recommends her book 'License to Live' to the youth of the world. Her message for our readers: Live life on your terms. As long as your values and principles are in place the world is your playground; PLAY TO WIN.
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