Episode 165 – The Formula For Business Success with Ginni Saraswati

Steve: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners where ever you might be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger your host and we are so excited talking about, wherever you are in the world today, our guest happens to be in Australia and we’re going to get into that in a moment. But she is a lot of fun and we love working with her. She is very talented. She is an award winning journalist. Known to stun many a personality with her quick witted introductions and on air antics. She left Paula Abdul in a laughing fit and Havana Brown choking. She’s interviewed so many from Katie Lang, Jennifer Beals, Ruby Rose to many, many more the list goes on. So welcome, Ginni Saraswati.

Ginni: Ah Steve what an introduction. I feel like I should be walking out into the stadium with my hands in the air.

Steve: Absolutely. You should be.

Ginni: I’m actually putting my hand up at the moment. No one’s looking. But hey I feel an audience around me.

Steve: Good going. Well this is a great audience and I think they’re going to be really interested in our visit today. It’s a subject really that’s quite interesting but it’s not limited to just podcasts although that’s part of what we’ll talk about and we’ll visit more about that. But Ginni is a native of Australia and the founder of Ginni Media. It’s a boutique podcast production company serving the vision of entrepreneurs, celebrities, and influential organizations around the world. We happen to be one of her clients and have been so thrilled and grateful for her leadership and the impact that she’s had. She’s helped us just pass 250,000 listeners. So that’s a big deal.

Ginni: Wow. A quarter of a million Steve. That is a big deal. I hope you’re celebrating with a cake at least.

Steve: There we go. We should. Well Ginni tell us about your background including any turning points in your life that’s had a significant impact on you. So in other words what’s your story? Our listeners would like to know a little bit more about you.

Ginni: Yeah absolutely Steve I’d love to talk about it. So I was born in a little town called Dehiwala in Colombo Sri Lanka which is an island off the coast of India. So I was actually born there. And when I was 2 years old my family migrated to Australia hence the very thick and charming Australian accent that I have. That’s where I get it from but my looks but people look at me I sound Australian but I look kind of like subcontinental so they’re like where are you from. So I’m originally from Sri Lanka but we moved to Australia when I was 2 years old and I grew up for 30 years there. And in that time we grew up in a few towns across Melbourne. The migration boom was just starting here in Australia in the late 80s and we were a part of that as well. I grew up in inner city Melbourne and then we moved out into the boroughs and around me there were a lot of people who didn’t really look like me when I first started school. So it was kind of a bit of a journey to figure out where do I exactly fit in this world and in this side of the world but also trying to figure out you know what it is that I want to do because traditionally in a lot of I guess immigrant families the expectation is that you go for the kind of work that is secure, stable and I guess work that’s not going to I guess be made redundant anytime soon. So your doctors, your lawyers, your engineers they were your career options but I’m a little bit more crazy than that I think. I like being very creative and expressive so I found the radio path which I came across a radio station when I was 20 years old and I did a little bit of a course there in radio broadcasting and that’s kind of what kicked off my career behind the microphone and I started to chat to many different people which I’m sure you do every week Steve and you get to learn about their journey and I find it very inspiring to do that. And off the back of that made my podcast called The Ginni show and I got to do the same thing that I did behind the mic but it was more tailored towards certain topics and from there I kind of accidentally fell into producing podcasts because people were coming up to me going can you show me what you do. And essentially from there I built Ginni Media which has been going for about 14 months now officially. We produce for you know small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs we’re having a lot of fun doing it and we live, breathe, and love podcasting and we love being on podcasts too Steve.

Steve: Well great. And and you know this podcast today Ginni and I have talked about it for several weeks and I want to assure you we’ve never talked about us promoting Ginni but I want to do it anyhow because she’s fun to work with, she provides us great statistics and a dashboard of where we’re at regularly, helps us to understand the impact and we’ve just really appreciated working with her. She has a great background and while we’re talking about podcasts Ginni besides us being really great advocates of what you do and being fans of your work what do you think is the key set of ingredients to being an outstanding podcaster?

Ginni: I think it’s listening Steve which is ironic because that’s the main human trait that is required to consume a podcast. I think being a great podcaster requires the skill of listening and truly listening. Being from a radio background I’ve interviewed nearly a thousand people and there’s people that you interview that have what I call press release answers. So these are kind of the answers that their publicist is trained them in to kind of tweak into their responses when they’re asked a question. But listening I think as a podcaster is a great trait to have because when you’re given those answers you know how can you unpack that to go deeper or how can you unpack that to achieve that goal that you want to. Like for example yourself Steve. I’m sure when you ask me questions you’re listening to what I’m saying and I’ve heard by listening to your other podcasts you ask other questions to follow up and really unpack it. Listening is such a core trait because not only do you have to listen to what you’re being told, you kind of have to listen to what you’re not being told as well. There’s so many things that a conversation can do and so many changes that a conversation can inspire. That’s why I love podcasting too because it’s such an intimate platform. You know you’re literally in someone’s ear when someone’s listening to this conversation like right there now wearing someone’s ear. You don’t get much more intimate that when it comes to communication and you don’t let very many people that close to you when you think about it in real life too. So I think listening is the absolute hands down key trait to being a great podcaster.

Steve: Okay well that’s great. It’s a wonderful answer and Ginni of course is very well versed in Becoming Your Best. She knows what it is. And these 12 principles of highly successful leaders and I love your answer Ginni because that happens to be one of the 12 principles of highly successful leaders as well is that they are really great communicators. They know how to listen first. They check their own ideas, they check their own opinions, they suspend them for a while and just lock in on listening and understanding and when you do that you just see such a bigger picture don’t you.

Ginni: Absolutely. I think there’s a quote from the Dalai Lama I’m paraphrasing it very poorly but he said that some people don’t listen they just wait for their chance to speak. And I think that’s more common than not unfortunately because I think in many conversations these days because we are in such a very highly content driven world where we’re just getting pumped with information and it’s being thrown at us. We kind of want to get to the next thing. We’re in such a rush to move to the next thing and it happens the same in communication and interaction, listening is such a key element. And for me it’s a forever evolving element because you got to listen from a side you get many aspects of listening in my role anyway I’ve got to listen to what my client’s needs are what their goals are. I’ve got to listen to how I can bring them value to achieve those goals. I’ve got to listen to my team members. How do I execute my vision and how do I listen to their needs and you know how do I keep them happy or bring them the most value that I can. So there’s very different layers to listening but I think you know you hit the nail on the head there Steve when you said that you know it comes back to checking in with yourself. I think accountability is a cornerstone of listening because I think it’s the way to kind of really go inside and check in with yourself to be like okay am I actually listening to this person or am I just reacting to whatever story I have going on in my head. So I think you touch on a great point in there Steve.

Steve: Ok good and I think Ginni is reading my mind today.

Ginni: Am I now?

Steve: Well because yeah you actually started answering my next question which is what have you found the best way to listen to really listen? So you’re really getting it.

Ginni: Well I think obviously there’s various aspects of listening but when it comes to I guess being a leader as well. You’ve got to this is going to sound very cheesy but I’ve just found that this has been tried and true tool for me the past year you’ve just got to care. Sometimes I think leaders especially if you know a lot of startups these days and a lot of entrepreneurs are just jumping into leadership so they’re coming in from a tech background or they’re coming in from like a visionary background but they may not actually be trained in to leading a team or have that management kind of experience before. But I think what I’ve learned is when my team are making errors or when something goes wrong and if it’s a continual pattern that’s when I tend to address it. So I’m observing one thing what they’re doing and secondly I’m kind of listening to what they’re telling me. So if it’s a pattern you know that this is something that needs to be addressed if it’s a one off maybe not because you know we’re all human we have human days we make mistakes. I get that. But what I found is just listening to my team what they’re telling me because if they’re not telling me something if someone says to me I’m continually missing deadlines because I’m stressed and overwhelmed and it keeps happening and no matter how much coaching or guidance you give them it keeps happening. There’s something that they’re not telling you or they don’t feel comfortable telling you. So I think observing their behavior is kind of like a third party or looking at the relationship from a bird’s eye view is a great way to kind of listen to what actually is going on and observe as well.

Steve: I love it. Great going. That’s a wonderful answer and such a big part of communication. If we just look with our eyes if we have that privilege of being together with the person and observing what they’re doing that’s more than half of communication right there that gives you a lot of tips and then of course we can talk and listen with our heart and in how Ginni started I fully am into that it’s how you feel about other people, what’s in your heart about listening, do you really want to in the first place and if you do then I think it’s gonna work.

Ginni: Absolutely.

Steve: All right good. Well now let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about your radio background and how is that helped you create Ginni Media. The reason I’m asking this question is because I know we have a lot of entrepreneurs we have other people that are internal entrepreneurs. In other words helping organizations succeed and you’ve taken a background that you’ve developed and you’ve identified it as something that you have some experience with and I would guess probably really like doing it. So how has that helped you this radio background that you have?

Ginni: I think the key trait that radio has helped me I mean when I give this answer a lot of reactions I get it’s mixed because I like I didn’t think you’d actually say that because there’s so many things that you learn in radio. But the one thing that I learned from radio which I appreciate now more than anything is empathy because I know the first time I went behind a microphone and you know the on air button lit up in the studio my inner child was super excited but also I was freaking out Steve. I was like I’m going on air, I’m going behind a microphone, I’m talking, someone is listening to me now in their car or in their office or somewhere. And that freaked me out a little bit because I had a background of performing arts so I was doing theater I was doing a bit of film here in the independent film. So for me performing wasn’t the issue but when you’re performing you’re reading a script and playing a character. But when you’re behind the microphone there’s no character to hide behind and you can’t actually hide behind the microphone because it’s quite an intimate form of communication as I was talking about earlier. So I understand when a client who’s just starting a podcast comes to me and says I’m freaking out. I don’t know if I’m cut out for this. That empathy that I have going through that experience myself has really helped me listen and look out for the needs of when my clients come to me saying I want to do a podcast but I’m freaking out. How can I be a host? How can I create great content? How can I ask the right questions? So I think that’s the first thing that’s helped me do is develop that skill of empathy and I think empathy is a skill in leadership because it’s one of those skills that really I think define a successful leader. Because if you have that connection or awareness with your team and your team’s needs the longevity and the relationship that you will build will in most cases be longer or be more of an empowered relationship because you’re on a level of understanding. I think the second thing I’ve learnt from radio Steve is also from a I guess a business standpoint just the content aspect of it. Because when I was on radio podcast came out about into my eighth year of radio when the iPod came out and F.M. stations here in Australia were kind of taking off audio from the interviews we’d do on air and making them into podcasts but it kind of taught me how to observe people’s behaviors and attention because now people didn’t have to listen to us between 6 to 9 a.m. every morning they could listen to us while they were at the gym and they could listen to us in their own time. So giving people that I guess autonomy to be like I’m going to control my time and listen to you when I want to listen to you was a behavior that I’ve noticed in listeners because our stats from, you know, real time data where people were tuning in by radio to downloads wasn’t getting significantly different. So I guess contextually radios taught me that skill to kind of watch behaviors and data and stats and just you know what happens around certain seasons in the world. So radio has giving me that contextual kind of standpoint on looking at listeners and behaviors.

Steve: What a great background isn’t it.

Ginni: It’s awesome. And you get to connect with so many amazing people like I fell in love with New York City because I got to go there for something that I had do for radio. So so many experiences came from that I connected with so many people. But you know radio podcasting is a very key vehicle to building relationships. You know it only takes 10 minutes to have a conversation but you could walk away trying to execute something that can really create change.

Steve: And if we didn’t say it by the way before I know that we mentioned that Ginni is in Australia right now but her home is New York City.

Ginni: Which confuses more people than ever Steve because again I look the way I do I sound the way I sound and I live where I do now. So I always get the question where are you from which is very exciting.

Steve: Yeah that’s right. Well you’ve been around the world girl.

Ginni: Absolutely.

Steve: Alrighty. Now I happen to know a little bit about your background and know that you worked for free and radio for a number of years. I’d love to hear about that. And then you were getting up at 4:00 a.m. and then staying late. Like who’s crazy enough to do that for free right?

Ginni: Absolutely. I still have my hair Steve in case your wondering. It’s quite long. It has seen its day. But no I really really loved radio. Developing morning habits for me has been a bit of a challenge because growing up I didn’t have any morning habits so I really had to discipline myself to be cognizant of developing one. But one thing that I did notice was that no matter what day job that I had you know getting up at 4:30 am no matter what time I went to bed or staying late till 2:00 3:00 a.m. editing audio or putting out podcasts. I noticed that that was the one thing that I had no complaints doing. No matter how tired I was so you know in hindsight I look back on that and go I really really loved what I was doing and it didn’t occur to me that awareness until you know in my mid 20s I’m like oh okay I see I really love this. So I managed to again stumble into a career from it Steve But another layer to that point as well is you know when you really do want to create something you’ve got to put in the hard work and the hustle you know there’s different words about that and you know everyone’s definition of hard work or how hard they want to go is entirely personal. But for me doing a day job or when I was doing my college degree getting up early or stay back later that was a way that I could get content out. And it just taught me about how hard work really can be rewarding if you just keep at it. And it’s not a short term gain. You’ve got to keep at it. You gotta build up that habit and that consistency and eventually it comes along.

Steve: That’s wonderful and there’s so many lessons that you just shared just now. You know the experience that you get, the different looks at possibilities, the people that you met and particularly in the world of radio where there’s you’re seeing so many different things happening.

Ginni: Absolutely. With radio too like it’s not now it’s not just celebrity. You know when we were doing F.M. radio if there was a celebrity in town of course we’d love to just chat to them. But now I think it’s more about you know you can listen to a podcast on crime now. You can listen to podcasts on well I’m you know motion sickness is the way that it is. It’s just the way people are interested in so many different things and we’ve got access to like hundreds of thousands of podcasts now which will probably showcase it. I mean Steve if you’re interested in buying a beanie I’m sure there’s a beanie podcast app. It’s just it’s phenomenal.

Steve: It is. I just did a podcast with the owners of Hari Cari.

Ginni: Yeah she’s got the flip flops doesn’t she?

Steve: Yes it was so fun. And you’re right. You just get so many insights and that’s what’s fun about this business. Now let’s talk about the inner circle. What is the importance of your inner circle and what is an inner circle?

Ginni: Your inner circle is your core group of influential people in your life. So generally they come in the form of friends, family co-workers, you know people that you spend the majority of your time with. So your inner circle obviously you have the power to define who your inner circle is whether you’re aware of it or not. They could be people that you spend time with unbeknowingly or people that you choose to spend time with. That’s up to you to kind of you know pull that awareness and figure out who’s who. But what I found is and what I’ve observed is sometimes especially when you’re growing up and you know you’re under the supervision and care of your parents you can’t control your environment sometimes. You know there’s people that get put into your life and you may not particularly gel with them or what not. But one thing you can control is eventually you can really decide who you invest your time into. And that is a very big and important thing for me and it’s something that I really do, try to live by especially when I’m here in Australia now with my family and the friends that I grew up with and who’s been there for me. It’s just because they are so impactful and they’re so influential in my life is that they’re literally if I were to plug in headphones and walk through life that way they literally are the voices in my ear. They’re the ones who encourage me. They’re the ones who advise me. They comfort me when I’m sad. They pick me up when I’m down. They’re influential people in my life and I think no matter where you are in your life no matter what is being brought forward to you if you can audit your inner circle and think about certain traits about your inner circle which may be tough to do because these might be people that you’ve known your entire life or half your life but think about the traits that they have and the traits that you want to have as a result so if you want to be more disciplined are any of your people that you spend the time with most, disciplined? If not try and find someone who is disciplined so you can be influenced by that. It really is building up that community and that influential circle. I think, is it Rumi who has a quote I think the quote is again I’m paraphrasing your environment can be stronger than your will and I truly do believe that. I think if you have a good solid core group of people in your life it really can propel you forward or stall you or pull you back.

Steve: Oh so huge. What size should a person’s inner circle be? What do you think on that Ginni? What does that look like five people? A hundred people? 500?

Ginni: I think that’s a good question. I think that’s very it’s a personal number for me I have a core group of 11 people in my life who if anything happened to them or if they needed me they’re the eleven people I’d drop things for. That’s how I’ve defined my inner circle because I know vice versa they would do the same for me. And that’s not how I base the condition of our friendship or relationship on. But they’re the people that I know are my most influence. They are my inner circle. They’re the people who are the ones who really propel me forward. So I guess your number of people that you keep in your inner circle 5 is a good number a lot of people say who are the five closest people and there’s that quote that you know the five closest people in your life are the ones that your most like but you’ve got to find a number that’s personal to you. Even one like one person that you spend your time with can really influence you. So it’s really personal but you know one is a great place to start I’d say.

Steve: Yeah. Great. And I got so many thoughts running through my mind as I’ve been listening to this. You just stimulating and firing and all those synapses off in the neurons and way to go way to go Ginni. I had a friend first of all one was Charlie tremendous Jones. I was with him 35 years ago and he said you know you’ll be the same person you are today except for two things. The people that you meet and the books that you read.

Ginni: Ahh.

Steve: And I thought yeah woah man that’s really great because you sure want to be careful about the people that you have in your life. That they’re the type that help you get to a better place and of course reading and studying, listening to podcasts. Those are the things that help us be the people that we become someday.

Ginni: Absolutely. Well again reading and podcasts that’s that someone in your ear all the time. So if you are going through if you’ve got negative people around your life, put your headphones on listen to a podcast that’s positive and inspiring. Let that be your inner circle, your vehicle to an inner circle at least. And it’s so true. I think what you were saying there or what your friend that said this state was the books that you read and the people that meet. The book books really do help too. I love listening to audiobooks. I’m listening to a great one now called Becoming Your Best: Principles of highly successful leaders and I listen to that every morning in my morning routine before I catch up with my team because it reminds me of certain things and I have that on rotate with that Rene Brown’s Dare to Lead but it’s true that influence, that wisdom that’s getting passed through that book through to you, you know whoever receives it will receive it through their own lens but it can be impactful.

Steve: Well it’s been so fun, this discussion. Let’s just wrap up with the couple of last questions. One of them…

Ginni: Sure.

Steve: …is such an important one and that is why is happiness the ROI of everything the return on investment of everything? Why is that such a big deal?

Ginni: Growing up as a again as I mentioned before like I came from a family who migrated to Australia. So I guess the premise of them coming to a different country or coming from the east to the west was to have a better life or to set their children up or their family up to have a better life, access to resources, medical facilities, education you name it. I think there was a big mindset a cultural mindset around that time that you know let’s build our wealth. Let’s build the financial stability for us. Let’s build that foundation, and I think nowadays that has trickled into our culture and our mindsets and I guess our goals. But I don’t think if money is your goal, if wealth is you goal if that is your ultimate gold star? I think you should really look at your life at the moment. I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s not about the money. I think a lot of enlightened masses have said you know it’s never really been about the money. Money is a product of intention and all these sorts of things there are all these laws which you know it’s a whole lot the podcast. But happiness should be the ROI to everything. Being alive, happy, and grateful should be because if you don’t have those three things you’re not going to function at your best and you’re not going to make money, relationships, or anything for that matter because and that’s why with me whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed I go back to my north star and that is and gratitude is a way that I can go back to my north star of thinking of what I really truly want to achieve in my life and that’s happiness and health in my relationships, within myself, and in my work. So I think happiness should be the north star for everything and happiness is completely personal. You know it’s gonna be different for me than it is to the next person. So if you can really hone in on what is your version of happiness, your version of happiness could be, I work nine to five Monday, Friday I want my weekends to myself. Great. That’s happiness for you it may not be happiness for someone else. Someone else maybe I want to play games from Monday to Friday nine to five. So define what your happiness is and make that your north star. Everything else will come as a product of that.

Steve: Wonderful. Well I’ll tell you I think that is a great barometer of success is our level of happiness because…

Ginni: Absolutely.

Steve: …that’s the purpose. I mean golly if you’re not happy I remember about 20 years ago Ginni I had the opportunity to host we were serving as the president of the mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints in Madrid, Spain. And it just happened.

Ginni: Wow.

Steve: Yeah. That was a great experience. I mean three years. We left everything and it was extraordinary. Well while we were there the president of the Church Gordon B Hinckley happened to be there and he does everything we’ve talked about a wonderful man. And we were also hosting Jose and Maria Yadrow and Jose Yadrow with his brother had formed the Yadrow company you know the figurines I’m not sure if you’ve seen those but they are a trademark beautiful porcelain of figures of all kinds of wonderful figures but they’ve created a whole industry. So these two men were standing together visiting. One is eighty four the other is eighty eight.

Ginni: Wow, wow that is amazing.

Steve: And Jose looks at President Hinckley. He says I understand you’re a prophet and he says well yeah I’m a prophet. And he says well if that’s the case he said you can settle a 35 year feud that I’ve had with my wife. And he says well what he said what’s that. And he said well my wife says that health is the most important thing in life. And he said I say that happiness is the most important thing in life. He said so which of us is right. And without even blinking an eye he looked right back and he said you’re both right.

Ginni: Wow. A hundred percent agree with him. He’s a prophet too I can’t disagree with him.

Steve: That’s right. And that’s what Jose Yadrow says oh man you’re right. So did Maria. But oh man my goodness I’m so glad you brought that up. That’s a great way to think about importance of life is, are we doing things that create a happiness overall from our avocation and our work and our relationships? So thank you for that.

Ginni: Thank you Steve. And thank you also. I’ve been doing some of the tools that you’ve taught and you know happiness isn’t just about your business. You’ve got to look at the other roles that you play in your life and how happiness can come into those roles too.

Steve: That’s true. Well listen the time’s up. It’s been fun. Any final tips you’d like to leave their listeners today?

Ginni: I think if anyone is you know living a life where they’re not so happy about you know all they want to audit their inner circle or whatnot the best time to start doing that is now. You know you’ve got great podcasts like this out there to listen to that you can just plug into your ears and be influenced and immersed by the conversation. So you know it’s never too late to make a change if you want to redefine your north star or if you want to audit your inner circle. Never too late to change that. Do it now.

Steve: Yeah you’re not alone are you’ve got some people that can help.

Ginni: Absolutely.

Steve: Well Ginni this has really been inspirational. I love your energy, your wisdom, your experience, your outlook. So thank you for being part of this show today.

Ginni: Steve thank you for having me. It’s great to be on this side of the microphone and this side of the audio. I really appreciate your time and thank you again for your wisdom and your continued hard work to dropping wisdom and light into our world.

Steve: Okay. Now we can’t finish without asking you how can people find out about what you do?

Ginni: Well as you can probably tell my title for my companies and my podcast are the Ginni Show and Ginni Media very they sound highly narcissistic but that is not the intention. You can find out about Ginni Media at and you can hit me up on social media. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat @theGinniShow. I personally respond to messages so you have any questions for me at all I’d love to hear from you. I love connecting with people in and starting a conversation.

Steve: Okay. Great. And that is spelled G I N N I.

Ginni: Absolutely. Ginni with an I folks.

Steve: Okay well we wish you the best as you’re making a difference in the world and to all of our listeners never forget you too every single day are making a difference. And you are blessing people’s lives. This is Steve Shallenberger your host with Becoming Your Best Global eadership. Wishing you a great day.

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