Introduce yourself! Who are you? My name is Malini Agarwal, Founder and Creative Director at MissMalini Entertainment. I started my career as a professional backup dancer, ran digital content at MTVIndia.com, was a Radio Jockey and Programming Director for 9 years with Go92.5 FM/Radio One, Digital Content Head at Channel [v] India and wrote a gossip column for MidDay called ‘Malini’s Mumbai’. I’ve also been a TV host on several shows like, MissMalini’s World on TLC, Inside Access on Vh1 India, Kya Scene Hai on Zoom and Malini’s Girl Tribe on Facebook. I wrote a book called, To The Moon – How I Blogged My Way to Bollywood which was a #4 Bestseller and I’m working on my second one. I started my blog in 2008 and the rest as they say, is history!
What would you say to 18 year-old-you? Dear 18-year-old me,
If there is one thing that I know for certain now it’s that the most important currency in life is TIME. Time brings you knowledge; time can bring you success and fame. Time stores your memories. Time even has the supreme ability to heal broken hearts. When I look back at the last twenty-two years, or even the last forty, the things that stand out in my memory are all the times you laughed out loud till your stomach hurt, the times you danced your heart out on stage or sang loudly to yourself with headphones on at the radio station at midnight. Even the times you cried yourself to sleep over heartbreak and hard lessons. And most vividly, all the times you fell.
‘This too shall pass, so I do what I can to make it last.’ – Embrace, Shaa’ir and Func
Use every waking breath to learn, to grow, to love. Just like Robbin Williams said in Dead Poets Society – ‘Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary!’
You have always been a big proponent of anticipation; of something to look forward to.
‘Happiness is pretty simple: someone to love, something to do, something to look forward to.’ – Rita Mae Brown
But the biggest mistake you can make in waiting for the next extraordinary adventure, is wishing time away. We all know how the cliché goes, tomorrow never comes, so live today. This is truer than you can possibly imagine.
‘Forever is composed of nows.’ – Emily Dickinson
They say your life flashes by you when you’re dying, but the truth is it’s flashing right before your eyes today. Each moment is a magical opportunity to create the kind of memories that will stick in your conscious forever. The richest are those whose minds are filled with memories that didn’t fade away. Society has conditioned us to believe that the most important things in life are power and money. But that’s simply not true. We were never put on this planet to brush past each other in the pursuit of some elusive end game. We are here to experience life. To connect and engage with the rest of humanity and most importantly, to love. Its only lonely at the top if you alienate the real people in your life in the race to get there. I urge you to stop and acknowledge every day the life that you’ve been given. We are the only species capable of contemplating ourselves in this manner.
‘I think therefore I am.’ – René Descartes
Be grateful for this time. The next twenty-two years are going to be filled with unimaginable delights. You will follow your heart as you always have and it will light your path on an extraordinary adventure. Just remember to be present for it. You don’t realize it now but you have in your possession the most valuable thing of all. You have so much time.
‘If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.’ – Bruce Lee
Love,xoxoMissMalini (Who you will one day be!)
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “Don’t wish time away and keep busy!” (I got this advice from a friend when I was in a long-distance relationship with my now husband – Nowshad Rizwanullah.)
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity? There isn’t a specific incident really, but through the years I’ve struggled with being broke, living in unsavory accommodations and building a brand in an industry that didn’t exist. All of that taught me resilience and that if you truly believe you can live an extraordinary life it will find its way to you!
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel? I think I suffered from self-doubt initially, since I didn’t have a business background I didn’t know if I could handle running a business or holding my own in a business meeting, but I realized all I needed to do was believe in myself. Confidence is key!
What message do you think every woman should hear? That she is the master of her own destiny. Women are rising today, they can be whatever they want to be. Professionals, artists, supermoms – anything! Also that it is okay to not always be okay. We are all imperfectly perfect and that is how it should be!
Have you always had confidence in yourself? Not always, I suffered from acne as a teen and well into my 30s. It made me feel bad about myself and self-conscious and really impacted my self-confidence. Even today if I break out I want to hide from the world, but I’m getting better about looking past my “flaws”.
What do you love most about yourself? I love my enthusiasm and positivity. I think I’m good at making friends and including people who might be feeling shy or out of place. It’s my super power!
What motivates you most? Currently I am motivated by the work we are doing on Malini’s Girl Tribe! A fabulous community of women that are changing the way we interact on social media. I am really keen to find a way to allay the social media fatigue we are all feeling and make the internet a positive space that enables women to live their best lives!
How do you manage your work-life balance? I don’t think there is such a thing as “work-life balance” for me! Simply because so much of my work overlaps with my life and vice-verse, to be honest I like it that way! Wendy Clark (CEO of DDB Worldwide) introduced me to the concept of “work-life integration” and I really like that idea. Where you find ways to have your work and personal space complement each other!
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward? I read! There’s nothing like a good book to expand your mind. Now you can find countless podcasts that educate and expand your mind too. I am a big fan of soaking up all kinds of knowledge, some serious some fun!
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you? I have crippling stage fright! My palms literally sweat like crazy when I have to speak in public and it took all the courage in my bones to do my TEDx talk, but I’m so glad I did!
Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career? I believe that all the jobs I have done prepared me for the role I play today and the ability to build my “empire”. At the time there was no concept of “blogging or influencer marketing” so I actually had to carve an industry from scratch! But working in media for 2 decades gave me the skills to do so and eventually found me my “ikigai” – my true passion – the intersection of what you’re good at doing and what you love to do!
Were you scared to start the process? Luckily no! I don’t think I’ve never been afraid of change or risk. I have always followed my heart and my gut. It has never failed me!
Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you? I’ve had some fabulous mentors in my life. Everyone from Tariq Ansari (former MD of Midday) – who taught me how to really connect with people over the air when I worked in radio to Roshan Abbas (Founder, Encompass) who instilled the need for a CFO – Chief Fun Officer – to maintain good company culture! Ashok Kurien (Founder Ambience) has always been a father figure to me and given me great personal and professional advice. And my dear friend Devraj Sanyal (MD & CEO Universal Music Group) who has taught me the true meaning of “hustle”- how to work your ass off to make your dreams come true.
Who is your biggest role model? Why? I really look up to women like Oprah and Arianna Huffington, who are my heroes. Their success and trajectory inspire me endlessly. I too want to leave a lasting legacy of empathy, kindness and love just like they have.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way? Kindness is everything. Apply kindness and empathy in all areas of your life. At work, at home, with friends.
Malini Agarwal is the Founder and Creative Director at MissMalini Entertainment, where she is striving to make the internet a positive space that enables women to live their best lives!