14 Oct 2023

Meet Sakshi Shukla

We dive into: The 4 Archetypes of a Generalist, a framework for squiggly career progression, I'll then spin these into real-world examples of what a *delightful* generalist career flow could look like

And then... a pinch of spice 🌶️ I'll be busting the myth that generalists can't reach mastery

✍️ Authors note from Emily

Sakshi has a powerfully inspiring presence and an incredible passion for life. This interview gave me chills on multiple occasions. Her excitement and empathetic approach is contagious. It certainly spiked motivation and curiosity within me to leap into the deep end, and learn how to begin to enjoy. Since getting to know Sakshi, it’s a privilege to be the one to share her story.

I hope you can find just as much inspiration in her life journey and the advice she has to offer.

🎙️ What has your career looked like so far?

I would say it’s as if I have jumped out of a plane and realized I had a broken parachute on my way down. I have had to figure out how to fly, or how to be okay with falling.

Early in my journey, my passion was to pursue medicine and to become a neurosurgeon. It was my absolute dream. But I didn’t get into medical school. (For context: India has a national exam for medical schools. Almost 1 million students sit for it every year. 0.5% get in. I wasn’t one of them.)

Within a few hours, my whole future became a blank canvas.

It took me a year to learn to dream again. But this time, I was a changed person. I decided to just be excited and enthusiastic about absolutely everything. I brought this energy to every introduction, to every conference and every networking environment. This attracted all the right people and opened up the opportunities to begin my journey.

Since then, I have never had a job, I have always owned my own businesses.

🎙️How has being a generalist helped you to build a successful following and a successful business?

Being a generalist, I have always been able to move beyond myself, I can zoom in and out to see different perspectives. This has allowed me to accelerate and help grow within my own potential and help my businesses to succeed.

I like to call myself a shapeshifter, as I chameleon across domains. Something I have always felt specialists struggle with. They are constrained by their own genius, they can't step into someone else's shoes as they tend to focus on what is right in front of them, or only on what they know deeply.

Empathy has also played a huge role in my success, as it allows me to connect with people on different levels and to solve problems in many different contexts.

Approaching a situation or an individual with empathy, allows them to resonate and feel understood. I feel it creates an environment where people feel safe to share their journey and to be enjoyable to work with, which is a huge goal for me.

🎙️How have you come to accept failure and learn from it?

Something I started thinking about when medicine didn't work out, was to view my life as an experiment. Science teaches you everything about living life. I believe the most wisdom that you can find is in science, and the moment I started thinking about my life with this perspective, it helped me be okay with where I am and how things are changing.

But I don't think everybody does that. It definitely depends on the kind of mentorship you get and the resources you have available to you.

The lesson to learn and almost an expectation to have whilst experimenting, is that you are guaranteed to fail 90% of the time. I think when we approach life with this perspective, we can begin to accept that some things we try will most likely fail, but as long as you keep trying you get closer to succeeding. Then, that almost gives you permission to fail and allows you to stretch your potential further.

I keep asking myself, “What would I do, if I could do it all over again?” The answer is so simple, “I would trust myself and I would trust life a little, too.”

🎙️What are some of the challenges you've faced?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced is trying to find someone who just understands me. It is so important when you start a business to have a team that gets you and can connect with you and each other.

Another thing I have struggled with is stepping away from work and shutting off. That balance between work and life is so hard to keep, especially when starting a business, everything is so important, your team, your outreach messages, your marketing.

I had to move cities just so I could separate myself from my job and focus on my health and other things that excite me. I don't want to become only about my work. There is so much more to me than that.

I love to read, I love to go to live music and plays and to be outdoors. It is so important to find this balance. You won't be good to anyone if you can't take care of yourself.

🎙️How are you thinking about your future career?

The way I view my career is I try to think about the problems I want to solve in this time frame that I have been given, rather than the goals I can check off.

I get really excited about these problems and how I will approach them – because I get to be a part of the solution.

There are so many layers to each problem too. Once you start looking into one you may find they are connected to x, y and z before finally finding the root cause.

I often think about what the world will look like in 50/60 years and wonder what role I will have played in that. Can I be a part of helping with current constraints for future generations? Will anything I am doing make an impact?

I also hope that I will reach a point in my career where people will come to me when they have a problem. I feel that you are winning when someone first thinks of you when a problem arises, or if they have plateaued.

🎙️Tell us about your experience of being a part of Generalist World. What has it meant to you?

Careers are hard. People make it easier.

Being a part of this community has meant so much to me. There is this understanding and reassurance of leaning upon others who are also struggling on their journey, but also celebrating with each other when you make things happen.

Having this safe and supportive place where people can be honest and share vulnerable stories, whilst also celebrating one another, gives me a lot of joy, even when I am not engaging all the time. It gives so much opportunity and create connections to people you otherwise would have never met.

The social media world is way too polished, so having this corner online which is so natural, is so precious and I am grateful to be a part of it.

🎙️Do you have any advice to share with someone who’s also on a generalist path?

The biggest piece of advice I could give is from a realisation I had recently had… Life is long. You don't have to achieve absolutely everything in a five or ten-year timeframe.

Most successful businesses have been built by founders above the age of 35, and that is because they have spent their time before experimenting and failing and finally finding something that clicks for them.

Just allowing yourself to go through the process and give it time, rather than trying to manufacture something perfect for a quick result, would be much more rewarding.

Also, I would say to put yourself in the most difficult place you can. Don't go easy on yourself. If you jump straight into the deep end, your survival instinct will kick in and you will learn so much from just trying to swim.

If you keep pushing boundaries and moving forward, you will get a major confidence boost as you will see how much you can handle and increase your threshold for solving problems. The meaning is in the struggle. Take the risk and fail, take the pivot and start again.

You can also ask yourself, “what job would I be doing if I wasn't getting paid?”. I think it is so important to really enjoy what you do and get excited by it, and the people who you are surrounded by throughout your journey.

👋 Meet Sakshi! Connect with her LinkedIn or Twitter

About the author: Meet Emily

I am based on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, after balancing work and travelling over the past year.I work alongside Milly as her Founders Associate. In my spare time, you’ll find me bouldering, sea swimming, painting or singing.Connect with Emily on LinkedIn

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Our content is brought free to you, courtesy of the Generalist World community memberships.