The full transcript is available below.
Diana Faison: Welcome to the Taking the Lead Shortcast, which is a podcast where we talk with top business leaders about the challenges and the opportunities they face in today’s marketplace. I’m your host, Diana Faison. I’m the Managing Director of the Leadership Acceleration Practice at BPI Group, and I’m especially excited. In this episode we’ll be speaking with Ragini Basu, who is a Principal at Deloitte. In fact, we call her a Deloitte Lifer because she started as an intern. It’s been 20 years now. Right Ragini?
Ragini Basu: Yes, that’s correct Diana, and we go way back. Not 20 years back, but I can’t believe I’ve been here this long.
Diana Faison: It is amazing isn’t it? I know you have a unique perspective to offer Ragini. That’s why I’m so excited to have you today. Particularly a perspective regarding women leaders. Women are especially affected by what’s going on with all of the issues in our country today, in the world, the pandemic, these very challenging and difficult times. And certainly managing your energy and building resilience are more critical than ever. Ragini, you wear so many hats. So the thought of you talking about energy and resilience, couldn’t be more appropriate. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about the many roles you wear as a Principal at Deloitte?
Ragini Basu: Certainly. Thank you Diana. I have my day job, which is how I serve my clients. I’m a Principal in our Crisis Recovery Practice where we really spend a lot of time helping state and local governments recover from catastrophic events, whether they’re hurricanes, disasters, this pandemic. I’m also our Lead Business Principal for our Louisiana marketplace for all the work that we do in our advisory practice. Last but not least, a role that I’m really proud of is, I have been our GPS Advisory Inclusion Leader for the last two years. Those are three hats that truly stretch and enrich a lot of what I do in serving our clients, in serving our people, and having a marketplace role.
Diana Faison: That’s great. A number of roles and hats that you wear, and I imagine that they collide at times, which when I think about today’s topic, which is about surviving and thriving, I can’t help but start with that question Ragini. What does thriving look like to you? What does surviving look like to you in these days?
Ragini Basu: Excellent question. You’re right. This year has been such an anomaly, first with COVID, and then with all the racial injustice that we’ve witnessed across the nation. It’s been in the news. It’s been in every newsletter. It’s been a part of really almost every conversation that I’ve been a part of both professionally and personally. I think this year myself, along with probably a lot of people that I’ve spoken to, we’re just surviving. We’re doing what is necessary to take each day at a time.
There are a lot of working parents, working mothers and fathers, that have caregiving responsibilities either to their children or to their parents, and this year has really stretched that boundary. We don’t have the benefit of dropping our kids to school for a majority of the year and going to work. A lot of our lives have blended. In fact, there was a little cartoon strip that I saw that made me chuckle, and it probably sums up most of our experiences as working professionals. It’s that, I don’t know if I live at work, or I work at home. You know? That’s really how I feel every day.
Diana Faison: Do I live at work or work at home? Yes. These blended roles for sure.
Ragini Basu: And to me, surviving is just doing what is necessary to get through the day. Thriving is so much more. It’s not just surviving, but really flourishing. You know, charting out your life, doing the things that emphasize what continues to inspire us, help us live our best life. Help us mind, body, and purpose, do what we want to do, and really believe looking back that we are living our best life possible. Not every day is going to be a great day, but we should be able to say we’re thriving because we’re really flourishing in what we’re doing. That is I think the aspiration, that is where we all want to be, but sometimes you’re surviving the day to be thriving for the season.
Diana Faison: Say that again. I love that.
Ragini Basu: Surviving the day to thrive for the season. I think I’m just going to tagline that.
Diana Faison: I think you should. I really do. I think that that encompasses a lot. It sounds like you’re identifying more with surviving right now, but that you have one eye on thriving. That you know it’s there. You know it’s important. You know it keeps you going. You know that you want that best life, you want to flourish, but that you acknowledge surviving is okay at times. Is that accurate?
Ragini Basu: I certainly think so, and to me, thriving is also having that growth mindset and challenging yourself continuously to be the best version of yourself. Whether it’s in your career, whether it’s as a parent, as a spouse, as a child, as a friend, to your community, and really being fulfilled in your overall life. And when we look at our life as a pie chart, there’s so much we want to put into our careers, our home, our work, our hobbies, our religious activities, things that really inspire us. Right?
There’s a pie chart of where you want to be, and there’s a pie chart of where you are, and if you are where you want to be, I think you’re thriving. If you have a Delta from that, that might be survival mode for the moment. In many cases, I feel personally for me, there are aspects of my life where I’m really thriving, and there are aspects and there are days where you feel like you’re just surviving that day. I think we live in that continuum continuously.
Diana Faison: I’m just curious. Do you have ideas, suggestions, tips, strategies, on how you can close that Delta between those two pies that you described, where you are versus where you want to be? What’s that great tip, Ragini, that you would share with the audience?
Ragini Basu: You know, it’s interesting that you ask that question. When I look back in my career and I look at a time when … I’ll just share this, that when I came back from maternity leave a couple of years ago, I came back rested with just a blank slate. Right? Where I knew everything in my inbox I was going to move to an offline inbox, and I was just a blank slate. I spent that first month thinking about what I wanted to do, what I wanted to focus on, what were some of the priorities I wanted to set for myself, the type of leader I wanted to be in the firm, the type of mother I wanted to be for Rina as a working mom, the type of spouse I wanted to be for my husband, and for my family. And just having the luxury to reflect and be really purposeful, that personally for me, was a great example of where I felt I was thriving.
It didn’t mean I didn’t have sleepless nights from having a baby that woke up every hour. It didn’t mean that I didn’t have to work and travel, and I was a nursing mom, but having that ability to just sit and reflect, and prioritize, and to have that clean slate to think, that is a privilege and a luxury I believe we don’t often utilize because we’re so focused on what’s on our calendar, and what’s next, and we’re living through our calendars, and we’re not really focused on being introspective. To me, the Delta between surviving and thriving is spending more time being introspective on what is it that I really want to focus on, and what is it that I can clear from my calendar because when we live through our calendar, we’re just surviving the day.
Diana Faison: Wow. You know I believe very much in that power of reflection. Is there anything in particular that you do to carve out time for that reflection? Any strategy? Is it a weekly thing that you do, you go to Starbucks and hang out for an hour, or you sit in a special chair and do a journal? Is there any practice there that allows for some discipline around this idea of reflection and introspection?
Ragini Basu: There’s two things that I do. One is actually very simple. I use my calendar to reflect, and I do it on a Friday afternoon. I block two hours of my calendar every Friday afternoon. I don’t know if I want to say the time because that might become public knowledge.
Diana Faison: Your teams will all start clamoring for that time, won’t they?
Ragini Basu: Yes, that’s right. Two hours every Friday afternoon, late in the afternoon, where I spend time reflecting, and I look at my calendar for the next week, and I think about what I want to accomplish. I start either moving things up or moving things behind and reprioritizing what my schedule is going to look like. That is really important to me. It really allows me to focus on what are those things I do want to spend time working on if I’m working that weekend, which is really rare unless we’re responding to an RFP, and where do I want to spend that time during the week? The other thing that’s really helped me personally is a gratitude journal. It’s a little app that I have on my phone, and I typically type it while I’m putting my daughter to sleep.
Diana Faison: Aww.
Ragini Basu: And while she’s almost asleep and I’m still in her room, I start typing in my gratitude journal. I attach pictures of things that I’m really grateful for, things that made me smile, things that made me happy. Every now and then I don’t write, I just go back and I look at my timeline and my history, and I think about the things that were such a highlight, and I say, “Well, what is one of those things that I’m not doing currently, and let me make some time for it.”
Diana Faison: Wow. I think that is powerful, and it sounds like it’s doable. It sounds like something that any one of us could do if we just carve out that time, and it sounds like you have rigor and discipline around it. And honestly, you’re putting Rina to bed every night anyway, so you’ve got that opportunity to reflect.
Ragini Basu: And this is after she’s fallen asleep, but right before I leave her room. So we spend our time, we go through her nighttime routine, and that’s when we have the no talk. Right at 7:30 we’re not allowed to talk at that point, and that’s when I do it.
Diana Faison: I just love it. I just love it. Well, I think you’ve given us great tips, and you’ve acknowledged that surviving is very much the order of the day for lots of reasons. You’ve also shared with us that you wear many hats, and you put in the additional hat of being a mother, and a spouse, and all of that very important work that’s a part of your life. You’ve given us great ideas around how we can thrive even in the middle of chaos, and churn, and craziness, and turmoil. So very impressive. Is there one last nugget you would leave us with, Ragini, before we close?
Ragini Basu: I would say that for everyone that wants to use what works best for them, there is no magic answer. There is no magic bullet. What works for me may not work for you. You may have something different that works for you, right, and really finding that personalized path of what works for each other. I love the quote that, “You’re unique just like everyone else,” and that is so true. We all have our process, and how we thrive, and how we succeed, and how we make it through the day, and it’s going to be our own path.
Let’s just try to live our best life ever knowing that not every day is going to be great. You know, we’re going to have some good days, we’re going to have some bad days, and that’s the beautiful part of life. I truly believe it’s our obstacles and our struggles which allow us to grow. It’s never fun when we’re going through that, but when you look back and look at our periods of the greatest growth, it’s usually when we went through an obstacle. So to embrace them as a learning opportunity, and to look at the next challenge that comes along the way. That’s the only way we grow, and that’s the only way we flourish.
Diana Faison: Wow. Ragini, this has been incredibly insightful, and it just reminds me we go way back. Just to let the audience know we go way back, and Ragini, no wonder you’re one of the top, most inspiring, leaders I know. At Deloitte they are lucky to have their teams led by you, and the clients too for that matter. Right? So it’s just been a joy and a privilege to just listen to you these past few minutes, so thank you, Ragini, for your time.
Ragini Basu: Thank you, Diana, and I do want to say you were my coach to help me get through the process as I was going up for PPMD, and you were such a great source of inspiration. You continue to be, and I love how your mission has been to support women leaders, and I owe a lot of gratitude to you for that, so thank you Diana.
Diana Faison: Oh Ragini, that’s so kind. Thank you so much. Well, this has been fun, and I appreciate that. We’ll close with that, so thank you Ragini. I wish you all the best. Have a great day.