What a beautiful serendipitous journey! 🤯

In conversation with Sakshi Shukla! ✨

Hello! 👋

Today's Morning Rush carries an inspiring conversation. ✨

Sakshi Shukla, a content entrepreneur and creator, drives conversations around marketing, content, and women in tech.

She dons plenty of great hats and leaves an impact through her content. While you must've come across her content on LinkedIn or Twitter, you'll find out more about her in today's newsletter.

But, First: Who's Sakshi Shukla?

Now, let's dive right into the conversation. 👇

Sunaina: Please tell me about yourself and what made you get into content creation.

Sakshi: I never intended to create content. I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, but it didn't work out so, this has been a beautiful, serendipitous pivot for me — and you know, life enables you to find out who you really are! This pivot has helped me create a better version of myself. I'm opinionated, and I like being a part of conversations and hearing different points of view. So when I saw LinkedIn and realized content creation is a way of putting my thoughts into the world, it felt like people would hear me. I wanted to be seen and heard — and that's how most of us start creating content, right? But, I quickly understood that content is all about offering value to people, and that resonated with me because of how I see my journey and our work. We're a very customer-first content studio, and when people hire us, our focus lies in how we elevate our customers' lives, and sometimes it's through things they don't expect.

Sunaina: How do you stay productive while working on diverse things?

Sakshi: My simple answer is that I don't look at it as productivity. Even the diverse things I do are stuff I genuinely like; I don't sign up for projects that don't excite me or propel me toward growth. I always optimize for fun, which is one of the best things about me and the journey I've been on and will take. I don't know if I did this consciously or if it was done in my early childhood or through some genetic stuff, but for me, putting myself in discomfort also feels fun. Some of us are built this way in the world, which helps me expose myself to new things more fearlessly and courageously. It feels natural to me, and it has much to do with being a generalist who figures things out and solves them. That's who I am! My friendships, relationships with my parents, and my relationship with myself fulfill me, and when you feel fulfilled in your relationships, you can do much better at work. That's why I always tell people to prioritize and nurture relationships.

We're always told to achieve a lot, prioritize work, and that relationships are a distraction, but it's the worst thing you can say to a human being. Even if I work 80 hours a week, I ensure my next 10 hours are with family and friends. That's just my way of approaching life and work.

Sunaina: You've collaborated with some of the biggest brands, such as LinkedIn, Zoho, Pepper Content, ADPList, etc. How did you get to work with such brands?

Sakshi: Number one: relationships. I focus a lot on reaching out to people and being supportive. If someone's starting something new, I try to show as much support as possible; if someone's starting a new job or a first-time founder, I try to be as loud of a cheerleader as possible.

Number two: I'm quite proud of my personal brand on LinkedIn and Twitter and am unapologetically myself. The true meaning of authenticity is being vulnerable and showing you're not perfect, your journey isn't perfect, and that it's never going to be perfect. The true meaning of being authentic is being approachable and trustworthy. I don't consider myself an influencer but an artist, and as an artist, I draw inspiration from people around me. So, people are essential to me.

Brands will look for creators like these, not creators with massive reach. We're already seeing this; micro-creators are more impactful than creators with 1M followers because these micro-communities and niche communities are highly engaging and full of life. They happen and exist because of authenticity, so the creators of the future, including myself, are people who will lean into who they are. The way to do that is to build self-awareness, experiment, and do things that feel natural to you. For instance, many people have asked me to create on Instagram, but I didn't; instead, I'm building The Career Radio podcast, where I'm comfortable being on video.

Sunaina: What are you currently working on?

Sakshi: I'm working on three things; one is Saturn Studios, a storytelling studio built to help scale B2B tech brands. We also partner with diverse brands to help them scale their revenue and communities through storytelling. Future brands need to communicate with their audience not just to be relatable but also to level the aspirations of their audience, so it's no longer saying: we understand you. Brands should approach people with: we understand you, your ambitions, your pain, and here's how we'll get you there. That's the power of content marketing, right? Content marketing shows people how a particular brand can take from X to Z. We're firm about creating unique POVs and creative tension for brands.

The second thing I'm working on is The Career Radio, a podcast on unconventional careers.

Also, I'm building HerStage, a database of women speakers and a curated community of ambitious women. The community will host events and curated dinners.

Sunaina: Can you share 2-3 challenges you face as an independent creator?

Sakshi: Sometimes I struggle with slowing down. While I'm hardworking and don't associate my identity with my work, I have to remind myself to define my own pace. I'm very conscious; ensuring I care for myself and believing things will work out are the key.

The next challenge is connecting with my audience sometimes. I'm a creator, but I've been thinking about bringing my audience to the same place or building more 1:1 connections with them. I try to do this consciously through my content and get on calls with as many people as possible, but I still look for a better way to interact with them. So many tools promise to fix your community, but soon, they ask you to build your audience on that platform. So, I think it is very imperative for you to collaborate with your audience. Imagine how useful that would be for brands! I also wish there’s a way for other creators to collaborate and create something huge.

Sunaina: Can you tell me more about the events you host for women?

Sakshi: In 2024, I plan to expand these events. I host these events or dinners for women because the current networking structure is more suitable for men and designed to enable seamless communication for men. I've noticed that at events or mixers, women feel hesitant to share stuff; it doesn't mean I'm asking women not to participate in such events. I want women to network in a way where they are comfortable; I've also heard from women that when they network with women, that act is perceived as making a move. That's heartbreaking, and something men of our generation should fix.

The agenda here is quite simple: to create a space where women decide what they want to talk about; if they want to overshare, they can and be unapologetically ambitious. Their ambitions and wins are celebrated; they don't have to downplay who they are, which women usually do at networking events. I've done it; even when people have said Sakshi is something, I've not taken up as much space as I should have and not brag when I should have. If we are to enable more women, help women yield the power they already have, and bring them together in spaces where they can own that, it creates such a positive reinforcement and energy.

Sunaina: How significant is women's role in shaping the future of the content space?

Sakshi: Women will not only shape the content space but also the future. Women will take the lead in so many industries; I'm not saying we'll leave men behind, but about the things women bring to the table — empathy, creativity that arises from empathy, consumer-centricity, and leadership that women practice. These are so essential and less talked about because I hang around many women, and I'm surprised they aren't screaming their stories from the rooftop. It's why I host events and am so bullish on these women-led communities. We can accomplish so much together, but to really help women be in the same rooms and think through problems — these have a lot of potential to bring change. In terms of the content space, the way I see things evolving is women will talk a lot about how they work, lead, ideate, bring change, think and strategize. We have learned so much in the course of our journeys, struggles or whims that we don't share that enough. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez is one of the most fantastic books. In it, Caroline says when we miss out on listening and hearing by removing a whole 50% (gender) of our society from a conversation, we miss out on critical insights.

Sunaina: Do you remember the time you made your first dollar?

Sakshi: For sure! It was August 2020, and what a surreal flashback I just had as I spoke that out loud. It was from a gig with a friend who started a YouTube channel and shut it down within a month because his priorities changed. But he paid me $25 for YouTube script research for a month, and I happily took it. I took up that opportunity; even then, I liked to play the long-term game while staying rooted in the present, focusing on what you can do today and doing it best. It was one of the most surreal moments in my life to realise something in me existed, although I never took a course to work in the creative field. And it has been the most rewarding experience!

Follow Career Radio on LinkedIn. 👇

You can also subscribe to Career Radio on Beehiiv here.

Sunaina: Do you have any advice for beginner creators?

Sakshi: That is a great question, but I don't like giving advice anymore because I think it is overrated, and people eventually do what aligns with their values. But some suggestions for creators starting out 👇

Don't overthink being different because you cannot manufacture it. The only people who can manufacture it are brand creators with tons of years of experience and a process for it. So, when you're very early in your journey, you can only be different by doing things as you feel them right. Let me give you a personal example: In 20222, LinkedIn invited me to Mumbai for a collaboration, and I was shocked when I received that email. I had around 35K followers or less and I wasn't talking about my revenue; my posts didn't have an extremely high reach, but that collaboration only happened because I kept talking about women in leadership. After all, I know that topic matters to me, and I won't stop discussing it. I never thought I could get a LinkedIn collaboration about something so close to me, but it happened because I didn't try to manufacture anything. I know what my audience likes now, so I maintain a balance with all the best practices and strategies. But everything goes out of the window when you choose to do what's valuable to you. That is one suggestion I'd give.

And the other suggestion is: do you identify as a creator, or do you identify as someone with a lot of followers? There are a lot of differences between the two, right? While followers can be manufactured, great things come out when people truly lean into their creativity. I'm resuming my podcast, and it's a result of me leaning into my creativity and understanding it's a topic close to my heart and how I choose to put it out in the world.

Sunaina: What does 2024 look like?

Sakshi: The funny thing I recently told one of my clients is that 2023 was like stepping into my purpose for me. I have always been a reflective person, and I would think about the impact I've created for other people or question if I were doing a good job. I would constantly analyze in a thoughtful manner, but in 2023, I felt more like myself. 2024 will be the year of several experiments. I am excited about new gigs, my podcast, and my community and I am focussing a lot on my strengths. And yes, living it up! I'm a very live-large person, so I intend to focus on it. I also want to help more people lean into their creative identities — I don't know how, but it's just a thought in my head. Many people tell me I'm very connected with myself, and that's why I lead a calm life; of course, I live a rushed life, but internally, I enjoy this rush.

Discover more about Sakshi. 👇

Found this conversation helpful? To work with Sakshi, get in touch with her. 👇

That’s it for this week! We’ll be back with another story next Tuesday. 👋🏼

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