How to Recover Gracefully, With a Little Help

Varsha, Mathangi and Bob celebrating the graceful recovery!

Into every business life, a few disasters will fall. But, recovering gracefully from disasters can still enable you to win the deal or forge a relationship. Here is our story…

WINGS for Growth is a young organization, and is focused on mentoring young women to be leaders, however we are fortunate enough to have several connections to some large and well respected companies. Recently we were engaged by a large, respected, Luxury Fashion Company with whom we hoped to forge a long-term relationship and possibly financial support. We were invited to present our program to their senior leadership. They offered us 90 minutes of their valuable time. This meeting was a significant milestone for us. Our team was working hard for weeks to ensure that our presentation looks top notch and all loose ends were tied.

Finally, the day has come!

We left 3 hours before meeting time allowing for any delays. The bad news is there was a bad accident in the tunnels leading to New York where the meeting was to be held, and we had no way to get around it. The result was we were stuck in the tunnel and were over an hour and a half late for the meeting. We called our senior contact in the company and asked what we should do. She was not very happy about the situation. Perhaps, she was feeling let down. They asked us to get there when we can, and then they will see if they still have the time for us. This was clearly a non-committal response, still much better than having to turn back.

When we finally arrived, everyone seemed to be impatient and agitated, and although they were trying to be polite, we were informed we only had 10 minutes left. Now it was our turn to feel tense and stressed. We had just been through a very long and uncomfortable ordeal to get here and now we only had 10 minutes? As a main presenter, all heads turned to me to take control of the meeting.  We had two choices – recover gracefully or give up. Taking a moment to regain composure, we decided to make the most of our time with the fashion company by staying positive and not giving up, our last weapon to recover gracefully.

South goes North

Rather than launching into our prepared pitch, our senior advisor suggested we hit the highlights at this point and see if we can win them over.Speaking very much from the heart, Varsha put away the prepared presentation and instead told them briefly about our organization, our experiences, what we could bring to the table and what we felt they could bring to the table. Bob, our senior advisor played quarterback by carefully watching body language and providing color commentary when needed. Mathangi, another team member, focused on highlighting aspects of our program that were relevant to their goals and objectives, Looking back, we truly had our “A” team at the meeting and this helped us to regroup and find a new way – – FAST.

Using a team approach, and openly showing our passion for the organization, the most extraordinary thing happened. Not only did they appreciate our deep values and strong commitment to the success of the program, but they were so taken by our passion, they granted us extra time!Not all of the invited executives could stay, but enough of them did stay to allow us to forge a strong relationship with them. They were thinking of using a large consulting company to help them with mentoring their leaders – but our passion and experience convinced them to give us a serious consideration.

In a few short weeks, one of the senior executives from the fashion company spoke at our December Mentee Orientation. We were thrilled to have her and she gave a very inspirational talk to our mentees on how to become a good leader.

Graceful recovery tips

What did we learn from this experience? Every so often, things will “go south” on you. What you do about it is up to you. If you choose to recover gracefully, here are some things to consider.

  1. Be prepared to deviate from your prepared plan
  2. Teamwork is a key. Ensure all your team members are on side with the “new plan” and their role in it
  3. When things don’t go as planned, try to connect with the people in the room as quickly as possible. Listen carefully for sound bites that will connect you with your audience. Observe body language and modify your pitch to make it relevant.
  4. Being honest and open while being passionate about your believes could be the game changer

Recovering gracefully is not an easy thing to do, but it is often a choice that can lead to positive outcomes.

Even if you cannot close a deal, it could at least lead to another meeting where you will have more time.

If you had an experience with recovering gracefully, please share it. We would love to hear from you.

WINGS for Growth is always looking for mentors. Please visit our website and consider volunteering some of your time as a mentor.

Passion and Creativity Make all the Difference in the World

Me with my Guru (on the left) Padma Khanna Sidana

Me with my Guru (on the left) Padma Khanna Sidana

In many things in life, the difference between being good and being great is passion and creativity. In my line of work, and when competing, passion and creativity are the main differentiators. Great mentors can help instill that passion in a mentee, and guide you to finding a fresh perspective and bold creativity. Allow me to explain.

When I decided to make dance my career, I was faced with a harsh reality: a severe lack of mentorship when it came to advancing my career as a South Asian artist in a non-South Asian dance world. Growing up in New Jersey, where big communities of Americans of South Asian origin reside, it is commonplace for most girls to experience Indian classical dance training. The difference is that the goal of her training has been entertaining at family events and having a fun hobby, not a serious, focused dance career.

To be fair, as a five year old when I started learning Kathak (one of eight classical Indian dance forms), a career was not my goal either. However, a serious passion for dance and an encouraging dancer mother gently pushed me to strive for excellence in class. I enjoyed the classes and found that I had developed a passion for it. When I began college, and chose to enter into the professional dance world, I realized people who were at the “top” were not much older than me. I also came to realize that my generation is the one that will make the South Asian arts part of the mainstream culture in the United States. We are part of the, as my friend calls it, Indian Dance Renaissance. The question remains, as it does in most professions, how do we obtain mentorship to ensure we stay on the right path?

Obtaining and receiving mentorship is important in most fields. My Guru (mentor) spent one-on-one sessions with me exploring my dance movement and my expressions. She explained the origin of each step and gently guided me to find my dance niche. Great mentors will adapt their teaching style to what fits their student best.

Great mentors will help the mentee find a path that is not only what society defines as “successful” but that will help them grow, challenge the status quo, and ultimately achieve their dreams.

Professional Indian dancers usually work in multiple South Asian companies to make ends meet, so overlap in dance and style is rampant. As I moved forward from performer to teacher, I asked myself– As dancers and teachers, how do we continue to give our students superior mentorship to ensure they can bloom as beautiful and unique dancers while we continue to expand the South Asian dance world?

Over time, the answer emerged.

The world of dance is slowly moving from competitive to collaborative. As children, we were often part of catty dance competitions where dance teachers greeted each other with tight-lipped smiles and stoic eyes, fearing their expressions would leak out their choreography. This was not an environment that promoted healthy competition.

Now, instead of constantly being head to head with one another and trying to decide who is best, we teach that working together and using everyone’s skills together can make an even bigger and better product. In dance, as in any other field, teamwork is as important as individual skills to truly be competitive.

The New Age of Mentors

As the new age of dance mentors gain momentum, we will encourage teamwork. We have the opportunity to mentor young artists and encourage them to consider a career in the arts, not only dancing for family entertainment. We can dare to innovate, bring fresh perspective, be bold, and dream big by performing as our heart directs us.

We can help dancers balance business with art, and find that sweet spot where commercialization and competition meet creativity and passion. We can collaborate across cultural barriers with artists from all fields, and provide mentorship and be role models for our students.

This idea is not limited to dance. Competition can be collaborative in every field. Why constantly worry about who can come up with the next best thing when instead we can work together to find the best solution.

As teachers and mentors, we need to bring out the uniqueness of each of our students and guide them to combine their talents with others. Whichever career you choose to pursue, we need to encourage working collaboratively to find that sweet spot where commercialization and competition meet creativity and passion. Passion and creativity can make all the difference in the world.

Do you need a mentor? Do you wish to become a much needed mentor? WINGS for Growth was created to inspire, enable and empower talented young women to become leaders of the future through impactful mentoring, coaching and networking with visionary, successful, and caring leaders and role models. Contact us today

About the Author

Shivani Badgi is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer in NJ/NYC and a volunteer at WINGS for Growth. Visit her website at