Q&A: Bringing ancient wisdom to the modern-day workplace

This week we talk to experienced Anjani Amriit, a leadership coach, mentor and advocate for change in the way business is conducted who desribers herself as a “Western corporate dropout turned Eastern-influenced entrepreneur”.

ISB: Please tell us about your early background and how you came to end up working in the law in Australia.

AA: Hailing from an immigrant working class family of miners in Yorkshire England, I was always ambitious. I became the first in my family to go to university and enter a white-collar profession. I drove myself to be the best, and landed a job as a corporate lawyer in a top UK law firm.

Six years in, I was stressed out and miserable. The pace was relentless. When a job was advertised for a corporate lawyer in Australia, I saw it as a way out. I applied not thinking I would ever get it. I did. Within three months I had sold up and emigrated to Sydney.

ISB: What pushed you into giving up that career?

AA: After a 16-plus-year legal career of 22-hour days spent overcompensating, overworking and feeling the need to constantly prove myself in a male-dominated environment, I burned out. Burnout wasn’t a ‘thing’ then and so tools to address it were non-existent.

The long hours seemed par for the course. Over time, this took its toll. I became physically ill, suffering constant anxiety and regular panic attacks. After dropping 19 kilos, I was diagnosed with untreatable irritable bowel syndrome. I was on a hamster wheel of weekly hospital visits and felt like a failure because I wasn’t coping. Ultimately, I had no choice but to leave..

ISB: How did you go about “repairing” and reinventing yourself?

AA: I quit, sold everything I had worked so hard to build and retreated to India for my own eat-pray-love story. Traditional Western medicine couldn’t help so I decided to explore what the East could offer me.

The next decade was spent travelling frequently to India, studying and practising ancient wisdoms with yogis and holistic doctors. In under a year I fully recovered my mental, emotional and physical health. I reinvented myself.  I retrained in Ayurvedic holistic medicine, meditation, yoga, and spiritual psychology. With my newfound knowledge I cured my irritable bowel in three months. I became happier and healthier and found my purpose.

ISB: How did you go about translating what you learnt into a new career?

AA: I returned to the West and started a business focused on sharing the wisdom that had breathed life back into me and set me on my true path. I knew that I could really help those in business who were also suffering burn out. A business will only grow to the extent its leader/founder grows, and this growth is best grounded in empathy, service and contribution. My clients include leaders at Apple, Adobe and VISA, Federal and local government ministers, CEOs as well as SMEs looking to scale with greater purpose. My greatest passion is helping women start-ups and entrepreneurs.

ISB: Why do you think leadership is changing and businesses now need to align their aims with the needs of wider society?

AA: It is no longer enough for leaders and businesses to exist solely to make money. Research on customer trends reveals an increasing demand for businesses to demonstrate social responsibility. The time is now for business owners and leaders to recognise that their company’s future is increasingly intertwined with the needs and demands of society. If they don’t keep up, they will be left behind. To do this business owners need support to upskill in personal resilience training to avoid burn out, to develop and align their personal leadership skills with the evolving demands of their customers and society at large, which naturally translates to increased growth, impact, and success for the business.

ISB: And, finally, what is the #1 piece of advice you’d give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?

AA: My number one piece of advice for any entrepreneur on their business journey is to engage a mentor who can help you stay at the top of your game physically, emotionally and mentally so that you become resilient and empowered to evolve and grow in this uncertain time of great change. Your wellbeing is the best investment you can make in and for your business.