Kusum Anchal Gupta, The Women Behind Initiative to Add Value to Lives with Vision Divyang Foundation
“HARD WORK IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS.” Kusum Anchal Gupta shared her favourite quote which roots from her childhood memories of her hardworking father Shri Jai Bhagwan Gupta and his five principles of a good education, sanskara, friend circle, being together and creating your niche in this life.
Social Service has always been thought to be an avenue for cash-rich organisations and elderly people. However, it became a foremost priority for Vision Divyang Foundation, a platform touching lives of different stakeholders every day including children with special needs, parents, teachers, counsellors, authorities, community among others.
Leading as the Chairperson, Kusum Anchal Gupta is the woman behind the platform successfully connecting, empathizing, working without expectations, and to our surprise, ending up being congratulated by the beneficiaries. Being B.Sc., M.Sc., B.Ed. M.Ed. Special Education -Gold medallist, PGDGC, PGDRP, PGPD by qualification, Kusum credits her education to facilitate her to lead seamlessly in roles of a teacher, special educator, counselor, caregiver, rehab psychologist, career counselor, parent mentor/guide among others.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President Of India on World Mental Health Day, 10th October 2013 while inaugurating her Vision Special School shared with her the key mantra of life; that “knowledge is power”. From that day, everything changed for her.
We had a chance to converse with Kusum and understand how she crafted the stepping stones to a successful platform:
The CEO: How would you describe a routine day in your life?
Kusum: The nature of my profession makes me witness a new motivational story and case study to work with every day. I take each day as it comes and be thankful to the Lord that at the end of the day that it has gone well.
When you get criticism from the closest circles you are in, there are only two options- either you break or you open your wings & fly. When I founded myself in a similar situation, I had no option but to be strong and am grateful in a way to all the adversities in life that have led me to study more, work harder, sacrifice more, and serve more. Besides, being grateful, I would define myself as fully content with what I have and am driven by a vision to see mankind become happier and peaceful in the interest of our future generations to come.
The CEO: As a businesswoman, what was your mission at the outset? What is the change you are bringing with your brand today?
Kusum: I started my Vision Divyang Foundation with believing in the law of karma in two ways-one if I wanted good results, I had to work hard. Second, if I do good deeds, it will attract good results. This double belief in the law of karma worked so well for me.
First, I and my organization did not believe in creating a brand as we understand it. We work in service sector and service is all that matters. Even more important is the empathy with which we connect with our clients. My goal is to celebrate life with whatever comes my way. Based on this philosophy, people I work with, clients I serve are actively engaged in this journey of life with lots of positivity.
The CEO: In the journey, did you deal with the challenge of acceptance? If not, what were the other challenges you overcame?
Kusum: Being a woman, challenges are manifold. You live several lives in one lifetime. Early in the morning when your children go to school, you are a mother. When you are in the kitchen, you are a cook. You are then, the overall homemaker. You are a host in the house for your guests, wife to your husband, daughter-in-law for your family, the driver when you are in a car, teacher in the classroom, administrator when you manage your organization, and leader when you lead your company with a dream.
I am mentioning all this because, in each of the duty you perform, you tend to get resistance through words, attitude, or casual approach of your peer group. But, closing your eyes, ears, and keeping yourself tough is the key. After all the tears, stressful days and night, you finally begin to live the journey you had aimed for.
The CEO: What are the lessons you learned as an entrepreneur?
Kusum: Trust yourself more than others who claim they can be trusted. Even the best of acclaimed people in the industry whether new or old, need to be understood concerning the timeline they are on. Someone who I trusted 10 years back will be the same today; is worth a double-check.
The second point I wish to make is that earlier, I never aired my point of view often. Now, I feel that I am what I am and very humbly do put forth my point of view, irrespective of others liking it or not.
The CEO: How did you build your team? How did you differentiate yourself and your brand from the competition?
Kusum: My basic understanding is that we never went on anyone’s past achievement and laurels alone. We believed in people and their potential. This paid off the most. Big names at times did not deliver what our trust on freshers did.
We never thought of competition. We only wanted to better what we had been doing in the past. Now after nearly two decades, we feel we came a long way and are happy to assist others as well.
The CEO: What are the activities that allow you to keep your team motivated?
Kusum: Positive reinforcement, personal connects and stability in the long run, is what we promise and deliver to our team. We are happy to train our team and invest in them which make the job for the team learning and fulfilling experience.
The CEO: How did you handle adversity and doubt?
Kusum: As a woman, from childhood, the patriarchal society had doubted my ability. But my father’s teachings and trust in me had been the biggest mantra to beat the negativity around.
The CEO: What does success look like in the current role and for the company?
Kusum: Success, for me, is being contented after doing your best. Success is inside and never outside. After a good day at work, I am happy to answer that it was a good effort on my part and would try to better it the next day.
The CEO: If you were to answer a young female executive’s question of ‘How can I be a good leader?’, what would you advise?
Kusum: Take charge of yourself first. Once you master yourself, you learn the challenges that others may as well face to have better empathy and connect with your team members. Also, leadership is about ‘we’ and never ‘I’. If I can help others achieve their goals & dreams, then only I am a good leader.
The CEO: Do you believe in giving back to society, if yes, how?
Kusum: Vision Divyang Foundation is working with special needs children for the last two decades. We have trained over 15000 teachers who work with children and persons with disabilities. From training ASHA workers and AANGANWADI workers to empowering parents & community leaders and reaching out to nearly 1400 children with special needs on a daily basis; I view our actions as a part of creating a better world for today and the times to come.
So, there is nothing like empowering someone else. We are all on one planet and we are getting the results of what we have done or will be doing. I will be happy to connect and join any effort for the Persons with Disabilities anywhere in the country