Having had quite a few successful career stints, what sparked your interest in creating Miss Malini at a time when the digital space only had a few takers?
To be honest, when I started MissMalini, blogging wasn't even a "thing" so I did it for the love of writing and having a space of my own to express myself. Over the years it has evolved into a mutli-media, multi-platform enterprise and when I look back I realise that every career I ever had was actually preparing me for it! From learning team work as a back up dancer, to all the digital skills I needed at MTV India Online and Channel [v]. In fact, the greatest insight I ever picked up was from my 9 years on the radio. I realised that while millions of people may be listening to your broadcast, it is actually a very personal experience your listener has with you, the radio jockey, that keeps them hooked. The feeling that you are speaking to them and them alone. An intimacy that feels like friendship. I guess that is what really sparked my interest in connecting with people using the "theatre of the mind" and I carried that forward onto my blog as well. Especially since entertainment media at the time didn't really have a personal voice or personality attached to it that people could relate to and voila, here we are! All because I started writing my blogs as I did my radio show. As if I were writing letters to "you". Funnily enough my column in the Mid Day a decade ago was even called "Malini's Mumbai" which could be considered the first iteration of the blog itself!
Your journey to becoming a blogging powerhouse has been quite an impactful and inspirational one. Looking back, is there something you would have chosen to do differently or any particular experience that was a turning point?
I don't think I could or would change anything. I have evolved a great deal as a brand and a person, but I believe that the process of getting here required me to experience everything that I have. Including some hard lessons in people management and trust. If there is one thing I would go back and tell myself, it is that I should have confidence in my instincts. It doesn't matter if you don't spend years in business school, some skills are best learnt on the field. My most recent turning point has been writing my book which helped me realise my true purpose. While I may have found my beginnings in the glitzy world of glamour, fashion and beauty, my true calling is to inspire and uplift a vast generation of women and girls. Baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Generation Z. My book is called "#tothemoon - How I Blogged My Way To Bollywood", but it isn't really about Bollywood at all. It is a book of hope and optimist, about finding your passion and making your life extraordinary. I am very proud that it has inspired so many young bloggers, influencers and writers to start up on their own. Imagine the satisfaction of paving the way in an industry that didn't exist in India! I am so humbled and incredibly proud to see this new breed of content creators flourish.
The nature of your job requires you to be accessible at all times and document every activity on social media. How much of a challenge is it for you to just switch off and stay away from it all in your downtime?
Lets be honest, I don't switch off. I have made my peace (happily so) with the fact that I exist in two worlds simultaneously. While I spend 50% of my life in the "real world" I have made as much of a commitment to be present in my virtual one. I have relationships there that deserve equal and ongoing attention. Just like I would not take "down time" from reality and disappear from my life for days on end, I feel the same way about my life on the Internet (as crazy as that may sound to you!) So lets put it this way, I don't believe in the traditional definition of "down time". For me "down time" on the Internet might be scrolling a feed of cute puppy videos or watching Netflix just like "down time" in real life might be taking a nap or getting a massage. See what I mean?
Also if I switch my phone of for an hour 'll probably have 300 emails and 100 Whatsapp messages to deal with when I'm back online! I find that much more stressful than keeping both world's running at the same time. I wish I had more hours to sleep though!
**Funnily enough I had a whole hour body massage in between writing this email because Urban Clap does house calls so I guess I have a reality v/s virtual reality balance after all!
Your book ‘#ToTheMoon’ has been wildly popular and has garnered so much support from Bollywood. Tell us a little about how the idea to write this came about.
I have always wanted to write a book, every writer dreams of doing that one day and I believe everyone has a book in them too. This book came about because my business partner Mike Melli worked out a deal with Harper Collins for a two book deal for me. Initially I was very hesitant to write a book about myself because it feels so cocky to write memoire when you're just 40 years old. But I figured I could perhaps help a lot of young bloggers with the things I have learned along the way and I have always wanted to find a way to give back since I have had the most fantastic mentors. (You'll hear from all of them in the book too!) So the book is half my story and half a guide to building a digital brand and mostly motivation to make your life extraordinary doing whatever it is that you love!
Now I have to start the second one, which I think will be fiction!
What keeps you up at night and what helps you wake up every morning?
I usually stay up over-thinking my day! My mind keeps buzzing till I finally fall asleep (around 2am as per my FitBit!) I wake up every single day excited to go to work, build my "empire" and now-a-days to see what Malini's Girl Tribe is talking about. A beautiful community of awesome women that support, inspire and love each other, unconditionally. Even though they've never met! We're reclaiming the Internet and what it's purpose was meant to be! Also for me no two days are alike, some days I am sitting on my sofa in PJs writing, on others I'm playing "boss lady" at the office and the rest I'm out shooting, attending events or networking. I love everything about my life. I can safely say I'm living the dream!