Happy New Year. The conversation series starts again in 2022. A lot of you have been asking me to speak in English too. A lot of non-Tamil-speaking viewers are also there. I'll try to mix Tamil and English so that it can reach a larger audience.
In this conversation series, I am going to talk to my friend who is also a good friend of mine. Her name is Dr. Renitha Rajan. She is a dermatologist. There is a lot more to tell about her. I don't want to fix her as a dermatologist.
In this new year, I wanted to talk to a women achiever, and the first thing that came to my mind was Renita Rajan. We usually look for our role models who are mostly unknown to us. But the people who have achieved and have lived their lives truly are the real inspirations. From that point of view, I thought Renita would be the right person to have a conversation with.
Thanks, Ashwin. Thanks for having me.
Dr. Ashwin: To start with, Reni you are a successful person as a doctor. What is success for Renita? What is success for you?
Renita: To put it simply, I do not have a definition of success. I think it's mostly about able to do things the way you have in your mind. I would say the capacity to bring forth opportunities to implement the things in your mind is called success.
Let's say we have a plan in mind and it may be support or a team, the infrastructure or devices, and getting all the things that you need to move forward is a success.
Ashwin: Women succeeding is always very inspiring. For all those women who are watching this conversation series, what would be your advice?
It may not necessarily be the things you are talking about. It could be anything. She can be a homemaker who is trying to do something or a youngster who is trying to aspire. What is your advice to a woman who wants to do something or wants to be successful?
Renita: Advice is a big word. I will give you a tip. Try to achieve technical excellence in your field. A lot of times we try to talk about how to package this thing and how to deliver it in a package? But the core is your technical intelligence. You can achieve technical excellence in any field you want.
As a doctor, only about 10% of all this comes out and we get recognition for it. But if you are an engineer or a photographer or an artist, it is a little easier to shine in your field if you have the technical knowledge. A lot of us may be in the same field, but if you have the technical advantage, you can shine and you need to be very strong with your core technical skills.
Whatever you think may take you one step further, go ahead, learn and try to put your efforts into that. Packaging will come automatically.
Ashwin: Basically, equip yourselves. That is what you are trying to say.
Whatever your field of interest may be, go ahead and grow yourself in that particular area.
Renita: Make the difference and add that edge.
Ashwin: Beautiful. I love that.
Ashwin: But what if there is an inhibition to even start off. It may be fear of family commitments or fear of losing or whatever. For men, it is always a different thing. even if they fail a couple of times, people don't take it seriously. But for women, even to start off is a big thing.
They have to overcome a lot of things like husband, in-laws, children, etc.
Renita: It's the guilt.
Ashwin: How to overcome that and what would you say?
Renita: I like to shift the owners of doing this from individual women to the society or her family. This message is not for the person who is wanting to achieve, this is for the people around her.
Suppose if a girl is wanting to achieve, it is not the responsibility of the girl to go and seek her opportunities. It's the people around her. The first circle around her is the family, then the society. All of us are talking about these issues to create these opportunities. It's not on the individual anymore.
If you know you will succeed by doing these activities, then it should be allowed. Maybe for the individual, one should be a self-determined, courageous, and break-all-the-barries kind of person. As a society, let us remove the barriers around her and she will do her job. That is what I feel.
Ashwin: As a society, we should help create opportunities.
Ashwin: We as doctors face a lot of issues, criticism, etc. Once you become successful, the most important thing to know about is how to handle negativity and criticism. Those who have become successful are easily criticized because people get jealous easily. People show so much hatred. They talk rubbish. People are going to throw stones at you. But how do you handle negativity?
Renita: I don't think I have learned or achieved to handle that. There is no formula. I probably think that if there is any ring of truth, if there is an option to improvise and we feel that it was a mistake, any constructive criticism is always an opportunity to grow.
If someone said this could have been better this way, then we will take that. But if it was for no reason, nothing can be done.
Ashwin: Yes. Correct. They will criticize for no reason.
Renita: Yes. We cannot do anything about it as it is not in our scope. If they put out a comment like that and it is ridiculous, it is their scope not to work on that. It is not in our scope anymore. If there is any actionable point, then we can take it, or else we can ignore it.
As long as there is nothing done from it, just ignore it.
Ashwin: One more thing. I know your workplace. I've been seeing you for quite some time. How important it is to being organized to a human being to succeed? Because I see that everything is of touchpoint excellency and you focus on that. We believe in excellency, right Reni.
Ashwin: How important it is for success?
Renita: [ Author name ] has said in one of his books to sort out the things that cause the maximum mistakes and then get back to outcomes.
For example, you have a device and working on a procedure and you have to get 10 marks out of it. But you only get 5 marks out of it. The question is whether to change the device on the whole or to tweak the device to achieve 10 marks out of it.
Watching out for cost benefits and bringing out better outcomes with the device we have in hand. Finding out the possibilities to bring the best outcomes with the device at hand is something we take it very seriously.
We did not have protocols for Indian skin type and we cannot talk about a different device. We have to think about matching our skin type with the existing devices.
That is what we worked on a little.
Ashwin: So being that way made a difference.
Reita: I can't keep a lot of things in my head. I can't remember. I go by protocols.
Ashwin: How do you start your day? Because I know you are an earlier riser. Do you think waking up early had made your life better? Has it contributed to your success?
Renita: It has contributed to a sense of peace. You will get a feeling of control about the things you do only when wake up early.
Otherwise, you wake up and you dont have the time to talk of the whole thing and run into the fire.
Ashwin: What time you wake up?
Renita: 4:00 is my usual time. 3:55. I do not know why. My internal clock just goes up.
Ashwin: What do you do early in the morning?
What is your morning routine like?
I read. I am a reluctant work-a-router. I am not into a lot of fitness other than I work twice a week.
Every day when I wake up, I take stock of what we have done for the previous day. But most importantly, I do not look around at the problems that we had the previous day. I like to read so that I clean my thought process. I read a lot of non-fiction, a lot of books that can help me understand.
Ashwin: How important is reading as a habit?
Renita: To me, it is second nature.
Ashwin: I am sure it has helped you a lot.
Renita: It is my core. If I would not have read so many books, I couldn't have connected with myself.
For some, if they see it visually, they can connect better. For me, I have to read and it has to connect. Only then I will understand.
Even if it's not visualizing, I will read, imagine and try to connect.
I think it is the biggest secret to my success.
Ashwin: The more you read, the more it helps. It has worked for me and a lot of people.
Ashwin: How important it is for a woman to be financially independent in this era?
Renita: It's not about men or women, but in the future, everybody has to look over themselves. We are in the third generation of working women. Financial independence is very important. Financial literacy is also important.
We have to teach our kids about it.
They should have a basic understanding of how the transaction works.
While we learn at school, certain topics would be segregated as male and female subjects. The toys that we buy for our kids or the stereotypes that we project, financial independence will come when we focus on financial literacy.
Ashwin: It is very important for everyone to talk about financial literacy.
Renita: You should teach your kids what it costs and what it takes to get here and you should definitely talk to them about investments, math, probability. I am quoting vikanth here. He says we should talk about three or four things to our children here. One of which is math, psychology, nutrition. We do not discuss nutrition much with our children. We should teach them about nutrition. Schools teach them about nutrition, which is healthy and which is not healthy. My Daughter says " could you get me junk"
Then he talks about probability.
Because those are the things that we use. Will it rain or not and accordingly we plan the day.
Ashwin: I love this point. We love our children but we don't teach them the right things. Because we do not know how to do it. We raise them as we have been raised.
I am talking about the larger population.
What you said was a very important point.
Health, probability, life skills.
Renita: How do you prepare for the day? It is going to be cold, or are you going to wear this dress?
Aswin: You are thinking like a mother and I am amazed. Because you are a busy doc plus you do that?
Renita: I also get a lot of support from my husband. So yes.
Ashwin: Karthik, I know. Amazing guy.
But the point is, women, get so caught up doing their daily stuff like cooking, family, etc and the majority of the women go through this.
For them, this will be a good message. They will know what to talk to their kids. Apart from movies, as a mother, everyone should know what to talk about and teach to their kids.
Renita: It is like packing your bags for the next day or teaching them to brush is all small things that they will definitely learn.
Instead of telling the girls to care for the family, teach the boys.
Talk to the boys and tell them to learn how to cook, to care for the family, and to work together to be happy. Talk to the boys.
Ashwin: It's a valid point. Talk to the boys.
How important is health for our life or to be successful or to just face anything?
Renita: I have been looking at nutrition and health from a distance and only in the last few years have I felt that holistic health because I feel so much data has come out which says that if you don't skip your breakfast, skin darkening reduces. It is very simple and there is no need to see a doctor at all. If you implement this every single day in your house where you eat on time, you know how it protects, you know how it improves cardiovascular, you know how it improves insulin resistance, it helps the brain and it helps so many things. And it's not even medicine and it's a lifestyle.
And in the last 5-6 years, I would say everything has come back to lifestyle. And it is at this time I think preventive health, we call it instead of rejuvenation, we call it prejuvenation. Preventive rejuvenation works a lot. Simple habits like removing makeup at bedtime increase skin clarity so much more. Some people do it as a ritual and some people keep it as such and still expect clearer skin.
So you kind of put this education out there. In your field, people want to talk about better performance but even for Vitamin to be taken up, you need exercise.
You need your body to assimilate it and utilize it. So I guess health will be the biggest currency of the future.
Ashwin: As they say when character is lost, everything is lost. But I believe when health is lost, everything is lost.
Renita: You cant even think about character building when you are in the bed. Pain is not a small fellow. It is big. To work with pain is no easy joke.
So definitely lifestyle makes a huge difference.
Ashwin: So Reni, excellence is a habit. when you express excellence, it triggers a lot of insecurities for a lot of people. That applies to you when you render and your growth as a doctor. What is your take on that?
When you express excellence, it kicks out a lot of people. Because in your life, you have achieved a certain level of success. This is a fear for so many people and that is why I ask you about it.
When you do things right, and those who cannot do it the same way may talk bad things.
I am sure you are having this every day.
Renita: Complicatedly tricky question.
I have only been thinking of what more to do and I have never felt I have achieved success. I put my head down keep doing my work. I don't try to put any metrics anywhere. What comes after that. We can do better. Adequate.
Ashwin: I like that. As an entrepreneur and a doc, they say there is a change in mindset when the entrepreneur part comes in.
A wrong kind of thinking has been instilled. Only if you do wrong things, you will be able to earn. But I say, you can earn even by doing the right things. You can succeed even by doing the right things.
You can lead a luxurious life by doing the right things. You should be bad to be rich is a wrong ideology for many years. But that is not the fact. I see you, you are succeeding and you are a numbers person also. I mean in the right way. You are an example of that. What is your thought about it?
You can do the right thing and still be a successful person. In the case of money and numbers.
Renita: There is a thing about money and wealth. I do not know who quoted this, the rich people have money, the wealthy people have time. When it comes to numbers, I am always trying to see, if it takes 10 seconds to do something, can we do it in 8 seconds. Thats my spin on entrepreneurship as well. How do you do things better?
Aswin: How did you think about it and how are you able to manage both? Doc and entrepreneur, it's not easy.
Renita: You have different teams and have different mindsets and talk to different sets of people and you streamline the whole thing. As doctors, we go by ethics. You don't convince patients to do procedures. I have not done it in the last 10 years and I won't do it. I have a limit. Similarly, there are ethics for the products too.
Ashwin: You have teams to take care of things and you streamline the team to get it done.
Renita: You groom people around you so that they speak your language.
As doctors, we try to do everything and as entrepreneurs we do everything. You can't take one mentality and throw it across. I will do no harm, I will do the best product and I will give the best value. Nobody can say not to bring the ethics over here.
As a dermatologist, I will always be worried about the person using my product than otherwise.
Ashwin: If you are just an entrepreneur, you wouldn't know the consequences.
Renita. Exactly. You will hear the feedback of your product like that.
Ashwin: Plus you would know what the consequences would be.
Renita: As an example, we try to do the toxicology all the way like what if people use 10 lip balms and ate it up.
Still, there is a safety limit.
We have been reading this right from our 2nd-year MBBS studies about the tolerance level. So that is something that you take it from one of your specialties to the next and no one would say anything about it.
Yes. I would think about toxicology before anything else. That is my number. That is the first number I will stop at. I will think about what is the effort that is going to be put in. Can it do it in 6 seconds where it currently takes 8 seconds?
And then we think about, who do we reach and who would profit. And again, this is my journey and not my destination.
Ashwin: I think I caught you midway.
There has to be an effort to take care of people who didn't have as many opportunities or exposure.
So that is the destination.
Ashwin: One thing I see in you, generally I connect with people who's intentions are right.
I cannot talk just with anyone. There should be some basic ethics. As humans, we do have ethics. I can gel with that kind of people. That's why I wanted to have a conversation with you and find out what I can bring out.
I strongly believe in taking care of our employees. I see that with you also. You take care of your employees. How important is it to look after our employees?
Renita: They are our family at one level. They are our work family. You can have a lot of dissatisfied people around your team and be satisfied with what you put out.
I have read somewhere, treat your employees like your customers and provide them the best opportunities to do better.
But if required, you show a certain aspect of your personality.
Ashwin: Both Compassion and anger should be around and that's fine. But basic mindset to take care of your employees should be there.
Whether it is 4 or 40 employees, taking care of them is also a business model to succeed.
As an entrepreneur, you have to show some signs of leadership and for that, you have to build a team that follows you. If nobody follows you then you are nowhere. Somebody has to follow you the same way as an extension of your thought process.
You cannot make all the decisions and there should be a team of people who can execute it for you and they should do the correct thing.
If they are profit-oriented only, it won't work for you.
They have to be in sync with your orientation. If you won't do it, then they won't do it either. Then you can trust them and grow them and grow with them.
I always say this at my recruitment. I am not here to take your work, but I am here to grow with you. but on the other hand, you have to demonstrate you are here to grow with us.
Aswin: Yeah. I understand. Our employees have to work for us and we take care of them.
Renita: We hope to have a housing plan and everything. Let's see.
Ashwin: I see one more thing also. You are socially very conscious. I take the community and the society seriously and I am very sensitive to that. You worked in Africa for a charity. How important it is as a youngster to be socially responsible as a human being?
Renita: If you take up our theory, it is the evolution of the fittest. I think the fittest people for the next generation are the people who can take the race along. Otherwise, we will all destroy each other and wiped out of the planet.
So the people who take care of the planet, are the most evolved of the species. So the next step of evolution is being able to take care of others.
Otherwise, as a race, we won't survive. It is not even a desire. It's an obligation that we are supposed to do.
Ashwin: it should be part of the curriculum.
Unfortunately, no one teaches it.
Renita: Now we talk about it and read about it, I think we can teach children about it. But we don't have a choice whether we can be bothered about the people around us or not. We have to. It will be a hazard for our children.
It is going to come somewhere and hit people who we care about. So it's better that we do it.
Ashwin: I have always spoken about integrity. How important it is? We might be different person at work. Each business demands certain skills to demonstrate as a professional. But as human beings, we might not be the same person.
People think the other way around and get it wrong. How is it bother you as a person or generally speaking?
I'll answer them in three parts.
The first part is about we tend to focus a lot on the negative part because that hurts us more. Let's talk about reviews and stuff. For every negative review, the impact on the mind is almost 200% of that of a positive review. So I made a decision consciously to talk to the people who leave a positive review and get their feedback on what can be improved as well.
For the negative review, you learn from the lessons. Otherwise, if it is for the purpose of spewing negativity on you, just ignore it.
But i definitely don't want to miss out on the people who took the time to write a review. Because of those people, our standards of responsibility have gone up now. They are taking our responsibility talking about us. We focus more on the people who spoke positively on us.
Let's reward the people who talk positively.
Aswin. There will always be people who like us and those who don't like us.
Renita: If the negative things that people say are right, then we should take it. If it's just for the sake of review, you don't have to mind about it.
Some may not know how to express themselves, but they might have a point. There are times when we make mistakes. If they notice and bring forward, we say sorry and acknowledge and do better.
But we should actively go back and thank the person who left positive feedback.
It takes an effort to move and write that review. I think we should reward that a lot more.
Ashwin: And my point about integrity is, people, change for the sake of social approval. When you criticize, you become a different person. We say one thing and do one thing. But for the sake of just fake impressions, it could be a patient in our case, it could be a follower or a family member also, to satisfy the other person, we become a different person.
This is the second part of my answer. If you are going into a consultation room. I can be happily talking to you like this, but the moment I enter the consultation room, I have to be a person who listens to them and respond. For example, when we do a transplant or a surgery, we need a mindset to do it. It may be very different from who you are
Whatever the necessity, you have to deliver.
If I can focus this way, then I will be this way.
Ashwin: So don't do things for social approval.
Renita: Whatever the need may bring forward, deliver accordingly.
But people perceive it differently.
Ashwin: This is exactly what I wanted to tell
If you are integral, then it is enough. It does not matter what other person thinks about you.
In that integrity, do a good job. Don't do a bad job. Come out of it. Do what is necessary to do bring the results. Suppose it requires empathy, then you move to a different mood. You are a listener. Whatever the situation requires do it. We can't please everybody. As long as you are within the limits of your integrity, You have to get going with it.
Ashwin: If people understand about it, it will make life a lot easier.
How positive are you as a person?
Renita: I am a very practical person. As you said I am a numbers person, I will try my best to make it 99 or 100. I believe a lot in statistics. We do audits every Monday and we see how are we doing the previous week.
The reason, I want to genuinely know how we have done. I want to see the results by number. Only then I will understand. If it's for hair and it's 70%, I tell them the facts based on our 2019 audit. I communicate and that is my integrity telling them the facts. But it's not a 100% result. But I have to know that number.
I am a practical person.
Ashwin: It is a good point. Positivity I mean is how you approach a situation.
We are not going to give false promises to a person who is on a deathbed.
Renita: I have a large smile and loud laughter. But to be honest, I am a very cautiously positive person. We call this tough-minded optimism, again I read a statement in a book and I couldn't recollect the author's name.
Tough-minded optimism is where you know that there will be a lot of factors against your favor, but you move with optimism. It's called TMO. So many things can wrong and you cant sit in the same place.
You got to move forward and it will require brain work. You have to break your head and come up with a different algorithm. But if you have TMO, then you can.
Ashwin: And you have a daughter. You are a mother.
Renita: I worked till two hours just before my delivery. Then I went back to work in 16 days. I didn't have a choice at that point in time. I had amazing support, my family, his family. I always feel that I missed out on a lot of things. We now have maternity leave. As per government rules, it's 3 months, but I want to make it a little longer. Would like to have more flexible options. But the healthcare industry does not provide any flexibility. You need to report back to work. It's a people-facing thing.
Ashwin: Maybe one of your goals is to spend more time with your family.
That is there. We have playtime at night. I make sure my staff pack and leave by 6 pm because I want them to go back to their families and spend time.
I can't ask them to do what I cannot do. I don't want to see anybody. That is why we are closed on Sundays and evenings too. It's Ok. Many of them are working moms and I want them to go back and sit literally with their families.
Ashwin: That's a nice point. That shows what you are as a human being.
Renita: We can't ask people to do what you are not able to do
I hope this conversation was useful for everyone. Thank you, Renita. Thanks for coming.
This is the first time I have mixed both English and Tamil. I hope it is useful. Please post your feedback in the comments section. If you think it may b useful, please share.
The whole point of this video is to empower women. She is already an empowered woman. I take inspiration from her as well.
we have a lot to learn from everyone. So let's be open-minded. Let's learn from each other.
As I always say, let's build a clear, healthy community.
Thank you, Ashwin for having me here. It's a pleasure communicating and connecting with the people who listen to you. I am very happy to be part of this initiative.