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  • Writer's pictureSidekick

Kickin’ it with Sidekick: Anika Chabra

Celebrating awesome entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs just like you. Learn from others’ stories, successes, advice, and actions.

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Meet Anika Chabra! She is the brilliant Co-Founder of Root & Seed. As a former advertising business leader and college professor, Anika has launched multiple brands, campaigns and careers for the past two decades.

Anika’s life journey led her to launch Root & Seed, an online culture and tradition preservation platform (including an app, website, podcast and much more) that is harnessing the age-old power of storytelling with intuitive technology to help individuals claim, honour and document their unique cultural heritage.

Like many children of immigrant families growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, Anika often tried to conceal her cultural identity, food, clothing, traditions and customs. But, as she grew older, she began to connect more with her background and the meaning behind these cultural customs and experiences. Today, Anika is thankful to her parents who exposed her to her beautiful and multi-faceted Indian background.

Tragically, Anika lost her mother two years ago. Amongst the grief and sadness, Anika also lost her direct connection to her culture and traditions. “Even though I am an adult in my mid 40s, married with children of my own, I didn’t pay attention, didn’t document, didn’t regularly practice my culture. I didn’t really “own” my cultural background... that belonged to my parents and by default, not by choice, it was mine. I brought out that identity and connection only on special occasions and trips to India,” shares Anika.

Anika began her search to learn the details of her culture. From learning about the India / Pakistan Partition, to travelling Western to Eastern India, to enrolling in traditional Indian Kathak dance lessons, she began a journey of rediscovery to form a deeper connection to her identity and the origins that shape who she is today.

Together with her Co-Founder, Jennifer Siripong Mandel, Anika launched Root & Seed to inspire others, who like her, desire to claim, honour and celebrate their culture. With a podcast, blog and mobile based web app, Root & Seed’s mission is to end the loss of tradition for once and for all. Root & Seed has been featured on the CBC, The Toronto Star and cultural media platform RepresentASIAN. Along with their app and website, Root & Seed has released 4 seasons of their podcast totalling over 20 episodes of exploring family traditions, talking about cultural influencers, discovering our own heritage and much more.

Learn more about Anika and what drives her to be a powerful and thoughtful entrepreneur.

1. What’s one thing you wish you knew before starting your business/current role?

Everything that I have done thus far has led me to be an entrepreneur now, but not a moment sooner. If I did this in my 20s or 30s, I wouldn’t have been ready. I was way too inexperienced, immature in my approach and the constant feedback would have destroyed me. I’m super impressed when I see young entrepreneurs who make it - but that wasn’t me. Maybe I wished that I was more patient? Regardless, I’m here now and very ready. Root & Seed is exactly what the world needs now and myself, my co-founder Jenn and our incredible team are the exactly the right team to bring it to the world.

2. What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like?

The first meeting of my day is always with myself, which means getting up earlier than the rest of the family and it includes journaling, listening to music and a meditation to get me set for the day ahead. Getting into that vibration is the difference between an effective day and an average day. I go with whatever my mind and body needs that morning. And it’s always done with a cup of tea - boiling a kettle has always been and will always be nourishing and ritualistic for me.

3. Do you have a personal ethos that helps guide your decisions and choices? What is it and where did it come from?

After a lot of self and mindset work, I’ve leaned into my superpower which is “sensitivity” - an ability to feel a large scale of emotions, deeply. I used to think of this as a handicap - I was conditioned to believe that sensitivity doesn’t belong in the corporate world. But I’ve learned that if I surround myself with subject matter experts and individuals who are way more analytical than I am (including my co-founder Jenn Siripong Mandel) we are a force to be reckoned with. Brain and heart. Then, after a decision is made, we act…pretty much instantly. Nothing is going to happen in decks, wireframes and focus groups.

4. What book/podcast/documentary/piece of content do you recommend the most and why? Or what books/podcasts/documentaries/pieces of content has greatly influenced your life?

Depends upon what I’m going through at that time. When we started Root & Seed, hearing about entrepreneurial journeys and leadership stories inspired me, so my “go to” podcast was “How I Built This” by Guy Raz. As the co-founder of a platform that harnesses the power of storytelling, I love hearing stories of people, about their ebbs and flows and trajectory of their lives. How seemingly small decisions or events lead to massive implications. I’m also currently listening and loving Maya Shankar’s “A Slight Change of Plans.” She asks the best questions and as the host of our podcast, Root & Seed, Maya Shankar inspires me!

From her unique personal ethos to helpful daily habits, Anika’s passion for her culture and her desire to connect others to their culture and identity is inspiring, and has fuelled the impact that Root & Seed has made to many individuals looking to rediscover their unique cultural heritage. Find Anika on LinkedIn and follow Root & Seed, @rootandseedco.

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