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Tarun Saini on the power of meditation

Vidyakul’s CEO explains the challenges students face at schools in rural India

CEO and co-founder of Vidyakul, Tarun Saini.
CEO and co-founder of Vidyakul, Tarun Saini.

While growing up in Ponti in Barara tehsil of Haryana, Tarun Saini found it a challenge to get the quality of education he wanted. So, when he completed his degree at Monash University, he decided to do something about it. In 2019, the 34-year-old co-founded Vidyakul, an edtech platform that works with students from grades 9 to 12. Since then, Vidyakul has worked with government school students from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat. Gurugram-based Saini says they have impacted 75,000 families through their interactive online classes and other resources. “The challenges faced at the grassroots include absence of experienced teachers, insufficient infrastructure, a lack of resources. It makes the discrepancy between urban and rural education apparent. I too faced considerable challenges as a student, since my village had limited infrastructure,” he says.

Saini spent 11 years in Australia, initially studying on a scholarship and then working in education. There, he gained understanding of how the government took online education to remote communities. He returned home with a mission to make quality education accessible for all Indian students. “Initially, the hiccup was to build trust. The learning curve included understanding the nuances of the business administration processes, which allowed me to navigate and operate effectively.”

Saini tells Lounge why his students are still his biggest teachers.

Who do you consider your mentor?

I truly believe the students on ground are my mentors. This is because they impart valuable lessons on product development, marketing strategies and various dos and don’ts. Secondly, I found mentors in a few of our early investors, who are on our cap table and are very close to me.

Also read: Satyakam Arya on why self-reflection is important in work

What does being a mentor mean to you? How do you mentor your colleagues at work?

A mentor holds significant importance in both, personal and business aspects of life. However, I truly believe that one has to be very careful and specific with the mentor regarding guidance needed. Secondly, one must consider people who have specialisations for seeking the right advice. For financial or business advice, I prefer someone who is an expert in the field and has built something or has experienced a similar journey. Setting examples as a mentor is pivotal at the workplace. Being a role model and standing by your team, allowing room for mistakes while providing constructive guidance, is essential.

What’s your morning schedule like?

My morning schedule has been very structured for the last 11 years. I wake up around 6.30-7 am and go for a walk. I meditate for about 45 minutes, after which I note down important tasks, which allows me to get things done. Meditation helps me visualise my day as well as my future. This ritual has helped me a lot when it comes to being productive. I truly believe the clarity you have for each day helps in being more productive and stress-free.

What are some of the productivity principles you follow that have made your professional and personal life much easier?

Visualise, write and get things done. My principle is to note down 3-4 tasks everyday and focus on things that are important for personal growth.

What’s the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?

Previously, I used to write down notes in my diary. However, during the pandemic, I moved to Apple Notes and Notion. These tools have been immensely beneficial, allowing me to conveniently access notes from any specific dates. This has streamlined my ability to track completed tasks, pending items, and future plans.

Any book or podcast you would recommend about mentorship and growth?

I have been following Tony Robbins for the last 8-9 years. He has a podcast on personal growth, which provides guidance on emotions and health as well. Zero to One, for those who are beginning their reading journey. Some other recommendations would be Hook Books, Hacking Growth and Think and Grow Rich.

How do you unwind? Do you pursue any serious hobbies?

Walking is my hobby as I like to keep moving all the time. Even during work, I sneak small breaks to make sure I’m moving. Walking and jogging, along with meditation have helped me stay at my peak and ensure fitness. My idea of unwinding is to spend quality time with my friends and family and occasionally cook to relieve day to day stress.

Monday Motivation is a series in which business leaders and creative individuals discuss their mentors and their work ethics.

Shail Desai is a Mumbai-based freelance writer.

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