Wake up in the morning, stare at the smoggy skies with wonderment and worry, apply breaks on the ever-charged up mind and promise to breathe more consciously. While the tea brews on the stove, I rush to open the door and pick up the newspaper that the delivery boy would have artistically folded and placed in the lean space between the rods of the front door.

Sieve the tea, play a morning raaga of my choice and indulge into some engaging conversation with my beloved life-partner.

Rewind to a quiet, dark night. A night when a thought changed my life: How do the visually impaired begin their day? What is the braille counterpart for all the newspapers we receive at our doorstep each morning?

I immediately picked up the phone, made a few calls, shared my curious questions with a bunch of friends and decided to make a visit to the National Association for the Blind. On learning about the absence of reading material available in the script, I let the thought absorb in the mind and continued research. Three months of being living with it, I quit my job and took up the exciting life of being the Founder of White Print—India’s First English Lifestyle Magazine in Braille.

Since the moment I made the decision, life took a steep turn. Constant questions from friends and family, numerous media interviews, a few recognitions, a million challenges, another million challenges and countless blessings. While there is a fair share of bad days, most of it is exciting, gratifying and full of lessons.

1. Work-life balance: While your friends cannot stop talking about their recent off-site to Spain and spam your Instagram stories with team lunches and parties, you are stuck with your laptop and the never-ending to-do lists.

Running your own start up, especially if you run it all by yourself certainly affects your mental health. There are times when the grey matter is caught in a convoluted web of thoughts about multiple things. Speaking to your mentor and discussing professional hurdles can be an effective tool to manage the issue at hand. Taking frequent breaks and travelling has personally been very rewarding. Setting a start and finish time for working hours, taking Sundays off gets you ready and charged up for the next work week. This way, you save yourself from getting over consumed by work and keep yourself motivated.

We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘To Do’ list.

Michelle Obama

2. Ask for help: White Print’s journey has been full of challenges. Some that I was able to find a solution to by myself and the rest that petrified me. Not being shy about asking for help has been one of the most valuable lessons I have learnt along the way. Well-wishers, solutions are all around you waiting to make themselves a part of your journey. You just have to extend your hand for it to fall into your palm and do its magic.

The only mistake you can make is not asking for help.

Sandeep Jauhar

3. Collaborations and networking: Two is always better than one. Isn’t it? Networking and collaborating is a beautiful way to flourish in a competitive world that we thrive in. Capitalising on strengths of like-minded individuals and growing together is the sustainable way towards success, especially in the start-up world. On my journey with White Print, Tactabet and the latest project Look Out, Look Within, I’ve been very fortunate to meet and work with some fantastic writers, marketers, founders that have been strong support agents for our growth and success.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

Helen Keller

4. Comfort in discomfort: Being an introvert has been a part of my personality since I was a child. I open up without any reservations with a few people who I feel comfortable in being myself with. However, White Print had some other plans for me. Speaking in front of 2,000 curious students in Ranchi who are looking for inspiration and answers in you, standing in front of the President of the country and talking about your start up, singing live on radio, posing in front of the camera (read—shooting for the cover of Forbes India) and the tasks are endless.

Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.

Oprah Winfrey

5. Back yourself: What I’ve also learnt in these years is that it is almost inevitable to be stubborn if you want your dream to take a concrete yet beautiful shape. I continue to bombard the most influential people in the country with e-mails about what we do. You never know when that person is in the right frame of mind and willingly hops on to your train.

I say this from personal experience. A lot of people thought I was crazy when I sent an e-mail to Mr. Ratan Tata and expected him to respond. To their disbelief, I did receive the e-mail and explored not one but multiple associations with the Tata Group over the years. I treasure that e-mail. It might find its place up on the wall, whenever I have an office of my own. Power of being stubborn!

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs

The journey only moves forward. A slope, a blind turn, a winding road might only lead you towards that mountaintop. Let the speed breakers not deter your conviction. And words I read in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In stay with me: “Don’t wait for power to be offered. Like that tiara, it might never materialise. And, anyway, who wears a tiara on a jungle gym?”

Want to share your story of how you thrive? Write to us at [email protected]

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  • Upasana Makati

    Founder and Publisher, White Print

    Upasana Makati is the Founder & Publisher of White Print—India's first English lifestyle magazine in Braille for the visually impaired. After realising the absolute absence of reading literature for the visually impaired in India she started White Print in 2013. Printed at the National Association for the Blind, Mumbai, the magazine is circulated across the country. In December 2016, White Print launched, Tactabet—one of its kind Braille Tactile alphabet books in English and Hindi. The alphabet books enable integrated and fun learning for visually impaired and kids with low vision. She recently published Look Out, Look Within—a children's illustrated storybook to promote inclusion in little minds. Upasana received the First Lady Award by the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India in 2018, made it to the Fortune India 40 Under 40 list, Forbes India 30 Under 30 list in 2016, Microsoft Equal Opportunity Award for Innovation, Smart CEO, Top 50 start ups in India and received the Loreal Femina Woman's Award for Science and Innovation.