Going Against the Flow: Mallika Chopra, Author and CEO of Intent.com

Mallika Chopra is a mom, media entrepreneur, and published author. She is the founder of Intent.com, a website focused on personal, social and global wellness. Her varied background includes launching the Heal The World Foundation in the 1990s with Michael Jackson, being part of the initial team to re-launch MTV in India, and serving as a Health Ambassador for the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project in the US - an initiative that gave millions ofdollars to individuals, nonprofits and companies to for projects in their communities. Mallika is also the founder of The Chopra Well, a premiere YouTube channel, she launched with her brother, Gotham Chopra, and father, Deepak Chopra. Mallika has a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, and MBA from Kellogg Business School.

Mallika's new book Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose,
Peace and Joy
was released in April 2015.

Mallika Chopra (Photo credit: Kwaku Alston)

Q: What does entrepreneurship mean to you, and what underlying characteristics do you see in successful entrepreneurs?

Mallika: Entrepreneurship is a process by which we realize an intent, whether it is to create a dynamic in your family, to create your own company or to drive a cause. It starts with what you intend. Intent is different from goals. While goals are more task-oriented, intent comes from deep within your soul. Successful entrepreneurs are able to deeply reflect on what they want and how they want to serve. When your motivation comes from a deeper place within you, you're able to tackle the challenges that will come your way.

So many people dream big, but successful entrepreneurs "take action", as I mention in the final chapter in my recent book. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to be willing to fail, and be creative and flexible.

Q: What are you most proud of in your professional career? If you could do something over in your life, what would it be?

Mallika: I've had a messy, winding, twisting career path. I'm most proud that I've been able to mentor some really incredible talent, and my dream has been to foster their dreams. Young women who came to work for me straight out of college have gone on to work at Yahoo! For Good, raise $50k from a kickstarter campaign to start a non-profit and someone who started with me as an intern a few years ago became a very successful artist and in fact, designed the cover for my book!

As for regrets, I don't think that way. Life brings us at crossroads, and we make certain choices. I've had more failures than successes and I have learnt my lessons, but I don't believe in going back. I don't want to change anything about my past.

Q: Tell us about an instance where you had to go against the flow to realize your goal.

Mallika: I'm very clear today that I want to serve in a way that's authentic to me. My success metrics for my company and for myself are very different from what other tech entrepreneurs typically set for themselves. The investors I got are very supportive of my journey as a mom who has a company, and I am very honest with myself and with the people around me.

I didn't always have this clarity. I was 28 when I started my first startup company, and I had let someone come in as our CEO who was causing our startup to go downhill. I was young and nervous to speak up and kept going with the flow until I got to a point where I exploded and sent out a few immature emails. This was a very transformative learning experience that helped me realize the importance of speaking up! When you are going with the flow but are not comfortable with it, you need to trust your intuition and realize that it's okay to do things differently. Sometimes it is necessary to go against the flow.

With a very successful father and husband, I have had tremendous advantage in my life. I have an infrastructure and support system that allow me to go against the flow, and I'm very grateful for the same.

Q: How did you find purpose, peace and joy?

Mallika: I found purpose and peace by answering questions like Who am I? What do I want? How can I serve? The key was to take time to reflect in silence and stillnessa, which is challenging for me because I am inherently an ambitious and competitive person, so sometimes I can be driven by external forces.

As for joy, through life experience and meditation, I learned to let go. Life is about joy. What else are we here for?

I think that everyone has a messy journey, and that's okay. We think that we have out lives figured out, and then we get off that track, and then we get back on it or possibly change our track altogether, but this keeps life interesting. What's most important is to ask yourself if you are living a life that aligns with your values!

Q: LinkedIn style - If you were to give advice to your 22 year old self, what would it be?

Mallika: When you see an opportunity, take advantage of it!

Follow Mallika Chopra at @mallikachopra, and check out the other interviews in Going Against the Flow series at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charu-sharma/ or thestartupsutra.com.