Lifestyle News

Speaking words of wisdom

Life CoachingIn a black sweatshirt, with a potted plant and gentle ambient music in the background, Jay Shetty exhales audibly. Opening his eyes, he addresses the thousands tuned in to Day 20 of his live streamed daily meditation session: “And when you breathe out, with your lips slightly open, really feel the breath come out,…

Life Coaching

In a black sweatshirt, with a potted plant and gentle ambient music in the background, Jay Shetty exhales audibly. Opening his eyes, he addresses the thousands tuned in to Day 20 of his live streamed daily meditation session: “And when you breathe out, with your lips slightly open, really feel the breath come out, hear it,” he says, as live comments pile up, hailing Shetty, thanking him for providing a restorative routine in the midst of a global pandemic. What started as a “random experiment to serve, support and help” has already crossed 10 million views and is now into its second 20-day run.

Jay Shetty

Shetty, a motivational speaker, podcaster and coach with 35 million-plus followers across social media platforms, has built a brand around trying to transform people and companies into the “best versions” of themselves. Except, how do you do that in these times? You keep calm, and carry on, of course. “People have been seeking content to help them deal with stress, anxiety and pressure,” says Shetty, via email. “It is natural to feel fear and uncertainty right now, but it is important we don’t let that turn into guilt and judgement of ourselves. Practical tips are really helping people as they try to navigate a completely new experience.” For ins­tance, he suggests creating a routine, doing exercise and meditation as ways to alleviate uncertainty.

As economic instability looms in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, life coaches, executive trainers and motivational speakers are seeing a rash of concerned clients. Given the global lockdown, employees across sectors are facing job losses, retrenchment and salary cuts. To keep people upbeat and motivated, life coaches are dishing out pithy kernels of wisdom online; through Zoom webinars, YouTube clips, video calls and even live meditation.

Life coaches are generally certified individuals who work to motivate people, maximise their potential, and help them navigate relationships. They work personally with individuals and also deliver talks and workshops for larger groups and corporate teams. They deal in the currency of “empowerment”, relying on key phrases like “mindfulness”, “personal growth” and “positivity” to escort their wards to better places.

Often drawing on their own moments of despair and failure while emphasising life’s vagaries, coaches and speakers now find themselves at the vanguard of the crisis. “As an entrepreneur, I have seen disasters. My businesses failed, I lost money,” says Suresh Mansharamani, a life coach and motivational speaker. “You have to stay energised and positive. This too shall pass. Every crisis has some opportunity.” Mansharamani delivers executive coaching for entrepreneurs and managers, soft skills workshops for employees and speaks to sales teams. For now, much of his work has moved to Zoom, a video conferencing software.

Suresh Mansharamani

In 2009, when the recession hit, Milind Jadhav lost his job. By 2012, though, he had his own company and a burgeoning career as a life coach. “The last time I lost a job, I invented one,” says Jadhav, who has worked with the employees of Citibank, Infosys and HSBC, and does his coaching over the phone. “I am telling people: stay in the present, don’t panic, focus on creating value, this is not the only job for you.” He has coached 262 clients individually over eight years and from across the globe.

Milind Jadhav

For Priya Kumar, a coach, speaker and bestselling writer with nearly 70,000 YouTube subscribers, traffic and engagement with her videos has considerably increased. She has gone from uploading videos twice a month to twice a week, on topics like ‘Lockdown Life Hacks’ and ‘Work from Home Productivity and Professionalism’. She is also getting more requests for leadership coaching.

Priya Kumar

Life coaching in India is a relatively new phenomenon, but has been steadily growing in the past half-decade. “It’s going mainstream,” says Jadhav, who coaches IT professionals, lawyers, doctors and bankers. “There is more awareness about coaching, more people are writing about it, talking about it.”

As people are being forced to innovate, so are coaches. “I am used to travelling, speaking at events, interviewing guests for my podcast and creating content,” says Shetty. “When the lockdown was instated, I asked myself how I could help make a difference.” The comments on his videos indicate their impact: people reflecting on achieving calmness while losing their jobs, finding emotional relief and companionship in the midst of loneliness.

Shetty and others see their role as guiding, responding and being models of focus. “My role is also to lead by example,” says Kumar. Her own personal productivity, she has written three books during the lockdown, may be hard to match though. “Keep your chin up and your eyes on the future.”

Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from

Leave a Comment