If you’ve been keeping tabs on all the MB goings-on, you’ll notice that I’ve brought quite a few new ladies over to Team MB. In September, we met sports reporter Rachel Santschi. In October, there was personal stylist and professional spokesperson, Laurie Graham. This month I’m so very excited to introduce the latest addition to this dynamic group of amazing Behaviorists—Priya Bhola Rathod.
I first met Priya while we worked for a different publication together. I was immediately drawn to her warmth and genuine interest in other people. On top of her welcoming personality, she doled out the absolute best advice about pretty much anything I asked her. She did so with the kindness that comes from genuinely caring about other people and the confidence that comes from knowing your topic inside and out. I quickly discovered that Priya LOVES to research and I could ALWAYS trust her advice, so it made perfect sense to ask her to join Model Behaviors and bring that expertise to our readers. Lucky for us, she jumped right in!
Courtney sat down with Priya to talk about her experiences as an on-camera entertainment host and as a mom of two gorgeous girls. I’m so thrilled to have Priya, and I can’t wait for all of you to get to know her like I do. Please welcome, Priya!
MB: Hi, Priya! To kick things off, could you introduce yourself to our readers and let them know what you do and what you’re passionate about?
PBR: Hi, MB readers! I’m Priya Bhola Rathod and I’m thrilled to be your new Behaviorist. I grew up in upstate NY, lived in Chicago and LA, and now live in Dallas with my husband and two young daughters. After working on the business development side of large media companies and then making the transition to being in front of the camera doing on-camera hosting and reporting, I’m now focused on raising my daughters while still maintaining my career. I’ve always been on a quest to improve myself and grow as a person, but having the girls has brought that to the forefront even more. Above all else I want to be a role model to my daughters, to show them they can accomplish anything, and to empower them to make strong and thoughtful decisions in their lives.
I’m passionate about women sharing their stories and their knowledge with each other. I love helping women find quick answers to those things they don’t have time to do research on themselves—some of my favorite categories being beauty and skin care, parenting, wellness, and personal growth. My friends turn to me for advice quite a bit about a variety of topics. I don’t know if it’s because they know I always want to help, or because they know I do my research when it comes to everything. I will not recommend anything that I haven’t tried myself or done a great deal of research on.
Sometimes it’s crippling when you spend 45 minutes trying to find the best bath toy for your child or the best exfoliator for sensitive skin. But it makes me feel far more comfortable in my recommendations. I’m not just their source of advice but their accountability partner as well. And as much as I can, I want to be an accountability partner for all my readers as well.
MB: At our photo shoot, you mentioned how important it was, after having your two girls, that you find your way back into a steady career. That can be hard to admit, especially for moms, because society and culture often make women feel like we have to choose one or the other. Why is maintaining your career important to you and what do you hope it will add to your life?
PBR: You make a good point. Becoming a mother was one of the most fulfilling and incredible, yet challenging times in my life. All of a sudden you have this baby that very quickly becomes your world. You feel an intense love for them and want to do everything in your power to make their lives the best they can be. You want to fiercely protect them from anything bad that could ever happen to them. My girls are always at the forefront of my mind, and I’m constantly evaluating and questioning if I’m doing the right things for them. I love my time with them (minus the tantrums and crying fits ;)), and having them so close together (17 months apart) meant they both needed a lot of care and attention. I was and am glad I was able to provide that for them. Taking on projects here and there gave me the flexibility to be very hands-on with them during a time that was developmentally very important, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
But there is a side of me that misses the consistency and the fulfillment that I had when I was pursuing my career. I hope that going back to this will be something that brings out the driven side of my personality that existed prior to having children. That’s often hard for women to admit because they think it somehow relays to people that you’re not happy with the person you are now that you have kids. This is absolutely not the case. But becoming a mother doesn’t mean the side of me that wants to be professionally successful, have a sense of financial independence, and work to achieve professional goals went away. The dreams (many of which I have not achieved yet) did not go away! They are still very much alive, and I hope that fulfilling some of those will only make me a better mother to my girls, a mother who shows them they can achieve anything in their lives, and a mother who teaches them to dream big.
I find myself where many women find themselves at this point in their life. Do I want to go back to what I did before? Do I want to try something new? This can be daunting and scary, but exciting all at the same time. Living in Dallas, I have to adjust to the market and find a way to translate my previous experience into what the city offers. Also, some of my criteria are different now. I want a work-life balance, and I want to (as much as possible) be able to be there for the important moments in my daughters’ lives.
My mother went back to work when my sister and I were both very young, and not only that, she did her double masters in elementary and special education while my father traveled domestically and internationally quite a bit for work. My sister is an extremely successful and driven businesswoman who continues to set and shatter professional goals she makes for herself despite battling fibromyalgia. Their strength and tenacity are qualities I wish to mirror for my own children. It’s important the girls see that side of me.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry about what this potential transition could look like. I’ve grown very accustomed to spending a lot of time with my girls, and it’s time I value and enjoy quite a bit. I love taking them to classes and school, and I love being the last person they see before they go to bed. A lot of this I will be still be able to do if I go back, but some of it I won’t. So whatever happens, it will absolutely be an adjustment and one that I’m sure will have its ups and downs.
MB: What you mentioned at the beginning—of having a baby who quickly becomes your entire world—I’ve heard a lot of new moms expressing this in some way or another. Your girls are a tad older now. Do you have any tips for finding balance as a mom, as a wife, and as an individual with her own needs? What does that balance look like for you?
PBR: New moms are nothing short of incredible, and I consider it an honor to be among them. I’m truly excited to be a part of this dynamic group!
I’ve said this countless times and in several different ways, but becoming a mother of two so quickly was simultaneously the most amazing and challenging experience of my life. Many of the things I used to do for myself suddenly disappeared, and it seemed far too daunting to fit them in. But then I realized there were little things I could do that didn’t take much time, and that at the end of the day it was okay—even necessary—to have some “me time.”
Something else I realized is that I like to do the research! What that means is if I’m recommending something to the readers, there’s a very high likelihood I’ve either tried it myself or done an intense amount of research on it.
I want to be an accountability partner to all of our readers! As busy women (and many of my columns may apply to men too ;)), we manage so many things and are always on the move, and sometimes we just need someone to remind us of the little things we can and need to do for ourselves. And other times we are interested in a new product or wellness trend and we just don’t have the time to do the research ourselves. This is where I come in!
I hope readers will get little tips and tricks on everything from beauty, skin care, wellness, motherhood, and much more that they can easily incorporate into their everyday lives. I hope they’ll see me as their accountability partner helping them stay on track and reminding them that they matter too.
MB: I can vouch for you on this! I’ve read your first post, where you’re sharing some of these work-life balance tips to help bring us all into the New Year (the post goes up Thursday). I’ve already started trying two of them, and I can’t wait for our readers to get in on the fun too!
Okay, now I wanted to ask a little bit about Mahila, the nonprofit you’ve started with a few other women. I know it’s still a work in progress, but can you give us a little idea of what it is and why you wanted to start it?
PBR: I grew up with an older sister, and my parents always taught us that if you dream big and work hard, success is inevitable. We were never told that something wasn’t possible because we were women. In fact, it was the exact opposite. We were fortunate enough to be brought up in a time and place where this was the case. This is not the case for everyone. When I heard about these women in India who had the drive and tenacity to start businesses but simply did not have the means to begin, it was a no-brainer to get involved. I’ve always believed in the philosophy of empowering people with the tools to do things for themselves, therefore creating long-term sustainability. Civic responsibility has always been a priority for me, and being part of Mahila allows me the opportunity to give back in a way that’s hugely fulfilling.
Now that I have two daughters of my own, it’s extremely important that I model, not only that they are capable of anything, but also the importance of community involvement. Life isn’t as meaningful when you don’t take the time to help those around you.
Mahila’s mission is to enable women, in India and elsewhere, to advance within their communities. This year’s goal includes funding programs that empower women, through financial inclusion, to work their way out of poverty with dignity and respect.
For their inaugural fundraiser, Open Doors, Mahila has chosen to support Milaap USA and its efforts to create a sustainable impact on the livelihood of poor workingwomen in India. Milaap USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that partners with organizations across different sectors in India to increase financial inclusion for individuals who may not have access to low-cost capital. Since 2010, Milaap has disbursed approximately $6.5 million and impacted the lives of over 176,000 people in India through more than 38,000 micro-loans.
For more information please go to www.mahiladallas.org
MB: I’m going to take it back a little bit to delve in your history. You used to be an on-camera entertainment host in Los Angeles. How did you get into this line of work? And what did you enjoy most about it?
PBR: I’ve always been fascinated by people’s stories. Everyone has a story to tell, and I truly want to hear about it. Whether doing an on-camera interview or meeting someone at a party, I’m the person who genuinely wants to get to know you. I think that (and a love of pop culture and lifestyle topics in general) is what propelled me into on-camera hosting.
I started creating content and working for small digital outlets, and before I knew it, I was covering major festivals and press junkets. Not to sound like a broken record, but what I loved most about it was learning more about people and topics, hearing their stories or finding out what the compelling story was around a particular subject. I value research and preparedness, so even getting ready for an interview or lifestyle piece was exciting to me, not to mention actually filming it and producing it. To me it was always about the connection you had with the person you were interviewing. And listening, truly listening, is key.
MB: For our last question, I like to ask pretty much everyone this because I feel it’s something we each struggle with, at one point or another in our lives. How do you deal with self-doubt? And what advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career like yours but suffers from self-doubt?
PBR: What a great question. Trust me, I’m no stranger to self-doubt, in all areas of my life. The older I’ve gotten, the better tools I have started using to tackle it. I, of all people, know that sometimes it’s easy to give in to the self-doubt or let it take over. It can be crippling and cause you to be unproductive or not try at all. Below is what I do to try to overcome it.
1) Eliminate the talk inside of my head by doing other things.
As you’ll see in my first post, I’m a big believer in doing things that help you improve yourself and also help you become a healthier person, whether that’s physically, mentally, or spiritually. When I feel self-doubt or negative self-talk trying to take over, I focus my energies on shutting it off. I do this by engaging in tasks that I believe are good for my body or soul—meditating, practicing gratitude, spending time with my husband and children, or taking the time to exercise. Sometimes getting your mind off the negativity or doing something that makes you feel good can help you refocus and see more clearly.
2) Surround myself with supportive people.
This doesn’t mean I surround myself with people who only tell me I’m great and I’m going to be successful at everything I do. It means I surround myself with people whose opinions I trust, who believe in me, who will give me praise when they are impressed but also give me constructive criticism when I need it. Having a circle you trust, whether that be one person or five, will many times give you the boost you need to move forward.
3) Put that anxious energy into my work.
Some days I feel like as soon as I have an idea I want to work on or think might be great, my mind immediately comes up with reasons it won’t work, or why it’s actually not a good idea. Sometimes the only way to counteract that is to actually spend time fleshing the idea out, getting feedback from the supportive circle I referred to above, or working on whatever it is you have self-doubt about. If you think you aren’t being a good parent, brainstorm ideas to get more involved. If you think you’re not valued at work, come up with new and innovative projects you can pitch to your boss. Trust me. Giving in to your thoughts and doing nothing is way worse.
My advice to those trying to pursue a career like mine would be as follows.
1) Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Many people see on-camera hosting as a way to get their face in front of people, get attention, or become a recognizable face. Yes, at the highest levels this may be true, but many of those who are extremely successful have a true passion for the industry and areas of the business they cover. Ensure you’re being authentic about why you want to do this and also what subjects you truly love and are passionate about.
2) Take advantage of every opportunity.
When you start out, there will be a lot of grunt work or little pay. I’m not saying do this forever, but in an industry like this, many times you have to pay your dues. Be willing to do so. When I first started, I had a corporate job which I worked hard at and was successful at and which paid the bills, and I would do my on-camera hosting gigs in the evenings and on the weekends just to get experience.
3) Work hard!
There’s no substitute for hard work. Many people think it’s easy to be an on-camera host and just show up and ask questions. But the truth is that those who make it look easy are able to do so because they’re so well prepared. They take the time to do their research. They prep and ensure that they’ve worked hard even before they get to the interview.
4) Believe in yourself.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but you are your biggest advocate. If this is what you want to do, you have to believe in yourself and know that what you bring to the table is unique and valuable.
MB: And this is exactly why we love you, Priya! Welcome to the MB family.