While most people have spent the past year debating who’s the ‘lesser of two evils’ between Donald Trump and Sec. Hillary Clinton, deciding if black lives matter (hint: they do), or mourning the loss of America’s favorite primate, Harambe, Rupa Dash has been actively preparing for public speaking.
Dash, an Indian-American, is a University of Arkansas at Little Rock MBA student and an unapologetically accomplished businesswoman. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of World Woman Foundation and is associated with Brillstein Entertainment Partners, an entertainment management group in Hollywood. She is also recognized by the White House as the first Indian-American Managing Director of the World’s Largest Women Entrepreneurship Network. Despite her accomplishments, Dash is afraid of speaking publicly in front of large groups of people.
“It’s scary to put yourself in a spot and let other people judge you,” Dash said. “The moment you are there in the spot, you are telling people to judge you. That was the scariest part of overcoming that fear.”
Armed with a mission to overcome her fear of public speaking, Dash jumped at the opportunity to compete with other students in the TEDxMarkhamSt Student Speaker Competition in February. She beat six other competitors, which granted her first place and a coveted spot at the TEDxMarkhamSt event in late September.
“My agenda for speaking at TEDx was to overcome my fear, and it gave me an opportunity to inspire and engage with the audience in a meaningful way,” she said of her 18-minute talk.
TEDxMarkhamSt is a program of local, self-organized events designed to help communities, organizations and individuals spark conversation and connection through TED-like experiences. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks.
Poised with confidence and pragmatism, her speech emphasized a message that anyone, especially women, can become great business leaders if they remember common sense.
“Commonsense being the heart of my entrepreneurial journey, I know very few companies stumble into a winning formula by simply throwing out ideas and testing them in a proverbial vacuum,” Dash said.
“Common sense can help a company plod along. But, by developing a distinctive commonsense system, companies can soar past their competitors. The core of everything I do deals with common things that has been strength of my company and finding ways to repeat and rinse the process for elevating the success of the company.”
The message and value of common sense is at the core of how Dash has formed her businesses and her outlook on life. She notes that common sense is an ordinary thing but is hard to find in day-to-day life.
“Common sense is a consciousness and understanding of a situation that everyone must have, to make the world a better place,” said Dash.
“You might find commonsense as a noun in dictionary but for me commonsense is an action word. Keep acting on it and apply more commonsense for soaring success.”
For the next seven months, Dash practiced perfecting her speech five to six hours a day. She credits the help of UALR’s Department of Applied Communication’s Communication Skill Center in helping her find the confidence to deliver a powerful speech.
“Very seldom have I experienced having a student who is as motivated to improve her speaking skills as Rupa was and is. She has continued to ask questions and pursue different strategies for building relationships with her audience.” said Dr. April Chatham-Carpenter, department chair of UALR’s Department of Applied Communication.
This TEDx opportunity has opened the door for the future of Dash’s career in the public speaking arena. Even before the TED event, she was invited back to India to be a keynote speaker at an international film market sponsored by the United Nations where she advocated for gender equality in the film and entertainment industry.