Dismantling The Employment Process – Ep.30

Reaching DEI – Ep.29
June 2, 2021
Amplifying Housing Literacy – Ep.31
June 23, 2021

Urvi Bhandari is the Co-founder of Peppercorn.ai, and an innovative career coach who supports each candidate on their career journey. She explains how to remove the stereotypical “cookie cutter” resume model in the recruiting and retention process using self-awareness to blossom within each job seeker to match their passions with their next career move.

Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to The Jali Podcast, I’m your host Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion and equity. Each week, I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share, or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started. This week, we’re joined by Urvi Bhandari. Urvi is a master connector, emotionally wealthy, and a nomadic personality. She’s a 20 year reformed Fortune 10 corporate executive, and the consistent thread in her career is her innovative mindset. Her mindset is driven by her nomadic lifestyle and connecting dots on a global scale. Her vast network and the trusting relationships she has built over the past 20 plus years, continue to collaborate with her and others to build the future of tomorrow. 

She’s the co-founder of Peppercorn.ai, a recruiting technology platform focusing on the candidate first. Peppercorn’s first product is an online career coach guiding candidates through a journey of self-awareness to develop their marketing portfolio, so they can focus on finding the right role that matches who they are, what they offer and where they’re going. The focus of Peppercorn is to provide individuals with the ability to find fulfilling professional roles in their life journey, and become engaged employees for the businesses they work in. She’s built her advisory services as an executive coach or VB upon the passion of changing the paradigm of how we live, work and play by connecting people, places, and projects across the world. She’s the bridge between ideas and action with a focus on the human element. 

Her previous corporate experiences include Global GPM strategies and building out new organizations within operations, marketing and sales. She’s led successful innovation teams at both Walmart and AT&T. She focuses on reality versus the path we’re expected to follow. She’s a connector between the past present and the future. Integrating the human element into the technological and cultural paradigm shifts happening in our world to individuals or organizations. One longterm project is to build floating cities, providing a new life platform for innovators, futurists, global thinkers and nomads. Even though she works all the time, her biggest priority and emotional wealth comes from her life partner, his two kids, her parents, and a very large life family across the world.

Urvi is an avid endurance athlete training for her third Half Iron in September 2022. She used to live a very nomadic lifestyle and it continues in her personality and ways of thinking. She’s based in Silicon Valley with her French partner and his kids where they may spend many weekends hiking in the California Outdoors or playing Civilization IV. Please join me in welcoming Urvi Bhandari. All right, so I am so excited to have Urvi, you join me this week because you have such an interesting bio as everybody has heard. The first thing I wanted to ask you is, so what does it mean to be a master connector, emotionally wealthy and the nomadic personality? What does that do for you? Because it sounds wonderful, like a place of ecstasy somewhere.

Urvi Bhandari: What a great way to … Meet some ecstasy, that’s the first time I’ve heard that, but thank you for having me Melyssa. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Urvi Bhandari: Those three phrases that I use for myself are kind of the intro that I say to anybody, especially on a piece of paper, not necessarily when I meet somebody, but those three things are the crux of who I am. Being a master connector, I realized a long time ago that I love meeting people, but I love meeting people not just because of the joy that I get from learning something new, but it’s because I like to connect them to each other. And I get a joy in seeing other people connected together. Two funny stories. One is, I’ve connected people that when I realized they’re connected, I’m like, “Oh wait, how did you get connected?” And they’re like, “Urvi you connected us.” And I’m like, “Oh yeah. Which is why I’m thinking you should be connected.”

Or the other funny story was over a six month time period, I met two different people that were doing algae farming, and this was like six years ago. Algae farming who needs people who are doing algae farming. I mean, it’s there, I know it exists, but I wouldn’t expect to meet two people like that. And so I met them over a six month period and I connected those two people. That’s the best thing about my network that I believe is that, it’s so diverse. I’m just going to use that general word diverse, but it’s so complex and in depth. If you’re looking for some type of person, I probably have that person in my network that I could connect somebody to, so that’s what being master connector is. 

Emotionally wealthy is I would say more of the personal side of that, which means that my life is made out about my biological family, but then also my life family. Life family is what other people may call their tribe or the chosen family and all that kind of stuff, which leads into nomadic personality so I’m going to kind of bring them together. I moved around most of my life. The longest I’ve stayed somewhere was four and a quarter years, and that was in my twenties. At this point, I still haven’t broken that record, Silicon Valley may become that place. In the meantime, my average is like two or three years. The shortest time I’ve stayed somewhere is two months. 

So that’s part of that nomadic piece of me and what happened is that I didn’t actually build a real group of friends in my life until my thirties, I realized that these people accepted me for who I was. And part of it was because I was consistent with who I was actually another funny story is my friends call me consistently inconsistent. Meaning, at least they know I’m inconsistent, but I’m consistent about being inconsistent. Right?

Melyssa Barrett: Right. They know what to expect, not the expected. 

Urvi Bhandari: Exactly. So they became my life family though. I will say, even though I say my thirties, there are two people from my early twenties who are now a part of that life family that I’ve known for that long, but it probably wasn’t until my thirties that we came back together and they became part of my life family also. But to me emotionally wealthy means no matter where I’ve been financially, whether it’s doing really well or rebuilding my wealth, by the way, this all happens when you have a nomadic lifestyle is because you keep everything liquid. You never really invest, you never really do something. So you’re always kind of spending that money that you’re making, even though you could make a lot of money. And so I’ve constantly going through this financial up and down. 

But what I realized is that my emotional wealth, which is these people, doesn’t go up and down, that just has continued to build. The only way I would lose it and hopefully I can use this word, the only way I would lose probably life family is if I was an asshole to them, right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.

Urvi Bhandari: Otherwise they know me for who I am. I don’t necessarily sit in the bounds of the day-to-day kind of relationships most people are used to, but that’s who they know me as. They know me as that person, they know I’m there, I know that they’re there, and I know they love me for who I am. And so my emotional wealth is something nobody can take away. Your financial wealth will go and come, but your emotional wealth is something people cannot take away. The only person who can take it away is yourself. And then the nomadic personality I used to actually say, I’m just a nomad, but it’s a nomadic personality because I am now in Silicon Valley. And I am in quotes, settling out here, at least for the next seven years. I’ve already been here three years, so full 10 years. 

And so the nomadic personality has … it’s still a part of my personality to be in many different things in places and all that kind of stuff. It’s not that I’m unfocused. It’s just that I do like different things that I’m constantly learning. And that was a part of my kind of nomad lifestyle, which is now part of my personality. 

Melyssa Barrett: Well, and it’s so interesting because I feel like you live such an intense life and I mean, I listened to you on as we’ve connected and it’s like, what you do in a day feels like what most people do in a month or something. I mean, but then you talked about like you take your downtime and I’m like, wow, how do you do that?

Urvi Bhandari: I would burst the myth of saying that I actually do a lot in a day and it’s not. It’s not that I do a lot in the day, it’s just that I’ve done so much self-awareness that I know who I am. So what I say, I’m going to do, I do, that’s something I’ve been very strong about is I’ve always been about follow through, even though I will say this, in the past the follow-through could take a little bit longer than what it should be, but at least I follow through. Maybe it might be six months later, but hey, I still do it. It’s like telling my partner, my life partner, or even my business partner, “If you want me to do something, I will do it, I promise you I’ll do it. However, if you have expectations of a certain timeline or deadline or whatever, you need to tell me that, because if you don’t tell me that I’m going to do it on my timeline.” 

Which may not meet your expectation, which could create some issues, blah, blah, blah. So going back to what you’re saying of what I accomplish in a day, I would say I probably do less than most people a day. I’m proud to say that, and I’m okay saying that. Because I do believe every day I do something to get to wherever I to get to, which then allows me 10 years later to say, “I did all this.” But I’m not stressed out about it day in and day out. And part of that mentality comes from, I am a future forward thinker and so right now for these 10 years, I live in today. But in the past, I’ve always lived in the future. Meaning I do things differently. I live differently, I think of things differently. 

And so what happens is that on a day-to-day basis, I know that there’s things I want to accomplish, but I know it may not happen day to day, but I have to do a little bit everyday. And yes, you’re absolutely right. I actually say probably more downtime than anybody else. So very rarely will I actually opened my computer for work after dinner, because to me, once I’ve had my dinner, and we’re finished by seven and we don’t go to sleep till 11. So from seven to 11, which actually is a lot of hours when you think about it, I might do mindless stuff or I might just sit down, maybe play a game. Sometimes I won’t even read because even reading, it feels like too much for my brain. As a family, we might do things as a family. We’ll watch TV as a family, whatever. 

Family dinner is every day we have dinner together, that is not something that’s going to go away. Hopefully it doesn’t go away when the kids are in high school. I crossed my fingers in that, but that actually, I would say that time helps me be ready for the next day. Helps me ready for the future, helps me process. Therefore, maybe I am accomplishing more because I get that time to have a downtime and not be stressed out.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. I think that’s probably your secret weapon.

Urvi Bhandari: That’s probably my secret weapon. My partner is stays busy and likes to stay busy and you know what? He accepts me for me taking my downtime and I accept him for doing things his way. There’s no right or wrong to it. It’s just that I realized what works for me and I know that if I’m constantly stressed or I’m constantly just trying to catch up or whatever it doesn’t work and I’m not at my peak.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. That’s awesome. Those are great tools, especially based on all the things that you’re focusing on now, because you really embody when you start talking about executive coaching and creating the life that you want and all of those things. I’m really intrigued with so many of the things that you’re doing when it comes to not only diversity, equity and inclusion, really people of color advancing within corporations, but also in terms of just connecting the whole person and the integration of the human element as you call it. Which I think in some cases, companies have been trying to do for some period of time. And now it’s like you, as the paradigm shifter are seeing people and encouraging people to actually make the paradigm shift. 

So maybe you can talk a little bit about kind of what you’re doing as co-founder of Peppercorn and your executive coaching practice and how it really integrates that social impact that I think you’re connecting with for these corporations on a much larger scale.

Urvi Bhandari: Absolutely. I’d start the whole answer with, I personally believe self-awareness is the key to all our solution … is the key, yes, is a key to finding all our solutions. I say that for many different reasons, which is why Peppercorn is there, why my executive coaching practices there is for me, I’ve worked in innovation basically in corporations for the last 15 years, I’ve worked for 20 years. But one of the things that I focused on was people and processes. And as much as I’m a people person, I’m actually very operationally driven also. And so bringing those two together, which is almost two different sides of the coin is an interesting mix that most people don’t see. 

What I’ve done in the innovation is that it wasn’t my job to execute on the innovation. It was, “Hey, we’re building a new team. What processes do we need to put in place, what people should be bringing in,” things like that and then once it’s set up I leave. That’s my sweet spot, is building out the organization. And, oh, by the way, I’m not even the one deciding what the innovation should be. I can give a little bit of input, but I’m not really that decision maker. I’m just there to bring in the people in the processes. If we look at the world today, whether it’s how we live, work or play, especially in how we live, but especially in our work, things are changing faster than the human mind can actually manage. 

And so when we look at it from, [crosstalk] Oh, yeah. I mean, even technology is like sometimes making hiccups because it’s like, wait, hold on, did we miss something here? But yes, you’re absolutely right. So we used to, I’ll be very kind of specific but anyone Gen X and older, we mostly grew up with a pack. You do this, you go to college, you get a job once you’re in a job you need to do certain things, so you can continue to grow in your career. The goal is always you need to get some leadership or for some people it’s, hey, I’m good at this. I’m going to stay at this kind of execution level, whatever on the person. But there were paths, and there were very specific paths. 

Now, if you go look today, we know that there are jobs that exist today that did not exist two years ago, they’re going to be jobs tomorrow or two years in the future that don’t even exist today. And we can’t even define what they would be. So now we look at this paradigm shift and we say, okay, so then how do companies decide what kind of people should be enrolled, how do candidates or individuals decide where they want to go. Which is where my coaching practice started, because I specifically focused on helping people figure out what’s next. But we figured out what would be next based on two things. One was radical self-awareness. So going in deep diving and say, who are you? And based on who you are, where do you want to go? And based on where do you want to go? What are you offering? 

Think about a resume for now. And a resume is basically, hey, this is what I did, period. That’s all it is. But what if I’m trying to do something differently in the future, then why would I write, first of all, why would I write a resume? Because a resume is only what I did. But okay, if we have a resume wouldn’t you want to write it as, oh, but this is where I’m going, because I’m showing you the skill sets and experiences I’ve had that make me a better let’s say operations person. I talked about me being operations, but I also have a deep marketing background. So let’s say I was a marketer and I’m going to become an operations’ person. I could write my resume as a marketer and say, or the old way, which is, hey, I did campaigns, I worked with creatives, digital marketing, the marketing’s peak. 

Or I could say, “You know what? I worked on X number of campaigns with these types of budgets on these types of deadlines, with this many type of different constituencies, and this is how I made sure everyone was motivated.” Sounds very operational, it’s still a marketing role, but hey, I’m telling you now, so what we’re doing is taking it even one step further and saying, “Forget about resumes.” We’re saying as a candidate … but because by the way, Peppercorn focuses … So that’s where Peppercorn came in. There is a baseline that I was doing as a coach with, as coaching for my clients that could be codified. And so we said, let’s codify it, but then let’s put it into an application, which is where Pepper came in. Because we need more and more individuals to go through that self-awareness journey. 

Most people don’t think about going and getting a coach, most people don’t understand what a coach is providing. But the fact of the matter is if somebody could do this on their own, then actually they’re even more primed for having a coach. So in some ways, we’re also trying to give coaches more primed candidates, because they’ve gone through that baseline of saying, oh, this is part of what a coach is doing for me. But a coach will also become a sounding board, because we’re just trying to provide the technology to open people’s mind. Now, what Peppercorn is also trying to do is, hey, as a candidate, you’re getting yourself awareness. You’re seeing your values, your cognitive abilities, what kind of cultures you want to work in? What matters to you from what you’re doing day in and day out. What’s your compensation? What’s your benefits, all that kind of stuff. 

If you take that data and compare it to a corporation being asked those same questions, now you’re going beyond keywords and this resume and a job description that by the way, I believe most job descriptions are not even valid. They’re usually generic, nothing is HR but they’re usually given by HR because HR has their own prescriptive that they need to do. And so you’re asking candidates to write these keywords and matching against that which at the end of the day if that’s your first level of matching, you’re going to either go through a lot of people or you’re actually taking out a lot of people that could potentially be good candidates for you for the better right candidates for you.

So going to the human element, which you talked about, we’re trying to say a person is not just a resume. A job is not just a job description. It’s about all these other attributes that you need to match together to say, at least for that first level of matching, you need the whole person. But a person can’t tell who they are unless they’re radically self-aware. But by the way, that’s not just radically self-aware individual, it’s company, because we want the companies to do the same thing. We want to go back to them and say, “You’re going to be answering the same questions.” Which means you need to know a little bit more about who you are and what you’re offering and where you’re going. And you may not be able to …

Melyssa Barrett: As a company?

Urvi Bhandari: As a company. You may not be able to fully define it, which is why we’re going to guide you in how to answer that. But at the end of the day, both sides need to have this awareness and go beyond this job description and a resume. Now, by the way, how many people are actually writers, most of us are not. So why are you asking a hiring manager to write a job description or HR to write a job description. Why are you asking candidates to write these resumes, when if we could just get these attributes in a different way in an easier way, and then match, you’re bringing in so much depth to then start then the interviewing process and all that kind of stuff. Hopefully in the long run, there’s even more technologies and more things that happen that even change, maybe even the interviewing process. Right now, all we’re looking to do is, hey, we need to move away from this whole job description resume type matching and go in a different direction.

Melyssa Barrett: Oh, I love that. Talk about a shifting paradigm. 

Urvi Bhandari: Yes.

Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome. Nobody has to do resumes anymore. You can just match based on attributes. It sounds like speed dating or something. 

Urvi Bhandari: Interestingly enough, I love to say it’s like the OkCupid of jobs. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Urvi Bhandari: Because OkCupid is not a swiping mechanism, they really do say, “Hey, what is your answer to this question? And, oh, by the way, what are you willing to accept as an answer from the other person? And, oh, by the way, how important is this to you?” So now yes, you’re really getting into the person or the company and being able to match beyond just a keyword or marketing or finding which are key points.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. Well, and I think it’s so interesting that you talk about being radically self-aware in so many different ways, because I think if you’re a Gen X like me or older, you tend to just think about that pathway. Well, certainly at times, at least, you may not have been able to bring your full authentic self to the table. And so now we have all of this focus on mindfulness and mental awareness and all of those things that really bring us to the table in a real way that allows us to really communicate and create our voice, which I think is awesome. So it’s almost like when I talk to you, I feel this amplification of voices that maybe haven’t been heard for so long. And now you’re talking to these senior leaders who are reaching back. 

And so, one of the questions I wanted to ask you was with all of the work that you’re doing, how does that change the way we think about networking or mentorship or sponsorship based on … because I think in a lot of ways people think about networking and they go, hey. But you are very different about the way you network, you’re like, I want to meet this person and I’ll just pick up the phone and talk to them. A lot of people don’t do that.

Urvi Bhandari: No they don’t. And you know what? I could probably say 15 years ago, I wouldn’t do it. Partly because I was early in my career or whatever, but even people who are early in their career, the way I tell them that they can that and feel confident to do that again, you may not get responses, but the thing is the way you become confident is again, goes back to the self-awareness. Part of what I do with clients or even through Peppercorn is, it’s not just becoming self-aware it’s then putting that into your story. That whole bio in the sentence that you have for me, that’s come through years of being able to say, “Okay, this is who I am. And this is how I want to want people to perceive me. I’m going to give them words and data points to be able to do that.” 

Actually you asking me that question first, what does it mean to be emotionally wealthy and I’m nomadic personality and master connector. I do that because maybe people don’t know the definitions of them. But if I put that out there, they’re going to ask me the definitions right?

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Urvi Bhandari: And maybe they perceive their own definitions, which is fine. Also, at least I’ve put it out there, but most people, I will say 99% of people will ask me, what does it mean? Which is the reason I’ve actually done it. Because that’s why I want them to see as the first thing of me, whether it’s professional, whether it’s personal, whether social, well, usually socially, somebody’s not going to see my bio, but you know what I’m saying is that those are things that come out pretty quickly because I lived those things, which is why I wrote, I don’t write those things to them live it. I lived it and then created the words to portray what I live.

So I practice what I preach too. Everything I do with clients and candidates is stuff that I’ve done myself. And so when we can get people to become clear and competent with their story as a candidate or an individual, it makes it easier to go to someone because you’re giving them a lot more information than just saying “Hi, I’m Urvi” and …

Melyssa Barrett: Well, and it’s interesting because you’re almost creating your own attributes and you’re giving them the attributes of who you are, so that when they see whatever it is that they want you to do, they connect the dots.

Urvi Bhandari: Exactly. It does give a little bit more, I mean, if you really think about it, it gives a little bit about my personality. Okay. So if I’m a connector and I’m a pneumatic [inaudible] use the word nomadic personality, but you’re going to be like, okay, I probably don’t want to put her on one project for like 10 years, [crosstalk] or even on one project for like six months. Here’s a great story for you. This is how much I knew myself. So my co-founder, I would actually work on any business with her prior to three years ago. And it has nothing to do with her. It’s meaning why I wouldn’t do it past three or again in the last three years is because prior to three years ago, it’s not that she’s changed. 

I would do any business with her because I know she’s the right co-founder for me, there are skillsets that she has that I don’t have, that are more comfortable for her, their skillsets I have that she doesn’t have. But it’s because my thing her was I have to do something that I know I can stay engaged with for a very long time. I’m at that point in my life that I don’t want to just build a company or do something just because it’s a paycheck or it’s a potential paycheck or whatever. I want to do it because it’s who I am, it’s what I already do, and it can make an impact. And so when we decided what we were honing in on, I said, “Yes, this I can do.” Because this is actually coming off of my own practice and helping me scale a part of the practice. 

Even though it’s not part of the practice, but it’s scaling something that I had been doing that I got a lot of joy from. And so now the Peppercorn platform in the long run makes me feel joyful because I don’t mind building it and going deep. Remember I told you I was the person who actually usually built out a team and now I’m actually building from the ground up and actually working and executing and being an operator in a company. But it’s because I’m very connected to why we’re doing it and what we’re building. And that makes such a big difference, because going and working somewhere where I’m just doing a functional role or I’m building from the ground up for the sake of doing it is not going to give me joy and I’m not going to be engaged with it. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. Let’s pause for a moment. We’ll be right back. So when you talk about sponsorship and advocacy, the way that you’re talking about that kind of radical self-awareness both for people, employees, as well as the executives and the company as whole. Ideally you end up with people that match what they want to get out of life, but also really connect into I call it the social impact of who I am and what I want to do, whether you want to call it passion or whatever. But at the end of the day, it’s like when you, as a company have created that connections, it’s like every one is your ambassador. 

Urvi Bhandari: Exactly. So going back to your sponsors and I realized I didn’t quite answer that question. At the end of the day, when we think about how fast things are moving, one of the conversations I was having with folks almost six, seven years ago, which is just starting to pick up, is the whole upskilling, reskilling. Making sure that we can take people that we already know in our companies and make sure that they’re ready for the future. But I would almost say, well, one, we need to do it more so as career counselors inside of companies. So we want to talk about sponsor mentorship, we really need people in a company that maybe don’t sit in HR maybe they could spend, I don’t know. 

I’m not quite sure yet, but they need to be there because they’re really honing in on your employee because you want to support your employee to continue their success in your company, but you want to keep them engaged. You want to keep them engaged because that engaged employee is a lot more beneficial to you as a company than just continuously bringing in new people, because culture does matter. People relationships do matter. And so why would you not want a loyal brand ambassador engaged employee, versus I need to bring in somebody new, well, that person can leave on a dime too.

Melyssa Barrett: That’s true and you spend a whole lot of money bringing them in.

Urvi Bhandari: Bringing them in, ramping them up. But what if this person has a mindset and a way of working and thinking and all that, and all you need to do is support them in that journey to transform. And they’re willing to be with you because they’ve been with you. Not only that, they are now even more positive about you because you’ve supported them on your journey. And oh, by the way, it’s because you know what they want. It’s not just, I’m telling you to re-skill, up-skill, we’re stepping one step backward and saying, what is the voice of the employee? Can we know what the voice is so then we can then match it with based on where we want to put our organization? Versus leadership in an organization doing the reviews and performance reviews and using that to just say, “Oh, well, that person I think should go here.” 

You need to find out from the person just because they’ve done all that doesn’t mean that’s what they want to keep continue doing. It doesn’t mean they want to keep going on the path that says, it’s the next generation of what they’ve been doing. What about what else they have, and could you be putting them somewhere else? 

Melyssa Barrett: So true. You’re singing my song sister.

Urvi Bhandari: But it’s also important for and I think you and I have talked about before, it’s one thing just to get the voice of the employee, it’s also leadership needs to learn how to engage with all these different types of people that are not like them. Leadership has its own path. And once we become leaders, we’re in a learning different world. And the fact of the matter is being a good leader also means, okay, but how do I go back to my teams and understand them and hear them? How do I make sure I can be vulnerable and let them know what perspective I’m coming from? Because the more I can just, again, going back to the self-awareness. 

I think a lot of leaders are aware of themselves. I don’t know if they’re just like fully self aware or fully radically self-aware to then be able to say, I’m okay being vulnerable, because I’m going to let my team understand where I’m coming from. Because if I give them that language, then my team will be more willing to tell me where they’re coming from or where they want to go or what their perspectives are. Instead of just feeling like, oh, leadership is saying this, we just got to do it, and then feeling disillusioned. 

Melyssa Barrett: [crosstalk] at the end of the day, I mean, they have to own it. So that’s awesome. What great information nuggets that you are providing. So I do want to ask you this question though, you talked about being a nomad and not being in a long-term project. So when you’re talking about building floating cities, that is clearly a long-term project. What is a floating city?

Urvi Bhandari: So the floating cities idea germinated, I want to say almost now eight years ago. So it was a South by and I was talking to somebody and was like floating. I was still nomad. I said, “I want to have a home that’s on a ship, so that my home goes with me. So as a nomad, my home goes with me.” Just because I’m a nomad it doesn’t mean I don’t want a home, it’s just that I want to be a little bit more not rooted in a home.

Melyssa Barrett: Mobile. 

Urvi Bhandari: I want to be mobile. So when you think about it, it’s cities on ships, so nomads like me having a home that goes with them, that was the statement. And I originally thought of it as maybe container ships or whatever, and there’s literally these homes, or even if you think about cruise ships, but maybe a bare spaces rather than a cruise. But to be honest, it’s kind of evolved, but it was always meant to be a place for nomads and for future thought thinkers. What I mean by that is when we look at innovation today and where money is getting invested, people want returns in a decent amount of time that it’s not like another generation. They want that returns like in the next three to five years, kind of a thing, whether it’s grant money, VC money, investment.

Whatever it is, people are looking for those returns to happen now. But you know what? There’s a whole bunch of us who are building 10 years in the future. And we know we’re 10 years in the future, but we are pushed to try to create something today that can generate revenue or can be successful to eventually get to this 10 years in the future. Which from a human element, it’s very against the grain for people that think that way. And so the floating city was also meant to be a place where people who are those really future forward innovators can have a life and have a lifestyle that’s not pushing them to get something out today. 

And so that has now evolved to more so maybe it’s an island, not necessarily a floating city. I do believe that in the next 10 years, we won’t necessarily have all the technology still to make a floating city really be technologically viable. I think there are pieces of it, but I don’t think it’s going to be technologically viable where instead of living in it, we’re going to be more building it. And I don’t want it to be about us building it, I want us to be living in that lifestyle. And so we’ve thought more, so I say, we it’s just people I talk to over the years, but I’m kind of the keeper of this, is maybe it becomes an island and where there is infrastructure, where there is the ability to have the lifeline, the technology, and we’re building the technology that we’re living in, but it’s a little bit more modern versus a ship because the ship has its own complications. 

But that is something, I’ve always said it’s a 20 year project from the day I talked about it. It is now eight years in I remember I talk about seven years, another seven years being static. And so in about seven years, I will then tell the world that we’re ready to do this, and then I’ll have people who come together and we will build this. But it’s meant to be somewhere where, whether it’s nomads, innovators, future thinkers, it’s just a different society in a way from the main land. 

Melyssa Barrett: I love the way you talk about it though, because it’s almost as you’re talking about it, it’s this built-in inclusivity based on inclusion by design and all of those, I mean, as an innovator, I can already see you thinking like, hey, we don’t need all of these antiquated things. We can completely refresh and redesign what innovation looks like for this island.

Urvi Bhandari: Innovation, lifestyle, how we live, I love telling the story. I’m sure my partner over here you know get red in the face, but my friends know me as the person that doesn’t necessarily follow all the social rules, I guess is the easiest way to say that. 

Melyssa Barrett: A little bit of a disruptor are?

Urvi Bhandari: Yeah. So I would go to a friend’s house, I don’t usually take a gift or whatever. We met with some friends of mine when I first moved out here and my partner took an apple tart, which by the way, he makes amazing apple tarts, and some other stuff of bought some bottle of wine and things like that. And I made sure that I told my friends, I’m like, “So my partner has done all this.” And they’re like, yeah, we know that you don’t do …

Melyssa Barrett: We are not expecting it. 

Urvi Bhandari: We are not expecting it from you. I mean, that’s the level of … don’t get me wrong, I think I know no social norms. I just I’m like, I don’t want to get into it and then have those expectations because I’m not going to do, like, that’s just not how I work. 

Melyssa Barrett: I love that.

Urvi Bhandari: So it’s those kinds of things where I want other people that are like me in many ways to be able to say, no, I don’t have to do the traditional social work. Now, if you want some of them, that’s fine. If that’s who you are and that’s what you want to bring to the table, that’s totally fine too. I’m not saying that it has to be yes or no. I’m just saying more people need that ability to be able to say, but I’m going to do it my way.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. And it doesn’t mean that you appreciate them less. 

Urvi Bhandari: No, it doesn’t mean you appreciate people less, and it shouldn’t be about right or wrong. Sorry, going into another kind of topic here, but I think people think things and people are right and wrong, because they have expectations of what other people should be thinking about topics and people and all that kind of stuff. Don’t get me wrong, there are what I would consider bad people, meaning they hurt others. But at the end of the day, I think in our day-to-day lives, people are not waking up and trying to be mean or trying to be bad or whatever, we’re just different. If we can accept people for who they are a little bit more, which is very important actually in a corporate world or a business where people think no business has to be done this way or a certain way. 

And then we’re closing ourselves off to what people really could be, or bring to the table, then that’s where conflict arises. I’m not saying all conflict, I’m just saying a lot of conflict just comes from the mismatch of expectations and assumptions, and not being able to meet those. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. No, that’s an excellent point. I think that’s why we probably spend a lot of time with employee resource groups and creating awareness and education, and trying to give people a sense outside of the box that they may be living in to engage with others that maybe they’re not used to engaging with.

Urvi Bhandari: Absolutely. For me, I don’t necessarily final people like me and I don’t say that in a pompous way, it’s just, I actually like meeting as many people as I can, because each of us are individuals. The more people I meet, the more data points I get on how people can think and experience. It’s not just theory for me, I get to see it and experience it through people. Because a lot of this is, I mean, it’s written in the books and the psychology books and all that, but experiencing it to me gives me a different insight than just reading it wouldn’t.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. It’s set 2D the 3D effect. Right?

Urvi Bhandari: Exactly.

Melyssa Barrett: It’s like, you’re actually really experiencing it in all of your senses. 

Urvi Bhandari: Exactly. I am visual anyway, so it’s better …

Melyssa Barrett: I mean, honestly, I just think the work that you’re doing is so phenomenal when I think about all the efforts that are being made and the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. And so I just really appreciate all of the thought, the codification of things that you’re doing with Peppercorn and your own executive coaching practice. So I just want to thank you for all that you’re doing in the space. I just have so much appreciated you being here. So hopefully we will get you back again and talk in more detail. 

Urvi Bhandari: Thank you for having me Melyssa, I really appreciate it. I love this discussion too, because I think these are the conversations people don’t even know where to start to have. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yes. 

Urvi Bhandari: And even some of the stuff we’re doing is so future-forward that for right now, our focus is, hey, let’s help candidates become self-aware, let’s help executives become more self-aware, and that’s where we’re focusing. Versus what the eventual vision will be. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, keep up the great work and I look forward to talking to you again and supporting you in your efforts. Matter of fact, before we close, do you want to give people a way to go out and visit Peppercorn?

Urvi Bhandari: Sure, www.peppercorn.ai? 

Melyssa Barrett: All right. There you go folks, so definitely take a look. You’re doing wonderful things early and just keep on rocking it. 

Urvi Bhandari: Thank you.

Melyssa Barrett: Thanks for joining me on The Jali Podcast. Please subscribe, so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.

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