#WCW: Shinjini Das, Global Women's Empowerment Advocate

Shinjini Das (left), United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Invited Panel Moderator March 2016

Shinjini Das (left), United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Invited Panel Moderator March 2016

When we talk about "showing up fully," Shinjini Das is a living, breathing, inspiring example of just what that can look and feel like. 

A go-getter to the Nth degree, Shinjini's resume is packed -- just PACKED -- with impressive goodness from speaking engagements to TV appearances and global ambassadorships. 

If I were a gambling woman, I'd bet this to-die-for track record is because Shinjini presents simply as herself, no matter the situation, and hers is a presence, an energy, an excitement that's contagious. 

I mean, how can you not immediately wanna hang with someone who reaches out with an opening email like, 

"Hi Julia, Hope you are doing well! OMG I LOVE YOU! The Thinking Man's Pin Up! SERIOUSLY, BABEEE! YOU ARE A GENIUS! I AM SO OBSESSED 😘"?

Hard not to get on board with that. 

And it's this level of enthusiasm that fuels this 24-year-old's advocacy for female empowerment, a mission that spans championing girls in STEM, busting through glass ceilings, and gender equality. 

So we went behind the curtain with the San-Francisco-based Shinjini and see how she became who she is, what life as Shinjini is really like, and why self-love is crucial to her success. 

Your resume and attitude are beyond impressive! When did you know that this was the person you were going to become in life?

Tremendous question! When I was entrusted with this wide global platform early in 2015, I promised myself that I would serve humanity in the manner in which I was taught by embodying the values my family instilled in me, including those of class, integrity, morality, and impeccable character. The primary reason I accepted the offer to appear in the media was to create a niche for a powerful and multi-faceted woman of color in mainstream American media whose main mission is to change the world for good, because I sincerely believe that when good people are in public positions of power with the ability to impact millions of individuals, the world has the potential to be immeasurably transformed. 

Let's go back to the beginning. How did you get started as a speaker and advocate?

Trip down memory lane! I first began competitive public speaking with zero formal training in high school at age 15 with my first competition in Original Oratory. Over the years, I gained experience as well as several more accolades and graduated high school as a Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Top 10 National Finalist in Public Speaking. Upon entering Georgia Tech on the President's Scholarship, I decided to major in Industrial Engineering, but still wanted to find a way to continue building my passion for public speaking. In the first few years, I led workshops on public speaking, and eventually, in 2014, I spoke at a couple of high profile events, including being named the Undergraduate Reflection Speaker in front of an audience of 10,000 at the 2014 Bachelor's Commencement Ceremony. After graduation, I was keen to build a professional speaking career parallel to my mainstream career, but of course had no idea how to go about building one! I landed some free gigs in the latter half of 2014, and had them professionally recorded and photographed. The official turning point occurred in March 2015, when I created my website as a public speaker and sent the link via Twitter to a whole host of people. An angel, who I still thank to this day for changing my life, a global social media influencer, was impressed with my work and referred me to sign with a publicist for media coverage. The rest is truly history! I am incredibly grateful for the support I have received from so many amazing souls in the world, and I feel a deep responsibility to utilize my platform to continue driving global positive change.

What setbacks or challenges have you experienced along the way? How did you push through and overcome them?

The number one setback was transitioning from a complete outsider to an insider through the lens of American media and beyond. I am very honest and upfront in admitting that I do not come from a public person background, as in no one in my family's history was a public person or someone involved in any sort of media exposure. In addition, I am an immigrant, so it has been quite a journey to build each and every one of these connections myself or through referral by others. I had to relinquish all notions and feelings of 'not belonging' that are so integral to the immigrant experience. Instead, I have walked head first into creating my own niche in a completely new world. At times, there were frustrations around not being an insider, but to my testament, I do believe that the outsider lens adds tremendous credibility to my portfolio, because the large majority of us are not insiders in the paths we choose. I am proud of myself for trail-blazing a path for hopefully a greater number of women of color to follow in creating the future of American media!

For you, what's the relationship between self-love and ambition?

I consider self-love to be of highest priority in my life. It is quintessential that women of all ages and background learn to love themselves for the uniquely beautiful, driven, world-changing specimens of humanity we are. In our quest to transform the world, ambition is absolutely critical and I have always been supremely ambitious from a very young age. Ambition has served me most successfully in my endeavors, both personal and professional. I believe that ambition is absolutely paramount to continue striving for greater significance and impact in the world! I am happiest when I am striving for more, and I would encourage others to live life through a similar lens.

What has been your biggest win so far?

Towards the end of last year, I was named as 1 of 16 global heroes by a United Nations Partnership, Together for Girls, in honor of my work to empower youth and advocate for gender equality. The biggest win so far was my being invited to the United Nations Headquarters to moderate a panel to initiate discussions on streamlining resources for post-rape care globally. What an experience! I have the utmost respect for the United Nations and each of the heroic men and women fighting each and every day to create a more just world.

You have an incredible portfolio of press coverage and partnerships - UN, HIVE, Usher's Foundation and more. How did you create these opportunities for yourself?

I am very honest in sharing that I have made the first move in the majority of my professional wins thus far meaning that I possess the chutzpah, gumption, resolve, and ultimately, belief to initiate correspondences in reaching out because I believe that I deserve a certain array of opportunities. I want all young women and men to be proud and unapologetic about making the first move in their lives, because go-getters are those who make life happen for themselves, while dreamers wait for life to happen to them. I am proud to be a go-getter!

How do you define success?

Success to me is the evidence of tangible and measurable growth each and every single day!

At what point in your life did you know female empowerment was your passion? How did you decide to pursue it as a career?

My parents instilled in me the values of strength, power, and ultimately, self sustainability as a woman meaning that one should live life on her own terms and obtain financial freedom. I began organically talking about this subject via keynote speeches, media T.V. interviews, and social media messages and was truthfully, extraordinarily overwhelmed with the responses and realized that this is an area which is desperate for role models who are women of substance, who in addition exude glamor, style, pizazz, chutzpah, and a dizzying level of self-confidence. I am overjoyed to lend my voice to the movement in ushering in the next generation of powerful, beautiful, confident, and radiant women of substance in our world.

Coffee, tea or green juice?

Tea! I LOVE the app, Headspace, for a refreshing and rejuvenating 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation every morning before starting the day. Highly recommended!

The book I'm currently reading is...

The Mind of the Strategist by Kenichi Ohma

A GIGANTIC thanks to Shinjini for answering my Q's! For more from her, you can follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram