Padma got married at the tender age of 16, and by the time she turned 17, she had her first son. Despite being a stay-at-home mom she somehow managed to continue her education and eventually graduated with a college degree in commerce.
“There were a lot of challenges in my family,” she says, “including financial problems. Due to the immense pressure on myself and my husband, love and affection vanished and I got divorced at the age of 22. I now had to earn a living as a single mother, so I started a textile business and later opened a beauty salon.”
Padma had to borrow money from private financiers to clear her debt and cover the start-up costs for her business. Interest rates in India were very high at the time. She struggled for nearly ten years, working hard just to pay the interest on her loans.
During those years, she was introduced to several small network marketing companies that offered cosmetic lines.
“I tried them out and made a little money,” she says, “but I quickly discovered there was a lot of hype in the business.” Yet the concept of making sales commissions attracted her and she was open to finding a solid company that offered a sound opportunity.
In 2001, a family friend approached her about a company that was operating out of Malaysia. Padma signed up with him but didn’t take the opportunity seriously.
“I had made a huge investment in my traditional business, with very little results to show for it. How could a business that required so little investment yield any significant return? I didn’t understand the potential, and I encountered the same lack of understanding when I asked others to join me.”
Team Anniversary celebration in Malaysia.
Padma with her two sons, Chetan and Yashwan.
Enjoying her luxury cars.
Majestic entrance of her palace in Chennai, India.
Entrance inside her home in Chennai, India.
Thanks to the support of her upline Mr. Firose Khan, Padma eventually jumped in with both feet, and when she began seeing a return, she started telling her friends.
“My upline warned me that only certain people would be interested in this type of business,” she says, “because you have to build relationships, which is not everyone’s cup of tea.” Her upline taught her that building a business requires a great amount of patience and perseverance because you need to approach lots of prospects in order to find those who want to become your partners. Padma trusted her upline and started talking to friends and relatives, but she was
unsuccessful at recruiting them.
“They said no because they had seen me lose a lot of money in my traditional business. They even tried to persuade me to quit my network marketing business because they believed it would turn into another failed experiment that would cause me to lose more money. I decided to focus on strangers instead, and once others started believing in me, my family came back and showed interest.”
Padma shared the business mainly with customers and vendors who visited her beauty salon and boutique, as well as people she ran into.
“Some were able to see the opportunity,” she says, “and they became my strongest leaders.
“Compared to other types of businesses and industries, becoming a distributor in our company requires only a small financial investment, and this has raised a high level of curiosity and positive response in India.”
According to Padma, a much bigger obstacle than the start-up cost was the lack of belief in most prospects’ minds.
“Indians are often suspicious of Malaysian companies trying to conquer the Indian market,” she says. “Only thanks to the unwavering support of my upline was I able to withstand all the rejection I encountered. But once I began earning commission checks, everyone started believing in me.”
As soon as Padma understood that the business was about educating and empowering others, she knew it was the right path for her. It took her a while to come on board full-time, because she was still involved in her traditional business, but when she began to see the bigger picture of what was possible, she became 100 percent committed to her new venture.
At first, she didn’t read any training materials or books on network marketing. Instead, she simply duplicated what her upline had done for her, working with new sign-ups to build up their belief level until they saw some returns.
“I believe in working the business and putting ideas into practice,” she says, “Even today, I spend most of my time building the business and teaching my team members how to do the same.”
When Padma got started, her upline leader put pressure on her by calling her every day, asking whom she had talked to. He then would show the plan to her prospects and ask her to follow up. As soon as Padma signed up some business partners herself, she did the same thing: she daily checked in with them and made presentations for them, all the while encouraging them to bring in new people and follow up.
During the ten years Padma has been with her company, she has personally signed up only about thirty people, but by helping them succeed, she was able to build an organization of over three hundred thousand.
“I quickly understood that training and motivating my existing group was much more important than accumulating sign-ups,” she says. “Whomever I brought in, I would immediately start working with them and under them until they started seeing returns. Today 80 percent of my leaders are extremely successful.”
Padma built the business simply by giving one-on-one presentations in homes, coffee shops and restaurants. Her presentation was low-key and she naturally inspired trust. She was convincing because she told her own story, which she ended by saying, “With your effort and my support, I guarantee we will succeed.”
One aspect she always emphasized was that the business takes time.
“When I talk to my leaders, especially the new sign-ups, I always tell them that the business is not simply about the capital investment, but rather, it is about the time and commitment they put into it every single day. I ask them for their commitment to stick with me until they start seeing some results, their belief level increases and the system of duplication takes effect.”
Today Padma still works mainly with the thirty leaders she directly recruited.
“There is no need to sign up tons of people,” she says, “as long as you choose the right people and put them to work. If I teach thirty how to sign up their ten or twenty or thirty each, the matrix fills in quickly, generating exponential growth.”
Due to her focus on teaching, Padma has high duplication and low attrition within her organization. The day someone joins her team, she promises to give her support and time until that person’s business takes off.
“Most of my leaders come from modest backgrounds, yet today they are driving their dream cars, they own houses and their families are prospering, all as a result of joining hands with me. They have become more powerful than I, which means I trained them well. This is something I feel very proud of, much more than of the money I’ve made.”
Initially Padma used her upline’s training system, but later she started making her own CD’s in different Indian languages. Today she and her leaders organize big training events all over India, which often attract several thousand attendees.
Padma’s seminars include testimonials and basic training but also cover topics such as commitment, consistency and communication. She has created a guidebook that she sells for less than a dollar to every person who enters the business, teaching them how to create a contact list, how to present the business and how to do follow-up.
This year Padma celebrated her company’s inauguration anniversary with several thousand leaders in Chennai, Bangalore, Cochin, Hyderabad and Mumbai. More team members gathered at events in Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the U.K. and Norway.
“Ten years ago, people across the world were still skeptical about network marketing,” she says, “but today we have proof that the business works. We named our organization Ocean after its vastness, and we enjoy high visibility in many areas because of our car program. There are thousands of cars driving around India with Ocean stickers, from Goa to Rajasthan into South India. Locals often start wondering, ‘What is Ocean?’ and find out it is a network marketing organization. At present, the question in the mind of the public is no longer, ‘Is this a legitimate profession?’ but ‘Which team should I join?’”
Padma with her team leaders.
With her favorite Benz.
Practicing mouna with her team.
Teaching Indian children the principles of leadership.
Receiving an award from company founder Dato’ Vijay Eswaran at company convention in 2009.
Receiving an award from Dato’ Vijay Eswaran at company anniversary celebration in 2007.
Giving a training for 8,000 networkers in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Women and Spirituality
Although Padma’s organization is gender-balanced, she has a pronounced passion for encouraging women to rise above their circumstances and create a better life for their families.
“I believe in the power of women,” she says, “because once a lady commits herself, she can do wonders. In my experience, a focused woman can overcome ten times more adversity than a man. This is because we are mentally strong and balanced. A woman can play the mother’s role and the father’s role, which is a useful talent for building a team. Women are conditioned to help others grow, and once a lady has seen what she is capable of, nobody can stop her.
“Men have too many choices in our society. They are continuously drawn in different directions, but when a lady believes in something, she will stick to that. Helping women succeed gives me a lot of joy. One of my dreams was to become one of the highest female taxpayers on the Indian continent, and last year I actually realized this dream. I received several letters of appreciation from commissioners of the income tax department, congratulating me for my contribution.
“I like to pay a lot of taxes, because I want to help my country and prove that women can accomplish a great deal. My goal is to build exposure for the networking profession and show women what we can do. I want to tell them, ‘If I can do it, all of you can do it. You don’t need to struggle for the rest of your life. This business requires five to ten years of focused effort, and after that you can enjoy passive earnings.’”
Padma is extremely grateful to her upline and company leaders for having been instrumental in transforming her destiny, to the point where she almost sees them as spiritual guides who led her to enlightenment and liberation.
“To me they are like gods, and every day they are in my prayers,” she says. “Because of them, I am living a life of ease and abundance. To me, this is spirituality at work. The root cause of almost all our problems is lack of money. Even most health problems can be solved if you have enough money. Since most people are struggling financially, this business is a god-sent, for it is the only way to truly change somebody’s life.
“When I was faced with financial ruin, network marketing gave me financial freedom. This is the perfect spirituality to me, because it means total liberation. In addition, in order to succeed in this business you have to learn to accept different people and study human nature. This process requires us to expand our consciousness and develop deep compassion for the people we meet, finally leading us to a place where we become balanced and our minds are at peace. From this place, we are available to practice true leadership and spirituality.
“The state of contentment that came as a result of this business is an unexpected gift for which I am even more grateful than for all the financial benefits.”
The most important virtue Padma teaches in her leadership trainings is humility.
“In order to lead people, we need to give up our egos,” she explains. “We cannot work for personal gain. Paradoxically, the minute you forget about ‘I’ and focus on others, automatically the ‘I’ is taken care of.
“Servant leadership is the only kind of leadership that lasts. Playing the role of the expert or the intellectual doesn’t work out there. Be humble and try to understand people’s problems. If you can solve their problems, they will accept and follow you.”
Even during big conferences with thousands of people, Padma does a lot of counseling with the women on personal topics, such as the management of their homes.
“To be successful in business, a lady should first of all be a good homemaker,” she says. “She needs to be an excellent wife and mother before she can be a successful leader. I teach women how to behave in order to be more appreciated by their husbands, and how to convince their husbands to be supportive of the business. I tell my story of how I managed to raise my children while building the business. I always shared meals with them and spent time in the evening, but I coordinated childcare with other family members during the day so I could focus on creating a better future.
“I teach women how to manage their time and become more disciplined. For example, I tell them to hire a servant to do grocery shopping, cooking, washing dishes and doing laundry. A businesswoman cannot afford spending time on housekeeping tasks. For a small amount of money, she can hire someone and make ten times more by investing her time into her business.
“I tell my team not to be surprised at the initial lack of support and understanding from family members. I encourage women to keep building until they experience some financial results, and only then should they introduce the business to their husbands.
“Eventually, a lot of husbands wind up leaving corporate careers to become full-time network marketers. I basically show women how to indirectly involve their husbands so they feel in control of their decision to join their wives in the business.”
Creating the Future
Padma says she achieved all her financial goals and dreams a few years ago, when she acquired a 12,000-square-foot palace in Chennai, state capital of Tamil Nadu, for which she hired a maintenance staff of ten. She treated herself to her favorite Mercedes Benz and BMW, and she bought cars for her sons (the oldest of whom is a car racer who has won a national championship) and her housekeeper. She also purchased several apartments as investment properties.
“I live in a house nobody else could buy,” she says. “I feel so proud because a lot of big shots came to see the estate, but they couldn’t show enough taxable income to qualify for the purchase. Being a network marketer, I proved my annual revenue by how much taxes I paid, and I’ve been living in this palace ever since.”
At this stage of her journey, Padma’s dream is to make sure that everyone who crosses her path understands the transformative power of network marketing. She wants to continue conducting seminars and spreading the word about her company, which she considers to be the best opportunity in her part of the world.
“We welcome everybody to do business here in India,” she says. “It’s a huge market with a billion people, yet it’s a safe country to do networking, and anyone who commits and believes can succeed.
“I especially want to impact the condition of women by helping them become financially independent,” she adds. “Even if a hundred men succeed, no one notices—but if ten women are successful, everybody knows about it. This changes the perception of what we can accomplish.
“By empowering women, we also influence the next generation, because mothers teach their children. This is already happening with my leaders. If you ask their children what they want to do when they grow up, they say they want to become professional networkers like aunty Padma. My eldest son Chethan is one of my top leaders, because he duplicates everything I do.”
Unlike most networkers in other parts of the world, Padma is not a consummate reader of personal or professional development books. Instead, she swears by the powers of the ancient Vedic practice of mouna or silence, brought to her by her company founder Dato’ Vijay Eswaran.
“Ever since I started the business, I have been practicing mouna by myself and with my leaders. We start each day with sixty uninterrupted minutes of silence while exercising the mind in goal-setting, memory building and conversing with the divine. We established a tradition within our organization to never begin a training without doing mouna, and whenever I travel in India, we engage together in this sacred practice.
“Silence and devotion will provide the answer to every problem we encounter, by allowing us to focus the mind, connect with our inner selves and open to the wisdom of the divine.”