We had the good fortune of connecting with Preethi Chandrasekhar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Preethi, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Several years ago I completed my post graduation in Business Administration with an MBA and went to work for my dream company, Johnson & Johnson as a Brand Marketing Manager. It was a dream career. I was on the management path, looking forward to being a director or VP one day perhaps. Except I was miserable for the entire year and a half of working in that environment. For 6 months during that time my unhappiness festered within my body and I was hospitalized several times for severe pain in my abdomen area, once a month. Finally Stanford Hospital doctors found the growing cyst and I had immediate surgery to remove it. I was then diagnosed with Endometriosis, a painful condition with several symptoms including recurring debilitating abdominal cramps. Within a month of that surgery, I quit my job and stayed home for about 8 months wondering what to do with my life. I knew then that I needed a work life balance. Climbing the corporate ladder and taking part in the Silicon Valley (or anywhere really) rat race was of no interest. But I still needed a job so I took a consulting gig 8 months later with a Marketing/PR agency. And I started The Eager Traveler website on the side to document my travels. Since then I have re-designed my life around a remote job (the same consulting gig) where I can work from anywhere in the world. This flexibility allows me to travel as much as I want, as long as I can work from where ever I am. Since I quit Johnson and Johnson, everyday has been like a weekend for me. And that, for me, is the definition of work life balance. In 2020, I incorporated the Eager Traveler as an LLC and in 2021 I got paid to travel, realizing my long-time dream. So work life balance is incredibly important to me because I believe that when you are stressed or unhappy it gets reflected in the body as disease. Work life balance has become a lifestyle choice for me and is the key to living a healthy life.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
As an Indian girl growing up in India, there are certain cultural norms and societal expectations I’m supposed to follow. And I did follow them for a long time. I really wanted to study literature or journalism but I went into Management Information Systems and later completed my grad school and got a Masters in Business Administration. I took up a tech job and worked for some big global names. I wasn’t necessarily happy though. I KNEW I was meant for something else, not necessarily corporate life. When I started my content creation company, TheEagerTraveler, I was filled with doubt. Could I really get paid to travel?! I knew it was an actual possibility because my peers in the travel industry were doing it and making money. But was it for ME?! So I didn’t really take it seriously for a while. But in 2020 when COVID hit, I started doing what gave me happiness. Which was adventuring in the outdoors and writing about it and photographing the landscapes. Suddenly, the audience started taking an interest. I started to grow. I decided to invest in myself and took up some online courses around the content creation industry including branding, photography etc. And the brands starting coming with paid work. Today in 2021, 99% of my assignments were all paid and I made a 5 figure income. It wasn’t easy because I had to overcome self doubt, imposter syndrome, cultural expectations to believe in myself and to keep going. I leveraged my support system that consists of other content creators and a few friends who really believe in me to overcome these challenges. I’ve learned that building a community is SO important. To me it’s community and collaboration over competition. I firmly believe in giving back and just as other creators have helped me I try to pay it forward by helping others get paid assignments/tourism board contacts etc. I’ve also learnt consistency is key to success. Even when some days seem bleak, or you feel like you’re not going to make it in this industry, keep creating, keep engaging, keep posting. And remember, you never know who is watching you, who is listening to you. That someone could open doors to your next big opportunity! As an Indian girl, my brand is really about discovering the outdoors, exploring the outdoors in a way that is comfortable to me. I didn’t grow up in the outdoors camping and backpacking so a lot of it is intimidating for me. But I’m here to document and share my journey and to hopefully normalize the outdoors for others like me and make it more inclusive than it is today.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents and my husband deserve a lot of credit and recognition – they are just SO supportive and for an Indian girl to go off the path and not be a doctor or engineer and instead be a travel writer/photographer – they’ve always encouraged me so it’s been a joyful journey! I also have to say the Instagram community has been so supportive, people like Christina from @macs_explore is a great mentor and other creators like Renee from @reneeroaming, Sarah @askaconcierge, Michelle @thewanderingqueen, Mahna @maza.travel, Jen & Ryan @walkaboutcouple, Alexandra @alexandra_talty and others (too many to mention here honestly) have been so encouraging.
All are mine