In this episode, Rudhir Krishtel joins us to share guidance on mindfulness and wellness for attorneys. He also provides tips and strategies to help with adjustments for those balancing the intense demands of a legal career during the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his lawyer days, Rudhir practiced law for fifteen years as a federal clerk, patent litigation partner at Fish & Richardson, and later as senior patent counsel at Apple.
Today, he is a certified Co-Active Coach and facilitator, focusing on workplace wellness and intensity for law firms and attorneys. Many lawyers struggle with stress and lack of purpose in their practice. As a former lawyer, Rudhir coaches clients and hosts workshops to identify the issues that hold lawyers back from advancing in their career with clarity and fulfillment.
His work during his lawyer days led Rudhir to train as a yoga teacher through the Baptiste Institute and on mindfulness meditation through Warrior One. He also a Professional Certified Coach through the Coaches Training Institute & International Coaching Federation, and uses this training along with his experience as a practitioner to deliver much-needed support for the legal community. Details on Rudhir’s consulting and mindfulness workshops for attorneys can be found at www.krishtel.com.
Teresa Barber: Rudhir, hello, thank you. I really appreciate you joining us today. Could you tell me just a little bit for our listeners… Tell us a little bit about your background as an attorney and a little bit about your consulting practice.
Rudhir Krishtel: Yeah, Teresa, thank you so much, and thanks IMS for having me here. I was practicing law for 15 years. I started at my practice as a federal clerk. I was ultimately a partner at Fish & Richardson in their patent litigation team in the DC office. Then for the last five years of my practice, I was senior in-house counsel at Apple out here in the Bay area where I moved to seven, eight years ago.
Rudhir: After 15 years of practice, I started to notice… What I started to see were cycles of behavior in the practice over 15 years, just ways that we all behave at work that I felt like were somewhat compromising to our practice. I started to notice that we accept that stress is a part, a natural part, of our work life. We wouldn’t get paid as lawyers at the rates that we charge, and we wouldn’t be able to do the work that we do if it wasn’t something that was challenging or stressful, so I totally understood that.
Rudhir: But there’s this interesting relationship where work caused stress, but then stress actually started to impact the quality of our relationships and ultimately the work product. It is this weird cycle where work causes stress but then stress impacts the work. I think everyone just accepted that as the norm, and I felt like this was a dialogue that we needed to have and a cycle in the system that we needed to improve.
Rudhir: It’s when I decided to leave the practice. Three years back I left the practice. I retrained first as a mindfulness instructor and yoga instructor. And not wanting lawyers on their yoga mats all the time, I ultimately trained as an executive coach. Now, I coach attorneys. I have a coaching business that’s Krishtel Coaching. I coach attorneys in their practice one on one, and we identify some of the most challenging aspects of your practice and try to move them out of the way so that attorneys have a more fulfilling practice. I also host workshops. I visit law firms and legal departments and host dialogue on ways that we can start shifting our culture, build a greater resilience, incorporate emotional intelligence and mindfulness practices. I also host online coaching programs and webinars on these topics.
Rudhir: The consulting and the coaching practice has evolved over the last many years. I’ve now coached over 100 attorneys, managing partners at law firms, general counsel at companies, a wide range of attorneys on really how they can be better for themselves and others in their practice and really trying to shift and improve our culture in the legal workplace.
Teresa: Rudhir, it sounds like you identified the need while you were in the boiling pan yourself and didn’t really see anyone meeting those needs. As you’ve worked now for a number of years with clients, especially at big law firms and at corporations in house, what have you seen as the return on it? It sounds like you also had a theory that if we start to apply this, it’s not only going to improve quality of life and wellness and balance, but will also impact work product. I would be interested in some antidotes from clients you’ve worked with so far.
Rudhir: Teresa, what you said first is what I want to tap into a little bit, which is what I did notice during my time at Apple. You make this switch from a partner in law firm to go in house, and we think about it as sort of this greener pasture switch, attorneys going in house. What I notice is I got more senior in the practice. With every level up, growing of the team, salary bump, promotion, whatever it was, every time the further I got up, the lonelier I felt.
Rudhir: It’s very interesting that here we are achieving this so-called dream, and yet I felt somewhat more isolated, and I’m a pretty social person. I’m the person at Fish that was head of recruiting for our office. I’m definitely the person that planned all of the March Madness pools and getting everybody back together outside of work. I’m that person. For me to feel somewhat isolated was really fascinating, to be naturally connected and connecting and yet feel lonely at the same time was a very odd experience.
Rudhir: But I felt it more and more as I got more senior. I started to realize, “Well, if I’m experiencing this, how many other people are experiencing this?” There’s this unique thing that happens in legal practices that we are shrouded in confidentiality and in adversity in this adversarial experience. There’s a lack of trust that we have oftentimes with our colleagues. The thing that’s most challenging for me at work, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable talking to my colleagues about, whether it be a difficulty with a technical issue or a difficulty with building business or a challenge with how I’m managing my team. Sometimes we’re not comfortable being necessarily open about that with our colleagues just because of the legal work environment.
Rudhir: I started to notice this, and I realized I’m so senior in this practice I wish I had my own set of advisors. I’m at this point where I’m generating enough revenue. I’m generating enough revenue for myself that small businesses generate. We’re in the hundreds of thousands now. Some lawyers are in the low seven figures in terms of their business generation and their income. Yet, I don’t know who my closest advisors necessarily are that I just deeply trust.
Rudhir: I started realizing, “Well, if I’m having that issue, there must be other attorneys that are having this issue.” And it becomes even that much more compounded with intersectionality. Now we’re talking about women that might be having these challenges, attorneys of color that might be having these challenges, really everybody. When I started to notice this, I thought, “Here’s a space that I feel like we need someone to step into.” That’s the decision that I made. It’s very interesting. I work with a wide range of clients, and to sort of address your second question, the second part of your question, is it’s just been deeply valuable this work for the clients that I’ve worked with, and it shows up in many ways.
Rudhir: People don’t often think about connecting with… Well, let me say that differently, Teresa. When we have somebody in our corner that is willing to champion us, that is willing to hear us out, that is willing to co-strategize with us, that is sort of a peer in the practice and that has real confidentiality, so much is possible. I’ve sort of seen that with my clients. I’ve seen a lot of growth and evolution on people having much better relationships with their teams, managing their groups in healthier ways, finding ways to solve problems with some of the challenges they face in their teams, interacting with people in a healthier way, becoming that much more adapt at generating business and for people that are looking for some sort of a transition and feeling stuck really having place where they can start to dialogue and strategize and brainstorm on that, and we come up with just incredible directional shifts for people in their life and their business. This practice I feel like has been a huge benefit to the clients that I work with.
Teresa: You touched on something that was interesting to you a minute ago, Rudhir. You were talking about this feeling of isolation, social isolation. We’re talking today and it’s later in March 2020. Back on December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization first identified an epidemic in China. Today, we’re looking at shelter in place orders not only around the San Francisco Bay area but throughout that entire state possibly with more coming in other markets and many people now working in a brand new environment, work from home environment where those lines between family and work are blurred a little bit.
Teresa: Looking at the 2019 novel Coronavirus pandemic, this is unprecedented territory, with you and your work with clients, what are you seeing right now?
Rudhir: It’s very interesting because I tend to think that lawyers as I mentioned despite us working with each other and connecting tend to have somewhat more of a natural isolation and loneliness already. This is just me saying this. There have actually been studies. The ABA has put out studies. There are psychologists that have put out studies that identify and indicate that lawyers have less sort of a lower social tendency than others than most.
Rudhir: And so at a time when we’re now even doubling down on the isolation, I’ve seen a lot of challenge. I see lawyers that are expressing concerns over a lot of things. Here we have a group of people that are natural problem solvers, lawyers are natural problem solvers. We are always thinking ahead. As we think ahead, we’re thinking ahead to how long is this going to last. There’s an uncertainty.
Rudhir: We’re thinking to how is this going to impact my business? For in-house attorneys the business that they’re in and corporation that they’re in, but for outside counsel attorneys, how is this affecting my business development and business generation? What does this mean for my income? What does this mean for my team? What might this mean for the health of my family and the people around me? What might this mean for others? There’s just a lot of concern layered on top of a business and a practice that already has us sort of in a position where we’re “constantly putting out fires.”
Rudhir: I think that what I’m seeing is a higher level of anxiety in some than what might usually be the case. I think when anxiety comes up, we are not at our best self. We are not behaving in a way that is sort of rooted in our best self. We’re being reactive. We are thinking about we’re in sort of a flight or fight mode. We’re thinking about ways that we can run and save things or we’re thinking about ways that we can sort of fix things right away. I think there’s a deep discomfort that’s happening in this moment.
Teresa: With the questions that you’re seeing from clients right now, I know you’ve set up a webinar right now. You’re providing some guidance to people who are looking for it. What can people do right now? With the sense of what do I have control over, there is so much certainty. What are you telling people right now?
Rudhir: Yeah. I set up a free webinar Wednesdays mornings at 9:00 a.m. Pacific, noon Eastern on mindfulness tools for managing uncertainty. I find that mindfulness practices, resilience practices, emotional intelligence practices are very much relevant in this time. I think that even just paying attention to the news has me at a slightly higher level of anxiety. I’m waking up a bit more tired than usual this week. It’s just very interesting. Not much has changed because we work from home my wife and I, and so for us to practice social distancing and kind of put a barrier around our house is actually not too different than what we’re usually doing.
Rudhir: I’m slightly more on edge and slightly more tired. These practices of mindfulness and resilience and emotional intelligence, I think, are just really valuable in this moment. I’ve started to offer them out on a weekly webinar, just simple tools. For example, you asked what might be something that we can do. Lawyers, we tend to be very head heavy. I didn’t even understand what that meant a few years ago because I didn’t know what the difference was between that and anything else.
Rudhir: We tend to be thinking people. We’re valued for our knowledge. People want us for our advice, and we want to offer our advice. We’re problem solving. We always respect and value the attorney that “knows more.” So much of our work is in our head. Settling the body and settling ourselves in these times actually happens in the body. What percentage of our livelihood is our mind physically, and what percentage is our body? That’s an interesting question to ask. So much of us is our body. In fact, most, if not all of us, is our body.
Rudhir: One of the first tools that we talked about in this webinar was a body scan technique. A body scan is a meditation technique that allows us to just pay attention to what else is happening right now in our body. There’s just a lot of information there. Lawyers are great at gathering information. We’re incredible at intake. I think in this moment one of the tools is just actually take intake for yourself. We’re always asking someone else, “So what’s your problem? What happened? Who are the people involved?” Et cetera. The questions that I offer are, “What’s happening in my body right now? What’s happening in my breath? What am I noticing in my chest? Is it tighter? What am I noticing in my stomach? Am I at unease? Are my feet grounded? What happens? What’s the difference between grounding my feet versus sitting them elsewhere? What’s the quality of my breath? What’s my body temperature?”
Rudhir: I think when we scan our bodies… And on my website I have mindfulness audio recordings and guided meditations, and these are available all over the place. There’s apps like Calm and Insight Timer and Headspace. UCLA has an incredible meditation center, and they have some great guided meditations. I offer a few on my website at Krishtel.com. Basically, what we’re inviting people to do is actually just pay attention to what’s happening for them in a moment.
Rudhir: This isn’t something that we need to do all day. A body scan meditation can be 10 minutes of your day, five minutes of your day. Pay attention to your breath. Even right now is one of those podcasts, Teresa, if you just sort of take a breath and pay attention to what’s going on in your lungs and what’s going on in your throat and just breathe. You just notice sort of a different quality show up. We kind of exist in this on edge slightly underlying nervosa, and it’s normalized in our practice. I think we can in this moment because it’s even exacerbated, it’s slightly more acute because of all the information coming in and everything that’s changing, I think is an incredible time to pay attention to breath, pay attention to body and just what’s going on for us.
Teresa: That’s really helping in hearing you talk about almost an inventory of awareness. Rudhir, for those, wellness has been a buzzword that’s been around and gaining increasing traction and attention in recent years. Can you break down mindfulness for those that may not be familiar with that term and just help us understand when we say mindfulness, when you say mindfulness, what do you mean?
Rudhir: I’d love to. I’d start by actually just saying that when I started regularly meditating, it was the beginning of an incredible shift in my life both professionally and personally. It’s for those who are exploring meditation and dabbling, the commitment to a practice of 20 minutes a day, 20 minutes twice a day or even 10 minutes a day of mindfulness practices I think can be the beginning of a huge evolution and even revolution in your life in terms of how you feel and just fulfillment.
Rudhir: When I was at Apple about a year or two in, I started a daily practice of 20 minutes twice a day of meditating. I’ll tell you a little bit more about what is mindfulness and different ways of practicing. Just to kind of get people in tune with the benefits, I started practicing, and so much changing. Three months of regular practice, I committed to 20 minutes twice a day, and I did it because actually I paid for a class. When you pay for a class for some reason, it’s just like a gym membership. Something happens, and you’re like, “All right, I’m paying the money. I’m going to make a commitment.”
Rudhir: I make the commitment of 20 minutes twice a day. I’m a coffee drinker. It’s not the morning coffee. It’s the 2:00 p.m. coffee for all my friends at Fish and Apple. At 2:00 p.m. it was clockwork. I’d come around the halls and say, “All right, let’s just go get coffee.” I noticed after two or three months of practicing… It’s not like it has an alarm set, it’s just at that time of the day you start feeling a little bit tired. My morning energy is I’m ready to go. Around 2:00 p.m. it starts to wither.
Rudhir: I started to notice three weeks had gone by and I hadn’t asked anyone for coffee. I’m an engineer by trade. Trained as an electrical engineer, studied, became an IP attorney, so I need a logical underpinning for a mental practice. At least I did at that time. I don’t anymore. I’m all in now. But back then I sort of needed some evidence. The evidence was just clear. I have so much more energy that I don’t need coffee. I don’t drink coffee from 7:00 a.m. until midnight, and I’m just fully functioning.
Rudhir: I couldn’t believe the shift that happened for me in that moment that I was getting a physical benefit to a mental practice. That’s when I decided I was all in. I started to have healthier interactions professionally. I started to notice that things were slowing down. People talk about time is going by fast. That’s not a thing for me anymore. Time actually does not go by fast. I started to worry less about all the things that were coming and about what was happening. I just started to feel more present.
Rudhir: There’s so much energy there. The energy is because… And this is for the people that are just looking for the logic. If your mind is moving less, and it’s sort of moving at a less rapid pace, it’s triggering less emotions. If you think about when you pay attention to what your thoughts are in a two minute period, “What am I going to eat for lunch?” It’s the basic thoughts. “What am I doing this week? What’s my schedule? What am I going to eat for lunch? What’s for dinner? What’s happening with that meeting?”
Rudhir: Each of those thoughts… And you notice in a two minute period they just keep spinning. Each of those thoughts may trigger and may bring out an emotion. When emotions come up in our body that is a moment where your energy starts to get drained because an emotion can trigger you to hunch your shoulders, and you don’t even realize. It may start reducing… slowing down your breath. You don’t even know. When that email comes in from that challenging client or from that colleague, you sort of hold your breath.
Rudhir: Those little moments add up in the course of the day. In our jobs you can work from 8:00 a.m. until midnight, not leave your desk, and feel like you ran a marathon that day. Mindfulness and meditation practices start to slow that down. They start to slow down the rapidity of the thoughts. They start to readjust how reactive you are to these things. They relax your body in these moments when you might naturally be tense or stressed. You’re gaining back 5% to 10% energy.
Rudhir: There’s this book Ten Percent Happier. I relate to almost everything that’s in that book because you really are. Ten percent more energy in this moment can be huge. How much more energy do you have at the end of the day for your colleagues, your clients, your family? You just have so much more energy. Just 10% can make such a difference. You were asking about what is mindfulness, but before I go into that, I’m curious if any questions are coming up for you based on what I’m saying?
Teresa: Well, I’m just anticipating questions. I think seeing the email come in or thinking about the email, it’s not saying that email is not important or that client’s need isn’t important, it’s putting it into a place where we’re not maybe as reactive to it, where it’s kind of processed in a way that is a little more centered. Right?
Rudhir: Yeah. This is a great dovetail into what is mindfulness because I think there’s a lot there. When I think about mindfulness you’ll see a range of definitions. But I consider if we’re paying attention to ourselves, our thoughts, our emotions and our body, and noticing what’s happening with those things, without judgment. And the without judgment piece is actually really important because oftentimes what’s happening for us we might think is wrong or something’s not great about it or amazing about it. Mindfulness is actually just let’s just pay attention to what’s happening.
Rudhir: I talked about this body scan technique as sort of one way which is paying attention to what’s happening with your feet and your legs and your stomach and your lungs and your shoulders. When that email comes in as an example. We all know that email, that alert, that case alert. That colleague, that person we don’t like, all of it. It happens at least 10 times a day. Ten times a day, 20 times a day, 100 times a day you tense up when that message comes in, and just sort of noticing what’s happening in your body in that moment rather than necessarily solving the email. Because our first reaction is what am I going to say? You might notice the quality of your breath in that moment that you’re actually not breathing. It’s fascinating just taking a deep breath in that moment rather than reacting right away and just noticing what happens to your body that it settles.
Rudhir: Noticing what happens to your shoulders, they tighten up, that you sort of take a forward learning approach, that you might get uneasy in your stomach. All these things are happening. As we pay attention to that, when we’re responding to that email from that place, it’s actually fight or flight. We’re responding from a place of fight or flight. Fight or flight is sort of an old… It’s an old system. It comes from an old brain of ours. It’s the amygdala. It’s an old brain. It’s a lizard brain that we have. It basically really comes from this era and this time of evolutionarily when we were sort of fighting bears and lions. You’re sort of out in the wild and you’re worried about fight or flight. Either I attack this thing that’s in front of me or I’ve got to leave.
Teresa: Base survival.
Rudhir: It’s survival. Yeah. By and large in our legal office, outside of that scary partner in the corner, there’s no bears around. There’s no tigers. For us to be experiencing fight or flight as much as we do in the course of our day is really a ratio that it happens versus the actual need is way out of proportion. The other thing is that creativity, centeredness, true leadership, aren’t happening when we’re in fight or flight. We’re not coming from a collected and a gathered place. We’re coming from a reactive place.
Rudhir: When we write a brief in a case, we don’t write a react, we write a response. I use these two words differently. There’s reacting, and there’s responding. I think responding comes from a place when we gather data and information, we use our wise lawyer selves, we are using wisdom, and we are responding in a gathered and a collected way. We’re reviewing. We’re able to come back to people from a centered place. That’s what we want in our briefing. That’s what we want in our responses to our colleagues, in our communications. We end up feeling in a reactive place, and so it’s fight or flight. It’s like, “If they say something, I can defend myself,” or “I’m going to avoid this email for a few hours because I’m nervous about what’s going to happen.”
Rudhir: So all these things come up. But when we take a breath we notice what’s happening in our shoulders, we notice what’s happening in ourselves, we notice the thinking and the nervousness that might be happening in our head. Maybe we can respond in a healthier way. Maybe we can slow down some of that movement and gain some energy back.
Teresa: Interesting using the word creativity. We’re in a transformative moment. Whether it’s a temporary transformation or whether we’re going to see lasting effects. We have the White House signing the Defense Production Act. Many people working from home. I’m sure for many there’s a lot of scary elements to what we’re seeing with the public health crisis around COVID-19. You and I we’ve had some earlier conversations about possibilities out there, but what do you see, Rudhir, right now as possible in this moment?
Rudhir: We have to be very thoughtful about many people whose health is being compromised in this moment, and we have to really be thoughtful about many people whose lives have shifted and are challenged by access to resources and hourly workers and wage workers whose jobs are being eliminated in the short term. There’s a lot of challenge and compromise that’s happening at this moment. We want to make sure that we keep our awareness on that.
Rudhir: I actually feel like interestingly enough a lot is possible in this moment. I think there are new ways that we’ll be able to connect with people and we’ll be testing out. For example, this webinar that I’m doing or the greater number of video calls and group calls that I’m having online where people are finding healthier ways to interact. I actually think it’s an incredible time to call that colleague or that contact that you haven’t been in touch with for a while and just say, “Hey, how are you doing?” And just get on the phone or get on a video call and just listen and be with somebody and connect in a way that you might not have otherwise.
Rudhir: I do feel like people might have a little bit more time now, and if you think it’s a time where, for example, business development dies down, I think actually it’s the exact opposite. People are looking to connect in this moment, so fill that void. Finding new ways to connect right now, to reach out, to interact, to connect with your families and yourselves, I think that’s huge in this moment.
Rudhir: I think time alone can be an incredible time for coming up with new solutions and to be creative. I think about Isaac Newton came up with some of his most valuable theories, the roots of calculus, and the basic understandings that we have on gravity, some of the most critical theories that he came up with were during the Plague when he had to leave Cambridge and isolate during that moment.
Rudhir: Social distancing, this isn’t the first era of social distancing. This has been going on with every pandemic that we’ve experienced in the history of time. Even in that moment he came up with some of the most valuable scientific principles and mathematic principles that we lean on today. There’s this huge opportunity in this moment to be creative, to think about what’s possible.
Rudhir: And as lawyers we are in this service industry, and so there’s this incredible opportunity to think about what are the new ways and the different ways in which we can serve others and add value? When we are reactive and in fight or flight, we aren’t thinking from that place. We’re wondering how to protect ourselves or wondering how… what’s going to happen to us. But when we start slowing down and rooting in, we remember that there’s so much possible in this moment for all of us, so many systems that we can build to serve our clients and to support our colleagues.
Rudhir: I’m going to be offering team building webinars in the next few weeks. Here’s an opportunity. Your entire team is isolated. How do we stay connected in this moment? So maybe we jump on an hour and a half Zoom call, and we actually do a team building exercise, facilitated exercise, in this moment. For me, I just feel like so much is possible, and it’s time to really start thinking about creative ways that we can connect with others, which we all need as humans and in our professions, and so what are the ways that we can do that now?
Teresa: That’s really interesting. We’ve been hearing talk about… We’ve all been hearing the guidelines around social distancing, but moving to the term physical distancing to recognize that we need… We still as humans we still need a little bit of that connectivity that you’re talking about. Interesting. Rudhir, some of the resources we’ve been monitoring and sharing with our clients have been resources you have been sharing with broader audiences. Can you talk to us about what’s out there right now? What resources are there? You’ve really been pouring a lot of your focus to provide some guidance and help right now in the recent days and weeks. What’s out there right now? What are you working on, and what could you suggest as resources for people?
Rudhir: Well, we mentioned it once already, but I’m doing this weekly webinar on mindfulness tools for handling uncertainty, and I’m doing this every Wednesday morning through my relationship on the co-chair of the wellness committee for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. We’re doing a similar webinar on Thursdays every week right now, myself and a mentor of mine, Angela O., are doing this webinar every week for that community.
Rudhir: I’m talking with the Association of Corporate Counsel on putting out a webinar on what tools we can use to manage the challenge. There’s a couple of bar associations that I’m working with on how we can exhibit our leadership in this moment. How can we show leadership in this moment of challenge and difficulty? From my perspective, there’s a lot of offering that’s happening in this moment, and I think what’s really beautiful and really nice about the community is actually seeing all the things that are being offered up in this moment and ways that we can support each other.
Rudhir: I think it’s a great time to pay attention and listen and get online and see what’s being offered by others. There’s a lot of opportunities to interact in workshops and dialogues and ways to connect from home right now that I think people should be tapping into. I think it’s also just a time to connect for people that have the luxury of doing that with family in their home or even with nature. There’s no restriction on necessarily going out in some areas and actually just taking a walk and connecting in that way.
Rudhir: I do workshops on building resilience. Part of those dialogues we talk about, “What’s restorative for you?” What’s restorative for you? The answers that people typically come up with are things that are just very accessible to us even in this moment, which is time with my family and my friends, connecting with my pets, eating a really good meal, watching a good show, taking a walk in nature. All of these things people find restorative are by and large free and still very accessible to us in this moment.
Rudhir: This might just be a nice healthy hibernating moment for all of us. I think that another thing is this is actually a great opportunity for skills building. I work with a range of clients. For some of them, presentations and stand up are something that they like working on. There’s nothing stopping people from being at home and recording a presentation and seeing how they are. When we start thinking about what’s possible in this moment, I feel like there is so much opportunity.
Teresa: One of the other areas, we were discussing earlier, Rudhir, related to the new work at home scenario. Looking at the normal heavy workload that an attorney deals with, at least having that separation between work and home, without being blurred now, which not the case for you necessarily. You’re accustomed to it. What guidance are you providing right now for how to handle that new blurred line and how to handle what is really a novel situation for many professionals and especially for attorneys?
Rudhir: I think that it’s very interesting seeing this transition that people are making to being at home. Luckily, I’ve been working at home for a few years now, and so this transition wasn’t so difficult. I definitely feel like there are things that we can do to make this that much more comfortable. First, I think for people that don’t work from home a lot, it’s actually setting up a comfortable situation for sitting.
Rudhir: Some people might think this is the time to just work at the dining table or in that uncomfortable chair, but we might be here for a while. Maybe it’s time to get a nicer chair, a nicer desk at home. Maybe it’s time to invest in that, a standup desk or something, a chair that’s got good support for you. So actually just sit in a place that’s comfortable and not necessarily in the thing that you might default to when you do a little bit of work from home.
Rudhir: Second, I think that things that are really helpful are really when we’re working from home the boundaries really start to fade between work and home literally. There’s really no boundary anymore. You might have this urge to almost work all the time. There’s really no limit to it. I think there’s this mentality around clocking in and clocking out that I think can be a really welcome shift in this moment.
Rudhir: If you’re putting in certain hours, actually when does the pen go down? When does the laptop get shut? What are the few hours during the day where you’re actually just doing the thing that you need to do to take care of yourself or center? For some people, they’re not commuting anymore. They use that commute time as the period to transition from work to home. Create that transition period for yourself. Sit for five or ten minutes and do nothing and allow the mind to settle and shift. Let’s not just use all of our time now or fill all of that time with work because doing that along with all the information that’s coming in and the way that the world is changing can really start draining you further.
Rudhir: I think healthy boundaries with work right now are imperative and actually maybe just creating some mental shifts. When I go down to the living room, when I’m in my next room, that’s when I put the laptop… The laptop stays in this area of the house. I don’t let it carry everywhere. Just trying to think about physical and mental barriers that you can start to create between work and home even when you’re in one place so that it’s not all bleeding together. We work effectively when we are restored. We need to reenergize. So think about the things that reenergize you and try to build in systems at home that allow you to keep that energy.
Teresa: That’s helpful. Rudhir, you mentioned one mentor a few minutes ago in our conversation. Can you talk to me about any mentors that you’ve had throughout your career who’ve especially shaped your thinking, shaped your own career?
Rudhir: There’s so many. It’s a difficult question. I remember when you emailed me in advance about some of the things you might ask, I said let’s do this at the end. I was hoping it wouldn’t even get to these. I have so many mentors. There’s so many people that have been valuable. In the work that I do I always feel like I stand on the shoulders of so many people that came before, and so there’s just so many experiences that I have that are learning.
Rudhir: I think the place to start is that I just feel like every opportunity and every interaction is a moment of learning. I feel like I’m learning from people all the time. Mentors is a really higher elevated state for somebody I feel to hold that space. I learned so much from my clients. I learned so much on calls like this. I learned so much from every interaction. I think the first thing that comes to me is actually just not losing sight of the learning opportunities in every interaction. What can you learn about this person across from you and the rich experience that they have? What value might you be able to get in that possibility of that conversation?
Rudhir: The person that made this entire next chapter of my life that much more possible for me was my wife. When I was in my last few years at Apple, I started to feel this itch, and it was… I’m not sure, but I can’t say that I’m as happy as I’d like to be in my life professionally. I think there’s something else. I don’t know exactly what I want to do. I’d sort of come home every few days with this dialogue with her.
Rudhir: I’d sort of talk about different things that I want to do. I’d tell her, I’d say, “You know, I think I need a month or two off. I need a month or two off. I’m going to ask my manager and team if I can combine my four weeks of vacation with one other month off. It could be unpaid. I don’t care. I just need a couple of months to sit.” She said, “You don’t need two months. You need a year.”
Rudhir: I just thought, ” A year?” Apple doesn’t have a year long sabbatical program. How are we going to do that? She said, “I’m giving you a year.” She said, “For one year you don’t need to do a thing. You don’t have to generate any income. You don’t have to do anything around the house. You don’t have to do anything for a year, and whatever you do after that I don’t care. But for one year just take a break.”
Rudhir: I have never had that kind of permission before or just being met by somebody that was saying, “Look, you’re good as you are. You don’t need to do anything.” I think that that’s amazing. I just felt like to get that type of support from somebody… My wife runs a nonprofit. My mind was, “How are we going to manage the finances and everything?” She’s like, “We’ll budget. We’ll plan the way that organizations plan when they go through a transition.”
Rudhir: So we made the plan. As soon as the plan came into place, and I saw that it was possible, everything that was happening was leading to signs of leaving and taking this time off. I think she has a way of thinking and a being that’s very different from what I’m used to in my environment. It’s very refreshing. She really values people taking the time to restore because we don’t know what’s possible. She’s really at the sort of root of this transition, which is allowing me the time and space to think and see some of the challenges in our workplace.
Rudhir: What I did during that time off is I just wrote a lot and investigated and understood a lot about our work, and that’s what allowed me to see this opportunity for stepping into this whole new career path for me. When I think about people that I look up to or I look to, I think about right now in this moment of my life I think about my wife first.
Teresa: Rudhir, that’s really wonderful to hear you say it, and I appreciate you sharing too on such a personal level that story.
Rudhir: Well, I just want to offer that in this moment I feel like we’re experiencing challenging times. I feel like we’re part of an amazing profession that can actually offer a lot. If anyone could use any support or has any questions, please feel free to reach out. My website is Krishtel.com. My email is simple. It’s my first name Rudhir@Krishtel.com, and I’m sure you’ll be providing it, Teresa.
Rudhir: But feel free to reach out in this moment because I just feel like it’s an incredible opportunity for making sure that all of us are feeling good in a way that allows us to support our community in the way that lawyers do. We are very important center, I feel like fabric, of the world. I feel like we are really the center of a lot of leadership in the world. I feel like we’re in this position to offer a lot, and for anyone that needs support through that process I just welcome people to reach out and connect.
Teresa: Thank you, Rudhir. It’s been really wonderful speaking with you learning more about what you’ve been doing. We’ve enjoyed seeing it and really are happy to be able to share it with our audience too. We will be in touch for sure. We’ll definitely have your resources available on the podcast.
Rudhir: All right. Fantastic. Thank you, Teresa. Talk soon.
Teresa: Thanks, Rudhir. You too. Bye-bye.
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