We’re Ira Gopal and Piyushi Sharma, co-founders and hosts of The 5 Minute Library and marketing enthusiasts from Pune, Maharashtra. If we try to sum up the global happenings of the past year for the sake of context, we might fail in our attempt to capture how disturbing they truly were. We are very thankful for having the luxury of a safe house and a comfortable lockdown, but were seriously undermining the impact of the pandemic on our mental health. One of us (Ira) had suddenly left a city she loved and had found her niche in, and the other (Piyushi) was bracing herself to make a drastic career switch.
Through sleepovers and long walks in our society we found out we had more in common than being 20-something women in Pune, we were both eager to take our next step but completely confused about what it should be. With a mutual love for planning and checklists, we both had a pretty solid idea of where we would want to be at this stage. Instead we found ourselves on career paths we hadn’t anticipated and on the way to questioning what made us, us. We wanted a space where we could explore ourselves and our ideas freely, and also enable others in our mindspace to escape, even momentarily, from the psychological stress we’re all facing. Banking on our love for books and the ability to talk endlessly, we decided to pursue the one belief that still held true; that there’s a perfect book out there for each one to get lost in, and find themselves in. After all, we had grown up drawing from Jo’s sense of independence, Hermione’s love for literature, and the Famous Five’s thirst for adventure. We came up with the idea of launching our own podcast to foster a reading culture among Millennials and Gen Z by helping them pick their next read through byte-sized reviews.
When we started to act upon our vision, the implication of what we wanted to achieve hit us. It meant putting ourselves and our opinions out in a world that streamed over 30 million podcast episodes globally. It meant expressing ourselves through the colours in our logo, the intro soundtrack we selected, the Reels we shot overcoming our camera-consciousness, and the books we chose to talk about. It meant building our personal brand, at a time when we were unsure whether we knew enough about ourselves, books, and podcasting to truly put ourselves out there. We had read enough to know the term we were looking for was ‘Imposter Syndrome’, and we were in a constant battle against it in our personal and professional lives.
Knowing what we were up against was hardly enough, but we helped each other take small steps to rise above it together. We listed down each book we had read in the past that we felt we could talk about, went over everything in our education that could help us with our initiative, and found and analysed podcasters like ourselves. Most importantly, we motivated each other to push past the self doubt and keep working on the idea, even if it was for 10 minutes at the end of a long day. When we finally had our first episode recorded and our visual elements in place, we realised we still didn’t feel ready. A crucial reminder we recited to ourselves in that moment was that it is okay to put yourself out there as you are; you are more than enough. We clicked the ‘Publish’ button and nervously stared at our screens, waiting for something to happen. Of course, in the first 5 minutes, nothing did, but the next few hours were exhilarating, we had taken the plunge and were receiving great feedback. By Episode 2 our flow had become more natural, we were ready to collaborate with others by Episode 3, and Episode 4 had us experimenting with new editing techniques.
With each episode we recorded and book genre we read, we learnt something new about ourselves, or we realised our opinions towards certain aspects have evolved. A crucial takeaway for us was that it’s easy to get wrapped up in insecurities and imposter syndrome while launching something you’ve created, but it’s important to see it as it really is – Your first forward step in a journey of continuous growth and innovation. We’re only beginning to explore the variety of our ideas as we continue to figure ourselves out, and we’re happy to say we’re just getting started.