We had the good fortune of connecting with Punam Saxena and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Punam, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks has always been a part of my vernacular. It’s the fabric of who I am, what I want to do, and where I want to do it. In fact, I would equate that if you are a risk taker, then you are also a trailblazer. You may not be the first to accomplish the goal, but you are the first to accomplish your goal. When you are an immigrant, you automatically take risks by leaving your support system, navigating all the nuances of the new country, and trying to assimilate to your new environment without losing your heritage. I am the child of immigrant parents from India and grew up in Griffin, Georgia in the ’70s where we were the only Indians for the first 12 years we lived there. This was the time during integration where everyone was trying to find their place in the world, and, then, lo and behold here comes a family whose mother dressed in her traditional Indian clothing and made the most delicious Indian food. We were the outsiders, the anomalies, the risk-takers, the trailblazers. Each and every thing we did was new to us. We did not necessarily know what the outcome would be. I grew up in this environment. I knew, as the oldest child that I would likely be the first to blaze that trail. There was no real choice, It just had to be done. The first to navigate schools, social settings, and general American life. However, when it came to my career, my passion, my path, it took me a bit longer to find my trail. Even though I loved my 10-year teaching career, when my four children were born, I chose to stay home with them and volunteer in their schools. Being an involved, educated, and empowered parent seemed to be the missing piece of the education pie, I had noticed during my teaching years. These volunteer positions turned into a job that I had not planned on having. Teachers and administrators, and even the school district would call on me for guidance and collaboration. I had found my trail! The next 18 years were spent creating systemic changes in their schools and the district by being a partner with my children’s teachers and administrators. We had one goal: a high quality education for all students. I realized that it became easier and easier to take those professional risks and even create paradigm shifts when I was passionate about the outcome and the team was striving for the same results. From there, it snowballed into a business where I help parents become engaged, educated, and empowered in their child’s education. This could have never been possible if risks, reflection, and desire of helping parents, children, and schools had not been at the crux of my passion. Those small successes allowed me to take bigger risks with more confidence. Without taking those risks, I may never have known what I am capable of. Risks, success, and confidence are all factors in the magnitude of one’s impact on society. By taking small ones, we can then take bigger ones, and, ultimately, change the trajectory of our lives as well as others.
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?
When my husband and I became empty nesters, it was important for me to find something engaging and fulfilling. Something that would capitalize on my passion of education, and helping all children thrive. edu-Me was born out of that same desire I had when my children were in school: to be a partner in my children’s education by working side-by-side with the faculty and staff. Parents look at the school system and feel overwhelmed at all the nuances, not knowing exactly how they can be helpful. The goal is to break down those barriers, those apprehension, and encourage involvement by empowering parents with what they need to become helpful and effective. When we understand the education system, build relationships with our schools, and equip our children with the necessary tools to succeed, we can elevate the level of education all our children receive and place them on the path to a successful future. As a Parent Impact Coach, I provide the crucial tools that parents need to understand how to navigate the education system, how to help your children, and how to build strong relationships with your child’s teachers and administrators. Some of the services I offer are individual coaching, webinars, a weekly podcast, blogs, and an upcoming book focusing on parenting. edu-Me is a growing business that is over a year old. There are so many lessons I’ve learned, but the most important one is to keep going. If one person’s journey can be made easier, then the mission of the business has been fulfilled. For me, that’s a win!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Before the pandemic, my best friend flew in from Florida and we spent President’s Day together. We like to eat long meals and have those deep, insightful talks where we catch up on our families. (Between the two of us, we have 9 children so there’s a lot to chat about!) It was such a great time that I look forward to doing it again soon. We started our weekend at Cultivate on Howell Mill for their amazing breakfast, especially their biscuits. Then we headed to Ponce City Market for lunch. Dinner was at Bulla with their delicious Lemongrass Collins’. And, of course, dessert was at Café Intermezzo. The next day, we had brunch at Taverna in Buckhead with their fantastic mimosas. We took a much needed walk in Piedmont Park before indulging at the Optimist for dinner.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh my goodness! There are so many people who deserve a shoutout! No one is successful without a supportive team. So, let me start with my parents who have been a pillar of patience and strength, my four children who are my biggest cheerleaders, and my husband who continuously reminds me that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible.
Maya Saxena Anu Saxena