Jothi Dugar is a conscious leadership transformation coach, influencer, public speaker, best selling author, cyber thought leader and CISO, and women empowerment activist. She helps overwhelmed IT leaders reclaim their health, time, and freedom without sacrificing their passion to innovate and grow their careers, their organizations, and their people. Dugar is passionate about empowering women and young girls to pursue technical and leadership jobs and break the invisible barrier that prevents them from getting to the top.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and I was the only child. My parents are from South India and extremely strict and of course being the only child didn’t help alleviate all the attention and pressure on me!  I would say however, it’s through enduring all the challenges from growing up in a very conservative and strict family did I learn endurance, determination, perseverance, and a whole lot of patience.  I am who I am today because of my parents and my upbringing and I have overcome so many more challenges in my life since then from getting stronger each day.  

I traveled a lot in my first years working after college which was truly the greatest years of my life so far.  I loved visiting different countries, experiencing other cultures and people, and just exploring the world.  I actually loved traveling alone as I felt free and open with no one holding me back from exploring and experiencing life and really living it to my fullest.  I have three young kids now and I want them to enjoy traveling and experiencing the world too as I know it would really open their eyes and their awareness to diversity, and also the living conditions in other countries.  I have never taken anything for granted ever again after visiting third world countries as you never know what tomorrow holds for you.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

Honestly, I really do feel that life is always happening for us, not to us.  Every challenge, every rough period, difficult people, even those that are out to wrong us serve a purpose in our lives.  Every person plays a role, and when they have served their purpose in our life and/or our purpose in their life, the relationship may fizzle out or end.  That is ok.  The more we try to force to revive again or push it, the more we may break the bonds even further.  When I look back at my life, I really wouldn’t change a thing.  Things had to happen the way they did to make me who I am today, and life is always preparing us for the next step. 

I would say though, I wish I learned earlier on that your thoughts really do create your reality, so always be mindful of the kinds of thoughts you are allowing in.  I use the metaphor of a mind gatekeeper. We have to use the gatekeeper to allow in only positive and empowering thoughts so that we can create a positive reality for ourselves and really control our minds instead of allowing our minds to control us.  Now, that is not to be mistaken as controlling our emotions or feelings.  Those are spontaneous, and we must allow them to happen, process them, then release them.  But, be careful in not just what you “ask” for, but what you “think” about.  Your thoughts carry energy, and where your focus goes, energy flows, and results show.  So, if something challenging is happening in your life right now, really take a hard look at was there a time you “asked” for it?

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Since I am a “Jothi of all trades” type of person being a Cybersecurity leader, Wellness coach, and practitioner, dance director, international best selling author, and public speaker, I hear quite a lot of bad guidance and recommendations out there.  Being a minority woman being in male-dominated fields pretty much my whole life, I have experienced an enormous amount of adversity, harassment, hostility, and discrimination from not only males but also females.  This truly breaks my heart, as I really don’t understand why females, even those in superior positions tend to mock or put other women down and feel like they are competition.  I have built up my own intuition and self-love over the years to sense jealousy or insecurities in others (men or women), so I know that shining my own light is the best thing I can do to inspire others.

However, for those that may not be so secure in themselves or love themselves, I often hear things like women should be more modest and not “show off”, or that they’re too authoritative at work, or they’re too weak if they show their femininity.  Often times, not only do women encounter adversity in the workplace but also at home with their spouse. If they are not married to a confident and secure man that has high emotional maturity, as the woman is growing and elevating herself to a higher level or standard, the man may feel inadequate or not valued.  This is a dynamic that is all too common that has led to many relationship challenges.  This is why I am passionate about helping not only women to grow themselves, but also help men in loving and healing themselves too so that they can grow with their spouse, not against their spouse.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

The biggest dark period in my life thus far was after the birth of my third baby.  What was supposed to be the best time in my life having three amazing kids, ended up being a life-threatening moment where I was given six weeks to live. My OB had botched my C-section completely leaving me with a hip to hip incision, massive amounts of scar tissue and adhesions, my abdominal layers not patched up completely, two hernias, and an abdominal separation of six fingers.  I could barely move without excruciating pain and even after visiting several surgeons, no one could explain the number of complications or what exactly had happened.  However, they all agreed on one thing, that I had six weeks to live unless I got multiple more surgeries to repair the damage my OB had done.

I knew at that point in time that I did not want to put myself in the hands of the Western Medical-Healthcare system once again.  I started seeking alternative and natural healing remedies, and lo and behold I was able to get past the six-week life and death status with Reiki (Japanese energy healing technique) and Chinese Traditional Medicine.  It took me three years to really heal myself fully, but I did with all-natural and holistic modalities.  In the process, I also trained and got certified in numerous modalities and started my own Holistic Wellness practice so that I can help others.  I still couldn’t stop there since I was also a Cybersecurity leader, so I now bring holistic wellness modalities and I integrate together to Cyber and Technology professional by developing quick and easy techniques for the workplace setting.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I NEVER give up and I ALWAYS listen to my intuition!  I also strongly believe that slowing down and prioritizing our own wellness, well-being, self-love, and happiness is the only way to live a fulfilling life and be able to be there for others.  Often times, especially for women, we feel that we always have to give to others and we are always thinking about the good of others, without putting ourselves first.  We feel selfish or that our voice doesn’t count.  However, that is not healthy for ourselves or those in our support system.  We also tend to want to do everything on our own and try to be supermoms or superwomen.  What I realized after years of sacrificing myself and my needs for others, minimizing my own voice, and feeling like I shouldn’t take others’ help, is that I am only shooting myself in the foot by doing that.  

I can still be a super mom or superwoman by loving myself enough to know when to ask for support, and to always put my own well-being first, because if I didn’t, who else will?  If I truly wanted to help others, inspire others, care for others, I need to be at my optimal self in mind, body, and energy, and for that, I have to come first in my books!

What is your morning routine?

I try to keep a standard morning routine no matter what is happening in my life.  I usually wake up around 6 am, and before I even open my eyes, I take a few minutes to send Reiki to myself and to my day and to my family praying that we have the best day possible that serves our highest good.  I then play some motivational audios on my phone as I freshen up and get ready for my day to get me in a positive energy first thing in the morning.  I then go to my sacred space of my bedroom (an area next to my bedroom area that I set up for my spiritual practice) and I do about 10-15 minutes of spiritual work.  I try to mix things up daily with yoga, meditations, affirmations, mind movies, Qigong, or other techniques I am constantly learning, however, my goal is to always fit in something spiritual every morning.  I then go down and have my cup of Indian chai that I drink with raw milk, honey, and turmeric powder added to start my day and get to work!

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

I know that my thoughts create my reality so I try my best to think positive thoughts no matter what.  That is not to say that I don’t experience any negative emotions, however.  I cannot change what I feel in emotions, so as they come good or bad, I let them flow. If they’re “good” emotions and I feel good, then I invite more of them in and let them flow through me.  If they’re “bad”, I still allow them to flow through me and I try my best not to judge myself or others during that moment in time.  Instead, I just say what I want to say out loud to myself (not to the other person if there is someone that is causing me to feel this way) and I do some EFT tapping to let it all process and be released from my system.  EFT is the Emotional Freedom Technique which is a natural healing technique for stress relief and various other conditions.  I also, don’t allow myself to stay in a state of negativity for a long period of time.  I have become to realize that when I’m in a state of flow, that is when I attract and manifest miracles, so the quicker I can recognize that I am not in a flow state (when I don’t “feel” good”, I quickly process, release, and adjust myself to get back into the flow.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

My biggest and most popular strategy that everyone usually loves (including me) is called the five-minute vacays throughout the day.  I ask that you put a five-minute vacay on your calendar every hour of your waking hours as a reminder to practice self-love, mind-body-energy techniques, rejuvenation, quick mediations, walks, visualizations, and other quick ways to step back from whatever you are doing to replenish your energy reserves and rejuvenate yourself.  By doing this five minutes every hour throughout the day, you will find that you are more productive and successful in everything you do, have more energy, are more efficient and effective (therefore have more time), and feel great even at the end of the day!  

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

I have been a devout follower of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s work from when I was a child. My favorite books of his are The Power of Intention and Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life.  I have used the principles of his books throughout my life, especially through difficult times.  I also love The 5 Love Language book by Gary Chapman as relationships, especially marital and parental ones are so key in our lives, that until we know how to “speak” love in a way that really resonates with those whom we love, we think that others receive love the same way we do.  We then wonder why the relationship does not meet your expectations.  I have also loved learning from Mort Fortel in his Marriage Fitness book and strongly recommend it for pretty much anyone that is even contemplating marriage, is married or is about to call it quits!

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

My most favorite quote that I live by every day is “Everything happens for a reason for you.”  I believe the original quote came from Aristotle and I truly believe in it even though it is hard to grasp during challenging times. I also love the quote “Everyone lives in the results of the decisions that they make.” Often, we feel that someone else has to pay the consequences for their actions and that they shall.  However, it is not up to us to be the judges of that or “make” that happen.