Shama Hyder is known as the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by Fast Company. She is also an acclaimed international keynote speaker who’s been invited to share the stage with the world’s top leaders, including President Obama and the Dalai Lama. She is the CEO of Zen Media, an integrated online marketing and digital PR firm

What was your childhood like? Any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

Being an immigrant definitely shaped my childhood. I moved to the States from India when I was nine, and it was quite an adjustment but I am so grateful for that experience. It made me resilient, and I was definitely the type of kid who turned lemons into lemonade. 

What advice would you give to your 20-year old self?

Dream bigger. I was in college and my choices felt limited at 20. In retrospect, I wish I could tell myself how much more was ahead!  Very tactically, I wish I could tell my 20-year-old self to attend more conferences, to explore and see what people were doing in various fields! It didn’t even strike me as a possibility at the time. 

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

The concept of “vitality” has done a disservice to the industry. True success in the field of marketing comes from strategic consistency. It’s not dependent on just serendipity. 

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?

My best friend passed away last year. You learn to live with the darkness, and to not take life for granted. There is no appreciation of the light without the shadows. 

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

I keep moving forward. I am not a perfectionist and for me the joy in the process of building something greater than myself.

What is your morning routine? 

Snooze and a cup of tea! When I am up, I am up, and I give the day my 100%. I fall asleep almost instantaneously. 

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

I get plenty of sleep. I don’t believe wearing a lack of sleep as a badge of honor really work.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

Luckily, I recharge quickly! It’s enough for me to play with my dogs or just unplug for a few hours with a good book to get back in my zone. 

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

When You Hear Hoofbeats Think of a Zebra by Shems Friedlander  – It’s a mystical book, similar to Cohelo’s work, which really gets you thinking about the greater meaning of life.

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

“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of you in your philosophy, Horatio” – Hamlet from Shakespeare. There is so much we don’t know.