I’m Swati, and I help youth excavate and develop their creative capabilities as they navigate the tough-but-funny business of being young. I also help schools, youth-serving organizations, and youth-employing businesses build the leadership capacity to discover and activate the assets that young people possess in order to achieve stronger outcomes.
How I Got Here
In 2018 I switched to high school and college teaching after a 10+ year career in the food business. It turns out, kitchens and classrooms have a lot in common. At their best, they are both rigorous spaces that make creativity actionable, and offer a sense of belonging and community that developing minds and personalities need to flourish.
In 2020 I decided to break away from institutions to a degree and create my own coaching program that focuses on providing the high level of social-emotional-intellectual support that creative young people need to bring their greatest strengths to bear.
This started as small business coaching, but I quickly realized that there was so much more to delve into with each of my clients that had to do with them as a person. Their creative pursuit, whether it be a startup, hobby, or nascent idea, was but one aspect of the larger enterprise of coming into one’s own.
Working with young people has taught me a few things.
- Coaching is about nurturing a person’s creativity and ideas, but it’s more so about supporting healthy identity formation.
- The systems intended to support youth often overlook their greatest assets, which are critical to success.
- Helping young people unlock their capabilities automatically up-levels the organizations and spaces they inhabit.
Lighting The Way
My interest in youth coaching largely stems from my personal experiences. Throughout my youth, I was fortunate enough to cross paths with supportive adults who took an interest in me and my development. I leaned into my mentor relationships throughout high school, college, and early career placements to inform my decisions, take intellectual risks, and honor my curiosity.
I believe all young people need strong supportive adults in life, often outside of family, to enrich their ideas and sense of possibility about the world.
Having diverse mentors enabled me to gracefully transition from one experience to another, and continuously reframe challenges as growth opportunities. I carried this mindset throughout college at UC San Diego to my first job as a management associate at MGM Resorts International, one of the largest global hospitality companies in the world.
I went on to obtain my MBA from the University of San Diego Knauss School of Business and in 2011 I took the helm of the family food business for seven years. This phase of my career was by far the most dynamic and challenging. It thrust me into a position of responsibility of leadership that school does little to prepare you for. What sustained me through the ups and downs of business and people management was my network and community.
I became an educator after selling the business in 2018, landing at an alternative school in my hometown. Working at a small school reinforced my anecdotal wisdom around the healing power of communities. I witnessed firsthand how young people can overcome immense challenges if they are surrounded by people deeply invested in their well-being and growth.
Coaching young people is transformative for both the individual and society, and young people investing in themselves and their growth is the greatest radical act of self-love.
I started toying with the concept of The Business of Young™ after teaching university business classes virtually. Despite being online in the thick of a global pandemic, my students and I consistently derived value from connecting with one another on creativity and entrepreneurship.
I found in each of my students this immutable desire to make and create their future, and I wanted to tap in and support them.
I am determined to share this practice with others, and help schools, organizations, and businesses that engage with young people excavate the latent potential and creative assets I witness in young people every day.
Themes of Work
Radical inquiry, storytelling, and community-building have been consistent themes that bind my work. I love to write stories about people and businesses, and regularly add to a narrative nonfiction portfolio I am proud of.
In addition to teaching, coaching, speaking, and writing. I am currently studying positive organizational change and am working on an appreciative inquiry project that involves interviewing local community members to create a more robust, united, and responsive school community.