Comfortably married with two children, Pamela Puja Kirpalani could have bid farewell to a career.
After all, the 41-year-old is the daughter of garment tycoon Sunder Genomal, who ranked 87 on Forbes’ 2020 India’s Richest list. In her 20s, she had also done her time climbing the corporate ladder as an investment banker in London, after which she joined the family business, Bangalore-based Page Industries, for two years to set up its successful exports arm.
After years of focusing on her marriage and living around the world with her nuclear family, Pamela has chosen to serve others. If you’d met her in person, you would have noticed, apart from her good manners and graciousness, a sensitive and introspective streak. Perhaps it is this side of her that had kept her up at night during her younger days: “As a young adult, I spent so many evenings scouring over self-help books, pondering over the ‘meaning of life’ and what truly makes us happy from within.”
Over a luncheon held to introduce the first book she authored, called Whole: 11 Universal Truths for an Inspired Life, she tells me about the extreme anxiety and panic attacks she endured in her late 20s. That pushed her towards a profound journey of learning self-healing techniques.
Today, Pamela is a certified international Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) master practitioner, trainer and life coach. After moving to Singapore eight years ago, she set up her firm Inner High Living, which has since conducted training for some of our most prominent public institutions, and counts over 200 life coaching clients.
Why this, you ask? Her answer is simple: She just wants to help those who are desperate for help like she was, and after years of reading tons of literature, it just seems like a good idea to put together all the knowledge into a handy guide. Sounds logical and practical, and in truth, so are the contents of the book.
Whole features 11 chapters that guide you in navigating your way to happiness through understanding the science and practical advice behind virtues or qualities such as willpower, creativity and humility (it apparently isn’t the same as modesty!). For instance, according to research, self-control is strongest in the morning but weakens progressively after, and our involuntary micro- expressions trigger mirror neurons in the brains of people around us, transferring our emotions to them. We speak to Pamela about her motivations, the insights from her book, and why she’s chosen a life away from pure leisure and material pursuits.
Why did you feel compelled to write Whole?
I really wanted to show that there is credible evidence and science behind the self-help industry, which is often quoted as being “out there” and made up. And I grew to respect the fields that spoke about the brain and the effects of neuroscience on our happiness levels. With so much cutting-edge content in my hands, it would be a waste not to share it. I began writing the book in early 2017 and completed it mid-2018. I was so determined to have it published before I turned 40!
What were your main considerations for it?
I’ll be honest that I was so worried that the neuroscience might be too much for people. So, I had to inter-weave a lot of personal stories and relevant examples that could make it more relatable and poignant. I also did not want it to be dogmatic, so I posed a lot of self-inquiry questions, which would help it evolve into more of a “life-coaching” style of book.
Among the 11 virtues, what is the hardest to achieve?
Based on feedback from readers, a lot of people struggle with forgiveness, and are actually intrigued with the concept of praying for people in throes of deep pain. This makes the message all the more alluring and memorable – and inevitably creates the biggest mind-shifts. Because if an idea is at odds with one’s beliefs, that infers there is something in them that is resisting it and they need to overcome it in order to grow.
Chapter 3, on Integrity, speaks to me. But isn’t a certain level of inauthenticity accepted or celebrated these days?
Yes, absolutely! Will people really remember you for the things you have done, or the way you made them feel? Integrity through one’s word and character speaks volumes, over say, having 100k followers on Instagram or a so-called perfect body. Those things get forgotten eventually. What lasts is how you feel about yourself, and what impact and value you provide for others. On a personal note, the integrity chapter is my most treasured one. I could create another book just on this topic.
You are an heiress. Why not just choose the lady-of-leisure life?
I get asked this question a lot. At an early age, I was never drawn by material pleasures – I suppose I knew that they were temporary and unfulfilling. I’ve been blessed with very robust family values, and my parents have always emphasised the importance of humility and the “work hard, play hard” balance. Never once did my siblings and I ever take anything for granted, and we are even more grateful today that we have been raised this way because we understand that being stable, hardworking and gracious is the epitome of a really wholesome life.
How do you, in your present capacity, contribute to your family and loved ones?
As much as I can, I share my knowledge, interesting videos or articles and self-help material with them on a daily basis. It is a pleasure and comes naturally for me. I am also still involved in the family business, for which I conduct customised workshops for the various departments.
(All images: Pamela Puja Kirpalani)
This story first appeared in the July 2021 of Prestige Singapore.