Pamela 'Puja' Kirpalani
Something about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) makes it unique in concept, fascinating in execution, but limiting in adoption, at least in India.
Pamela ‘Puja’ Kirpalani, an NLP coach, explains why it remains a niche segment. “People still don’t quite understand it—and those who do, have a murky conception of it being manipulative, like hypnotising,” says Kripalani, founder of Inner High Living, an NLP training and coaching company based out of Singapore and India.
Kirpalani is the daughter of Sunder Genomal, the owner of Page Industries, better known as Jockey. She was instrumental in setting up the export division of the firm’s innerwear business between 2004 and 2006, before giving up the family business when she moved to Indonesia with her husband.
The global market for personal development is estimated to reach $56.66 billion by 2027, says data from Grand View Research. The Asia-Pacific region is likely to register the fastest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) here, of 7.9% from 2020 to 2027.
“Singapore and India fall under this category. India is a huge market, and I only see it growing bigger and bigger as people start questioning the purpose behind their lives,” she says in an interview to Forbes India
Q. Why is NLP still a niche market in India?
I think it has a bit to do with the mystery surrounding the name. Those who do understand what NLP means have a murky conception of it being a manipulative field of hypnotising people, which was true for the West in the 70s. It is nothing of the sort, though—it's one of the gentlest programmes to help one identify their own limiting beliefs, the root of what they want, and how to achieve goals in order to help people grow
Q. What were the early challenges in the Indian market? Was low awareness one of them?
Actually, since day one, the Indian market has been quite open to learning about NLP, probably due to the new generation keen to latch onto new techniques for self-development. I have been quite content with the positive feedback and interest levels. I still get messages and calls to come down and do more group trainings and workshops. As soon as this lockdown era ends, I have promised my clients India will be my first place to come and train again.
Q. And as an NLP trainer and coach, what were the challenges to begin with?
Getting the word around initially was very challenging, as many people did not quite understand what NLP was. Again, patience was key. I didn’t believe in marketing my services amongst friends and family members; I wanted it to be genuine and organic, and let the results speak for themselves. Hence, it took a few years to get off the ground. Then, I got discovered by esteemed institutions here in Singapore.
Q. How big is the NLP market in Singapore and India?
The NLP market represents probably one of the oldest and most long-term self-development tools out there and hence is always still growing at a steady pace. Because there are so many other mediums right now, people are curious to try new things out, but at the end of the day, it's the results that matter. And the results you get out of an NLP coaching and training session are incomparable. The market is estimated to grow over the next few years.
Q. As an entrepreneur, how often do you make mistakes?
My biggest mistake as a solo entrepreneur is not believing that I could come this far. Imposter syndrome would always plague my thoughts as a beginner, where I would believe that my success all was a result of just good luck. My biggest learning therefore is that I am capable, I have the knowledge and I am deserving of all the credit I receive.
Q. Is your father a mentor figure in this stream?
Yes. He was and will always be. He taught me two essential things that have brought me very far. First, 'Always, always, always go the extra mile'. This always helped me go over and over a piece of work, to make sure it was beyond excellent. Secondly, he always taught me not to take others’ behaviour personally, that the way people behave is because of their experiences. Later, I would learn this is in NLP. I never lost my cool with people as a result.
I have learned from him what it takes to hold integrity in every action, what it is like to have high work ethics, and that one must never give up. I think he also admires that I am self-made and have done my best to carve out my passion solo.