One year at Crystal Law Solicitors

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It has been one year since I entered the doors of Crystal Law Solicitors. The progress of the firm and for myself has been massive. When I joined the firm, I was very open minded and took it as an opportunity to learn and grow, not just about legal practice but the overall running of a new company.

Being part of a start-up company is extremely exciting because you are involved in many facets of the business. As well as honing my legal skills, I have contributed to the marketing, business development, building relationships and partnerships with stakeholders, getting out into the community and using social media.

I truly believe these experiences have widened my overall skill set. Getting out into the community and delivering free legal advice sessions at various libraries in Leicester has made me appreciate the importance of the law. Due to the drastic legal aid cuts, many free quality legal services have been reduced. Therefore, the pro bono work we do at Crystal Law enables us to empower the individuals we meet. Sometimes the simplest advice can really assist an individual without them having to pay extremely high fees for it.

Out of the many highlights I have experienced with CLS, the official grand opening of the firm was unbelievable. We all pulled together and hosted a successful event to our colleagues, friends, family and many well-wishers of Crystal Law. Having the City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby officially open the firm was very special for us.

The pace in which we are currently working and generating enquiries is remarkable and my role within the firm is constantly evolving. I have a great supervisor/mentor who challenges me with tasks that truly take me out of my comfort zone which has opened new possibilities within my career. I have written in previous blog posts about the importance of mentoring. I am grateful to be experiencing it in a working environment. All my colleagues are inspiring to work with.

Balance

So far this has been the year of balance. Juggling many areas in my life such as friends, family, legal career, tabla, teaching is a massive challenge. However, I am becoming better at prioritising. It sometimes means letting go of commitments I would have undertaken in the past. The decision becomes easier when you know your big goal in life. If missing a few meaningless socials brings me closer to my goals, then I am more than happy to let this part go. However, if my circle is full of inspiring, talented and individuals with strong leadership qualities, then it is a priority for me to connect with them.

What’s next

There is a wonderful flow in our office at the moment. My goal is to keep getting better at what I do and to play an active role in the continued growth of Crystal Law. Music is still making a huge impact in my life. There are projects lined up for this year which I am really looking forward to. The experiences I am gaining from Crystal Law are feeding into my artistic practice and vice versa.

 

Self-Audit 2015. Not for the faint hearted.

02As we approach the end of the year, I am carrying out my annual self-audit. I love it because it allows me to be absolutely honest with myself. I break down all the main areas in my life such as financial, health, career, family, relationships and social. I analyse the things that went well and find ways to become better for the following year. This is the third year in a row I am carrying this out. I have noticed that when I have undergone self-audits, the year goes positively.

Self-audits take a little bit of time but it is worth it. The great thing is that, you are doing it for yourself. It is free of judgement. It has become a mini addiction for me because when I look back at previous audits, it makes me happy to see the accomplishments I have made. However, I do not like to rest on that. I want to push beyond my personal boundaries and limitations.

How?

There is no specific rule on how to carry out a self-audit. It is a very personal process so be honest when doing it. The style of mine has changed over the years. For 2015, I put a section at the beginning called ‘Highlights and Achievements’. Whilst being honest with ourselves, we should also celebrate our successes.

I always include a section on goals. I think it is very important to not only write down goals but to quantify them as well. Even if you do not meet that deadline, it is okay. If anything, it gives you an opportunity to reflect on why you did not reach it. This was a massive mistake I used to make in the past. I would write down goals and not put a date on when I expected to reach them. I became lazy and allowed circumstances around me to dictate my path.

In previous blogs, I have placed great emphasis on finding your purpose. It may not come to you straight away but being around positive and successful individuals, you will unravel the path. You will be unstoppable once you come across it.

Now that my goals are in place for 2016, I have put strategies in place to make them happen. The strategies can keep changing depending on the circumstances surrounding it. For example, I was not expecting to enter the legal profession again in 2015. However, it turned out to be a massive blessing, as it gave me a new perspective on how I can be of better service to the world through my legal education. I have now built goals around this premise and I am looking forward to achieving them in 2016. I do not use the sentence ‘hope to achieve’, because it sounds non-committal and that is not me. I am ready for 2016 and the abundance of opportunities it is going to bring.

Knowing your circle of influence can fast track your chances of achieving your goals. Make a conscious list of who is in it and why. What special skill/talent does this individual possess that you want them in your circle? It may change throughout the year. It may reduce or increase depending on your goals. Have a variety of them, not just the ones in your field.

Tip:

Be flexible. If there is a quicker way to achieve a goal, go for it. It means you are more efficient than those who are stuck in their ways.

I wish you all a beautiful 2016 filled with even more opportunities so you can grow. Keep celebrating your individuality.

 

 

 

The year of falling in love….creatively and legally!

As we approach December, I can still remember the audit I carried out on myself last year. 2015 has definitely been the year of new adventures and projects. I have fallen in love with every project and performance I have been involved in. I have seen so many possibilities within my art form because each project has had a strong collaborative element requiring me to tap into various skill sets.

My role with Crystal Law Solicitors has gone from strength to strength and I am grateful to be part of a team that also supports my artistic pursuits. I love the responsibility I am being given as it shows the firm have faith in me.

It was really heartfelt that my colleagues came to the Antara students showcase in early November and they had a great time. My supervisors brother, even did the photography for the show. 🙂

I am in such a special place at the moment, I simply enjoy and love talking to people about the various projects I am involved in. It was only a few years ago when I was in limbo and was not sure of my purpose and how I can serve the Global Community at large. It is a lot clearer now. I know my strengths and areas for development. To be honest, if I am not sure about something (which is most of the time), I simply ask!

It takes time to build friendships and networks. We must keep investing in them. It cannot be a take-take situation. I admit that I have not been to as many networking events like I did last year or the year before. I do not see this as a bad thing. As I am regularly in the cultural quarter, I am always seeing friendly and familiar faces who I can have an impromptu herbal tea with.

Social media is a wonderful platform as well to cement our friendships. However, I find it very interesting when individuals are very friendly and supportive on facebook, but when you meet them in person, they are completely different! Creating a lasting positive impression in this sector is very important. A lot of the projects I have been involved in, has been built on this premise.

This is why I genuinely love connecting with creatives and passing on advice to them when they approach me. Growth is constant. It only stops if we become lazy or don’t take chances. I have learned this the hard way. All I can say is:

  1. Know your purpose and goal. This is your guiding light and will ensure that you stay on track.
  2. Have a plan but do not be fixed by it. Situations change so be prepared. Sometimes you have to go back a step to achieve a goal, but that is okay. There are other times where you are fast tracked!
  3. Invest in friendships and never forget the individuals who have assisted you along the way.
  4. Get yourself out there. Have a circle of influence who you can draw upon. I have mentors in many areas of my life. Without them, I lose focus.
  5. Fall in love with every project that comes to you. It may not be the best, but remember you have been selected for it so be grateful.

 

Back in August, I mentioned the projects I was involved in. Just a quick recap with a few extra:

There have been other memorable performances I have played in as well.These projects have taught me the following.

  • Leadership
  • Decision making
  • Communicating at different levels
  • Empathy
  • Coordinating

I will go into these in more detail in my next post.  There are still a couple more projects that will be coming to an end soon. I will be sad when they finish but I will be happy as I would have grown from the process.

Taking on new music projects: ‘Exciting few months ahead and launch of Rishi Arts website’.

_MG_5789After a refreshing trip to see the tabla family in California for our annual classes with our Guru Ustad Zakir Hussain, I am extremely happy to be back in England with a range of ‘work’ to look forward to. I have some fantastic projects coming up. Each one is going to be offering something new to my artistic portfolio.

Here is a breakdown of them:

It is wonderful that each project is different and requires a range of skill sets such as organisation, multitasking and communication. For the projects I am personally leading and producing, strong leadership will be required. For example, the Freshly Brewed project will be showcasing Assamese music and providing a flavour of its culture. North Eastern music is under represented in the UK, so it is very important that I look at the bigger picture to ensure that the Freshly Brewed performances are presented at the highest quality so a lasting positive impression is left on the audience. More importantly, I will need to strategise on where we can take it next.

These projects along with my work with Crystal Law, CEMENT, on going YoTabla teaching and other performances, is going to throw up many challenges and heavily test my skills. I can’t wait! This is the only way growth can occur. I would not have it any other way. Being reflective and keeping the big picture clear in each project will enable me to overcome any obstacles.

This goes hand in hand with the launch of the Rishi Arts website www.rishiarts.com This has been on my to do list for a while and I am really happy it has come to fruition now. I am pleased with the overall content on the site. I have been accumulating content since 2011 and finally seeing the end result has made me grateful for all those opportunities that came to me. The journey of pursuing artistic excellence and serving others never stops. By constantly expressing and sharing this journey, I am hoping other start up creatives will draw inspiration from my experiences. This has only been possible as I have consciously chosen to be around positive, influential, successful and role model type individuals.

Coming back into the law. The legal tabla player!

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We are nearly five months into 2015 and change has definitely been the theme for this year. Coming back into the legal sector was the most unexpected event to happen to me. It was unplanned but a welcomed offer. Creatively, I am in a good place. There are new projects off the ground, YoTabla is expanding and exciting performance opportunities to look forward to. Now joining Crystal Law Solicitors is a new adventure I am looking forward to.

How did I get back into law?

Two of my good friends, Dilshad and Manik Miah that I worked with at the Leicester Community Legal Advice Centre (CLAC) a few years back, set up their own firm, Crystal Law Solicitors which is also in Leicester. They got in contact with me and were intrigued to see all the creative projects I have been involved in since I left the CLAC.  They always knew about my legal background, but not as much about my creative side because it was something I did not talk about whilst I was at the CLAC.

They offered me a position and welcomed the many ideas I had about social media, events, mentoring, networking and generating clients. I have acquired these skills and experiences over the past few years having immersed myself in the creative sector. The unpredictable nature of the sector has taught me a lot about leadership, resilience and patience.  I am now in a better position to apply these skills to Crystal Law Solicitors and make a positive impact.

All skills are transferable if applied effectively

It is wonderful for me that Crystal Law Solicitors encourages creativity and out of the box thinking. Using all sides of my brain is already bringing its rewards. Some friends have been asking if I am leaving the creative sector all together. I laugh this off and answer it as a categorical ‘no’. The creative sector and friends I have made within it over the past few years, has given me a lot of strength and drive to continue the pursuit of artistic excellence. I believe balancing this aspect with my legal career will be beneficial as time progresses.

One of the best parts working at Crystal Law is that I am on the same floor as Pedestrian Charity whom I have done a lot of work with and subsequently gained my mentoring qualification with them. I strongly believe these are all good omens.

Impact

Within a few weeks of starting, I played a role in securing a partnership with the Leicester Central Library to offer free legal advice to its service users. This was possible because the team I work with have trust in my abilities and allow me to “get on with it”.

Also, our social media presence as a new law firm is constantly increasing. It is brilliant to see the solicitors getting into twitter and instagram! The legal sector has changed and it now requires lawyers to embrace social media and use it as a tool to educate and connect with clients and potential stakeholders.

I hope this is just the beginning. I am really excited with my new role at Crystal Law and cannot wait for more challenges and learning opportunities to emerge.

Leadership- does not have to be shouted from the roof tops.

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Since I have immersed myself into the creative sector over the past few years, there is a lot I have learnt about leadership. I draw upon examples from the network of individuals I spend time with. There are particular traits they possess which makes them stand out as leaders.  Leadership is a term that can be heavily loaded as there are many definitions and interpretations of it.

One of the main aspects I have noticed is that strong leaders do not have to be extroverted and have an outgoing personality. They quietly get on with the task in hand and let their actions speak for them.  Robin Sharma sums it up very well ‘Leading without a title’. I strongly believe that everyone is a leader, but the ones who stand out are the ones who are constantly putting ideas into action and delivering on them. They do not say ‘I am an amazing leader’ or ‘I was the best leader on the project’.

Leadership runs through many facets of our personal and business lives. It is something that can be learned and everyone has the potential to achieve it. Firstly, one needs a clear vision, definitive purpose in life and desire to carry it out.  Based on these elements, leadership qualities will emerge organically. This is because, once you know what you want, you will not settle for anything less. You will always look for the best individuals to be around and utilise their skill set in a mutually beneficial relationship.  Tip: Find individuals in your circle who are successful leaders and observe everything about them.

There are many projects I am grateful to be involved in this year. Each of them requires me to ‘lead’ in some form. However, it will be highly off putting to fellow collaborators if in meetings I say ‘Hi I’m Rishii, the leader of this project’. Just reading it out loud sounds ridiculous.  When you are working hard, taking responsibility and seeing the big picture in any project, the respect that is attached to leadership will be visible.

I will end on a wonderful quote by William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night:

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”.

Feel free to provide your own Interpretation!

The importance and beauty of mentoring- Mentors are for life.

I write this post as I recently completed a mentoring qualification. The course got me thinking about the mentoring I have received over the years from some very special individuals. Their impact on my life has been huge. If there is a special mentor figure/s in your life who inspires you, stick to them and take every opportunity to learn from them. If there isn’t, make a list of inspiring individuals in your life and contact them! Your growth will be far greater if you connect with individuals who are consistently achieving. Jim Rohn said “You are the average of the five people you spend time with”. When I read this, I consciously looked at who I was spending time with and made adjustments accordingly.

Specialist mentors

In other areas of my life outside of music, I seek to learn and spend time with highly successful individuals because I want to know what makes them excel. It is therefore important to be surrounded by a variety of individuals not just people in your field. Over the years, I have received some fabulous mentoring and advice from Priests, photographers, business men/women, personal development coaches, investment bankers, artistic directors and chefs. The list is endless! One may ask ‘why do you need so many mentors’? Acquiring specialist knowledge is the best form of knowledge. I am currently mentoring a young person who recently asked me a question relating to science. Science was never my forte in school so instead of giving him a convoluted answer, I simply provided him with a specialist who could assist him better than I ever could.

There are some mentoring projects I am going to be involved in throughout the year. I am excited about sharing my experiences with young people. However, I am also looking forward to be learning from them as well. Anthony Robbins uses a brilliant acronym CAN I which means Constant And Neverending Improvement.

Mentors have a way of opening up new possibilities to you. This is why the term ‘Guru’ is so important to Indian classical musicians. Guru’s not only impart knowledge, but carve out paths that we as students have not even thought of. Those paths can lead to some magical places, only if we free of ego and honestly strive to better ourselves every single day.

Excited for the creative new year!

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Birdsong Project. Photo from Swithland Woods. Credit B Newsinger

2014 was a magical year having got many projects off the ground, working with some fabulous artists/individuals and being able to learn and develop myself. I feel that the momentum is with me going into 2015.

The variety of projects I was involved in last year was astonishing when I look back. YoTabla really took off with the photo-shoot, t-shirts, workshops, performances by students, easter retreat and socials.

Artistically, I was involved in Lucy Stevens ‘Birdsong’ project which opened up my thinking towards improvisation and connecting with nature. Also, spending time and learning from my tabla hero Ustad Zakir Hussain in San Francisco. Performing and doing a workshop in California there was phenomenal and very special.

The big one was the Melodies on the Brink project having secured Arts Council Funding and producing a show from scratch. It was a new experience managing and producing the show. It was one of the most challenging aspects I have faced in my career to date. I got a lot out of it and learned many lessons. We had a sell out show which was a testament to everyone involved.

With regard to professional development, I attended many courses relating to marketing, goal setting, intellectual property, music education and so on. These courses definitely played a huge role in my creative career, although I was not aware of it at the time I was sitting in those workshops! Setting up CEMENT with my good friends from the creative sector Bob Christer and John Kirby was a massive achievement as we really wanted to bring Leicester’s creative community together and make stuff happen(our motto)!

The mentoring qualification was fantastic and I got a lot out of it. I am very thankful to Pedestrian Charity, Leicester for providing this training. I feel that I am in a much better position now to guide young creatives, having done some mentoring last year and seeing results of the individuals I worked with. It is something I definitely want to do more of in 2015.

I have already set my goals for the year. I cannot stress enough the importance of self reflection and being honest with yourself. I love reading personal development books and have a thirst for constantly improving. I noticed when I applied even a minuscule of the many principals learnt in these books, the impact was HUGE!   For example, the above milestones reached was only possible because I had the DESIRE and VISION to be a collaborative artist, manage my own projects and positively impact the individuals I come across. This is just one aspect of manifestation. The rest is all about strategy, surrounding yourself with successful individuals and having the flexibility to constantly tweak your approach so that you achieve a positive result. I will talk more about this in future posts.

One of the projects I am currently working on this year is a unique collaboration of YoTabla! with ADAA (Aarti’s Dance and Arts Academy). AADA was recently set up by my good friend and exceptional dancer Aarti Lodhia. Both of our sets of students are going to collaborate for a performance in November. We both strongly believe in supporting young people who have a passion for Indian classical music and dance. This is the first time we are doing something like this, so we will definitely keep you updated on our progress throughout the year.

Have a blessed 2015 and I look forward to sharing more tips with you over the next 12 months.

God Bless

Rishii

Preparations for Melodies on the Brink. Not long to go!

It has been a while since I have blogged. The summer was very exciting as I was in San Francisco learning from the God of tabla Ustad Zakir Hussain. Whilst in San Francisco I collaborated and performed with well known Persian musicians ‘The Dehghani Brothers’, percussionist Tobias Roberson and spoken word artists Fariba Bogzaran and Kim Rosen in a performance called ‘Night of Rhythm and Poetry’ hosted by the Lucid Art Foundation. I was also invited to be a guest speaker at the Cultural Integration Fellowship to discuss Indian music and wellbeing. Since coming back to the UK, it has been nonstop with other exciting projects coming up.

We are fast approaching the Melodies on the Brink production and there have been a lot of developments. Rehearsals have gone really well and the show is taking shape. As part of this project we have been truly blessed to have the expertise and experience of renowned kathak dancer Sonia Sabri Ji. She is acting as choreographic mentor for the project. Our first session with her a few weeks ago was highly insightful. Not only did the dancers benefit but the musicians as well. We cannot wait to see her again.
The dancers Kesha Raithatha and Marius IR Mates have literally thrown themselves into this project with their vast repertoire of dancing styles. It was exciting to see them dance to our compositions and interpret the music. I have never worked with Marius, but he has been a revelation and is going to dazzle the audience with his hip/break dance style. Kesha has recently come back from India where she was busy performing. All her experiences are also adding a different element to the project, as Kesha will be incorporating body rhythm and contact improvisation within a few of the pieces.

For the musicians, it has been great having the opportunity to try out performance material at the lunchtime soundbites courtesy of Embrace Arts, Leicester. It has allowed a greater chemistry between the musicians as well as giving us the freedom to express. The last part of this project is going to be intense but the momentum is going in the right direction.
Until next time. 🙂

Tickets are still available for the show.
https://uk.patronbase.com/_EmbraceArts/Productions/XO29/Performances

Speaking Hands-Our first gig and receiving Arts Council Funding.

It was such a joy for our ensemble ‘Speaking Hands’ to perform together for the very first time at the Birmingham Mela on Saturday 5 July. It was important for us as a group to see how we connected with each other. The humorous moments we have shared off stage carried on into our performance and we had a great time.

Since my last post on ‘Speaking Hands’ in March, we have now secured some funding from the Arts Council to produce a special music and dance production commemorating World War 1 called ‘Melodies on the Brink’. This performance will take place on Saturday 15 November at Embrace Arts, Leicester. Our music will be intertwined with kathak and break dance! We are over the moon, to have received this support and we can’t wait for the mammoth rehearsals to kick off! We are already in the creative phase but most of the communication has taken place over facebook, skype and what’s app!

Responsibility:
Now this dream has come true, the level of responsibility has increased. I am finding myself wearing a few hats. One for the creative side and the other for the overall management of the project, such as liaising with venues, artists, choreographers, producers etc. I am grateful to be in this position because; I am bringing together all the skills and experiences I acquired from my education and performing backgrounds. The proof of this will be in the final performance on 15 November.

As simple as it sounds, for any type of project to be successful, you must work with people who are not just talented, but have a positive and flexible attitude. I am really thankful that that the musicians and dancers that are working on the ‘Melodies on the Brink’ project have all of these qualities in an abundance.

I must give a special mention and heartfelt thanks to the Artistic Director of Phizzical Productions Samir Bhamra, Embrace Arts and the Arts Council who have truly supported the vision of this project. We as musicians and dancers feel empowered to create work that will excite and provoke thought into our audiences.
Do check out the link to find out more http://www.phizzical.com/melodies-on-the-brink/
God Bless