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Our guest today is Nalini Prasad, Chief Strategy Officer at BluShark Digital

As a young girl, Nalini wanted to be a prosecutor and while she did get into law school, she decided to take a year off before attending. During this time, she would discover a love of marketing.

Attorney Seth Price of Price Benowitz invited Nalini to join him in building a digital marketing agency. She said yes and shortly after found out she was pregnant. 

Join me for today’s episode as we go on a journey of exploring the push and pull of work-life balance, why shoes really shouldn’t be required, and what it means to give back in the form of helping immigrant small business owners.

Transcription

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Nalini Prasad:

So, I go in on the first day, and then I didn’t know the structure for lunches or anything, and I remember vividly … Greg is our head of development still at BluShark, and he was there for a year before I started, and so I’m like, “He looks like the guy that might know things. So, what’s the deal with lunch? How does lunch happen? When can I go do this thing I’ve got to do?” And he was just like, “You don’t take lunch. You work.” What is happening? So, then I was like, “Okay. All right, well I’m going to go. I’m going to Uber somewhere and I’ll be back in a bit.”

Nalini Prasad:

And months later, once Greg and I were friends, Greg was like, “You were the craziest person. You walked in on day one and took a lunch without telling anyone, and we were like, ‘This girl’s going to get fired! What is her problem?’”

Luke W Russell:

Welcome to Lawful Good, Powerful Partners, a series about interesting and caring folks that we know and trust, whose journeys brought them to collaboration with the legal community. I’m your host Luke W. Russell. I’m not a journalist. I’m not an attorney. I’m trained as a coach. I love human connection, and that’s what you’re about to hear.

Luke W Russell:

My guest today is Nalini Prasad, Chief Strategy Officer at BluShark Digital. As a young girl, Nalini wanted to be a prosecutor, and while she did get into law school, she decided to take a year off before attending. During this time, she would discover a love of marketing. Attorney Seth Price of Price Benowitz invited Nalini to join him in building a digital marketing agency. She said yes, and shortly after, found out she was pregnant. Join me for today’s episode as we go on a journey of exploring the push and pull of work/life balance, why shoes really shouldn’t be required, and what it means to give back in the form of helping immigrant small business owners.

Luke W Russell:

So, Nalini, you are a mother. You are presently pregnant with your second baby, and we had the beautiful opportunity of interviewing your son [Tej 00:02:24]. We asked him what his favorite thing about you was. What do you think he said?

Nalini Prasad:

Oh my gosh, I don’t even know. That kid is wild. Tej’s favorite thing about me might be that I’m festive, that we do fun decorating things or crafty things. It’s a little bit different dynamic than with Dad, right?

Luke W Russell:

Mm-hmm.

Nalini Prasad:

So, maybe something like that?

Luke W Russell:

Yes! Oh my gosh, I love that! The first thing he said was, he goes, “I like Mommy.” And [Sketchy 00:02:56], your husband, he was like, “Okay.” And Sketchy was like, “Hey, what else?” and Tej was like, “Everything.” He was like, “Well, could you be more specific?” Tej goes, “Daddy.” And he’s like, “What?”

Nalini Prasad:

Well, so, to be honest, yeah, with how much I travel and always feeling as if I’m missing 100 steps with Tej, just to hear him say, “I like Mommy,” is really great. That’s some positive reinforcement. That makes me feel really good, because I don’t spend the majority of my time with him when it comes to parenting. Tej is with Daddy all the time, so that was nice that he said he liked Mommy.

Luke W Russell:

Yes! Yes! Well, and he said he loved decorating! And that’s what Sketchy [crosstalk 00:03:45] Yes! And that’s what Sketchy clarified, that he loved that you had decorated the tree recently … or when we interviewed him … and Tej also said, “I want to trick-or-treating,” just so you’re aware.

Nalini Prasad:

Okay.

Luke W Russell:

This was after Halloween.

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. Well, candy’s a good thing, but yes, all the crafty things we do, the costumes and holidays, and small holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day, things like that where I’m trying to teach him … And I love it, because I had always wanted a girl. I’m excited because we are having a girl, but Tej, I was like, “I don’t want a boy! A boy is going to be like Sketchy! They’re going to like sports and they’re going to be quiet, and I want someone that’s going to be active in crafts and I can do all these fun things with,” and Tej ended up being a real crafter!

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. I love it.

Nalini Prasad:

So, he loves playing with colors and art, and so he did get that piece from me and I’ve had a great time sharing that, and not being the only one that’s doing all the decorating seasonally. He gets excited about it, so I love that he loves that.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah, that’s so fun! So, speaking of sports, thinking back to your early years, which sport did you fall in love with first, and do you remember about how old you were?

Nalini Prasad:

I think I’ve just always been competitive by nature, and so sports … I have an older brother. He’s five years older than me. He has always been into sports, and earlier on … I’m one of 18 cousins. A lot of people don’t know that. I have a giant family. But the majority of them are boys that were around my age as well, all older, so I think that played a huge part in me getting into sports, but their biggest thing was basketball. So, very early on, I actually was an Orlando Magic basketball fan, and I would’ve killed for a Penny Hardaway jersey, but I didn’t really get into basketball in terms of wanting to watch the games. I think it was just kind of cool that the guys liked it and I could like it, too.

Nalini Prasad:

My first sport that I genuinely actually really like, and still love today: football.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

Football is very different than any other sport for me.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Do you remember the TV that you would watch football on growing up?

Nalini Prasad:

Oh my gosh, it was like a giant cabinet TV. Very different than the flat-screen or multiple TVs that we have now for different games.

Luke W Russell:

Yep.

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. It swiveled a little bit, and it had a dial pad on the side. I actually can picture it vividly.

Luke W Russell:

Yes!

Nalini Prasad:

I think my mom had it until a few years ago. She does not throw away anything.

Luke W Russell:

Now, did you just say, “Multiple TVs for multiple games,” like at home you’re watching multiple games at the same time?

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. A few years ago, when we had more time in life, Sketchy wanted a man cave. He was like, “When we get a place, I want a man cave.” I was like, “You realize it’s going to be the majority of my sports things,” because he doesn’t buy things. I go and I buy stuff at all the games I go to. I just have a bunch of nonsense. So, I was like, “Okay, it’ll be the man cave, but really there will be a lot of my sports paraphernalia in there.”

Nalini Prasad:

But the one thing that we did agree on and really liked was we got the NFL Ticket very early on, and so we like to watch multiple games because we do fantasy, and so we have three TVs on the wall so we can watch three games at the same time. And then we would bring a fourth TV in, because you know, you need to be watching four games. You go to the bar and you can see 10 games. Why not do it at home?

Luke W Russell:

That’s so great. So, it was you, your older brother, five years older, your parents. What was the family dynamic like?

Nalini Prasad:

Very wild. My mom’s a single parent, so she had a boy that was … He’s very different than me, and I say this about a lot of my friends; how can you be raised by the same people, in the same household, and then you’re just so very different? Within your values, with everything. He was much more the pusher to do things that he wanted to do, and I don’t know if it was because I was younger and I saw that he would get in trouble, or that that would be bad for my mom, that I was like, “Oh, I’ll be the good one then,” but I was always much more the goody two-shoe. I did not step outside of the lines as far as I couldn’t handle, or try not to, but he’s definitely the rebel, and I’m the good child, which people would be shocked to find out, probably.

Luke W Russell:

Oh my gosh. How would you rate yourself as a younger sister on a scale of one to five?

Nalini Prasad:

I was the worst. I got him in trouble all the time. To this day, oh my gosh, I can’t stop hearing about how I was a tattletale. And now Tej, he will narc on you in five seconds, so I see that and I’m like, “Oh man! Snitches get stitches, Tej, but I was a big snitch as a kid, so I can’t really fault you right now. I can just tell you people will hold grudges against you for the rest of their life.”

Luke W Russell:

Mm-hmm.

Nalini Prasad:

But yeah, I think I was … I wasn’t terrible. I’m sure I was annoying. I talk a lot, right? So, I was probably annoying to him in talking. I wanted to hang out with him and his friends and I was five years younger, which was never an option, and then I told on him all the time, so I don’t know! I’d probably give me a two.

Luke W Russell:

A two. Two. Well, hey, I guess it’s better than one.

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah.

Luke W Russell:

You mentioned, I think you said your mom was a single parent?

Nalini Prasad:

Yes.

Luke W Russell:

Was your dad in the scene at all?

Nalini Prasad:

No. He was deceased.

Luke W Russell:

Oh. Okay.

Nalini Prasad:

When I was about eight, and my brother was right in his … probably what caused a lot of his wildness, but he was about 13.

Luke W Russell:

Middle school. Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

Yes, exactly, so it was a pivotal age where it probably would’ve been important to have a father figure, and so he went wild, and so there’s a lot of … I understand he was just kind of crazy for reasons, right?

Luke W Russell:

Sure. Oh, sure.

Nalini Prasad:

Everybody deals with grief in their own way.

Luke W Russell:

Right.

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah, but my mom was a single parent. Still is. She never prioritized dating or anything, so just with her. She played the role of two parents for a long time.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Do you have any memories with your dad?

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. Because I was about eight, so at least from five to eight, but again, very … Cheated out of a lot, right? Three years of it. But, yes, he was the … Their dynamic absolutely was that she was strict. She was the parent that would discipline you, there were rules, and then Dad had no rules, but to a fault; would get in trouble with Mom because of having no rules and doing just wild things.

Nalini Prasad:

One example … And this is just absurd. Both of my parents ran stores, so they had two separate stores, and a semi truck stops at my Dad’s store, and it’s coming from a carnival or some small fair or something that … You know, Florida has these little county fairs. And my dad purchased the whole semi trailer of stuffed animals. These are the animals that you win for the water gun game or the toss the ball in the ring thing, so they’re giant pandas, bigger than … Three, four-feet things.

Luke W Russell:

Right, those huge ones. Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

Yes! And a bunch of these colorful monkeys. All kinds of craziness. So, he comes home with this nonsense and my mom was like, “What is wrong with you?” These are the types of things that he did where he was like, “I think this will make kids happy,” and it was like, but that’s wild. That’s wild behavior.

Luke W Russell:

Oh my gosh, that is too funny.

Nalini Prasad:

But that’s a classic him move. Classic.

Luke W Russell:

I mean, I imagine as a kid you probably were over the moon to see all of these ginormous stuffed animals.

Nalini Prasad:

Well, yeah, that was the problem though, because then the kids would be like, “Dad’s the greatest! He’s done this fantastic thing!” And Mom would be like, “No, he’s crazy! That’s not what’s supposed to happen!”

Luke W Russell:

Right.

Nalini Prasad:

So, I get it. He was just very giving.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

And just wild.

Luke W Russell:

Now, did your parents immigrate to the United States?

Nalini Prasad:

Yes. Both of them were born and raised in Guyana, South America, so our heritage is Indian, but then I guess indentured servants, however you want to say that … The British brought over a bunch of Indian people to Guyana, South America in the West Indies when they were doing the sugar plantations, so only two generations of my family is in Guyana. Before that, it was all Indian.

Nalini Prasad:

So, they came over when they were young though. My mom came over at 16, and then, culturally, all arranged marriages for my mom and her eight siblings, so when they married her off … Let’s say it that way, I guess … he came here after she had her citizenship, probably in his early 20s.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

So, they really grew up here, but it’s funny because even though she’s been here since she was 16, it is still very much … I am a first-generation American here, because her culture, even though it was only 16 years, was very strong and she’s still not … A lot of the ways that we, like how I raise Tej is very different than how I was raised. Things like that, based on …

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Growing up, did you kind of resist your mother’s culture?

Nalini Prasad:

You know what? I think … and I hope that this is true with other first-generation kids … yes, because you’re always wanting to be like your friends, and you see them doing this, and they’re allowed to have sleepovers, and they’re allowed to do this and that. That’s just not the way things were for her upbringing, and so yeah, you get a little frustrated, also because you’re a kid and you don’t see things for what they are, you see what’s right in front of you. So, absolutely, in the moments, I was very frustrated with it and I was not a fan of it, being different, even if there was a different … It’s not a different language, but Caribbean folks speak differently, especially when they’re around family; they’re super loud and crazy. So, even with the different accent or dialect, being different is not what you want when you’re a kid, right?

Luke W Russell:

Right.

Nalini Prasad:

Now I love all those things about my culture! I love the food and all the things that, yes, we’re a little resistant to earlier on. Especially as a teenager.

Luke W Russell:

Yes. I feel like, as a teenager, anything associated with our parents, we’re like, “Oh no!” So, what about school? What was school like for you, going through grade school? Were grades kind of come easy for you? It was kind of tough?

Nalini Prasad:

It was funny, I was actually just down in Florida for Thanksgiving, and so I saw my brother and my mom, and we were finally, finally going through just … As I said, she doesn’t throw things away. So, we were going through all this crazy crap she had kept from our childhood, and she had a giant box of every report card ever, and every award for me and my brother. My brother is certifiably the high-IQ smart guy, super smart. He is, I will absolutely admit, smarter than me. But when it comes to working for a grade, and doing things, I have him on that, right?

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

So, maybe I would get a 90 … which he still doesn’t consider an A, even though it is an A … and he would always make 99s. So, we’re looking through this box together and he’s pulling out, left and right, all these letters from teachers who were saying, “Nalini is so helpful in the classroom,” and all these little things. I did Girls State, nominated for lots of community type things. So, after the first couple he took out, he’s like, “Oh, look, it’s another good Samaritan award for you.” So, we were different kids in that respect, but then … And then he was taking out the report cards and he was like, “Oh, this one’s got to be mine,” because it was 98s and 100s, but it was actually mine; but that must’ve been the only one report card that was ever that great.

Nalini Prasad:

So, he was putting the pile together, and the good Samaritan awards for mine, and then … I was a low A average student … and then he was prideful about all his academic awards. He always got highest in the class and things like that, so he’s like, “Oh, look! A real award!” He was putting those in his pile.

Luke W Russell:

Oh my gosh.

Nalini Prasad:

But yeah, I was more so the teacher’s pet, tried to help in the class where I could, and come up with activities and things like that versus the star student, the highest grade, right?

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Yeah. And was faith, religion, spirituality part of the home growing up?

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. Yes. My family is very religious, and I am probably a couple steps away from it, but there’s things culturally that I’ve absolutely kept to. I don’t … And at conferences, it’s a little bit difficult sometimes, but I don’t eat beef or pork. I don’t think anybody knows that about me, because there’s always a chicken option. I’m not picky about things. But yeah, I don’t eat beef and pork. That’s a religious thing. I don’t talk about religion often at all. I take off my Diwali once a year quietly from work and things, so I don’t talk about it a lot. I want Tej to learn it and make a decision for himself, so I’m more of that sense versus when I was growing up, it was like, “This is it. This is religion and this is what you believe and this is how things are, because this is how it was for us.”

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

But, again, that’s a little bit different with the parenting, where it’s like, “Well, you figure out if you like it,” but I want him to be raised in it. I want him to at least know it. He does not eat beef and pork. I don’t cook it in the house. But then, at a point, if he chooses to do that, live your life. Do you.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Yeah. Is that Hinduism? Islam?

Nalini Prasad:

Yes. Hinduism is the religion. Yep.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Yeah. And then you mentioned having 18 cousins. I actually have … Not trying to one-up you. I understand what it’s like to grow up with a big family. I’m one of 36 first cousins on my dad’s side.

Nalini Prasad:

No way!

Luke W Russell:

Yes.

Nalini Prasad:

Listen, for an American family, that’s wild!

Luke W Russell:

Catholic. They’re Catholic.

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. Okay, all right, that makes more sense.

Luke W Russell:

They fit that stereotype, but yeah, my dad was one of 11, and so I grew up—

Nalini Prasad:

Oh my gosh!

Luke W Russell:

I have two siblings, but Thanksgivings were just the whole town. Did you have a lot of family around in Florida, too, then?

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. Actually, I was the first to leave Florida for school. Everybody else kind of … Florida has great schools. You’ve got UF and Miami and USF and stuff, so … I’m right in the middle of that 18, and so it was a big deal when I was like, “Peace out, Florida,” because that was just like … Nobody would think of doing that. But I think, yeah, all of them are still there. There’s a couple that have left since then for college, med school, things like that, and then they’ve come back and they’ve still settled there, so we try to do at least one holiday, whether that’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, in Florida, and then for … Usually we do a weekend and we try to see all those people, and it is absurd. This time we spent a week, which was actually really nice, to be able to take off for a week and try to see people.

Nalini Prasad:

And it’s grown, right? Because everyone’s had kids now, and they all moved to different parts of Florida, but all of my family is centrally located in Florida. Sketchy’s is all here in Virginia, so we see his family all the time, so the one time a year, it’s nice to be able to do that.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Speaking of college, you studied at George Washington University, and I think you studied international affairs and criminal justice? Is that right?

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. Yeah. I actually, I went to a high school magnate program for law.

Luke W Russell:

Okay.

Nalini Prasad:

I chose my college because of their mock trial team. And God forbid I didn’t make it. What would’ve been the point? But, I went to GWB because they were the number one of 300 teams across the country at the time, in mock trial. I was international affairs and criminal justice, like you said, because I was very bleeding-heart, “We’re going to fix the world.” I either wanted to be a prosecutor, which was the dream from very young, or something in international law to put the two together. And then by second semester of college, I was like, “Oh shit, there’s too much wrong in the world. We’re not going to fix this. This is bad news, and I’m going to spend my entire life sad if I do this.”

Nalini Prasad:

So, I continued the international affairs because I have a passion for learning about cultures and it was really cool coursework, but the people that were in my class that are now foreign service and living in Uganda and doing all kinds of things on pipelines is impressive and amazing, but also, the depression level is unreal with seeing the things that they see on a daily basis; but I’m really impressed by so many of my classmates that are doing really amazing things in the world right now.

Nalini Prasad:

And then, yeah, I took the LSAT, applied to law school, and then ended up deciding I liked building websites, so …

Luke W Russell:

Yeah, I want to explore that because it was really interesting. I didn’t know about your original background for law, and so the first question, before we get to the transition to building websites; what was in that young Nalini that was like, “I want to be a prosecutor”? Where did that come from?

Nalini Prasad:

A lot of that has to do from my childhood, and just seeing the way people are treated.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

I had also … I think Florida’s very conservative, and coming from a tiny town outside of Orlando, you have certain mindsets in things. So, I went into that magnate as a person that was like … This might not be popular. I’m speaking to a lot of lawyers out there right now … but I went into it as a child … Things have changed, guys, but I went into it as, “You know, if you’ve got to put away nine innocent people to get the one guilty one, so be it, because that one guilty one’s a bad person.”

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

And I went to that law magnate and I had the most liberal, awesome teachers who were attorneys in Orlando, and very slowly from there, through college, through life, you just change your opinions, and not being so stuck in ridiculous mindsets. But at the time when I was deciding I wanted to be a prosecutor, because I also felt that the state has more say over … And we shouldn’t be playing God either, but they had more say over the leniency of what a sentence could be, so I knew I wanted to do public interest, and I just couldn’t see myself being a public defender at that time, because I thought I could be a prosecutor and still be lenient if there aren’t really crazy things happening, but the sense of justice was the biggest thing for me, I think. I’m about putting people away, I guess.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. So, you were doing the nonprofit work, you’re finding a love of what’s going on in the internet. Do you remember the moment in which you decided, “I do not want to do this lawyer thing”?

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. Honestly, I think that there’s still a piece of me that would enjoy being a lawyer, but the way that the cookie crumbled at the time was, senior year comes up, I take the LSAT, apply to law school. I get into a law school in the DC area. I’m like, “That’s exciting, but I’ve got a shit-ton of loans from GW. I don’t know if I’m ready to go take a bunch of loans again in law school. I am also not going to be a gunner right now because I’m kind of burnt out from school.” So, in the least, I realize I want a year off in between. In my mindset, I’m like, “I’m going to go back and I’ll do this.”

Nalini Prasad:

All my friends who were on mock trial are now still my best friends today, and they’re all lawyers in the DC area, but they were in their … They were a couple of years ahead of me, so I had people in their 1L hell, 2L year they’re doing their early interview week. They’re all upset. So, I’m going to them and I’m like, “You know, should I still go to law school? What should I do with my life? Can you just tell me how to run my life?” And of course they’re all like, “Law school’s the worst! Don’t do it! You’re going to die!” So, they helped me make my decision to take the year off, but now they’re all mid-30s. They’re all loving their life. They’re all doing very well, big law or whatever passion they wanted to follow.

Nalini Prasad:

So, I took that year off because I had got a full-time offer with the company as well, the nonprofit, and I said, “You know what? Let me do this for a year. Let me just live and be fun and enjoy things, and then, you know, I deferred it and I’ll start law school the next year. That’s what we’ll do.” And then the next year rolled around and I really got even more into what I was doing with the digital side. I was like, “I really, really like this. What if I pushed it another year? What if I pushed it another year?”

Nalini Prasad:

And the other thing that was happening at that time was that it was kind of the recession where there was only so many people graduating from law school getting jobs in general. No offense to all the people listening right now; I did not want to do big law. It was not what I think I would’ve wanted to do at the time, so I was like, “There’s no point in going and killing myself and then taking loans, only to do something I don’t really want to do. There’s no jobs in public affairs or … I don’t need to be number one for that.”

Nalini Prasad:

So, then two years turned into three, four, and then about six years into doing digital, I get a call from Price Benowitz … I was doing SEO at the time. They were like, “Hey, we’re going to start a digital company focused on legal.” I was like, “Well, shit! Is this a fake call? Because that sounds like my two loves,” right?

Luke W Russell:

Yes! Yes.

Nalini Prasad:

And so, it was funny too, because I go in for the interview. They were just like, “We’re going to be a thing.” So, I go in for the interview, and it’s in the nice upstairs … If anybody’s ever been to Price Benowitz, it’s in Chinatown. They have three floors; there’s basement, then there’s one and two. The second floor, I go in; beautiful office. “Well, this is so nice! We’ll be in-house for Price Benowitz for right now.” I meet with the president of the marketing team. I’m like, “This is great.”

Nalini Prasad:

But then I leave and I’m like, “You know what? What if this is all fake? Is this really going to become a company? I don’t know really what’s going on.” So, at the time, I think I was engaged and we were looking at buying a place together and stuff, and so I was like, “Listen. This looks like a really cool opportunity at this point in my career, but it may also be very fake. So, let’s say I take this opportunity and it turns into nothing, and then I don’t have a job. Are we okay if that happens right now?” And he said, “You know what? It’s a good time to do it. Try it out and see what happens.”

Nalini Prasad:

And so I did. I ended up saying yes to that job. I left where I was. I was like, “This could be really cool.” And day one, they’re like, “Oh, no, you have to go to the basement.” So, I go to the basement, and it’s darker, and there’s a bunch of people who … It’s very SEO where you have all the desks together and people are working side by side. They look friendly enough. And then the president of the marketing team was in an office, but the office was the closet. And it’s such a good joke now because of where we are, but they turned the little storage closet into an office for him.

Nalini Prasad:

I went home my first day and I was like, “Sketchy, I don’t know. It’s interesting there. It’s interesting. I mean, they really do SEO and they’re doing it for this Price Benowitz firm, and the firm is legit. These things are all real, but I don’t know if this is going to become a company or not. I just don’t know.” And then, yeah, two months later all the branding came in for BluSpark Digital, which is now BluShark, and the real contracts happened and we started to work on a couple of different client sites and it went very quick from there, but it was a leap of faith, 100%, and I think that really locked in I get to do legal and digital, and I think that might’ve been the moment that I was like, “I have both of the things that I love right now,” that law school is not happening. I’m six years out of college at this point. I really don’t want to go do more work, like schoolwork.

Luke W Russell:

No kidding, yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

I really enjoy what I’m doing, and making a difference in the real world.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Sketchy reminisced, in his version, the day he dropped you off for the interview. He said you were pregnant with Tej at the time.

Nalini Prasad:

I had just found out, and this is great, too, because … A couple of the folks that were in that basement are still with BluShark, now heads of departments and things, but I go in and I’m a little bit older at this point than most of the people in this 10-person team. They were all straight out of college, maybe 22, and I was, again, six years out, so I was the old person in the office. But, then I come in and I’m like, “Oh my god.” I found out I was pregnant after I accepted the job. I accepted the job in August, didn’t start until—

Luke W Russell:

Oh, got it. Okay.

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah, until a month-and-a-half later. I got time to finish the other job and take a couple of weeks off. So, then I was like, “Oh, shit! Now I’ve got to tell these people I’m pregnant? And this is a young company.” So, it was very early, I had to do a doctor’s appointment. I go in on the first day, and then I didn’t know the structure for lunches or anything, and I remember vividly … Greg is our head of development still at BluShark, and he was there for a year before I started, and so I’m like, “He looks like the guy that might know things.” I was like, “So, what’s the deal with lunch? How does lunch happen? When can I go do this thing I’ve got to do?” And he was just like, “You don’t take lunch. You work. What is happening?” So, then I was like, “Okay. All right. Well, I’m going to go. I’m going to Uber somewhere, and I’ll be back in a bit.”

Nalini Prasad:

And months later, once Greg and I were friends, Greg was like, “You were the craziest person. You walked in on day one and took a lunch without telling anyone, and we were like, ‘This girl’s going to get fired! What is her problem?’”

Luke W Russell:

Oh my gosh.

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. Well, because I didn’t want to tell them where I was going for the doctor’s appointment. That’s way too early in life to tell people. So, I had to do that, and then I ended up having to tell BluShark pretty early, “This is a thing, just so you know.” But yeah, that was all about timing. It’s just crazy thinking back to that.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Yeah. Now, you’re in a really interesting position having come from this criminal justice background, and mock trial experience. You’re in digital marketing, and then you come in here to work for BluShark, which was backed by Price Benowitz, and then you’re also a really competitive person. How does all this come together to form this love of growth?

Nalini Prasad:

I mean, everything you just said is the type of personality that wants to push themselves. The other piece of it that should be put into there is that I’m a very antsy person, too, and I think that is why I loved digital so much; because it’s ever-changing, right?

Luke W Russell:

Ooh, yeah. Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

And when you think about competitiveness, my competition is Google, is the Google bot. Learning their patterns like a human and figuring out, “Well, if they did this in the past, this is what they’re going to do again,” right?

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

And because those things keep changing, I am happy in my job because I get to keep forward-thinking.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

I don’t think that I would be the type of person that would be happy in a role that stayed the same, where I wasn’t challenged all the time, and I think that that … The [antsy-ness 00:32:41] and the competitiveness, when you put those two together, you can’t not grow. You have to grow. Morgan says it best, quite honestly; grow or die. I would rather continue to grow and deal with growing problems … because there are always problems with growth … than to sit there and do the same shit over and over again.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

Because I would rather not be doing it, quite honestly.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Is enough ever enough?

Nalini Prasad:

I don’t think for me. This is a thing I’ve had to face many times, and it gets worse as I get older because I’m like, “What is my purpose? Why can’t I just be happy with what I have?” And I am. Not to say I’m not a happy person, right? I’m very happy with what I have, but I always feel like there is more that can be done, or more that you can challenge yourself with, and I think I like being around the lawyers a lot because I think that that mindset is there.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

When you’re sitting down and talking about them growing their business, it really energizes me and makes me feel less bad about what should be a personality flaw, probably; the fact that we can’t just be satisfied. But when I hear it from other people who feel the same way, I’m like, “Oh, we’re all screwed up together! This is great! This is perfect!”

Luke W Russell:

Right?

Nalini Prasad:

Yes.

Luke W Russell:

Well, it’s like there’s a space where it’s like maybe it’s enough in one sense, but then on the other hand, there’s always this desire for something else. There’s always a new challenge, a new height, a new … And I think people who don’t have that look from the outside and are like, “Why can’t you just be satisfied?”

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. And this is another … I don’t think people know this one about me either, but a favorite musical song is actually called Never Satisfied from Hamilton.

Luke W Russell:

Yes.

Nalini Prasad:

And that’s a little bit different about what it’s about, but the words really resonate.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

They really resonate. Yeah.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Now, would you say networking comes easy for you?

Nalini Prasad:

I think if we’re talking about networking in the respect of … I really like this particular podcast, because I’m being as open as I’ve ever been on anything.

Luke W Russell:

Thank you!

Nalini Prasad:

So, it’ll be interesting to see if people will catch on to some of these things and mention them later to me. But, I think networking, from the perspective of just enjoying talking to others and learning about others is natural. I do like that a lot. The part where, from a business perspective, there is a certain amount of questions and type of questions that you need to get to in a conversation is something that I … I don’t know, sometimes I think that’s very natural first step, just knowing the right thing to say at the right time, and how to get information to people, but I think that that is a learned trait for everyone.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

And that there’s some people, though, that can do it much more fluently and better, and those people end up being your great networkers, but I think that’s not necessarily natural to me. That is something that I’ve had to learn, and that’s nuanced. It’s things that are trained.

Nalini Prasad:

And then after these conferences, quite honestly, I think I’ve learned … and I don’t know if it’s getting worse in old age, but feel, as I get older, is that I need more time to recharge between them. Even on a day where I have five calls, it’s like, at nighttime, I don’t really want to talk to anybody.

Luke W Russell:

Right.

Nalini Prasad:

I maybe am a little more introverted than I think I am, is what I might’ve learned through this role in the last couple years.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

So, natural to want to learn about people, but not necessarily to want to do it all the time, and then to do it the right way.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. I think some of us, me included, when we show up in a room or at the bar and people are networking and having conversations, I, and others, look at it and see people talking, and then I’ll be like, “Why would I go up and interrupt someone or just force myself into conversation?” But then there’s the networking personality that kind of sees it differently. When you look at the bar that’s got people around and people are hanging out, how do you look at that? What’s going on in your brain?

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah, I 100% understand what you’re saying about there’s two types of personalities that will see that situation differently, and I honestly think that I’m a little bit in between, because it depends. Am I working and I need to go talk to somebody because I know that they want to talk to us and they want my help and my expertise? That’s a little bit different. Then it’s like, “Oh, I saw that person earlier. They wanted to talk to me. They are talking to someone, but I believe that I will be valuable to that conversation. I know that I was invited to speak to that human earlier.” So, that’s where I feel a little more comfortable kind of butting into a conversation.

Nalini Prasad:

When I walk into a room, similar to you, if people are having conversations, you don’t want to just bust up in there and be like, “Oh, hey! I’m going to completely talk about something you’re not talking about right now!” So, for me, a lot of times I do kind of survey the room and see if there is someone … Sometimes it’s loud and you can hear what people are talking about … a topic that I do genuinely enjoy, because when you walk into a conversation and you talk about something that is not work-related that is something you genuinely enjoy, it is natural, and I prefer to have natural interactions with people.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

So, I try not to butt into things as well. I like to kind of go somewhere I believe I can give that, and that I will enjoy the conversation.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Now, how have you taken your passion for people to the culture inside at BluShark?

Nalini Prasad:

This was probably a lot more in the earlier days, when I was actually part of the [links 00:38:24] team. It’s a lot harder when you’re traveling and you’re not in the day-to-day, you know all the faces, which is also a big thing that I think had to be … I think that’s a big thing that happens with lawyers, too, is they grow. Or just leaders in organizations. I think that’s a pretty solid bullet to bite and swallow, where you start to realize that you’re no longer included in some of the culture, or you’re not known by the people, your personality. People will know my name at BluShark, and they’ll be like, “Yeah, she’s the one that’s traveling all the time,” but they have never had a conversation with me. They don’t know what I actually enjoy that I’m pursuing.

Nalini Prasad:

I think, for me, because I’m a people person, that was really upsetting when that transition happened a couple of years ago, especially because prior to that I would try to do culture things with the links team, whether that was something fun in huddles, or when the holidays came I did a secret Santa for everybody. I would put on things throughout the year just to make sure we were doing fun things, too, because sometimes it’s not the most fun.

Luke W Russell:

When we come back, Nalini will talk with us about how BluShark Digital started building websites pro bono when the pandemic hit. Stay with us. I’m Luke W. Russell, and you are listening to Lawful Good.

Luke W Russell:

Season two is about powerful partners, interesting and caring folks, like Nalini, that we know and trust, whose journeys brought them to collaboration with the legal community. In our next episode, a business spotlight, Nalini and I will discuss what her company, BluShark Digital, has to offer and if it is something that would benefit you or someone you know. By highlighting companies like BluShark, we create an opportunity to help make Lawful Good possible financially. As you probably can imagine. Lawful Good requires an enormous amount of resources to make happen, and one way we’re making this show possible is by featuring people we know, like, and trust; many of whom have a referral relationship with us. So, after you finish up this episode, check out the business spotlight to learn more about BluShark and how they help attorneys.

Luke W Russell:

When we left off, Nalini was talking with us about the different dynamics of networking and bringing her passion for culture to BluShark. We pick up with Nalini sharing how the heavy social justice issues of 2021 ignited her company’s desire to use the internet to effect change.

Luke W Russell:

Now, I heard you all, after COVID hit, you all started doing, at BluShark, pro bono websites? Can you tell me about that?

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. This was a really cool thing, and we’re still doing it, but I think there was a … It really started this kind of a … I don’t know, we’ve got young people in here, social justice warrior situation. I think 2020 was a mix of so much in terms of heavy emotions, all of the social justice issues coming up, and so many parties just feeling like underdogs in the world, so much havoc. It was our way at BluShark, because we have so many bleeding hearts in this company, to give back a little bit. What it really started as was nonprofits specifically helping social justice issues, whether that was to get the word out, or you were helping a minority group, to do their website, help them with whatever digital aspect we could to get the word out more. Because that’s our weapon, is the internet, so if we know how to use the internet to effect change, how can we partner with the right people to do it? And that’s how it started.

Nalini Prasad:

And then, there’s a few nonprofits that are not specifically social justice, that we’ve been like, “You have a great cause,” and so as people hear about it, they onboard, and I think we have quite a handful of nonprofits now, which is really cool.

Luke W Russell:

That’s cool! Yeah. Okay, so, I want to do our high-velocity session. I don’t do it in every interview, but it’s where I have a series of mildly … Well, they’re all yes/no questions. Some of them are ridiculous, some of them aren’t.

Nalini Prasad:

Okay.

Luke W Russell:

And the only rule is you can’t only say yes or no to my question. You can say yes or no or whatever, but if you say yes, you’ve got to give me more than that.

Nalini Prasad:

Okay.

Luke W Russell:

Sweet! Okay, so, is arguing over fantasy football better than watching football?

Nalini Prasad:

Yes. Well, because I like argument, right? I’m a confrontational person, competitive. And when you’re having a conversation about it, then you’re learning things, too. You’re learning other opinions and you’re hearing somebody else’s side, so yes, that is much more entertaining than just watching.

Luke W Russell:

I love that.

Nalini Prasad:

I only watch football to yell things anyway, and be angry.

Luke W Russell:

Okay, so, is it possible to sit still?

Nalini Prasad:

I don’t think I’ve sat still this whole interview, and I’m doing a thing!

Luke W Russell:

Right.

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah.

Luke W Russell:

Do the best vacations always involve a beach?

Nalini Prasad:

Some of the best vacations involve a beach, but not all. There are very good vacations you can have without a beach, so, no.

Luke W Russell:

Do people often get your age wrong?

Nalini Prasad:

Yes, but it’s still in a good way. They think I’m younger, so hopefully that continues.

Luke W Russell:

Yes, yes. Is whiskey better than bourbon?

Nalini Prasad:

Oh yeah, absolutely. Why did I even have to think about that? Because the way that I believe this to be is that there’s whiskey, and under whiskey there’s scotch, and there’s bourbon. So, scotch is 100% better than bourbon, but whiskey I consider to be the best, so that’s just my opinion.

Luke W Russell:

Okay, so we got that cleared. Great. Are you a workaholic?

Nalini Prasad:

Yes, I do believe so. Some overnights have proven that to be correct.

Luke W Russell:

Did the bleeding heart of your youth bleed out?

Nalini Prasad:

I think I still got some in me, but I think I’ve just learned to manage it in terms of, you can’t be bleeding heart about everything or else you will have nothing left, right?

Luke W Russell:

Yep. Yep. Do you have a hard time saying no?

Nalini Prasad:

Absolutely. Well, it depends. In most cases, I say yes. If I can do it, if it’s not going to physically kill me and I can help, I will say yes; sometimes to my detriment.

Luke W Russell:

Will you ever stop loving the Jacksonville Jaguars?

Nalini Prasad:

God! This whole year, I’ve really been like, “I’m done, and I’m going to be a Vegas Raiders fan,” because Vegas has a team that’s super cool, but then when I think about it I’m like, “That’s so terrible. Who just leaves a team to leave a team? Quitters. Terrible people.” So, no. I’m going to be a goddamn Jacksonville Jaguars fan until the day I die, unless … unless … and I’m not saying I’m hoping this, but like, they get sold or they move or they’re not a team anymore, and then it’s like, “Well, I’ve got to do something,” right?

Luke W Russell:

Right. Then you’ve got to pick a new one. Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. Yeah.

Luke W Russell:

Are shoes a requirement in an office setting?

Nalini Prasad:

Oh my god. So, I’m going to tell you something because that was a random question, but I am often caught without shoes in the BSD office. Sometimes I just don’t realize that I’m barefoot, because I think that shoes are not required anywhere in the world, ever.

Luke W Russell:

I love it! And are you open to sharing a challenge that you’ve faced in life?

Nalini Prasad:

Oh God. I don’t know, I think the biggest thing that jumps out all the time is the being a mom, and I think the biggest thing within that is the timing of it. Starting this really awesome opportunity, which kind of seems like where my life took me to that point, to start with BluShark and have this really cool opportunity to work really close with the heads of the company to help build it, this is what my professional Nalini really wanted. And things that I don’t know that people know is we did struggle with trying to get pregnant for years, and so Tej happened. Tej was not necessarily … We tried for years!

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

And then, of course, when you’re like, “Oh my god, this is so cool for my career,” you’re pregnant, right? It’s just the way things shake out. But I think it was just the timing of … I was there for nine months before I had him. Wasn’t a full year with BluShark. There was so much always to be done. There’s a million things in my head to make the company better, to make it a real company. I called it not-a-real-company for so long. I’m like, “Oh, we’ve got so many people! We’re a real company now!” But, you know, the timing of it.

Nalini Prasad:

I think when I had Tej I ended up going back to work two weeks after, and it was a struggle then, and I think still processing that now that … I don’t regret it, because I need work, because that’s the type of person I am. To have gotten through the early months with becoming a mom, I needed something to also distract me, and so I worked from home. I didn’t go in and things, I worked from home, but I was able to still feel helpful very early on. But I think doing that and trying to become a mom for the first time, and it was a C-section and so I was healing for six-to-eight weeks, was a lot, and that was probably my biggest in-the-moment life struggle I’ve had to deal with ever.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. I know a lot of women who work outside the home deal with … especially, and I think it’s very a socialized thing in the US … of this mom guilt. Have you faced that over the last several years?

Nalini Prasad:

Every day. Every minute of the day. Even as I sit here, he’s yelling crazy things, and this morning I was on three calls that ran a little bit over, so back to back to back. He’s been asking me all morning to go look at Elf, Buddy the Elf, where Buddy the Elf was this morning. I went straight from my room to the office this morning. I have not had time to do that, and I feel bad because I could’ve taken two minutes. Like, “You don’t have two minutes to do that? You do have two minutes to do it, but you just continue doing work, right?” So, it’s in every single piece of your life and your day if you’re a working mom, no matter what you do, I think.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. What would you say to other women who are just kind of feeling that struggle and tension between being a mom, or maybe there’s a dad or someone else listening who just feels that tension? What would you say to the person who’s just like, “I feel guilty! I don’t want to feel guilty, but … “

Luke W Russell:

You know what? I actually … It was at the Crisp summit. I heard something that I really loved one of the speakers say, talking about how both the family is part of the reason why I come home at the end of the day, but there’s also, the work I do is why I leave; because I love it and I care about it and I’m making a difference.

Nalini Prasad:

I love that.

Luke W Russell:

What would you say to someone who’s just kind of in that space of just kind of experiencing that tension?

Nalini Prasad:

I think it’s really important to remind yourself that what you’re doing … It’s easy for us to sit here and think, “I am losing out time with my kid because I’m doing XYZ,” right? That’s the guilt that you feel. But why is it so important to you to do XYZ? And it is because … somebody said it too … you have to take care of you first. If you want to be anything good to your family, to your kids, to yourself, then there has to be a piece of you that does something that makes you happy for some chunk of the day. And if work is that for you, because you’re a crazy person and you like work, then you have to do that.

Nalini Prasad:

The only thing is that once it gets to a point where you truly are never, ever, ever getting any of the good feelings or benefit of hanging with the family, that’s when it’s time to maybe think about it, but that’s not the case for people who feel guilty. They also know that they spend time with their kids, the time that they have. They do. So, I think reminding yourself that it’s important to do something that keeps you charged and good for your family.

Nalini Prasad:

And, too, even if you have to journal, even if you have to write it down or take a minute to think about it, think about all the things that you provide for that family because you’re working, or think about some of your favorite moments with them, and you will realize that, in that moment that you did that fun thing, that vacation or whatever it was, you actually did have to compromise something at work, so it works both ways. When you are spending time with your family, you are actually saying, “I am giving up something here that I love, too,” so you’re not just being one-sided. It’s just maybe 60/40, but you are doing it. You’re balancing it, whether you believe it or not.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. You mentioned self care. How does Nalini take care of Nalini?

Nalini Prasad:

Honestly, I still need to get better at that, but for me, the things that I think as of late is just having quiet time, because you’re just talk, talk, talk. But, for me, I think it’s, I will put in, Audible has been a guilty pleasure as of the last year-and-a-half, with the flights especially as we have more people traveling with us now to the conferences. It was just me and Seth, so Seth knew my rule was you don’t sit by me with me on a plane ever. If we’re going to the same place, we’re on the same flight, you don’t sit by me, because I like to be in my own world. I like to not speak and just not think about work before I’m about to work for 17, 18 hours a day for three days.

Nalini Prasad:

So, with that, that’s my quiet time before and after conferences, and I started to listen to my trashy romance novels or whatever books on Audible, and I have found that that is really relaxing to me, just to sit in quiet and do that. And so I translated it to home, so sometimes, whether that’s an hour on a weekend or something like that, I’ll just stay in my room and listen to a book for a little bit, and it is my thing. It is quiet. I love it. It’s my time, and I don’t feel bad about taking that time.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. I love that. I’m told you’re passionate about helping immigrants who have come to the country to build a business. Can you talk to me about that?

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. So, this is from my childhood. One of the questions you asked earlier was, “Are you a first-generation? Did you resent some stuff?” or, “Did you … ” not resent, maybe, but, “Did you resist,” right?

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

I say resent because there are some things that I resented, and one of those, as a person that doesn’t say no easily, was a … Tried to be a goody two-shoe kid … is that when you have parents that are immigrants, everything that an adult usually would do is handled by your child, whether they’re 10 or 16. So, talking about lease agreements or simple things like applications, it’s just easier to hand to your kid to do that stuff, right? And watching the way that they function is not always streamlined.

Nalini Prasad:

For me, I am so about streamlining things that, as a child, I watched both of my parents own businesses and work their bodies to the bone just trying to own a business and do all the marketing, boots on the ground, which makes sense for that many years ago. Immigrant families, I feel especially, that come over and own businesses now are still functioning as if it was 20 years ago, where they’re working themselves to the bone and they’re putting a lot of the pressure on their kids, who are just trying to go to school, who are just trying to fit in with their friends, and at the end of the day they have to go help mom and dad at the restaurant or the store, or this or that, and they help run all this nonsense.

Nalini Prasad:

The kids are losing their childhood. The kids are also unnecessarily losing their childhood, because it is a different world. There is technology. There is a way to reach audiences and to build your business without having to do the things you would do in the old days. So, for me, I think that, just because that’s how I grew up, and because I think that those types of businesses are the ones that struggle the most with getting into technology, I want to help as much as I can. So, a year ago, October, I launched a side thing that is almost a nonprofit essentially, because it’s all pro bono. Digital Heights was created to focus specifically on immigrant small businesses, and helping them on any of the fundamentals any way that I can without doing everything … because I can’t; I have a real job, a real … you know, BluShark … but it really is to help.

Nalini Prasad:

If there’s a way that I could work with the kids … say they’re teenagers that are helping their parents … and say, “Hey, look! Here’s a guide! Go do this on your website. Go make a website. Go do this on your social,” and they do the work. It’s almost like a consulting of sorts, and guides. I really have not been able to dedicate enough time to it, and that’s a guilt that I have, because it is something I want to give back with my talents. So, the idea there is, that website, I really wanted to have a lot of guides and just things that they can use for free, resources on how to help their small businesses in many scenarios.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

But it absolutely stems from my background.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. And as an adult and a mother, looking back at your teenage years when you were resisting or resenting this and that from your parents’ history and your mom’s culture, what do you look back now and really appreciate about her and what she brought to you?

Nalini Prasad:

No, absolutely, right? As I said, in the moment, I was very much against it, and I do think if I could do it over again, I would appreciate the ways that I was helping and what I was learning, but I would still want to have a little bit more of a childhood. I would want to do a little bit more, and for my brother, too. He beared more of that because he was older. But, I think the things that I’ve learned absolutely are hard work, dedication, ethics.

Nalini Prasad:

I have been working since I was a kid, so when I got to college … And I went to a college with a lot of kids who were very much, had mom and dad’s credit card, who didn’t have to work an hour of their whole education, who had their whole education paid for; just ended up being that type of environment. I was not upset to go work. I enjoyed working during college because I got to learn about different industries. I got to meet new people, I got to learn different parts of the city, and it didn’t bother me. I wasn’t upset about having to work because I had been doing it all my life. And I think even when I got into the workforce, I was never afraid of work. I think it really did prepare me in watching them just with what they did. It also, I think, drives me to my streamline problem that I have. I want to find the easiest way to do things because I’ve seen it done the hardest way.

Nalini Prasad:

So, I think those things were definitely learned, and I appreciate that they have helped me become who I am today.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. What’s your relationship like with your mom these days?

Nalini Prasad:

Just saw her for Thanksgiving. She’s now retired. She’s been retired quite a bit of time, so she’s living her best life. She’s traveling. That’s always been a thing that was really important to her. She always made sure that me, my brother and her went on a vacation every summer, so she would close the store for one week. Now she’s getting to do a lot of that stuff and I’m very happy for her to have that freedom. I just want her to be happy, because she worked her ass off in her earlier years, and I think about that so much more now as a mom and at my age. I was like, “God! She was five years younger than me, and running a store, and working 16 hours. That’s insane!” I can’t imagine doing those things, so I just hope that she actually gets to relax and enjoy the fruits of her labor.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. I love that. Your friend [Lindsey 00:59:38] described you with the following words. She said, “Nalini has an uncanny ability to unite people from all different backgrounds, all different walks and stages of life, and makes everyone feel welcome.”

Nalini Prasad:

She’s super nice. Lindsey’s also the nicest person you will ever meet. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard her say something bad, but that is very kind of her, and I’ve often heard that as well in our little friend groups.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

Or, I have separate friend groups, let’s put it that way, and when we host something, I am always … maybe to my detriment. My family says this, too. I put people in the room together who maybe don’t want to be in the room together often, but it’s like, “Just all get along. It’s fine. We’re all doing something fun.” But I do that with my cousins, too. I will invite everyone, to be inclusive if I can, whether or not they’re having a problem, because I’m like, “Listen, that’s your problem. I’m friends with everybody, and so everybody is welcome.”

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. What’s important to you about showing up like that?

Nalini Prasad:

I think, growing up, there were times where I just saw family … and I don’t know if this is Caribbean culture or it’s all families, but there was just times where people would just stop talking to each other for so long, and there’s so much life that you lose out on, and at the end of the day, who are you hurting? You’re hurting both of you! You’re hurting yourself! There is no reason to ever take it to that level unless that person is really not helpful for your life. There are definitely relationships that are toxic and bad for your mental health and this and that, and absolutely makes sense for you and for the others to cut ties. Those are fine, but to just have it be your daily life to be like, “I hate you today, so I’m going to just hold a grudge for two weeks and then we’ll be friends again,” it’s just unnecessary. So, I think seeing that happen a lot makes me be the complete opposite.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?

Nalini Prasad:

I think just kind of seeing his personality … particular to Tej … seeing his personality grow, and seeing pieces of myself, good and bad, in him, learning from him. Yeah. When I see the bad ones, I’m like, “Damn, I should clean up my act! I’ve got to fix that about me, because that’s me right there.” Or seeing the pieces that he got from Sketchy, and it’s just fascinating to understand how his brain works sometimes. Last week he said the best thing. He was like, “Mom, why don’t you eat a sweater so that the baby can wear it, because she might be cold?” I was like, “What?”

Luke W Russell:

Oh, that’s so lovely!

Nalini Prasad:

But it makes sense logically, right?

Luke W Russell:

Right.

Nalini Prasad:

To his brain. And I’m just like, “This is … ” It’s fascinating sometimes, just listening to him.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. I’m curious; when my wife and I got married, we wanted 10 kids, and after having our first, I realized, “Nope. Nope. Definitely not 10.” But I did want more than one. What about you all? When you were going into this … and I know you said you struggled for a while, but when you were thinking about what kind of family dynamic you wanted, did you have an idea of a family size?

Nalini Prasad:

Yeah. It’s funny. Me and Sketchy both are one of two, and it’s the same dynamic; older son, younger daughter, five-year difference.

Luke W Russell:

Oh, wow.

Nalini Prasad:

It’s funny, because Tej and this one will be boy/girl, five years difference.

Luke W Russell:

Wow!

Nalini Prasad:

But, should we break the cycle? I don’t know. Growing up, it was funny, because if you had asked anybody if I would ever have kids, I think people were like, “No, Nalini’s going to be a lawyer. She’s going to be 35 before she even thinks about family or a guy or any of that.” I think that’s what I portrayed, but I always did want to have a family. I always wanted to have kids, and I, in fantasy world, was like, “Three is a nice number,” for random reasons. I was like, “Three might be better. I want them all close in age,” was the most important, because me and my brother did not get along as well as kids because of the years difference, and different gender. And then obviously that didn’t happen. Life hits you, things are different. But I think, for me, I had always thought three would be a cool number.

Nalini Prasad:

After I had Tej, and working as much as I was, I think I definitely complained enough or I made enough jokes about, “Oh my god, after this kid, there will never be other kids,” and I think a lot of people took that very to heart. In my head, I always wanted a second, but it was … When I announced, a lot of people were like, “What? We thought you were done! This is crazy! Was this an oopsie?” So many comments that I thought … It was funny. But no, it wasn’t. We wanted a second. I want Tej to have at least a friend, but I think I did some serious damage with how many times I said I did not want more kids after Tej. But, no, two, and then I don’t know. We’ll see where life takes me, but two is a very good number.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah. Yeah. Can you tell me about the 24 days of Christmas you plan for Tej each year?

Nalini Prasad:

Yes. I’m neurotic about the holidays, like we’ve talked about, and the decorating and the seasons changing, so for December … I have always wanted to kind of do this, and having a kid makes it an excuse. Throughout the years, as I was just growing up and stuff, I would always try to do every holiday thing you could do during December, but this is an organized fashion of that, where I wrap 24 different gifts which all correlate to an activity that is done throughout the month. It is, again, streamlining, because some of them are activities we’ll go do, like we’re going to go to Kings Dominion. It’s our local theme park. And there’s Winter Fest, and we’re going to Nats Park and do Enchant, and there’s real things we’ll go do.

Nalini Prasad:

But most of them are at-home … Like, day two tonight is going to be putting up his tree. Day five on Sunday is going to be going and cutting our tree that we do every year, and decorating it. So, it lets me get my chores done in an organized fashion, and it makes sure that I do it, because if I’m like, “Oh! I’ve got to do this, and I’ve got to hang up the stockings, and I’ve got to do this and that,” it won’t happen until one day I sit up all night and I do all seven things at once.

Luke W Russell:

Right. Yeah, yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

This spreads it out and makes it fun for him, too.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

So, we do one festive thing, and I hope that in the future … This year is the first year it’s really fun because he’s actually understanding the concept. He’s not trying to open all the gifts. He’s being good about it. And he also is understanding, “Oh, day one we always get new pajamas. I saw the pictures from the last two years. We get new pajamas.”

Luke W Russell:

Yes!

Nalini Prasad:

And I one day hope that he has a family, or if he doesn’t choose to have a family, that he will still let me buy him new pajamas when he is 30.

Luke W Russell:

Love it. Yes. You know, when you look at the family, the mother that you’ve become, you look at all this stuff you’re doing at BluShark and how you’ve really come into this really cool space of, you helped basically get out of startup mode, build a department, and now you’re out networking and speaking, and you think about your criminal justice background and the mock trials, you’ve done so much and you’re so young, but when you look at this life you’re living, if your father were here, what do you think he would say he’d be proud of about you?

Nalini Prasad:

Honestly, I think that he would not care so much about money or success in work. The type of person he was would be that he would actually be really proud of probably having a grandson and a family, and I think he would mostly be … And I don’t do this because of him, this is just, I think it’s something I got from him, but I think he would mostly be impressed by and proud of my nature to give. Just to be a kind person, genuinely care about people, I think he would take that over any amount of, “Oh, you went to law school. Oh, you did this. Oh, you’re a doctor.” I think, for him, it was always just, “Be a good person,” and I think that’s what he was, too.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

More than anything, he cared about that, not money.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

I think so.

Luke W Russell:

I love that. Okay, Nalini, it is your 80th birthday celebration—

Nalini Prasad:

Oh God.

Luke W Russell:

And people from all throughout your life are present. A gentle clinking on glass can be heard, and a hush washes over the room. People raise their glasses to toast to you. What are three things you would want them to say about you?

Nalini Prasad:

Oh, wow. God, I’m so out of shape I’m not making it to 80, first of all.

Luke W Russell:

All right, 79th birthday. 79th birthday.

Nalini Prasad:

If I make it to that, I would hope that somebody would say that I have been a positive role model for whatever it is, whether that could be an inspiration or a positive role model to have done something with their life. Just hearing something that I affected change in someone’s life. And that could be a kid, whatever it is. That would be one.

Nalini Prasad:

Two, I would hope that people had some ridiculous story of me that showed that I was a genuine person who didn’t need to be fancy but could just be a human, so I would love to hear a human story of me. I want everybody to say those types of things, that that’s my personality.

Luke W Russell:

Yeah.

Nalini Prasad:

Because I think that first one’s a lot. And the third … God, I really hope someone will remember that I’ve attended a Super Bowl with the Jags, that that happened in my life, and that it was one of the best moments of my entire life; that we recap something really awesome happened in my life. And then it’s okay to die because that happened, right? It doesn’t have to be the Super Bowl, but something ridiculous that only I would appreciate happened, and that it was okay to go now.

Luke W Russell:

To learn more about Nalini, visit blusharkdigital.com … that’s B-L-U-sharkdigital.com … and be sure to check out our business spotlight conversation, which is available as the next episode. Thanks so much for listening to us this week. This podcast is produced by Kirsten Stock, edited by Jon Keur, and mastered by Guido Bertolini. A special thanks to the companies that make this project possible, Russell Media and the SEO Police. You can learn more about these groups by visiting our website, lawfulgoodpodcast.com. I’m your host Luke W. Russell, and you’ve been listening to Lawful Good.