Resilient people are ones who know when something is too much or not enough for them. They can easily identify what they’re feeling and what they need in the situation. They set boundaries with themselves and others without feelings of guilt. They don’t see self-care as selfish, but instead as something necessary. And lastly, they know becoming and staying resilient is a regular practice.

Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anu Mandapati.

Anu Mandapati is the Vice President, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Talking Talent. As a leadership, team and well-being coach with 20 years of diversity, inclusion, leadership and organizational development experience, Anu specializes in coaching teams and organizations to increase their diverse talent pool, develop more inclusive staff at all levels, and increase performance and retention by creating work cultures where people feel like they can bring all of who they are to work and succeed. Her leadership tips, tools and strategies have been featured in various publications including Forbes, Fortune, HR Daily Advisor, Inc., and Money.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

My career began in mental health and well-being and grew to focus on developing inclusive leaders and cultures to ensure employee and organizational well-being. When people thrive, their organization thrives.

I have always had challenging roles from working with young adults who have survived emotional, physical, and sexual abuse to leading large scale organization-wide change management initiatives. While very rewarding, it hasn’t always been easy, so I’ve had to figure out how to reset and re-ground myself over and over again.

This is definitely a journey, not a destination, of regular practice and that’s how I have strengthened my resiliency muscle.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I have been lucky to be able to coach many wonderfully talented leaders across various industries and levels. This isn’t one specific story but a compilation of so many of their journeys. They’re successful, driven, high performing individuals. They’re “yes people” who get things done and create impact wherever they go.

The challenge is they’re all juggling a minimum of three balls- the first ball is business/client goals, the second is their team’s development and growth, and the third is their own development and growth which includes their self-care. The first ball that gets dropped by all of them is the one that focuses on self. We all do it but if that’s what gets done for a significant period of time you go from being in a state of high performance to a state of burnout. I have unfortunately heard too many stories about people de-prioritizing themselves and their health, to the point where someone had a full blown panic attack that felt like a heart attack, someone fainted in the bathroom and had to crawl out to the hallway to yell for help, and someone was hospitalized with pneumonia because they ignored all the previous signs. Are these more extreme and ones where we want to say we wouldn’t let it get that far? Sure. But it happens. More often than we think.

This connects to the parable of the frog and the boiling water. If a frog is thrown into boiling water, it’s going to jump out. No one wants to be boiled. But if the frog is in the pot on the stove and the temperature slowly gets turned up one degree after another- we may not notice that all of a sudden, it’s too hot. We get boiled. This is a morbid example but one that plays out a lot in real life. We don’t pay attention to our environment, needs, boundaries, well-being etc. until it’s gotten really bad.

The takeaways from these countless coaching engagements for my clients and myself are

  • Slow down to pay attention to what you need.
  • Give yourself what you need. In the workplace, we don’t need to ask for permission to take care of ourselves, but we may need to communicate our needs and actions to others.
  • Ensure you have an energy renewal practice to disconnect, replenish and come back re-energized. This may be something that lasts for a few minutes to an hour or longer. Having micro-energizers throughout the day fuels you to get through your day in a more productive, energized, engaged manner.
  • When you have a decision to make between your needs and others’ needs, ask yourself how will this decision impact my relationship with the other person and what’s the cost to me?
  • Have a clear well-being goal and create a community that will help support one another in achieving these goals.

Doing all of these improves your well-being and fills your reserves for when you do experience an adverse event. Then you can tap into your resilience and bounce back faster.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Talking Talent takes a coaching-led approach to inclusion which differentiates us from other Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) providers. DEI is workplace well-being. Our coaching helps participants deepen and personalize their learning. We not only explore how to implement behavior change on an individual and team level, but also determine how to navigate challenges and set up support and accountability. Shifts in individuals and teams change organizational culture.

Through working with Talking Talent, one of the world’s leading professional services firms has been able to develop, strengthen, and maintain a supportive workplace culture for their working parents and caregivers. Employees who have been participating in these programs say that they feel their organization and leaders are now more invested in their personal and professional success. Also, this global firm has been able to retain top talent, experience sustainable performance, and more importantly to them — empower team members to better navigate their challenges with work-life integration.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am eternally grateful to my parents. They moved to a new country and into a very different culture to provide more opportunities for my brother and me. I have seen the hardships they endured, sacrifices they’ve made and how they choose to navigate their experiences to create a stable, loving, supportive environment for our immediate and extended family. Their resiliency, generosity shown to others and living in alignment to their values, have not only influenced me professionally but also personally in who I am today. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for them. My success is their success.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is a leadership skill. It’s the ability to bounce back from adverse experiences and events. It’s also about intentionally tapping into and regularly filling our “reserves” so we won’t be running empty.

Resilient people are ones who know when something is too much or not enough for them. They can easily identify what they’re feeling and what they need in the situation. They set boundaries with themselves and others without feelings of guilt. They don’t see self-care as selfish, but instead as something necessary. And lastly, they know becoming and staying resilient is a regular practice.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

Resilience is about “bounce-back-ability.” You have learned the tools and skills to not be as impacted by certain life events and experiences. Or you know how to experience the event in a way where you can reset and move forward quickly. Courage is about mindset, just like resilience. However, courage is the action and resilience is the outcome. When we practice courage, which could involve setting boundaries, deep self-reflection, having tough conversations etc., we are choosing ourselves. We are choosing our well-being. These actions lead to greater resilience.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

Malala Yousafzai is the epitome of resilience. She knows what’s important to her and is driven by that purpose. Most people know her story that she was shot by a Taliban member because of her advocacy efforts towards girls’ education. Through all the challenges she faced, including almost being murdered, and the ones she continues to face — her purpose and courage have created greater resilience. This is one of her many superpowers. She cannot be deterred.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

No one has told me something is impossible, maybe just that it would be a hard path. I believe everything is figure-out-able and if we want to, we can find the way. I approach my personal and professional life this way so what I set my mind to I usually achieve. One of my favorite quotes is from Nido Qubein, “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go, they merely determine where you start.”

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

I was born in India and moved to the U.S. when I was very young. I grew up not being told I wasn’t “Indian enough” or “American enough.” As an adult I can now laugh if someone tries to define my identity for me. As a child, I just wanted to fit in somewhere. I straddled two cultures, while society wanted me to choose one, and I wanted to experience a greater sense of belonging. Growing up was challenging. My parents did the best they could. They were adapting to a new culture, while staying connected to another one, so they were navigating their own experiences while they were trying to understand and help us navigate our experiences as kids. This definitely built my resiliency muscle.

The impact that this has had on me is in both my personal and professional life I connect “outsiders” or someone who’s considered to be an “only one” to a community. I bring people together, so they have support and they become more resilient. My resilience helps me create that sense of belonging and strength for others.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Provide space and grace to yourself. We all go through challenging times. There is no need to be hard on yourself for not moving through something faster or in a specific way. Imagine experiencing grief. We all navigate it in our own way, at our pace. So with anything, give yourself the space to assess the time and other resources you need.
  2. Practice identifying what you’re feeling and determining what you need. Many times, we’re moving too quickly to realize what we’re even feeling. If you take the time to determine what you’re actually feeling you’ll know what you need. For example, underneath anger is hurt. So, it’s about what you need to fix or heal the hurt.
  3. Release what doesn’t serve you, bring in what does and reframe the situation. In any given situation, what are the thoughts, beliefs and actions that don’t serve you? Release those and bring in the ones that help move you through a situation. For example, what does your self-talk look like? Reframe the situation. Ask yourself “what are other possible reasons that someone acted or said something in a specific way?”
  4. Set a grounding practice that you can practice each day for the micro-moments or the bigger moments. This could include taking a few deep breaths, a gratitude practice or doing a guided meditation.
  5. Increase the goodness! What brings you joy? What increases your emotional/mental/physical/spiritual energy? Do more of that. Imagine a bank account where you keep withdrawing without depositing. We know where that leads. Now imagine one where you keep depositing positive experiences. When you experience a negative situation, you have your reserves that you can tap into and stay resilient.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The moments where people practice empathy lead to a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people. We can focus on our own resilience and that leads to positive results at the individual level. Now imagine practicing empathy and understanding other people’s stories and experiences; being curious to learn how they have been resilient. When we approach others through this lens, we find commonalities which lead to connection. And when we’re connected to one another, we become less divisive and create a more equitable, inclusive, just and caring world.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

The first person that comes to mind is Michelle Obama. She embodies resiliency with grace. She stands up for what’s right and truly cares about the greater good. And when there are differing opinions, she is a role model in how to respond to others. She reminded people that “when they go low, we go high” and that “it’s hard to hate up close.” She embodies resiliency and helps others increase their resiliency.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.