Craccum was able to score an interview with UoA alumnus Simran Kaur—don’t ask us how. Then again, I’m pretty sure Vogue and Craccum have about the same readership—right? Simran founded the Girls That Invest podcast. It’s the #1 business podcast in Aotearoa, Canada, and the US, and #2 in the UK. The mission of her and her co-host, Sonya Gupthan, is to humbly smash the Patriarchy by empowering women to invest. Craccum sat down with Simran to find out what role tech plays in her projects.
How did you go from studying optometry to having the #1 business podcast in Aotearoa, Canada, and the US?
I always had an interest in personal finance but it was, well, personal. I knew I was going to one day walk into a job with more money than I had ever seen before—going from a uni student to a full-time employee—so I wanted to learn everything I could about money. I never thought I would do anything else except optometry—but I always enjoyed dabbling in social media. Even in university, I grew an online Instagram community of over 300k South Asian women to talk about topics like feminism and activitism—I’ve just always been drawn to using social media as a platform to have open discussion with people where borders are no longer a barrier.
My love for female empowerment then led me to the realisation that a lot of the foundations of patriarchal society in the South Asian context stems from financial inequality—and when I looked outwards I saw the clear correlation between personal finance and empowerment. If you have a genuine mission to help people, you’re consistent every day about doing that—becoming the #1 in your category/field ends up becoming a possibility!
Did you learn any skills in your degree that have helped you get to where you are today?
Being a health professional means your job everyday involves building rapport very quickly and also explaining concepts that take you years to learn into two or three sentences in layman’s terms.
Analogies were a big part of my job working as an optometrist. I wanted my patients to walk away actually remembering what I had explained so they could easily recall it.
One of the things I’ve been able to do well from our feedback is breaking down confusing concepts. We’ve had people say, “I’ve had ex-boyfriends mansplaining for hours what you’ve taught me in minutes.”
Another important skill, which I think everyone should be taught, is only relying on evidence-based methods. If there isn’t a study to repeat the outcomes of an investment style—it’s not a reliable source of information to me. Being able to separate fact from fiction is important, especially in today’s world.
What have some of your highlights been from starting your podcasts?
One of the biggest highlights will be the day we realised we were the #1 business podcast in the US, Canada, and NZ, and #2 in the UK—it was such a surreal moment.
At this point we were still recording in our bedrooms—still editing ourselves (something we still do) and had no idea we were going to grow so quickly. It truly was exponential.
What are some of the challenges you have faced working in the social media/tech industry?
I think one of the biggest challenges is learning how to turn social media off. A lot of my job involves interacting with our community on social media. If you’re not careful you can easily blend your real life with your social media and never truly be able to turn off “work”. It’s not like a 9-5 where you’re done at 5pm. It’s important to understand your own boundaries.
Are there any things you wish were different about the social media/tech industry?
On social media it’s very easy to start feeling bad about yourself because all you see is other people’s highlights. It’s very easy to compare yourself to others, and when we speak about money so openly—including how much we earn, what we own, what our assets are, etc.—you’re bound to surface some emotions in people who may feel strongly about it.
It’s important to us that if we speak about a highlight we also acknowledge perhaps the privileges surrounding that—such as buying a home alone but also having the privilege of good financial literacy growing up. I try to make a conscious effort to also share the not so glamourous side of our jobs—like burnout or failures.
Related to the previous question, is there anything we, as listeners and scrollers, can do to help address these issues?
It’s always important to take everything you see with a grain of salt and to remember perspective matters. If you see someone living an idealistic life, it’s important to step back and note that no one actually does. During the first investing masterclass I was hosting, despite it being a huge hit, outside of the video frame of me presenting the webinars was four days’ worth of dishes. I was working a 9-5 and full-time on Girls That Invest and just didn’t have the energy, but it’s things like that, that I like to share as a reminder of the highlight reel phenomenon.
What’s some advice you would give to people who are interested in starting a podcast?
Done is better than perfect. We started out with $200 microphones, free editing software, free recording software and free hosting software. You don’t need the best to begin, you just need to begin.
The best thing I’ve learned is to always keep learning and keep taking feedback. After our first episode we asked everyone we knew to give us their constructive criticism. We then made a Google Doc with it all and tried to work on each thing.
The most helpful listeners are those who actually reach out to you and tell you they don’t like when you said or did XYZ—they want you to succeed. If they didn’t care, they’d just silently unsubscribe and you’d never be any better off from it.
What are five pieces of tech you can’t live without?
What are your top five podcast recommendations?
Besides Girls That Invest (is that cheeky?), I love sooo many podcasts! Right now I’m especially loving: