The Hybrid Entrepreneur
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Last week I sat in a room filled with 30 entrepreneurs. I was invited to attend the Entrepreneurship Advisory Council meeting. One of the last topics discussed was, Diversity Initiative. I was one of only 2 females in the room so this topic, a significant and necessary conversation in today’s climate, was open to the floor for discussion. As the gentlemen in the room discussed their experiences and perspective I sat back to observe and listen. As they were wrapping up the conversation one question continued to repeat itself in my mind, “How do you define an entrepreneur?”
Entrepreneur: noun; a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.
I decided to share my question with the group and challenged them to think about redefining what an entrepreneur looks like, acts like, and thinks like to them. After the discussion we broke for a building tour and concluded the meeting. I couldn’t help but think about my question and challenge for myself; “How do I define an entrepreneur?” My first thought; an entrepreneur is a hybrid.
Hybrid: adjective; of mixed character, composed of different elements.
Yup! That’s what an entrepreneur is to me. An individual who sets up a business or businesses, takes financial risks, and one who is composed of different elements. As I was pondering all the different entrepreneurs one individual came to mind that fits this description perfectly; enter Dr. Veera Asher.
DR. ASHER, THE HYBRID ENTREPRENEUR
Five years ago, I attended the annual National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) National Conference. During this period of time I was a new doctoral student at Auburn University (War Eagle!) and was attending the NSCA conference for the first time. I walked into one of the meeting rooms where the topic of discussion was Women in NSCA. We used this time to discuss important topics about the NSCA and our experiences as students, academics, and professionals in our respective fields. It was during this meeting where I had the privilege of sitting next to the brilliant Dr. Asher. I knew there was something unique and different about her compared to some of the other strength coaches I have met in my career. She’s what I would define as a hybrid.
Dr. Veera Khare Asher is the creator of Precision Form Training™, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, opera singer, scientist, educator and exponential entrepreneur. Precision Form Training™ (PFT), also identified with the Bubble Cheek™, is a neuromuscular training tool that integrates voice (breath)-core science focusing on Athletic Spine Performance™ (ASP) for optimizing the neural feedback system as measured by Center of Pressure (COP). She has developed new ways to assess those performance parameters of COP, ASP and subglottal pressure, creating unique scales of reference for rating performance via measurements from sensor-based technologies. Dr. Asher’s focus on military related strength and conditioning for performance and injury prevention include ‘warrior tasks and battle drills’ (WTBD), while also addressing new benefits of the PFT protocol for neurocognitive and recovery purposes. She is an active member with the American College of Sports Medicine and introduced “Athletes and the Arts” as part of a Performing Arts Medicine (PAMA) initiative via the MusiCares-Grammy Association in Los Angeles at one of their events. Dr. Asher, crossing several performance lines has been invited to collaborate with various medical (UCLA), athlete and voice science networks.
“I am dedicated to advancing all forms of live performance! My hope is that we never lose sight of the fact that there are still undiscovered ‘technologies’ that exist within the physical body, and once explained, can establish advances for optimizing human performance and injury prevention, by creating new thresholds for excellence in training, from elite athletes, to performing artists and lifestyle enthusiasts.”
- Dr. Veera Khare Asher, KPerform®
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY WITH DR. ASHER
Sarah: Dr. Asher, how did you come to create KPerform®?
Dr. Asher: I’ve always been an entrepreneur and I didn’t know it. In 1997 I was almost done with my Masters in Opera and I was auditioning for jobs. This felt very limiting. I was thinking, ‘I need to make money!’ And sinceI had been a professional stage manager and director, I decided to produce my own shows. I hired my friends to perform with me and started creating my own productions. This is the point in my life where I started activating a real business. Most performers start part-time teaching studios, but I decided to go into production. Every project I started, I successfully finished. I went from dinner theater shows to renting out entire live theaters. Each production was like its own little business. My mentors at the time were always businesspeople, including corporate and high-level executives. One particular mentor said to me, “You should make an LLC.” It was the day the United States of America gave the option for an individual owner of an LLC, and all I could think about was my dream to have an LLC. So, fast forward to 13 years of live production, performing and all the other things in between, I earned my doctorate in May of 2009 and in August of 2009 I established my first LLC. As I continued to build my LLC and later establish KPerform®. The name KPerform® was created to continue my family name, which is Khare. So, I went from an LLC with Inspire 2 Inspire Inc. DBA KPerform® to KPerform® Inc. My dream is to be the Founder and CEO of a Global Tech Company…AND I AM!
Sarah: Let’s talk about your doctoral dissertation. What makes you a great scientist?
Dr. Asher: I was raised to be a scientist. In Canadian schooling you must choose your path early. All through high school my focus was on science. I wanted to be a medical doctor, just like my Dad, Dr. Umesh Khare, who I worked with as a medical office assistant every summer from 15 years old for a decade. When I first went to University I started in microbiology and transitioned to biochemistry. The only documents I felt like I ever wrote were labs. That was before I completed degrees in opera performance and music. So, in my doctorate, when the key portion of my voice performance interdisciplinary dissertation focused on the significance of evidence-based medicine and research, scientific language came naturally to me. Also, I was reconnected with my uncle, Dr. Gyan P. Khare who was a world-renowned American virologist and scientist and based here in Southern California. He would read my dissertation from the lens of a scientist and his questions would lead to valuable discussions that ultimately helped me become the scientist I am today. The combination of experiences with my father in medicine, and my uncle as a scientist, gave me a well-rounded perspective on human performance, injury, illness and recovery. I am grateful for that time.
Sarah: Your story is so fascinating! You are a triple threat! You have the ability to analyze problems from different perspectives and find multiple solutions to one problem. That’s pretty empowering!
Dr. Asher: (Laughing) I am laughing because in the performing arts, when someone calls you a triple threat it just means you are an actor, singer, and dancer! There are three things that come to mind of what makes me connect with people. One, being the elite, and my life-long curiosity of the concept of the elite 1%. There is a connection with anyone elite, no matter the sport or the platform. I particularly enjoy connecting with extreme sport athletes, amateur or professional. Second, live human performance. That is where my passion is; live human performance. For me it is all about making the human better by raising the bar on all levels in training, and challenging performance boundaries. Lastly, the ability to wear multiple hats and excel doing it. I think when you are like us Sarah, there is an ability to be elite in more than one skill set, making us multidimensional. We both have unexpected areas of expertise. As an inventor and discoverer, I have an outside the box style of thinking that allows me the freedom to be innovative and creative in business and product development. A senior advisor who specializes in large-scale radical change in multiple-businesses ecosystems, once mentioned that the key is being able to not just see ‘linear’ and straight ahead, but also, know how to look up and see concepts as complex as a constellation, and then translate it into a functional business model.
DR. ASHER ON PERFORMANCE AND POWER
Sarah: This is so great, and I think your perspective will help a lot of people feel like there is a space for them to learn, grow, and innovate. But let’s switch gears a bit and get into the BrainBodyVoice™/BrainBodyGlottis™ complex, or how you describe to strength coaches in your elevator pitch, as the open glottis Valsalva Maneuver™. Let’s talk about your evolution from our first meeting 5 years ago until now.
Dr. Asher: I spoke to some of the life-time members of NSCA at my first ever conference, and they drilled me for hours and hours before I decided I was supported in earning my CSCS. It was not a daunting process though; it was such an exciting process for me. We had fun watching my videos of aerial flying and singing and sharing stories about being raised in Canada with outdoor sports, primarily alpine steep and deep skiing for me. I ended up working with all these coaches and gained confidence because they were interested in what I was bringing to the table. I thought going into the sports world would be harder than going into the voice world. I was so welcomed by the strength and conditioning specialists. I did not have a lot of experience in the sports world coaching, however, over the last five years I have been able to find the group of coaches and athletes, like Matt Hank and Annette Lynch to work with. Over time I was able to build relationships with likeminded coaches who agreed on what elements made an elite athletic performance. With that trust we were then able to discuss strategies on how to eventually collaborate and integrate PFT into their training regimen to augment what they were already doing so well.
Sarah: When I had an opportunity to work with you, I was coming off a very difficult phase of my life. I had just returned from Lima, Peru where I was competing for Team USA. The week prior to that I was in Europe for training camp. Oh, and by the way, I had to defend my dissertation. So, I came home after all that was completed, and I was tired. I was resting and recovering, however, as an older elite athlete you have to be smart about your recovery and training. You jumped at the opportunity to work with me in a recovery state. PFT allowed me an opportunity to help me recover and improve my performance.
Dr. Asher: It was great to work with you Dr. Gascon, just post-high-pressure competition and while you were also in top ‘scholarly’ form post PhD. I was particularly excited as I got to share with you, my ground-breaking case just weeks before that contributed further medical evidence by UCLA laryngologist Dr. Dinesh Chhetri. That evidence was new support for the science and efficacy of the application of PFT. As an athlete you were in elite form, but in recovery. That phase you were in, where I did my initial assessment, allowed me to identify the ‘fatigue’ points in your body. Whether the fatigue was from repetitive use/or related injury, it was great for you to experience PFT as a tool to activate an extra edge when under pressure to perform optimally. You were able to perceive in that experience what was possible with PFT, but most interesting for me, was how you got to a state of performance that you described as being new for you. We agreed that could be the extra elite part of the 1%, that would give you the advantage over other athletes. Another critical piece you brought to the training session was your ability to provide me with valuable feedback. Your feedback was not only beneficial for me as the coach and you as the elite athlete, but also your perspective was important in how we could further the information to become tangible for the user and build confidence in the product. That additional trust in the product, adds value to the business.
I don’t take shortcuts, you don’t take shortcuts, and people like us don’t take shortcuts. I have the confidence, the research, and the evidence to support the Precision Form Training™ application. I truly believe EVERY HUMAN DESERVES ACCESS to PFT. It will just continue to take a lot of patience, consistently good work and perseverance in executing every task, up until the job gets done!
THE ELITE 1%
Sarah: Me as an elite athlete, and especially who I am, I’m very in tune because it’s so important for me to be 1% better to find a little bit of an edge, and so I emphasize a lot on what I’m bringing to the table. I’m not going to be the biggest, fastest, and strongest, so what! It doesn’t matter if I’m the biggest, fastest and strongest. More important questions for me in my career right now are am I eating right, am I hydrating, am I getting enough sleep, am I recovering, am I doing the appropriate workouts? I am always thinking I can get just a little bit better, even if it’s just a fraction better.
So, what do I do as an athlete to get 1% better? I have to be open to new ideas, or new styles of training, because that’s the only way I’m going to improve in my performance. I can’t keep doing the same thing and think I’m going to get better. So, as an elite athlete, I had to take a chance on adding something else to my toolbox. It’s also an advantage being a mature athlete because I’m more efficient and skillful in my training and performance. I have the experience to know the value in how adding something new could introduce access to an untapped variable, that could get me to the next level of performance. You, Dr. Asher, bring something new, different, and necessary to me that my body needs, because it needs to be challenged a little differently than the traditional methods of training. I have a phenomenal team of strength and conditioning coaches that have helped to reinvent me as an athlete, but now I have an opportunity to use PFT as a tool to augment what I do in the weight room and on the court. It actually doesn’t matter what environment I am training in; you can, and should, utilize PFT and Bubble Cheek™ regardless of your training environment. What you are teaching and what you provided to me was something new that has allowed me to enhance my performance. I am willing to go that extra mile to reinvent myself. I am willing to evolve to maximize my mental toughness and physical performance; even when it’s uncomfortable and difficult. Not many people are willing to do that nor are they willing to even try. Or, even when people are willing to try it, they struggle with staying committed to it. But like I always ask myself, ‘what am I willing to do to get 1% better today?’ I think that’s what separates the good from the great, the great from the best, and the best from the exceptional.
Dr. Asher: EXACTLY! That’s why there’s the term “precision’ in “Precision Form Training™” and why your mindset puts you to the top of the 1%. Circling back to your triple threat comment, your performance gave me data that reflected that experience you just described and gave us a way for me to train you differently. You and I, as scientists, appreciate that data. I didn’t need to convince you to ‘trust’ me, but you trusted it as an athlete and respected it as a scientist by seeing the numbers. We saw the changes in the data and then how they correlated with your changes in performance. You, as the elite athlete, gave me feedback, and I saw that the data reflected your improved performance. Working with you, and other elite athletes, is what will help to define a new range of performance measured with unique reference scales for what’s possible for all populations that do PFT.
We meet at an elite athlete level. I don’t do what you do, but every single thing that I physically do, I’m monitoring something. I had to find a biomechanical way to target the proprioceptive system, by creating a protocol that has a very specific ‘feeling’. I’m targeting to optimize the proprioceptive system to then optimize the biomechanical system. And that’s what you helped to show – the Bubble Cheek™ with an action – you actually improved your biomechanical movement.
So, to summarize, my number one elite sport is opera singing. Yes, opera is a sport to me and much more, as it helps me to maintain the high standards I have set for my quality of life; Body, Mind, Spirit. I can’t do a single exercise in the gym, like my Olympic lifts or resistance training with bands, and ever risk compromising the vocal mechanism, because if it got injured, I would compromise my voice quality and career. So that’s how disciplined I am in any physical exercise I always consider the vocal mechanism, and especially in power and explosive power movements. And that’s when I realized, I invented PFT for me. Even the Bubble Cheek™ came from me being an asthmatic and how I got my full lung capacity. So, I thought, if I care about it this much, and I’m at an elite level then, if Sarah really cares about her training at this level too, why wouldn’t I give this to her too. That’s the level where we first met and were on the ‘same page’. You intuitively took it to every aspect of your life. So, when you go back to the gym, you are already there. Brava!
FOR THE GREATER GOOD
Sarah: What does your future look like as you continue to move forward?
Dr. Asher: Well, now that there is a significant demand for PFT from all ages, we are focusing business on technology and product development. In the immediate, we are prioritizing creation of Precision Form Training™ tools forassessment and training at a military grade level first, thus establishing the highest-level tools for performance under pressure and for recovery. In parallel, I will be continuing to work with Laryngologist, Dr. Dinesh Chhetri in a clinical setting as a non-medical professional to further those protocols. Ultimately, all the research, development and design of analog and digital tools will support my hope to deliver Brave Kaver™, a ‘phygital’ product, real-world mobile game for users.
Sarah: Dr. Asher, it was an absolute pleasure to have an opportunity to speak with you today! For more information on Dr. Veera Asher, KPerform®, Precision Form Training™, Bubble Cheek™ and BrainBodyVoice™/BrainBodyGlottis™ please feel free to check out Dr. Asher’s website at www.KPerform.com as well as her other social media.
Instagram, Twitter: @DrVeeraKPERFORM
FB page: KPERFORM
LinkedIn: Veera Khare Asher