Journalist Varuni Khosla On How Focussing On The ‘Now’ Did Wonders For Her Career

Journalist Varuni Khosla On How Focussing On The ‘Now’ Did Wonders For Her Career

Back when she was studying at Delhi’s prestigious Lady Shri Ram College, Varuni Khosla had never planned to be a journalist. Twelve years later, she's thriving at The Economic Times, one of India's leading media companies, as a Special Correspondent. So how did a political science graduate end up as a business reporter? According to Varuni, it was a good mix of chance, hard work, and fantastic mentors. But mostly, it was her spirit to take on every new opportunity life threw at her.

Journalism is a demanding industry—you have to keep up with long hours, erratic schedules and free weekends are a luxury. And yet, Varuni makes it look easy. She is a storyteller. Her writing is engaging and impactful, and over the course of her career, she has written on lifestyle, technology, HR practices and luxury. What keeps her going? The excitement of knowing that each day is a new adventure. "I'm someone who easily gets bored. So having a job where every story that you do is so different from the next is immensely exciting. I don't imagine there are many careers that give you this opportunity to expand your horizons and take on new things every day," she says.

A conversation with Varuni is honest and real. She isn't afraid to speak her truth and perhaps that's why she's so successful as a journalist. Her mantra is simple--she chooses to focus on the ‘now’ every day. According to her, the best thing she’s done for her career is hanging in there and putting in the work. Suffice to say, it has certainly worked out for her, and her body of work speaks for itself. Her curious and driven spirit is inspiring, and we couldn’t miss the chance to feature her on our POPxo Women Who Win Series. Over a telephonic conversation, she told us that she loves working out as much as lounging on the couch, and the only advice aspiring journalists need to hear. Excerpts below:

What’s a typical day like for you?

In the post-covid world, my typical workday looks much too different from what it was earlier. I feel like I am living someone else's life (in a good way!). I now have the luxury of sitting and working from my garden, soaking in the sun and tending to my microgreens while I jostle to get time from my interviewees. But of course, in journalism, every day is a new day. Tomorrow I head out for an interview I had scheduled last week since work is trickling back to normal now. It's important for me to interview people in person because otherwise many things tend to not get captured in the story. Pre-pandemic, life would be very different. My workday would begin anywhere from 10:30 to noon and typically I would do anywhere from three to four interviews a week (in person). I definitely like the fact that I can start meeting people again now. But every so often I find myself yearning for the bustle of office; packed lunch rooms and busy news days.

How did you land your first job?

I went to Asian College of Journalism for my master's programme and I was hired through the placement programme to Mint - The Wall Street Journal (now HT Mint) when I was 22. It was definitely a learning experience.

What was a turning point in your career?

Two things really—maybe not as much "turning points" but more as periods of time. I had the most fantastic boss, Samita Bhatia, at my second job at The Telegraph. She mentored me a lot and I will always be thankful for that.

I also think being at The Economic Times helped me gain a lot of good contacts; I built on and leveraged them to create a body of work that would otherwise be difficult to do in many other organisations.  

A mantra that you swear by in your professional or personal life?

I have stopped focussing on the 'what ifs' and the 'but whys' and live for the ‘now’.

What qualities do you think have really helped you succeed?

The best thing I did was that I stayed put and hung in there and didn't run after the next best opportunity.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment so far?

I've had the opportunity to interview a lot of interesting people that I wouldn't have otherwise. Off the top of my head, I recall that I loved interviewing Richard Quest of CNN; legendary musician Santana and Nancy Silberkleit—Co-CEO of Archie Comics. I am sure there are more names that will come to mind after this interview is published.

Any advice for aspiring journalists looking to break into the industry?

The more you read, the better you write!

On that note— top 3 books that changed your life?

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson  
The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson 

How do you relax?

I absolutely love working out. In the pandemic, I've run 3-4 km a day, six days a week. And as an antithesis to that, I also love to veg out in front of my TV with a bag of chips and a good show to watch—I mean who doesn't, right?

You’re always on the go. What are 3 things we’ll always find in your makeup bag?

Mac Studiofix Fluid SPF15; Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Gloss (mini) and I'm never without perfume—Roberto Cavalli Women Eau de Perfume.