Tehzeeb Lalani

Founder of Scale Beyond Scale

Tehzeeb is a young and dynamic entrepreneur with a degree in Clinical Nutrition and Food Studies from New York University. She is the proprietor of a Mumbai-based health and nutrition consultancy service called Scale Beyond Scale (SBS) where she helps her clients look beyond the weighing scale and guides them through a host of health woes – from diabetes to heart disease and everything in between. She has seen 300+ clients so far from all walks of life. In 2016, she co-designed an intensive, experiential, 6-week curriculum for Nutritionists and Dietitians who aspire to start and subsequently scale up their private-practice. 80+ students have graduated from this program thus far and have gone on to create successful nutrition businesses.

She contributes as a guest author for magazines such as Home and Happiness, The Active Times, The Free Press Journal, Health Me Up, Diabetes Health, HealthBiz and B Positive. She has also made appearances on Zee Business, Care World TV and done brief stints for All India Radio, The Economic Times and The Mid-Day. When not working, speaking, writing or studying the latest health trends, she travels, does yoga, does social work, studies and speaks fluent French, rants about the benefits of awakening at 4:30 am and partakes in simple home cooking experiments. Petite, pretty, poised and wildly passionate, New York trained Tehzeeb is a breath of fresh air and fortunately, an air is something she doesn’t carry if you ever happen to see or meet her.

Where did the idea for Scale Beyond Scale come from?

After I received my degree in Clinical Nutrition and Food Studies from New York, I moved back to my home country India. I was confident that I wanted to help people with their health and lifestyle. I was constantly told at university to look at “the big picture” and help facilitate “lifestyle changes.” After my first few patients – I finally understood why this was repeated relentlessly. The problem was that people were too fixated on short-term plans to receive a short-term outcome. Moreover, when trying to get healthier and fitter – there was a huge fixation on the number on the weighing scale. When people lost 100 grams – they celebrated and when they gained 75 grams – they panicked. I wanted to play a small part in changing and fixing this perception. This is what gave birth to my organisation – Scale Beyond Scale (where we scale or look beyond the number on the weighing scale). As policy, anyone who chooses to work with me knows at the outset that we won’t be focusing merely on “weight-loss.” Instead, we work on designing behaviours which translate into a healthy lifestyle life-long.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I love that each day is so different and that I have the flexibility to design it how I like. A typical day starts at 4:45 am with a morning meditation. I make myself breakfast by 6:30 am and slowly and lazily have my breakfast and tea till about 7:00 am. Post that, the next hour is dedicated to some brainstorming, creative work, email browsing and responding, scheduling appointments, following up on people, delegating tasks to my team etc. I find myself most productive for this one hour relative to the rest of the day. I also love that I am done assigning tasks and following up very early on so that people can get started as soon as their workday starts and aren’t waiting around for me to assign work to them. By 8:00 am – I get ready and leave for my yoga class which runs for about 75 minutes. Once I am back – till about 5:00 pm – the day is spent answering calls, responding to emails, problem solving, attending virtual or in person meetings, ensuring patient charts are up to date etc. One of the reasons I love my mornings so much is because I don’t feel a sense of control over my time or my day post 10:00 am. Having a few hours in the morning to myself helps me centre and ground myself and take on whatever is thrown my way through the day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Just like it might be the case for most people, my ideas come to me at strange times. In the shower, during a conversation with a friend, when I am taking a walk, while staring at the sunset, during a game of Sudoku, while reading something, when I notice something in my environment that stands out, on a vacation when I have promised myself I won’t be working, in that phase where I am almost asleep but not quite (if I wake up to write the idea down – I won’t be able to fall asleep for another hour. If I let myself fall asleep – I won’t remember the idea the next day – it’s a real Catch 22!). Ideas are everywhere – I don’t necessarily have to work very hard to find them. What’s very challenging though is to actualise them. To do that, two tactics which have been most effective for me is a real and hard deadline and an accountability buddy. Telling people about the idea and that you will bring it to life in a few weeks/few months is also a great way to ensure you hold yourself accountable.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I am really excited that people are finally moving away from worrying about weight lost according to the weighing scale and really trying to eat better and get fitter for their health and their life. I like to jokingly and lovingly call it – more sanity, less vanity!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

It’s hard to pick one so here’s my top 3:

1. Early mornings
2. Yoga practice
3. The willingness to be flexible – sometimes I will take the afternoon off because I am in a slump, do something fun like read a book, get a massage, meet a friend for coffee and then work through late evenings

What advice would you give your younger self?

You will have moments where you feel like an imposter. It’s okay – continue doing what you do anyway. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to say no. It gets better, then it gets worse, then it gets a lot worse, then it will get a lot better and then it might move in a different direction. You can’t always predict how things go. What you can do is show up, be authentic and do what you need to do. You will always want to do yourself one better – that’s good, it’s a sign of growth.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Taking daily showers is not good for you because it kills the natural bacteria in your body.
Closer to my profession, complex carbohydrates are good for you! They are a macronutrient which your body needs for several functions. A blanket ban will leave you irritable and with many nutrient deficiencies.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Make mistakes, fail, try again.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Getting out there in front of real people and talking about what I do. Giving my 110% to each patient has also helped build trust and goodwill and has bought in referrals without me having to ask for them.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Just like most entrepreneurs, I have probably had more than 50 failures. My favourite failure probably has to be when it dawned on me that the only thing I am really doing is working with patients and counselling them. Even though it’s what I have always wanted to do – I realised that a single source of revenue is a dangerous proposition. This pushed me to build a second company with a co-founder and more recently, motivated me to build an online course.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

As previously mentioned, ideas are aplenty. Here’s top 3:

1. A homemade snack and healthy meal delivery service
2. Tying up with a local farmer and curating weekend farming and meal experiences for urban folks
3. Weekend wellness retreats

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I buy 2-3 new books every month. I always look at this as an investment as opposed to an expense and given the amount I learn from each book, it truly is an investment. My yoga classes are also a great investment for both my physical and emotional well-being.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Google Calendar – I schedule my meetings weeks if not months in advance. This helps me plan my time well and be productive.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Dark Horse – Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfilment – By Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas. The book highlights achievers who have had an unconventional path to success – much like entrepreneurial journeys.

What is your favorite quote?

“When you get there – there is no there there” – Gertrude Stein

P.S. In full disclosure, I think he said it in a different context but the way I see it is once you reach a goal – you realise that you are now yearning for another goal for yourself.

Key Learnings:

  • Have a daily ritual that helps you centre and ground yourself. This will ensure you’re happy and productive.
  • Telling people about your idea and when you will bring it to life is a great way to ensure you hold yourself accountable.
  • You will have moments where you feel like an impostor. It’s okay – continue doing what you do anyway.
  • Make mistakes, fail, try again.
  • Once you reach a goal – you realise that you are now yearning for another goal.