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Arooj Sheikh: Be Yourself, Be Genuine

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Arooj Sheikh shares five ways to maximize your life.

By Allie Justis, Photos courtesy of Arooj Sheikh

Arooj Sheikh is a shining star in the Austin business world, putting published author, Harvard keynote speaker, renowned business consultant and successful venture capitalist on her resume before even graduating college.

Though she is only 21 years old, Sheikh has been in the business field for many years, chasing her dream of starting her own business, while also pursuing her passion for empowering world-changing ideas through venture capitalism. Her most recent pursuit has been writing her book, The Fundraising Strategy Playbook: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Pitching, Raising Venture Capital, and Financing a Startup.

“I’ve worked in the startup ecosystem from a number of perspectives,” says Sheikh. “What bothered me was that I saw a really big disconnect between founders and their investors. So this book is the advice that’s talked about in small groups but never openly discussed.”

Sheikh credits much of her success to the support she received early on in her career, so to pay it forward she is sharing five ways to maximize your life.

Always have the audacity to ask.

You really have to start pushing yourself to take the long shot. I think that people are always afraid of inconveniencing other people or are always waiting too long because they haven’t done x, y and z yet. Just know that if people see that you’re passionate and see that you care about what you’re doing, they really will go pretty well out of their way to help you.

Get people to advocate for you.

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Everyone is standing on the shoulders of giants, and anyone that says otherwise is lying to you. I guarantee it without question. It really does come down to just being yourself and being genuine. That will get you so much further than anything else, and that’s a fantastic way to get people to advocate for you. Then you can take it a step further and advocate for other people as well.

Keep finding new experiences.

I know it’s a little tough right now with COVID and everything, but I think that there’s more than one way to gain new experiences. For example, I think that books and travel blogs are a fantastic way. Reading a book, you get to learn so much, and there’s just so much more depth than what you get to experience in just your life alone. Borrowing from these other experiences is like stepping into another life, and it can be a good starting place for getting the confidence to pursue your own unique experiences. Everyone talks about how life is so short. I think life is really long, and I think that travel and finding these new experiences can lengthen your life.

Trust yourself to figure it out.

Failure is just a part of success, and it helps a lot of the time to do it early. For me, I had a very big fear of public speaking, so I decided to take a public speaking class. At one point I was so scared that I kept forgetting my own name. It was awful, but I forced myself to do it. Now because of my hard work, I have pitched my company to more than 1000 people, which was a 50x improvement from where I started. That confidence comes from every single occasion in which I got up and I spoke up. Now I regularly do speaking events, I’m a published author and I did a keynote at Harvard University. It comes down to doing these hard things. Because I did all these hard things before, I knew that I could trust myself to figure it out.

No one could ever have all the answers.

Over the years I have been extremely lucky to be around some really brilliant people. I think the number one thing I have noticed is that no one has all the answers. Everyone you look up to is also just figuring it out, and they don’t know what they’re doing either. Even Einstein felt his work got far too much attention. Even Maya Angelou spoke about how she suffered from imposter syndrome. If you realize they experienced it too, I think it makes it so much more natural and okay to have these feelings.


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