‘It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up’: Leo Shastri, Director - Operations and Strategy, Usha Exim

By Asha Chowdary|18th Oct 2020
The Proust Questionnaire is a questionnaire about one’s personality. It has its origins in a parlour game popularised by Marcel Proust, the French essayist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.
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After studying filmmaking and working on various small projects in different industries like education and entertainment, Leo Shastri decided to go back to his roots and join the family business — Usha Exim Private Limited — with the aim of creating work opportunities for the economically disadvantaged section of the society.

He joined the certified fair-trade multi-product export organisation as a Director of Operations and Strategy.

Besides this role, he also manages all aspects related to the growth of the organisation. As the company is an inheritance from his grandfather, late Prof. Shyam S. Sharma, who was often called ‘The Father of Fair Trade in Asia,‘ Leo had grown up hearing about the beautiful concept of ‘World Family.’ He still remembers how his grandfather used to tell him that the whole world is our family, and our target is to remove as many miseries as we can from it.

An avid fair trader, his goal as an entrepreneur is to eradicate poverty and unfair practices in society through alternative trade methods. He believes in the motto ‘Entrepreneur for a cause.’ In his free time, he travels from village to village to explore the human diversities across India and understand the rural mindset. His initiatives made him and his company win many laurels which include India 500 Quality Leader Award.  

Here are his responses to our Proust questionnaire

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Balance. A perfect balance between work, love, family and friends, money, travel, etc., equals perfect happiness. Of course, I don’t have that balance. That’s just my idea of it.

What is your greatest fear?

Failure. As much as I’ve failed, and as okay as I am with learning from my failures, it still does scare me.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Procrastinating and being lazy because ‘now’ is never a good time for me. I hate that, but I still do it.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Defending any kind of addiction and giving various excuses for doing whatever it is they’re addicted to.

Which living person do you most admire?

Elon Musk.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Aaah... Goa! Too much spent on travel. Not just Goa, of course. Guilty and Happy!

What is your current state of mind?

Stressed and annoyed with COVID-19. All growth plans are going down the drain.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?


On what occasion do you lie?

Mostly to myself, which is way too often.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

Eyebags. Don't need that extra baggage. 

Which living person do you most despise?

Really shouldn't name the person!

What is the quality you most like in a man?

His respect for women. It is more like a necessity for me than quality.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Oh, I love women! Love all their qualities. Haha! But on a serious note, I guess it's the way a woman communicates with me.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

'Of course.'

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Work and travel! Or perhaps travel for work.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Languages! Espanol, French, and Arabic.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Overthinking and trying to be ahead of things.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I haven't achieved my greatest achievement yet.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Me. I'm very happy being me.

Where would you most like to live?

New York City. It agrees with me. Or I agree with it.

What is your most treasured possession?

My business awards perhaps. Or the clapper board from my first film 'Mantra.'

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

It should be nothing. I want nothing to do with anything of this sort.

What is your favourite occupation?

Filmmaking. I'm hoping to work on my next feature film super soon.

What is your most marked characteristic?

That, I have a plan for everything and believe there's a solution to everything.

What do you most value in your friends?

The fact that they bear with me! It's a big deal. Got to respect that. 

Who are your favourite writers?

A writer doesn't have to be the author of a novel. So, I'd say Quentin Tarantino, Farhan Akhtar, Spielberg, and it's a long list.

Who is your hero of fiction?

All politicians.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Alexander Hamilton.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Besides my family... Abbé Pierre, Nitin Gadkari, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Mukesh Ambani, and… Flying Jatt (I'm kidding, of course).

What is it that you most dislike?

Narcotics. And its users.

What is your greatest regret?

Not being smart enough early enough.

How would you like to die?

Peacefully, while sleeping.

What is your favourite journey?

 From scratch to success. It's bliss every time.

What is your motto?

It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.

Edited by Suman Singh

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