Inspiring Stories

Inspiring and Empowering Stories

The Forward Effect of Inspiring Stories

As an entrepreneur and corporate executive, Varsha Rao believes that there is something to learn from everyone. She is always on the lookout for new stories of endurance, creativity, and success. In fact, the stories don't necessarily have to be new, she says, even if you have heard the story before, each speaker or writer possesses their own print, articulating a well-known subject in such a different way, that one can come away with new information that was never heard before.

Varsha Rao has spent most of her professional life as an entrepreneur or executive of high-growth organizations, and as such she knows how challenging a career in innovation can be. Entrepreneurs from all fields face many challenges on many different levels, and can easily reach a point of burnout or disappointment with the pace of success or the setbacks. She also knows that sharing experiences and learning from others can help. Reading about fellow professionals who have traveled the same journey, provides an opportunity to learn about their approaches, challenges, disappointments, and successes. Through these stories, one can see oneself and come away with new energy, information, and insights.

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Giving Back to a New Generation of Leaders

Throughout her career, Varsha Rao has been personally involved in a number of initiatives focused on giving support to young leaders and the next generation of entrepreneurs. She donates to educational enrichment programs for economically disadvantaged secondary school students to help them achieve a college education. She advises new founders and helps them connect to the vital resources they need to excel, and mentors in the KStart Incubator, a program that nurtures young startups in India. Rao frequently speaks at conferences and workshops sharing her experience and knowledge with those set out on a similar path. She has also invested in a number of promising startups that are contributing to innovation in a wide variety of professional fields.


Sharing Stories of Inspiration

As she believes not only in the power of education and experience but also in the power of stories, Varsha has taken it upon herself to share the stories that inspire her with her online audience. On her Empowering Stories Blog, she discusses books, articles, talks, and initiatives she has drawn knowledge and encouragement from along the way. The blog features a diverse collection of energizing and thought-provoking resources, from reports on disruptive startups, through reviews of must-reads for any entrepreneur to discussions of psychological, sociological and political phenomena that are shaping our lives.

Among the stories featured on the blog, one can find an account of the Nurx web platform, which is changing the rules of the game when it comes to birth control by enabling women to safely and responsibly purchase their contraceptives online. As an avid reader, Rao discusses several books she has found inspiring like Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman, and Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

By offering such a rich tapestry of insightful materials Varsha's blog is in itself an accessible source of inspiration for anyone in need of a fresh perspective or an encouraging word.


Varsha Rao finds one of her greatest sources of inspiration in her son, James Poetzscher. Even though he is still just in high school, this young man is already making his mark on the world through his work as the founder of Greenhouse Maps and the co-founder of Checkmate COVID. James is a talented programmer and is already supporting the fight against climate change. He has been working with the European Environmental Bureau since March 2020 and is also doing his part to raise funds for relief efforts surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Understanding Climate Change

James Poetzscher was 14 years old when he became interested in using satellites to track greenhouse gases. After conducting quite a bit of research, he learned how to analyze satellite data and map atmospheric activities. Part of this learning curve involved working as an intern for Ubiquitilink, a satellite company, where he gained a more in-depth understanding of various satellites and the roles they play. Exploring the best ways to map gases, he eventually began working with a software vendor to create Greenhouse Maps, a website for the sharing of maps that track concentrations of greenhouse gases around the world.

Using Chess to Fight Covid-19

As the novel coronavirus pandemic swept through the world, James and two of his friends, Felix and Jack, spent a lot of time playing chess. They decided that they should use their love for the game to support Covid-19 relief efforts and launched Checkmate COVID to raise funds through chess tournaments.

Making a Difference

Varsha Rao is incredibly proud of this young man and all his endeavors. James is passionate about his work, which has already been featured in major media outlets, and about making a positive difference in the world. She looks forward to seeing where his interests lead him next.