Hi, I’m Soundarya Balasubramani a.k.a Pooja 💫

By title, I’m a 2x author, founder, course creator, and ex-product manager at Salesforce.

By nature, I’m a curious person with a playful heart and an imaginative mind.

Why curious maverick? I came across the word maverick for the first time when I was 16. I thought, That’s a cool word! and chose to name my blog Curious Maverick. Little did I know that I would grow into the title as if it were my second name. Now, calling myself a maverick gives me the courage to break out of the mold. It gives me the strength to be independent. Also, did I mention it’s a cool word?

By the way, this website is my baby. Thank you for showering my baby with your attention.

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Now, now, now

Below is a list of current top-of-mind projects & musings. Most of them.

Finish my third book: an autobiographical novel (stealth mode).

Grow a community of skilled immigrants in America to 1000+ members.

Nurture my relationships: grow my inner circle & organize events in my community.

Nurture my hobbies: reading, singing & playing the 🎸, and fusion dancing.

Nurture myself: get 8 hours of sleep, eat healthy & exercise 3x/week.

My mission statements

These are my north stars guiding me through life. They are subject to change, just as stars do in the night sky.

Become one of the best non-fiction writers of my generation.

Build communities & products centered around lifelong learning.

Help immigrants gain creative autonomy & freedom.

Give back most of what I have to solve the problems of today.

Live a life of balance.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re looking for a quick answer: then I’ll just say that I’m a writer, consultant, and course creator.

Willing to spend an extra minute? Great!

The world loves labels. The moment we hear someone is an engineer or designer or lawyer, we have an interpretation of what that means in our minds. Suddenly, that person goes from a stranger to someone boxed in our minds. I understand the need for labels. It reduces cognitive overload. But, I don’t want that to limit me (or anyone). We all have a thousand dimensions to ourselves, and I’d rather slowly show mine to a stranger than let them box me into one. So in conclusion, what do I do? I spend my days mostly writing out my thoughts, talking to interesting people, brainstorming systems to set up, and engaging in my hobbies.

Short answer: Because the answer to the question, What do I want my legacy to be? had nothing to do with Salesforce or what I did there.

To read a longer response to this, please check my free guide on how I got my O1 visa where I share about this in depth.

I’ve written a comprehensive guide talking about how you can prepare and ace your product management interview. Plus, it’s got some fun visuals! Check it out.

You’ve got this — go kickass!

I published a book, Admitted, back in 2020 which is the only all-in-one guide in the market aimed at helping study abroad aspirants like you. Nothing I say here will remotely equal the value you will get from reading the book. So check it out and get your copy today!

I hope you get into your dream university 😀

A little bit of talent, a lot of luck, and good timing.

My book, Admitted, was never supposed to be a book. I began working on a 10-page PDF for study abroad aspirants with my junior from undergrad, Saikishore Raju. As we began working on the guide, we realized the need for and lack of a comprehensive guide in the market for study abroad aspirants. We thought, why don’t we add a few more topics in here?

With time, the book simply grew and took a life of its own. The illustration below is a great depiction of how it went from a shack to a skyscraper.

If you’re interested in reading the full story of what happened, check out this short book I published in 2021.

You can always email me at hi@curiousmaverick.com. I try my best to respond to all emails, but sadly cannot guarantee it.

This site is my second brain — so there’s a good change your question is already answered in an article / guide on here! Use the “search bar” on the top right to search for the keywords.

Rarely Asked Questions

My involuntary, System 1 response to this question: Because it helps me think clearly, and I’m good at it.

My thoughtful, System 2 response to this question: Hmm. I began writing in 2013 because I was reading a lot about physics and astronomy, and wanted to express my thoughts somewhere. Perhaps someone told me, “Hey, why don’t you start a blog?” I don’t know. My memory is hazy. In fact, my first ever article published was on the Higgs-Boson particle. I even had a joke in there somewhere that goes: “A Higgs-Boson walks into a church. The priest shouts, “We don’t allow Higgs bosons in here!” The Higgs-Boson responds, “But without me, how can you have mass?”” Lol. I was funnier back then.

Since then, the topics I wrote about have traversed many domains. Astronomy. Physics. Technology. Journalistic writing. Career. Education. Psychology. Neuroscience. Productivity.

My writing reflects my interest closely. So you can say I’ve been quite the dilettante the past decade.

Now I write because… I don’t know how else to live my life. Writing is a form of catharsis and expression for me. In a crude sense, writing is like pooping. Just like my body needs to poop, so does my mind. Otherwise, I feel stuck, mentally. Also, I’ve recognized over the years that I have talent for writing, and want to hone that as much as I can to create a positive impact =)

Because… I’m an immigrant.

More so, I’m an immigrant who likes to dip her hands in too much stuff.

I wanted to quit Salesforce more than 1.5 years before I actually quit (in October 2021). But, I couldn’t. As an immigrant on an H1B visa, I can only stay in the United States if I’m sponsored by an employer. It felt like I was being shackled, creatively. It would take me a long essay to describe the mental struggles I went through trying to come to terms with this.

Let’s just say that I spent 2020 grappling with this reality, and working on my first book.

Thankfully, I went from feeling shackled to approaching this as a problem and asking myself, “How do I quit and still legally stay in the United States?”

I pursued a few routes, and one of them worked.

Soon, I will publish a longer piece on exactly what happened, and how other immigrants can do what I did.

Whenever I hear people talking about productivity, they have one of two sentiments:

  • They hate the idea and think productivity has turned people into robots who are never really present.
  • They love the idea and are always in search of new techniques to make themselves more productive.

Usually, there are more people who belong to the former than the latter.

The productivity-haters are not wrong in some of their claims. But, they sadly are missing the point. So let me share a few highlights,

  • Productivity simply means producing the desired outcome. It does not just apply to work. If you go to a party to socialize and spend the entire time thinking about your assignment, that’s an unproductive party!
  • I think of productivity in all aspects of my life, not just the one people call “work.” I think of it from the point of view of three spheres: me and my personal growth, my people and relationships, and my work and contribution.
  • To me, being productive is = being intentional with how I spend my time and focusing on the task at hand.
  • Looking for ways to increase productivity simply means looking for ways to spend time on what matters most, and doing it efficiently.

So, the people who hate the idea of productivity are sadly the ones missing out on ways to increase meaning and joy.

I wrote an in-depth guide explaining a new planning framework I built in 2021, called The Life Garden, along with guidance on how to implement it on Notion. Check it out! 🙂

Great question!

Please email me at hi@curiousmaverick.com with the subject “An Interesting Idea: .” 🙂

Conversations.

I realized a while ago that we spend our entire lives in conversations. Either we’re talking to someone else or talking to ourselves (inside our minds) — all the time.

While I love to write, sing, dance, and engage in many more activities, nothing brings me as alive as a conversation where we’re both engaged and present.

Let’s start a conversation

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What's on your mind? 🙂

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Timeline of my life (25 years)

Unshackled (Published)

After a year of sweat and tears, Unshackled is born. Also, she’s back in Chennai, India now.

O-1A, Finally

After an O-1A visa denial in 2022, her 2.5 year journey finally comes to an end. She flies back to America as a founder!

[May 2024] Third Book?

Unshackled has grown into a company now! It’s time for her to begin work on her third book… and she can’t wait to share it with the world 😉