#92 [PODCAST & BLOG] My 5 Correlations between My Weight Loss and my Entrepreneurship journey. With Nicholla henderson Hall - Creator and Host of the Learning Curve Podcast (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Have you ever thought about the correlation between a weight loss journey and entrepreneurship? I've recently connected the two. If you spotted the correlation yourself, then awesome and I'd love to hear how you see them syncing up. So summer 2016 for me is about 2 key objectives, a) starting my business, and b) weight loss and getting my fitness back. To achieve both I've been spending the first part of the early morning on the treadmill where for one hour I walk and run to achieve around 9000 steps. My aim is to average around 12000 daily steps. This morning effort really boosts that number to achieve my daily step count. It also helps with the 2nd objective of starting my business by helping me get clear, having a healthy mindset and achieve my daily 'to do' list about what I need to get done. Apart from this morning exercise boost, the majority of my day is very sedentary. I spend a chunk of time in front of the computer or in meetings, a car or just relaxing. Its pretty hot outside so going out really isn't advisable so getting my exercise done first thing is crucial. I'm not a afternoon gym person nor an evening person so the mornings gets it done.
So during these sessions I've been listening to a podcast called 'Tips of the Scale'. It's a great podcast and community about people sharing their weight loss journeys. I have found all these stories inspirational and really help boost my own weight loss journey. Me and weight loss have always been at odds but I know I'm healthy and fit. I don't have an issue running a 10km run and so I do pride myself on that achievement. This coming winter I plan to get some more runs under me. I'm even contemplating doing the 42km Dubai marathon as opposed to the usual 10km - which I've been doing for 6 years. Still not sure. The distance does bother me!!!
I was listening to a particular podcast with a lady called Elizabeth Benton and she spoke about how alot about how weigh loss and motivation is a mindset thing. I heard her loud and clear. There are times on the treadmill where I just want to stop and give up but I try super hard to not listen to that inner voice and tell myself that this is awesome and my body needs this fitness.
But as I listened and ran I thought about my other key objective and that was starting my social media business. I realised as Sam (the host) and Elizabeth chatted that there were similarities between a weight loss journey and entrepreneurship. I'd never made the connection before. But here it was. So I wanted to share with you these connections and so when you are next at the gym or know someone on a weight loss journey you can totally relate to them. Only the topic is different.
Entrepreneurship is an all immersing experience
The other day I interviewed a very smart and astute business woman called Saana Azzam - she is the founder of MENA Speakers and she said, 'Entrepreneurship is an all immersing experience'. I couldn't agree more with her statement. The whole subject of passion for your idea, creating it and making it happen just totally takes over your life. You eat, sleep and breath the subject and are constantly fired up by the energy that this passion it creates. You spend your time talking, sharing, building, thriving and trailblazing all in the name of your idea so you can see it become the vision you had in your head. Weight loss is very much the same. It is an all immersing experience. With weight loss its an all or nothing experience. You have to exercise, pay attention to your food, educate yourself, stay informed, read and just embrace it, in its totality otherwise you will not break old habits or achieve the goals you so want to see and feel.
With both weight loss and entrepreneurship there is a heavy sense of isolation despite in both cases you will have the support of family and friends around you. When you are building your business you spend a lot of time in front of the computer reading, building and strategizing. A lot of this time can be on your own or quite lonely. Unlike in a large corporate office you have teams or individuals that are involved in the same projects or tasks as you. The same with the weight loss journey. It can, a lot of the time be done in isolation. You go the gym but folk rarely speak or interact, you go to dinner and you are having internal conversations with yourself about the menu. What looks good, what's off the menu for you, how can you compromise so you can still enjoy yourself but have something yummy! You do these conversations in isolation too. Well I do!! Ultimately you have to make the effort yourself, you have to take responsibility even with community and friends around. That is what isolation can be.
Endless Courses and Diets
Elizabeth spoke about the number of different diets she had done during her life to lose weight. All promised weight loss and all promised a new level of confidence. She would lose the weight and then as soon as the diet was done she would see the weight return. An endless cycle of torcher for her mentally as well as physically. Entrepreneurship is very much the same. How many of you have bought the, 'I went from $0 to a six figure dollar sum in 4 months - and my life change forever' courses? Who has done it? I have. Eventually you learn schemes and quick fixes NEVER solve the problem long term nor do they deal wit the fundamental space in your head which makes all of this effort happen.
The Emotional Journey
Weight loss and entrepreneurship are both emotional journeys. You've seen that classic iceberg picture where it dissects the iceberg so you can see the tip and what goes on under water and that truly is a mental and emotional journey. There are great days, awful days, give up days, I'm done days and the best days.... oh the cycle goes up and down like the stock market. Its the same with your weight loss journey... those days when you've worked out all week, you've kept to your plan and then you get on the scales and nothing has changed or you've even put on a pound. Those days are the worst. Then there are days when you eat a burger and you are having an 'off' day and you lose weight!!! what is that all about!!! Anyway the key thing is, is that that too is an emotional journey. For both entrepreneurs and those on their weight loss journey they all have to constantly stay aware of their thoughts so they don't impact your feelings and land up creating a negative day or experience. I find this correlations the most fascinating!
Have to Find Like Minded People
Finding people like yourself really is crucial to your growth and your confidence. I find that when I speak to non like minded people they can often question my intent or direction and then land up causing me confusion and mental misdirection in my head. That really does annoy me particularly for both my journeys through weight loss and entrepreneurship. I have to remind myself that I'm dealing with their fears and reckless attitudes, not mine! When I was younger found myself to be more easily persuaded by someone else's ideas and thoughts. Today I still have that a little bit but i do make sure I remain in a questioning state as best I can. Its a muscle I have to keep training I suppose. Its the same with both entrepreneurship and weight loss - find people that relate. Find people that you can connect with and 'get' where you are coming from. Its so easy to be sucked into negative non-like minded people who might think they are coming from a place of caring and sharing but for you its all wrong and it you don't nip it in the bud you could fall pray to negative thinking and falling from your objectives and mission. Find your Tribe.
So, what do you think? I'm sure you can see the correlations yourself and probably a lot more like I mentioned earlier. Both journeys are filled with hurdles, bumps, detours all sorts of moments and you just have to forgive yourself when the negative stuff comes around and just push through. Both are long term goals that require consistency, energy, positivity and mental strength. I'm working on both and its without a doubt tough They are both heavily intertwined and not separate objectives for me - they both feed from the same source and if I can keep the power up hopefully by the end of year I would have lost the stone I'm hoping to lose, ran a number of 10km or further distances that i wanted and my business is pushing through to it s 6 month anniversary. Its a social media service for women in business, business if you are interested.
Thanks for listening or reading, which ever way you consumer your knowledge. Do let me know where else you see a correlation in your own journeys. It might not be weight loss and business start up but that's ok. I'm looking for patterns. Have an awesome day.
The Holy Month of Ramadan started last Monday and for the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world it is the month of fasting and prayer. For those that don't know what Ramadan is, its a time each year when all Muslims fast from dawn until dusk and they must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and drinking alcohol. Its a month of spiritual reflection, a time to look upon ones own activities and question them and reconnect with your faith and cleanse your soul. I'm not Muslim but as I've lived in the UAE all my life, its very much part of my yearly calendar and I find the month very important to my own character and soul.
So I wanted to share with you why Ramadan is a great month for Entrepreneurs even if you are not Muslim and how you can make effective use of the time.
Time to reflect and renew our energy levels
So each year when Ramadan comes round I see it as a time to reflect on my own life and take a moment to reassess my own energy levels. I have fasted in the past to embrace the Holy month but most of the time I see the month as a time to detox my health, rebuild my exercise regime and meditate some more. Feeling physically better does wonders for my own mindset so when Ramadan comes around I do indulge all of these activities and I really recommend the same for you.
So how can Ramadan help Entrepreneurs - well really for similar reasons. Take the time to reflect on your business, get clear about what is working and what isn't, detox your own business by cleaning your office space, your computer laptop (I know I always have tonnes of files sitting on my desktop screen that really need to be properly filed), reorganise your leads, your budget, get clear on your business's future needs. In Ramadan its a time for Muslims to reconnect with their faith and their core values. You can do the same aswell. Get clear about your core business values again. Sometimes during the year I know these values can get blurry particularly if you are super busy and starting to spread thin. Ramadan is also great time to learn, articulate and understand a lot of the key knowledge you have learnt over the passed few months and get that material ready to use in your business, with colleagues, co-workers or even family.
So just taking the month to detox your business, reset your business intentions and knowing your path will really revive your energy levels and get you ready to take on the world again.
Opportunity to slow the pace down.
How many of you are doing long days? Possible more than you've ever done when you compare it to your previous career you may have had. A lot of the long hours is because we love what we do and time has little meaning when you get to spend the day doing what you love. However, there are times when we need to slow down or even take a break. Its not healthy to be constantly in active mode. We do get tired and grubby when all our engines have been depleted, well I know I do anyway.
So with Ramadan, lies the opportunity to slow the pace down. Take your foot off the gas and don't rush. Yes we need to get a lot done with leads to funnel and sales to close but with an opportunity to reflect and reassess your energy levels why not take the time to slow things down a bit. Slowing things down destresses us too. Feeling more relaxed and less stressed does wonders for our productivity and helping us get clear about what we want to achieve. Ramadan is also about reconnecting with your family and friends so use the time to reconnect with family and friends and people you've been wanting to connect with for a while but haven't. I did this recently. I set up a meeting with an old colleague in Dubai who I hadn't seen in 18 months and it was awesome. We shared, chatted and brainstormed and more than likely will do some collaborations soon too. Awesome!
Opportunity to look at working 'on' the business
How many of you work 'in' your business as opposed to work 'on' your business? Its interesting to get clear on this as it can help you map where you are going and how your business is going to get you there. My husband suffers a bit from this issue. He's a strategy and detail man but sometimes he can gets so caught up in the detail that I need to tell him to come to the surface again because we need to work on the strategy. He recognises his blindness quickly and realigns himself with our strategy objectives. Its all very easily done and can sneak up on you subconsciously. I think a lot of us do it so Ramadan is an awesome time to reconnect with your 'Why' of the business. Your 'values' of the business. Where you are now and where you are going. We can plan as best we can but we all know that a lot of the time its guess work but knowing your why, your values or your potential direction is more about being clear and having clarity so use the holy month of Ramadan to take a step back from your business and look at the bigger picture. You never know what you could be missing. Detail can be organised later by your team or by yourself but in complete awareness that you are in 'the detail'
Fasting is possible and so others things are possible.
The BIG objective of Ramadan is fasting. Its the 5th pillar of Islam and one of the toughest to do. This particular holy month of Ramadan, Muslims in the middle East are looking at Fasting for over 15 hours and this is tough particularly when its 45 degrees outside and thirst really is the big factor with those heat levels. I watched video on Facebook yesterday where Muslims in Finland are fasting over 20 hours a day! Watch it becuase its just amazing. The fasting is to help you understand what its like not to have food or water and that there are people of this world that don't know where there next meal is coming from.
So fasting is done and is possible I think if you can discipline yourself to follow your faith and push your way through the hunger and deprivation then I say, 'think of what you can do when you have been nourished!?' I have learnt that a lot of what we do is often down to our mindset and if we all had the strength of mindset to be disciplined, have some self awareness of our thoughts then we can see ourselves through our goals or objectives successfully.
So there you have it. My four reasons of why Ramadan is an awesome time for Entrepreneurs and how you can embrace the month even if you are not Muslim. How else have you embraced the tradition of Ramadan? Would you fast from dawn till dusk? Do let me know as I'd love to know your thoughts on this. Have an awesome day.
So at the weekend I was badly introduced by a colleague to someone I was very interested to meet. It caught me completely off guard and it didn't leave a great first impression. I realised then that I need to work on my own 30 second elevator pitch. So when moments like that happen again I can take control back. Weirdly enough I had helped in the creation of one for my husband recently and so when he is in a business situation. I think he's got a great one. Here's what he says!
''I'm an Aviation Technologies professional with a knack for marrying business and technologies to help businesses achieve their goals and strategies. I'm passionate about the aviation and technology. I read and learn as much as I can about the industry. I have been credited many times by my colleagues for my wealth of knowledge and understanding. I want to help companies really see the value in the technologies out there that can help them build greater customer experiences.'
I like it because it has all the skills, confidence and goals of a quick, clear and understood pitch. Control is firmly in his hands and I think he leaves room for the person he is expressing it too to ask more questions. What do you think of it? Do you like it? Do you think it can be improved? Do you get what he does and how can help. Do let me know!
So, Why an Elevator Pitch?
So anyway.... after last weekend I really think its important to have one for myself. It also reminded me of how important it is when you are introducing someone else too. So my first question in the future before I introduce someone to someone else is to ask if they have an 30 second elevator pitch or kind of create one based on a few key principles.
There are some great benefits to having a good elevator pitch like:-
a) Helps you be more clear and confident about who you are and what you do. How often do we get derailed with thoughts when we meet people for the first time or feel less confident when we meet someone we are super excited to meet yet nervous too!!! A clear, confident pitch just eases all of that!
b) It take the, 'uh..er....' moment out of the equation and you don't have to worry about sentencing a collection of exciting nouns, verbs and adjectives because you have already done it and its ready to go.
c) As you practice it, you become more and more connected with your pitch and you become more passionate about it. The way you say it becomes more embedded in you and you become more authentic.
d) If you are of a nervous disposition when you meet people for the first time and feel awkward setting the pace of the conversation then having a pitch could relieve some of the anxiety that's created in these first few moments.
What Makes a Good Elevator Pitch?
Through my research I've discovered that a good pitch has some clear elements
a) A goal. What are you trying to achieve with your pitch. So personally I reckon you should have may be 2 or 3 'go to' pitches based on your audience you are talking too. Clients or potential suppliers will have different themes so it makes sense to me to vary your pitch slightly.
b) Describe the problem your business aims to solve and then share how your business solves that problem. Keep it simple too. Too many problems you are trying to solve can be overwhelming for the person you are pitching to. We want them to remember what you did, not leave them saying....'uh...he does a number of things but can't remember what'..
c) Identify your unique selling points. It is important identify your strengths, your products or companies key attributes and wrapping them up into the rest of your pitch so you sound clear, understandable and actionable.
d) Simplicity is also a key point. How often do you read a company's 'about us' page and you get dizzy reading the words because they've tried to be clever by weaving fancy words together? I know I have and I land up reading the sentences two or three times just to 'get' what it is that they do. So work your magic on being simple and using language that is conversational as best you can.
My Pitches (Always Work In Progress)
So reading up examples and keeping in my the key elements I created two pitches because I do two key activities. Here they are: -
My Podcasting Pitch.....
'I’m a podcaster and I interview and share the stories of the entrepreneurial women of the Middle East. From across the region, I get to speak to women who are trail blazing, creating changing, building businesses and thriving. My platform is an audio blog which you can listen to anywhere at anytime via ITunes, Stitchers, Soundcloud, my website or via social networks. I have been credited many times for helping my guests feel very proud of their accomplishments and helping them summarize their efforts. For the listeners, these ladies offer shared experiences, opportunity, success and the real story of how it really is to have a business in the Middle East'.
My Social Media Pitch.....
I love social networks and their ability to create, connect and share with family, friends, colleagues, clients, and suppliers. Because of its power I’ve created Facebook groups as large as 40,000 members and created fan pages with a total of over 30000 fans. I have helped numerous people over the last 6 years find the right platform for them and then helping them generate their own leads. I want to help small businesses brainstorm the right strategy for their businesses.
So what do you think? Did I get it? With all these types of things they can be refined and improved as we use them, so I'm going to start with these and then go from there! See how my audience responds.
Great Resources To Help Create Your Pitch.
Like I said earlier though I didn't do this without some help and inspiration from articles and examples out there. So if you want to check them out, these are the links to the articles that I looked at to help create my pitches. I hope you will find them useful too.
a) Crafting an Elevator Pitch
b) The 7 Key Components of a Perfect Elevator Pitch [with Video]
c) A quick guide to writing your elevator pitch (with examples!)
And Finally, Practice, Practice, Practice
Make those sentences an extension of yourself so they naturally roll of your tongue and put you in the right light and send the right impression. I won't be making this mistake again. Authenticity is important these days and builds trust and relationships.
Do let me know what your elevator pitch is. If you have comments about mine, then please do share. I don't want what happened at the weekend to happen again. Its just embarrassing.....
On the 18th April 2016 I put up an episode called 'My 3 take aways on reslience from my interviews with Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East. As you can see from the image below, these are the results of that download and as I write this blog we are over 2200 downloads!! Clearly this is something that listeners are resonating with. Maybe its the current economic climate or change is heavily in the air this month but this episode has become my top episode and each day there are still downloads being counted. So I thought, so why not do another podcast on another 4. I did have many 'take aways' but I only covered the top 3 - so here are 4 more.
I kind of feel guilty about not putting this up there in my top 3 so when I decided to write another resilience post I thought, 'gratitude' is important to have. When things are tough, I do have a tendency to wallow a bit and hang in that space wondering why is this all happening. Which as we all know, achieves very little! You are literally circling in the same space and going no where. So I've recently turned to gratitude as a way to move my mindset from 'ugh' to 'hoorray'. Its hard, I must say but writing down what we are grateful for really does move the mind and helps you get back on the positive side. It doesn't happen instantly so I totally understand why people give up practising gratitude as the results are a few weeks away but it can help. All my guests I have interviewed were always in a place of gratitude. They were thankful for the podcast coverage, thankful for helping them clarify their own journey through my questions and thankful for being part of a unique opportunity. My podcast is unique in the region and I'm delighted I was able to share their story. When someone says 'thank you' it really does feel really good and I really do think that if we sit back and be thankful for what we have, what we have done and for the people around us, it really helps our resilience. I'm learning to practice more gratitude simply by being aware of my negative thoughts and when I hear them in my head, I whip up something I am grateful for. Try it!! I've read countless articles that say write down 5 things you are grateful for each day. Try it!
Books, Individuals & Goals!
One of the topics I'm always asking my guests is where do you go when you are feeling down, what keeps them motivated and I have seen a pattern through all these women. They all seems to have 3 key places they head too or focus on when things are not going right and that is 'Books, Individuals and Goals'. I discovered that when things were tough, these ladies went back to the drawing board and reconnected with their goals. They would then then talk to friends, family, mentors or coaches. Those individuals that 'got' them and understood what they were all about and why this journey was so important to them. Then they would widen their learning by reading books. Reading up on the areas they needed to work on and broaden. Areas that they immediately could fix with a particular problem they had so they could move forward. When I summed this up in my head, I was thinking, that is pretty simple and why didn't I think of that!!! I guess its because I'm thinking its more complicated than that!! So reconnect with you goals, speak to someone and read a book. It doesn't have to be in that order. Just what you instinctively go to first. Now for me, my instinct is to read. I try and solve the problem myself. I guess its an independence things! But for you, that could be talking to individuals or just going back to the drawing board and taking a look at your goals. Oh and FYI, if reading isn't your thing, how about a TEDx episode or a podcast. We all learn in different ways, so use the best method that works for you. :) All these ladies I have interviewed, you could also listen too as a tool to connect with and understand yourself too.
Don't Be Shy, Talk & Share!
These ladies have all learnt how to Talk and Share. They don't bottle up there concerns. If they have problems or goals that are not being met they talk, they share. They reach out to people and ask for help. All of these ladies have gotten passed the negatives of entrepreneurship, ljke chaos, confusion & their vulnerabilities and began to talk and share about there shortcomings or their weaknesses and to make change so they can move forward. Talking about your vulnerabilities or mess ups can be difficult for most but these ladies have learnt to be self aware and know how being shy just doesn't cut it any more if they want to succeed. They need to be heard, they need to share and they need to find the people that will help them. But what does talking and sharing do? Well it helps you clarify your thoughts and thinking, it helps sort through your feelings and makes things less scary, it can give the issue some prospective. Another opinion can help turn the issue around and make it seem less intimidating. These ladies have learnt how to talk and share and this has only made them stronger and more resilient. The more they talk the more confidence they have developed in themselves and their ideas. So next time you are stuck on something, reach out and talk. Help yourself get clear on an idea, or a problem so you can move forward and achieve your goals. Sharing is caring right???
They are always at the beginning!!
I always ask my guests where they think they are on their own learning curve journey. I ask them to imagine a curve line with peaks and trough and ask them where they sit on that curve and they always said we are at the beginning of an upward curve. I always try to say, 'I guessI you are at the top of your curve based on our conversation given how much they have done and achieve' but no..... they always say they are at the beginning. Everything they do, they are at the beginning of. Its fascinating to think that all these women are at the beginning, but I totally get it. It's their mindset. It's their emotional setting. Its their positive and happiness card they are sharing. At this point on the curve, you are raring to go and you are in a positive growth space. I guess its positive psychology to get through the tough times ahead. With that mindset they can face challenges and obstacles, they can be in control of what is to come and then make the choices that suit them and where they are going. None of these ladies EVER said they were coming down a learning curve or were sitting in a trough of a learning curve. Its just so negative and if you are there, then everything is affected. You can't make good decisions, you can't be productive and you land up hanging out at your own pity party!! Who wants to be invited to that??? No one! Overall it is hard to be strong if you are sick and tired so I guess the lesson on resilience here is always have the mindset of being on the upward swing of the learning curve. If you are there, you are ready for the peak and be ready for the slow slide down the curve.
Resilience truly is the must have strength for entrepreneurs.
Through both my blog posts on this subject I can say that resilience can be found in many places you just need to be self aware, observe and keep moving forward. There will always be set backs, you just need to have your 'resilience list' of tasks you can do when it all goes wrong and you are not sure where to turn. All the women entrepreneurs I have interviewed have instinctively been resilient, even if they know it or not. I've learnt a lot from all of them. A sort of unexpected learning because when I started this journey to explore the women entrepreneurs of the Middle East, my intent was to discover what they did and how they did it not how they were being resilient but deep down I guess that was something I was needing too and is the beating heart of all their stories.
In closing, all these women have put their passion to work, their perseverance in gear and focused on the success and long term goals of their businesses. Some days are harder than others but they push, drive and trail blaze through the entrepreneurial journey and learning curve they have taken on. These women are amazing and I admire their efforts, action and their personalities. Thank you for sharing your journeys Ladies.
I invite you to consider where you get your resilience from and if you have a story to share, then please do connect. The more I talk about this subject the more I'm intrigued by it. The Power of the human spirit to carry on in adversity is amazing!
Failure and mistakes are not a bad thing!! That is the resounding message I'm getting from the ladies I have interviewed. They wouldn't be doing what they were doing if they listened to the negative self talk or were self conscious about what they said or did. When they fail or make a mistake, they just stand up, dust themselves off and travel on to the next 'to do' item from their business plan.
I think that is very powerful feedback and one that I'm slowly coming to terms with myself. At school you are taught to not make mistakes but when you fail your exams or tests, we are taught mistakes and failing are reflections of you not paying attention or studying hard enough. Think of the times you got a big fat red 'F' - on your paper. Its totally demoralising - What do we do with that feedback? We start the negative self talk....'we are not good enough, we are useless, I'll never go to University, my parents will be so disappointed' and there begins the cycle of negativity. From a young age we start this negative self chatter and so we hide away from new things, new ideas because we clearly failed at something similar! I remember my dad saying he was awful at maths. But was he awful or did he have a bad teacher or the class was too big or he was too shy to speak up?? Who knows. But those circumstances meant him blaming himself for not being good at maths. OK. So we do need to be accountable but 50 years ago there wasn't learning support. You were just expected to get on with it but it still leaves you stained with negative messages ringing in our ears. I heard Robert Kiyosaki say recently, 'rubbishing failure and mistakes in school is so anti learning'. And I couldn't agree more.
I've been plagued by my own failure and mistake demons. You know the things you have said or done in the office and you think the whole office is still talking about it months later..... when they are not!!! Or my own negative self talk that I'm not good enough or feeling nervous or inadequate because of my fears of failure or mistakes. Its seriously painful and so overwhelming. It can suck you in and hold you tight for minutes, hours or even days. I'm sure you can all feel your own negative feelings when you think about your mistakes and failings.
But come on... lets changed that tune!! Science and cognitive psychology has shown us that what we say to ourselves impacts our emotions. To 'get' this yourself, the best time to understand this is the morning, when you wake up. If you start thinking negatively in the morning your tummy might start to get butterflies or you feel your stress levels rising and your just irritated ....and you have just woken up. I've been that person and I hate getting butterflies in the morning!! I hate that wobblying feeling in my tummy that just hangs there. In my head I'm stressing about the day ahead, meetings, projects, deadlines...and I've only been awake 30 minutes!!!! So instead now I get up in the morning and I exercise - and watch a ted talk - that works for me. It totally raises my energy levels, changes my mindset to a 'can do' attitude and gets rid of those butterflies. I've become more aware of my thoughts and work heavily on being resilient constantly. So how did I get there? Well this is where I tell you what I learnt from the many interviews I've done with Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East and how I think you can accomplish whatever you want if you put your mind in the right frame and use your failures to your advantage.
Head to your Treasure Box of Passion & Strengths.
Through all my interviews with my women entrepreneurs in the Middle East, I've learnt that they have recognised their strengths and their weaknesses. They have sat down and really clarified their values, their vision, who they are and what strengths they have that they can use. Their primary strengths is the passion they have for a subject, industry or idea. They've taken that passionate energy and just ran with it. When they hit a hurdle they return to their treasure box of strengths, take up more of their passion and reasons for the businesses. Knowing the why to their quest and multiplying that by their strengths, they rekindle that fire and push forward. Mistakes and failing for them is learning. They place it where it should be *in the learning section* and carry on. They will turn to this process over and over again. I know I have. Creating a podcast around women entrepreneurs in the middle east is new, different and very niche. I'm passionate about these conversations I have and want to share how the women of the Middle East are trail blazing and bringing economic growth to their countries but also 'Making a Difference with Lots of Valuable Experiences (MAD LOVE)*. I use my strengths of relationship building, listening and constructing comfortable conversations to really help me connect with these ladies and help share their story. Remember to tap back into your passion and strengths - I'm sure you will give your confidence a nice needed boost.
Collaborate and Partner Up
I always ask my ladies in the interview how important has collaboration and partnerships been to the success of their business and 99% of the time, they respond with a YES! Every business can't grow in isolation just like people can't grow in isolation. You would never learn anything. So when things aren't great and you've hit a wall think about how you could reach out to a complimenting business or a mentor group or even your mum and dad just to help get you some perspective. In that perspective lies your resilience. When you reach out, get clear about what it is that you need to move forward, how you would like them to help you and how you can help them. Give yourself workable and flexible targets and just ask. Use your strengths and your values to work out a new plan. See if your values and their values align and start a new collaboration or partnership. It doesn't have to be monetary it can be as simple as a barter deal or cross promoting one another. These actions will have you heading down your success route once again. We've all scene that image of success as a windy road and it totally is. So don't hit that wall and feel failure looming, see it as an opportunity to learn, talk to people and take action. Be resilient.
They keep growing their knowledge bank and learning
I interviewed May Khizam yesterday and she said a really cool then.... she said, ' Entrepreneurship looks so glossy on the outside but its not' and she is so so right. *here come some negative self talk* - its a life of hardship, its brings difficulties, chaos, questioning yourself and your business, money worries and fear. There I have said it! Now lets move on! To be an entrepreneur you need to be resilient. Be able to turn all those fears into actionable positives but we need to put ourselves in mindset of wanting to be a learning person. Tricia Evans and Cherine Kurdi both called themselves 'Learning Junkies' and I loved that. They make time to learn, they make time to read and listen to what the latest developments are in their industries aswell as complimenting industries. They've also become really good listeners. Listening for the message that will help them marry that information with their business so they can move forward. They are open to ideas and all this new information empowers them and improves their confidence. So when they do have a set back, they can fall back on their knowledge bank, their goals and recognise their achievements and push forward. They are resilient.
Through out all my interviews I think the key to all of these ladies efforts has been resilience. There are peaks and troughs in their journeys which create challenges and excitement. I think the trick is to recognise when things are going great and make sure you recognise those moments and be thankful for them. Show some gratitude. When things are not going great, turn to your resilience. Even create a resilience list so you have a go to list of activities you can turn too when your brain is not engaging and you are feeling demoralised. The online dictionary I used to define the word failure has two definitions, a) 'lack of success' or b) 'the neglect or omission of expected or required action'. hmm.... it should say 'failure is a blip in your learning and you haven't looked at your resilience yet. Go to resilience'.
*I credit that brilliant Acronym MAD LOVE to my awesome friend and awesome author Jules Miles Lewis. She's written a book on Moving Mountains. All About helping you move forward, discovering your inner mountain and finding your path foward emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically... in business and in life
So last week - I had a new 'first' in my life! I walked across the desert from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi. We were supposed to do 120km but unusual stormy weather across the UAE cancelled 2 days of our journey. The experience was such a mix bag of emotions. From exciting and nerves at the beginning, too 'I don't want to do this anymore' in the middle, too feeling overwhelmed and teary that we had achieved our objective at the end.
The Women Heritage Walk
The Women’s Heritage Walk (WHW) from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi honors the women of the United Arab Emirates who made this journey twice a year not so long ago. Forty-four women retraced this historical trek. Expat women accompanied Emirati women walking in the footsteps of their ancestors who helped sculpt this country. This experience was a celebration of the past and an invitation to shape a vibrant future.
My 'Sand sisters' and I took on the dunes of the desert and during the whole walk I was able to assimilate many feelings and thoughts that I could relate back to daily life for women as entrepreneurs! Women pushing forward, making change and taking action to evolve and grow. Through this journey I noted words and phrases said by the ladies that reflected life and our work life and how it doesn't matter what you are doing there are key skills that apply everywhere!
Skill 1: One step at a time
PODCAST #69- 'Workout & burn fat. but burn the fat that prevents you from enriching your soul' says Dina Sherif. Co-Founder of 'Ahead of the curve'. (Heliopolis, Egypt)
How would you make your community more sustainable? Make it not just about creating economic growth and the creation of jobs [which will happen] but more about creating multiple layers of economic, social and environmental value where you and your community all benefit? Does this sound like something you could do or want to be part of?
My next guest, Dina Sherif, is on that mission. She is passionate about finding better ways that serve everyone better and her vision is focused on creating sustainable societies. Her goal is to see her business be leading the way in the commercialisation of social innovations.
Her second business called 'Entrepreneurs with Impact Ventures' is all helping entrepreneurs who build businesses that tackle major issues in society, so entrepreneurs that focus on key industries like Education, Energy, Healthcare and Environment. She wants her business to be seen as the entity that changes the mindset of individuals and businesses within growth markets.
Her third project is at the core of everything she does. Its aim is to see more women in business. Women are an untapped market and businesses are missing out on potential economic growth.
I thorougly enjoyed my convesation with Dina. She's an Economist, a Researcher, definitely a thought leader and change maker in Egypt and beyond. She is passionate, driven and was full of great nuggets of insight and experience. She is one women to watch in the coming years to see how her philosophies, her studies and business insight for this region develops.
This is Dina's Learning Curve Story! Listen Now
How many podcasts do you listen too? I bet the number is either none, some or loads!!! Its really fascinating when you talk to people about podcasting and they are either totally into them or haven't got a clue!! Often the cluelessness is based around the 'Why would I listen to them?' or 'Where do I get them?' or quite plainly 'what is a podcast'. Living here in the UAE I have to say the latter of those questions is the most common, but then weird things happen like, I get the opportunity to be part of The National newspaper on podcasting. That was awesome by the way! :) So it really is a 'learning curve' when it comes to podcasting!
So if you are one that sits of the fence as a listener or as someone that could see the medium as a tool then here are my 4 superpowers of podcasts that 'hopefully' will help you jump off the fence to downloading a couple to listen to some or start your own. Really there are thousands of podcasts. I am part of 4 communities on Facebook where there are podcasters producing shows and episodes and nearly everyday we see a new show launching around another niche area. From health & wellness to fly fishing, there are literally thousands of podcasts out there! Check out ITunes or Stitcher and Im sure you will find something you like.
They Can Educate - Don't stop Learning!
A recent guest of mine Rana El Chemailly said to me 'if you stop learning you will fail'. She's right! Just because we have finished school and got that degree doesn't mean we need to stop learning. To move forward and be successful at whatever we do, we need to be learning all the time.
But the big issue to learning is time! We are all so busy with our lives with work, kids and trying to have fun ourselves, when do we schedule in learn? I've recently starting asking this question on my podcast because it was something I was struggling with too. How are these ladies still continuing to grow and learn and still run a business? Good question right? The answer was simple. They all made time to learn. Some were up early and studied and some added it as a 'to do' item into their schedule. I'm still bartering time and learning I have to say but one tool I know I can do is learn and be on the go! I have the school runs, I have traffic jams, I have walk training and I have trips to Dubai. All these trips equal time and that is when I can learn. I can download my favourite podcasts and get myself plugged in and while I either exercise or just 'get through the journey' I can listen, learn and question. This is what a podcast can do, it can educate you. There are soooo many great podcasts out there from educators, consultants, facilitators or councillors who are keen to share their knowledge and insight to help you with your journey. You can do the same. Show off your insight and knowledge. Create that thought leader persona that is inside you and help build your business and drive your career.
They Can Entertain - Find a podcast that fits your mood!
We all need to be swept out of our daily life and just be entertained. Much like Friends of the 1990's or 'How I met your mother' in the 2000's - its nice just to be entertained. Take us away from our daily chores or work and just sit back and let the story unravel in-front of us. Podcast can do that too! I don't know about you but when I get on a plane I want to zone out, be undisturbed for the duration of the flight. Much like a good book or a movie, listening to a podcast is just another form of engagement and you can binge listen much like you would with a TV series or a good book. But the cool thing is you can physically be doing something while you indulge in your favourite episode. So you can de-clutter your closet, clean out the car, paint a picture or weed the garden all while you are being entertained. Things we would all rather NOT to but have to do from time to time. So use the time productively and be entertained at the same time.
They Can Inform - Give yourself An Edge
Being informed has many advantages. Being informed helps you build informed opinions, helps you get off the fence and help influence a line of thought at work, at home or on a cause you are passionate about. Being informed helps you learn about other cultures outside of your own. Being informed sparks engaging discussions, positive debate and helps grows awareness about issues around you. Being informed helps you travel, it supplies you with useful and insightful knowledge to help you get from A to B. Being informed gives you an advantage. Just this week a friend of mine did an interview and she had to make a presentation based on the case study presented to her for the interview. She used some right up to date knowledge she had learnt via a podcast making part of her presentation bang up to date. She came across as knowledgeable, informed and forward thinking! Great eh! So this could be you too. As a podcaster you can share your views, opinions or be a content curator and really give your audience the information they need to support their career or business. As a podcast listener, the work is done for you. You get information in structured setting, you are able to articulate it and go away and do further work around it. You are informed.
They Can Inspire - Give yourself a daily dose of goodness
You have probably heard these expression. 'You are who you surround yourself with. Well here is another, 'You are what you listen too'. I've read alot recently from thought leaders that say 'weed out the negative people' or 'hang around with smarter people' or 'be the person you want to become' and I do believe there is a lot of merit to this. The power of the mind to cling to negativity is magnetic. Its so much easier to be negative than it is too be positive so we need to really work at keeping a positive mindset so why not be inspired.
Listening to Podcasts really can inspire you. From exercising to commuting or working you can be inspired at any time. They are some GREAT people out there just driving positive change and energy. They are fiercely fighting the negative, weeding out the sh&t and helping you be better you, or better at your job or be a better member of the community. Yes I know its easy to go down the negative path but when so many great people are just offering you up daily doses of inspiration, why fall for the dark stuff! Get yourself on ITunes or Stitcher and type in your keyword and be inspired.
So where do I start?
I am very much a person who has a wide interest in many things. I am a people explorer and a subject geek. Podcasts give me quick access to themes, ideas, stories, people and topics which can be absorbed in 30 minutes. I am a slow reader and I don't have much time these days to sit an enjoy a movie or many documentaries. Podcasts offer up these superpowers and I love to listen to stuff that will give me that edge, keep me informed or use as a reference when I need it. And the best part of all is I get to update my knowledge bank without spending a penny because Podcasts are free knowledge. I don't by magazine anymore, I just head over to ITunes or Stitcher or use one of the podcast directory apps and research keywords or topics. Then I download. If I don't like it, there is a delete button! There is no clutter, no mess and if I want to refer back to something, I can just upload that episode again and find what I need.
I really recommend you give it a go! I know its new and will definitely feel weird to start with but you will find a library of topics that you love and be on your way to the super powers of podcasts.
ps. I have no idea what you like and rally thre are thousands of podcast but here are a few links to some good articles on podcasts. You may like.
pODCAST #67 - everyday I go home feeling happy I have changed the life of a young person in algeria' says Leen Abdel Jaber Al Ashhab, Founder & Executive Director of Injaz El Djazair. (Algeria)
The Learning Curve Podcast - THE Podcast for Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East.
Yes.. Everyday Leen goes home feeling happy she is making a difference in a young persons life. She's the founder of the Algerian connection for Injaz Al Arab, is a non-profit organization that drives youth education and training in workforce readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship across the Arab World.
Leen has been with the organisation since 2000 but it was her move to Algeria in 2010 that took all her skills and training to the next level when she decided she wanted to start Injaz in Algeria. Read More & Listen
PODCAST #66 - 'Learning Will Always Take You To The Next Level' Says Rana El Chemaitelly. Founder Of The Little Engineer. (Beirut, Lebanon)
How many of you would like to see your kid or nieces or nephews or even your friends kids step away from the ipads or computer games and engage in activities like robot building, science, technology, engineering, mathematics and renewable Energy. Interested? I know I was. I like IPads but they offer no physical interaction, my daughter just sits and stares at it and it offers limited sensory interaction because you can' smell or touch what you are working on or viewing. these thoughts are very much similar to Rana, the Founder of The Little Engineer.
Read More & Listen
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Share interviews with Arab and Expat women entrepreneurs, sharing their entrepreneurial journey with their top business advise. We blog about knowledge, articles, FAQ on social media and share tools and resources to help us get going in our niche.