As 2016 comes to an end and 2017 starts I'm starting to look at other ways I could utilise my podcast and one of the ways I want to do that is start talking about more topics that support women in business. I'm interested in many things from social media to business set up to helping women in business to fitness and nutrition to finding new apps and technologies to finding a work/life balance. I'm a very curious person and love connecting and reaching out to people to find out what there story is. I'm in the middle of brainstorming new ideas for 2017 so I can really make a go of 2017 and reach some key objectives. I've already set one goal and that is to walk around 150km of the Camino in March 2017 so I've started training for that! Can't wait! :) Earlier this year I walked 100km across the desert. So going forward my podcast will start to change and start to focus on conversations with people that can support women in business. My focus will be on talking to people from this region as we have so much great talent now in the Middle East I think they have a lot to offer. So if you have any suggestions, topic ideas or people you think I should have on the podcast then do let me know..... so on with today podcast.
In The Beginning
I remember when I started my first Facebook Group back in 2010. I couldn't decide if I should have done a group or a Fan Page. I remember researching trying to change my group to a fan page and couldn't do it unless I started again! anyway... 6.5 years on I'm glad I didn't. That group I created called 'Muscat - Where can I find' (MWCIF) is now over 44,000 members big and its purpose is to help people find what they are looking for in Muscat. Simple! Since then that group concept has been replicated in a number of cities and probably by members in cities I don't even know about.
I love Facebook Groups. I think they are just great spaces to build relationships, find answers, share with a community and feel connected. I'm part of many Facebook Groups myself and they too have helped me learn, grow, test and discover so much new stuff I may have not have found. I love it when I find someone who has asked a similar question - it reminds me that I'm not alone.
Facebook groups can support your business objectives and can be the right choice for your business. They are open spaces and I believe today they can create more traction than what Facebook Fan pages can because your audience choose you and identify with your key group objectives as something that could benefit them. We all know our organic reach of our Facebook posts are really low and if we want traction we need to pay for Facebook Ads that help generate leads or sales. This is where I think the power of Facebook Groups could come in useful for your business and maybe save you some money along the way too. So here are my 5 ways Facebook Groups can support your business objectives.
Networking and Relationship Building
Networking and Connecting support our brand awareness objectives and Facebook Groups are great spaces to do that. I know that connecting and reaching our audience is really tough these days. We are all so busy and our messages don't always reach our clients or prospects so this is where a Facebook Group would be a great safe space to share, connect and build relationships with people you know you can help. The key to any new business is building those relationship and networking your space to see where you can help. People buy from people they know and trust aswell as the research they've done first to explore the buying options. In a Facebook Group you can share questions, quotes, images, video, queries, ideas all as ways to generate that engagement and build relationships with new prospects or enhance existing client relations. In that space you don't sell to them, you share your knowledge or other people's wisdom that you know your group will benefit from. Through my own groups and through groups I'm part of, I've connected with so many amazing people that I would have never discovered if it wasn't for that group.
When someone posts in your group or comments in groups you are in you get a notification message in your news feed thus driving traffic to your group. In my opinion, Facebook Group do better with organic reach than fan pages. My MWCIF Fan Page has over 5700 likes but my group has over 44,000 members. I'd love it if people liked the fan page too when they join the group but really people will not bother. Its the group they want, not the fan page and they want to get on with asking or finding what it is they want. However, don't discount Facebook Fan Page they are still an enormously powerful marketing resources to use. I always promote my podcasts on the Learning Curve Fan Page and it always does well. However, I'm paying for that. In a group when a discussion is hot people will naturally be attracted to it and start sharing their comments and so organic reach is there.
Create Community Around Your Topic
I love being part of a community where there is like minded people and I bet you are the same. I've moved 3 times in 8 years and each time I've moved I've set about exploring key Facebook Groups in that city because I know the people in the know will be in that group and I'll be able to ask questions I need answers too. Its the same with your business, creating that space where you create purpose, community and fulfilment of the members questions is super powerful. People love to know the answer to their query is a question typing session away. You save them from researching google or asking friends or family. Sharing your content or content of others gives your members something to think about or read and it might help them at that moment too. My tag line for my group, MWCIF is 'somebody always knows something' - and its true. If there is an active community engagement around your topic in your Facebook Group people will be willing to help. it feels great to help someone find/answer/get something and help them on their way. I do this many times in my groups and in others I'm part off. And lastly on this point, keep your group active. Schedule your posts if you have too, stay involved in the conversations, help where you can, suggest/recommend where you can - being a part of the community is key to its success.
Who Should Have A Facebook Group?
Facebook Groups have a fit in lots of places. If you are a coach then tell your clients and prospects about your group. Its a space where you can share more knowledge, create more engagement and share great articles that will support your clients and prospects. If you make something - use the space to show off what you are working on, or feedback from clients or use the space to research what your clients are looking for and ways you can help solve their pain factors. If you have a hobby and want to share and connect with likeminded people. Become that space where people that have the same interest can come to share ideas, thoughts, opinion, articles, stories, videos and even podcasts. If you are not sure if a Facebook Group is right for you then let me know - we can explore it. I love brainstorming facebook Group ideas.
Owning An Active Engaged Facebook Group Is A Marketing Tool.
If you have an active, engaged, busy group then believe me you are on to a winner. Companies and Brands will be very keen to be part of your community in someway so they can benefit from your activity. MWCIF has over the years appeared in newspapers and been on the radio just because the community loves the group and gives people assurance they can find what they are looking for. Because of this traction brands have over the years wanted to collaborate and use the group to get their product in front of the Muscat community. Your Groups could do the same. You can cross promote with another brand to generate more engagement. You could have a joint venture partnership that takes traffic to the place you want potential customers to go. You could dedicate a day in your line up of posts to advertisers to get some free promotion space or charge them for it. Don't underestimate the power of your group - it could be an awesome tool for many other reasons beyond why you created it.
Facebook Groups are an awesome tool to help meet your business objectives and serve your clients and prospects when you are not serving them directly at a particular moment. You keep yourself in their facebook activity loop they create for themselves. Being a place where they can wonder through, see whats going on, interact and serve is a powerful space. And long term I think Facebook Groups are going to become even more powerful. The downside of group is the lack of analytics but I'm sure there are people out there working on it to get stats for us. Please do use them and if you need any help then let me know. I've created many community spaces with Facebook Groups in Oman and the United Arab Emirates. I love creating community spaces that aim to serve the community. I'm taking part in a seminar on the 21st November in Abu Dhabi about the power of Facebook Groups and I'll be there sharing my own stories about my Facebook Groups and helping people understand their powers. I'm currently working on a few offerings to support the event so I'll link it in the blog when the offering are ready.
#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.
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 #73 - 'I trusted My own Intuition & Quit My job', says Chérine Kurdi, Transformation Coach & lifestyle Entrepreneur (Abu Dhabi, UAE.) (Part 1)
When you think about taking the plunge to entrepreneurship, what are the thoughts that come into your head? Obviously there is a lot of success, passion and positivity, but behind that there's also 'the big fear'. The fear of failure, getting out of your comfort zone, the doubt, the worry. There is lots that starts to grow when - Read More & Listen
#70- 'I'm so happy when people come up to me in the mall and say thank you for helping me find a job', says Elsbeth BlekkenHorst-Tammes, Founder & CEO of Global Women Qatar. (Doha, Qatar)
'I love it when people come passed in the Mall or in a cafe and say thanks for helping me find a job'. Its for that reason Elsbeth loves what she does. She strives to connect Women to jobs in Qatar and further their career.
Elsbeth is the Founder & CEO of Global Women Qatar, Qatar’s first and only recruitment agency to focus exclusively on the recruitment of women. Elsbeth and her partner recognised a gap in the market for a service focused on the recruitment of women. A very niche area but they discovered that companies were looking to employ more women in Doha to diversify their workforce. Read More & Listen
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.
I recently interviewed a lady called Leen in Algeria. She is the Founder & Executive Director of Injaz El Djazair - Algeria. A global non-profit organisation aimed at empowering young people & young entrepreneurs to own their own economic success. They run soft skill programmes to help the kids in Algeria get a better start in their career.
We were creating her episode for the show and one of the things she commented on was 'we never live in the' moments of our success, we see our goals and then we are very quickly move on to the next one'. Its true we are always in a constant rush and on to the next goal or objective in our work aswell as our personal lives. So while she said this I said, in jest, 'we should take a holiday each time we have a success'. We laughed and giggled about it. But then it got me thinking that maybe that would make us stop and live in the moment of that success.
Think of it like this, when we go on holiday. We do sit back, evaluate our goals and objectives, talk about what has being going on and what we would do different BUT we also enjoy our holiday. We snap up every moment and diarise it so we never forget the smells, feelings, thoughts and even the weather. We absorb everything so we can package it up and hold on to that memory forever.
Why can't we do that we our successes? Lap it up, pull in the smell, feelings, thoughts and I suppose the weather and package up that success and stamp it firmly into our memory? Live in the moment of that success, revel in it and learn what we can from it.
So I'm suggesting a new way to measure our successes. Take a holiday. Take a day to stretch out and live in the glory of that success and suck it up like a sponge so your brain fully stain itself with the success that was. Then at the end of the year, add up your holidays and then see how much success you have had. We thrive on positive energy so wouldn't this just be such a massive boost to our confidence, abilities and our overall being!!
.... now where is my suitcase :)
ABout the blog
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.