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
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
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 :)
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
Happy New Year everyone. For the Learning Curve Podcast it was definitely a year of peaks and troughs. Starting a podcast and getting it out there wasn't difficult it, was the promotion and sharing and getting it out there that I found the toughest. But thankfully we ended the year on a lovely peak which I hope now is the base camp for new heights for the show.
My December 2015 goal was to hit 5000 downloads and we made 5400 downloads. That I feel is a fantastic achievement. #Morethanexcited
The other interesting fact was the geographical reach of the show. The US still was and I think will remain the Bigger download location but my show is extending into France, Singapore and Slovakia! #bringonnewcountries
Twitter has definitely been my key social tool in helping extend the reach of the show. I always post boosted my episodes on Facebook but Twitter for my podcast just seemed to be a more powerful tool. My Twitter Master, Keith Keller will be super pleased to have this testimonial as he's an advocate for Twitter.
The next area I need to work on is more engagement and conversation. I see there is lots of likes, shares, retweets etc but not enough conversation. That I need to work on and is on my 'to do' list for 2016 along with a few other things too. :)
So this January's target I'm going to reach for 7000. My husband says that I should be more conservative. But you all this New Year positive energy going around, I just feel I need to push the boat out.
Wish me luck... :)
The First Women Entrepreneur Podcast in the Middle East.
Over the last year I have spoken to 42 different women on the Learning Curve Podcast. From all walks of life across the Middle East. Each time they have shared their entrepreneurial story, their challenges, their successes, how they organize their day, how they see social media, where they seem themselves on their own learning curve and so much more. It’s been an amazing journey and I feel privileged that these ladies have opened up to me so that more women out their can take their own entrepreneurial journey. Their stories were all so different, so varied, so personal too yet there was a common pattern and this I feel came down to these 5 common traits.
I watched a video recently of Jada Pinkett Smith's answer to her daughter asking, "How hard is it being a wife and mother?" – And the message was pretty clear but there was one part that resonated with me. You have to take responsibility for your own happiness. It’s a crucial milestone and its key lies in recognizing your own attitude towards events and people. It’s all easy and clear in theory but in reality its pretty hard. We have to be personally responsible for our happiness not rely on someone else to make us happy. The big power house in the seeking of happiness is the influence our thoughts. How many of us can feel a negative thought pop up and it kicks your gut into butterfly central? Your brain then start to generate more negative thoughts and before you know it, you are angry, upset, and hostile even. All because we haven’t been able to control how our brain’s thought process. Negative thoughts are an evolutionary thing. They are there to protect us. The fight or flight approach. Negative thoughts curb our risk and keep us from harm.
From my prospective - all my guests found a way to be happy. They were passionate about what they did, constantly rebuilding their vision and adding more layers to their business. This constant cultivation of their passion meant their negative thoughts were probably there but they kept them at bay because they really loved what they did. Through my interviews I could see a constant positive mindset, a can-do attitude and taking responsibilities for their own lives and happiness.
The Middle East has in the news this year been a wave of disruption, discontent and deterioration with very little to see if it is going to be better. But I believe happiness starts with one person first and then it radiates. All these women, given the unhappiness that exists around us, continue to thrive and grow even in the face of adversity. Jody Ballard recently told me that ‘Women set the mood in the house… ‘, well if these women on the learning curve podcast are anything to go by then these women are setting the mood for the future and that is let’s find our passion, be happy and take action.
2. Get Out of your Comfort Zone
The comfort zone can really be a scary place. Yes it can. When you are in your comfort zone, you get soooo comfortable that you don’t want to move anymore, do anything different, you can’t see anything different or if anything is wrong. You keep everything the same and repeating what you are doing. Your own learning curve could be pretty flat in your comfort zone. Risk is minimal and you think everything is wonderful. But really it’s a scary, complacent place. How are you EVER supposed to grow and move forward if you are lounging around in your comfy chair? How are you ever supposed to grow if you do the same things over and over again? Are you in your comfort zone? Like Goldilocks, have you found that comfy chair and you are not moving from it??? Please move NOW. Please reflect on yourself for a moment and see how comfy you are and if it’s off the charts, please stand up and get ‘uncomfortable’!!! All my guests have gotten uncomfortable, and look how well it has served them. That shift has made each of them achieve amazing products and services, help them take their passion and their business to another level and serve the customers better. We can’t move on our learning curves until we seek the uncomfortable and make that the new norm.
3. Ask For Help
One of my own terrible traits, is the inability I don’t ask for help. It’s a life skill that we should all learn and one that we shouldn’t be ashamed to share. How many businesses do you know that have been successes because of one person and no one else helped. Hmm…. I’m struggling to think of one. Yes key trends in all my interviews was the importance of team work, collaboration or partnerships. Or my new favourite word, ‘Collapetition’. I learnt this word this year and I love it. When I was at business school, we were taught to understand the competition, learn its strategies so we could beat them, but we were never taught we could ‘work’ with them. The idea of working with your competition to benefit you both I think is a great idea and this year one of my goals is to be more open to asking for help and more collaborative.
All my guests have sought help. They all recognized that in order to be successful at what they do, they can’t do it alone and they have asked for help. Plus the fact we don’t all have the skills needed to make something amazing happen. Synergy is another great word I like to use and I have been able to make that happen when I have connected people I think would be a great fit for one another on a number of occasions. Asking for help will help you climb your learning curve one step at a step.
Don’ Listen to the Naysayers
When I first started podcasting, views were very black and white. You either were a podcast listener and loved podcasts or people were not into them because they really didn’t get them. And sometimes it was weird saying, ‘I’m a podcaster’ and then wait for the ‘oh I love podcasts’ or the complete opposite, ‘what’s a podcast?’. Personally I love the medium, I’m not a great reader and though I do love visual, you can listen to a podcast in your car, on the bus, when you are exercising, or at work even. Believe me I had my moments when I wanted to stop the show but I always found when I got to that point something would happen that would encourage me to continue the show. The show really has had its own learning curve, and it’s been one rollercoaster.
This brings me back to my guests. All of them at some point heard the negative comments but they have refused to listen. Refusing to let ‘you can’t’ be the heartbeat of their project. Their own self-determination which which was packed with motivation, good defiance and a ‘can do’ attitude pulled them through. We all create our own businesses to make money but sometimes passion does out ride money. I know we can always make money but we can’t always just create passion about a product or service that has to be grown with the right amount of love and care.
Failure is just a dip on the learning curve. All curves have an upswing. Where are you on your Learning Curve?
This is actually my bio line on my twitter profile and I really like it. Each time I read it, it makes me step back and see where I am on my own learning curve. I hope it has the same effect on other tweeters looking at my profile. I’ve also starting asking my guests as a way for them to take a look at themselves and allow them that moment to step back too. The answers have always been progressive, flowing and moving. They are not stagnant, which is a positive thing. But overall none are scared of the word ‘failure’. In fact most of them have faced failure in some way and have created a bridge to cross over it and take the lessons learnt. The one lesson I learnt this year from these ladies, is seeing failure as a ‘positive upset’ and one that you can grow from. Its feels like one of those things we anticipate to happen and then once we have done the mistake we are fine again. We got over that hurdle and now we are moving forward again. So like my twitter line, failure is just a dip. It’s how we react to it that makes all the difference.
So that concludes my 5 common traits from my guests this year. Next year’s guest line up is already exciting and I can’t wait to get Year 2 of the learning curve Podcast off the ground and growing again. This year I am hoping to collaborate with some great women building entrepreneur groups and find more amazing women to share on the show. I’m personally very thankful to all the ladies that shared their stories on my show, you were all amazing and I loved connecting with each and every one of you. This month of December has been my most successful download count ever, with over 5000 downloads from across the world. I remember in January 2015 my download was just 300. The show is definitely on an upswing. Onwards and upwards we go.
I wish all the podcast's listeners and readers a Happy & Prosperous 2016.
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.