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Women Empowering Women with Dr. Hanan El BashaWe are with our special guest, Dr. Hanan El Basha. Welcome. You’re here to talk about overcoming blocks to start and grow a business, entrepreneurial mindset, emotional health, and well-being. I love it. A lot of great info. Thank you. Part of my journey and part of what I love passing on, you know how it is. It’s one thing you learn. I was talking to someone. I was telling them, your duh could be someone’s a-ha, and this is what I’m sharing and what I love passing on from a place of service. Before we dive in, do you mind telling our readers a little bit about your background, where you came from professionally, and what inspired you to where you’re at now? I graduated from university and went into corporate, the regular route. I shifted careers one year in because I studied Journalism and Mass Communications. I was super excited about that. I worked for one year in TV production and it was live TV, which was interesting. A year in, I realized, “I can’t see the trajectory of a career over here.” The universe conspired to send me a position as a technical writer in a software house. After I interviewed for the job, they’re like, “We’re going to create another position for you, which we don’t have, and it’s public relations and marketing.” I’m like, “Interesting. Let me explore that.” That got me excited. I worked in marketing. I went for my MBA in Marketing because I wanted to solidify and fortify my knowledge there. I moved countries from Egypt to Qatar, where I live right now, and completed my corporate career and everything. I had our son and that got me as like, “Time to leave corporate,” because I’m also the psychosomatic type, which means that stress manifests into physical symptoms in my body. That was about twelve years into my career. I had slipped discs in my back. I had gastroesophageal reflux disease. I got migraines all the time and it wasn’t working anymore. I didn’t know I didn’t have any plans of what to do next. Four months later, I’m sitting with two friends and ex-colleagues of the same corporate and I’m like, “Let’s do something.” That started four businesses over about five and a half years, which was exciting. Having it with a baby who moved into a toddler and then started school was hectic as an expat as well with no support system and no family around. I had the collapses physically. I had the collapses emotionally. I like to joke about it now, but it wasn’t a joke back then. I was saying I didn’t have enough on my plate, so I started my Doctoral journey as well, which was, in retrospect, not the best decision at the best time. While your child was in school. You have my greatest gratitude ever. I considered that and was like, “There’s no way.” You’re incredibly strong. Thank you. It did take a toll and that’s why I say in retrospect, maybe not the best decision at the right time. That’s why we were talking earlier about the start time. My day started between 5:00 and 6:00 AM and it extended until 1:00 AM to 2:00 AM usually because it was like wake up, drop off my son. First, it was nursery, and then it was school, and then go to the office for a bit. My schedule was timed around his school schedule. I’d be picking him up and sending emails in the middle and taking him to workouts and training sessions and continuing studying. After he goes to bed, it was either then the decision, do I work or do I study? It was hectic. I walked out of all the businesses. I left everything behind because again, my health was taking such a toll and I needed to complete that degree. In my mind back then, it was like my cherry on top. That was the thing, the breakthrough that will get me everything else. I spent an extra year and a half doing that. It was done and then it was like, “Now what?” It was not a good, “Now what?” It was like, “I have no idea what to do with it now,” after spending literally 5 years, 9 months of my life pursuing that degree. I didn’t want to go back to corporate. I didn’t feel it was right for me anymore. I love teaching and yet I don’t want to be at a university with students and exams and those things. I was not physically well and I was not mentally or emotionally well. I had this idea washing over me of who I am and what I want. I was approaching my 40th birthday, which was a milestone as well. I ran into this health coach on Instagram and I’m like, “That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of a health coach before.” I checked it out. She had graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York and a month later, I told my husband, “I’m enrolling in health coaching certification.” He’s like, “You’ve lost your mind.” I’m like, “Maybe.” He’s like, “You had like six years studying for that, so now you’re going to be a health coach?” I’m like, “Not necessarily.” It just means for the first time in my life, I want to take care of myself because I also had a lot of health issues but also weight fluctuations and all of this. I was doing the right things. I was exercising, I was eating right and stuff, I was gaining about 40 pounds in a year, and I didn’t understand what was happening. I said, “For the first time, I want to take this time out and understand how my body’s functioning and what I want.” I went into this certification for a year, but that point was also a point where I realized what do I want to do with my life? I said, “I want to pass on this knowledge that I have been acquiring for so long.” I had been working since I was at university, since I was eighteen and I wanted to empower women in business by supporting them putting together what I call the business DNA. Understanding the fundamentals of what goes into a business, the vision, the mission, even the basics of financials, the supply chain, and those things. As I was progressing in the health coaching certification, learning, opening up new avenues, and getting introduced to new personalities, for me, it was the trigger of my personal transformational and healing transformational journey. I started listening to more podcasts and YouTube channels, reading books and everything, and the concept of a wellness mindset kept emerging for me. I had not stopped to educate myself about them before and practiced them. The realization was it’s not about empowering women in business. Theoretically, I had all the building blocks for building up my own businesses when I went into business for the first time. Yet, I walked away feeling like I had failed because I didn’t create that major success story. It was about managing and understanding the fundamentals of what it means to start and run your own business, but also more importantly, how you integrate that business into your life rather than it take over your life. That’s where entrepreneurial wellness and entrepreneurial mindsets started becoming part of my teachings. Creating your success story is all about managing and understanding the fundamentals of what it means to start and run your own business, as well as how to integrate that business into your life. Click To Tweet I was working with women one-on-one and then that transformed over the years. It’s like, “Now I want to talk to a broader audience.” I found myself finding the opportunities. I had my own podcast, being more on panels, moderating panels, and speaking at events, seminars, webinars, and conferences. It’s more on a speaker, trainer, and strategist. That also opened up new avenues and opportunities for me. I got involved with Founder Institute, which is a pre-seed accelerator program out of Silicon Valley. I’m part of the chapter in Qatar and in the Gulf region. I found myself in an organization called World Business Angel Investment Forum. It was more about startups and talking about financial inclusion, reducing gender disparity, and all of this. Lastly, I set up a new business as well, other than The Business Doctor, which is my brand and my business for supporting women primarily. I set up The Global Businesswomen with two of my friends this time. This is a space where we wanted women to come together to collaborate and do business, but more importantly, to feel seen, heard, and supported in that space as we tap into collective wisdom. It’s more about masterminds and networking sessions, and now we’re hopefully launching our first in-person event. That was a very long answer to your question, but yeah. I love what you’re doing, especially as a female entrepreneur. I can relate to you on a lot of levels. I was a single mom raising child on my own and got my Master’s and I almost went back from my Doctorate and I was like, “There’s no way I’m going through this right now.” I got my Master’s and I was like, “What do I do?” I ended up doing something I didn’t enjoy and then fell into the entrepreneurial world. I love how you’re building this foundation for women because I haven’t been able to find for myself even the foundation for women, especially in a male-dominated industry that I worked in. I come from a personal experience that the men win. Regardless of what they say or do, the men win. It’s good to hear what you’re doing. Thank you. that’s the thing. I got so many questions and I won’t say attacks, but critiques of why women. “Why are you empowering women?” I say first of all, and from my personal experience, when you empower a woman, you’re creating this center for a ripple impact effect. It does resonate. I’ve seen how when I took care of myself, when I prioritized myself, my health, my wellness, and my happiness, I’ve seen how that reflected on my husband and my son. I’ve seen how that’s reflected in my family, my sisters, my mom, my dad, and my friends. That becomes part of what you do because women, at the end of the day, build up the community from the home outwards. That was one element of it. The other element is women have a lot more layers and blocks before even getting to the business part. We are not just, “I decide to do a business,” as a man would do. We don’t have that, “Okay, great. Tomorrow, I’m in business.” There is, “Can I do it? Should I do it? Would I do it? What’s going to happen with this? What’s going to happen with that?” There is this block. All these limitations keep coming up that block you from starting. I was talking about that. I’m saying there’s the but for the woman. “I’ll do it, but I have to take care of the kids, but I need to provide.” That but keeps going on and not the other but. It keeps going on for 5, 10, or 20 years even, where they keep postponing their aspirations because something else is happening, because their priorities are something else outside of them, which is understandable. These women approach you probably that do 20, 30, 40 years go by and they’re like at a point and they’re like, “I’ve done this and this,” and never focused on themselves and are like, “What do I do now?” They might recently be divorced or coming out of a tough situation or starting out or an empty nester or fired. Thousands of women, where do they go? That’s the problem because then another major block comes up and it’s like, “I’m too old for this. It’s too late.” I’m like, “It never is,” because you can start something new now and you are not starting new as in you’ve got zero experience. You are starting a lot of experience. It might not be in the same field, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be tailored to whatever you are doing because you’ve got life experiences. You’ve got the corporate experience and you’ve got the building a home and raising children experience. All of these are skills that don’t disappear because you decide to start a new business or start going into a new field. Raising children, I want to say it’s a business, but that’s a lot of work. It’s hard work. It’s like literally working with human behavior almost. Also, psychology. I have a Master’s in Psychology. The reality for me raising my child was based around the psychology of what’s best for this age or appropriateness and books for a big thing because I knew that even children that didn’t read a lot that were surrounded by books or readers had a higher success rate in their education, more than 22% when I looked it up years ago. My son is graduating top ten of his class. I was a single mom most of his life. Things like that impact and play a role. That’s not taken lightly. A lot of people say they’re just a stay-at-home mom. Believe me, mom’s still a lot of things behind the scenes. You’d be shocked. Not just raising the children like a lot of things. I had a lady at the gym. We were getting introduced and I’m like, “What’d you do?” She’s like, “Nothing. I’m a stay-at-home mom.” I’m like, “Refer to yourself as a working parent from home.” “I like that.” I’m like, “You are not a stay-at-home mom. You’re not just a housewife. You are someone who is doing an amazing job that is super impactful because think again of the ripple impact effect. That person that is raised that you’re putting in all that effort with, look at how he or she will go out into the world and what impact they will create. You want to be part of that. You are not just a stay-at-home mom or a housewife. You are someone who is doing an impactful job that causes a ripple impact effect. Click To Tweet You want to be part of creating a positive, healthy, good human being rather than someone is like, “I didn’t do anything.” No, you contribute. We imprint on everyone we cross paths with. I believe that. It’s not an effect. It’s an imprint. That could be positive or negative. Imagine a child in your care 24/7. What imprints are you leaving on them? It’s deep. Not to interrupt, but everybody, everything that we’ve been discussing so far, we’re going to have more information at FullerWalletMedia.com/breakthrough. You can directly contact Dr. Hanan El Basha directly and have a consultation with her about everything we’ve discussed so far. I want to dive back into the conversation because I’m so excited to hear even more. That’s the essence. When we were talking, I was on a panel and it was about women entrepreneurs’ challenges and opportunities. We had two male champions with us on the panel. One of them, in the end, was saying, “Enough talking about women’s empowerment. Let’s see the actions and stuff.” I’m the moderator. I’m like, “Sorry, hang on a second. No, it’s not enough.” I’m like, “This is not the right thing for a moderator to do.” I’m like, “I’m sorry. It’s not enough to talk about women empowerment,” because it’s enough with the headlines. It’s enough with initiatives that have no steam or actual on-ground impact. Women empowerment is about empowering her to be able to know deep down inside that she can because we are conditioned. I’ve spoken with women from around the world and we’ve got the cultural, political, economic, and religious nuisances that change or are different a bit. The underlying foundation is the same. We are mostly raised and conditioned with, you can’t, you won’t, and you shouldn’t. That translates and dictates our inner self-critique and how we talk to ourselves and how we carry ourselves. To be able to break through that, the initial layer of I can, I must, and I will, that in itself is what empowerment is about. You do need the support from outside of you. You do need other people. You do need the nudges. If it doesn’t come from within you, if you don’t get up and do the work yourself and believe that you can do the work yourself, no amount of external empowerment will ever have an impact on you. I can see how that would all be true. What do you find is the biggest blockage that women have? It’s mostly that. It’s believing in themselves. It’s self-limiting beliefs big-time and imposter syndrome. My breakthrough happened in a coaching call with a life coach who I connected with on LinkedIn. He was a gentleman. I’m very grateful to him. David, thank you. He reached out saying, “I’m offering you a free coaching call.” I had never been with a life coach before and I didn’t know what it was about. I even told my husband that day, “I have a call with a coach.” He is like, “What do you mean you have a call with a coach? Who’s he?” I’m like, “I have no idea. I don’t know what it is.” He was the person that even introduced me to Zoom. He is like, “There’s this platform called Zoom and you press the link you get.” I’m like, “Okay.” As we were talking, he’s like, “I checked your LinkedIn and you’re so accomplished. Tell me a bit about yourself.” As I was talking, he stopped me a good half hour later. He is like, “Time out.” I’m like, “What?” He was like, “You’re using this statement over and over again. Not good enough.” To give some context when this call happened, this call happened two weeks before I received the official email of, “Congratulations, Doctor,” that I’ve completed my Doctoral journey. By then, my study was complete. Everything, all the submissions. I’ve done all the defenses and all of that. It was a matter of paperwork. Two months before that, I did not feel good enough about my Doctoral study, which is about internationalization for the sustainable growth of small and medium enterprises, that I went and got a certification or accreditation as a small and medium enterprise consultant. I was in that pursuit of the next carrot or the next stick because I did not feel good enough. Society never made me feel that that is enough of an accomplishment. There’s more to be done. A lot of women have the same thing. That triggers the imposter syndrome and self-limiting beliefs. Be seen, not heard. Don’t speak up. Don’t speak your truth. Don’t show any vulnerability. Don’t show any assertiveness because that is the B word. That’s hormonal. You’re complaining or you’re unprofessional. If you bring up the facts, you’re unprofessional. I’ve dealt with it myself personally. I’ve had it too. Even talk about your personal life. When I was already a partner in the businesses that I first created with my partners, a meeting went on for about three hours and it was supposed to be a one-hour meeting. I’m like, “I’m sorry. I’ve got to go. I’ve got to pick up my son from the nursery.” Later, my partner, who’s a male, said, “That was so unprofessional. You shouldn’t have said that. That shows you’re not committed.” I’m like, “What do you mean not committed? First of all, it’s three hours in. We were done a long time. Second, we were on social chatter. There’s nothing to be added there professionally. Third, I am a mother. I am a wife. If I leave my son and there’s no one to pick him up, he’s going to be out on the street. There’s nothing wrong with being everyone and everything I am.” I realized when I started this journey or embarked on this journey of living authentically into who I am as Hanan, regardless of, “I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a business owner,” and all of this, I realized that the more I showed up with vulnerability, the more that became a superpower because others could speak up and say, “Me too. I’m not the only one.” They realize that they’re not the only ones going through whatever they thought they were in that bubble and they were going through it alone. That part is part of the community that we are working on creating with The Global Businesswomen because especially that we’re targeting women in the early stage, the 1 to 3 years in business. That’s where all the self-doubt starts creeping up. “Can I do this?” Whether it has succeeded amazingly or it hasn’t kicked off yet, there’s the self-doubt of, “Will this be sustainable? Can I do this or will I ever be able to do this?” These are all elements that kept showing up in the conversations that by showing up, I’m not saying by being a role model, but by being yourself, you are creating that ripple impact effect for anyone else who crosses your path. I say whether your impact circle is one person or it’s 1 million people if you have the influence on what I call impact media rather than social media, then you are doing an amazing job. That’s what you need to keep doing more of. Why are these self-limiting beliefs so deep within us as women? It’s because we get raised with them. It’s like everyday talk. It’s not something that’s said at one point. It’s something that is said more or less every day in your life. You’re wearing something, “Are you sure that’s the right thing? Is this appropriate? You can’t stay out too late. You shouldn’t do this. This is not the right career for you. You can ride a motorbike,” because I want to ride a motorbike. You have to because that’s what I was always told. I was always told you cannot ride a motorcycle. Ride your own big motorcycle. Is it a Harley, by any chance? Definitely. My husband had one. He doesn’t have it anymore. When I said, “I want to get one,” “I don’t think that’s right. Now you’re a mom, you should be responsible.” I drag race Harleys on the drag strip. I drag-raced her husband. We were in the same competition. I went up against her husband. I drag race Harleys. It’s a Harley Sportster, but it’s got a 1250 motor and an air shifter. I’m going to visit you guys in Texas very soon. That’s what I was about. You have to come down. These are the things. Even if they’re very small, they do imprint on us and they set limitations in our heads. When I first started embracing my natural curls, I was straightening my hair forever. That was one thing. I had a meeting, I had an event, whatever it is. I had to be straight and I had to look presentable. Even when I started embracing my curls, my own mom was like, “Are you sure? Are you going to do something about your hair?” I’m like, “I did do something about it. It’s all natural now. I’m taking care of it. I don’t put chemicals on it. I nurture my hair.” It’s those things. Even the smallest of these things influence and shape our limiting beliefs. With me and Melanie, I feel like you’re speaking the exact conversations we speak about. That’s the thing. We are saying the same things. We’re worthy. We are worthy of so much more and are capable of so much more than people think or believe. We have to believe it ourselves. I did not believe I was worthy. I hadn’t realized that I did not believe that until that first conversation when I started taking off the layers of the onion, going through doing the work, going through therapy, and all of this. I hadn’t realized that I was my biggest self-critic. It was all the negative conversations in my head. The simplest things that we say are, “Of course, I’m so naive. I’m so stupid. I can’t do that.” I only realized that in a Tony Robbins event. I attended the first virtual Unleash the Power Within. We were talking about different time zones and stuff. I was attending it from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM my time. I’m committed. I’m like, “I need to do this for me.” I’m sure you know who Tony Robbins is, his teachings, and everything. It’s the one event I want to go to that I have not gone to. I can’t wait to go to the in-person. This was virtual and still, it was a great experience. As I was listening, note-taking, and reflecting, I realized that the biggest, loudest voice in my head was, “Who do you think you are?” In reflection, I realized it wasn’t that I was conditioned with it one way or another, as you were saying, Melanie. What was shaping it? It was implied. It was hinted towards. I got told that to my face on more than one occasion. I’m an Egyptian. I was born and raised in Kuwait, so I was a foreigner as an expat. I went to a British school. Even though my first language should be Arabic, the language that I first learned and I think is English. I always felt like, “What’s wrong with me?” I go back home to Egypt for university and my university studies. I’m a foreigner there because I’m not like everyone there. I moved to Qatar again as an expat. There was this thing about me. I didn’t know who I am and that influenced how I showed up. Am I an Egyptian? Am I a Gulfie? I spent more than three-quarters of my life in the Gulf region. Am I an American? All my thoughts are Western in the way I think. You’re just cultured and educated. That’s the thing. I had to dig deep to realize that it was hard. I’m a global citizen. That’s the way I grew up. That’s part of my nature. I embrace it with a lot of love right now because that has opened up the opportunity for me to connect with people from around the world. Nothing is foreign. Nothing is like, “What? You guys do this? You guys eat this?” I love exploring different traditions, different foods, and different cultures. “Who do you think you are?” I started responding to that. I started saying, “I am Hanan and I am.” As you were saying, Julie, I am worthy of taking up space on Earth. I am worthy of pursuing the biggest, which I used to call before, audacious dreams. I am worthy of showing up in this world. You did not say audacious. I was at an event once. It was a women’s event and they had us come up with a power word. My statement was audaciously unstoppable. I used it negatively, though. I used it to criticize myself for having audacious goals that were out of my reach. These are the things. That’s why when I work with women now, I say, “Talk about the concept of subjective success. What does success mean to you? If you want to build the next million-dollar business, great. That’s a success. You need to understand what it will entail. I will support you to work towards that. If you want to build the next two hours a day as the kids are in school business, great. That’s a success. I’ll support you to understand the implications of it, but also what that would mean.” These are things that, for me also, after that call and after earning my degree, I had to stop and ask myself, “What is success? What is my subjective success, angle, or lens? What are success parameters for me?” Not what society’s telling me. I’ve done everything on the checklist as per society. Still, I did not feel fulfilled or happy. I turned inward and asked myself, “What do gratification and fulfillment mean to me? How does this define my own subjective success?” That’s a big thing for me now. Subjective success, the way I see it, is about looking at where you are in your life right now and determining where you want to go with it and how you measure for yourself your own yardstick if you have achieved what you’ve set your heart and mind to do. That in itself means then that instead of saying, “I need to create, or I have to create the next 6 or 7-figure business,” because again, social media tells us that’s the only way of measuring success, it’s saying, “What are my resources?” Every one of us has five different types of resources available to us at any point in time. Immediately people think of money. That’s not the only resource. It is 1 of the 5. Your money as in your financial resource, that’s a resource. Your time is a resource. Your energy is a resource. Your knowledge and expertise are a resource. The fifth resource is like any tangible or intangible assets, facilities. I’ve got my home office. That’s a resource for me. You’ve got a company and human capital. That’s a resource. You’ve got a warehouse or whatever it is. It is a resource for you. Look at the resources that you’ve got in hand now. For example, if you are a single mom and you have 1 toddler or 2, then time might not be your biggest resource. Energy possibly as well. Money might be limited, but you have your knowledge and you have some time. You have some money. It is looking at the amount of resources that you’ve got now and being able to set your own success parameters and your own aspirations and goals depending on where you are now. Does that mean that in a year’s time, your resources aren’t going to shift? No, they’re going to shift. Now the amount of time I’ve got because our son now is a lot more independent and everything else that comes with it. He’s in his own world. I’ve got a lot more time on my hand right now than when I did when I started out when he was four months old and needed mommy all the time. That gave me also a lot more energy. How I invest my resources would then also dictate my subjective success. One of the things that we are conditioned to or conditioned with, as you were asking Melanie earlier, it’s about how you are expected to be everything all the time to everyone, to be successful, to have a career, and to have this. As women, we get to judge ourselves that, “I’m not the best mom in the world. I don’t do home-baked cookies for the bake sale,” or whatever it is. You shouldn’t expect yourself to be a superwoman. That was one of the titles that I used to love when people at that time building businesses were like, “You do all that? You’re such a superwoman.” I was like, “That’s a badge I wear proudly.” We shouldn’t be. We’re not superhuman. We’re just human. I’m doing the best that I can with what I’ve got and with what I can at this point in time. That is a badge of honor. I’m getting up. I’m showing up. I’m doing what I can, whether that is going around twenty hours a day because I can do it, or simply getting out of bed in the morning. That in itself is an accomplishment sometimes. We’ve got to give ourselves grace and the space to acknowledge where we are in our life. I had my sister who had two children under the age of five, and she’s a dentist. She was going through her Doctoral journey for her career. It was very important. She was beating herself up about it every single day. Every time we spoke, it was about that. That person, my colleague, my friend, she’s already done. “I’ve been doing this for years and I still have the job. I can’t get up in the morning and I can’t do this at night.” I’m like, “And?” “What do you mean?” I’m like, “Why are you doing this to yourself? First of all, you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to anyone else, even your own sister, your own spouse, or your partner. Whoever you are, you are at different places in your life. You don’t know what’s happening in someone else’s life. Never 100%. You don’t know what they’re going through. You don’t know what they had to compromise to get to achieve whatever they achieved. You are looking at it and saying, “I couldn’t do that.” Give yourself the grace to understand that your subject of success is dependent on where you are now. Does that mean that you shouldn’t put ambitious goals for yourself and strive for the 6 to 9 figures, whatever it is that you’re looking for? No, you should because that is where the aspiration and the motivation come from. Work on what you can now. Whether that takes 10 years or that takes 10 months, great. Have something you’re working towards That has been incredible. Dr. Hanan El Basha, thank you so much for being a guest with us. For our readers, for more information and to contact Dr. Hanan El Basha yourself, you can reach out to FullerWalletMedia.com/breakthrough, which I highly recommend. This has been so much beneficial information and it’s a breath of fresh air to have you on the show. Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I’m super grateful to both of you. Thank you for holding this space. This has been amazing. Thank you.