E13 – How one woman is harnessing the power of change

This week we are going to shift gears a bit and hear once again from another one of the incredible ladies from my “Vital Voices: Women on a Mission” series.

I had the opportunity to interview Courtney Savie Lawrence in Mumbai when we were together as part of VVLEAD by Vital Voices. Courtney is the Head of Exploration UNDP’s Regional Innovation Centre, and the co-founder of DSIL Global, a social innovation company.

She is an entrepreneur, educator and connector by nature who thrives by working with others to bring innovative sustainable development projects to life.

I wanted to talk to her about the role that “Change” has played in her life, and how motherhood has changed how she looks at business.

Embracing change is crucial to being able to function in a world that is constantly moving, where the demands on us are different from one minute to the next, and it is especially important to be able to reevaluate our priorities when they are constantly evolving.

Courtney and I talked about the changes that she faced in her work life after having Baby JJ, and how she has integrated him into her work life in order to ensure that she stays on top of her priorities.

I am sure that this episode will be as inspiring for you as it was for me to record. I would love to hear about how you deal with change in the different areas of your life and business.

E12 – 10 Ways to Find Support as an Entrepreneur – Part 2

In part 1, we looked at the folks and groups who can lend individual support to entrepreneurs, here in part 2, we will look at organizations that take on that task, we will look at places that entrepreneurs can work, places they can learn and places where they can meet like-minded entrepreneurs.

There are many organizations for whom supporting entrepreneurship is their main focus, and finding these groups can really help an entrepreneur. So have a listen to this list and be sure to let us know if there is anyone you would add. Is there a specific group that you are part of? Leave a note in the comments below and let us know.

E-11 10 Ways to Find Support as an Entrepreneur – Part 1

The one thing we know for sure is that Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. Not a lot of people can relate to the trials and challenges that entrepreneurs face on a daily basis. And there are even fewer people who can give good advice that relates to your situation.

You can’t really talk to friends or family members, because they just don’t have the same frame of reference, so unless you go out an actively seek people who are aligned with you, it’s going to stay very lonely.

Thankfully, there are a lot more entrepreneurs around the world than you would imagine, and as such, there are a lot of people just like you, with similar stories and similar challenges. When your friend just doesn’t get why you would rather stay at your computer at 9:30 pm working on a proposal instead of going out and blowing off some steam, a fellow entrepreneur would not only understand, but they would also encourage you to get that proposal done before going to bed tonight!

So thinking about this, I started putting together a small list of different types of support that entrepreneurs can find out there. And the list kept getting bigger and bigger – so big in fact that I decided to split it into two separate podcast episodes.

In this first section, we will talk about the different types of individual support you can find out there as an entrepreneur, and in the second episode, we will talk about all the different organizations that are out there supporting entrepreneurs.

So if you haven’t heard much about masterminds, if you don’t know the difference between a coach and a mentor, and if you thought that the only type of membership you can get was at a gym…. listen up, cause I’ve got a whole lot of good news for you!

Have a listen to this week’s podcast and let me know what kind of support is your favorite and which one you are currently using.

E 10 – Entrepreneurial Success Journey – Which stage are you at?

Let’s face it, calling yourself “an entrepreneur” is pretty vague, and I think that most of us need a little more structure to know exactly where we are along the journey. I’ve spent some time reflecting on this recently, and I came up with our Mompreneur’s Business Success Journey. I’ve outlined the success path that most of us fall on, from the very first time we consider starting our own business till the point that we consider ourselves a winner at the game.

I’ve divided this journey into 6 steps, and we go through them in detail in this episode of the podcast. In short, we have:

Explorer: considering becoming an entrepreneur.
Researcher: collecting all the information about the business you want to start.
Solopreneur: just started a business and working on it by yourself.
Entrepreneur: A little while has passed, the business is a bit larger now and not all the decisions rest on your lone shoulders.
Business Manager: You have a team now who handles various aspects of the business
Business Owner: You are no longer overseeing the general running of the business

I’ve put together a quiz that can tell you exactly where along the success path you are, and according to your position, offer some milestones and action steps to help you reach the next level.

Take the quiz and let me know the results! I’d love to know where in the journey you are at …

Letter to my sons – Why mommy works

This article is a personal one, I am writing it mainly for my sons and also to share my feeling with you. It’s also for myself, as a reminder for years to come. Thank you for making me feel so close to you that I can share my feelings with you. 

I want you to know that you are brilliant as you are, whether you decide to work or be a stay at home parent. Whether you decide to have kids or not, there is no right or wrong answer. No matter what you decide, believe in it and be comfortable with it. Don’t let anyone and society judge you for your decisions. You are unique and perfect the way you are. This letter is to my sons, about the choices that I made and that I believe are right for me. No matter what you decide in life, those decisions are yours and yours alone, Own them…  

My loves, My boys, 

You know that I love you both to the moon and back, times infinity. You know that you are the treasures of my life and you own my heart. 

I also know that you sometimes wonder why mommy is not around all the time. Why is she allowed to work on her computer at odd times and even after 10 pm and you are not allowed to watch iPad at that time! Well, mommy said many many times that Screen is a Screen! iPad, Mobile, Laptop, TV are all classified under one category after all! You might wonder at times why mommy is away some weekends for her events. I understand all these feelings and I acknowledge them. And that’s the reason I want to write you this letter. 

Mommy comes from a culture in which women don’t have to work. No-one expects them to step in the “man’s world” and add extra responsibilities for themselves. Mommy never worked as a teenager, kids are definitely not expected to work, they just need to study and get good grades! And I did that very well until I started university. 
My English wasn’t great those years and I needed to communicate with more people, so I started working at the library in my university. And as an introvert (I will explain that word to you later! Promise), it was really hard for me to communicate in a different language with strangers. I preferred to stay in the library and read my books. But I also noticed that I was growing and learning every single day. I learned in those days that growth happens when we feel uncomfortable. I eventually worked in all the departments at my university from reception to events and more. I learned, I grew and I earned some money for myself, for the first time in my life, and I liked that feeling! 
During the summers, I applied for internships and I worked during summer time in international corporations and that was my first experience in a real work environment. I loved seeing confident women whose opinions made a difference in their organizations. I loved seeing a lady who was almost 9 months pregnant, still working and that her pregnancy didn’t put a stop to her life. As a 19 year old, I got introduced to new options for women to live and work and find some kind of a balance between the two worlds, and this resonated with me. 

I finally applied for jobs through a newspaper ad and found my way from a local printing press to an International Agency and managed to work on brands such as Nestle, from their packaging to TV commercials and I loved every bit of my work experience. Remember my loves, they made me grow. I could now communicate in English comfortably, I could present, prepare presentations, conduct market visits and my opinion mattered. I didn’t mind working long hours, as a matter of fact, I enjoyed every minute of it. Working was never a chore, it was never something that I was forced to do, it became a part of who I am. 

After 10 years of working, I became pregnant, and Ryan you entered our lives. As excited as I was initially, I also had a lot of self-doubt and questions in my mind. Does motherhood mean that I can’t do the things I want to do anymore? Does Motherhood mean that I have to change my identity? Does it mean that I have to put a stop to the rollercoaster experience that I had at my workplace? I had gotten over all of the “am I good enough”, “is this email written properly”, “am I doing my job correctly” feelings, and I was doing everything confidently. I have to be honest with you, I didn’t want it all to end. 

We started our own advertising agency with daddy, and that gave me flexibility to take you to the office with me. It took me a couple of years, many workshops, coaching sessions, books and 4 businesses to finally master the world of entrepreneurship and parenting. I am writing a book about my story and learnings which I will share with you when you are older. For now, I want you to know that I decided to stay true to who I am. I decided to not change my identity when I became a mom. I asked myself this question: if I don’t continue with my dreams, would I expect you to do the same for me (even unconsciously) when you are young capable and independent men? The answer was No. I never want you to not stay true to who you are for anyone and anything. 
One thing I learned over the years is that my energy and my own feelings make all the difference in my relationship with my loved ones. I wouldn’t be the same person and it wouldn’t be fair to you to have a mom who has “Sacrificed” her own wellbeing and growth to play a single-faceted role. I see it as my responsibility to always give you the best version of me, to grow and to share my knowledge and experience with you. 
I want you to know that I miss you every minute I am away from you. I am also a better person every time I learn something new and feel better about myself. My promise to you is to always grow with you and never even for a second feel that you stopped me from reaching my dreams. On the contrary, You are the reason that I do what I do. Always remember to stay true to yourself and give your loved ones the best version of you. 

Mommy feels the best when she works to create a better life for her family and her fellow parents. She believes that Empowered Mothers Raise Empowered Children who are our future leaders. My worlds, I want you to know that mommy is an advocate of Women’s Empowerment to make our world a better place for all the boys and girls in this world. I encourage you to first love yourself and your family and also think bigger than yourself and make a difference in other people’s lives. 

With all the love in my heart, 

Mommy Mona 

You Can Have it All – Follow this One Step

First off, lets discuss “Have it all”. This is a topic that Im going to go into a lot deeper later, but for the sake of this blog post, I’m not necessarily talking about perfection, Im talking about being perfectly happy internally at a particular instant.

I strongly believe that we all can have it all by following one simple step. I understand that it might be difficult to believe that everyone can have it all since we have been conditioned by society to associate success with external factors. I want you to look at it from a different angle this time and follow this one step in your life every single day. 

We all have choices in life, and next time you want to choose any action, think of how it makes you “feel”. Having it all starts with taking care of your own needs and listening to your feelings. You can have it all when you do things that make you “feel” good in life. 
It’s very easy to forget about our own feelings when we become parents or when we run our own businesses and with any busy lifestyle. All of our attention goes to the people around us and we end up feeling exhausted, stressed and hopeless. and even if we receive all the money and time in the world while we are in that state, we will still waste it and won’t be able to feel great in life. 

Let me make it clear, the “Having it All” concept all depends on how you feel every single day based on Your choices. 

I am not living in lala land, I know exactly what’s happening in our world and all the challenges that we face on a daily basis. I also know that our feelings mainly depend on our reaction and not much about the situation. There is a saying that Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional. 

You can have it all when you add small things in your day that make you feel good. It is our responsibility to identify those actions and incorporate them into our schedule every single day. Remember that grand victories consist of small achievements done consistently. 

Going back to your Feelings, I want you to choose your Roles carefully in life based on your feelings. I wrote more about roles in another article that you can read here: https://www.monatavassoli.com/article5

Let me give you an example, it was one of my goals to speak internationally and deliver my training to different countries. I spoke internationally last month for the first time, and while I was away, I realized that it doesn’t make me feel good to be away from my family every single month. Does it mean that I can’t become an international speaker? No, of course I can, and I choose to not travel more than once every quarter. It is My choice and it makes me Feel good. I want you to be clear on what is it that you want and choose those actions.

The bottom line is to choose your daily actions and roles based on your feelings on a daily basis. 

This is a topic that I’m very passionate about and I am writing a book about this concept. I know that it might sound too good to be true now, but trust me in this and take small actions today and every day that make it feel good. Remember that you always have a choice in life, choose consciously. 

I have created a free worksheet for you with 5 questions you need to ask yourself as the first step to Have it All! 

Why Now is the Best Time to Start Your Business

We are living in an era of booming entrepreneurship. There is no restriction for anyone of any race, nationality or age to come up with an idea and pursue the entrepreneurial journey. There was a time that the average entrepreneur was a 50 – 60 year old CEO who had enough savings or connections with banks to secure funding, as well as all the experience that he (or she) would need to run a company. These days, our kids are learning about entrepreneurship before they even graduate from high school, and they are encouraged to think outside of the box. 

I strongly believe that entrepreneurs are making our world a better place (look at Elon Musk for example) and now is the best time to start your own business, let me tell you why. In this blog post I am going to focus on One main reason for why now is the best time to start your own business, which is the current state of technology and our place in the Digital World. I will show you tools and techniques that you can use to take advantage of all the resources that are available to you and all the entrepreneurs. I have actually created a gift for you with a list of different tools you can use from scheduling your social media, designing your social media posts and tracking your competitors’ activities! This is a great list of tool you can use from now and a lot of them are free, make sure to download the list and use these tools. 

I believe in the power of the digital world to run a successful business and I have attended many workshops and training seminars to advance my own knowledge. I am going to Bali this week to attend a 5-day seminar and I promise to jump on Facebook live and update you on my learnings. Make sure to follow me on Facebook here to stay on track with the latest advancements: https://www.facebook.com/monatavassoli/

Let’s talk about the 5 powers of the digital world together: 

1) Testing the Market with Zero Cost: 

One of the best advantages of the digital world is that you can technically start a business with zero cost on Social Media. If you have an idea, you can easily start a Facebook Page, Instagram and Twitter account and start sharing your products and services with your ideal customer avatar. You can get a feeling on whether your idea is needed in the market or not. You can do surveys and ask questions from your customers to understand their needs better. This is one of the best ways to conduct your market research and put a proper strategy in place. Once you have a strong foot hold in place, and you are sure that things are going to work out, that’s when you can invest in a license and officially start the business.

2) Marketing and Engaging with Customers: 

Advertising and Marketing used to be done mainly by big corporations who had huge budgets to spend. Small mom-and-pop shops couldn’t really afford to run ads on TV and Garage-based-start-up definitely had no way to tell the world about their incredible new creations. In today’s world, anyone can start advertising and marketing to their target audience with as low as $10 per campaign.  

3) Scalability: 

With the advancement of technology, we are not limited to one city, country or market anymore. It is much simpler to tap into new markets and promote your product or service to a completely new audience. Being a Global Brand is not limited to a few international corporations anymore. You can have a Global Brand by offering your service to the entire world. 

4) Tracking and KPIs: 

There is a saying that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. We have many tools online that help us to measure and track our performance, from Google Analytics to statistics on Facebook and Instagram. One of the downfalls of traditional advertising is that it’s difficult to measure the impact of a radio, print or TV ads. With digital marketing, you can measure how many people have clicked on your newsletter, how many have opened it and from which part of the world! The KPIs and tracking will help you manage your business a lot more efficiently and know where every cent of your marketing budget goes.

5) Support Group: 

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, but having a support group makes a huge difference to make the journey a lot more enjoyable and fulfilling. You don’t necessarily need to see your support group in-person anymore, I personally learn a lot from my fellow entrepreneurs on different Facebook Groups, my coaches from other countries and you can even talk to your mentors virtually. I realised that our region in the Middle East, has a lot to catch up with compared to the west when it comes to entrepreneurship. It’s one of my missions to bridge the gap by bringing the most advanced technology and knowledge to our region through our digital platform and courses. I recommend you to surround yourself with people who inspire you and motivate you, whether in person or virtually. 

One of the Five Steps to Start and Grow a Successful Business

There are many factors that make a business succeed or fail. Starting a business comes with a lot of risk, 90% of businesses fail within the first 3 years of their existence. This means that 9 out of 10 ideas will not exist no matter how much time and energy was invested in preparation to launch the idea. 

There are 5 steps that are essential to ensure that your business will survive and thrive. I will discuss one of them here in this blog post and I will talk about all the five steps on my upcoming webinar on Sunday, August 6th at 11 am GMT (3 pm GST). Make sure to register for the webinar and I will take you through the 5 essential steps to start and grow a successful business.

The first step is to ensure that you have a detailed and well thought out plan before starting out as well as on a yearly basis. Here are a few suggestions for you to use when working on the planning:

1- Business Model Canvas

This is one of my favorite tools as it is simple and easy to use. You can make changes on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. 

The BMC is a 9 module table, illustrated in one page in which you can use to think about all the various parts of your business. The 9 modules include: Customer Segment, Value Proposition, Key Recourses and others. I will explain the BMC in more detail during the webinar and you can have a glimpse of the concept on this website
This is a tool you can share with your team and get their opinions on each of the sections as well.  

2 – Business Plan

This is more of a traditional way of working on your planning. The Business Plan can be 2 pages or 40 pages depending on how complicated your concept is and how much research you have already done. In the early years of my business, I made the mistake of hiring an agency to write my Business Plan for me,and although I received a 30 pages detailed plan, it was not my own words, and my ideas so I never ended up using it.

Although no one follows the Business Plan 100% as the market is changing constantly, we learn from our customers and pivot along the way, it’s the thought process that matters, and creating a business plan brings with it a clarity that no one but you can do. 
There are many business plan templates available on Google. You can just search for “Business Plan Template” and use the one that you like the most. The majority of Business Plans have the following sections in common: 

1) Cover page 
2) Table of content 
3) Executive summary
4) Business description
5) The marketing plan 
6) Competitive analysis
7) Company and management summary 
8) Financial factors
9) Supporting documents and appendices

A business plan is used usually for long-term plans and goals of the company. It basically illustrates the overall strategy and the route that company is on. It’s also used for external purposes specially when you are looking for investors. 

3 – Strategic Planning 

Strategic planning is another great way to ensure that the company reaches its overall goals and objectives. Strategic Planning is an internal process and unlike Business Plan, you don’t need to share it with external parties. 
Most companies do their strategic planning a minimum of 3 months prior to their budgeting year. For instance, if your budgeting starts in January, you need to do the strategic planning in September or October. It’s recommended to dedicate one or two days for the process, somewhere outside of the office space. Some companies take their employees on a retreat, somewhere in nature where creativity is more easily triggered.  
The Strategic Planning Components usually consist of the following:

1) Mission
2) Vision 
3) Goals and Objectives 
4) Strategies 
5) Tactics and Tasks 

All of the above 3 tools are needed for your business and each of them serve a different purpose. There is a saying that failing to plan is planning to fail. I will talk about the all 5 steps to start and grow your business in my webinar, make sure to reserve your seat and join me on August 6th. Your business survival may depend on these 5 steps.

I will be live on Facebook on Thursday, August 3rd 11 AM GMT (3 pm Dubai) to talk more about the topic and answer your questions. Follow me on Facebook and I will see you live soon!  https://www.facebook.com/monatavassoli

5 Ways to Feed and Grow Your Mind

Our Mind and Mental Energy is one of our main resources to grow. It is essential to feed the mind with new and useful information on a daily basis. Your future is shaped based on what you feed your mind today. Here is the list of 5 things you can do to feed and grow your mind. Some of them can be done instantly and I encourage you to pick at least one and do it TODAY. 

1. Books – Read books or Listen to Audio Books

Books are the easiest and most cost effective way to grow your mind. We have this strong delusion that we don’t have time to read books and yet we all spend a lot more than 20 minutes per day doing things that don’t matter in our growth, such as exploring social media. 

Pick a book and commit yourself to finish at least one book per month. Dedicate 10 minutes to read a couple of pages and expand that to 20 minutes. Decide the time and the place that you’ll read and make it happen! 

I also encourage you to download the “Audible” app from Amazon on your phone and start listening to audio books. I personally “read” Business Books or those that require note taking and I “listen” to autobiographies, books about our behavior and psychology, etc. I also sometimes listen to an audio book and I buy/read the printed version if I am extremely interested in the subject. The other way round works too when I read a book and then listen to the audio version to master the learnings! 
No matter what you do, make sure to read/listen to books every single day until it becomes a habit. 

I have created a downloadable list for you with suggested links and examples for each of the 5 ways to Feed and Grow Your Mind including some books that I recommend you to read. Make sure to download it and start watching and exploring! 

2. Podcasts 

Podcasts are your radio on-demand! You can select your favorite program and listen to the episodes whenever you want! I mainly use Podcasts to listen to new business ideas and learn from digital and business gurus. You can find any topic that you can think of! I have to admit that I am a new fan of Podcasts as I always listen to my audio books whenever I get time. But sometimes I want to learn about a Specific Topic or I want to get inspired quick with new ideas, and that’s when I go to my Podcast! I also have a list of some Podcasts that I recommend you to check out in your gift. 

3. Inspirational Resources – Videos and Magazines

We are very lucky to live in an era where knowledge is at our fingertips. You can get inspired or learn about ANY topic by googling it or find the relevant video on Youtube. I love TED talks and I always find them very inspirational. I also follow interviews such as Marie-Forleo weekly videos. I have 3 inspirational videos for you in your gift as an example, make sure to download it now.  

3. Courses and Workshops – Attend in-person or Online 

I believe that higher learning is essential for our growth. I also know a lot of people whose education and learning stops as soon as they graduate from university! I have learned a great deal from short courses which are focused on a specific topic. At this specific moment, I am enrolled in 6 different online courses from Digital Marketing, Personal Branding, Leadership and others. They all help me to step-up my game and offer unique content to my audience. I have also attended workshops by Tony Robbins or NLP and they helped me to realise the power of the mind. Whether you attend a workshop or enroll in online courses, don’t let education and growth stop when you graduate from university. Be proactive and invest in yourself and your growth. Don’t worry too much about the Degree, focus on the Learning, which course or workshop gives you the knowledge you need today? 

5. Circle of Genius 

There is a saying that we are the average of 5 people that we spend the most of our time with. Who is in your circle of genius? Are you inspired by the conversations that happen in the groups that you spend the most of your time with? If not, create or join another group that keeps you inspired and motivated. There is another saying that if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room! Make sure to be a part of groups who are more advanced than you in certain areas and where you can all help and support each other to grow. 
I have created a downloadable list for you with suggested links and examples for each of the 5 ways to Feed and Grow Your Mind. Make sure to download it and start watching and exploring!  

I will be live on Facebook on Thursday, July 20th 11 AM GMT (3 pm Dubai) to talk more about the topic and answer your questions. Follow me on Facebook and I will see you live soon! https://www.facebook.com/monatavassoli

Prioritize Your Life in One Simple Step

We all wear different hats in life and each of them comes with a set of responsibilities. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed, stressed and unaccomplished in our lives, and one of the reasons for this could be because our priorities are not aligned. 

Let me ask you a question, do you know your main “Roles” in life at this specific point and the responsibilities that come with each role? Sometimes we take on too many responsibilities because we are not clear about the main roles that we are playing and we take those roles lightly. Or we might feel inadequate and not enough because we feel that everyone else is doing a lot more in their lives! Again, we are not clear about our own roles and priorities and we start comparing our life with people who have a completely different set of circumstances. Motherhood is one of those roles that we take for granted and we don’t have a clear list of responsibilities that come with parenting.  

The first step to prioritize your life is to Identify Your Roles at any given point in your life. You don’t need to have all of your ideal roles together in the same time frame. You don’t need to be an Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, President, Board Member and Philanthropist all in the same year. We sometimes underestimate what we can achieve in a long timeframe and we overestimate what we can do in the short run.
I have created a downloadable worksheet for you, which goes into more details and includes a list of roles to choose from. You can then create your own list of Roles and Responsibilities. I recommend that you print the last page and keep it somewhere to see every day.  

All of our roles are important to us. We need to prioritize them based on our current circumstances and our present moment. Each role can become more important at any given point in our lives. When your kids reach the age of 30, the roles and responsibilities as a “Parent” become less dominant as when they are 2 years old. And your role as a “Daughter/Son” might become stronger over time.

We feel overwhelmed or under accomplished in life because we haven’t identified our current roles and future roles and we feel we are running out of time to do everything that we wanted from our life. 

The first step is to identify all of your roles and the responsibilities for each role. No matter what roles you have in life, everyone should pick the first role: “Inner-Self”. That’s a role you have towards yourself and “Your” life. Your are the center of all the other roles and it’s essential to acknowledge yourself and take care of your own needs and desires. The efficiency of all the other roles depends on this role. What are your responsibilities towards yourself? Your Health? Your Happiness? Your Desires? 
The other roles in life include Mother/Father, Wife/Husband, Entrepreneur, Employee, Aunt/Uncle and more which is listed in your worksheet. 

After listing all the responsibilities, you sometimes realize that you don’t need to add any other role until you complete some of your current roles. You don’t need to become an author in the same year that you are launching your business. You can sometimes spend less time socializing and focus on the volunteer job that you always wanted to do. 

Don’t take your roles for granted, and do not feel that you need to give up some of your dream roles such as becoming an Entrepreneur, Author, President, Minister, … when your life gets busy with other roles. You can work on them in a near future when you master the tasks that are involved with your current roles. I promise to write another blog post about delegating tasks and focusing on your “genius area” only to achieve more in your day and life. 

For now, don’t forget to download your gift and start implementing the exercises that I have created for you. 

I will be live on Facebook on Thursday, July 20th 11 AM GMT (3 pm Dubai) to talk more about the topic and answer your questions. Follow me on Facebook and I will see you live soon! https://www.facebook.com/monatavassoli