5 Life Lessons on being a Female Entrepreneur in the East

As a Female Entrepreneur and Professional from South Asia, I get asked this question multiple times. How did you do it? Did you not face resistance? Do you not feel threatened? When people from Western Societies ask me this question, I understand where they are coming from because they only have access to the limited biased information they receive from media outlets. So I suppose they are surprised I am not at home breeding and cooking.

But when people from the sub-continent ask me this. I have two reactions; one for women and one for men. Men ask because almost always they are mocking me (Yes, not all men are like that). Some are genuinely interested in how I did it. I give them the same response as I give to my ladies. Women ask because they want to know what I did differently from them or what opportunities did I have access to that they didn’t. I understand where they are coming from. I hug them or smile and give them these tricks I have learnt over the years as a Female Entrepreneur in an Eastern Society.

So here’s what I have learnt over the years and am still learning each and every day as it comes.

1. I am important

When you are handling multiple threads in your life such as: your family (Parents and siblings), Your Education and personal Development, Your Career, Your Romantic Life (With a Spouse or otherwise), Being Married, Having Children and Dealing with In Laws. It is important to understand one more being that you are forgetting about and that is you, yourself.

I tell this to myself over and over again when I am trying to be super human. I am important. My health, mental, emotional and physical is also important. I am important. Over the years now I know, if I am not okay, no one else can be okay. If I cannot take up my these battles everyday because if I am not me, everything will fall apart.

So it is extremely important that you take out time for yourself. You evaluate every decision in your life first thinking how do you feel about it and how does it affect you in the long run. Saying yes to things that make you feel uncomfortable will in the long distance not only damage you but your relationships and responsibilities in the long run.

2. I am not apologetic

This is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learnt and the one I share first with everyone.

Something I learnt not just when I became an entrepreneur but also when I was working in a top-notch company in a high paying position. I am no longer apologetic for anything I do and who I am.

It does not mean I have pride and no empathy. I just refuse to be boggled down by what people think of me or what they think I should do. I am always open to good advice and even criticism but I now also know when someone means to help me when someone just wants to inject negativity in my life.

I have finally become comfortable in my own skin and I own it. I own my mistakes, I own my victories and I own myself.

3. I am not Weak and its okay to not be 100% at everything every time.

Just because I cant be a super human and be a perfectionist at everything does not mean I am weak. No Sir. I am yet to see someone man or woman who cooked, cleaned, raised babies with morals and ethics, educated themselves, had a fulltime career, Was an entrepreneur and had a happy successful marriage. I am not saying you cannot have all of this – I am just saying you cannot have all of this happening simultaneously every hour of the day.

As Shonda Rhimes put it ‘Shonda, how do you do it all?’ The answer is this: I don’t. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I am probably blowing off a script I was supposed to rewrite. If I’m accepting a prestigious award, I’m missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the trade-off.’

4. Honesty always

I learnt it when I was a child being raised in a relatively liberal but most importantly unbiased family. I learnt to not judge people, to not backbite and then to be honest. No matter what we did, we were just honest. It made us confident. It made life simpler. It’s not always easy to be honest, but it’s so much better than to lie. Because whenever I find myself lying, I have to keep lying later to cover up that lie and sometimes you just lose count and the context of what you lied about.

I don’t lie when I give advice. I don’t lie when i tell people how it is. It sometimes at first instance may not be the popular vote, but it has helped people to understand me and what to expect from me.

5. I lead a purpose-filled life

I have stopped being raised and treated as a cattle or a commodity. I had the opportunity of not being treated as a commodity or as a non-personal with feelings and a brain when I was being raised in my family. My parents had always had a mind of their own and so did i.

When you have a purpose defined for yourself, goals to lead your life. Small things don’t affect you. Small distractions, quarrels that belittle your purpose and waste your time, irrelevant issues that can be very well ignored; All of this falls in place ONLY when you have a purpose lead life.

So find your purpose, believe in it and plan it. Don’t give up when plans don’t go your way. Nothing ever turns out the way you want it to be. But that’s the beauty of life to do well with what you get. Make Lemonade out of the lemons that life gives you!

I am doing a Facebook Live Session on my Facebook page Maheen Noor Soomro on Saturday, April 1, 2017 from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Follow me there to stay updated with the latest trends in the job market and personal development.

Maheen Noor Soomro, HR Super Heroine. 10 Years of HR & People Management. Talent Acquisition Ninja Style. A Career & Life Coach. Co-founder & partner at my Entrepreneurial Venture Called Mushawar Consulting, a Business, Technology & HR Consulting Firm. A Staunch Supporter of Women & Youth Development and Empowerment Initiatives. Counseling Students & Professionals. I believe in Helping others Help themselves. You can read more from me at http://www.maheensoomro.com and Mushawar Consulting or follow me on Facebook & Linkedin to stay updated with the latest trends!

Episode 4 Conversation with R&R Shero Debbie Pace

This R&R Shero believes in ‘Kicking The Shit Out of Fear’ and is known as ‘The Fear Extinguisher!

Debbie Pace is an author, life coach with an MBA, a triathlete, and a badass firewalker four times and counting. She is a former U.S. Navy Journalist with 30 years of award-winning broadcast experience… from radio and TV news anchoring and reporting, to online news editing, writing and producing, and even some country music DJing.
Debbie is the chief empowerment officer of Blazing Voice LLC, and co-host of the Badassery Podcast.
She is a global mindset and visibility mentor who coaches individuals and groups to bust through mental and technology blockages that are holding them back from speaking their deep, authentic truth and elevating their business. As a self-proclaimed Fear Extinguisher, Debbie runs fear-focused coaching and mindset programs, including a week-long challenge to help people Kick the Shit Out of Fear©.
Debbie is also a keynote speaker specializing in motivational events who brings her high energy, power and passion to a deeply inspiring message.

Listen to this conversation and benefit from loads of kick ass advice from this dynamic lady. I promise that you will get up feeling energised, invigorated and badassly determined! You can listen to the episodes on




And don’t forget to share your feedback! We will be waiting 🙂

You can follow Debbie on the following links:

Facebook profile: www.facebook.com/deborah.e.pace
Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/TrailblazingLeaders
Instagram: www.instagram.com/blazing_deb/
Twitter: twitter.com/BlazingVoice
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/debpace/
YouTube: https:/www.youtube.com/channel/UCDSv_NirdZWbYKdaF7XOvLQ
Website: www.blazingvoice.com






Episode 4 – Conversation with R&R Shero Jodi Flynn

Type A women are usually super focused and practically addicted to accomplishing goals. They have high levels of energy, are wired to keep busy and can often be seen doing multiple projects at once which other people might find difficult to relate to. Despite having impressive profiles, they still feel as they have to achieve a lot more in life. Type A women are also highly conscientious and care deeply. In all areas of their life, it’s important for them to stay on top of things and make sure everything gets executed perfectly whether it’s planning parties or dinners, making loved ones feel special or working on projects.

The downside, unfortunately, is that Type A’s find it hard to trust others especially in terms of work quality and hence delegating is not easy for them. They can sometimes be called impatient, controlling, over-achieving and perfectionists.

I know. I can relate. I am type A too. Well, mostly!

High on interpersonal skills , quite popular and well-liked amongst family and friends (or at least I’d like to think so) yet when it comes to working in a team, I am not so sure. I have, unfortunately, a very low tolerance for lateness, tardiness, and incompetence. I am driven and very goal oriented as a result of which I am often less accepting of when it comes to anything that gets in my way or any person who doesn’t have the same sense of urgency.

If you relate to any of these characteristics you will find this latest conversation with R&R Shero- Jodi Flynn very interesting and entertaining. Jodi Flynn is a super accomplished woman of many talents and one of my favorite inspirational women coaches out there.

She is also the Founder of Women Taking the Lead, a podcast, and community of ambitious entrepreneurial women who want to go BIG. Her leadership podcast was featured in Entrepreneur Magazine as top-ranked women hosted podcast. Jodi works with Type-A women who are already successful but have not yet achieved the level of success they want to achieve. Jodi helps her clients to see how extraordinary they are and then set priorities, get organized, in action so they can achieve their biggest goals with ease. She became an Amazon bestselling author with the release of her book, Accomplished: How to Go from Dreaming to doing.

This conversation with Jodi is one of the most fun ones I have had recently and if you can relate to the aforementioned type A traits, you will love it too. Jodi says that despite the negative characteristics, sometimes associated with Type A women, the latter are movers, shakers and go getters! They get things done! And I couldn’t agree more 😉 Apart from the characteristics of Type A women, Jodi also discusses helpful strategies that can help type A women. She also shares her incredible experience of participating in a Spartan race and how she went about achieving this goal of hers.

You can reach out to Jodi at


Also, watch out for a joint webinar which me and Jodi plan to have in October and which we are eagerly looking forward to. The webinar will be discussing some common challenges faced by women in business and careers and promises to be a very exciting one indeed! Stay tuned for further updates on this!

You can listen to this amazing episode with Jodi Flynn on

Sound Cloud



Sexual Harassment is still the haunting reality for hundreds of working women today. Here is what you need to know and do if you are a victim

The world is making strides in women empowerment and women advancement. Women are also making gains in the workplace but then we see cases like that of the former Uber engineer Susan Fowler who published a 3000-word blog post describing a nightmarish workplace culture in which male superiors solicited her for sex and human resources officers shrugged off her concerns about sexist company practices. Another recent case was a high profiled one involving a newswoman’s lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. All these incidents put a spotlight on an issue that still remains an all-too frequent reality in the workplace and that is sexual harassment. It also makes us realize that sexual harassment is a deep rooted problem and has nothing to do with class or culture. It is an epidemic which is prevalent across the globe evidencing alarming statistics.

I was recently mentoring some young girls who had just begun their career. Whilst casually discussing challenges at work, one of the girls expressed her discomfort at a senior male colleague repeatedly addressing her at work as ‘sweetheart’ and/or ‘Darling” and at how he kept patting her shoulder every now and then. What she shared was disturbing but what was even more appalling was how she dismissed her own concern and undermined its seriousness by quickly adding.’ I know I am over reacting and being silly and childish. He is my father’s age and it probably doesn’t mean much. But I am not a kid anymore. Anyway, I am not the only he does this to. He does that to everyone”

The rest of the girls nodded in agreement and laughed it off as well. I was speechless. Not only did this girl believe or was made to believe that calling names which make you feel uncomfortable is actually okay, she was also finding excuses to defend her Manager’s harassment. And that’s when it struck me- perhaps, one of the major reasons why many sexual harassers get away is because they make the victims believe that what they are doing is not something that can or should warrant an objection. Inappropriate actions under the guise of ‘It’s my nature’ ‘It’s not just you’ ‘I did it once only’ or it was a ‘just a compliment’ are some of the common excuses used by sexual harassers to justify their sick behavior.

Age and seniority have nothing to do with this either. I recently heard about a very senior Manager being fired from my ex-company on account of sexual harassment. My colleagues and I were shocked. Not only was he one of the most respected Managers of the company, some of us fondly called him ‘granddad’! Apparently, he had been portraying a very different image in front of us, however, how he behaved with new hires in other departments was all together a different and horrific story. And that’s when I learned an important lesson- just because some one looks elderly and respectful and just because, you didn’t experience it yourself; there is no reason to believe that others won’t experience it either. These incidents prompted me to write about what is still consider a tabooed topic by many and through my writing bring awareness that can help empower women who are victims of sexual harassment.

You see – It’s not just the harassers that we need to stop. We as women need to make ourselves strong enough to be able to raise a voice and unleash a backlash on such offenders and teach them a lesson or two.

Social media is more powerful than it ever was. In Susan Fowler’s case, the media pounced on the offenders with extreme vitriol. The #deleteuber campaign which reached new heights proved that media has the power to highlight social injustices and evoke remedial measures like never before and we need to make use of every medium out there is to make our voice heard.

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If you are victim of sexual harassment, here is what you need to know and do


The very first thing you need to if you feel you are the victim is to identify that is happening. If any behavior repeatedly makes you feel uncomfortable then you are probably not overreacting. The very first step towards countering harassment is to realize that it’s happening. Once you say what it is, you are opening yourself to different possibilities of handling it.

Harassment can be physical, verbal and/or non-verbal, can happen to anyone in any environment, and can be either a ‘one-off’ or a series of incidents.  A key test, though, is how the victim is made to feel by the behaviour. European Community Code of Practice describes it as unwanted or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, or other conduct based on sex, affecting the dignity of women and men at work. This can include unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct. According to Louisa Symington-Mills who works in private equity as a COO and is founder and CEO of City mothers and City fathers, & is The Telegraph’s careers agony aunt. ‘No one should have to endure such behaviour in the workplace – or anywhere else. Behaviour that is unwelcome and intimidating can transform an office environment from harmonious to odious, and may have immediate implications on the health and happiness of the recipient, as well the wellbeing of those that work closely with them.’Determining whether or not a comment or action directed towards you is inappropriate is often subjective, but if you feel upset and uncomfortable as a result, then it’s very likely to be – and may even be harassment.’

There are two types of sexual harassment Quid Pro Quo-The name for this type of harassment is Latin for “this for that.” In essence, this type of harassment occurs when an employer says that they will give an employee this job, this promotion, or this benefit, for that sexual favor. Hostile Environment- This type of harassment is much more difficult to pin down. It occurs when the harassing behavior creates a hostile, negative work environment for the employee.

Many harassers use several types of excuses to vindicate themselves such as; 1] ‘She laughed at my joke so I thought she didn’t mind’ Some employees feel obligated to participate or laugh for fear of being negatively judged so just because they smiled doesn’t mean they are not uncomfortable.  2] ‘ It happened on a business trip, so it doesn’t count’ Whether it took place in an office environment or outside, it doesn’t change the context and is still counted as harassment. 3] ‘It was just a compliment’ Compliments that make the other person uneasy some under harassment too. 4] ‘It only happened once’ It’s still harassment, whether it happened once or 20 times. 5] ‘The comments were directed at someone else’ If you witness inappropriate comments (such as your colleague commenting on how someone else might be in bed, without that person present) you can still file a sexual harassment complaint. 6] ‘Sexual harassment is all about sex, and sex didn’t happen’ inappropriate touching and verbal harassment direct or indirect cannot be discounted. ‘This is the way I’ve grown up; you can’t expect me to change’ Other people at your workplace are not expected to accommodate and adjust to what you think is socially acceptable or consider a norm.

The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board states that unwelcome behavior can fall into seven categories; Sexual teasing, remarks, jokes, or questions; Pressure for dates; Letters, e-mail, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature; Sexual looks or gestures; Deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching; Pressure for sexual favors; Actual/attempted sexual assault or rape. Other behaviors include displaying inappropriate sexual images or posters in the workplace; staring in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner, or whistling; making sexual comments about appearance, clothing, or body parts; Inappropriate touching, including pinching, patting, rubbing, or purposefully brushing up against another person; asking sexual questions, such as questions about someone’s sexual history or their sexual orientation


The second important step is to realize that if you are being harassed, it’s not your fault, and it has nothing to do with your actions or who you are as a person. Take control of your emotions and detach yourself from the abuse. You did not incur this on yourself, nor do you deserve it. Also, you are not alone.

More than half of the women say they have been sexually harassed at work and most admit to not reporting it, new research by the TUC suggests. A survey of 1500 people saw 52% cite the problem and also found a third had been subjected to unwelcome jokes and a quarter experienced unwanted touching. TUC head Frances O’Grady said it left women feeling ashamed and frightened. Many of those who told their stories also said they felt unable to report what had happened to them because they felt embarrassed or feared they would lose their job. A survey carried out two years ago by Slater & Gordon found six in ten working women felt a male colleague had behaved inappropriately towards them, whilst more than a third reported a senior male colleague had made inappropriate comments about their body or the clothes they were wearing.

Image by Gratisographywomen harassed3


Many such examples exist wherein when you leave the harassers unhooked, they come back again and again, each time more audacious than before. Another example is of a Senior Account Manager at an HR company. She has been working for her current employer for 13 months, but struggles with unwanted attention from her boss. She narrates: “The harassment started soon after I joined, but I was the new girl, so I didn’t want to kick up a fuss – and it was only the odd comment about how I looked. “Now he says personal things about me – things I wouldn’t like to repeat – and is always trying to touch me. I feel physically sick at going to work. Living in London is expensive, so I can’t just leave my job (although I am looking). I’ve no rights, so they can fire me for causing trouble – and even if could take legal action I know a tribunal would be unlikely to find in my favour.”

Unfortunately, as can be seen in the example above, and many more such as this story of another Uber survivor , the moment you decide to ignore or let go of a harasser there is no looking back. Ignoring or avoiding the abuser may seem the safest way, but it’s actually more harmful; the victim suffers in silence and the problem doesn’t get resolved. Trying to appease the abuser or complying with him is no solution either. Bullying or Harassment is a power struggle. Once you give into one demand, they will push for more.


According to a training by Velsoft, you should start with a verbal notice and tell the harasser what they are doing is not acceptable immediately in a calm, unemotional tone of voice. In my article published in the Huffpost on dealing with bullies I suggest that ‘if they are invading your comfort zone in terms of physical space, place a physical boundary (like a desk) between you and them, or ask them to step back. If emotional space is being threatened, such as asking personal questions or offering unwarranted advice, tell them to stop, politely yet firmly.’ A statement like, “Get your hands off,” is firm, assertive rather than aggressive, and non-negotiable.

You should also start keeping a written record of events, times, dates, and people that witnessed the events. Even if the issue is resolved at this first step, you need to document what happened. Give stronger warnings and notice that you will report the harasser. If the harasser continues his/her behavior, repeat the first step but make it stronger. Something like, “I have already told you to stop touching me. If you don’t stop, I will report you for harassment,” repeats the original message, and is still assertive and non-negotiable. Make sure you keep your tone of voice calm and unemotional. Issue written warnings. Keep a record. Keep you tone of voice and body language assertive as it will be crucial in deterring the harassers.

Write the person an e-mail or letter and send it to them. This letter should be done the same way the other warnings were: firm, assertive, and non-negotiable. It should restate the points you made in your verbal warnings. Make sure you do not threaten the harasser; stay as unemotional as possible. Also make sure you keep a copy of these letters for your records.

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If you have been unable to deter your harasser or if you feel that there is serious risk in confronting your harasser (such as being physically harmed or losing your job) Velsoft next recommends going to your manager, your company’s Human Resources department, or the company’s harassment officer. They will typically give you their opinion about the claim: whether it is more or less serious than the complainant perceives and what options s/he has next. Be aware that this step may place your complaint on record. And, no matter what the outcome of this meeting, be sure to record its details and add it to your log of events.


This step turns the complaint into a formal process. Both parties (the complainant and the alleged harasser) have a lot at stake here: their reputation, their job, and possibly their career. According to Velsoft,  if you have events documented and recorded, you will feel a lot more secure in raising a formal complaint. However, be aware that this step will probably bring the issue to the attention of your co-workers. Investigators usually try to maintain your privacy as much as possible, but they will likely need to talk to your co-workers to confirm events. The process of raising a complaint is not always a bitter and prolonged one. Sometimes the harasser and the complainant can meet to discuss the incident(s) and come out with a better understanding of each other and what happened. If your harassment issue has not been resolved by the first four steps, this will be the last opportunity to resolve it in-house.


In most countries, there is an agency that governs against harassment and discrimination. You should consult with an attorney before filing a complaint with this organization or agency. Some areas have time limits; the EEOC in the United States, for example, requires filing no later than 180 to 300 days after the alleged incident, depending on the state where you live.


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I do realize that the above points may be helpful but not easy to implement. And that many organisations and particularly the HR department may not be very supportive either. In an article written by a 20 years old veteran of HR, Laurie Ruettimann, Laurie states that HR departments in America operate under a dubious mandate: ‘Keep workers engaged and happy, but make sure nobody sues the company’ She encourages victims to therefore, channel their inner Susan Fowler when someone sexually harasses them. She asks victims to follow Susan Fowler’s example and to follow the chain of command at their company. ‘Report the incident.’ she says, ‘Then leverage your network and start your job search. Once you find a new job, use the internet to tell every single human being on the planet about your experience. Leave a review on Glassdoor, start an anonymous blog, or even create a Twitter account and share bits and pieces of your story in a tweetstorm. Find ways to tell prospective candidates to apply elsewhere’

Laurie also admits that some women aren’t in a position to quit their jobs. And that they can’t freely look for work, either, due to the time and stress involved in the interview process. ‘They depend on their pay check and can’t afford to rock the boat. Going to work and paying attention to their personal lives is just about enough. HR needs to work harder to protect those employees from hostile work environments’ But she also asks people to look in the past for lessons on how to rally around one another and create supportive environments at work. ‘Change the system that weighs you down.’ She adds. Laurie recommends women should unionize without unionizing and ‘If you feel like your interests aren’t being looked after, don’t wait for HR to solve your problem. Find your peers, share your concerns, and craft a plan to tackle the work-related issues that are plaguing your lives.’


Life is often hard and unfair. You need to learn to fight your own battles. Don’t always depend on other people to come to your rescue. You need to be your own saviour. Nothing is more important than your self-respect and integrity and only you can make everyone else realize that too. It’s never too late to stand up and fight your own battle. As they say ‘The best time to start was yesterday, the next best time is now’ and once you have stood up and fought your own battle successfully, come forward and help others fight theirs. Perhaps even start a gulabi gang of your own?

Hira Ali is the C.E.O of ed Management Consulting as well as Founder of Advancing Your Potential & Revitalize and Rise. She is a Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Professional Coach & NLP Practitioner. She tweets @advancingyou and can be contacted at hiraali@advancingyourpotential.com.

Episode 3- Conversation with R&R Shero Gull Khan

Gull Khan is a Magnanimous Money Mastery Expert (MMM Expert) and works with Female business Executives and Entrepreneurs to help them blast through their income glass ceiling and to simultaneously start building their savings and investment portfolio.

As a trained healer, she helps people get out of their stuck, repetitive patterns by removing the Unseen Energetic blocks from their Electromagnetic Field.

She uses her innovative transformation techniques to upgrade vibration and moves her clients into a higher energetic frequency, aligned with their manifestation goals.

Why she does this?

Before this, she was a Corporate Lawyer and has worked for some of the Top Companies and Law Firms in the world.

Gull changed her profession because she is on a personal mission to empower females financially. She is a domestic abuse survivor and she has come to realize that unless females are financially independent they leave themselves open to all sort of abuse, ranging from physical to sexual to verbal to emotional! THIS HAS TO STOP. The way forward is to empower every female financially.

Listen to this very inspiring conversation where Gull Khan talks about issues many people don’t like talking about. She explains that domestic abuse has nothing to do with class. Unfortunately, countless females today belonging to various classes are experiencing an abusive relationship. An abusive relationship does not necessarily imply physical abuse only but also includes verbal and financial abuse. In her conversation with me, Gull brings the much-needed awareness on this tabooed topic. The dilemma is that though many women experience abuse, they either do not realize and fail to label it or too scared to confess, It’s important to know that verbal abuse and gaslighting by partners is just as detrimental and unhealthy as is physical abuse and needs to be stopped. Gull believes that a lot of negative energy is passed on to women, especially, if they have seen their parents experiencing similar mental blocks or negative relationships.

Gull also believes that in the day and age of today, it is important for females to learn how to be financially independent and through her transformative strategies she empowers women to do exactly that!

You can listen to this very inspirational episode on Sound Cloud

as well as iTUNES

You can contact Gull Khan in the following ways:

Facebook Page:


LinkedIn profile link


Twitter account


Gull Khan

Business and Personal Coach; Intuitive Coach; Energy and EFT Practitioner; Author and International speaker: http://secretdoortosuccess.com/



Episode 2- Conversation with R&R Shero Sally Hubbard

Sally Hubbard, creator and Host of the popular podcast, Women Killing It!, has been a commentator and advocate of women’s equality her entire professional life. Through interviews and real-life storytelling, Sally’s mission is to create a movement of women celebrating each other’s successes and inspiring one another.

With her intuitive and fearless mother and grandmother blazing the trail, Sally was exposed to entrepreneurship at an early age. Sally attended NYU Law School and later became an investigative journalist, ultimately striving to break her biggest story yet: how do successful women do it? Inspired by the stories of other women shattering the proverbial “glass ceiling,” she looks to reveal an unprecedented playbook for how women can kill it in their careers.

Through her honest, uninhibited conversations with these women, Sally repeatedly finds herself inspired and motivated to #keepkillingit

In this podcast, Sally will be discussing 7 steps to killing it at work and if you want to learn more then tune in and listen to this episode right away

Her 7 Steps to Killing It! Action Plan distills common themes that come up over and over on the podcast. She is implementing the plan in her own career with tremendous results. She shares her personal career journey with her listeners, and she poses a series of challenges to help them kill it in their own careers.


Click on this link to hear the episode on Sound Cloud

Click on this link to hear the episode on ITunes


Feminism; As powerful as this buzzword sounds, many people being gravely unaware of its actual connotations have attached a stigma to it and belittled it often. Before delving into the topic any further, I would, therefore take a few moments to dispel any myths and common misconceptions associated with this word. Here is the literal definition of this new f-word; feminism-The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

And this is exactly what it is! Nothing more, nothing less. Feminists do not harbor any secret desires to propagate women supremacy and neither do they demand any special privileges for the latter. Feminists are not anti-men, nor are they anti-marriage and they certainly not have any unapologetic opinions about how women should behave or dress. I am strongly feminist but I don’t hate men. I have no reservations in attributing some of my own successes to the supportive men in my life; be it my father, husband or brother. I enjoy being married and guess what, I like ‘girly things’ too such as lipsticks, heels, and dresses. Yes, you can be a feminist and still enjoy these. In fact, I am known to have a strong inclination towards the color pink! Surprised? Wait till I debunk some more theories. Feminists do not crinkle their noses at stay at home moms either. A feminist could be a stay at mom or not a mom at all. The whole point of feminism is to embrace choices and be anything one wants to be without judging another woman on her choices. Every woman should be free to do whatever she pleases, and look however she desires. So then, what actually does feminism entail? Feminists demand equal rights for women in every sphere and walk of life. It’s as simple as that. A goal to create a society in which individuals’ genders don’t restrict them from an equitable shot at success and happiness

Listed below are some simple yet effective ways in which you can play your part in taking back what it means to be a feminist.

  1. Make use of Social/ Print and Electronic Media: Highlight the issue in hand and help people understand it better by writing blogs, sharing articles or by perhaps, doing live videos with meaningful messages; even tweeting hashtags of popular movements that support the theme is a perfectly acceptable way to show your support. But don’t just stop at that. Social media is a very important tool with an impact far more outreaching than we can ever imagine and what’s more, it’s free! Challenge and counteract media that intentionally or unintentionally undermine women rights; make sure your voice is being heard by raising your concern and registering your complaints where appropriate. Learn how Meghan-Markle did it when she was only 11
  2. Call out inequality. Even small acts of resistance can make a difference. According to Samantha Rennie, Executive Director at Rosa; “People must be held accountable for their thoughts and their actions, so when you see acts of sexism, racism, xenophobia, ableism, Islamophobia or anything else, call it out!’ Sometimes people do not realize what’s wrong until someone points it out so don’t hesitate to point out and raise awareness in suitable ways.
  3. Support non-profit organizations working for women: There a plethora of
  4. organizations that are tirelessly working to defend women rights. Many women have fought to give us what we today enjoy as basic rights. Women are more empowered, confident and bold than they ever were and this didn’t happen overnight; there have been people responsible for getting us here. However, in many parts of the world, women are still being abused, traded, mutilated and deprived of education. Honor killings, child brides, acid attacks are still a sad reality for hundreds of women worldwide and these women need our support! Recent women’s marches across the globe clearly evidenced what we are capable of when we organize and mobilize. Also, being part of an organized support gives you a proper platform not only for championing your support but also connecting with like-minded individuals.
  5. Rally political support: “If you want to build a more equal country, you need to push equality for women into the political space,” says Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party.
  6. And this essentially means supporting political parties which put women equality on their top agenda regularly.
  7. Elicit support from men: “Gender equality is your issue too,” says the actor and UN Women goodwill ambassador, Emma Watson while addressing men in one of her recent speeches. “#HeForShe was launched in September 2014 as a movement that aims to inspire and encourage men to take action against gender inequality. According to Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leicester, UK, men don’t think gender equality is their concern or is a critical thing that warrants a change. He says that “In our institutions, gender equality discussions are dominated by women while men are getting on with research and other activities. To truly advocate women equality, do not dismiss support from men; encourage them to step up and play their part.
  8. Mentor girls and raise their aspirations: In my article Dear Girls, We Have Your Back published on Ellevate, I discuss how important it is to support and empower young girls these days and why it’s crucial to have female mentors for female students. ‘After all, when you empower girls, they say, you are raising the quality of life for everyone. It is these very girls that will lead children by example, lead businesses, lead communities and even lead the country one day and, by mentoring and raising their aspirations we are laying the ground for a future generation of women who have the power to crush stereotypes and rise above all challenges

Even little actions count and can potentially make a huge difference. Your one step forward could possibly inspire several others to do the same. March is long gone but let’s continue taking feminism back and being bold for change today and forever after.


Hira Ali is the C.E.O of ed Management Consulting as well as Founder of Advancing Your Potential & Revitalize and Rise She is a Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Professional Coach & NLP Practitioner. She tweets @advancingyou and can be contacted at hiraali@advancingyourpotential.com

This article was originally published in The Huffington Post


Be Bold for Change

The month of March has been a very special time of the year for me since many years. Apart from my late father’s birthday, this month also marks the arrival of International women’s day & Mother’s Day. For me it’s a very exciting time, almost as celebratory & festive as Christmas, Eid, New Year or any other festival for that matter. Almost a decade ago, I started marking this occasion by celebrating special events for women at the company I worked for. I organized these events as I felt the need to do something exclusively for women as- at that point in time, most of our company initiatives; sports tournaments or concerts were more male dominated or let’s just say less inclusive for women. The first year’s theme was Stress Management and I called the program De-Stress & Revitalize. It became a popular annual program for working women at our company and we continued to run it year after year. When I moved to Dubai and started my own training & consultancy practice, I carried forward the tradition of women’s day celebrations and held annual events at many companies, sometimes even at beaches and parks. Each year we followed different theme and taglines. Apart from stress Management, we covered topics like Emotional Intelligence, Women in Leadership & Women Empowerment. As a trainer and coach, I loved providing value by facilitating the growth of the participants and helping these women overcome personal & professional challenges.

When I moved to London, I was aware that apart from setting up my business from scratch, another challenge that I may have to face will be regarding my religion and background. Being an Asian Muslim woman, working as an immigrant on a foreign land would not be easy and expose me to many limitations and prejudices. To my surprise I found out, that it’s not just me or in London alone. Women worldwide are facing a plethora of prejudices, limitations, and stereotypes. In my Interview for Women Killing It I discuss this in more detail. Yes, being an Asian Muslim woman, I have to face more stereotypes and biases as compared to women belonging to other ethnicities; biases that are attached to women from my faith and background alone; wherein many people unknowingly hold the common misconception that we are are backward, degraded and suppressed. (When in reality, innumerable examples can be quoted of women from my faith and background doing brilliantly both as entrepreneurs and as working professionals.) However, on the whole, the rest of the challenges for all of us across the globe remain universal. Having trained and coached women from three different countries, I realized that no matter who we are and from where we belong, women inclusiveness is a goal even the most progressive countries are still struggling with.  And that’s when I pledged to play my part. I along with a group of coaches from Dubai, Pakistan, and London launched a global training & mentoring network called Revitalize and Rise which aims to provide voluntary help and support to women that seek help in advancing their careers, resuming work or starting their own businesses.

According to a report published by Ernst & Young, gender parity (meaning an equal number of men and women) at work will take another 170 years, 5 months and 2 weeks. Whether that goal is even realistic is another question. Though I am a feminist who strongly advocates the idea of women inclusiveness and equality, I feel the latter goal also needs to take into account that no matter what,  many women will always put family ahead of career and choose to opt out of  the stressful life that usually comes with being on the top. And these preferences might make achieving the gender parity goal more tricky than it seems. On the other hand, the 21st century has witnessed an explosive growth in women owned businesses and research has evidenced staggering results of how these businesses have contributed to the economy in many countries. So perhaps, instead of achieving gender parity in top positions, the goal should then be to achieve parity in number of men and women contributing in a given economy be it via working for self or working for others?  Having said that, whether women pursue top positions or opt to run their own show they must be supported in all ways and that means not only providing women equal opportunities in terms of advancement and remuneration but also providing a conducive and flexible environment especially to those that that  are juggling home and work life simultaneously. And I did that by supporting this year’s theme for International Women’s Day which was #Beboldforchange. The website encourages men, women and non-binary people to take bold and pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. To support the above themes and play my part in Taking Back Feminism I supported many initiatives  which included the following

  • Offered complimentary coaching & mentoring sessions to women desirous of professional guidance in their lives.
  • Supported a Teens Girl Empowerment Conference in London
  • This month, I also released my Stress Management Video filmed by Enterprise Tap and based on my article published earlier in the Huffington Post and Ellevate Network called 11 Revitalizing Stress-Busters for Working Women
  • Attended the Women of the World Conference where I volunteered to support several non profit organizations that are working towards the betterment and advancement of less privileged women out there especially the refugees.
  • Wrote several blogs to support and empower women better
  • Plan to organize an event in April for over  100 women called Revitalize and Rise IWD’s Special with the objective of helping women make positive and bold changes in their lives through de-stressing, revitalizing and reenergizing.

My call to action is based on an article I wrote earlier for Women Marches. Dear Girls, We Have Your Back and which was originally published by Ellevate Network as well.

I urge all those who are genuinely interested in being bold for change and in taking back feminism to pledge to support and inspire women world over just the way they are; Feminism is not only about equality between men and women but also equality amongst women themselves. It’s about looking at ALL women in the same way and not treating some more specially and favorably or otherwise on the basis of what they look or believe in. Whether they cover their head or not, whether they belong to this side of the wall or the other, whether they are born in your country or have immigrated, whether their skin color is different from yours or not, it shouldn’t matter. Believe and champion the rights of every girl irrespective of where she is from, what she wears and what she looks like. After all, we are in this together!

My own #boldforchange actions entail ensuring equal opportunity of advancement for all women, irrespective of who they are, where they come from, what they look like, what they wear or what they believe in. I am a Muslim. I am an Asian with brown skin. I am an immigrant working in a foreign land. I am a woman. I am a mom. And, I am proud to be all of these. I wouldn’t let any of these be a cause of prejudice or racism.  Being these will not stop me from realizing my dreams. I believe we must rise above ethnicities, backgrounds, and beliefs and promote advancement for all women. Read How (you can overcome feelings of self-doubt or lack of confidence in this regard) I will not allow myself to be labelled or treated differently. March is long gone but let’s continue being bold for change for ourselves and for others, shall we?


The Who, When & How Of Sharing Your Pregnancy News At Work

This article was originally published in The Huffington Post

Congratulations! You are expecting a baby. Whether it was planned or unexpected, whether it’s your first baby or the fifth one, each woman experiences a surge of emotions on finding out the news. Among many other things that are involved in the preparation for the baby’s arrival, breaking the news to your boss is one which requires a lot of deliberation.

You should be thrilled to share the news, but be prepared for your boss to panic on hearing about it, even if it’s (hopefully) just momentarily. Here are some ways that can help you in communicating the special news.

Who to First Share the News With

No matter how tempted you are to reveal this news to your work buddies, avoid falling into the trap of telling everyone else before your boss. The latter should be one first one to know.

Anticipate your manager’s reaction, especially if this is the first time they will be working with a pregnant employee. If your company has had little or no experience with pregnant employees, it might help to provide them with information on your legal rights. It’s perfectly okay to ask your boss to keep the news confidential unless you feel ready to share it with everyone else.

[Related: What is Corporate America Getting Wrong with Their Female Talent]

When to Share the News

Legally, you don’t need to tell your employer of your pregnancy and intention to take maternity leave until 15 weeks before your baby is due, regardless of where you work.

Most women announce their pregnancy at the end of the first trimester (at about 12 weeks). There are several advantages of telling your boss sooner rather than later. The more planning and preparation involved before you leave, the easier it will be for you both to manage the transition smoothly.  An employer’s responsibility of care for a pregnant employee does not come into effect until you have formerly informed your employer in writing.


Once aware, the employer must take action to deal with health and safety issues. Your employer is now liable to ensure that you are not exposed to any potential threats or safety risks involving your working conditions or hours of work. Alternate work can be suggested on the same terms and conditions, but if neither is possible then you are entitled to be suspended with full pay until the risks are eliminated. After the formal intimation, you are protected against unfavorable treatment resulting from any pregnancy-related discrimination. Read more about this at the Pregnancy Related Discrimination-Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.

Any pregnancy-related sickness needs to be recorded separately and must not be used against you in any disciplinary, redundancy or dismissal decisions. You are entitled to reasonable paid time off for your antenatal care, including classes recommended by a registered medical practitioner along with appointments. You will have to provide proof of the same when asked.

How to Share the News

“The more time for planning and preparation you and your employer have before you leave, the easier both of you will find it when you return,” says Abigail Wood, public affairs manager at the NCT. It also presents you as a thorough professional who is committed to organization goals. Consult your GP or midwife regarding suitable dates for starting your leave. The UK government site states that the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before your expected week of childbirth, but it is really up to you to decide depending on your own health and circumstances.

Pregnant working women in America are subject to different maternity rights unlike those enjoyed by women in almost all other developed countries especially in terms of a guaranteed paid maternity leave.

[Related: 10 Things You Need To Know About Maternity Leave In The US]

Avoid sharing the news casually. Schedule a special appointment with your boss to reveal the news. During the discussion be open and honest, and do not apologize as this is a special experience for you and nothing to be sorry about. Anticipate their concerns and be prepared to address them; for example, how the maternity leave will affect your work. Be aware of your own goals and don’t feel hesitant to reiterate past accomplishments that are evidence of the value you have provided to the organization.

[Related: Reacting to Pregnancy in the Workplace and What it Means for the Company]

Also, be equipped with research on your company’s policies and procedures as well as your own rights in this regard. In this meeting, you should be open to discussing ideas of Flex-timing in the future along with information on all important dates such as due date, appointment dates, etc. Devise a plan and agree on dates for handover, staying in touch, performance reviews, as well as resuming work. It will be a good idea to schedule your annual leave at this time as well.

You have worked hard to climb that corporate ladder and, understandably, you may be concerned about how the news of your pregnancy might impact your career. Organizations should do their part as well and endeavor to build an inclusive culture so that expectant moms do not feel left out. Do not feel too disappointed if you receive less than an enthusiastic response at work. It’s not that they don’t care or are not happy for you. Firstly, they might not be adequately prepared on how to respond appropriately, especially if it’s a first-time experience for them. And secondly, concerns regarding your leave and its subsequent impact on team goals might be too pressing a concern for them to express otherwise.

At all times, reassure those you work with of your commitment to the organization, its goals, and your own role objectives.

If you feel that your organization is treating you badly because you have informed them that you are pregnant, then free legal advice and support is available online. Remember that you are not the first one to go on leave. Do not feel responsible or guilty. Yes, the news will come with a lot of changes in the existing work situation for both you and your manager, but in today’s work environment, if there is anything constant, it’s change — and every manager must be prepared to deal with that.

Hira Ali is Founder of Advancing Your Potential & Revitalize and Rise. She is a Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Writer, and Professional Coach & NLP Practitioner. You can contact her at hiraali@advancingyourpotential.com