The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Difficult Immigrant Parents: How to End Conflict with Difficult Immigrant Parents Forever

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“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Hello my loves,

Special gift to all my subscribers. I’m currently offering a pre-order special for my latest ebook: “The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Difficult Immigrant Parents: How to End Conflict with Difficult Immigrant Parents Forever.  Advice, Insights and Practical Solutions  to Dealing with Overbearing Parents and Cultural Pressures in Immigrant Communities.”

One of my last blog posts explore the topic of: “6 Best Tips on Living and Dealing with Stressful Immigrant Parents” and know you get it in an e-book with much more details.

If you are that fish judged by your ability to climb a tree, it’s a good thing you are reading this.

If you are a first generation immigrant or from an ethnic background and have been overwhelmed dealing with overbearing parents, community and cultural pressures and been thinking that no body understands you, it’s even better that you got this book.

This is a story about you growing up and taking control over your life

It’s about  you don’t want your path mapped out by someone else, especially when it’s a path you don’t want.

This is the story the transformation of becoming your truest self.

It’s the story of having everyone deny you being you, to carry out the your life calling, the same calling that nags at you anytime you decide to do something against the depth of who you are. It’s that calling that separates everyone and ultimateley makes some people shine.

I always wondered why no one ever wanted me to be myself.

Why didn’t anyone want me to shine?

Why doesn’t anyone just listen to my ideas and want me to be successful with them.

The immediate responses it: it wont work, but society’s indoctrining systems are completely ok. It’s okay to go to school and focus your life on getting a job in a system that was made to make you a slave. It was okay to work hours to make someone else’s dream happen but when you decide to make your dream happen and work for yourself, it’s a cardinal sin and people NEED to tell you that you are wrong and that you will fail.

The most difficult thing is to adopt a mindset different from those around you and being able to keep that mindset while they mock you, be sarcastic and make you feel inferior because you hold ideas they believe can not happen.

Here’s What We Will Explore Together

Why are your parents obsessed with you taking a certain path in life? What can we learn about how our immigrant backgrounds affect how our parents choose to parent us? You wonder, sometimes that people could support you for being you, for bringing your unqieuness to the world, but why don’t they?

I’ve separate the book into 3 chapters that takes an in-depth, deep look into how you can understand and overcome conflict with your difficult immigrant parents forever.

Chapters 1: When No One Understands about you
  • Finding out who you are
  • Being who you are in a world that’s trying to change you
  • What no one understands about you
  • Practical ways you can truly live in your own truth
  • How I stopped caring what people thought
  • Navigating Listening To Yourself or Your Parents
  • Persistence Is The Only Key to Prevailing.
Chapter 2: Psychology of Immigrant Parents and Why They think
  • You Parents Psyschology: Understanding Immigrant Parents and Non-Traditional Culture
  • One Key that Will Solve All Your Problem
  • How to Effectively Communicate with Your Parents 101
  • Roots of Conflicts Between Generations
  • Understanding Culture Pressures and Where They Come From
Chapter 3: Choose Yourself
  • How to Choose Yourself
  • 10 Ways To Choose Yourself Everything
  • Step by Step on Dealing with Your Parents and Having a Better Relationship
  • Step by Step on Dealing with Community Issues and Pressures To Be Someone Else
Live according to my own expectations. Never let others tell you what is not possible for you.

Pre-Order here

Thoughts on Storytelling for Somalia Retreat and Adventures in Wales and London

This week was a game changer for me.

It has felt like 1 years worth of growing has been done in just one week.

I was selected to be a part of a groundbreaking project run by the  United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and UK-based partner Radical Middle Way with The Institute of Narrative Growth  called “Storytelling for Somalia”, A retreat for journalists, change makers and creatives from the Somali diaspora on September 15th-19th.

Photo Credit: Mohamed Yusuf

Photo Credit: Mohamed Yusuf

It was a co-lab on journalism and story with 30 creative change makers from across the Somali diaspora ranging from writers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, creatives, journalists and it was designed to facilitate collaborations and conversations amongst its members.There were trainings on investigative journalism, story as a global health strategy, evening fire side chats with the great Dr. Fuad Nahdi, field trips to visit key communities and community figures and learn about the history of the Somali diaspora within Cardiff, Wales and United Kingdom in general.

It was held at the historical Buckland Hall, a beautifully isolated mansion tucked away in the gorgeous hills in Wales in Brecons Beacons Park.

Buckland Hall

Waking up every morning to grab some tea(no it was actually copious amounts of hot chocolate) to take a walk on the beautiful landscape of lush greenery, and gaze at the mountains and small homes covered in a haze of clouds before sessions was something I will never forget. It was a quiet that forced you to reckon with your own soul. It brought about an introspection that either made you reaffirm your path in life or completely reconsider everything.

Photo Credit: Mohamud Yussuf

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Photo Credit Hassan Ghedi Santur

The first thing we did was sit in a circle, as an entire group, and introduce ourselves by way of our ancestry. It was a lovely break from the common question: “What do you do?” Behind that question is the assumption of the importance of economics, status and social positioning. Asking us where we came from poses another assumption: you are here because of where your ancestors were decades ago. Let’s explore that.

We had 8-9 hour day sessions – very content-focused. I wanted to highlight three different sessions that provide a bird-eye view on what we explored.

Healing as a global health strategy. Mark Gonzales led us through many introspective discussions on the psychology of healing and the anatomy of storytelling and nation. He described nations as a collection of narratives and took us through a series of activities that allowed us to explore the positive and negative effects of how stories are able to both heal and harm a nation.

Be Another Lab was a collective between Daanish Masooud, Christian Cherene and Arthur Pointreau, to create a machine that allows others to virtually interact with themselves. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to try it out because there was always a huge line to try it. Click on the link to learn more.

Fireside Chats – These were the last sessions of our day and a chance to regroup and debrief on what happened during the day and sit with our elders, share stories and ask questions. The great Dr. Fuad Nahdi lead these sessions through insightful and hilarious stories on life and his remarkable life experiences. These sessions were a way for us to bond. I wish they happened every night of my life – it was beautiful. These fireside chats planted the seed that allowed me to open up to this group.

WalesFiresidechats

What made this retreat ground-breaking was the initial assumption of creating a space to bring members of the Somali diaspora together to exchange ideas and experiences. It’s was a daring project to bring together Somalis of the diaspora worldwide to meet and collaborate together for 1 week – which, to my knowledge, has never been done. I spent most of my life living in a multicultural community, with very little emphasis on my cultural identity.

As a young women of the diaspora, I have never had the space, as many other retreat members will confidently say, to sit in a room full of my people and people my age. I never had the chance to work with them, collaborate ideas, speak my language and feel a communal connection that was ripped from us due to colonialism. These are the people, had I been in my homeland, the same people I would have grown up with, lived with and worked with.

But life had other plans.

What does it mean to be an urban Muslim entrepreneur and artist from Canada?

For the first time, I was forced to answer that question.

25 + years ago, Somalia was ripped apart by civil war and spread its citizens across the world and this created probably the most fragmented nation on earth. The consequences of this were bound to create chaos – and it did.

By the third day, pent up feelings started to emerge during one morning session. People had mentioned everything from suspicions, to concerns and frustrations. Was the United Nations doing this to collect data on Somalis? How come Somalis weren’t part of the design of the retreat? Were we being used as experiment?

Whether any of these concerns where valid or not is beside the point. The point is that the reactions were symptoms of a legitimately larger issue – lack of trust. A lack of trust that can only come from a community suffering from traumas – both personal and collective – that had not been addressed for 25 + years.

As Muslims, we’ve been put under the radar and are constantly under suspicion from people around us. As colored people, we don’t benefit from social privileges that bring the social and financial capital with it. And as Somalis, many of us have faced socio-economic pressures that have caused many of our parents to walk out on us, our families being ripped apart, and many of us never having truly connected with our country of origin, perpetually living in a nomadic state – not belonging anywhere but where we are at the moment. All these of these tensions have then built up for decades. Therefore reactions weren’t so much of a surprise but predictable.

Many complaints were made about Somalis being involved in the creation of this retreat and with all due respect, the Somali community has very little capacity to pull off a retreat like this– we don’t have the social and/or financial capital to put together what the UN, Mark, Daanish and Abdurahman had done. The organization, the accountability, the vision and the execution of the retreat was incredible, to say the least.

They, quite simply, made history.

I’m not trying to knock on my Somalis but let’s be real. It’s not that Somalis can’t, but we won’t. There are too many internal politics, ego, and lack of organization for the Somali community to have pulled this retreat off. Sorry. Not Sorry.

I’m grateful that someone thought of us – not in the common narrative of the white saviour thrusting himself upon the black man – but that someone cared. Because very few people care for Somalia.

Even Somalis at times, I’m afraid.

The truth is, we are afraid of ourselves. We are afraid of our light, our own success, our own ability to move forward in unity as a nation capable of accomplishing great things. Fear of success manifested itself so many times during this retreat – through chaos, through argument, through discontent and through tears.

One person said during a session that very few of us had been in a room with so many talented people of our nation and are actually reacting to the immense power that was in that room- albeit negatively- but nonetheless, it drew attention to the strong elements that were at large. It was absolutely incredible how accomplished and successful people were but there were few mentions of personal successes. I’m not sure if it’s because we have been so used to silencing our talents as a result of years of conditioning or it’s was simply because we didn’t feel comfortable using that space to do so.

While there may have been moments where we all collectively did share in happiness, by far the most intense is when we all sat and shared in our pain through a session lead by Mark Gonzales. He asked us to bring photos of our families and write a letter to them. Overwhelmingly, everyone wrote a letter to their mother, everyone spoke of their mother and there were enough tears to fill the Gulf of Aden 10 times.

Our mother have been and always will be the bedrock of our communities. So much pain they have suffered through yet they are the pillars – standing tall and gloriously – regardless of what elements they have faced.

I also did write to my mother but had to stop writing it. It was too painful. That session made me leave the room twice. I could only imagine what my parents had to go through to give me a chance at life. They were their own people, with their own dreams and aspirations until life derailed them and sent them on another path.

It also made me realize that my suffering wasn’t unique – it was all too common.

Everyone in that room had a story as painful as mine.

For a long time, we’ve never had a chance to just say: “I’m hurt.”

Or to say this is who I am and it’s okay. Regardless of the baggage. This is what I went through, and it’s okay. Regardless of what I feel. This is what happened to my family and I can work through it. This is what the older generations did, but I am willing to forgive, let go and start anew. That I don’t need to carry the burden of Somalia on me. I can let go of this invisible responsibility to save a country whose problems started long before I was born.

And truly, this is what the retreat was all about: forgiveness. As much as many people came in with expectations to change a lot, forgiveness is by far the best thing to start with and the most impact thing that will bring Somalis together. The willingness to forgive ourselves – an entire generation- of our grievances, allow ourselves to move and say that it will be okay.

And beautifully, this is how the retreat ended. We were asked to give two words: one to our past and one to our future, with, as Mark said, the acknowledgement that we are the pivot point between the two. Mine was to offer forgiveness to my ancestors and to offer limitlessness to my future.

What was made painfully aware to me is that Somalia is still a country a long way from resolving our collective trauma. I walked out of a session and ended up breaking down thinking: Will we ever get it together? Were we doomed to a downward spiral of decline? Maybe these were the reasons I’ve failed to engage with the Somali community – the process of healing was the first battle we had to face before any political, social or economic changes could be implemented.

A long road to real freedom, indeed.

But was it useful to even ask such questions? Did it matter? Should I go back to being the nomad I’ve always been- wandering without a thought and reverting to the only philosophy that has given me solace over the grievances I witness around me: be the best you can be,and walk your own path.

I’ve chosen to walk my own path for so long, but now my path was colliding with so many other paths and forcing me to reckon with them and face what a Somali elder once told me:

“If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go with the people.”

Overall, the number one thing I learned about myself was that I’ve been playing small with myself, not dreaming big enough and not allowing myself to embrace the endless opportunities and wonders the world can bring to you. I come from a small town, whose only real significance is that it was were I was born but the journey towards understanding myself and expanding my own doesn’t need to end in one place. As Mark says, I will apologize to my ancestors and apologize to myself for thinking that playing small was ever an acceptable thing.

And as uncomfortable as it is, Somalis with their diverse needes and directions, will need to attempt to walk with one another.

There is no use fighting a million battles if it’s not to win the war.

To my fellow readers and Somalis, don’t limit yourself- the endless possibilities are always around you, opportunities are always there.There are so many tiers of reality that we can penetrate – high consciousness, higher levels of energy- pursue them with rigour.

At the end of the retreat, I spent a few days in London hanging out with someone of the most beautiful people I’ve met so far in my life – talented, creative and smart people with a collective hope to change th world for the better.

And for the first time in my life, I feel there is hope for us.

*Note: Thanks to Hassan Ghedi Santur and Mohamud Yussuf for these beautiful photos.

Where am I?

For all my beautiful readers, you’re probably wondering: where is she? I don’t showcase my life on Instagram or Facebook but would rather write, as people years ago would have written about their lives and reminisce with deep thought about their experiences through introspection that can only come with the slow pace writing and thinking out your thoughts. A week ago you could have caught me in East Harlem or in a beautiful Italian pizzeria in Soho in New York. No matter where my travels take me, they always leave me recharged and help me re-organize my priorities in life. For 2014, I’ve made a commitment to pursuit of a life as a nomadic, independent entrepreneurship – to essentially work and live from anywhere. Anyone who knows Somalis(and me) know that I am as nomadic as they come. I have an insatiable urge for seeing new things, meeting new people and creating things. One part of my trip that stood out to me was Times Square. Walking down Times Square was walking through the heart of capitalism and, in the most odd way possible, brought about some philosophical and existential questions about life.

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Times Square

A few things first:

There are no places to sit in Times Square. You are forced to consume until you quite literally feel like falling on the floor. It’s been so masterfully engineered to keep you moving, consuming, dazed by the distractions all around you. It’s capitalism in a nutshell and not a place I could ever go back to.

To use to the washroom, you need to buy something.  There are special codes at the bottom of receipts that you punch into washroom doors.

I think to myself: Is capital what runs our lives? Is there ever an end to consumption? Do you consume until one day, you consume yourself? Until there is nothing left by a hollowness inside of you.

The truth is, most of our lives have been wrapped around the idea of capital. The  idea of no longer living your life in pursue of money and the acquisition of it can scare any human living in our modern world.

What do you do after that?

But I didn’t go to ruminate over the socio-political aspects of our society. I did it to recharge, which is so important to entrepreneurs. All top performers(and those aspiring to do so) understand that taking breaks is a crucial part of productivity.

But back to travel, Amy from WhereverWriter said something about travel that puts into complete perspective why I love it so much and why it’s such an integral part of my life:

“Travel that puts you in uncomfortable places, makes you cross paths with incredible people, forces you to see the world through new eyes. I want to get out of my comfort zone; I want to learn from people around the world; I want to know their struggles, their joys, their worries, their hopes.”

It forces you to take a birdeye view of your life and ask yourself if you are doing things out of habit or if you are truly pushing yourself to the highest level.

In a nutshell, NEW YORK IS LIVE! I look forward to connecting with more entrepreneurs from that place.  

What am I working on

I started my online marketing business, FWD MVMNT, about 3 months ago and I am blessed to say that it has been successful Alhamdulilah and I am working with some incredible people/organizations.

One of those organizations is run by a friend/mentor of mine and his team, called UmmahHub. What went from a sales pitch on a project spunned off into a startup of it’s own and I am so grateful and proud to be working with Oak Computing and UmmahHub on this.

In a nutshell, UmmahHub is a community building platform for Muslim projects.

The Muslim Inc, is the #1 online community for Muslim entrepreneurs. The Muslim Inc is a  global online community dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and business development for Muslims worldwide by providing the best of Islamic thinking combined with modern business practices. We provide relevant discussions and solutions to help emerging & established Muslim business leaders succeed while helping Muslim entrepreneurs and corporations understand how to better serve the largest growing consumer niche market- the $170 billion Muslim market.

We want to revive entrepreneurial culture and help strengthen Islamic economies worldwide.

What is so exciting about this start up is that it’s about focusing on economic and entrepreneurial development in the Muslim world, which is a dear topic to me.

Through out all my startups, the main theme is helping build proper infrastructure for social innovators and entrepreneurs. What I love is that I get to combine digital media, technology and solving social issues I am passionate about!

The Muslim world is essentially the newest, most lucrative frontier in marketing right now and is worth over a trillion dollars. At the Muslim Inc, we want to help others benefit and tap into that.

Talk soon!

The Myth of Focus

There’s a myth when it comes to what we’ve been taught about focus. Doing only 1 thing isn’t focusing. It’s essentially just doing 1 thing.

Following a course of action until completion is FOCUS. This can be momentary or this can be a series of consistent or inconsistent series of action. Either way, whatever you focused on should get done.

Modern business wisdom likes to tell people not to spread themselves too thin. I agree completely that you shouldn’t tackle too many fronts all at once. It’s better to do only what you can do well at once. 

What is misconstrued in these discussions has been to confuse “You should only do one thing at a time” to “You should only BE one thing at a time.”

There is almost this moral reprehension against being able to expand yourself otherwise traditional wisdom teaches us it’s guaranteed to end up in failure.

The greats in history did many things. You could find that one person was a poet, a philosopher and a doctor, all wrapped up into one being.

There are many examples:

Julius Caesar- Politician, Writer, Military General, Emperor of Rome

Averroes- Philosopher, Physician

Leonardo Da Vinci- Architect, Engineer, Painter, Artist

Aristotle- Scientist, Biologist, Philosopher, Teacher, Writer

They were masters at many thing but they FOCUSED when working on one thing at a time. That’s how they become great at many things.

Don’t let anyone convince you that you only have to BE one thing.

Be whatever you wish to be.

Start up Lessons from a Black Entrepreneur

This time last year, I nearly quit.

Everything.

What saved me was listening to that inner voice that God puts in us.

One afternoon, I happen to just do a search for “entrepreneurship” as a last ditch attempt at trying to get rid of this entrepreneurial itch(though I had launched 3 start ups before hand) and came across a video by Jason Nazar called ” 21 Golden Rules of Entrepreneurship“.

Jason convinced me it could be done and that falling was never a foreshadowing of failure.

Not getting back up was failure.

In my pursuit to building a world-class media company, I wanted to share my journey as I get there and what other entrepreneurs of color can learn.

There aren’t that many colored entrepreneurs; information and mentors are few and far in between. I don’t want to minimize the incredible start up and business blogs out there as business is agnostic but it is safe to say there are few entrepreneurs of color sharing their experiences. Maybe someone will take inspiration from my journey and launch their own company.

The only thing that can be guaranteed is that it won’t be boring. It’s best described as an emotional roller coaster. One minute you feel like you are on top of the world, the next you feel crushed. You will experience failure, growth, betrayal, stress, decline and a ton of success. Expect it all!

Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the past few months. A follow up to my last post: Start up Lessons from a Somali Gal

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1. When you walk into a room, the reputation of your community comes in before you do. 

Often, I don’t have the benefit of presenting myself on a blank canvas. People see who I am, or what I look like and assume a lot. This is natural and is human nature. But what this does is unintentionally create many roadblocks. I can walk in to do a sales pitch and people may have an set expectation  about what I can do -often I’m the only black female Muslim who walks into the room.

My community is marred by real bad PR –  domestically, it’s drugs, young men being killed, plenty of single woman holding down entire households; internationally, it’s a failed state slowly rebuilding itself but still dealing with daily violence and poverty. Regardless of how we try to spin it, this is the baseline perceptions Somalis need to deal with.

Let’s look at the positive you say? The truth is, this stuff tips the scale and I’m sure that if our community had the best PR agent, we still couldn’t undo negative perceptions. Even those who are doing the necessary ground work to change our community don’t have a loud enough voice to compete against all that goes wrong.

The point is, the playing field is already unequal but marginalized communities need to realize that their actions magnify on a larger scale because it has an incredible ripple effect on everyone – including those trying to get out and make a difference.

2. If you’re a black woman entrepreneur, you have to work 10 x harder

Employment discrimination is real. I’ve faced it when I was in the work force and there is a myriad of data showing that white people and those with white sounding names have a higher chance of employment.

Entrepreneurship is much much harder. Starting up, especially in a marginalized communities where resources and mentors are limited, you literally feel like climbing an uphill mountain with a heavy sack on your back.

At times, reading countless articles on Forbes or Entrepreneur magazine makes me want to roll my eyes and say “these people don’t get it”. But in reality, how could they? When we’re praising entrepreneurs who’ve overcome struggles, often the spotlight is on white, male, heavily funded entrepreneurs, how can someone with that tunnel vision understand that?

I’m not so much complaining as I am trying to point out the incredible odds faced by black entrepreneurs outweights what any white entrepreneur can face.

Want more proof?

“Women-led social enterprise startups are 40 percent less likely to be funded than their male-led counterparts, even though they generate 15 percent greater revenues, according to an Emory University study. And minority-led companies are 35 percent less likely to receive venture capital financing than non-minority-led companies, it continues.” via VentureBeat “Breaking the White Guy Entrepreneur Mold”

The vast majority of venture capital firms are run by white men and they invest in what they know – other white men.

3. Start up capital. You don’t need much to get started. I started with a couple hundred dollars from selling old textbooks, boxing gloves, my smartphone and a lot of hustle to build my network. Yep. That was enough to kick start everything.

People believe you need money to make money. That’s true. But you probably need a lot less than you think. Calculate the bare minimum you need to get started and GO for it.

4. Don’t forget to take care of your health. Being a workaholic isn’t a sustainable health or productivity plan. You need to take time for self-care, sleep, exercise and eating healthy. I learned this after getting sick 3 times for 2 weeks at a time within a 6 month period. Relaxation will recharge you and give you the energy to tackle your most important business challenges.

5. People not believing in you. Stay away from people who suck energy and time from you. You are the average of the 5 closest people to you. Seek out people who understand and want to support you on your path.
6. Ideas evolve. You need to pivot. The idea that you start with isn’t what you are going to end up with. Be comfortable with pivoting or even killing an idea if it isn’t helping you achieve your ultimate goal. This is hard but as Jason Nazar once said: ” Stay committed to the problem you are trying to solve but flexible in how you solve it.”
7. Invest in your self-education. Spending time reading 10 pages a day of a book on a topic to help your business, it will increase your business. 1 book a month is 52 new books a year. When you know better, you do better.

8. Your business grows to the extend you do

People say you need need to spend money to make money – it’s true. You need to spend money to educate yourself, which in turn makes you more money. Don’t see it as a cost, see it as an invest for the future.

9. Your income is the average of the 5 closest people to you

Yeah. You really need to do this – take a calculator out and punch in the income of the 5 closest people to you and that’s your income. *Gasp*. You want to make more money? Hang out with people who make more.

10. Small, consistent actions daily is better than one big action taken once

The importance of having a ritual is incredibly understated. It’s better to do something on a consistent basis, day by day, rather than doing one big thing and never taking action again. The easiest way I have found to do this is to take your project and split it into monthly goals and then work backwards and figure out your daily schedule. Doing something, day by day, will compound into an overnight success for you, guaranteed. Success is cumulative. What you do today will reflect on tomorrow.

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66 Pieces of Wisdom from T Harv Eker Seminar “Millionaire Mind Intensive” Financial Education For Marginalized Groups

About 2 months  ago, I had the chance to attend a financial education seminar by best-selling and internationally recognized author T Harv Eker. The idea behind the seminar was “undoing your money blueprint”. tharv_eker Simply put, it was about helping undo the way we think, feel, and understand money and wealth. A huge part of it was telling ourselves a new story about who we are. It was a life changing moment when I essentially rewrote the story of my family after discovering where I truly came from. My parents were refugees but it’s so easy to forget that Africa was(and still is) the land of wealth, of kings,of intellectual and spiritual wealth that surpassed what wealth looks like today. Not to mention, East Africa is more resource rich than most people had led us to believe.  Somalia alone sits on about 3x the oil wealth as Saudia Arabia. The story that I was sold and as a people was one of struggle, subservience and chronic poverty. That we weren’t made for success, or that wealth wasn’t for us because apparently we didn’t have it. This is quite important point because it’s more than just about money. This point isn’t even about money. It’s about understanding who and what I am and who my ancestors were. In that context, it completely changes what’s possible for my generation. It just starts by changing how we think of ourselves. I wanted to condense everything I learned in those 3 intense days to bring this crucial financial education to everyone, particularly those who come from marginalized communities where information is the most valuable commodity we have.

Why would you need to know this?

Being Somali and Muslim, entrepreneurship runs deep in my blood. Business and commerce are regarded highly by Islam and Somalis are naturally entrepreneurial people, especially women. Financial education is more than learning to how to earn more dollars. It wasn’t taught in school, most likely your parents perpetuating the same industrial thinking(you know, go to school, get a job, blah, blah…). Very few of us understand or grasp the underlying foundations of what wealth or money is. The intention behind this post isn’t to turn you into some Gordon Gekko type or the often-misperceived life of an entrepreneur(entrepreneur =/= greedy Wall street financiers). The point is if you are going to live the life you want, you need control. Much of us abdicate everything from education to our money to other people…including knowledge of it. Readers of this blog are people working to make the world a better place and that must include financial education and realizing that social change and money CAN be married. After all, broke people don’t build hospitals, schools or donate millions to philanthropic causes.

The goal here is to teach us knowledge that was taken away from us, particularly those from marginalized or underrepresented communities and put the power of independence and ownership back into our hands.

This starts with the single thing that can change your life right now: changing your thinking.

You were not set up to succeed

Many of the ideas you hold right now aren’t actually your own. This was the biggest lesson I got out of the seminar. The world I had created for myself based on my reality wasn’t the world I wanted, it was simply the manifestation of ideas that were social engineered into me. As humans, we operate 95% of our conscious lives using the subconscious parts of our brain and only 5% using the conscious parts of our brain. Social programming is utilized in every aspect of our lives imaginable, from music we hear at shopping malls to the curriculum we learn at school.

Your social programming starts at age 5 and the primary source of conditioning as child is mostly your parents, friends, government and culture. The first step to separating what you believe from what others believe is understanding that society doesn’t want you to succeed and puts up barriers that you need to fight through into order to manifesto your personal best. Your environment is stronger than your will power. So, deep meditation is needed in order to create an environment that reflects your internal state.

The relationship many of us have with money is the same as the relationship we have with a person. We feel sad, shame, guilt and anger based on our past experiences and we unfortunately project that baggage on others. The solution to that is for you to get in touch with those emotions and let them go. Only then will you be able to have a healthy relationship with whomever you choose to. The same goes with money.

 Think about how you have been conditioned to think about money?

This is what I was taught through subconscious condition and have since worked my way out of this trap through intense personal and financial development. I’ve since then come to the conclusion that money is:

1. A medium of exchange
2. Represents no real value(we’re talking fiat currency here)
3. The value is in people’s perceptions of money
4. Create wealth(aka value) and you will instantly have money

Growing up, I was conditioned and modeled that conditioned in a few ways:

1) Money was controlled in my household and also used as a mechanism of control
2) The acquisition of money was connected to struggle and hard work, instead of working hard.
3) I was never taught how to make money–that it could only come from a job
4) I was taught that there was no such thing as easy money, whereas if you know how to provide value to the right people, getting money isn’t hard.

Much of this is actually what is taught in many immigrant homes. The discussion of money is quite
reminiscent of puritanical Christianity, where money = hard work or salvation or rather we interpret wealth through white society and upper middle class ideas of what wealth means without every asking ourselves whether its true or not.

In that case, below are 67 little pieces of wisdom that I got from T Harv Eker and I hope they inspire you to start changing the one thing that you can change right now to have a prosperous life: your mind.

  1. Take the worlds “try” and “can’t” out of your vocabulary
  2. Think about passive income. Stop thinking about a retirement plan from your company or the government and work smart for yourself.
  3. Act in spite of fear.
  4. Fear breaks you out of your comfort zone. That means growth.
  5. Your conditioning mind doesn’t want you to change.
  6. You are in control of you.
  7. Working for all your life and making someone else rich is not rational.
  8. Entrepreneur= solve a pain you’ve experienced and help others with that pain
  9. The herd gets slaughtered.
  10. Rules of Wealth 1. Must own a business 2. Have no limits on your income. If you have a job working for someone else, you have limited. 3. Learn.
  11. Business is a learnable skill.
  12. The bigger the why, the easier the how.
  13. Your WHY must be stronger than your mental road blocks.
  14. Whatever energy you put in, you get back.
  15. If all you want to do is pay bills, that not being enough reason to be financially free.
  16.  If you’re broke, you can’t help anyone else.
  17.  You need to set boundaries with your family and friends.
  18. Honor your mother and father and your days will be long.
  19. What people think about you says more about them than you.
  20. People are going to do what they are going to do no matter what, so you shouldn’t care.
  21. If you have the wherewithall to get rich, you have a duty to do to help others
  22. “Be a better receiver”. Greek Translation: Better to be in a position to give than in need to receive(referring to the proverb “the hand that gives is better than the hand that takes”)
  23. The secret to whether you are worth something or not is a myth.
  24. Nothing has meaning except the meaning you give it.
  25. If I say I’m worthy, I am.
  26. If a mind of a 10ft oak tree had a mind of a human being, it would grow only 1 feet tall.
  27. 80% of success is showing up
  28. Time only commodity you can’t buy back.
  29. Life your purpose, or else you are miserable
  30. Your conditioned mind’s primary function is survival and keep you in your comfort zone.
  31. People live in the box(and comfort keeps you in their box).
  32. Do thins that scare you. Safety=risk When your brain starts to doubt you just say “thank you for sharing”.
  33. Warrior does whatever it takes.
  34. Lots of smart broke people.
  35. Make up your mind quickly, change slowly
  36. 95% philosophy to work, save then retire. This model is DEAD
  37. What are you willing to give up to achieve that dream? Distractions? Comfort?
  38. There is a darkness in the world because of lack of light. Be the light
  39. You weren’t taught how to be wealthy or be happy
  40. If you are not growing, you are dying(nature)
  41. If you have a gift to share and you don’t share it, you are causing more suffering in the world
  42. No candle became dim by lighting another candle
  43. Stop listening to people who tell you you can’t. Believe in yourself.
  44. To win the money game, you need passive income and investment income
  45. What you focus on expands
  46. Your income can only grow to the extent you do
  47. If it doesn’t move you forward then I want nothing to do with it
  48. Stop caring what people want
  49. The most successful people live on 30%-40% of their income
  50. Have fun and feel your childhood imagination
  51. Passive Income Lifestyle. How much do you need to be financially free? (hint, its actually cheaper than you think)
  52. Never seen a hospital or school donated by a broke person
  53. Making money is easy. Your money should be having babies.
  54. Your head has the questions. Your heart has the answers
  55. I believe we were created to DO things
  56. The hardest thing is just starting. The secret is to start doing it now.
  57. Thoughts–>feelings–>actions–>results(blueprint)
  58. What’s your blueprint designed for? Hundred? Thousands?Millions?
  59. Understand ways of thinking and believe come from outside of you. Then separate yourself from your thoughts.
  60. Align yourself with rich and successful people.
  61. If you want to be rich, do what they do.
  62. Our society is built on working income
  63. Get your parents words out of your head and out of your life when tey tell you that it isn’t for you but it is for someone else
  64. What people count in the past can’t be counted now
  65. Don’t depend on other people(jobs, income)
  66. How to change yourself: Step 1: Awareness Step 2: Understand Step 3: Disassociate yourself Step 4: Recondition

 

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6 Best Tips for Dealing with Stressful (Immigrant) Parents and Overbearing Cultures

“If a fish is judged by its ability to climb a tree, then it will live it’s whole life believing that it’s stupid.” -Albert Einstein

Growing up, you probably had ideas. Many ideas. Some noble. Some great. And some not so great. But the point was that you were creative, vibrant and determined to make your visions come true.

But then your family enters the picture. Society enters the picture. They push you down, knock you over and chase away your dreams rather than letting you chase them.

Every child of an immigrant definitely goes through the same disheartening process to realizing that your dreams don’t matter to anyone but you. You realize that no one cares. Your family, community and culture don’t see you as an individual but rather a part of a whole. Your individuality or sense of independence, in some cases, scares them. It hurts them. It makes them super uncomfortable because they don’t understand or they don’t want to understand.

For many years, I was a straight A student in high school. I did nothing wrong. Perfect attendance. Every teacher loved me. Never questioned anything. I went along with what people told me thinking that their way was the ONLY way to live my life.

But then I cracked.

Twice.

The first time, I was on my way to medical school as a 17 year old, I decided to drop the very classes that I needed to secure a place on way up the ladder towards being a doctor: physics, chemistry, biological, calculus–I dropped it all– and took a creative writing class.

The pivotal moment leading up to that decision was being exasperated, to the point of physical pain, and questioning: “Why do I need to be doing any of this? Is this what life is all about?”

This was first of many big turning points that pushed me towards living in my own truth and it’s likely you’ve had a moment just like this.

Over the years, I’ve been labeled a black sheep in many ways. First as an artist, then as an entrepreneur. And as a Muslim woman, you’re definitely coming up against stereotypes in our own community quite frequently and have to deal with the fate that you will be outcasted, at least culturally, and be willing to live with that.

Being from an immigrant family and culture puts a lot of pressure on you. You’re told what path in life you take. You’re told your dreams aren’t valid. That its better to be a doctor than an artist or entrepreneur.

A lot of pressure is put on you to NOT be yourself and follow your dreams. Much of this is rooted in parents who DO actually care but are passing down their paranoia and insecurity issues they faced being immigrants to a new country.

The thing that many Millennials are now coming to terms with is not the clash between traditional and non traditional culture. We’ve woken up to the fact that there is more to life than the bill of goods sold to us. We instinctually all know who are and where we truly want to do with our lives but society, our culture and even our parents push us away from that path to more “safe” and “secure” paths.

We live by the quote: “You passion are the breadcrumbs towards you destiny”

It’s important to remember you can’t change a culture but you can change yourself.

I’ve honed a proven method that I want to share to give you that can guaranteed a huge change in your relationships with your parents and culture. Just follow the steps I outline below, and you are guaranteed to have a step-by-step solution to dealing with stressful parents.

No longer are you going to be trying to find a way for everyone to accept you. No longer will you be trying to explain yourself. If you are smart, you can avoid cultural pressures AND continue to do what you love with little to no judgement.

Ready?

Here we go.

1) The Big secret: Don’t make them try to understand you. Try to understand how THEY think first.

The biggest mistake is trying to make your parents or your culture try to understand you. They won’t. It’s a reality you need to work around. They simply don’t have the context to understand where you are coming from. They are not being rude, mean or dismissive(and if they are, then you really need to ignore them). They just simply have a different lived reality than you do, and as unfair as it may seem, YOU need to accommodate them. Not the other way around. When they say something unsupportive or seemingly discouraging, ask yourself: “Is what they are saying making sense from their point of view?” Most often then not, it is. The only thing you should refuse to deal with is emotional and psychological abuse. This is when the person has no intention of helping you, but rather hurting you. It’s hard to distinguish both of them but they are often routed in the difficult, challenging lives that one is forced to live with and therefore grow up with a combative personality to deal with it. It’s an evolutionary process you need to be sympathetic to, not defensive about.

2) Understand your parents see you as their child. Correction, as A child!

It’s about protection at the end of the day. Regardless of how your parents or community treats you, and as hard as it is to believe, it comes from a place of love. They don’t want you, a first generation immigrant, to go through what they went through. And no matter what happens, even at your own detriment, they will prevent you from going down a path even if it’s right for you. In their eyes, it’s fraught with risk, insecurity and imbalance. But remember, this is how they see the situation and not necessarily what you need to accept. To many children of immigrants, you will always remain a child in their eyes. It’s a combination of being unable to fully allow your child to develop as an adult and that ever binding love that your parents have to protect you.

Yes, it can get overwhelming at times but remember, they can do whatever they want. It’s how YOU choose to understand, process and deal with it that determines how your parental relationship goes.

3) Let your actions convince them

The easiest way to get others to accept you is to SHOW them what you are doing is better the life plan they have for you. If you’ve been pushed to be a doctor, lawyer or an engineer and you decide: “Hey, I want to make videos for a living!” Great! Do that! But don’t argue your way to acceptance. Show them that you can do it. Hone your skills. Go to networking events. Find clients. Bring in an income. Be happy! Let your actions convince them, so your words don’t have to.

4) Speak to them in a context they can understand
Most immigrant parents often times came from a rough and harsh life. They often travel to Western countries to pursue a better life for their children. They still have a bit of war in them, a bit of insecurity that their life may go back to the rough and war-like state it used to be in. Have mercy and understand that you can’t bring a whole new cultural context for them to simply accept as reality.

Use anecdotes, use stories and humour. And best, if you really want to communicate ideas use you’re mother tongue and show humility that you understand their way of thinking but as humans, we differ and that you have your own. The key: be polite and be respectful

5) Be resilient. Don’t give up easily

As for most immigrants, it’s hard coming from an marginalized and under resourced community. There is generally a lack of support and emotional infrastructure to support individuals who decide to take a seemingly alternative life or career path. Whereas many communities have support and money, immigrant communities generally struggle financially in trying to set up a good life for their children. You’re going to have to realize you need to trailblaze and be your own bestfriend for a while. No one is going to hold your hand. No one is going to pat you on the back. IT’s up to you to be your best supporter.

6) Be so good they can’t ignore you

Show people what you are capable of! Be the best at what you do. Soon, people will be looking to you as a model of success than Ahmed or Fatima down the street who decide to not think for themselves and become a doctor like their parents always wanted.

These principles have changed myself. When I gave permission to myself to be who I was and not compromise myself to fulfill someone elses’ ideals, that’s when everything starting working for me! Living in your own truth is the foundation of living a happy life. You need to do what’s best for YOU. And believe me, this is coming from a gal who almost became a doctor. But as with most entrepreneurial-types, I was stubborn and violently listened to my instincts. They are NEVER wrong.

Remember three things:

  •  You don’t need to live life the way other people expect you to
  • Take full responsibility for yourself
  •  Separate YOUR beliefs from THEIR beliefs

Hope that helps. Let me know what you think! Stressful situation you need advice on? A story you want to share of how these principles worked for you? Share and comment below.

 

Entrepreneurship as a tool for Social Impact in Somalia

An incredibly inspiring story I wanted to spotlight. Rare but beautiful.

Mohamed Ali, a young investor in Somalia using entrepreneurship as a tool for social impact. He created the Iftiin Foundation, “an organisation that seeks to promote stability in Somalia through entrepreneurship” and to invest and support young entrepreneurs in the war-torn city of Mogadishu.

There are many young Somalis from the diaspora realizing the importance of utilizing once’s skills set and network by bringing them back home and helping out. Many of our parents fled 20 + years ago due to war but now many people are fleeing due to lack of opportunity.

Somalis are naturally very entrepreneurial people but the long-term effect of war can wear down even the most resourceful people.

Check out Mohamed’s story here: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26919542

Social Entrepreneurship in Islam: The Institution of Waqf as a Solution to the Economic Crisis

It’s no surprise that social change thought leaders are looking to other traditional economic models as another path  to get out of the current economic crisis. These traditional economic systems can be within traditional societies, Indigenous cultures or they can even be historical practices such as the one I want to share with you all.

Not that much research exists about social entrepreneurship in Islam but through my explorations, I was pointed to the concept of Waqf as an example of social entrepreneurship in Islam and an excellent example of alternative economic model that can help close the gap between the rich and poor.

Waqf is a socio-economic structure that was actively used during the Islamic civilizations of the past.  The Arabic root of the word comes from the word “to stop” or  “to hold back”. In other words, it’s a charitable foundation in which someone gives apart of their wealth to be held for public use and  the creation of a trust that manages assets, money and other donations to be used to increase the general welfare of society.

A good example, if you were a student in Baghdad in the 13th century, your education was totally free and anyone who wanted to pursue any path of knowledge would be supported by the community in their endeavors. It was seen as a community obligation to support positive endeavors by anyone who wanted to improve themselves.  (Side comment: How much better is that then the student loan sharks who have put millions of people in debt just so they can get basic right to education.)

The Wallstreet Journal, in it’s attempt to help quell the wealth gap in the United States, introduces the Institution of Waqf in an article as a way for the wealthy people to impart part of their wealth for the purpose of supporting civil infrastructure and public welfare. Road, bridges and other public infrastructure are in tatters  and this idea may be able to take the hoards of money currently being held by the top 1% and put it into good use.

Turning the Ottawa Empire as an example of how this was done, they said:

“There is a precedent: Ottoman-era Turkey lacked a budget for the provision of basic services. To fill the void, more than 35,000 private foundations, known as vakif in Turkish, funded public-works projects and municipal services, from water systems and schools to hospitals, bridges and roads. Many modern Turkish foundations have continued to supply traditional infrastructure—the Sabanci Foundation, for example, has built more than 120 schools, hospitals, libraries, orphanages and other facilities. These assets are then transferred to state ministries, which run them.”

This is nothing close to an introduction but I thought it would be great to share. If you want more information, visit the incredible website of Muslim Heritage. They do an excellent job explaining the concept of the Institution of Waqf.

Read more here: The Institution of Waqf as a Solution to the Economic Crisis

 

The Quote That Will Change Your Life

I read this quote years ago but it came to me today, in an unsuspecting way. Words come to you by way of the Highest Truth exactly when you need it most.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”  -W. H. Murray