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Terry Tateossian (00:03):
I like to welcome Dima Ghawi to the amplified podcast today. Welcome Dima. Dima is an inspirational keynote speaker. She is a three times TEDx presenter, a transformational business coach and dynamic professional leader and the author of breaking vases. Dima, tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your book and some of your story.
Dima Ghawi (01:09):
Yeah. My book is my memoir and it started when I was in the middle East. I’m originally from Jordan and I was playing with my grandmother and her kitchen. We were arranging flowers and a glass phase when she held the glass phase and she told me, do you see this perfect last phase? A girl is just like it. If it gets cracked for any reason, you can never fix it. You can never glue it back. And that’s the one we throw in the trash. So imagine as a five year old, I didn’t understand anything. She was trying to tell me the message of the vase, but as I was growing up, I learned over the years. That’s what my grandmother expected of me is to be perfect, to continue to follow and obey, to have no identity. And if I make any mistake, that would be perceived as a crack in my face, and I would not be accepted in my family and my community.
Dima Ghawi (02:02):
And I would be thrown away as if we’re throwing me in the trash. So over the years I learned more of the restrictions that women are facing in my family from observing them. In addition to the stories, of course, by seeing them being silent, having no identity and being always so depressed as well, because how could they be happy if they’re not allowed to have an identity? So I got married very young because that’s what that is growing up. That is my purpose in life. I got engaged when I was 19 to the most eligible bachelor in my community and my parents were so happy. His mom arranged the introduction. She saw me for the first time when I was 16 years old. And she, uh, decided then that I would be a good match for their family. And I would be a good wife for her son.
Dima Ghawi (02:50):
And she waited until I finished high school. And then she came and introduced us. So we got married and we moved to San Diego, California to follow his kitty or aspirations. Of course my family. We’re so happy that we’re thrilled about the whole thing because to them, I am representing the perfect last phase. And that’s something that they can brag about to me. Of course, I was open to this marriage because that’s what I was raised to believe is my purpose. But one of the things that I insisted in getting is my education, because I wanted to be the first educated woman in our family. And that was something that I was so passionate about. So he agreed. So that was my condition for the marriage. He agreed and we moved to San Diego. I thought that with the marriage and the move to San Diego, I could finally be allowed to discover my identity and have a voice.
Dima Ghawi (03:46):
And of course now get educated, but the vase was magically shipped from Jordan to San Diego, and I was expected to continue on following obey. So this is my journey, the journey of starting no, self-worth no confidence. And then getting to a point now where I am influencing people around the world, of course, in order to do that, it’s it didn’t come easy. There were a lot of courageous moments and a lot of risks that I had to take. I had to challenge the norm and question the stories, the horrible stories that I was told early on in my life. So, uh, when I was early twenties, I got very depressed and that depression led me to start questioning everything, everything, even my religious belief, I had to question that because I was tired of just accepting what other people told me about myself. And I ended up packing and leaving.
Dima Ghawi (04:41):
And as a result that created a major shatter in our family that was not expected and was not allowed my entire family as a result. This owned me other than one. And, uh, my father had decided to have me killed because to him I’m not worth living. If I brought shame to the family. So leaving an abusive marriage to him was not okay. I was just 25 and I had to start everything. I had to start a new journey and discover my voice and challenge the norm and fight for my self every day. Even with the fear that showed up and not just the fear of the survival and my father trying to kill me, it is the fear of paying my bills, the fear of all the insecurities that kept coming in every day and also me doubting myself and all of this stuff. But it’s a journey that I’m so proud too, that I’m living. And I, my goal now, and my purpose is to influence people around the world to discover their potential, to discover their voice, to question the stories that there’ve been told about themselves and to keep breaking these vases of slowly. I mean, I, I have to tell you, your book had me on and needles.
Terry Tateossian (05:58):
It was page after page of courageous actions, full of grit and perseverance. And I kept thinking you grew up in a culture that, uh, heavily conditioned you to abide by certain societal and cultural norms from a very young age. But as I continued to go through the book, I learned that you became your own savior, your mother’s savior, your sister’s savior, and ultimately your family’s champion. Yeah. Tell me, where did the will and the courage and the inner compass, where did that come from within you and how can we all cultivate that type of a feeling?
Dima Ghawi (06:47):
So just to give a little more information about my mom, as I answered that question, so that the threats extended beyond me, they extended to my mom and my sister, because I did not to go back. I did not do what my father wanted me to do, which is go back to that very unhealthy marriage. So as a result, my father decided that he’s going to end everybody’s life, which is just like beyond what I it’s just, I have no words to describe it. So we had to have my mom and sister escaped from Jordan to San Diego. And imagine I was 25 and I was responsible for my mom, my sister, myself, barely making enough money and all of this. So to answer your question where it comes from is really not looking back, knowing that I can not to go back knowing that the only option I have is to move forward.
Dima Ghawi (07:38):
And as a result, I have to be so creative and find a way to keep moving forward. Uh, that requires a lot of work, hard, the hard work that’s required. Initially, a lot of debt that I had to take a lot of student loans. And also I had to take a lot of credit card loans and I kept telling myself whatever it takes, whatever it takes, I just need to keep moving forward. So initially in my life, it wasn’t like I was born with this courage and I knew the skills. It was just a matter of surviving because I knew going back is definitely not an option. So I had to find another way. But the best thing about it is that created something in me and in my, as if it became part of my genes. So every time I want to create a new thing in my life, I want to take a risk.
Dima Ghawi (08:29):
Somehow my brain got programmed to not look back, to keep looking forward towards my goal, to do everything in my power, even if there’s small little steps and to recognize that I’m going to face fears, and I’m going to have self doubt that I’m going to beat myself up, sometimes thinking that I didn’t make the decision right decision, but regardless what happens to keep moving forward. And that’s where it comes from. And I’m glad I learned this early on in my life because it’s serving me even now as I have my own business, as I continued to take no risks and continue to advance in my personal and professional life.
Terry Tateossian (09:05):
So basically there is no plan B
Dima Ghawi (09:07):
no plan B no, you just, you just burn. I don’t know. I think they have something about it, like your burn, your boats, or your burns something, whatever it is, you burn it and you move forward. The problem is many people, including myself, sometimes where we look back and we have regret and how can we move forward if we’re looking back. And sometimes we do need to take decisions that are so difficult and we’re going to have horrible consequences. So if we really trying to create something new and we’re always worried about the past and the decisions and the consequences and all of this, we’re just going to be stuck. And we’re going to program ourselves to believe that it’s not doable, but it’s doable. Just put all your heart and soul into it and don’t look back.
Terry Tateossian (09:55):
Yeah, I can, I can definitely relate to that my parents and I, when I was 11 escaped communist regime and we fled the country, drove over 60 hours, got into a refugee camp in Austria, and then couldn’t obviously could never turn back after that. So it was, a real life kind of experience at a very young age that woke me up into seeing what reality is like, which brings me to my next question to believe that’s still happening today. Your book covers a multitude of gender issues and domestic violence arranged marriages, physical abuse, emotional abuse, honor killings. And as I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think about how we’re still continuing to face these challenges and something that came up recently in the news was princess HIAs situation. Uh, what are your thoughts on that?
Dima Ghawi (10:58):
So for anyone who doesn’t know what that is, princess Haya is the princess of Jordan. And we love her. She’s a wonderful woman who has, who always gives and always does a great work to help people. And she, she’s such a role model to a lot of women in the middle East because we just adore her and we adore her work. She got married, I want to say maybe 20 years ago to the Prince of Dubai. And we were always all surprised because he’s, I think like, I’m just gonna guess about like 30 years older than her. And she, she seemed okay, but, and then news there’s information that she escaped. She literally took her two kids, 11 and seven and she escaped to Germany. Wow. And of course, I don’t know what the story of what the real reason for the escape, but I can only imagine how terrified she must’ve been.
Dima Ghawi (11:55):
I can’t even imagine the threats that she’s living with right now. And the most sad part in my opinion about the story is I was Googling get then looking on YouTube to get more information about this, because I felt like I want to help her here. I am like a regular person. And I’m like, well, what, what can I do to empower her? So I wanted to get more information. And it turned out that a lot of the middle Eastern media, they were talking about her running away with her boyfriend, stealing money from the Prince. And I felt so disgusted because they are trying to damage her reputation. These are the same exact messages my father was saying about my mom when she left and why they, what the community were saying about me when I left. And it’s interesting in a sad way, how they automatically try to damage their reputation of the woman with the same thing, that she’s a thief, that she is cheating, but they don’t realize what is causing her to leave. What would cost someone like her, or even like my mom or myself to run away, leave everything behind, try to survive in a whole different country. That’s usually is caused by a lot of fear for our own existence and our life. It just doesn’t happen out of the blue.
Terry Tateossian (13:17):
Yeah. I would imagine it’s a very devastating situation that she’s in and will probably continue to be in. Yeah.
Dima Ghawi (13:24):
Yeah. So I wish I can help her. I wish maybe she’ll listen to this podcast. I just want to help her. And that’s part, the fed is regardless of who we are, we’re a princess or we’re an average person. Uh, we all need to be inspired by each other and we need to be there to support each other because we are facing very similar challenges regardless where we are around the world, regardless of our religion, regardless of everything. And that is something for us to keep in mind. And you mentioned that we are about to be in year 2020, which is amazing. Think about it as humanity. We’re working on getting ourselves on Mars. So we, hopefully by 2033, that’s going to be the first mission to Mars. We have robots doing a lot of our work. We have all of this amazing new technologies once we’re still having issues related to domestic abuse. And we still have issues related to death threats. And there’s still so many women and men out there that they’re not allowed to have their own identity. And they have to mask who they are just to satisfy something, an old story who we don’t even know who created them.
Terry Tateossian (14:39):
Absolutely. I mean, just this past June, there was a Bloomberg Businessweek article that I was quite surprised myself to read. Once again, the was how to freeze your salary, get pregnant. And my first reaction was this. You have to be joking me, right? And this is not really in Bloomberg news. And it outlined story after story of different cases and examples of women that were either demoted or fired for having children and statistic after statistic, after statistic, which at some point I began to question because I just couldn’t accept the fact that this is still happening in the United States, almost 20, 20 across the board in major corporations. I am not going to name and we’re still having this struggle of, do we have children or do we pursue our careers? We can’t apparently do both. Wow. What are your thoughts on that?
Dima Ghawi (15:39):
Yeah, so I see this all the time and I hear stories from women all the time. Just recently last week, I was talking to a woman who got a wonderful job and it does require a lot of travel. And it does require a lot of meeting with clients at night, but she was thrilled that she was selected for that specific job. But then after a while, she heard that part of the reason she got the job is because she’s single. And part of the message she heard as well is that if she gets married and pregnant, that most likely she’s not going to keep that job. And I agree with you. I am so shocked that these messages still happen today with the world we’re living in today. But I also want to mention there’s hope because there’s a lot of the companies that I’m consulting with.
Dima Ghawi (16:29):
And a lot of places where I go and I speak, I’m realizing how more executives are opening their minds to the importance of women in business. And also how important for them. It says to attract and retain these women and continue to promote them into executive levels. The discussion is happening is the action happening, maybe not there yet, but the discussion is happening. And I feel that this is the first good step forward. I also believe I love the millennials. I think the millennials and the generation Z after them, they’re coming to change our world. So the more we see the baby boomers retiring and we have the new generation taking over, I feel we’re going to see faster change because this new generation there, they grew up, they saw most likely their mom working. Their spouse is working. Their sister is working. So they understand the challenges that women face so much more than the prior generations that some men were expecting their wives to stay home and just not have a kitty or, or even have an identity.
Dima Ghawi (17:37):
And of course I am generalizing, but this is part of the hope that I have, that the new generation is going to drive a positive change that now we’re talking more and more about this topic, which is more women are recognizing these things in the past. A lot of women, there were just happy to have a job, but now they’re realizing they want equal pay. They want to be promoted. They want the right training. And also they want the flexibility and to have a work life balance. So they don’t want to sacrifice their, their being a wife and a, a, a mother. And I see a positive trend. We just need to keep talking about it and we need to keep encouraging these executives to take action so we can eventually see a major change, but it’s happening. It’s slowly happening.
Terry Tateossian (18:26):
Absolutely. I completely, I couldn’t agree with you more. The millennials that are coming up in the gen Z to me, I feel like their mindset is limitless. They don’t see obstacles. They don’t see traditional preconceived ways of doing things. And they question it a rule should be there for a purpose. Not just because it’s been there before and they look for ways to change the way that we operate on it in a general basis. So that brings me to my next topic. I know in your book, you talk quite a bit about your grandmother. You talk about your uncle, Anton, you talk about your university, professor, dr. Sterling, quite a bit. What are your thoughts on how mentors can impact our beliefs?
Dima Ghawi (19:09):
Oh, I’ve been so fortunate to attract amazing mentors in my life that have absolutely helped me through my journey. And mentors are so important because we, we need someone to believe in us and see our potential. So when I think about the people that influenced me the most, they came at a time where I did not realize specific skills that I had, and they saw them in me and they, in a way put them meter big one to make me realize, look, you’re amazing in this area, even if you don’t recognize that. And that is what dr. Starling did to me. So to tell the story of dr. Starling, I, I started my MBA and a professor who was dr. Starling just kept encouraging me to run, to be the president of the student organization. And imagine that was right after just like a year or two after I escaped.
Dima Ghawi (20:05):
And I, my confidence was underground. I had no self worth. I always believed I am a follower. I thought that I never had leaked any leadership skills. And this man thought that I should be the president of the student organization, which was amazing. And he kept encouraging me. And I would be like, no, I don’t think I am a leader. I don’t think I can do this. And I don’t know why now many, many years later, I still don’t understand why he kept encouraging me. And then I agreed to run and I got elected by the students. And that was my first leadership role to be the president of the student organization at the university. And I cannot to you how that changed my life. I just cannot, because for the first time I saw myself as a leader, I recognize that someone believed in me and as a result, I was like, wow, maybe I should believe in myself.
Dima Ghawi (21:00):
And of course the more I did leadership activities and I was helping the other students, the more I realized I was passionate about it and wanted more of it. And that’s opened doors with IBM. And of course I had other mentors at IBM. So the point is, mentors are so important. We need to keep looking for mentors. We don’t need to have just one. We can have multiple mentors, one for various things in our lives. It doesn’t have to be very structured. It could be just someone. You really connect with someone who believes in you, who wants to help you. But what is even more important than mentorship is sponsorship. Because I know when I was with IBM, I have a lot of mentors, but the ones that really pulled me to the next level and helped me to get the promotions were really my sponsors, the ones that are influential and the one that gave me challenges that I thought I could not handle, but they gave them to me anyway.
Dima Ghawi (21:56):
So it’s not someone just telling me you’re a great leader. You should be a leader. No, these are the ones that actually take action and totally sponsor my growth and totally believe in me. So I love it. But with everything in our life, also, we need to do what’s right for us. I’ve had amazing advice from my mentors, but I’ve also had that’s. Why is that? Didn’t align with who I am. So it’s all always important to question the messages we’re getting from people and do the right thing for us. And this is linked to my uncle. You mentioned by uncle Anton earlier in our podcast. I mentioned there’s only one person who was absolutely amazing actually, too. I should correct that too. My uncle and my aunt from my mom’s side and my uncle Anton, he, uh, he gave me a lot of wonderful advice.
Dima Ghawi (22:45):
He’s the one who kept saying, move forward, keep moving forward. Don’t look back, live one day at a time, all of this good stuff. But then when I wanted to apply for my MBA, he said, well, maybe you shouldn’t go to a private school, go to a state university. And when I wanted to quit IBM to start my business, he said, maybe you shouldn’t do that. Just, just stick with IBM. When I wanted to write my book and the same message, like maybe you shouldn’t write the book. They, these people have our best interests in mind from their labs, but it’s important for us to see our own lens and recognize, yes, it’s good to have mentors. It’s good to have inputs from other people, but what matters at the end is to do the right thing for us and what is aligned with who we really are and our own vision. Hold that thought.
Terry Tateossian (23:34):
Let’s take a quick break. And thank our sponsors. The production of the amplified podcast has been brought to you by social fixed medium social fixed is a transformational growth hacker agency focused on emerging technology platforms, video and podcast, production, content marketing, and overall startup strategy. Social fix has helped over 300 clients generate millions of dollars in revenue fund raising and a profit. If you’d like help launching or growing your business, visit social fixed.com, what type of advice
Terry Tateossian (24:10):
would you have? Two people how to differentiate between good advice and bad advice?
Dima Ghawi (24:15):
Well, you need to connect with what feels right. So if someone is telling you not to do something or to do something, you just need to feel, what is your body telling you? Are you, are you connecting with that message? And to me, I just automatically just start to sense is my body getting tense? Is my body getting excited? That tells me a message. If my body is getting done stuff means that is not really aligned with who I am. If I get more excited, that means, yes, even though I may be afraid to just keep moving forward.
Terry Tateossian (24:47):
One of your sponsors in IBM recommended that you go to Japan and you try to get some of the projects and the deals to move faster. And you described that you had a really difficult time connecting with the executives there because they have such a different culture and a different style and ways of doing things. And at one point yourself and a few of the executives there went on this mountain climb and you connected with them there because, you know, it was a quite strenuous, stressful life threatening I’m sure activity. A lot of people equate mountain climbing, ice climbing those types of expeditions to what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. So tell me a bit about that experience and you know, how did you end up in Japan? Uh, what was it like to climb that mountain with those executives and what did you walk away with after that?
Dima Ghawi (25:48):
Yeah. Wow. So I moved to Japan on an international assignment for a year, and I initially went there to help improve communication between the U S and the Japanese executives and help with a lot of, uh, operational work. So of course I was so excited to be able to live in another country. I didn’t realize though how tough the Japanese culture was for me to adapt to initially. And, uh, here I am moving from Jordan to the U S discovering my identity, discovering my voice, becoming a leader, and realizing that the harder I work, the more goals I set, the more I challenge the team as a result, I was getting promotions. And that’s what got me to Japan. But imagine this style that became part of who I am, did not work in Japan at all. They, they’re more the call, the polite, you don’t express your opinions.
Dima Ghawi (26:44):
You’ll listen to someone higher than you to talk on your behalf. Especially as a woman, single woman in Japan that did not go too well initially. So I would have meetings and I would set goals. And I would tell everybody the deadlines of when we supposed to get something done and the work would not get done. And of course they get frustrated, I get frustrated, and then they stopped attending our meetings. And there’s a lot of cultural things that I did that I did not understand that they were insulting to my team. I had no intention. I read books about the Japanese culture. They did not talk about things such as when you are sitting in a meeting. If you are the most important person you should be facing the door. Uh, so imagine a conference room, the person facing the door, that’s supposed to be the most important with the people.
Dima Ghawi (27:37):
Second and third in command at, to his right and left the least important person should be sitting with the back to the door. So the back should be behind me if I’m the least important person. So imagine I learned that Japanese, they value time. I need to be on time. So I would be there early to the meetings. I would go to the conference room and somehow I always loved sitting facing the door. I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand the cultural norm. Nobody told me about it. So people would start walking in and they see me sitting at the most important chair and they wouldn’t tell me. So imagine how confusing it was for them. They thought, wow, she’s either so ignorant about our culture or she’s very arrogant. And she thinks she’s the most important person in the room. So it took a while and I had to ask one of the interpreters and I said, there’s just something that doesn’t feel right in these meetings, what is going on?
Dima Ghawi (28:38):
And then she said, are you sure you don’t know? And I’m like, no. And that’s when she explained to me about the importance of where you said. So there were a lot of these small little things that kept building it up. And it was frustrating for me, frustrating for the team, but the climbing Mt. Fuji made the biggest difference because I climbed with some of the team members and our manager who arranged planned the whole climb, decided that he wanted to get to the top of the mountain first. And he ended up leaving us behind. And here we are trying to figure out our path. And it was so difficult. I never climbed a mountain before. I honestly don’t even know why I said yes to this climb. And it was amazing. The lessons, as you mentioned, the lessons of you, as you starting a journey, you don’t know what to expect.
Dima Ghawi (29:27):
You don’t know how hard they’re or easier it’s going to be than what you think. But what matters is to keep moving forward, to keep taking small little steps, we got to a point where it was difficult to walk. Uh, it would take like 15 minutes, just take few steps. And what matters is to keep moving forward, not to look back and to continue on the journey. But I had an amazing team other than my manager, who by the way, is an American assignee too. He disappeared, but the rest of the team, they made sure we stayed together. They kept us protected. They ensured that we constantly together step by step. And that is so important, whether it is in leadership or entrepreneurship, to ensure that we are surrounding ourselves with people that are there to help us and for us to be there, to help other individuals as well.
Dima Ghawi (30:17):
So it was a wonderful journey after climbing the mountain. And when we came down, we were hit by a blizzard that was a near death experience. It was so tough, but it changed my perspective about leadership. It changed. I realized that the past method of leadership that I was programmed to believe is the right thing, which is getting to the top, getting to the next level, seeking the next promotion, challenging myself, challenging. My team is not just ed because the person who gets to the top first and leaves the team behind like my manager, that is definitely not the leader. The leader is the one who walks step-by-step from the bottom of the mountain to the top and back to the bottom. And the same exact thing applies for entrepreneurship as well.
Terry Tateossian (31:02):
I think that’s a fascinating experience. I mean, I don’t know if I could do it, but I do understand the correlation between the mountain climbing expedition and the entrepreneurship aspect of it. Tell me a bit about how those skillsets translates with the corporations that you work with today.
Dima Ghawi (31:24):
Yes. I love by the way to tell the about Fuji story, the full detailed story, uh, whenever I am doing training about leadership and employee engagement, because we thought realize maybe some organizations totally have no idea that when we are promoting individuals, we’re promoting them based on their skills and many times not based on their relationship building abilities. So imagine in an engineering company or it company, when they want to promote someone to a management role, they’re looking for the best it person or the best engineer, but these people tend to be more comfortable doing the work alone and again, not to generalize, but to, they tend to be more introverts. They want to learn more and more about what they’re doing and be subject matter experts instead of building a team and encouraging the team members and focusing on how they’re going to develop their team and be there and make time to talk to their team.
Dima Ghawi (32:25):
A lot of people are not comfortable with that while it happens naturally to other people. So it’s a matter of helping the organizations and the executive team to be extremely selective on who they are selecting for the management and to open their eyes into what their managers are doing related to. Are they leaving the team behind and wanting to be at first at the top of the mountain, which a lot of managers do that. And if so, then they should not be in that role and to continue to build the team, because in order for us to get to the top, we cannot do it individually. We need to do it all as a team together, we need to continue to support each other. So this story results also in a lot of team building activities and helping everybody to realize that we are all a leader, regardless of our title, regardless of what our current job is.
Dima Ghawi (33:18):
And it is so empowering for everybody across the organization to realize that you can have any job, but you are a leader. You it’s your role to do your best in that job. And it’s your role to keep uplifting your team. So this is another lesson that is so important because we get, we get stuck by the title. We get stuck by all of these things that feed our ego. But at the end of the day, what matters is what are we doing to ensure that everybody is rising together? Everybody feels safe and protected and feel a sense of belonging. And that is something that is missing. When I say sense of belonging that is missing in a lot of organizations. So that’s why I like when we’re talking about diversity and inclusion, there’s so many people and a lot of organizations, small and large, where they don’t feel that they belong. They don’t because of their color because of their gender because of their age, because of their religion. And it’s a matter to recognize that the best leaders are the ones that make their team belong and take them along the journey with them.
Terry Tateossian (34:23):
Absolutely. There’s actually a lot of talk lately in organizations that are building artificial intelligence, algorithms, machine learning, and so forth in terms of how to incorporate diversity into the algorithm itself. Cause right now there’s just a massive volume of applications and software that are being built to be able to do that. And they’re ethical questions, you know, how do we program an algorithm that does not have diversified team members to think diversity?
Dima Ghawi (34:58):
And there’s a lot of stories that talks about programmers that are right handed and they programmed this, uh, app. And whenever someone who is left-handed is trying to use it, it just doesn’t work for them because it was programmed from a mindset of a right hand, that person. So here, we’re not even talking about gender and think about how it causes confusion. But when I think about diversity and inclusion, it’s not just the regular definition that we’re dealing with right now. You’ve talked about technology. So now we have a lot of robots entering the workplace. And even some companies, in addition to their resources department, they have machine resources, department and machine resources managers. These managers are responsible to make sure that the robots are doing their job well. So here we are having robots work in an organization, and we’re still challenged with making the humans work well together.
Dima Ghawi (35:59):
So, so maybe diversity, we’ll get to a point where we’re bringing, we’re making robots feel good too, and we’re including them and making them feel a sense of belonging. I have a feeling I’m sure that’s coming. Yes, yes. I know one of the topics that I wanted to touch upon that I thought was really fascinating in some of your TEDx talks and in your book and in your keynote speeches was the concept of the evil vases. And you talk quite a bit about what those three visas are and how do we handle them. Yeah. So the three evil basis are the fear of making mistakes, the worry of being judged and the aspiration for perfection, somehow they’re so linked together. We’re so afraid of not being perfect. And as a result, we are worried of how other people perceive us. And we are not going to take any risks.
Dima Ghawi (36:58):
We’re not going to make any mistakes because they’re all linked together. They feed off of each other and it’s just so horrible. So when I think about individuals that I interact with every day, I hear these messages. So they may not be told growing up about the base story. They have no clue about the vase story, but so many people out there they’re afraid of making mistakes. They’re afraid of being judged. They’re worried about not being perceived as perfect. And I’m sad to say this specifically women, uh, the ones that I coach and the ones that I train. And when we talk about women in leadership, we’re always assuming that the organization is not giving leadership roles to women. Well, that is so horrible. How could they not give us a chance, but I can tell you this. And I’m so sad to say it.
Dima Ghawi (37:47):
I know so many women that were offered a management role and the woman would say, no, I can’t accept that. I don’t think I am qualified or women that their manager came to them and said, I want to put you in this leadership program and it’s going to be wonderful for your growth. And the woman would actually say, no, I’m not comfortable. I don’t think I deserve it. And I know these women and I know their managers. And so it says, it’s something for us to recognize. So as we are trying to advance and continue to reach new highs as women and men, we need to think about what is stopping us. And most of the time, it, this fear, it is the warrior of how we are being judged. Externally. One of my friends is a local attorney and he started the business partnership with another attorney that got a lot of visibility in the community.
Dima Ghawi (38:43):
And there was so much PR and articles written about them. It was a big deal. And of course he was happy about it. But then a short period of time after the partnership was completed, he discovered that his business partner was stealing money from him. And he didn’t do, of course, he talked to him and all of this, but he did not take any action for over a year. And I was asking him, I said, why like, why wait for a whole year, knowing that you cannot trust your business partner. And you know that he is not doing things to your advantage, like the advantage of the business. And he said, what if I can’t? What if the community thinks I’m not a good business person? What if the community is going to judge me? So to him, it’s, he would rather lose money for over a year and be so stressed out and to deal with that with a business partner who apparently is a thief instead of taking action.
Dima Ghawi (39:40):
And I see this all the time. I see people wanting to start businesses and they’re not people that want to write books and they’re not individuals that want to make a difference and they’re not. And it’s usually because of the three evil basis, it’s crushes our creativity. It crushes our confidence. And we need to realize that how much we’re losing, we’re losing by not doing these things. And the people who are losing the most is the people that we would have served, uh, by having our new product or new book, our new investment they’re missing out because we’re not offering them what we should be offering them. So that, that is my thought. And that is something that I live with every day. I hear these stories every single day, regardless who I’m talking to.
Terry Tateossian (40:30):
I’m really glad you brought that up, actually, because I read a lot of these articles and I read a lot of these stats and these percentages of earnings dropped lifetime salary drop this and that. And they’re so general and they’re so blanket umbrella statements that it immediately makes me question. There’s a stat right now in the national Bureau of economic research that says when women have kids, their lifetime earnings dropped 33% and I’m immediately saying, well, okay, let’s really think about this for a minute, because there are many women there choose to take a few years off of work. And naturally that’s going to make their lifetime earnings drop. There’s many women that choose to completely leave the workforce. There’s, you know, women that choose to take a different position and so forth. None of these stats are actually accounting for the reality of what’s happening. And you know, there’s a lot of that kind of junk science going around and fake percentages and so forth that don’t quantify what’s happening. But what would you say to someone who is looking to break through who is looking to launch that new product? They do consider themselves to be a challenger or a rule breaker or a change agent, uh, you know, legitimate certified bad-ass and they’re, they’re going after it. And they’re facing self doubt. They’re facing bad advice. What would you say to them?
Dima Ghawi (42:07):
Yeah. So the first thing I say is start with small steps. You don’t need to quit your job and put yourself in a more stressful environment. That’s something that you can do after work. You can do a good few hours over the weekend. Yes. It’s going to take away from fun time and from watching football, but that’s okay. Start with small little tiny steps you thought I got nothing major initially. And then the other thing is, start observing what you are telling yourself. What is the voice in your head telling you is the voice repeating? What if I fail? What if I fail? What if I fail? Which all of us have that message. What if it doesn’t work out and tell yourself instead, what am I going to learn from this experience? Because even the ones that start the business and it didn’t work, I most likely, I’m sure they learned so much from that experience.
Dima Ghawi (43:01):
They became better people because of that experience. So that’s what I tell them, think of it in terms of learning opportunity, instead of a fear mindset and take small, tiny steps, it doesn’t have to be like what I did and what it sounds like, what you did, where you quit your job and started the company. It doesn’t have to be. And I did the same thing. I resigned from IBM to start my company. And it is overwhelming. It was the right time for my life though. But if I was in a different situation, if I had so much more responsibility, if I had more fear, I would just take small, tiny steps as long as I keep moving forward. And that’s what matters.
Terry Tateossian (43:41):
Absolutely. So tell us, what’s next for Dima? What does the future hold for you?
Dima Ghawi (43:46):
So, uh, breaking basis, as you know, is in his book and now is on audible, but the next big thing is I wanted to be a movie and I think it’s going to be a wonderful movie, not just because it’s my story, but I think it’s going to be wonderful because here we are, we’re talking about three different cultures. We’re talking about them middle Eastern. We’re talking about the American, we’re talking about the Japanese, various religious. So even though I was raised Catholic, but I was raised in an Islamic culture and I got to learn Islam early on. So there’s a lot of the different diverse messages that I think people would, would want. And, uh, it’s a woman’s story. It’s a story of empowerment. So I can’t wait for it to make it a movie. I just can’t wait. And in terms of my speaking business is to get to speak to bigger and bigger crowds and get to be able to reach out to even individuals, more individuals around the world. Uh, so that, that is my vision to, to do everything I’m doing now, but at a bigger scale, and to help more people realize their potential and expand their potential, uh, to have more people shatter their vases, uh, to have more people connect with this message and recognize that they have the power to drive change, to influence their story and to influence the next generation.
Terry Tateossian (45:07):
Well, I’m definitely a big fan. I mean, you had me at the edge of my seat going through the book and the different chapters. I actually re-read and I have it on audible as well, just because it’s such an extraordinary story. I think a lot of people don’t realize when you come from a different country that does not have the freedoms and liberties that we have here, how that impacts women’s lives or people’s lives in general. I mean, I would think that the men that are oppressed as well in different countries that are in that cultural environment are suffering just as much.
Dima Ghawi (45:41):
Yes. And do you know, not just in other cultures, but also in the U S so there’s a new movement happening right now that I love it. It is men empowerment, movement, men, empowerment groups. So not just the women were used to having the women groups and there’s so many of them and that’s wonderful, but I feel that a lot of men, they are questioning their identity right now. Yeah. The role of men is changing and what they’ve seen, their fathers and their grandfathers, how they live is very different than what, how they are living right now. So imagine like just a hundred years ago, women got the right to vote. Can you imagine how much change in a short period of time for women, but for men, they have to adapt to all of this. And of course we want them to continue to empower us. But at the same time, a lot of men are questioning their identity. And many of them, they were told early on not to have, not to express their feelings, not to cry, not to, not to share their deep thoughts, their pains, but now the new movement is gonna get to influence that. And it’s going to help them feel more empowered. Like we are working on empowering women as well.
Terry Tateossian (46:56):
I’m glad you said that. I, I couldn’t possibly agree more. I do get concerned sometimes because there’s such a strong anti men movement and it does concern me a bit. Cause it, you know, I mean the inequality in any direction I feel like is not positive for humanity in general. Would you be willing to share an update on your mom and your sister and your dad and how they’re doing now?
Dima Ghawi (47:22):
Yeah. So I’ll start with my mom and sister. They are in San Diego and they’re doing so good. Uh, it was initially when they moved, they moved in 2001 and it was tough. My mom was, is she, she spoke English, but not very well. She was struggling to drive. She was struggling to build a new life. My mom, when she escaped from Jordan was 49 and she had to leave everything behind. So she had to deal with a lot of the loss and the sadness and that dealing with rejection because she was rejected by her community and very close family members too. So it took years for her to recover and to start discovering that she has the power to create her own story as well. So now she has a daycare. She’s the first business woman in our family, first entrepreneur. And she loves these kids.
Dima Ghawi (48:17):
She’s cooking middle Eastern food for them every day. So you see like a little United nations in her home because the daycare is in our home and she’s got, she she’s independence for the first time. And she now learned that she’s not going to allow anybody to stand in her way. So that’s so powerful. It’s good to hear. My sister finished her bachelor’s and her master’s. She is working as a manager in a company in San Diego. She’s married with a beautiful eight year old son. His name is Alex, who we absolutely love. And he’s the hope that we have for a better future. And she’s doing so good. So this is in terms of the positive. My mom, my sister and I were doing good. And we are, uh, we continue to work hard and to fight for what we want. Uh, but we have a hope for a future that is better and better.
Dima Ghawi (49:12):
My father, since 2001, none of us talked to him, none of my siblings, which is my sister, my brother and I, and my mom. And we just don’t talk to him. He still enjoyed them. The only reason he didn’t harm us. And hopefully it stays this way is he doesn’t speak English. And at that time 2001, the internet wasn’t as common, at least they enjoyed them. So he’s in his seventies. Now. We still don’t talk to him after 18 years after that, all the threats. And last October, he discovered about breaking basis and he did not take it lightly at all. So a lot of the threats happened all over again, all the, the doors that got closed reopened, and it was so harsh, the appoint I had to get the police involved. And so of course I have to worry about my safety for as long as my father is alive, but honestly I would do this over and over again because it’s worth that it’s worth it to be who I am. And I know that he has his face, he was trying to protect his identity and reputation. And, uh, he would rather have, uh, the entire family, all the women in our family, silence and miserable and depressed just in order to satisfy the community. And I’m not okay with that, but he is okay. And he’s trying to continue to keep his base perfect while I keep breaking basis.
Terry Tateossian (50:40):
And here’s to breaking many, many more of ACEs. Yes. I think you have a, an absolutely inspirational story. Tell us how people can find your, where, where can people get in touch with you? How can they work with you?
Dima Ghawi (50:56):
Yeah. So the easiest way to get to me is through my website and it is my name. So dimaghawi.com and that’s spelled D I MA G H A W I.com. So if they want to learn more about the story, if they are interested in coaching, if they’re interested in the virtual leadership groups that I’m starting, if they’re interested in speaking, that’s the best way to reach to me. So you can send me messages that you’ll have my information and my phone number. And also if you want to learn more about breaking basis, it is on Amazon. And as you heard, it is on audible as well. So if you look at the book, of course, there are broken pieces, but this design is Arabic calligraphy and it says knowledge is light. So there’s an Arabic phrase that says knowledge is light and ignorance is darkness.
Dima Ghawi (51:51):
And I felt that this is such a powerful phrase to include at the cover of the book, especially with Arabic calligraphy, because how would we shatter our limitations and believe in ourselves, if we are living in the dark, we need to be knowledgeable. We need to be self aware. We need to continue to develop ourselves in order to shatter one phase after the other. And one last thing I want to say is I’m offering a two hour audio program about shattering limitations and your personal and professional life. I believe that my base and the story is no longer about me. It’s about you. It’s about everybody was hearing the story and my purpose is to help you to continue to shatter them. So it’s an audio program, and we’re going to include it in the details of the podcast with a code for you to enter. So you can get it for free as a gift from me. And it has a workbook. It has three parts to the audio, and hopefully it’s going to inspire you to continue to advance, continue to believe in, are in yourself and continue to help other people as they are shattering their basis as well.
Terry Tateossian (53:03):
Absolutely. Thank you Dima very much for your time and for your wonderful story and being such an inspiration to people out there that are looking to break their vases, or to even begin thinking about breaking their vases. I think there’s really no price you can put on from giving people empowerment and letting them shatter
Terry Tateossian (53:26):
all of their limitations. So thank you so much. My pleasure. Thank you. Thanks for listening to the amplified podcast. Follow us on our social channels and subscribe on Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify pod bean, or wherever you get your podcasts on. The next step is sewed. Stay tuned for more trailblazing insights, energy and culture to help fuel your pursuit in the modern digital era.