Saudi Women Making Great Strides

The Condé Nast, article about scrap-metal C.E.O. Nadia Al-Dossary reminded me today of the all the wonderful entrepreneurial women that I met in Cairo in November at FCEM. It is encouraging to see such strength in women in business in unexpected (from a Western perspective) places. I raise my hat to you Nadia, and your peers. You have come a long way and we look forward to supporting your continued rise. With the rate of 55% of the kingdom’s graduates being women, I believe we can look forward to hearing a lot more great success stories about women from the region.

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Giving because it feels good, Receiving because it helps.

Replicating the sensation I feel when I am able to help, as well as the comfort I feel when someone has helped me, is something I strive for in building 2BalanceU. Recently someone asked me why people would bother. This struck me as both an interesting and puzzling question. First of all, I know I’m not the only one who finds gratification in the simple act of giving (especially when it comes from so little effort and no cost). Is this a Western versus Eastern approach? Is it a gender based motivation? Am I being naive? If so, I prefer to assume the best of people unless they prove me otherwise (which unfortunately some do, but that is another topic).

So, fine, I built in an incentive system to the new version to help those who need a little push to participate. I must say, I am very curious as to see the results as to whether the incentives will be used, passed on to others, recognised as status, or ignored. If points are provided for all of activity beyond lurking or surfing (for example; inviting new members, posting an inquiry, recommending resources or events, sharing a resource externally, giving feedback, searching,…) do we derive satisfaction simply by participating? Of course, this is assuming that the activity provides us with useful information as well.

Given my natural curiousity, I felt the need to be sure that those who wish to can use their incentive points as gifts to others. After all, some of us feel there is far more to gain by giving than receiving when we already are blessed with too much. Perhaps is comes back to “karma” or just guilt or because we can. Whatever the motivation, it sure feels good to help and to know others care enough to reciprocate.

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Stay positive

Thank you Julie Meyer, CEO and Founder of Ariadne Capital, for your article “Facebook means there is now no excuse for working with jerks” with the reminder not only to stay positive but to stay away from the negative. I often meet with people at networking events that are full of complaints as to why the system is against them. There are times, especially as an entrepreneur, when it is tempting to blame the system for our lack of momentous and rapid success. We must look at this as an opportunity to re-evaluate what we are doing, why it is not moving as fast as we expected and if it is the right thing in the first place. Having a sense of humility and reality can be one of the most useful tools. Of course, we must have the strength and tenacity to believe in our ideas despite the negatives. Are we communicating our message clearly? Are we on the right track? Are we listening to the feedback? It is a constant challenge, but one worth working on. Remember that working with those with a negative attitude and not willing to listen can turn even a good thing sour. So, be wary, yet open minded. And don’t be afraid to remind those complainers that it will not take them very far. You will be doing them a favour.

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As an entrepreneur my greatest passion is my work and building 2BalanceU: Women Sharing Wisdom, Resources & Inspiration. Even so, I often struggle with achieving my own balance. In order to feel truly balanced, we must remind ourselves about all the things we are passionate about. Yesterday I smiled the widest grin of pure indulgence as we entered the Vallée Blanche below Mont Blanc from the Italian side in knee deep powder. It was an experience I will never forget. Today, I resume my work set aside while I shamelessly delighted in the beauty of the day and the good fortune to have the chance to be there. My cheeks still tingle from the sun and wind of yesterday and my heart is light. I am reminded that spiritual enlightenment and therapy can often be experienced in the most unlikely places. Now back to work.

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Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurs, as defined by Ashoka, are “individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.” Let us encourage this behavior, as it is the individuals with the vision and willingness to take the risk that have the ability to create change. Kudos to those who are innovative enough to have discovered ways to create sustainable and profitable enterprises. They deserve our encouragement for providing a positive example for us.

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Simple knowledge sharing

We often take for granted the things that are most simple and common parts of our days. Providing the quick directions to the lost traveler, recommending a favourite article or book that provided a moment of inspirational thought, Finding a quick conversation table for the recipe passed on by a friend, discovering a new culinary delight from a passing dish and an appreciative “mmmm”, can all provide a moment of quality that enriches our lives and others. Understanding that it is nearly universal that adjusting spectacles is a complementary service, has never ceased to amaze me. In this day of commercialism and rushed lives, I am thankful for these little moments that make me appreciate both my own and others knowledge and specialisations.

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Tribute to Robert Saltonstall

Robert Saltonstall has left an indelible mark on the lives of many around the world. I was blessed to have called him my grandfather, my mentor and my friend. It was through his encouragement and support that I find myself where I am today. His early work in the field of human relations both at Harvard and IMD fascinated me, and influenced many. We passed delightful hours discussing cross cultural relations from the business and personal perspective. He was a passionate humanitarian with an eye for the good and beauty in everything. His constant encouragement to seek new perspectives and strive for my utmost potential never faltered. His love of new experiences and the twinkle in his eye as he recalled each new land he explored was infectious. I am comforted that he can now join Grancy in rest. After 98 years, it is time for them to embark on a new journey. I will always feel that they are my guardian angels who lead me to great things.

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Thank you ladies at ICRC International Women’s Day workshop

Thank you, ladies, for joining us for a wonderful workshop at the International Committee for the Red Cross on International Women’s Day. I appreciate your patience for the computer glitches and getting things rolling. Sometimes it is good to be reminded how to avoid reliance on technology to allow us to share and learn. It was a pleasure meeting you all. I look forward to hearing from you as we near the launch of 2BalanceU throughout this year.

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Celebrate International Women’s Day!

What lies behind us
and what lies before us
Are tiny matters compared to
What lies within us.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Celebrate the women in your life and the woman in you this International Women’s Day.

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International Women’s Day in Geneva

Join me for International Women’s Day at the International Red Cross in Geneva. I will be showing a demo and sneak peek of 2BalanceU and be giving you, the users, the opportunity to tell us what you would like to see more or less of. The links on this picture do not work, but you can click on it to see larger for more details. If you are interested, please send an email to Cass at before Friday, 7 March.

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