Leena Alsulaiman: “Grace ”

Grace — Give yourself grace is permission to be kinder and more accepting of your mistakes, exhaustion, and occasional lapses in judgment because no one is perfect. Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully […]

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Grace — Give yourself grace is permission to be kinder and more accepting of your mistakes, exhaustion, and occasional lapses in judgment because no one is perfect.

Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Leena Alsulaiman.

Multi-passionate entrepreneur Leena Alsulaiman helps women identify and express their unique personal brands. Using her background in fashion and business, Leena launched her own consultancy in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. She now serves women virtually and works with diverse clients all over the world.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family in the Middle East, I always found myself merging my passions and including creativity in everything I did. And reflecting now on my diverse career history, I see that designing and creating is something I have always done in one form or another.

For many years, I took the path of the creative entrepreneur and unconsciously always brought a side of creativity to my roles. While that was my “day job,” my passion led to color outside the lines, and I offered my expertise and knowledge to women starting their ventures, growing their brands, or making career moves.

In my consultancy, I have created a business model to cater to my passions by creating a platform to serve women by helping them create magic through their voices, brands, and passions.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

My ‘Aha Moment’ came about when I found myself furloughed from my full-time role and working from home. I had unknowingly planted the seed of this shift ahead of the furlough, but then the world slowed down; I had time to sit with myself to assess what I wanted my life to look like post-pandemic. And the more I sat with it, the more it became clear that it was time to start my consultancy officially.

In your opinion, were you a natural-born entrepreneur, or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

Entrepreneurship runs in my veins, and it is definitely something I was born with and grew up around. Seeing my father start and grow multiple businesses was a massive learning for me. But I will say that in the actual doing, I was able to strengthen my entrepreneur’s muscle further.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

There are many instrumental people that have helped me along my journey, but my father was the person I learned how to start a business from. My first business idea was in high school; I had returned from summer vacation with the grand idea to bring a candle franchise to Saudi Arabia. Looking back, I now know that it was a reach, but my father allowed me to go through the process, supported me, and led me through it all. And when it didn’t work, he held my hand and helped me pick myself up to move on to my next idea!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My goal through my consultancy is to help women find their voice and then create and stand in their purpose. And my business model is that it’s not one size fits all. Everyone is unique, and every woman I have worked with worldwide has her unique voice, perspective, and magic, and my job is to help them find and share it.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Resilience — I can adapt relatively well and fast to changing situations.

Avoid putting expectations — When you set expectations for pretty much anything, you will experience different degrees of disappointment. So I like to let each experience and client unfold and tell their own story.

Big picture vision — I can always step back from any situation and see the bigger picture, which helps not to get stuck in every small speed trap we might face.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about the advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

In one of my first businesses, I was told not to go at it alone and partner with someone. I took that advice selling myself short and believing that I couldn’t be successful on my own. And while I learned a lot of lessons from that experience, I wish I hadn’t bought into the idea that I wasn’t enough on my own. It was a lesson that took many years to unlearn.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

Setting boundaries has been the best thing for my business because my expectations are clear, and my team and clients respect that, and it gives them space to create and share their own boundaries, which helps avoid overwhelm and burnout.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

Stay consistent and true to your voice, purpose, and mission. At the same time, staying aligned to your authenticity.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

Consumers today are savvy and can sense if you are not truthful. People want to work and buy from people they trust and believe in.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Jumping through business stages too quickly and not simmering in each step to gain all its learnings.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills, and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

I think the most significant difference between an entrepreneur and someone with a 9–5 regular job would be stability. There is a certain degree of predictability in a traditional position — your schedule, tasks, and paychecks. The same can not be said for entrepreneurship, and with that comes highs and lows on a regular basis.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

It’s hard to choose just one! I would say that when I was relaunching my website, I was putting together an infographic to show how many women I had worked with and where they were in the world. I hadn’t realized the numbers! To date, I have worked with women across four continents, six countries, and 18 cities.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

I don’t dwell on the lows, so this is probably the most challenging question you have asked today. I would say a low for me is when I have invested time and energy into a potential client and can envision the growth and where they will go, but they are not ready to see it just yet, so we don’t move forward.. BUT I will say that the few times that has happened, the clients do circle back with time.. so it’s a low that ended on a high!

Based on your experience, can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

I always allow myself time to sit with the emotions. I lean into it and feel it all. But then I reflect on what went wrong and what I could have done differently, and then I pick myself up and move forward.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Grace — Give yourself grace is permission to be kinder and more accepting of your mistakes, exhaustion, and occasional lapses in judgment because no one is perfect.

Pace yourself — Every business has three seasons — Discovery — Growth and finally Scaling. The first season is the longest, and it’s where you should spend most of your time. If you rush through to the other seasons, you will be jumping steps and lessons. Take your time.

Support system — Having a support system. Being an entrepreneur is not easy, and no one achieves any degree of success without some support along the way. Through the highs and lows, having support will keep you on track and help you see through the emotions and over the obstacles.

Self-care — Having an arsenal of self-care tools is your best friend. Time to move your body, eat healthy and quiet time are all essential. Airplane mode is an underused tool!

Celebrate your wins no matter how small or big! It’s easy for an entrepreneur not to relish the successes without celebration- with an achieve and move on mindset. Slowing down to take in each moment for what it has and for what you have achieved is essential for the sustainability of your motivation and drive.

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Awareness and Understanding.

Resilient people are aware of situations, their emotional reactions to said situation, and those reactions around them. They understand that life is full of challenges, so they stay open, flexible, and willing to adapt to the changes.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

Of course, there are more experiences and stories than I can count! The single most challenging experience was getting a divorce and starting over from scratch with three young children. Having started multiple businesses over the years. Accepting and knowing when the time had come to call it quits, and still picking myself up and taking the lessons gained and trying again.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

Yes, 100%. I have been through the ups and downs enough time to know that everything is figureoutable and nothing lasts forever. Having a mindset that allows me to step back and look at the big picture helps me stay in this mental space.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

I had a client that was anxious by nature. In working with her, I saw firsthand how when I stayed positive, grounded, and calm in the face of challenges kept her calm and confident that just as I told her along the way — everything is figureoutable.

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

How can our readers further follow you online?

Website: www.leenaalsulaiman.com

Instagram: @Leena.Alsulaiman

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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