How Richard Branson Touched My Life.

Yesterday I managed to get myself into the du CEO forum to hear Richard Branson speak! I’m pretty sure people were looking at me funny, wondering what on earth I was doing there because I was obviously NOT a CEO… they probably thought I was a “social media winner” or was on the hunt for a rich CEO husband or something but no – I actually used wasta* for the first time to get in there (wasta meaning begging my friend who was organizing the event).

I have a confession – I have not read any of Sir Richard’s books…but after last night, I definitely want to read them and even make notes about some of the truly inspiring things he has to say. He not only has a great business mind, but from a few comments here and there, I realized that he could also be a great source for life lessons and providing ways to be a better human being.

One of the things I loved most about hearing him speak yesterday was seeing that he’s taken the successful business model that has served him so well in each of his ventures and has been applying the skills and resources from them towards making the world a better place.

If you ever get the chance to hear him speak live, I highly recommended it, but until then, here are some key points that stuck with me after yesterday’s experience:

– Creating a great business is about finding something you LIKE and turning it into capital.
– A company is nothing without the PEOPLE behind it – motivate them and encourage innovation by being a ‘YES’ type of boss, giving people room to make mistakes without reprimanding them and using positive reinforcement. “People do not flourish if they’re not praised.”
– There’s no point starting a business unless you can do what you do BETTER than the others in your sector.
– The secret to success is not to look for the ‘cheapest way’ to do something, but the ‘most AMAZING’ way to do it.

And finally, the point that struck a chord with me and made me look at Sir Richard Branson as not just a great man, but a beautiful soul: his emphasis on the importance of forgiveness. He pushed the idea of forgiving, letting go of conflict and ensuring that you have no bad blood with anyone in your life – whether it be an ex-spouse, business contact, friend, child, parent – whatever – forgive and clear your heart. That advice was not only inspiring, but enlightening.

People like this are the people who inspire change in this world. That’s how we will save it.

richard branson ceo

*for a general idea of what “wasta” is, find it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasta

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Hope For Humanity.

Sometimes when I read the newspaper or hear stories about awful things that people do to one another, it leaves me with this feeling of despair – this feeling that there is no longer a sense of humanity in this world that we live in.

The past few months we’ve seen a number of such tragedies around the world. From disfiguring women’s faces with acid to mass murders of innocent children; being exposed to such atrocities has left me searching for the little things. We must remember to appreciate those little things – those teeny tiny random acts of kindness that one human being offers another with no expectations in return. From holding the door open to an appreciative SMS, a heartfelt smile to offering someone a dirham when they’re short at the cashier.

These little things must be noticed and  cherished. For it is in these fleeting moments that humanity shines through, and a flicker of hope will spark inside your heart.

Look for them. Create them. Give us hope for humanity. humanity

Coming Home.

After just about 24 hours of travelling, I finally landed back in Canada last night.

Home at last.  

Jet lag is always an issue so I decided to be productive with my lack of adjustment to the time difference. I woke up at 6:45am and went for a walk with my dad around the neighbourhood.

While walking, I started to take in my surroundings as if I was seeing them for the first time.  It was breathtaking.

From the way the cold, crisp air fills your lungs with freshness to the way the sunlight sparkles through the forest and dances off the leaves; the way the colourful birds sing you “Good Morning” as you pass them by and the adorable chipmunks and squirrels scurry past as if frantically late for a very important date! 

My favourite part, though, was that although I have never met a single one of the neighbours in my parents’ new area, each of them greeted us with a big warm smile and “hello!” as we walked by.

That’s when I realized – this is what I grew up with! This is what I was surrounded with day after day, year after year for my whole life… yet I never once stopped to appreciate it. I never even NOTICED how beautiful all of these little things are!

So I urge you – wherever you are, wherever you live… when you go outside today, take a look around you and truly observe your surroundings. Take a moment to appreciate those little things that we have in front of us every day, but take for granted.

Sometimes it’s those little teeny things that are barely even noticeable that are actually the most amazing things in this world.

Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan Kareem

As the Holy Month begins in the UAE, it’s like a spiritual pixie dust is floating around and settling as a blanket over the country.

I love this time of year. There’s something magical in the air when people turn towards God and spirituality, cleanse their bodies, thoughts and intentions, and focus on love and charity.

Ramadan is a month of reflection. People are encouraged to look within and evaluate their current lifestyles and mentalities and commit to a better path. It is a time of forgiveness, peace, piety and purity.

You may know Ramadan as the month of “fasting” – which means Muslims don’t eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset for 30 days. But it’s more than that. In Arabic, the word for fasting is “sawm” which means “to refrain”.  This doesn’t just mean refraining from food and water. It also means that during this Holy Month, Muslims refrain from evil or impure actions, thoughts and words.

So even if you aren’t fasting, why not make a special effort this month to be kinder, more patient and to help those who are fasting to conquer this inner struggle. I plan to do my best to be nice and understanding to those around me, to make sure I don’t use any profanity or inappropriate language, to dress respectfully and to not eat or drink in front of those who are fasting when I’m not. It may not be the same as properly fasting, but hey – it’s a start!

Ramadan Kareem.

Who Moved My Cheese??

Ok I’m not quite sure why I used that as the title of this blog because I’ve never actually read the book “Who Moved My Cheese”, but I know it’s a book about change… and I have realized that I should read it because I think I’m averse to change.

Some people love change. They get bored easily and thrive off the excitement of the new and unknown. I used to think I was like that, but now I am realizing that instead of excitement, when things are about to change, I feel anxiety.

It’s like this looming discomfort deep within the pit of my tummy (no, it’s not the burritos from lunch) and there’s this little person inside me that’s just dying to come out and throw a foot-stomping tantrum screaming NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

That’s how I feel about my roommate (aka flatmate for the British-influenced) moving out. We’ve lived together for over a year and we’ve become like family. Now that my roomie is leaving, I am crushed and heart-broken. It feels like the end of an era… that things won’t ever be the same.

Even little changes make me uneasy. From the fact that they changed our seating arrangements at work to when friends leave the UAE; when close relationships fall apart to my favourite brand of face wash being discontinued…it all bothers me. Just when I’m happy and comfortable with life exactly the way it is, something has to shake it all up.

I guess I need to convince myself that change is good. Usually, no matter how much I resist the change at first, it ends up being for the better in the end. I want to learn to embrace change and accept it with open arms…to welcome new challenges and learn to grow with what God gives me. In reality, things are always changing. In fact, the only thing constant in life…is change.

With that in mind, I would like to dedicate this post to my roomie.  You have been wonderful to live with and I love you very much. I will miss you terribly – but may the future only bring us closer.

A True Legend.

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
Bob Marley

From the first time I heard the off-beat drums and guitar riffs of reggae music, I’ve loved it.

There’s just something about the vibe of the music that makes you feel like your soul is being transported to a happy place.

But Bob Marley’s music is something more than that. It’s not just the combination of the instruments and voices and beat that makes you wanna dance – it’s the depth and meaning of his songs that gets me.

I watched the movie “Marley” this week – it’s a documentary-style film based on the life, music and legacy of Bob Marley.  If you thought his music was inspirational before seeing this movie, I think you will be even more moved after you watch it.

Ever since I watched the film 2 days ago, I haven’t been able to get Bob Marley music out of my head. I’ve listened to my “BOB” CD about 37.5 times. I made it years ago with all the big Bob songs: Could You Be Loved, Waiting in Vain, No Woman No Cry, One Love, Exodus, Three Little Birds, Jammin’ and more. I’ve been trying to pick a favourite out of them – but it’s near impossible.

Now that I’ve seen the movie, I’m noticing, understanding and being moved by the music on a completely different level.

The movie exposed Bob Marley’s passion for music and love for humanity in a way that I hadn’t really understood before. It showed how simple Bob’s life philosophy was and how he used his music to communicate with and inspire the people. It was all about the people for him. One Love.

The movie is filled with stories and anecdotes from people who had been around him in various stages of his life. It’s got plenty of footage of Bob himself and shares the raw truth of the emotions that he stirred within his loved ones. You can see it on their faces and hear it in their voices as they think back to the time when he brought hope and sunshine into their lives. You can see how much people respected and admired him. He was a good man. He was a generous man. He was a man who lived his life by following his heart. That inspires me.

All of these things play on my mind when I’m listening to his songs now. The lyrics speak to me in a way that makes me feel empowered – like I can stand up for what I believe in, like I am free, like I am filled with love.

Bob Marley believed that LOVE was the answer.

If only he were alive today to help spread that belief throughout our world…maybe it would be a better place to live in.

A True Legend.

“My music will go on forever. Maybe it’s a fool say that, but when me know facts me can say facts. My music will go on forever.”
Bob Marley