Soulaima Gourani is listed as one of the top 100 talents in Europe to keep an eye on by the well-esteemed French magazine Courrier International, and in March 2012 she was selected as one of the 192 management leaders in 2012-2017 by the World Economic Forum who are to carry out the task as innovators and futurists in one of the world’s most important leadership forums—Young Global Leaders. Soulaima is a Young Global Leader, and in the next five years, she will travel around the world to meet with politicians and business leaders. In 2012 Soulaima Gourani was recognized as one of the 20 most business-minded people in the Nordic countries by Nordic Business Forum. In 2014 she was selected to be amongst ’40 under 40′ European Young Leaders by EuropaNova and Friends of Europe and in 2016 she was appointed to be amongst the ‘Inspiring fifty’ European list of inspiring role models as well as appointed to be UN Woman Ambassador Advisor.
What do you do best?
I am great at engaging and connecting with people while speaking. I have been a professional keynote speaker since 2007.
I have spoken alongside the best speakers in the world such as Jim Collins, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Fernandes, Sir Ken Robinson and Sir Alex Ferguson! Pssstttt I actually got the same high ratings on stage as Sir Ken Robinson.
What makes you the best?
My love for people. My passion for motivational talks. Each year, thousands of people throw away the fear and become independent, quit their job, they dare to take on a new or better position, they travel the world, write a book, create a movie, start to sing or something completely different, because I help them.
In this day and age, we need the light, the hope and the future. I’m happy to ignite that in people. I come from a very dark place. My past hardship motivates others.
What are your aspirations?
My goal for 2017-2019 is to empower 25.000 people on my membership platform to a better and more fulfilling life – to inspire them to a better lifedesign. And to run my companies.
I consider my life as my biggest success. I mean, I am proud that I went from being a street child who was kicked out of school in 7th grade, living in foster-care, being an orphan, to someone who has been recognized with various awards: Young Global Leader (YGL; 2012, World Economic Forum); Top 100 Women, FEMINA, Denmark, 2012; Nordic Thinkers top 20, 2013; EUROMAN top 100 women, 2013; and “40 under 40” Europe, 2014, Inspiring fifty (2016) etc.
And of course that I am still married to my loving husband for 22 years, and being the mom to our two loving and kind kids.
My adversity and struggles have become important motivators for me. I cannot change my childhood, but I can appreciate that it’s over, and it’s not important where you come from, but it’s important where you are going.
A great career and personal life are all about having the courage and the ability to seize the opportunities that you run into. I believe that people can decide to become successful and reach essential goals by means of hard work.
Most Challenging Moment?
Well I have many. I actually have written more than 14 books on all the mistakes, failures and obstacles I have had in my life.
But a crucial moment was in 2007, I was fired from my job as a global sales director. I was pregnant at the time and decided never again to be in a position where anyone could fire me.
That same year, I started my own consulting company. I had no idea what to do – I needed to make a living. It was urgent, since I am the breadwinner in my household.
All I had were my skills within sales, sales training, strategic sales/strategic partnership, supply-chain management and strategic networking. Those are my “hard core” skills and talents, and it was easy for me to teach others. That was my beginning as a keynote speaker, author and now as an investor.
I had no expectations besides being able to make myself a living. I was expecting my first child. That was it! My butt was on a toaster, I guess.
I guess that was my “burning platform”.
Today, I work in more than 33 countries, with some of the biggest companies in the world, such as Volvo, Siemens, Maersk, and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Since then I founded TradeConductor.com (worldpeace through Trade) with office in Austin, and I am the CEO of lending platform GetCapitalAid, which has its headquarters in Copenhagen. It helps small businesses grow through strategic growth loans based on company performance. Passion for fintech came up, cause my bank was not willing to lend me money, when I needed them the most.
It is impossible to avoid adversity. What is important is how you tackle adversity. Do you give up, or does it make you stronger? Adversity makes me stronger. Throughout my upbringing, I developed some qualities and survival techniques that still play an important part in my drive for success in my career today. The foundation for my personal leadership, my values, my focus, and my sense of responsibility can be tracked all the way back to my challenging childhood. The days of hardship have been transformed into something very positive.
I have had to change my belief that everything you do must be either painful or at least very difficult. Just because something is really difficult or almost impossible, it doesn’t mean that I should always accept the task. It had been a long tradition of mine to take on impossible projects—just to challenge myself to the maximum. With this approach, I consequently had not been unconditionally successful in everything that I had done. However, it has been a great learning experience.
“buy books not boobs”
Meaning study, invest in your brains, stay hungry, work hard, win, fail fast, share and learn -and never give up.
Access to money and having a talent is so overrated, and hard work is SO underestimated. Talent and money only take you this far – the rest is your personality (EQ) and your ability to work hard.
Favorite People/Role Models?
I have so many. I am surrounded by amazing, brave and hardworking people. I am a big fan of so many people from my own generation. They are the next generation of leaders. I am a member of Young Global Leaders where you have Jimmy Wales, Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Chelsea Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg, Rene Redzepi, Muna AbuSulayman and many many more. I mean I am SO lucky to get to meet amazing people all of the time. My admiration goes to all people who work hard for things they believe in. We tend to look for stars and role models in the “outside world”, but actually everyone is a hero in their own life. It comes from within. Leadership is not a title it is something you do. All people I know have their own struggles and hardship. Life is never easy, but by being open, authentic and kind to each other that is where magic happens. I admire my husband a lot. Supporting me all his life. He could have chosen a much easier life with any other woman. With me his life is more exciting than easy, I would say.
To look in the eyes of my kids, and to have my husband’s arms around me.
Fun aside – I have seen the world and my happiness is where my family is.
Well I love platforms and membership sites more than products. Often when I buy a lipstick or a bag, I think what a waste of money it is. Every time you buy something think about if this is going to bring you closer or away from your end-goal in life. I like people to connect, so that they feel empowered, engaged. I love technology and people and how it can make the world even smaller.
Since the beginning of this year I have actually been busy with my new paid membership site "Fremilivet.dk " (going to be in english later this year).
The entire idea behind Fremilivet.dk (translated: Forward In Life) and the basic method is to build up a strong movement around LIFEDESIGN, a community of kindred spirits - who really take a good look at themselves, who want to help others and to be helped, who strive for more satisfaction and a more sustainable life, who are done with life on the treadmill and who want to do something active in order to change status quo, fulfil old dreams, live life as it should be lived, create a memorable life of which they can be proud and happy! You can call it the danish dream - the good life?
If you can design a product, you can design a life, I would say.
I believe that when people free themselves they will start to make better and healthier decisions on behalf of environment, health and politics!
It is my life goal to bring peace to the World through spreading inner peace, more love and trust.
And this amazing change is going on right now in front of my very own eyes on the "Forward In Life" platform. The members have really started using my methods, and it is almost overwhelming for me to read the feedback. Each and every day, I motivate a lot of people to take the responsibility for their own life and work life into their hands - I do it already through TV shows, webinars, my books, radio, podcasts, online courses, master classes and through my lectures.
My passion is to serve people – to serve the world. I dedicated my own life to improving the lives of others. I love to make people brave, shine, bold - and to help them to unleash their enormous potential and find their talents and passions. It can be done as a writer, speaker, investor, mentor or as their CEO. I love to impact and scale good stuff. I see how I impact laws, implement changes in companies/countries, and am welcomed to speak up in settings I once could only have dreamed of.