It's okay if you've been so heads-down with your nose-to-the-grind that you've completely missed the boat of podcasts. As a trendy way to boost your creativity, spark your imagination and mold you into a better leader, there are countless entrepreneurial talks available.
While listening to a podcast over music while you're cooking, commuting or working on yet another report is a smarter way to multitask than say, listening to music, it can be overwhelming to get started. Luckily, many female founders and CEOs have navigated the pool for you already, and offer their best recommendations for stimulating hosts, topics and shows. Warm up your headphones, grab your portable charger and tune in:
From: Caroline Danehy, the co-founder of Fair Harbor, a men's sustainable swimwear company.
Why: “All of the different stories from the co-founders each had the same theme: businesses don't become successful overnight. Featuring different entrepreneurs, it was inspiring to hear how they overcame various hurdles and their journeys to where they are today. Two of my favorite podcasts featured Drybar and Honest Tea. Alli Webb, the founder of Drybar, discussed how she started Drybar from a small idea while doing her friends' hair. Specializing in one thing, perfecting hair, and focusing on that, her motto has become 'focus on one thing and be the best at it.'. Throughout the podcast, Alli exemplified characteristics of persistence and determination. It was clear that once she had her mind set on something, she wasn't going to let anything or anyone get in the way of achieving it."
From: Kylie Carlson, the CEO of leading education institution in the wedding industry, The Academy of Wedding and Event Planning, offering an online course for wedding planners, stylists and designers.
Why: “What I love about Amy Porterfield is that most of her podcasts are solid 'How To's' where she shares her own processes with you and you finish off feeling like you've really learned something you can apply to your own business. I love a good takeaway when I'm listening to a podcast, and Amy gives you action plans and easy to digest information that is simple to understand and easy to apply."
From: Meghan Ely, the owner of OFD Consulting, a niche PR firm exclusively serving the wedding industry.
Why: “I love the transparent nature in which they share how to get a small business off of the ground. The founder Alex Blumberg is a celebrated member of the podcast industry, but even he had to face the inevitable lows of being an entrepreneur for the very first time. I've been able to appreciate, and learn from, the challenges they've faced as they've grown rapidly: staffing, work/life balance as a parent and scaling smartly."
From: Vanessa Jeswani, co-founder of Nomad Lane, a brand of travel accessories that are smartly made at an affordable price.
Why: “This podcast is focused on innovation in fashion and retail. The podcast features interviews with founders of brands that are revolutionizing the consumer economy, from direct to consumer business models to manufacturing innovations. It's perfect for anyone who is interested in learning about new retail channels, inventory management, starting a fashion/lifestyle brand and innovative marketing campaigns. Richie, the interviewer, asks detailed and important questions so listeners can understand what really goes on behind the scenes."
From: Kelly Pace Stegman, the founder of Pace & Love Marketing, specializing in food marketing strategy for emerging businesses.
Why: “This is a good podcast for people who may have dipped their toe into zen, horoscopes and self-care to dive head first into the world of wellness. The LA-based podcast discusses everything from yoga, crystals and juice to anti-aging skin treatments, alchemy and intuition. It's light, but goes deep and perfect when I am on a long drive and would rather learn about buzz over business."
From: Anna Osgoodby, co-founder of Bold & Pop, a brand, website design and social media collective that helps small business owners and bloggers reach their goals through brand development and marketing strategies.
Why: “I really love this podcast because it is founded by a business coach, Natalie Eckdahl, and is focused specifically on women entrepreneurs. Natalie interviews entrepreneurs across industries and it is always interesting to hear firsthand of their experiences and what has been most successful for them. She also does live coaching sessions which are very useful to hear how other business owner's challenges are addressed and how they sort out what is next for their journeys."
From: Neely Raffellini, founder of the 9 to 5 Project, which helps women with easy-to-follow job search tools and advice, including career coaching, resume writing, ongoing support and more.
Why: “Most episodes of this podcast are under ten minutes - except for the ones with a guest - so it's a quick way to grab a life and/or business lesson with the all-around awesome Marie Forleo. Recent episodes have focused on everything from gratitude to networking."
From: Misha Gillingham, luxury travel blogger and influencer and founder of Wildluxe. Her Instagram show, Luxury Travel Show, takes viewers on 60 video tours through the more luxurious properties around the globe. Wildluxe also donates 100 percent of profits to charities to help underprivileged children worldwide.
Why: “After battling cancer I learned just how short life can be and I knew I needed to make some changes in order to live the life I had dreamt of. Brooke's podcast teaches listeners how to accomplish goals without being bound by fear. It is highly motivational and helps me in business and almost every other aspect of my life. Brooke's words of wisdom have changed the way I think, and as cliche as this sounds, I am now able to live the life I have always dreamed of. I am traveling the world in total luxury, and getting paid to do it! Additionally, The Life Coach School Podcast has improved the important relationships in my life. The core values of Brooke's podcasts can be applied to anyone in any situation."
From: Suneera Madhani, the CEO and founder of Fattmerchant, a subscription-based payment technology provider offering direct-cost pricing, analytics and omnichannel integrated payments solutions to businesses.
Why: “One of my favorite podcast hosts is Sophia Amoruso, who interviews entrepreneurs from all different industries and has an entrepreneurial journey of her own. She blends learning and fun into one, and it works really well without being forced. This is a much lighter, relatable podcast that focuses solely on girl bosses, something I believe in wholeheartedly."
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.