Sneak Peek: From The Desk Of SWAAY Founder, Iman Oubou


Here's just a sample of the kind of content you could get as a subscriber to my weekly newsletter, From The Desk Of Iman. Each week, I'll be opening up about what's happening in my world, whether that's startup-life struggles, trending think pieces, or some real-talk on my own personal journey.

This edition of From The Desk Of Iman, was originally sent out on Sunday, March 1, 2020.

Let's talk about the big news of this week… the official conviction of rapist Harvey Weinstein. His conviction is a huge win for the #metoo movement, a huge win for survivors, and a huge win for women. This story has pushed a new narrative in the media where women are not only heard but believed. Despite all the ways that his defense has tried to undermine their stories… The Weinstein news, to me, is more about a shift of power — marking the beginning of a new era in fighting the patriarchy and shutting down the systemic oppression of women.

I used to have an acquaintance that I highly respected as both a Hollywood executive and a businessman. Prior to moving to NYC, he was involved with Harvey Weinstein's companies. After the big news broke in 2017, it really started some important conversations around workplace harassment and the high-level of exploitation happening in Hollywood. It's taken three years for his court case to play out, and we're still talking about it. These were conversations that needed to happen, for quite some time.

Naturally, when it all started, I felt the need to share my thoughts on it with media outlets reaching out. But when the aforementioned acquaintance of mine saw my commentary on a CBS piece, he immediately sent me a defensive text, stating that he hopes I am "happy getting coverage at the expense of someone else's misery." Of course, he was referring to Weinstein and his misery. The funny thing is, I wasn't even commenting on the Weinstein case. Rather, I was speaking about sexual harassment in general and how pervasive it is in business and the startup community.

I don't know Harvey Weinstein nor do I know all of his accusers, but I do know what it's like to constantly be put down and harassed by men in power. Most women, whether they're in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Corporate America, or anywhere for that matter, know what that feels like. And we're not going to tolerate it any longer. I will continue advocating for women who have been mistreated by men like Harvey Weinstein. I will continue listening to and sharing their stories, in the hopes that it will break down this system of abuse.

But, I also think it is time that we flip the script a bit. We can't have mainstream media only want to tell women's stories as they relate to powerful men! I want the media to know that women have more stories worth telling, too. Yes, this conviction is a win. But we cannot let this narrative become the only narrative. The media needs to stop co-opting women's stories only as they pertain to men in power. Women's stories are about so much more than surviving sexual harassment.

The media's gender gap in favor of men writers, editors, and managers shapes our culture's perspective. This article, in Ms. Magazine, sums it up perfectly, "The lack of women skews the content of the news, gives the impression that women don't count and makes it difficult for women to gain credibility with men. If we don't have credibility, it doesn't matter who we tell about sexual harassment and assault."

Reading that article and reflecting on the Weinstein case, reminded me of why I started SWAAY with the mission of giving women a space to own the conversation. Because women are more than just what powerful men have done to them. We have our own stories of triumph, glory, and disruption. And it's important we prioritize telling them.

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The Weekly SWAAY — My Way

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.


When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.


Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.


If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.