How A Career Setback Helped Me Reconcile My American And Iranian Identity


The rejections started out very deep, the source being the day/night difference between two countries, Iran and America. Having a love for both countries, but not being accepted in one, was extremely difficult. The rejection began by my being myself in Iran. I was rejected on a cultural, religious, and gendered level while living in Tehran, my whole identity and Western way of thinking as a Brooklyn teenager constantly questioned. I was fired from my Channel Six position as an anchor/reporter due to not following Islamic rules & regulations (e.g. wearing open-toed shoes, wearing perfume after a long Islamic HR interrogation process, etc.). The ultimate rejection of this kind was being escorted out of the building for simply being myself and leading a not-so-religious way of life.

"At 37, a sum of all the rejections, disapprovals, and failures have helped me understand who I am, open up, become vulnerable, and find the truth inside me" (Photo courtesy of shfarsi.com)

On top of the disapproval from my country and those around me, it even came from those I was most fond of: my parents. The complete disapproval from a cultural Iranian perspective for a girl to go out and explore was the hardest part. Eventually my parents accepted that I wanted to create something rather than just get a paycheck or pursue a medical profession—which was a family tradition and expectation. I was a complete black sheep with a strong mindset, blame it (or not) on growing up in Brooklyn, NY.

At this point, I was 22 and unsure of my identity, Iranian or American. Why had my parents brought me back to Iran when I was completely Brooklynized? Why did they think less of me for being a girl and not being able to make it? Things have changed now. My parents have changed, they have grown alongside my own personal growth.

After we returned to the U.S., things changed, perspectives shifted and all the rejections/ disapprovals had transformed into assets for a much bigger journey that was ahead of me while also helping me to understand my strengths. When going on a journey of self realization, one finds that within rejection, you start to re-evaluate and see what it’s trying to convey.

After deciding to start my own company, especially perfume (one that I wasn’t allowed to wear to work while being an anchor and was eventually written up for), now entrepreneur-type rejections were set in front of me. Though not a stranger to rejection, it’s never easy. Whether it’s from someone you once fell in love with, your own family members, society, or within the workforce, it’s just as difficult. Yes, there are different circumstances that can affect us in different ways but needless to say, rejection is rejection and should be taken into account in its entirety.

At this point, I had suffered from so many previous rejections that I had learned how to deal with it—to an extent. That said, I also received several rejections while trying to publish my book and get a viable agent. Rejection and disapproval have a changed meaning in my book, no longer making me question my path or feel sad and anxious; it now empowers me.

"After deciding to start my own company, especially perfume (one that I wasn’t allowed to wear to work while being an anchor and was eventually written up for), now entrepreneur-type rejections were set in front of me" (Photo courtesy of desert35.com)

At 37, a sum of all the rejections, disapprovals, and failures have helped me understand who I am, open up, become vulnerable, and find the truth inside me. A piece of advice I’d like to pass along is that your truth, openness, and constant persistence is how you can succeed in the face of rejection toward whatever goal/dream you have. Everyone has a goal/talent—it’s up to you to find it. So hustle.

Rejection is a detour towards a better direction—it’s redirection (I have that printed and framed in front of my work desk in case I forget it). For every perfume production company that didn’t believe in the Desert35 idea, for every book agent that didn’t believe in the book, that was only redirection towards a better production company and agent. On top of that, I didn’t sacrifice who I was in the face of keeping my job and trying to shift my identity. Look at where I am now.

Just like a break up, every rejection gets progressively easier. The first of any type will always be the most difficult. However, the process of recovery helps you evolve, understand you, move forward and help other people move forward. This final note is the best feeling in the world and gives meaning to everything else.

Rejection is shared by many entrepreneurs, but I’ve learned to embrace it, understand it, and allow it to motivate me. Ultimately, this process has made me into a better person, friend, business partner, entrepreneur, and it fuels me to move forward towards my passion with compassion and positivity and the openness to grow in every way.

If you have found yourself in a phase of rejection, know that it is just a redirection for better.

Rejection was truly an asset, even for someone like me who was stuck in between two completely different worlds. Rejection is good—especially in business. It’s healthy. Listen to it. Rejection is simply delay not defeat, and the key is your response to it. It has clarified my path and has helped me understand who I am, uncovered what I can and can’t do, helped me understand humility and gratitude, and has given me tough elephant skin in a world of people always trying to tear through it. Rejection has made me create the thought process of “what if?” and to always follow my curiosity and the questions that pop in my head (most of the good ones are unexpected and out of nowhere in the most unlikely situations). If needed, I am willing to ask for help and re-evaluate if necessary. Lastly, have gratitude and find the perspective that allows you to see obstacles and rejection as tools for growth.

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Choosing the Right Corporate Structure: Which Business Entity Should You Go With?

Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership or LP
  • Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC
  • Professional LLC
  • Professional Corporation
  • B-Corporation
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Estate
  • Cooperative Organization
  • Municipality

As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.

Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State

All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.

What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.

To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.

Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants

There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.

Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.

Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.

This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.

General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities

The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.

Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.

Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners

A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.

The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.

It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.

It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.

Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC

Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:

  • It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
  • The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
  • The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses

While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.

B, C and S-Corporation

By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.

However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.

C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.

The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.

B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.

S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.

Cooperative: Limited Application

A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.

This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.