Kick Off The New Year With A Morning Routine That Sticks


The new year is here and it undoubtedly leaves us with lots of looming questions. (What are our goals? What is our plan? How are we going to make our dreams come true?) We know that you are thinking all of these things and that you are ready to make big things happen in 2017, but it has to start somewhere - like with a killer morning routine that truly energizes your day.

Whenever you adopt a morning practice that you love, that fuels you completely, it will stick and become a driving force for all those goals you have tucked away in your favorite planner.

Bring it on 2017!

Focus on what you love.

Truth: the most successful people in history have claimed starting their day with an effective routine has been the key to their successes. Seriously, Benjamin Franklin, Anna Wintour and Steve Jobs all have routines that invigorated them and started with doing things that they loved - because it got them excited to start their day.

Steve Jobs was even quoted saying “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” Ask yourself that. Focus on starting your day doing something that you love, that will make you want to get out of bed and get those creative juices flowing.

But in all seriousness, you will never be excited to start your day if you don’t begin it with doing something that you love. So whether it is spending some time with God, making your favorite green juice, stopping in your nearest Starbucks and morning yoga - make it the first thing and get up and do it.

Track how you’re spending your mornings.

If you feel like you’ve been having unproductive mornings then you need to stop what you’re doing and start taking notes. There’s no better way to swap out the bad habits for good ones than being able to pinpoint exactly where they have gone awry. Are you spending too much time scrolling Instagram? Catching up on the news? Or maybe you need to cut back on your workout routine a bit? Whatever it is that is holding you back from achieving those new year goals needs to be cut and modified.

Start with one change each day to figure out what fits.

Sometimes you just have to play with your morning routine a little until you figure out what works. Perhaps you need to change the order that you are doing things or wake up a little bit earlier to fit in a routine that works before the madness of your day takes over. Either way, it’s super helpful to jot down some ideas of things that you know you want to change and one way you can implement that change each day. You’ll know what works because it will hit you...hard!

Get started the night before.

I can’t stress this anymore. Never go into tomorrow without a plan. Waking up with a to-do list already ready to go will save you time in the morning. Need to get out the door for a big meeting? Have your outfit picked out already. It’s this simple modification that will leave you so refreshed and calm the day of.

Don’t be afraid to break “the rules.”

Once you have set a morning routine that works for you, don’t be afraid to mix things up every once in awhile. Sometimes, you just need that little bit of switching things up in the a.m. to be able to go back to your routine more refreshed than ever.

7min read

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

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 ( 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 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.