Tag Archives: career

Inspirational mum Reem from Ossass-Stories.

July’s inspirational mum is Reem, author and publisher from Ossass-Stories.

 

What is your career background?

After studying English at university, I started working as a translator and researcher in Jerusalem, mainly with The New York Times. In 2006, when I was 26, the Israel-Lebanon war broke out, and I urged my boss to let me go to the frontline because I knew the area well. It was my first major journalistic assignment. I realised that being fluent in Arabic would be even more of an advantage in video than in print, so I taught myself how to film and edit video. In 2009 I started doing videos for The New York Times, going into the field, interviewing people, filming them, writing my own scripts and editing together the video reports. In 2012 I moved to New York, and was hired as a staff video journalist by The Wall Street Journal. I mainly covered Middle East affairs, the war in Syria and Iraq, the rise of ISIS and the refugee crisis.

 

How did your career change after having children?

I put my career on hold twice, both times after giving birth to my daughters. After my first, in 2011, I waited 9 months before going back to freelance video journalism, although I was able to do some translation before that. I really enjoyed being a mother, but I also loved my work as a journalist, and I was happy that I could be both. I was happier and more fulfilled, and although I had originally intended to stay at home longer to bring my daughter up bilingual in Arabic and English, it very quickly became clear that she was learning more words and language skills when she was at a nursery interacting with other children her own age and other adults. There was a similar pattern after my second daughter was born in New York in 2015. I left my job at The Wall Street Journal when I was 9 months pregnant, spent the first 18 months with her – and settling my family into a new life in London. I only recently started freelancing again, but I have spent the last few months working on building up my small business, which publishes Arabic books for children.

 

Where did the idea for your business come from?

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Or, in my case, the mother who invented. Arabic has two registers: formal and colloquial. All books, newspapers, magazines, radio and television programmes  – even for children – use the formal version of the language. That was very frustrating to me as a child, to read children, animals and cartoon characters talking like lawyers and newspaper editorials. When I became a mother I just couldn’t read those books out aloud to my children. So I decided to write children’s books in colloquial Arabic. Things are changing in the Arab world – satellite television channels have familiarised people with other Arabic dialects, and social media has got people accustomed to the idea that it is all right to write as you speak. Other mothers and fathers in the Arab diaspora told me they felt the same, and that it was more important for their children to learn to speak to their grandparents and cousins than to struggle their way through high, formal Arabic texts.

I talked with my husband about this idea in March 2014 and we published our first book in December 2015. When I got the first actual solid book in my hands, it really was a huge feeling of achievement, an affirmation that we were doing something new, and a little bit revolutionary.

 

What drives you do what you do?

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It was always in the back of my mind, but I never really formulated a plan. But then the world changed around me and I realised that we were living in an era of mass migration of Arabs to Europe, America and elsewhere.

As someone who lives in the Arab diaspora I saw these new arrivals turn up – as a journalist I even went to interview some of them – and it became even more important to me that we should have a new children’s literature in Arabic, featuring the contemporary world. Our books feature a confident, outgoing young Arab girl who feels entirely at home in places like New York. Because it is her city. That is how our oldest daughter defines herself if anyone asks her where she is from: she says “I am from New York City.” I love that. And I want books that show Arabs living in the West comfortably, being an integral part of the scenery, fluent in the language and culture. It’s a passion to me.

 

How did you move from idea to actual business?

I was really surprised by how quickly an idea became a real product. It all started one evening in March 2014. I was frustrated after reading a bedtime story to my daughter in formal Arabic. I went to the living room and told my husband that I wanted to write children’s books in colloquial Arabic. It was a eureka moment, it was so obvious to me that this needed to be done, and I had no doubt in my heart or mind that I was going to do it. My husband was so positive, encouraging and very excited about the idea. I started with my research work that evening. I contacted an illustrator the next day after seeing his work on the internet. We found a lawyer to help us set up our own publishing house, we signed a contract with the illustrator two months later, and our first book was published a year and a half after the idea was born. We’ve just published our second book, and I couldn’t be prouder.

 

Who is your target audience?

Our books are mainly designed for Arab children living in the diaspora. But since we started selling, we have also seen interest from college and university students, who are studying colloquial Arabic, but can’t find books to practise it. The book is now on the shelves of public libraries in New York, Norway and Sweden, and in bookshops in cities around the world where there is an Arab community.Our books are for everyone who enjoys a good story. We’re even thinking to translate it into other languages, including English.

 

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Most of it is done on social media. We have a Facebook page, and Twitter and Instagram accounts. We also have people who subscribe to our emailed newsletters. We have held readings in schools and colleges and we have a pink business card in the shape of a bookmark that we send out with every book, and encourage people to tell a friend. We are right now preparing for an Arabic cultural street festival in New York – where we had a stall last year – and for our first one in London. I tell everyone I meet about our books, because I am very proud of it, and also I would like people to spread the word. It’s a lot of work.

 

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

I think that there aren’t enough hours in the day to manage to be a mother and a business woman. There’s so much work to do when it’s your own business, every little decision from deciding the name of your company, to designing your logo, to choosing the paper thickness of the books, to writing the best promotional post on Facebook. Much of it is up to me, although my husband does help as much as he can while doing a full time job in journalism. Publishing involves a lot of back and forth with printers, smoothing out the text and pictures with the illustrator, and with the friends and colleagues who are more fluent in, say, the Egyptian dialect than I am. My husband and I both post the books personally – those sent from London, at least – which takes up time but provides an enormously satisfying moment when another envelope gets sent on its way.

 

So, I would say that time is my biggest obstacle. Being a mother to an 18-month-old toddler also means there are some feelings of guilt. Am I giving my younger daughter enough attention? But I also see that my older daughter is immensely proud to see her life chronicled in books that are – loosely – based on her life. And I am proud to see a small publishing house that started from nothing growing every day.

 

And your proudest moment/biggest success so far?

I think the happiest and proudest moment for me was when I first saw the first copy of our first book. I was 9 months pregnant, very heavy, and it was an incredibly emotional moment. We had worked for months on the story, the illustrations, the backstory, the rollout plan. It was more than anything a lesson that you can do anything with persistence, hard work and big dreams. Nothing beats the feeling of working for your own company. Seeing it all come together… it was almost like giving birth. But much less painful.

 

Who inspires you?

I admire ambitious women. I remember a few years ago I used to follow a New York Times video series featuring business women from different backgrounds who started from zero and built their business empires. And I remember so clearly looking at their stories and thinking “I want to do the same! I want to have an idea and turn it into a successful business model.”

NEWSFLASH
Reem will be appearing at some amazing cultural festivals over the summer. To find out more read her newsletter.
Full name: 

Reem Makhoul

Author and Publisher

 

Company: 

Ossass-Stories

(Publishing House | Children’s books in colloquial Arabic)

 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/OssassStories

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/OssassStories

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/arabicbooksforchildren/

Website: www.Ossass-Stories.com

Emailcontact@Ossass-Stories.com

 

Fancy a change of career that is also great for your own health?

Having children often brings a natural pause to take stock and reassess our priorities…to think about what we would love to do rather than a job that just pays the bills. If health and fitness is your thing, Luke from Origym has some pointers for you. Over to you Luke.

January is the busiest time of the year for most of us, after hopefully having some time off for relaxation and celebration over the Christmas period, It is back to the norm of routine and work, which can be more daunting for some of us more than others. I find it disturbing when people say they are dreading going back to work as we spend most of our lives at there and often the importance of job satisfaction is crucial to our overall happiness and wellbeing.

According to MyVoucher.com, setting a new career goal in the top five most prominent New Years resolution and the desire to re-train to become a fitness instructor or personal trainer within the fitness sector mirrors this trend. The fitness industry is not just the time where gym novices and seasonal trainers start flooding back to the gym, with this year being the year they finally get their dream body until March hits and those same people have given up and fallen off the bandwagon. It is also the time where more people enrol onto a fitness course than any other, seeking to make their hobby their main form of income.

If fitness is an important element in your life and the idea of going back to the mundane of a 9-5 office job does not appeal to you, then taking action and becoming a personal trainer might be a career path worth considering. You may not know the benefits of becoming a personal trainer and why it has been rated in The Times’ top ten, as one of the most rewarding jobs in the UK, but take a look at this list of reasons why over ten thousand people will make this decision in January alone this year:

1. Job Satisfaction – Have a career that focuses on your interests
2. Rewarding – Play an influential role in changing someone’s life
3. Choose when you work – 79% of personal trainer roles are freelance, become your own boss
4. Personal Trainer Salary Average (UK) – £27,000 National Average, not too shabby
5. You get to wear trackies and a vest everyday….Yes please!
6. Practical based job, no more sitting at a desk for you.
7. Great social implications in that you will always meeting new people

And many, many more…..


BUT HOW DO YOU GET QUALIFIED TO BECOME A PERSONAL TRAINER?

Firstly you need to be fully qualified as a level 3 personal trainer to be able to obtain the relevant insurance to conduct one to one personal training sessions. Think of it like the same way you need a license to drive a car, even if you know how to drive, you still need a license to get insurance and not make yourself liable for any damages. Fitness certification works in the same way, you need two fitness qualifications; the level 2 gym instructing and level 3 personal training qualification, this is the minimum requirement to become a personal trainer.

You can go via a college or a specific training provider, but always, always ensure that the fitness qualification you purchase is backed by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) and is through a recognised awarding body, like Active IQ or YMCA Awards. Unfortunately there are providers that have not gone through this level of accreditation and ultimately the certificate you receive is worth no more than the piece of paper it is printed on. Once you have identified the right company for you, choose the learning method that suits you best in relation to the way you learn, your financial position or what type of studying fits into your schedule, Now you will be all set to realising your dream career.


WHAT CAN YOU ACTUALLY DO WITH YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER CERTIFICATION?

The fitness sector is huge and many people think you get qualified to work in a gym and you might think that too? Although yes, the majority do take this career choice, there are more options than you perhaps think on how you can make a very good living from fitness. Simultaneously, not all personal training roles are the same either with gyms and health clubs operating under completely different business models, resulting in the way personal trainers earn the wage unique to that gym. Take a look at this list of jobs, roles and opportunities that might intrigue you:

1. Become a class instructor such as bootcamps, pilates or Yoga
2. Become a Gym Instructor
3. Become a Gym Manager
4. Become a freelance personal trainer for a gym
5. Become a freelance personal trainer for home visits or from gym to gym
6. Work as a physical trainer for the NHS or private healthcare clinic
7. Become a sports therapist, sports rehab or injury prevention for a sports team
8. Become a fitness tutor
9. Work for the MOD as a Personal Trainer
10. Start your own gym, private fitness studio or fitness club

There are many more options that you could explore and often, successful personal trainers have multiple job roles to add as many strings to their bow as possible, as this naturally increases their earning potential. The fitness industry is growing at a fast rate and in fact has grown very year for the past three decades but within the last few years it has exploded with awareness of health and fitness being amplified via social media and government focus to increase sporting and fitness participation. There has never been a better time to get involved with one of the most exciting industries it the world with the first time in recent years personal trainers are high in demand to fill this new avenues.

Whether you want to become a personal trainer or want to do any career for that matter, make sure you take action and start working towards a career you know you would enjoy, after all life is too short to spend not following your true calling.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Luke Hughes
Managing Director
Origym
Facebook: www.facebook.com/origymCOE/
Twitter: @Origym_COE

Luke is a qualified personal trainer and Director of Origym, an education company for the fitness sector as well as a gym owner. He moved from Birmingham to Liverpool to follow his passion for fitness and start his own career within the fitness sector. Luke enjoys everything fitness, but his true sporting focus is cycling and in his spare time he can often be found climbing the hills of the lake district.

Disclaimer
This is a sponsored post to encourage mums to think about their career options.

Did you change career after you became a mum and how did it go? Let us know in the comments below.

You’ll never guess what happened on Friday!

On Saturday I went along to Mumsnet workfest 2016. I was still very surprised to be going along. Twenty two hours before I did not know I was going! I got a tweet from Barclays to say I’d won a pair of tickets. I looked at the website and was so excited about the line up. Just a quick call to my hubby to chat about childcare and I was all set to go. The Mumsnet workfest looked to be aimed as mums returning to work after maternity leave. I figured there were a couple of seminars that looked really good and it was a great opportunity to network.

The most surprisingCath andMe part of the day was when I met Cath. I arrived early and got chatting to another he. She had an awful lot in common with me. I’m from Bradford, and she lives there now. We both LOVE languages, especially German, so we chatted about that, about our families, and the Lingotastic classes I run. Anyone who has read my blogs, or met me in the flesh will know that family language learning is my passion, so another mum looking to bring more language learning into her family life and maybe run classes like mine is an absolute joy to me. Cath said this was something she’d like to do so discussed my journey and ideas for her to work towards something similar.

The first event was with the keynote panel of Karen Blackett OBE, Jo Whiley, Jess Phillips MP and Kirstie Mackey. It was awesome to hear them share their stories and “How they do it all.”Panel speaking
Karen is a truly inspirational women who has created a culture in her company which includes and celebrates family. Jo Whiley shared how through her radio career she has worked with supportive people who have allowed her to be a mum as well as an employee. The two shining light pearls of wisdom from this session were “One good parent is enough”- Jess, and “Bring the whole of you to work” – Karen. If the day had stopped there, this would have been brilliant already.

I’m self employed, so the break out session on The Key to building your business was just what I wanted to hear. It was so great to hear others stories. I heard what I know now to be true, “Starting your own business is not the easy option”. I also had the time to reflect on how lucky I am to have a hubby who has let me run a selfie2business which did not make any money for the first two years.
For the second breakout session I walked in, and the lovely Esther Stanhope was bouncing around with excitement. It was titled “How to network when you hate small talk” There were lots of brilliant little tips I could quickly put into practice. We had to break into pairs and speed network. I found out that Katie loves Bradford (where I’m from) and writing and blogging. I was so excited I took a silly selfie. She confessed that prior to this she was a selfie virgin!

Lunch was delicious restaurant quality food and great chance to network. I chatted with a bilingual Russian & English mum about what they do at home, and she said advice and support would make a massive difference to her as her daughter grows. This was a massive encouragement to me and something I am considering I how to work in practice.

 

I went along to the self esteem workshop with Kim Morgan from Barefoot Coaching. The room was pretty full. It was a high speed session including many ideas and a couple of group exercises. I came away with a revelation that as women we all struggle with similar issues which was a real eyeopener to me. Her book The Coach’s Casebook looked a good way to follow up on the session.

We were so fortunate to be able to find out “What we did next”-inspiring stories with five awesome women who were inspired to launch their own business by Workfest 2015.

I was so excited that the guest speaker this year was Matthew Syed. My hubby has been reading his book “Bounce”, so I was excited I could hear him speak. He presented so clearly. This was a real lightbulb moment, to see my own growth mindset and fixed mindset. It was a real eyeopener as a mum, to help me to encourage my own children to see that if things go wrong, failure is not final, and though failing we learn how to do it better next time.
MattSyed If you want to buy his books Black box thinking and Bounce for yourself, click through.

It was an awesome day and I came away feeling comfortable in my own skin and that I’m not doing a bad job as a mum. Not bad at all for an event I’d not heard about before the Friday.

This blog is the first in a monthly series celebrating women in business and the workplace. I believe that if something is not celebrated it can die, so I want to take the chance to celebrate some awesome women. If you’d like to write a guest blog for us get in touch.