She’s a social impact entrepreneur, a public speaker and a women’s empowerment activist who’s doing everything she can to make a positive change in the world. Please welcome Arzo Yusuf.
Amanda: Arzo, thank you for taking the time to join me today. I’m going to jump right in. What does it mean to be a social impact entrepreneur?
Arzo: Thank you so much, Amanda, for having me. A social impact entrepreneur is really somebody that has a social impact business model. So it’s a for-profit business with a social component. So something that contributes to the social good of the community in various aspects. It could be the environment. It could be some kind of social cause. It could be helping out animals, helping out people – something that gives back to the community to make the world a better place.
Amanda: Wow, that was nice and succinct. I like it. Because I always hear you introduce yourself as that, and I never bothered to Google it. I found it. I’m like, oh, let’s just have you on the podcast, and then I could ask you there. [Amanda Laughs] Has that always been part of your life or how did you kind of get started with trying to give back to the people in the world?
A bleeding heart
Arzo: I really kind of have a bleeding heart. It runs really deep, and I care about humanity. I care about people. I care about my community. And I try to give back in different ways, and the suffering of people really bothers me. It hurts me. So whatever I’ve been able to do over the years, I’ve done, whether it’s volunteering my time, whether it’s being involved in a charity organization sitting on a board, helping, you know, raise funds to be able to donate to different causes, things like that. And then I came to kind of that crossroads in my career and personal life and I ended up starting my social impact brand Sexy Boss Babe, and having it structured as a social impact company made sense for me.
I do some work still with a nonprofit, but the general nonprofit business model is a little bit outdated, I feel like. Because you’re constantly going out and trying to fundraise and get funds, whereas if you have a social impact business, you essentially have an ongoing revenue stream for your business, plus this great cause that you’re trying to help. So it just all kind of came together.
Amanda: I like that it’s part business because sometimes people think, oh, to do good you can’t make money at it, but they forget that piece of it that with more money you can do more good. So it’s okay to treat it like a business with the end results in mind if you want to take, whether it’s all of it or portion of it, and help others. But by making more money, it’s helping more people, so that’s okay. It’s okay to go after the money and the business that way.
Arzo: Absolutely. I totally agree with you. You know, even with charities, people think that people that work at charity organizations, they aren’t supposed to make money or they get surprised when they find out there’s a payroll and there’s employees, and it’s like, you know, no one’s going to work for free and people deserve to be paid living wages. And just because you are someone with a good heart and you do want to give back to a good cause, it doesn’t mean that you should completely self-sacrifice. You know, you and I, and I think a lot of women talk a lot about self-care, self-love, those kinds of things, and it’s really important. You know, you can definitely do good in the world, but still take care of yourself and make sure that, you know, your business is making money and thriving while you’re giving back.
Amanda: You mentioned your brand and podcast – which is on a break right now, but might be coming back – with Sexy Boss Babe, that kind of does both. It ties that self-care into helping others. What is Sexy Boss Babe all about?
Sexy Boss Babe
Arzo: So I’m glad you asked. Thank you. [Arzo Laughs] So Sexy Boss Babe is actually a beauty product. That’s one part of our brand, and as you can see, there are these little cute glue on nails, saves you time from going to the salon. It came really in handy during this pandemic, I think, because people weren’t able to go out into the salons and get self-care. So for women, I think for people in general, but us women, we do really find a lot of peace of mind in self-care, in various ways. So that’s definitely one way of getting self-care and then, you know, it’s a fun beauty product and the brand identity is all about women empowerment. So we have our own definition of what a sexy boss babe is – it’s a breed of woman that’s confident from the inside out.
She can be thin or plus size, tall, short, athletic, any size, shape, or color. Her beauty comes from knowing her self-worth and going after what she wants in life. She is fierce, bold and empowered. So every box has a positive affirmation. So like this one is called “Boss Up”. So I wear it on days where I know I need to kick butt and boss up. [Arzo Laughs] It’s a little reminder, and then the podcast, as you mentioned, is the Sexy Boss Babe Podcast, about female-centric topics like self-esteem, empowerment, entrepreneurship, just different things that us women go through. So it’s kind of a way to tie in the brand with, you know, what women are all about and giving us a way to access information.
I do interviews with other really great women that are doing amazing things. It’s just kind of this like tie-in for all of us, and then a portion of the proceeds are donated to charities that support foster youth and sex trafficking survivors. So that’s the kind of social giveback component.
Amanda: [Amanda Laughs] I feel like you’ve talked about this before. Sometimes I ask people questions and they’re like, it kind of takes a little time and you’re like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. So…
Arzo: You got to have your pitch ready, you know. [Arzo Laughs]
Amanda: Yeah. No kidding. I’ve always been kind of torn about the female-centric topics, only in the sense that sometimes those types of groups seem to target weaknesses in others, and they’re like, oh, well you’re a woman, so you automatically have low self-esteem and all of these things. And I’ve kind of veered away from it. My previous podcast was called “The Womanpreneur Podcast,” and it was my cohost’s idea for the name, and I just never resonated with it. Mostly because I feel like I’ve never let being female define me, or hold me back, or any of those things. But the more people I work with, the more I find that there are certain things that unfortunately women in business seem to struggle with. And I don’t even like the word struggle, because that’s another word they’d send to use to target everybody.
But there are certain things that we deal with, that most men don’t seem to, and sometimes having that safe community, where you’re not being mansplained to all the time, is really helpful. And we found in those Clubhouse conversations and other, just talking you and I, and even on Instagram, there is something that happens when you get that community of a safe space and people really open up and they share their vulnerability, and it’s really, really beneficial, I think, overall. So I’m really glad that you have that angle and that focus, and you do it in a way of uplifting women and not targeting them.
Arzo: Yeah. Thank you for bringing that up, because you’re right. And I’ve heard the same thing too, you know, where people sometimes, why do we have to make it specific to women? Why can’t it just be, you know, this is, you know, who we are. And you know, in a perfect world, yes, that would be lovely and amazing. I’m similar to you, and I think, you know, I think you’re a pretty strong woman and you’re independent and you’re a go-getter and you know, we have our struggles, but we don’t let those titles and definitions or whatever limit us. Unfortunately, not everyone is that way, and it takes time to get to that place in our journey, I think, as being empowered women. I think it’s in all of us, but sometimes we have those fears and those barriers, and so touching back on what you’re saying, you know, Sexy Boss Babe, the empowerment piece, focusing mostly on females. Just to remind women that, you know, you have that in you and let’s get it out.
Amanda: It’s more of a strength, I think, than a weakness. Being female is empowering.
Arzo: Oh, it is a strength, and wait until all of us figure that out, [Laughs] open that part of us out, watch out world, we’re coming. [Both Laugh]
Amanda: Like many creatives out there, you’re doing a lot of things. You’re managing your own brands. You’re leading massive campaigns to help feed those in need, doing TEDx talks and other public speaking, and you recently started an executive director role at a nonprofit. When you have so many interests and priorities, sometimes you need to know which things to put on the back burner or when to press pause. How do you figure out which passions deserve your attention at any given moment?
Arzo: For everyone, I think it’s a little bit different and I do juggle a lot. You know, part of it goes back to what you and I, and some of the other ladies talked about on that Clubhouse about self-awareness. That part is really important, just really knowing yourself, knowing your limitations, but then also knowing what your priorities are and knowing the value of each priority. Sometimes people kind of just get stuck in the tasks of, I gotta do this, I gotta do that, but you end up if you take your time and just look at it, what’s the value add of this activity? Or, like, wait, this is not doing anything. This is actually a complete waste of my time, but it’s keeping me busy. So you have to know those things and you don’t always know them right away. Sometimes it takes time to, through trial and error to figure out, okay, wait, this was not a value add activity.
So I think it’s important to know your short and long-term goals and do the activities that are going to help you achieve your short and long-term goals, as opposed to, you know, just focusing on the tasks at hand, focus more on the goals, and then that helps you figure out how to prioritize or that’s how I do it, anyways.
Amanda: I’m with you on that. I think prioritizing is incredibly important. A lot of entrepreneurs, I think, fall into that trap of, I have to be busy all the time, meaning I have to fill every second of the day with a thing, a task of some sort, and kind of forgetting that whole brilliant thing of you get to make the rules for yourself at that point. So, for example, social media has its place in the world. It is important when you’re running a brand to have that out there, to be able to engage with customers or potential customers, all of that stuff. But if you hate social media, I’m not saying I’m talking about myself by any means, but if you’re not a huge fan of social media and you’re really busy at a certain point in your life. Say, it’s a very busy month, you have a lot of projects going on and you know that social media doesn’t directly bring you business necessarily. It’s not a huge source of income for you, it’s okay to press pause on that and say, I’m going to get back to this, but it does not deserve my attention right now, because what I could really be doing with that time is going inside and decompressing, which is going to help me overall, or doing something else. We don’t have to post every single day, or all these arbitrary rules that I think people put out there are like, you run a business, you have to do this, this and this. It’s more like, no, you run your own business. So you get to do whatever you want, more or less.
Arzo: Right. No, I totally agree with you, and I’m glad that you brought up the social media piece of it because yeah, social media is like really important, but as a small business, it’s very important, but at the same time, like you said, it might not always be your revenue generator. And it takes a lot of input into social media to really get the return on investment. And as a small business, you might not have that. Whether it’s the resource to hire somebody else to handle it and manage it and do it, and even if you do a lot of times, they don’t do it right. We’ve been there. And if you’re the one that’s doing it, as an entrepreneur, you’re probably managing multiple things. So you’re a hundred percent right, and I agree with you. When I first started Sexy Boss Babe, I was really just focusing on the e-commerce aspect of the business, and part of that was social media posting.
And so I spent a significant amount of time, probably six hours a day, creating content, posting and having a hashtag strategy. And when I launched, I thought that was all going to translate into sales. And it didn’t. And my percentage to sales, you know, was still actually above average, but it was not what I thought it was going to be. That was a rude awakening because the amount that I had invested of, you know, time and whatnot and the juice from the squeeze didn’t add up. So I had to change my strategy too. So sometimes I’ll kind of take that step back, also.
Amanda: Find yourself some more juice.
Arzo: Find juice. Yeah, you gotta go where the juice is. So… [Amanda Laughs] You got to move quickly sometimes. If it’s not coming from one place you got to find the next place.
Amanda: We do end up talking about self-awareness a lot, and I think that’s why sometimes it’s that introspection or taking a minute to think logically about a situation versus emotionally. I know that’s something I’m better suited for naturally, but it’s really that. It’s okay if I don’t post on social media for an entire week, or if I don’t publish an episode of the podcast for a month, what is really going to happen? Are you going to suddenly lose your entire business, and you’re never going to work again? I’m hoping not. [Laughs] Hopefully that’s not the case, but sometimes it’s okay to really, and that’s kind of how you prioritize, is by laying it all out there and then logically thinking about what is the negative repercussion, if I don’t do this?
It is probably not going to be that big of a deal. You can always try to change the narrative a little bit and like, “I’m going to go away and take this break, but then people are going to miss me.” And when I come back, they’ll know you’re ready to go. We can twist it and make it work however we need to.
Arzo: That’s true. And what’s kind of funny is that when I was like younger, I always thought the perfect work schedule for me was like work for three months really hard and then have like a one month or one and a half month kind of like, you know, not reprieve, but kind of decompress period. I think, you know, being an entrepreneur, my lifestyle kind of ended up evolving into that. And I didn’t even plan it to be honest with you. But I noticed I have these periods where I have three months of really hard go, go, go, and then, you know, after that project or whatever it is, you know, kind of gets completed, it’s like, okay, I have a decompress period, and then what’s the next thing. And then planning starts for the next thing and then I end up going really hard for another three months. And it seems to work. It seems to work and it allows me to kind of juggle and balance all the different things.
Amanda: You said that happened kind of naturally. How long do you think it took you to get to that point where you were comfortable with the downtime and didn’t go into panic mode – that, oh no, I had a quiet month, I’m never going to work again? Because it seems like pretty much everybody I’ve talked to, in the very beginning, the first slow month is panic mode. And then after, between one to three years, it kind of settles in, you get to know your cycles and how it fluctuates. And then it’s, you kind of embrace the downtime. It’s like, oh, I get to breathe now.
Let it flow
Arzo: [Laughs] I mean, I don’t know like how long it necessarily took, and I think it’s different for everybody. You know, we’re all different in how we manage those things. And I think that a lot of it was probably just after I left my job and my career to start Sexy Boss Babe, I gave myself the space to let it just flow and didn’t force myself to be in a structure. But what I also noticed is what I was doing, I was very passionate about, and everything was very aligned for me, so it just flowed naturally. So I ended up, I do work a lot, you know, even in my downtimes, I’m working. You know, if it’s not actual like selling something or whatever, then it’s planning, it’s, you know, those kinds of things. So I just let it ebb and flow, and I don’t know, it just kind of works itself out.
Amanda: It’s funny to say this as a business strategy because it’s really not, but that’s really what’s worked for me, is that I don’t try to force anything and everything just works out. And some people get mad at me when I say that, because I also work very hard to make sure that everything works out, but there’s so much added stress that people create for themselves sometimes, and it doesn’t serve anybody. Not to say, you could just be completely lackadaisical and like, oh, nothing matters. I’m just going to float along. But if you kind of just sit back a little bit and don’t try to control everything, things have a tendency to work out the way they’re supposed to.
Arzo: Yeah. I agree with you on that. I definitely feel that way, and you know, there’s lulls sometimes and you’re like, okay, I got it. Wait what’s the next thing? But that stress that, you know, I think sometimes people bring on themselves, that stuff goes back to just, I think as humans, the traumas that we go through in life, you know, all of those, you know, stress management and being hard on ourselves, a lot of times it doesn’t come from us. It comes from the voice in our head, which can be a mom or a dad, or a mean teacher or whatever. I think with entrepreneurship, it’s an opportunity to self-reflect. You know, entrepreneurship, it’s a stressful thing. It’s not, you know, you have to be a little unorthodox to do it.
Arzo: Right? It’s not for, you know, you can’t be totally normal. [Both Laugh]
Amanda: I 100% agree with that. [Laughs]
Arzo: But I think it teaches you about yourself too.
Amanda: It does. When you started Sexy Boss Babe, was that something you started building on the side as a passion you wanted to pursue, or did you really want out of your corporate job, and that was just the thing to do? Did it kind of happen slowly or did you dive right in?
Your spirit knows when it’s time
Arzo: It happened slowly. I didn’t dive right in. I was building it while I still worked in the corporate world. While I was still in the corporate world, I actually tried to start a different business with my mom. And so we did some traveling to overseas and China and whatnot and work with different factories and try to prototype different things. So I learned a lot through that process and then we ended up not moving forward with that business, and I just continued my corporate job. Then I reached a kind of a crossroads in my career. I had outgrown the job that I was in. I had done well for myself. I could have gone to a competitor for a different type of a role or whatever, but I just felt like, you know, it doesn’t match with my, like spirit. And I’ve come this far, but I don’t know how much longer I can live as my avatar, if that makes sense. [Laughs]
Amanda: It makes perfect sense.
Arzo: Right? And so I just was like, you know, maybe this is the time that I need to, you know, do the thing that I’m passionate about. Then the whole idea for Sexy Boss Babe happened as an accident. [Laughs] I got the idea and I immediately started working on it and I probably worked on it for about eight months before I quit my job. Then me quitting my job was also kind of, it wasn’t like I’m going to quit in eight months. It just fizzled itself out, you know? And it just was the right time. Sometimes, you know, life and your spirit or whatever knows like this is time, it’s time to go. So I ended up leaving my job at that point and fully focused on Sexy Boss Babe for the last few years.
Amanda: We know that I talk about instincts a lot [Laughs] and that’s exactly why, because if you try to force something, it’s unnatural, but if you listen to what your instinct is telling you, and also… I don’t want to say what the signs of the universe, ‘cause I don’t want that to sound cheesy that way, but it really is… because sometimes there are outside forces, whatever it is that you believe in, there are different names for it, different words, but there are things that come into play that are outside of yourself that you can’t control, but you can accept. I know for me, the times that I don’t overthink something and I just listen to what my gut tells me to do, those are the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
Arzo: Me too.
Amanda: We keep mentioning that we’ve had some great discussions on Clubhouse about various business and personal issues. Those were always a lot of fun. One topic we didn’t get into is communication, which seems to be a problem industry-wide. So I’m curious because we’re dealing with different personality types every day, I’m sure you’re dealing with a lot of different types and what I deal with. And there’s just a variety. I think, no matter what you’re doing. What do you think are some of the best ways to work effectively with others?
Arzo: My perspective, it might be a little bit different. I have a really strong sales background and that has probably helped me tremendously with communication, because when you are selling, whether it’s a service or a product, you have to understand the other person. You have to kind of understand their psychology. You have to understand, is this somebody that’s analytical? Is this somebody that’s relationship-oriented? Is this somebody that likes to talk? Is this somebody that makes impulsive decisions? Is this somebody that takes their time? All of these things kind of play into it. So you really have to understand people really well and doing that work for as long as I have, it taught me a lot about people.
And so, you know, with communication, I think, I can only speak from my perspective because of that experience. But I feel like in general, if you don’t have that experience, people’s goal when they communicate is, you know, I want to get my message across and it’s self-centric, which that’s natural, right? We all are trying to get our goal accomplished when we communicate something. But when you’re, for example, using that background experience of being in sales, you have to truly consider the other person. What do they want? So in communication, you’ll get your needs met, but focusing on how can I make this a collaborative experience? How can the other person feel good in this exchange?
When you put the other person in mind, it helps create an ease and a flow with the communication, and then you’ll get your chance to ask for whatever it is that you want or communicate the thing that you want.
Amanda: The reason I’m laughing is because it’s exactly my perspective on it as well. Mine doesn’t come from a background in sales at all. It comes from being an introvert and I’m the quiet one in the corner observing. People don’t always realize that being quiet, it’s not any kind of shyness or meekness. It’s really that observational quality. And I’m really fascinated by humans. I would much rather hear you talk about your experiences than me talk about mine. So I listen, which is another big component of it, but I’ve run into people all the time and they, like you said, are always trying to make it about them instead of the person they’re selling to, the person that they’re trying to get to do the work.
There are a lot of different types of relationships that benefit from trying to see where the other person is coming from and meet them there versus trying to make it all about you and trying to get them to think the way that you do. And that I think is something that if you’re able to set it, I don’t know if it’s an ego thing or really what motivates that, but if you’re able to step aside a little bit and say, this isn’t about me, well, let me figure out what this person needs, listen to them and don’t try to force it and you can have a lot more natural relationships that builds that trust, because it’s a two way street and not, oh, this person is trying to take advantage, they’re just trying to sell us something. They’re trying to take my money. It’s like, no, this is another human, and we’re having a conversation and we’re connecting on this level. I want to work with other humans that I like. So that’s a big part of communication that I think gets overlooked.
Arzo: I totally agree with you, and I like that you kind of brought that aspect up about the trust aspect and how that builds over time. It’s true. You know, whether it’s selling or communicating your idea, it should be a collaborative experience. At the end of the day, it’s up to us what kind of experiences we want to have with others. Are they quality experiences or transactional, right? We can get something accomplished in a transactional way if you’re manipulating somebody, but does that feel good at the end of the day? How many times can we do that and feel good about ourselves? Right? So definitely that higher quality interaction requires investment. It requires trust. It requires generosity. That’s why I like you, cause you’re like that. [Both Laugh] Those are the kinds of relationships that I like.
Amanda: I like to work with people who are easy to work with. I think it sounds pretty straightforward, but I do. You mentioned traumas earlier and I see this happen a bit, mostly with women sadly, but I think plenty of us have been in the bad corporate situations where we had bosses who didn’t value what we had to offer, who were maybe condescending, or we got into business for ourselves because we were tired of somebody else controlling our lives every day, which I think is completely valid. That’s a big part of why I got out of that as well. But sometimes I see kind of an overcorrection of, I own my business now. I make all the rules, and so I’m not going to bend to what anybody wants.
So it takes the important things like setting boundaries, but then going a little bit too far and not being willing to be flexible with a client, because it somehow triggers something that, well, they’re asking you to do this and now they’re going to take advantage of you. It really has nothing to do with that person. So I think it really comes back to that self-awareness, like it always does, but being able to be firm and open at the same time, it’s kind of a tricky balance, but I think once you get it, it just makes all of it so much easier and more fun.
Arzo: You’re a hundred percent spot on and I’ve noticed it too. And I hate to say this, I notice it a lot amongst female business owners and that it will a hundred percent, and again, I hate to say this part too, your business is going to fail, if you’re that kind of person. If you’re going to be in business, whether, again, whether it’s selling product or providing a service, what are you doing? You’re providing something for somebody else. So you’re giving something and, yes, you deserve your value. You deserve your money. There are some clients that are difficult clients, you know, we’ve all had those. You know, you’re allowed to not work with difficult clients. That’s a choice that you have, especially if you’re a small business. If you’re not going to have some flexibility, if you’re not going to bend a little bit, your business is not going to survive long term, you know?
And just like you said, it’s, you know, people have these like triggers that maybe they have from their traumas growing up or from their previous jobs and things like that. And it’s like, no one’s going to take advantage of me ever again. But if you’re going to offer high quality service, it’s about your customer and that old saying, you know, the customer’s always right, that’s an important part of business.
Amanda: I agree. The one that always, it kind of got me thinking about this a lot and why are people so defensive? I was in a Facebook group and somebody had posted this long rant because a client wanted them to send two separate invoices for a project. It was something very straightforward like that. It was super simple, but that wasn’t what the poster’s process was. And she was getting very bent out of shape that this client would ask her to send two separate invoices. It was kind of like how much of an inconvenience was that to you? Like, you should always make it easy for people to pay you, in my opinion.
That’s one area you don’t want to push back, but it’s not doing a ton of extra work. It’s not designing a whole new image, when you were hired to do one thing. It’s sending a second invoice. And her comment was always, well, I have a business. I’m allowed to have my own process. You absolutely a hundred percent are, but is it worth losing a client over sending a separate invoice? Because their accounting department probably has a specific way of doing things. I always will do whatever the accounting department of my client’s companies need every single time. I don’t care.
Arzo: I’m with you. And you know, it’s like, you know, another unfortunate reality is that most businesses fail. They, you know, don’t live longer than a few years, three to five years. And those types of things, if you don’t understand customer service, and a lot of people go into business without customer service experience, without sales experience, you know, you’re lucky because you’re, you know, you’re naturally an observer. So it goes back to that communication piece. It goes back to the relationship and trust piece and understanding people. If you’re not a people person, business might not be for you. [Both Laugh]
Amanda: This is also true.
Set expectations up front
Amanda: I am genuinely nice. I am nice to everyone. It’s my default status. I don’t really know another way to be. I don’t make a very good mean person. It’s not very believable if I try, but part of that is because it just makes it more fun for me. It’s less stressful for me. It’s easier for other people. I do put my foot down when it’s important, so it’s not about letting people take advantage or walk all over me, because there are times, there are certain things where I don’t generally cave in. Like, if somebody wants me to drive across town for a meeting, is it really necessary for me to waste all that time? Or can we hop on a video chat or a phone call or do something that’s more productive? It’s actually going to save you money, because I charge for my travel time, even if it’s within the same town.
I charge for everything, but I have no problem having those conversations, explaining in a very friendly manner, why it doesn’t make sense. I’ve never had anybody get upset about it. It all comes down to that tact and how you speak with other people, how you explain things and maybe give in every now and then, but there’s a way to be nice and also be firm and do what you need to do.
Arzo: I agree with you on that. And I think that, you know, [Laughs] I feel really bad right now, I’m like saying all these things about, you know, about our female counterparts, but you know, I don’t say it to put anybody down, but it’s to, you know, bring it to our awareness, right? If there’s people that are listening that, you know, have their businesses and things like that, and that are doing some of these things, but it goes back to again, like communication and women don’t like to be confrontational. So it’s when it gets to that point, and if they didn’t assert what their rules are, what their expectations are and you know, things like that, and they didn’t set it from the beginning and then something happens later, they tend to kind of not like it, and then have that exchange, like you mentioned about the invoice or this or that, or, you know, whatnot.
I think that’s another thing too, and again, it goes back to this Sexy Boss Babe podcast about female-centric topics. I talk about stuff like this, right? So it’s not to put anybody down it’s to help us. It’s to help women to say, “Hey, set the expectations upfront. Speak up.” It’s okay to say, “Hey, these are my rules. This is what you’re going to get for this price. You know, if you want these extra ad-ons, this is what it is.” Set the expectations, and you know, so the client knows and you know, there is your boundaries.
Amanda: I was going to say the exact same thing, that it’s not putting anybody down, it’s there to help because we see this out in the world so much, and we want to make sure that people are feeling empowered to speak up and have conversations instead of internalizing everything, assuming that other people know what’s going on, and then reacting based on the conversation you had with yourself in your head of what you think they’re thinking, which is probably hardly ever true. [Laughs] I think that it’s easy for entrepreneurs to get so caught up in business that it takes over everything.
We’ve kind of talked about that a little bit, but sometimes the bigger ideas come from unrelated places. You found confidence through sailing. So I’m curious how that all happened.
Arzo: So I was in an abusive relationship for about four years, and when I finally got out of that, I felt very broken. I am a pretty independent and strong person and coming out of that, you know, it made me really question myself, like, how did I get here? You know, and I just didn’t have that little spark in me anymore. I felt just kind of, you know, as a person, as a female being in any kind of relationship where you feel taken advantage of, I felt like I betrayed myself in a way. So all of those things that affects your confidence, right? So that strong, independent, go-getter, it wasn’t there. She was gone. So for the next, you know, probably year, I started just doing things to try to just kind of rebuild and refind myself and kind of reconnect that spark back in me.
So I started by making a list of things that I always wanted to do. Some of that was travel. Some of it was just different experiences. So I started doing them and then this part was kind of random, [Laughs] but I saw a picture of a magazine with a lady on a sailboat. I looked at that and I was like, oh, that looks really cool. I want to be a lady on a sailboat. How do I do that? So I called around and I found a sailing school. So I signed up for classes and then I took the classes. Within just a few days, I was out in the ocean, on a sailboat, sailing, turning the boat, maneuvering it, without a motor.
Just that whole thing where I was like, oh my God, I’m like on the ocean and moving and going fast. I’m doing this by telling people, “Hey, grab this, you know, rope and do this. And, you know, grab, you know, this.” Just that experience, I was like, whoa, I can do this. And so when you are able to accomplish something that you think is a difficult task or something foreign to you, it adds to your confidence. It reminds you that, you know, you’re capable, you can do things. So that is kind of how I feel like, you know, it kind of really helped me rebuild my confidence. It reminded me that, Arzo, you got it. You got to remember.
Amanda: Well, it kind of goes back to that, looking outside of yourself and finding inspiration. I don’t care if it was a picture of a lady on a sailboat, if that’s what inspires you to do it, that’s amazing. I love that, because it wasn’t you going out and seeking that photo. You just were kind of looking at stuff and you thought, huh, she’s having fun in that photo. I want to go and do that. I’m going to go do that. And actually acting on it is what I love so much about that.
Another one of the topics that you speak about that kind of jumped out at me was how to change the world by being a better human. I think we need a whole lot more of that attitude these days. What do you mean by that?
Arzo: So I think in general, we’re all good people, right? The majority of humanity doesn’t rape people, doesn’t kill people, right? So, you know, everyone does what you’re supposed to do, but we can all be better. For example, being a better human, if somebody is crossing the street and they need help, sometimes we just kind of, I don’t want to bother myself with that. I’m going to go this way, or I’m just going to continue on my way. Don’t. Stop. Ask somebody what they need and help them. You might be, you know, at a bar somewhere. I don’t know if this would happen now in these days, but I don’t know, you might run into a woman who’s totally drunk. She’s about to get in her car and drive home. She’s a stranger and pay for her cab, offer to drop her off home. Again, I don’t, that was kind of a personal thing and a safety thing. So I, you know, I don’t know, [Laughs] but those kinds of things, you know?
I think every person needs to do some type of volunteer work on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be every day. It doesn’t have to be every month, but you know, one month a year, every other month, once a week, whatever your schedule will allow, do something that’s not about you, and it’s about somebody else. If we did those kinds of things more, even just little things, it changes our perspective. It makes us, over time, better people. Then we are kinder and have more compassion for humanity.
It’s part of human nature, and I hate to say this, but I hope I don’t offend you or, you know, hope it’s okay on your podcast, but it’s an unfortunate reality, a lot of people are racist. It’s part of, I feel like human nature. When you start to become compassionate by giving to others, and by putting yourself in environments that you might not typically be in, it makes you see how other people live. It takes you out of your element and puts you in someone else’s world. And when you do that, and there’s a perspective shift, it doesn’t just apply to that situation. Now you’re able to more easily change your perspective on other things, and you can become less racist, [Laughs] you know, so many other great things can happen as a result. So that’s just a couple of examples.
Open your mind
Amanda: That comes back again, kind of, to perspective and to putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes. That acceptance of, I don’t understand what you’ve been through, and the collective you, but even you specifically, you know, you’re a refugee from Afghanistan. So you understand from a whole different level, what some of this stuff is like, based on your own background. So being able to apply that, even though your story is different from maybe a different race or a different gender or a different anything, you can still take what you know, and use that, but also be open to learning about other people’s experiences.
I think that’s what we all need to do is just open our minds a little bit and let other people talk, and actually going back to communication, listen to what they’re telling us, because there is a lot of negativity out there and actions that can be changed, but we have to be willing to make those changes from within, and it all ties in. You have to have the self-awareness to be able to do it.
Arzo: Yeah, definitely. You have to have a self-awareness and we get really caught up in our day-to-day. Everyone does. I think the pandemic has shaken up everything. So as horrible as this pandemic is, that for me, that’s the silver lining and I see it. So I feel like humanity is at it’s anger stage right now. Everyone’s just angry. [Laughs] If we can eventually get through that stage, because you can’t stay in a state of anger forever. It’s not healthy for anybody, but if you can realize the inequities in the world and know how horrible they are and over time, get away from the anger, but don’t forget that the inequities are there and then do something about it. Anger is not going to change anything. So, you know, I always say, if everyone just grabbed a corner, you know, we can get the sheet folded.
Amanda: I like all of your analogies, or metaphors, or whichever the correct word is, but I like that. Every now and then I’ll run into somebody who will say something like, well, I can’t afford to be charitable. I understand that giving money or donating money is one thing. If you have it, you can do it. Sometimes a dollar makes a difference. Sometimes every little bit makes a difference. If you don’t have the money, you might have the time. Not to say that you have to give a week of your life away every month, but maybe you have an hour or two hours. I used to volunteer at The Animal Foundation, which is an animal shelter in Vegas. And that was one of the most rewarding things ever, even if I was cleaning up after animals, it’s not exactly glamorous work, but there was something about it.
And I have so much more compassion for animals than I do for humans, which I don’t know what that says about me, but that was something that I could do. It was self-serving in a way, too, because I had just lost a pet and I wasn’t ready to get a new one at the time, but that was my way of being around other animals and doing what I could to help, especially the older ones, and do different things. The only reason I stopped going was the distance and it’s kind of an in a bad neighborhood and it got kind of sketchy there for a while, but I’m always looking for other things nearby because I can find an hour here or an hour there. And to just do something that has nothing to do with my business, has nothing to do with anything.
I think it’s important to do that, to take those breaks and find the balance and just meet different people that aren’t necessarily in your business, because sometimes we can get so focused it’s like, that’s all we talk about all the time, says the person with the podcast about it. [Both Laugh]
Arzo: No, I love it. And you know, you said so many great things. I think one it’s, I think it’s amazing that you have the heart for animals and you have spent time volunteering to help them, and, you know, you said it’s not glamorous or whatever. They’re living creatures and you know, we’ve domesticated them. So, you know, if they don’t have support from us, what are they going to do? So I think it’s lovely and you know, animals are special. And I know a lot of people that say, I like animals more than people, it’s because they’re innocent and they’re pure. And they’re just, you know, they are not there to hurt you. They’re just there to be love and joy. And, you know, I think kids are like that, when they are little and then they grow up and become adults and humans.
But, you know, anything, you know, any kind of volunteer work I think is important. And I agree with you with the, you got to take yourself out of your element sometimes and do something different that has nothing to do with your job and your entrepreneurship, you know, business or goals or whatever. With the volunteering thing, like you said, you were like, I don’t know, you know, maybe it was a little bit selfish because I got something out of it too. And absolutely, you know, volunteering is, it is about giving back and doing something good without even wanting to, you’re going to get it back tenfold. That feeling is so amazing. That’s one of the reasons why I tell people, you know, I always advocate for people, whatever it is that you’re passionate about. If it’s kids or animals or elderly or environment do it, because you’re going to love doing the work you’re going to help the other person or whatever it is, and just as a by-product of that exchange, the joy that you receive is incredible. It’s better than therapy, in my opinion. [Laughs]
Perfection is the enemy of growth
Amanda: Even if your motivation isn’t about helping others, which I think you can get plenty out of that and should, but if you need to make it, what do I get out of it, because so many people do, I think that being in different environments, talking to other people, again, when it has nothing to do with business, or maybe it’s people who run different kinds of businesses, because if they don’t know exactly what you do, you might be able to get an idea from them that is for something completely unrelated, but something clicks inside. It’s like, oh wait, I could probably apply that to this other thing that I’m doing. Or sometimes just to get out there and do, it’s going to sound weird, but to do something that you’re not good at, I think is important sometimes.
I know you agree with me about the issues with perfectionism and everybody trying so hard to be perfect at everything. And I don’t think that that’s something we should strive for because I don’t believe perfection exists. I think that the imperfections make us so much stronger and better at what we do, but it takes that getting out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in a situation that’s maybe not something that you really want to do, or maybe you’re afraid of. But by doing it, even if it was the first time you went onto that ship and were ready to sail, there’s this massive ocean in front of you, that is uncontrollable. There’s nothing you can do to change the way that those waves are going, but you went out there and you did it anyway, and look what you got out of it. So get out of there and don’t try to be perfect. Just do something.
Arzo: Yeah. And you know, I keep saying, I agree with you. It’s not because I’m trying to be agreeable, I truly do. [Laughs]
Amanda: This is how our conversations go. This is why I wanted to talk to you. [Both Laugh]
Arzo: Just confirming each other.
Amanda: It’s good sometimes to do that.
Arzo: You’re totally right about that. And you know, again, going back to, you know, I keep feeling bad about it, women, especially because it’s like, we have this fear of making mistakes and if we’re not perfect, then we’re less than, and we’re not worthy and all these kinds of things. And I know I’m generalizing, but I’ve seen it enough, and I’ve heard enough to feel comfortable with the generalization, but just like you said, growth happens when you’re uncomfortable. Growth happens when it’s scary. Growth happens when there are mistakes. You’re not going to grow if you’re constantly trying to be perfect. If you are going to do something that’s perfect, it’s because you’ve already had enough experience doing it. So you’re limiting yourself. But I love putting myself in uncomfortable, scary situations that forces me to grow.
Amanda: And we have that in common. If you had one piece of advice for other self-employed creatives, what would it be?
Arzo: Have patience with the process. Whatever you’re doing or whatever your end goal is, it’s probably going to take longer than what you anticipate. So love it, and have patience.
Amanda: Patience is a good one. I know a handful of people who do not have that patience. And then they give up really fast when, okay, it’s not going to happen instantly, but put in the work. You’re going to get there, and just have that patience and that faith in it. So I love that piece of advice. Where can people find you out in social media and in the world?
Arzo: Sure. So my personal handle on Instagram is @TheArzoYusuf – T H E A R Z O Y U S U F. And I’ve got my personal website arzoyusuf.com and Sexy Boss Babe is @TheSexyBossBabe
Amanda: Thank you for making the time to talk to me today. I know we can go on for hours and hours and hours, but I’m sure you have other things to do, but thank you for talking with me today.
Arzo: Thank you so much, Amanda, for this lovely opportunity. I always love talking to you, so this was a lot of fun.