Basic Info

Name:
Soulaima Gourani
Contributor Status:
Native AdVice
Initial Contribution Date:
06/30/2017
Primary Location:
Austin, TX, USA

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Entrepreneurship, Financial Services
Personal Career Headline:
LECTURER, CORPORATE COUNSELOR & AUTHOR
More Career Details:
Author
Experience Timeline:
11-15 years of work experience

My Native AdVert

Career Snapshot:

There is a lot to be said about Soulaima Gourani and her many experiences. At the age of twenty-eight, Soulaima Gourani received recognition as one of Denmark’s brightest businesswomen when she received the prestigious Rising Star award and the Talent 2004 award. Since then, she has gained valuable management experience from companies such as Hewlett-Packard and A.P. Moller-Maersk. Today, Soulaima Gourani exploits her vast knowledge and experience as an adviser and speaker for some of the worlds most innovative companies, when they seek inspiration and motivation. She is also author and contributing author to a number of books about sucesfull business and investor as well as CEO in the company CetCapitalAid.

Soulaima is listed as one of the top 100 talents in Europe to keep an eye on by the well-esteemed French magazine Courrier International, and in March 2012 she was selected as one of the 192 management leaders in 2012-2017 by the World Economic Forum who are to carry out the task as innovators and futurists in one of the world’s most important leadership forums—Young Global Leaders. Soulaima is a Young Global Leader, and in the next five years, she will travel around the world to meet with politicians and business leaders.

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How did you get into the industry?:

I am a serial entrepreneur, so I get to do many different things. I got into entrepreneurship and have built companies since 2007. I was fired that year from my job as a global sales director. I was pregnant at the time and decided never to be in a position again where anyone could fire me. I wanted my freedom back. I wanted to impact more, travel more, earn more, have more flexibility – so I needed a different life-design than any company, given position or “title” could give me.

I am an award-winning female executive, advisor, author and a public speaker. My areas of expertise are; customer loyalty, strategic networking/international relations for companies and governments, change management, employee motivation and how to impact and understand the future – trends and tendencies.

I founded TradeConductor.com and am the CEO of lending platform GetCapitalAid, which has its headquarters in Copenhagen. It helps small businesses grow through strategic growth loans based on company performance. I am also the co-founder of presidentspeak.com ( I believe communication is essential).

Emerging industry trends?:

Within banking? For sure. It is one of the most disrupted industries these days.  If you haven’t yet heard of Bitcoin, Ether or Etherium, you may soon become familiar with them as “cryptocurrencies”, our perception of money – how it is earned and its value – is undergoing a major change. Blockchain and FEDCoin and Gold – these terms should be on your mind – NOW!

It is the most exciting industry to be in these days.

The current financial system is under massive pressure because of an increased demand for money. A massive demand for financing is created because of the current growth (people on earth), and this growth has created a historical level of economic debt in the world, which in turn causes the increase of inequality.

Nowadays, the trust in money and its value is under pressure. Trust in this system is being eroded. At the forefront of this movement is the world’s young people and the many small entrepreneurs who cannot obtain access to financing.

Industry opportunities and challenges?:

In the last 10 years, we have seen how relatively easy it is to defraud, cheat, and lose money in the current financial system. The banks print money out of thin air and profit from doing so. Today, we are closer than ever to a financial revolution in which money will disappear and be replaced by something else. Physical banknotes will be substituted by local social currencies, points that you earn by doing social work, services, or companies’ own currencies based on customer loyalty, among others.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

Well I would say mobility.  Money goes mobile these days.

The use of debit/ credit cards has dramatically increased in recent years.

VISA and MasterCard have a share of more than 80% of the global credit card market, and this situation can be viewed as a regular oligopoly (feel free to disagree).

However, a new and more comprehensive system is rapidly developing: mobile payment solutions. New technologies are providing new ways to make payments and transfer money via mobile phones, apps, Bluetooth solutions, and so on.

We do not yet fully understand the consequences of a society without money. Even today security is merely a footnote in the recommendations of the European Central Bank. Payment networks, such as SWIFT, PayPal, and Western Union, among others, can close people’s accounts in no time if there is a political disagreement with a Russian, Iranian, or just a politically active account holder. You may call it national security; however, you may also call it financial terror.

What will happen when we will experience massive IT breakdowns that are expected to occur in the future? Future wars will not be fought by troops on land but rather by people sitting behind computer screens. Earlier, banks have not shown the capability of taking timely precautions, and IT companies still lack the evidence to prove that they respect privacy and are capable of protecting sensitive data. Thus, we are facing a completely new and challenging ethical and security-related problem with e-money and virtual payment methods.

What's next for the Business in the near future?:

The young generations have quickly adopted to the new payment methods, and many of them do not know the feeling of holding a real banknote in their hands. In a way, money is becoming “imaginary,” forming a basis for disloyalty, in particular, among Generation Z (15 to 25 years). Based on estimations, the global “mobile pay” market will surpass $500 billion in 2018.

In other words, it is a huge market. This market is still based on money, but money spent by using mobile phones. Because people are not holding the money in their hands, loyalty is likely to decline.

The young people simply want more fairness in the financial world. We might think that this ideal is a bit naïve, but many thinkers and researchers argue that this trend will lead to the disintegration of our traditional perception of money. The accrual of social capital is based on services (for example, you take the neighbor’s dog for a walk), and if you need money, you are allowed to print them. However, inflation is avoided because the “ownership” of the money is transparent, and the amount of money people have printed is also transparent.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business? Greatest Accomplishment?:

People, data, visions, money and traction (proof of concept)..

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?):

It is fundraising and finding the right people. Not all money is good money. And good people are hard to find. You need patience. A lot. Be realistic. It always takes longer than expected to build a company, a brand, or a team; attract investments; develop a product; etc.

Things take time—and oftentimes much more time than you expect.

I have seen an amazing number of business plans containing 5-year “hockey sticks” and 20%–25% growth over the next 5 years (yawn). Come on—be realistic. After all, there are very few companies that can live up to these expectations.

In the lifetime of your company, you need to demonstrate that you make a profit, make the company flourish, and create growth every year. Period. Remember to spend less time on your business plan—it is outdated as soon as it is printed.

Be careful about spending too much time in the engine room. Your window of opportunity may only be open for a very short period. The most successful entrepreneurs realize that their company and product will never be 100% perfect and that they can keep developing their product and make it even better.

Test, make mistakes, and try again. This way, you become better and better. “Think, write, talk.”

The police use the abovementioned strategy in radio communication; they have to keep their communication concise. This is a good philosophy to implement in your life. Use fewer words and shorter talk so that everybody can understand you.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?:

Speed and everything is done online. I would say “a more fair solution” – or judgement, if you like.

The system is not biased. If you go to your bank, he/she will not only look at your business but also your gender and age. We want a non – biased system –no more mortgage discrimination!

How do you motivate others?:

I did not know anything about banking 2 years ago. But because I am passionate about equality and fairness I would say we have a fair chance to become very successful. But it will take us some years to become profitable and scalable. Motivate others by showing it is an advantage to be an amateur in a world full of experts.

Career advice to those in your industry?:

Follow what you are good at, something aligned with your values and passions. Do not lose yourself and don’t give away your dignity. Be loyal to your core values. I bet you work hard and travel a lot?

Remember “the cabin exercise”! When the flight attendant goes on with the safety instructions, you are told that you need to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. Think about applying this in your life. What if you burn out and give up? The most successful entrepreneurs take care of their “assets” (body, mind, and relationships/family). You are not a robot (yet), and you need rest, input, and output. The question is, how well do you take care of yourself? If you are not doing a good job taking care of yourself, you should consider having someone in your life authorized to raise the red flag every time you are on a downward path. As an entrepreneur, you need to know your limits (it is easier said than done).

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What do you do best?:

I am great at engaging and connecting with people while speaking. I have been a professional keynote speaker since 2007.

I have spoken alongside the best speakers in the world such as Jim Collins, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Fernandes, Sir Ken Robinson and Sir Alex Ferguson! Pssstttt I actually got the same high ratings on stage as Sir Ken Robinson.

What makes you the best version of yourself?:

My love for people. My passion for motivational talks. Each year, thousands of people throw away the fear and become independent, quit their job, they dare to take on a new or better position, they travel the world, write a book, create a movie, start to sing or something completely different, because I help them.

In this day and age, we need the light, the hope and the future. I’m happy to ignite that in people. I come from a very dark place. My past hardship motivates others.

What are your aspirations? (Personal and Business):

My goal for 2017-2019 is to empower 25.000 people on my membership platform to a better and more fulfilling life – to inspire them to a better lifedesign. And to run my companies.

Biggest Success?:

I consider my life as my biggest success. I mean, I am proud that I went from being a street child who was kicked out of school in 7th grade, living in foster-care, being an orphan, to someone who has been recognized with various awards: Young Global Leader (YGL; 2012, World Economic Forum); Top 100 Women, FEMINA, Denmark, 2012; Nordic Thinkers top 20, 2013; EUROMAN top 100 women, 2013; and “40 under 40” Europe, 2014, Inspiring fifty (2016) etc.

And of course that I am still married to my loving husband for 22 years, and being the mom to our two loving and kind kids.

My adversity and struggles have become important motivators for me. I cannot change my childhood, but I can appreciate that it’s over, and it’s not important where you come from, but it’s important where you are going.

A great career and personal life are all about having the courage and the ability to seize the opportunities that you run into. I believe that people can decide to become successful and reach essential goals by means of hard work.

Most Challenging Moment?:

Well I have many. I actually have written more than 14 books on all the mistakes, failures and obstacles I have had in my life.

But a crucial moment was in 2007, I was fired from my job as a global sales director. I was pregnant at the time and decided never again to be in a position where anyone could fire me.

That same year, I started my own consulting company. I had no idea what to do – I needed to make a living. It was urgent, since I am the breadwinner in my household.

All I had were my skills within sales, sales training, strategic sales/strategic partnership, supply-chain management and strategic networking. Those are my “hard core” skills and talents, and it was easy for me to teach others. That was my beginning as a keynote speaker, author and now as an investor.

I had no expectations besides being able to make myself a living. I was expecting my first child. That was it! My butt was on a toaster, I guess.

I guess that was my “burning platform”.

Today, I work in more than 33 countries, with some of the biggest companies in the world, such as Volvo, Siemens, Maersk, and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Since then I founded TradeConductor.com (worldpeace through Trade) with office in Austin, and I am the CEO of lending platform GetCapitalAid, which has its headquarters in Copenhagen. It helps small businesses grow through strategic growth loans based on company performance. Passion for fintech came up, cause my bank was not willing to lend me money, when I needed them the most.

It is impossible to avoid adversity. What is important is how you tackle adversity. Do you give up, or does it make you stronger? Adversity makes me stronger. Throughout my upbringing, I developed some qualities and survival techniques that still play an important part in my drive for success in my career today. The foundation for my personal leadership, my values, my focus, and my sense of responsibility can be tracked all the way back to my challenging childhood. The days of hardship have been transformed into something very positive.

I have had to change my belief that everything you do must be either painful or at least very difficult. Just because something is really difficult or almost impossible, it doesn’t mean that I should always accept the task. It had been a long tradition of mine to take on impossible projects—just to challenge myself to the maximum. With this approach, I consequently had not been unconditionally successful in everything that I had done. However, it has been a great learning experience.

Motto?:

“buy books not boobs”

Meaning study, invest in your brains, stay hungry, work hard, win, fail fast, share and learn -and never give up.

Access to money and having a talent is so overrated, and hard work is SO underestimated.   Talent and money only take you this far – the rest is your personality (EQ) and your ability to work hard.

Favorite People/Role Models?:

I have so many. I am surrounded by amazing, brave and hardworking people. I am a big fan of so many people from my own generation. They are the next generation of leaders.  I am a member of Young Global Leaders where you have Jimmy Wales, Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer,  Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Chelsea Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg, Rene Redzepi, Muna AbuSulayman and many many more. I mean I am SO lucky to get to meet amazing people all of the time. My admiration goes to all people who work hard for things they believe in. We tend to look for stars and role models in the “outside  world”, but actually everyone is a hero in their own life. It comes from within. Leadership is not a title it is something you do. All people I know have their own struggles and hardship. Life is never easy, but by being open, authentic and kind to each other that is where magic happens. I admire my husband a lot. Supporting me all his life. He could have chosen a much easier life with any other woman. With me his life is more exciting than easy, I would say.

Favorite Places/Destinations?:

To look in the eyes of my kids, and to have my husband’s arms around me.

Fun aside – I have seen the world and my happiness is where my family is.

Favorite Products/Objects?:

Well I love platforms and membership sites more than products. Often when I buy a lipstick or a bag, I think what a waste of money it is. Every time you buy something think about if this is going to bring you closer or away from your end-goal in life. I like people to connect, so that they feel empowered, engaged. I love technology and people and how it can make the world even smaller.

Since the beginning of this year I have actually been busy with my new paid membership site “Fremilivet.dk ” (going to be in english later this year).

The entire idea behind Fremilivet.dk (translated: Forward In Life) and the basic method is to build up a strong movement around LIFEDESIGN, a community of kindred spirits – who really take a good look at themselves, who want to help others and to be helped, who strive for more satisfaction and a more sustainable life, who are done with life on the treadmill and who want to do something active in order to change status quo, fulfil old dreams, live life as it should be lived, create a memorable life of which they can be proud and happy! You can call it the danish dream – the good life?

If you can design a product, you can design a life, I would say.

I believe that when people free themselves they will start to make better and healthier decisions on behalf of environment, health and politics!

It is my life goal to bring peace to the World through spreading inner peace, more love and trust.

And this amazing change is going on right now in front of my very own eyes on the “Forward In Life” platform. The members have really started using my methods, and it is almost overwhelming for me to read the feedback.  Each and every day, I motivate a lot of people to take the responsibility for their own life and work life into their hands – I do it already through TV shows, webinars, my books, radio, podcasts, online courses, master classes and through my lectures.

Current Passions?:

My passion is to serve people – to serve the world. I dedicated my own life to improving the lives of others.  I love to make people brave, shine, bold – and  to help them to unleash their enormous potential and find their talents and passions. It can be done as a writer, speaker, investor, mentor or as their CEO. I love to impact and scale good stuff. I see how I impact laws, implement changes in companies/countries, and am welcomed to speak up in settings I once could only have dreamed of.

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