Trying New Things

In the past year, I’ve been trying some new things – like I had never done before. It’s been both challenging and intriguing. What has pleasantly surprised me is that trying these new hobbies not only helped my brain and body develop, they’ve actually been very helpful in growing my business skills! Having worked full-time since I was 17 years old in fairly structured roles and companies, I had not devoted much time and energy to pursuing hobbies – like painting and riding a bicycle. I knew it was time for a change – and what I’ve learned is that growth and good ideas can come to you during these rare breaks in life.

“Just Like Riding a Bicycle”

I never learned how to ride a bicycle. When I first tried getting onto a bike, it was much more difficult than expected. It was a new experience for me to lift my feet off of the ground and balance on two wheels; it was exciting, frightening, and challenging all at once. But the more I did it, the more I saw how I was developing new muscles. On a bike, you don’t have to force balance, but instead allow it to happen naturally. It might be a struggle at times; it seems unnatural to trust something you’ve never done before. But when it works, it can lead to a richer experience. And more than being simply fun, learning how to balance on a bike actually helped me learn how to balance my work and personal life.

When I was working full time, the majority of my life was structured in such a way that everything was either time-based or demand-based. Finding my footing, after leaving my position as CEO, was difficult. I had no idea what to do next and how to organize my days. So I decided to take chances and open myself up to new experiences to see what I enjoyed doing. I got invited to serve on the boards of several companies and quickly discovered that I loved serving for a variety of reasons. When asked to be an advisor for BOMANI Cold Buzz, I knew nothing about working for a beverage company, so I was able to use my creative side and flex new muscles. Working on charitable boards was also a perfect fit for me because I love giving back and doing good. I was approached with opportunities for speaking engagements, and because I enjoy speaking and sharing my story, I began looking for more of these opportunities. And just like that, my life was full again; and not only was it full, it was meaningful.

Much like biking, there are times when you have to let go and listen to what your muscles and heart are telling you. You’ll find your balance once you start listening to yourself. And just like riding a bicycle, once you do it, you’ll never forget how!

“Creativity takes courage.” – Henri Matisse.

After stepping down as the Chief Executive Officer of Home Franchise Concepts (HFC), I wondered if I would enjoy painting in my newfound free time. I already knew I enjoyed coloring, so now seemed like a good time to put brush to canvas. And then, something unexpected happened. I began to see light and color differently; now when I looked at objects around me, I would immediately think about how I could paint them properly. I would observe all the different ways an object absorbed and reflected light, as well as how the colors changed with the form and its surroundings. My neurons had never previously connected in this manner! And these new perspectives were not limited to art. Painting opened up new pathways in my brain, which helped me in my new role as an advisor to BOMANI Cold Buzz.

Having launched right before lockdown in 2020, BOMANI encountered numerous challenges when it was first introduced to market. In the face of COVID-19, all of our initial contracts and marketing strategies became null and void. The team had devoted their time to developing partnerships with event venues and dine-in restaurants and we, like the majority of people, had never imagined that a global pandemic would stop us in our tracks. While it was disheartening, we all stood firm with BOMANI. Alcoholic cold-brew coffee was not only a great idea, but also a product we knew would succeed. We simply needed to shift our focus and return to the drawing board. It wasn’t easy, but once we had the courage to move forward and look at BOMANI from a new lens, we were able developed our new strategy! We knew people wanted brands that they trusted, and that people were spending less time outside. So, we quickly started looking at big-name retailers and online avenues for sales and I am happy to say that BOMANI is thriving!

As a novice painter, I have realized that you make mistakes quite frequently, the colors somehow do not turn out right or the painting doesn’t reflect your vision. Instead of giving up, you need to go back and adjust the painting. You need to keep adding colors and subtracting them from the appropriate areas, constantly changing and adapting the paint until the final picture comes together. It was the same for BOMANI. The foundation was laid down pre-COVID, so we could easily pivot post-COVID and continue working towards our goals.

Embrace the Unknown

For most of life, I had assumed that in order to achieve new heights, I would have to work hard at what I knew. I had clearly been able to accomplish many things in life using this mindset. However, there is a limit that you reach when you only use what you already know. What I’ve learned since is that to grow and be creative in business and in life, you need to view things in new and different ways. Hobbies like riding a bike and painting gave me fresh new perspectives about life and with it, creative ways to approach business. As it turns out, creativity in business follows creativity in life, and you learn more by taking breaks. Thanks to embracing the unknown, I have enriched my life in many ways and living an authentic, exciting, productive, and more successful new chapter. When in doubt, I now know to let go and balance and perhaps look at how light and dark is reflected in all that I see. Opportunities are abound.

Shirin shares lessons learned from a career of success in business.

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