Founder of UAE-based Strategic Solutions, Susan is a charismatic marketing strategist with an eclectic career path known for successfully balancing the corporate world with often unusual personal development initiatives and well-being as a Certified Spiritual Intelligence Coach, an Integral Facilitator and an Edgewalker Retreat Leader, among others.
Her expertise is rooted in identifying growth opportunities at new market entry for start-ups, SME’s and multinationals. Susan is known for curating forward thinking business strategies, helping teams embrace challenges as opportunities, as well as authoring powerful new brand narrative.
However, with her strategic nose being so different from the crowd only the brave would jump on board, until Susan jumped overboard in readiness for the new world order.
We speak with her about co-creation, collaboration, and her sense for the future, and the role of Heart leadership.
After the success of Strategic Solutions, you ventured into life changing ventures leading you to co create Strategic Heartistry – tell us a bit about it?
Strategic Heartistry moots an alternative to strategic planning. It suggests we talk in, before talking out. Indeed, a voice continues to say to me ‘Susan, there is another way to live life and be in business….’, and Strategic Heartistry is writing the playbook for this ‘other way’.
It invites the fearless leader to role modeling modeling. It understands that set models don’t fit all, if at all. Especially in life DC into AC (during corona, after corona).
I now know that I have been aware of ‘the voice’ as early as age 12. I was listening. I was aware. But of course I lacked experience to be fully awake. By 17 I had jumped on board for the heady ride of consumer-driven capitalism, or is it capitalist-driven consumerism? In 2006, I felt consumered-out. Intoxicated by ‘it all’, yet still accepting another round of the same old.
As I stood on the edge, the voice volume was ramped up and I woke up with a big shove as I played witness to the heady, voluptuous business transactions acting up around me. Two years later, the reality was named as The Global Financial Crisis. Much of the world was shaken but not stirred enough to shift into new ways of doing, much less new ways of being.
I was fortunate to be both royally shoved and rigorously stirred. The voice bellowed ‘There is another way for common sense to create common purpose for common unity, for community….’. In this #hashtag world, I tag this as #collectiveindividual.
As I stepped up and out on my road less travelled, one of my first stepping stones was the book by Dr Judi Neal, Edgewalkers: People and Organizations that Take Risks, Build New Bridges, and Break New Ground www.edgewalkers.org
And so it began; my commitment to blessing my capitalist career goodbye and welcoming true purpose in business and life, more comfortably described for me as a vocation not a career. My road less travelled is not always comfortable rather it’s bumpy, twisty, and infinite. For this I feel blessed. No pain, no gain. No dark, no light.
Fast forward to 2020, and our collective experience with CoVid-19.
Holding the loss, bereavement, and anxiety many have felt in deep respect and prayer, I feel positively touched by this curious time. I observe Mother Nature nudging mankind to be kinder to man.
Strategic Heartistry is one of three new initiatives I have recently co-created for DC into AC, making use of the new reality that we can ‘zoom around the world in a day on Zoom’.
Designed and delivered with Melbourne-based Possibility Activist, Ian Berry, Strategic Heartistry honours that life no longer needs to be the same as BC – if we listen to the heart before asking the head www.strategicheartistry.com
How does Strategic Heartistry and mentoring help leaders grow their businesses?
Ian and I, as well as many other thought-provokers on the edge of the centre, recognise that this is the Heart Age. Strategic Heartistry calls on all leaders to bring their hearts to work.
Here’s an example of seven leader-full conversations in Strategic Heartistry.
- You will open up what you have always known deep down – the right alternative to traditional strategic planning.
- You will consider new strategic direction weaving your way to new possibilities as you design new modeling
- You will experience how true value quickly manifests when the heart is engaged.
- You will explore how acting out of love and kindness evokes ‘acts’ of love and kindness in others.
- You will witness how being ‘decisively human’ increases your top and bottom lines, especially fitting to the digital era.
- You will role model collaboration in a world that is fed up with competition.
- You will find your voice in a world desperately wanting to hear you.
The programme running presently is headlined – Re-imagine. Re-purpose. Re-start. Guided by Strategic Heartistry’s organic modeling and glossary you will start to write your individual new-era playbook. It’s powerful stuff, according to those who have taken part since its launch in April.
How has your experience in the region evolved over the last few years?
Leaps and Bounds – are the two words that describe the pace of my evolved experience, especially since I steadfastly committed to vocation (professional purpose) in 2017.
Indeed, what playful words I choose as I wouldn’t previously described myself as playful. Interestingly, one of the five Edgewalker Qualities of Being is Playfulness, defined as A joyful sense of fun and creativity, with an ability to keep everything in perspective.
In the last few years, I regularly experience a welcome from my peers in the regional marketplace, with many graciously ready to listen to my sense of the future alongside new modeling. From showcasing Edgewalkers in 2009, to being a forerunner with Inbound Marketing in 2011, to talking the language of Colour with associate, Mark Wentworth, to crusading the next era of PR and Corporate Communications as the time for Brand Journalism over the past four years.
Having said that, at the end of every meeting I usually hear: ‘Susan, we love you, you have a great strategic mind, but no way – you have gone a stretch too far with this one…if you are right, you are far too early; the market isn’t ready to pioneer such change…..’.
I persevered anyway. Indeed, ‘Perseverance Works’ has been my motto since 1988. It was the name of a new creative studio cluster somewhere around Camden Town in London, I recall.
In 2017, the voice ramped up, and I became a Nomad, or more fitting to Arabia, a Digital Bedouin. I ‘let go’ of the rather beautiful, tangible ‘home’ infrastructure I had collected over my four decades in business in Arabia (I arrived in to Bahrain in 1981, and Dubai in 1992).
Presently, letting go, or Surrender remains my constant companion. In Strategic Heartistry, we model being light-sized to be right-shaped for what is next, now.
DC (during corona) the business opportunity is to pack only luggage as we move into AC, leaving the baggage behind. This takes courage and an individual practise in fearlessness.
The good news is it doesn’t take long to re-purpose once you have stopped on the edge to talk in, before talking out – to yourself, your team, your family and indeed the marketplace. I stand in good example to this truth.
How would you describe the unique aspects of the business culture of the Middle East?
If I might exchange the word ‘unique; for ‘individual’, here’s three individual aspects of the business culture in this region that I have observed and three that I sense, because we just do not know anymore, right… :
- The region’s business culture is an eclectic mix, connected – and sometimes separated – at the core by a deep interest for ‘what is emerging’.
- Businesses in the Middle East marketplace (still) have opportunity to serve each other with a wide variety of product and service – from traditional, to current, to ‘new-to-market’. Indeed, ‘New Market Entry’ is a constant, in Arabia and the greater region.
- The region’s ‘Next Generation’ will tackle business innovation and growth standing up, not lying down emerging as Newsmakers. Indeed, the second of the three projects I have been working on during DC for the regional market is The Next Generation MBA in Transformational Leadership.
- Numerous, notable new-world ‘preneurs born from the greater Middle East have the opportunity to influence the way the world does business, after corona.
- If it’s emerging, if it’s tech, if it’s creative, if it sows new prosperity, the Arabian Gulf in particular will be ever-ready to play a leading role.
- Speak English, Speak Arabic, Speak Cloud, Speak AI, Speak CX, Speak Integration, Speak Community, Speak In before speaking out, Seek Global, Dump the logo, and Bring back the QR Code.
Susan’s sense of the post pandemic challenges
Travel – Enjoy zooming around the world on ‘Zoom’ instead of an A380 Bricks and mortar
Retail Sector – fill shopping baskets on the Cloud Commercial and Residential Real
Estate – Work From Home (WFH) voted ‘the new normal’, en masse Education and
Learning – gather appetite, courage and bandwidth to feel, think, and act differently
Cash Flow, across the board – at home, in busines, in government, in society, in every corner of the world
Communications – word of mouth #trends into storytelling online and corporate messaging contributes to brand equity
Relationships – all of the above morph in and out of challenge and/or opportunity. Find out more on http://www.strategicheartistry.com