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Anousheh Ansari: How to Find Your Passion

The Maliheh Paryavi Podcast

Release Date: 03/06/2019

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Anousheh Ansari is the CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation and Co-Founder of The Billion Dollar Fund for Women.  She captured headlines around the world when she embarked upon an 11-day space expedition, accomplishing her childhood dream of becoming the first female private space explorer, first astronaut of Iranian descent, first Muslim woman in space, and fourth private explorer to visit space.

One of the themes that keeps coming up in my leadership advisory practice is about the importance of cultivating curiosity.  Curiosity is an essential skill that can be developed and is accessible to all of us. It can help individuals break internal and external barriers, find creative solutions to challenging problems, and discover new horizons.  I was fortunate that a long-time mentor and dear friend introduced me to Anousheh Ansari, who is an excellent example of someone who has had a lifelong practice of cultivating her curiosity. I flew across the U.S. to meet Anousheh, and it was definitely worth it! She is truly one of the most inspiring individuals I have ever met. She shared how trusting her curiosity has empowered her to pursue her passions and continue to find new ones. She also had some wonderful advice on how we can find our passion, achieve our dreams, and change the world for the better.

 

Episode Breakdown:

  • 01:15 - What has propelled Anousheh to break so many barriers?
  • 02:48 - Origins and significance of cultivating curiosity
  • 05:25 - How did Anousheh deal with resistance to her curiosity and passions?
  • 06:45 - Importance of asking questions
  • 09:43 - How to overcome fear of failure
  • 11:19 - How to discover your passion
  • 12:55 - What Anousheh felt when she was about to launch into space
  • 15:19 - How to connect the dots in life
  • 16:13 - How to identify and take the first step towards your passion
  • 21:40 - How to find your life purpose
  • 24:00 - Anousheh’s advice for dealing with naysayers
  • 26:03 - How to challenge the status quo: I introduce my idea of imagining a “Women Designed World” and discuss it with Anousheh.
  • 27:50 - How is Anousheh redesigning her world?
  • 32:33 - Anousheh’s take on work-life balance and her self-care practice

 

EXERCISE: IMAGINE A “WOMEN DESIGNED WORLD”

For the most part, we have inherited a world that was originally designed by men, for men. Imagining what I call, a “Women Designed World” is an exercise to help us identify the gaps in our world, challenge the status quo, and create systemic changes that will improve everyone’s lives.

I talked to Anousheh about this (starting at 26:03), but I first introduced this idea in Episode 2 with Harvard’s Iris Bohnet, so make sure to check out that conversation as well. Next, allow yourself to imagine a different life in a different world. What do you think a woman designed world would look like? What would it be like to live in a world designed by women? If you can’t think of anything, start by imagining how you would redesign your own life to better meet your unique needs. What would you love to change?

Share your ideas! #womendesignedworld

And remember:

You have the power to redesign your life, your organization, and your world!

 

 
More about Anousheh Ansari:
 
Anousheh Ansari is the CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges. Ansari, along with her family, sponsored the organization’s first competition, the Ansari XPRIZE, a $10 million competition that ignited a new era for commercial spaceflight.  Since then, she has served on XPRIZE’s Board of Directors.
 
Prior to being named CEO of XPRIZE, Ansari served as the CEO of Prodea Systems, a leading Internet of Things (IoT) technology firm she co-founded in 2006, and continues to serve as the executive chairwoman. She captured headlines around the world when she embarked upon an 11-day space expedition, accomplishing her childhood dream of becoming the first female private space explorer, first astronaut of Iranian descent, first Muslim woman in space, and fourth private explorer to visit space.
 
Ansari serves on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Future Council and has received numerous honors, including the WEF Young Global Leader, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and STEM Leadership Hall of Fame, among others. She is a UNESCO Good Will Ambassador and serves on the board of Jabil and Peace First, as well as several other not-for-profit organizations focused on STEM education and youth empowerment.
 
Ansari also co-founded The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, announced in October, 2018 at the Tri Hita Karana (THK) Forum on Sustainable Development in Bali, Indonesia, with a goal of investing $1 billion in women-founded companies by 2020.
 
She published her memoir, My Dream of Stars, to share her life story as inspiration for young women around the world.
 
Ansari holds a BS in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University, an MS in electrical engineering from George Washington University; and honorary doctorates from George Mason University, Utah Valley University, and International Space University.