On Patriotism & Digital Marketing With Aleen Zakka
What helped shape the woman you are today?
Over the course of my career, I’ve had the chance to work with successful entrepreneurs and CEOs. I learned a lot from them. Mostly that people who care about making a difference will make a huge positive impact on your life. If you meet one of them, hang on to them. So you can pass that positive impact on to others. These people have deeply inspired me to find my own passions and causes worth fighting for.
My passion for helping women CEOs began when I was a kid. My mom taught me to never leave a fight in the middle of a war. That lesson has been held from high school to the workplace to my business; in every project, you have to put your best foot forward and never stop without making an impact or a change. That dedication to my work is my biggest asset.
Considering how stressful your work environment can be, being a Digital Marketing and Reputation Management expert, how do you manage stress and avoid burnout?
Every successful person has had to develop strategies to manage stress and avoid burnout; I do this by striving to be systematic in everything I do. When I have an idea or a project, I plan everything out in front of me. What will it take? What do I need to focus on? Who do I need to leverage?
Even though I plan crisis strikes from time to time, every crisis used to worry me, and I would overthink and work endlessly. With experience, I managed to teach myself how to deal with any stressful task by weighing the advantages or disadvantages of the situation. Never letting a bad situation drag me down and working out several times per week helps me to stay positive and manage my stress.
Can you name one person in the field whom you highly regard and admire?
I truly admire people who exhibit humility, responsibility, resilience, respect, and an ability to influence others. I believe that these characteristics represent the essence of true leadership. Without these characteristics, it is impossible to lead well.
In my opinion, Raoul Davis, The CEO of Ascendant Group has these pillars of Leadership. To cut the story short, he taught me a big lesson: Give the Other Person A Reason to Like You!
He once said, I quote, “In this day and age, people are not looking for a leader, they are looking for a way-maker. They want someone who is going to show them the way forward, even if it means making a few tough decisions along the way.”
What was the most challenging moment in your entire career? What was the lesson learned at that moment?
The most pivotal challenge in my entire career was to choose to suspend my business when I was asked to become an advisor to the Prime Minister in the Lebanese government. It was a very difficult decision for me because I love my business and I had worked hard to build it. However, I knew it was the right thing to do. I started working 14 to 20 hours a day, seven days a week. I put my business skills to work supporting the new Prime Minister, Professor Hassan Diab, by creating channels of communication. I wanted to create a new way of communicating with the Lebanese people.
The experience changed my life, as, after only three months in the position, I realized I was functioning at a much lower level. There were so many complexities and challenges in the government that I couldn’t even imagine how a simple administrative problem would be solved. The bureaucracy in the country makes the government very dysfunctional. It took me a long time to understand how important it is to have a “mental switch” that turns you off from the day-to-day hassles of running a business and on to the more complex challenges of building a country.
Serving my Country was the best thing that ever happened to me!
Looking back at your tweets and quotes on your social media platforms, we can’t help but notice the way you empower other women in any business they handle. What piece of advice would you give to any woman who is not yet aware of the importance of digital marketing?
I believe there is nothing more important for a woman than to be knowledgeable and lead in the digital world. It starts by leveraging her digital presence.
Right here and right now, you can become an expert and “Powerhouse in the Digital World”. Start by learning all about what makes a website “successful”. Learn the 50/30/20 rule for websites. Know the difference between “search engine optimization” and “organic search engine optimization”. Learn the three S’s of digital marketing: Sales, SEO, and Social Media. Know the difference between direct marketing and “indirect” marketing. Understand “affiliate marketing”. Know your “buying power”.
I’m not saying that you have to do the job yourself. But be aware of what you need for your business. Ask questions. After all, what does it cost to hire someone to help you make more money with your website? Last but not least, keep this in mind: the average website is a total failure after one year.
How challenging is it for one to preserve their identity, integrity, and credibility in the world of Media?
There are many people out there who would like to destroy your reputation. They are very good at what they do. It is much easier to criticize than to compliment. Most people don’t have a clue about what it takes to be a star in the Media.
A lot of people in the Media world lack honesty and morality. They will say anything to get ratings. They will report anything that can be used against you; no matter how truthful it might be. Look at all the “fake news” that was spread during the 2016 presidential elections. It is extremely challenging for anyone active in the Media to praise anyone.
However, it is not impossible. There are a few rare souls who manage to avoid this dilemma. These people become stars because they possess a quality very rare in the world of humans: self-esteem. They know they are good at what they do. And they dare to promote themselves even though everyone else is busy destroying others. These people are the superstars of tomorrow.
What advice would you give for anyone trying to reach high levels in the industry?
I would advise to never follow the competition, but to create a new blue ocean in untapped markets with new solutions. When you find such an untouched market, you must create a new offer that fits the needs of that particular market.
Does this mean you should ignore the competition? No. You should always be aware of what your competitors are doing and be ready to pounce on any new opportunity that presents itself.
However, when you discover a new market with unmet needs you must create a new solution for these needs. This is the essence of Innovation.
Where do you see the future of Women in the Arab region years from now?
There are some countries where women’s rights are far more respected than men’s. For example, in many countries, a woman has more freedom to file for divorce from her husband than the other way around.
But this is not the case in most Arab countries. For example, in Saudi Arabia, a woman can drive a car and work as a pharmacist or a doctor, but she cannot become a pilot.
I believe women will soon have equal rights with men in all aspects of life. It’s only a matter of time. Women are generally much more caring and compassionate than men. This is especially true when it comes to their children. And it can easily reflect a nation as a whole.
Can you talk about one woman who has greatly influenced your life?
Although I have not always agreed with her choices, my mom. She raised me to be a strong independent woman. She taught me to never accept anything that I believed was wrong and to always seek the truth for myself. She also taught me that money was not the most important thing in life and that we should all be generous, giving, and help those who are less fortunate.
She was the main support to me when I wanted to continue my studies in France. She was a single mother and worked very hard to provide for us. When I think about it now, it amazes me how well she did it all alone.
If you had a chance to change anything in this world, what would you change and how?
Greed is the source of nearly every problem we face. First, we need to face this problem within ourselves, and then we must strive to make the whole world better.
If we could just eliminate greed from the planet then all these other problems would be solved too. So, what is the first step towards eliminating greed? Simple. It’s education. If more people were educated about what really makes this world work, fewer people would be willing to participate in acts of greed.
Only humility, love, and service can cure what ails us.
To know more about Aleen, visit this link.