The Power of Storytelling - Episode 20

Welcome back to The Power of Storytelling!

Soulaima, Jesmane, and Julie - thank you for sharing your stories, your words, and your journey with all of us.

This month’s episode reminded me that there is so much more to who we are, to our identity, then what society attaches to it. Often, our greatest journey is deciding our own identity, reclaiming it, and making it our own. We are the fabric we choose to be, and it’s up to us to weave our own path, our own perceptions, and our own journey towards our joy.

It’s truly my honor to share the stories and provide the space here to share a little bit more about the women and men behind these words. I encourage you to check out Soulaima, Jesmane, and Julie after you listen to this week’s new episode.

*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this episode are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Seek The Joy Podcast. 



Soulaima Gourani is a motivational speaker, philanthropist and author, and the creator of the newly formed Women Reignite - a community for life and career development. A STRONG and GLOBAL tribe of women who actively and strategically aim for more in life. Her mission is to create a warm, encouraging space where women can “reignite” their lives while fulfilling their dreams.

In this week’s episode Soulaima shares her journey growing up in a not so typical Danish family. She so vulnerably and openly shares the time when no one showed up to her birthday party - this moment changed her life. She decided in that moment that she wouldn’t be dependent on anyone, and she created a strong desire and motivation to prove other people wrong. She knew she wanted to create a road and map for others who didn’t look like everyone else.

She’s always had a burning desire to make a difference in the world and create something of her own. After trusting her own vision, she created the life she always wanted, and a community called he Life Design Formula™ - a proven step-by-step process that shows you precisely how to get back into the drivers seat of your life. Her passion to push other women to design the life that they deserve is her ultimate driving force because she is a living testimony that through hard work, sacrifice, a support system, and taking a risk - it can lead you to victory.

Today, Soulaima resides in Palo Alto, California, where she continues to advise American leaders, entrepreneurs and companies in areas such as strategy, management and leadership. Gourani also works with corporate clients and world leaders as a World Economic Forum expert where she advises major companies on topics such as sales and service and customer loyalty, strategic relationship-building and change management, employee motivation and the future of business. She is a two-time author and speaks on the topics of change management, career development, and emotional intelligence.

I am committed to telling my story, and other women’s stories, so that other women and young girls have a community to lean on. We can accomplish so much in life if we don’t feel alone or lonely. I’ve dedicated a fair amount of my life and time to creating communities where women can come together and support each other and have a safe space to design their lives.
— Soulaima Gourani


Jesmane Boggenpoel is the author of My Blood Divides and Unites: Race, Identity, Reconciliation. In her new book, Jesmane explores the importance of dealing with the past and moving forward with purpose.

Jesmane Boggenpoel is an experienced business executive and former Head of Business Engagement for Africa at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. She has served on the boards of various South African and international organizations. Boggenpoel is a Chartered Accountant and holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s JFK School of Government. Jesmane was honored as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, is a Harvard Mason fellow and a shareholder and founding board member of African Women Chartered Accountants Investment Holdings. Boggenpoel has extensive global experience having studied and worked on three continents, as well as traveling to over 65 countries.

Jesmane’s story is one of identity and heritage. Born into poverty and state-mandated third-class status, Jesmane was weighed down by self-doubt, feelings of inferiority and shame. “Who am I really?” - is a question we all often ask ourselves, and it’s a powerful question that Jesmane poses in this week’s new episode. She grew up in South Africa during the Apartheid, and in this week’s new episode she shares her struggles with identity, and how through exploring her early life, embracing the difficulties that surrounded her upbringing, and ultimately crafting a new narrative for herself - she’s been able to bring about greater acceptance, inclusion, and boundless possibility.

Who am I really? Is a question so many of us ask ourselves, and it’s a question Jesmane sought to uncover with her new book. The results brought her clarity, peace and an understanding that it’s important to confront her pain and vulnerability, and ultimately reframe her story. The stories Jesmane tells in this book - her story, and those of people from around the world spanning from US, Mexico across to India, Pakistan, Nepal and to Rwanda - can bring healing and inspiration to all.

I’ve made a conscious choice to forgive and heal from the past, to recognize our innate human frailty and I decided that I’m not going to reject any of my ancestors, as this would be rejecting a part of who I am. As individuals, communities, and nations we can embrace our past including parts of history which are less comfortable. We can forgive those who have oppressed us. We can ban hate and bias while bringing people together.
— Jesmane Boggenpoel


Julie Potiker is a mindfulness expert, author of “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.” and recovering attorney.

In this week’s new episode Julie shares how she began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness. In 2006, Julie began exhibiting symptoms of a possible brain tumor. “The wrong words kept coming out of my mouth,” she shares. “I’d say ‘captino’ instead of ‘cappuccino,’ ‘maginal’ instead of ‘magical,’ ‘bunkey burvey’ instead of ‘topsy turvy.’ She went to a neurologist fearing the worst. After a thorough exam, the doctor asked her about her life — what her days consisted of, her family constellation, her schedule and volunteer work. Julie was a typical baby boomer, sandwiched between three adolescent kids (including identical twin daughters) and aging parents.

He asked her whether she had ever heard of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction; she hadn’t. He suggested that mindfulness training was what she needed in order to improve her health. After graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego, Julie went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, and completed the Positive Neuroplasticity Training Professional Course with Rick Hanson. Today, Julie shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book.

Julie also shares her tips for staying calm in the midst of chaos - and we’ve included them below!

1. Up your meditation practice: Try 10 minutes twice a day – or 20 minutes twice a day if you can make time. Look for guided meditations on Insight Timer - mix it up so that your mind is relaxing into the practice.

2. Practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth: This is a great place to start. Begin your mindful day as you wake up and do your morning routine. Brush your teeth mindfully by tuning your full attention into each step (i.e., putting on the paste, brushing, rinsing) and each sensation (i.e., tastes, smells, and textures; the feeling of the brush). Tip: it’s easier if you close your eyes!

 3. Practice taking in the good: Amidst the chaos, life is full of beautiful moments. Whenever you experience one, really take it in for a few breaths and relish it. Do this often and you will begin to experience the beauty of rewiring your brain for happiness.

4. Call yourself “sweetheart”: Choose something silly and sweet to call yourself and use this term of endearment to soften and comfort you when things feel rough. Let this practice bring you back into love and compassion whenever you need it.

 5. Practice Loving Kindness: Loving Kindness invites you to expand your ability to have compassion for yourself and others, including those whom you find off-putting. Here are a few phrases to experiment with: “May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.” You can also try replacing “I” with “you,” or with “all beings.”

. . . and more!

These mindfulness techniques and methods are so incredibly healing. I feel like if I can help people have a better relationship with themselves, they can have a better relationship with others - and then the whole bar for humanity is raised.
— Julie Potiker


To connect with Soulaima and to learn more you can find her on Instagram @soulaimagourani and Facebook @soulaimagourani and Twitter @soulaimagourani on her website and you can learn more about Women Reignite here

To connect with Jesmane and learn more visit her on her website and on Instagram @jesmaneboggenpoel and Facebook @myblooddividesandunites and Twitter @jesmaneboggenp1 and you can purchase her new book here

To connect with Julie and learn more visit her website and on Facebook @mindfulmethodsforlife and on Twitter @juliepotiker and you can purchase her book here

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Sydney Weiss