Mother, mentor and innovator– Saura Naim transcends limits personally and professionally with dignity. Here, she reveals some of her secrets about keeping a cool head in stressful situations.
Appreciation Breaks Barriers
I grew up in New York, lived in Israel as a young adult and have been a resident of California for most of my married life. As an active member of the Tech Women community, I’ve mentored women from Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Cameroon. When you respect differences, you establish trust and build bridges which fosters two-way communication. Similarly, at work, I build teams that respect a diversity of opinion. I find that collaborating across functions to unite on a common business goal not only breaks the barriers but ultimately drives stronger business results.
There’s Power in Pausing
Words I live by are: pause, learn, grow. Introspection allows you to cope with stress and pressure. I often pause to write down my thoughts. If you’re experiencing a moment of stress, talk less and listen more. It helps manage emotions that result from a difficult conversation so you can focus on an intended result.
It’s OK to Rely on Others
I attended the Stanford Executive Program in 2016. They brought in many diverse people and we lived together for six weeks. From these intense relationships, we forged a global community. It helps to know more people and feel a part of something greater when you’re stressed. It also gives you more choices and options.
Put the Elephant on the Table
I’m a big believer in identifying and discussing a problem. Don’t avoid the elephant in the room, address it. Be honest but avoid saying things you might later regret. Have face-to-face conversations to diminish the impact of an email that can easily be misinterpreted. In-person meetings help get to the bottom of a problem. Understand that some things are fixable while some aren’t – focus on those that are.
Goodness is Universal
The best way to build bridges is to forge a personal connection. My husband’s nephew got married in Israel and I was sent a video clip of the ceremony. Because his mother’s family’s background is Moroccan, their Jewish wedding was old-style Moroccan. I shared this with a couple of mentees I was eating lunch with, both of whom were Muslim – one from Algeria and one from Morocco. They were amazed at how many similarities existed to their own experiences with friends and family. It became an incredible way to bridge the gap between people of Muslim and Jewish faiths. It is so powerful to focus on our similarities instead of on our differences.
My mom. She lives in New York and I live in California, but we make an effort to talk every day and share our stories. Sometimes she gives me advice and sometimes I give her advice. It’s nice to know she’s just a phone call away.
Describe your family—
I’ve been married for 25 wonderful years to a man I completely adore. We come from very different backgrounds but we are partners in every way. We have three amazing children aged 24, 22 and 17, each of whom I am incredibly proud. I love our family dynamic; it inspires me every day.
How did you handle it all when your kids were growing up?
First and foremost, pick the right spouse. I share responsibilities with my husband. Second, make choices that prioritize times when your kids most need you. Recognize there are trade-offs and that there will be work conflicts. I was always forthcoming with my kids if I had to miss something special, but I would be there for the next one.
What’s your favorite book/movie?
I don’t have a single favorite book, but I do have a favorite genre. My first degree is in history so I’m a big fan of historical novels. I use them to explore new places and experiences.