THE GAMECHANGERS SERIES
International Women's Day: Part 1
To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke to a number of female powerhouses that are making waves, challenging perceptions, and inspiring others! In this first segment we speak with Anita Klasanova (Roobar, Kookie Cat) and Yasmin Molazadeh (Google).
Introducing... Anita Klasanova
Anita Klasanova is the co-founder, the creative mind and recipe creator behind Roobar and award-winning
cookies Kookie Cat. Lead by the ambition to change her way of eating by creating simple desserts for her
kids, Anita started cooking in her tiny organic store in Sofia (2009). Her background as a graphic designer
and multimedia expert helped her to develop the emotional branding and digital communication of the
In 2016 Anita was selected as one of the 100 Female Founders Europe by the Hundert, is the member of
the Forbes Woman Society Bulgaria, Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women 2017 and has been
selected as one of the innovators of Central Eastern Europe 2017 by New Europe 100.
Hi Anita, Happy International Women's Day! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us!
What was it like growing up and becoming a female entrepreneur in Bulgaria?
Women entrepreneurs face the same challenges everywhere in the world. We have to deal with our minds first and then with the society around us. We women are such perfectionists, most of us. Waiting for our project or product to be perfect, not sharing our thoughts and ideas. That makes it so hard. Only by seeing our potential can we come forward. Sharing and supporting each other helps a lot. I grew up and worked in our family restaurant from the very young age of 12. I knew what it took to have your own business, and I loved it. I became a graphic designer and soon realised that it wasn't enough. I’m a mission-driven person. I changed my diet and became vegetarian, later vegan and immediately I had a lot to share with the community around me. I felt great. Opening the first organic store in Sofia in 2006 I experienced how hard it is to be one of the first, leading our small food revolution. Food has always been my passion, and very soon I found a way to use my talent and passion and started making cookies and the first Roobar energy bars in the store. I started this venture with my husband, and I’m very grateful for his support (not only for eating the desserts I make :-))
I felt it was the right thing to do and the next step was to expand the business, building a factory and introducing my tasty creations to the world. No one expected that from a Bulgarian company led by a woman and two guys. My secret to success is the energy I put in, to create high-quality products with good intentions, which make people smile and bring back the emotion to food. Five years later I’m grateful to have more than 60 women in our company to make my wildest dreams come true! Together.
How has being a mother shaped your approach to business?
I can’t imagine succeeding without having my two daughters and building the business at the same time. I learned to stay true to my dream, become efficient and prioritise. And then being able to let go of all the work and be a mom. It’s a challenge. It took me a while to understand that I gave my kids the best lessons possible - dream big, follow your dreams, no one has the right to tell you something is impossible, work hard, be consistent, don’t give up easily. My kids could see what it means to be an entrepreneur and build our beloved brands Roobar and Kookie Cat and on top of that a community around them. My value to create healthy simple food and share it with the world has never changed - as I make food at home for my kids and myself.
Do you have a key female role model?
We can learn a lot from every human being around us. The girl next to us might have the most precious gift for you, you never know. I admire many women and I avoid comparison. I grew up with the revolutionary Madonna! Nowadays I allow women like Viola Davis and Kris Carr to be my daily inspiration.
What do you see in store for women around the world between today and Women's Day 2019?
Change is happening, slowly. I see women becoming more courageous, open, showing vulnerability, empowered. We have a voice. Great things are going to happen. Happy International Women’s day to all girls out there. Celebrate yourself; you are amazing the way you are!
Thank you so much Anita for such a thoughtful and heartfelt insight!
Introducing... Yasmin Molazadeh
Software Engineer at Google, Meditation Teacher at 'Journey Meditation' and 'Search Inside Yourself' Facilitator at Google- Yasmin helps others to integrate mindfulness into their lives.
Hi Yasmin, thanks so much for your time and Happy International Women's Day!
How has Mindfulness helped you to get where you are today in both work and your personal life?
Mindfulness has had a profound impact on my life, and affected me on a very deep level. I started about 11 years ago, meditating without any specific goal. It was the first time and I was not looking for improvement in my skill set or to reach some sort of goal. I was simply enjoying the meditation. There was a calling for me there. And now after all these years, I see the life-changing impact on me...
I feel more focused, peaceful, relaxed, productive, intuitive, compassionate, insightful, connected, hopeful and successful.
I feel I am much smarter compared to my past. I feel my life has a deeper meaning above day-to-day life.
I see through problems, I am more insightful about the root cause of issues and I am more creative making solutions.
I feel other people’s feelings, emotions, pain and sufferings and I am far more compassionate compared to the past.
I am into charity work now and I am often raising money for charities, something I was never into before.
I connect to people on a deeper level. I see more beauty and purity when I connect to others.
I am more hopeful toward life- in the past I was so desperate and depressed about living in this world.
I don’t remember the last time I’ve been angry. I am much more resilient compare to the past. I am more equanimous.
I am more connected to myself. I love myself more.
And my list never ends. Mindfulness is probably the best thing that has happened to me in my life and I would like to share that with everybody else. That's how I ended up teaching it as my side job.
What practical steps would you advise other women to follow to start using mindfulness as a tool to help them progress in their careers and work towards a balanced personal life?
I suggest they start applying mindfulness on two levels:
1. Integrating a daily seated meditation into their daily routine. For example, once/twice a day meditating for 40 min in total (2 x 20 minutes would be ideal). Some days try doing it in a group if you can find a meditation centre close by. We receive energy from others and get connected to like-minded people who keep us motivated to build up a habit around mindfulness.
2. Integrating mindfulness into your daily activities:
While walking/commuting to work.
While taking a shower (the best place to be mindful, so much to be aware of like touch of the water on the skin, the smell of soap/shampoo, …)
While eating (Mindful eating)
While talking and listening (mindful conversation)
While cooking (mindful cooking)
While parenting (mindful parenting)
While waiting in a queue
Also make sure you take mindful pauses during the day. Pause and ask yourself: “are you breathing?” or ”Let’s take couple of deep conscious breaths”.
What do you think Google does particularly well in supporting both a mindful work life balance and women in the business?
Google does a great job of bringing mindfulness to work place. We have courses such as “Fundamentals of Mindfulness” (2 hrs) and “Search Inside Yourself” (a 2 and a half day workshop) to familiarise Googlers with the benefits and science of mindfulness and to equip them with mindfulness techniques and practices. There are dedicated places in every office where we get together on daily basis to meditate. In my office, we have guided meditations every day. We also have a lot of talks/workshops/sessions by external teachers to take our practices to next level. We even brought monks to our office to give coaching sessions on 1:1 basis to advanced meditators!
Specifically for women, we have programmes such as “Stretch” (a programme to support women by equipping them with tools and strategies to achieve their career goals, while participating in a vibrant community that contributes to creating systemic change) or “I am remarkable” ( a program to empower women to speak openly about their accomplishments in the workplace and promote themselves in front of peers and management) to name a few. We support females in schools and colleges who are into engineering and tech. Basically there's a lot of focus at Google right now on reducing the gender gap in tech. We have female mentorship programmes and women's groups in all offices and orgs at Google worldwide.
Who is your female role model?
What do you see in store for women around the world between today and Women's Day 2019?
I see a lot happening in terms of female leadership. New studies show women are emotionally more intelligent compared to men. Which make women better candidates for leading. There are more female founders and leaders now than ever. Women care more about feelings and they lead with more compassion. We are on the path to get to higher consciousness and more emotional intelligence and women play a big role in this journey.
Thanks so much Yasmin for sharing your thoughts with us, and for the awesome mindfulness tips! It's fascinating to learn how mindfulness, self fulfilment and productivity can be intrinsically linked. It's also massively encouraging to hear how much change is already taking place in huge corporations such as Google in terms of addressing the gender gap.
Thanks again Anita and Yasmin, we are feeling seriously inspired!
The R & G Team