TGt Meets...Naz Ahsun - IWD Special
We spoke to Naz Ahsun owner of Vision Maker Press and a published author as part of our series of interviews with inspirational women to celebrate International Women's Day!
Name: Naz Ahsun
Occupation: Owner of Vision Maker Press and published author
Which woman would you compare yourself to?
I think the biggest mistake women make, is comparing themselves to others, because, inevitably, we never measure up. This is the dis-ease that many young
girls and women suffer from in our society - comparison to others: we are either not slim like... or pretty like... or dynamic like... and so on and so forth. Consequently, as I grow older, I don't compare myself to others but celebrate my uniqueness - after all, on this planet of 7.53 billion, there is only one of me and one of you - how great is that!
What would you say is your most valuable skill and why?
My most valuable skill is my resilience: I have the ability to bounce back when I get knocked down or when things don't go to plan.
Why do you think it's important to have an International Women's Day?
International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate womanhood throughout all the ages. Those women who came before us persevered under extreme conditions - and some still do live under extreme conditions. Without these women who stepped up to claim what is rightfully there's: their freedom, respect and equality, we would still be living in the dark ages. The journey toward equality, respect and freedom is an ongoing one and International Women's Day brings awareness to the progress we continue to make. It also raises the issue of a woman's natural birthright to these things by highlighting the places where those inequalities still exist.
International Women's Day gives women a platform to demonstrate their leadership in tackling these issues, as well as celebrating women all over the world. What is also so great about International Women's Day is that it is slowly, but surely shifting perceptions about women, and women's perceptions about themselves.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
With difficulty at times, as I am a bit of a workaholic. However, I am blessed with an amazing partner who celebrates my successes, supports me in my work and who is my champion in all things that I do, as I am of him. I am also discovering that taking care of myself and my needs is equally as important as taking care of others because if I am not centred and happy in myself, this has a knock-on effect in all areas of my life. So, building in time for self-care and pampering is equally as important.
Have you ever had to give up or miss out on anything in order to pursue your career?
Since becoming self-employed as an author, magazine editor and co-founder of my own self-publishing company, I am finding it easier to fit my career into my life, but this continues to be an ongoing challenge. Like everyone, making time for the people who matter to me in my life and for the things I love to do is a work in progress and reminds me that this is so important for my wellbeing too.
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to fellow females looking to get into your profession?
For anyone wishing to become a published author or writer - or any profession - the best place to start, is to start. If you 're looking into self-publishing, make sure you do some research by finding out as much as you can about the book industry. However, nothing prepares you more than trial and error - that is exactly how I began, trial and
error (and still continue to learn and grow) - it is the best way to learn - we have been taught that failure is wrong, but talk to any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you that it is your greatest teacher. Also, be flexible when it comes to your business model - it is always a work in progress. Also, as an author or self-publisher, networking with other people in the industry is key - you'll make important contacts that you can collaborate with, and who can also be a great support network when you feel stuck.
Also, attending events such as The London Book Fair or the Self-Publishing Conferences are great places to start, whether you are a writer or someone who wants to start your own self-publishing business.
If you could have dinner with 5 inspirational women dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Michelle Obama, I am currently reading her autobiography and I am bowled over by her grace, humility and wisdom. Her ability to appeal to the masses and her genuine warmth and straight-talking encapsulates an empowered leader who has the courage to step forward and be seen. Her work with young girls and women, in particular, is inspirational as she encourages them to step into their leadership.
Maria Montessori for her innovative and creative approach to education, which is child-centred and not exam based. It is also based on teaching children to develop their emotional intelligence and creativity, as well as learning to develop practical problem-solving skills. Children learn through the creative process of play and discovery and also develop socially.
Mary Shelly because of her contribution to literature with 'Frankenstein' and her courage in challenging society's views about women by being true to herself.
Malala Yousafzai because of her courage and her leadership at such a young age, where she dared to challenge male suppression of women. She is a symbol of courage in the face of terror for women around the world.
Oprah Winfrey because of her self-belief, ability to bounce back from setbacks and her contribution to the planet and women around the world. She is a symbol that you can have it all as a woman.
As a successful female, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
This is a challenging question because we assume we have 10 years left and we assume we are not already successful. I believe that we can never be successful enough - there is always the next step or better. I also believe that we are already successful as women, just by being ourselves - stretch-marks and all. Succumbing to society's idea of what a successful woman looks like is yet another stick to beat ourselves up with and something else to compare ourselves to.