What is your story of strength?
Everyday living and working and encountering life, it gave me different types of strength to go on at different points in my lifetime. I must say the turning point of my life story really started with the new century, in 2000. Up until then I lived a very fast paced, action-packed life. I was an exchange student in the states, (AFS 1918) and then I came back to Turkey. I worked for travel agencies, dealing with lots of different groups and people coming to Turkey. I loved highlighting my country. During those years, I also realized the importance of hotels because all the places I took my groups to needed improvements. It became a very interesting avenue for me. And on top of that, I was born in a hotel because my whole family owned a small local chain of hotels on the Black Sea! The family still owns them to this day. I was the only one of my family who never worked in the hotel and then I ended up back there. In 1985, I became a hotelier. I was one of the first Hilton management trainees in Istanbul. The turning point was in 2000 because until that time I had been married, I’d had my kids, I was working but I wasn’t fully pursuing my dreams. I am the rebellious one in the family, everyone says I have a gypsy soul. So at this point in my life, I decided I wanted to move to the Middle East, where I opened the Hilton Kuwait resort. A whole new lifestyle started for me. My strength was realized when I pursued a personal goal that’d I had for so long.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Look at the word- WO-MAN. Since being a yoga teacher and studying all the far eastern philosophies and the yin and yang aspects of the universe, being a woman (actually a WOW-MAN) is a beautiful balance to man. Since the beginning of history, man was the hunter, the fighter trying to secure the back of the pack from the broader world. Now it’s changed. Women may not have been the hunters, but they have the emotional capacity to go far in this fast paced world. Women are more resilient, we are the stronger ones. Woman really is a WOW-man.
Can you tell me about in a time in your life when you feel like you failed?
I felt so many times that feeling of failure– at work, in my personal life. Later looking back, I realized many of those moments were actually successes. I thought, was it a failure or was it a time for me to get more opportunities to learn more, to grow? If you’re in an organization that needs profit and you aren’t driving the results, then based on a company’s measure of success, you’re failing. But as we know, this is not always an accurate measure. The time I felt like a failure was when I decided to leave the hotel world. It was a stressful task but working at a hotel always required me to give so much, I put my whole heart in it. I learned about so many different cultures without even traveling to the place. I worked with people around the world to achieve a singular goal. Working in a hotel always reminded me of my years as an exchange student, always learning new things, meeting new people. So, when I stepped away from operations and focused on wellness I thought I was letting everyone down because I had so many responsibilities. I thought they would think I wasn’t able to do it anymore. But it wasn’t about ability, it was about finishing my mission and continue pursuing my life’s purpose. During that time I was also struggling with thyroid issues that contributed to the stress and feeling of failures and my body shutting down. I was depressed. People told me to go home, to stop working. So I thought, it’s time to do something different. It was an awakening for me. I got through those hard times but admittedly, it sometimes felt like failure.
But I do believe in synergy in life. We are gifted people. Everyone is gifted with unique capabilities. The most important thing is cultivating those capabilities. Either do it yourself and be resourceful or surround yourself with people who uplift you and give you that feeling. So many times I felt disappointed with myself. But I told myself, you’re going to fall down, but you need to learn how to get up. And if you can’t, then ask for help. Now it is easy to say but back then it was really difficult for me. Whenever I felt the whole world on my shoulders, I imagined that I had a superpower (since I was a kid actually) to make it happen. I realized as I became older that it is all about perspective, realizing that it isn’t that I have to do something, it should be that I can do something. And if I can’t then I’ll adjust to do it in another way.
How can women support each other better?
We cannot judge people. When it comes to women, you really can’t judge. You never know the story behind that WOW-man. We might be guiding another woman wrongly, because everyone has different backgrounds, education, ambitions, and goals in life. You might want to have the most luxurious life but someone else may aspire to a life of simplicity. There are two things that never change for women– love and shining bright. No matter her walk of life, which background she comes from. So send unconditional love toward one another. When you look at someone, don’t just look, see the light behind her.