1- What ignited the spark in you to start writing?
I’ve always been writing. What made me start really thinking about it seriously was really just the need to have as much control of my own future as possible. Although I worked quite happily in other people’s companies, I have always known that things such as retrenchments, general dissatisfaction or many other changes that would be beyond my control are always a possibility. As a woman, I realize that I will always be required to juggle many things, so I feel that it is especially necessary to make sure that I am in a position which will give me more opportunities, security, and flexibility for my family which I don’t feel that I will get working for other people.
2- When did you decide to say “that’s it. I’m doing this on my own”?
It was totally by accident, actually. I was happily working for this company and one day, we had an announcement that something happened and the company had to let go almost half of their employees in a couple of days. That couple of days wait to learn my fate forced me to look in the mirror to see how powerless I really was and how much my family would suffer if I lost this job. Although I ended up being one of those lucky people who got to stay with the company, the changes didn’t stop there. Some trouble in the family forced me to turn in my resignation a few months later because my family needed me to be there for them. So I had to relocate and start my efforts all over again. That’s where I realized that I really do not want to put my fate in the hands of other people anymore. As I have always found solace in writing, I started looking into publishing my work as well as the accompanying skills such as marketing and so on.
3- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I briefly thought of saying “I would go into business myself much sooner”, but that would be silly as I needed to work for other people before I can think of leading my own people. I needed to communicate my ideas to my boss before I can sit in his position to listen to ideas by my employees effectively, and I was lucky that I worked with people who gave me those opportunities.
4- What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Discretion. You need to know when to speak and when to be quiet. You can’t listen and think when your mouth keeps moving, and you can’t ask the right questions or gage the right response if you don’t listen.
Understanding the value of long-term investments. Most people are impatient and focus only on what comes next, rather than where the company needs to go. “Overnight success” may take 7 to 10 years. You need to stop, pause and plan on a quarterly basis. Think in terms of learning as well. Even though you didn’t feel like it, at some point in your life you will use everything that you have learned. So you need to think ahead in terms of what you need to learn as well.
Responsibility. I learned very early in life to never give a task to my employee unless I know how to do it myself. People may think I’m micromanaging, but I call it being responsible. The buck stops with me, so I want to know that if anything goes wrong, I would at least understand why.
5- Let’s talk about your latest book. What is so special about Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture?
There has been a lot of difficult conversations these days about being women – the problems we go through, what it means to be a woman, women’s rights and so on. This is a tricky subject to navigate. A serious discussion about an extremely wide-ranging and complicated topic as women is difficult for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that this is a very personal topic for all of us (everyone is either a woman, has a wife, a sister, or a female best friend). Therefore, in discussions about womanhood and its challenges, any misunderstandings quickly invite extreme reactions. These reactions can range between men who perhaps feel that “the lady doth protest too much” or that they are perhaps being attacked in some way, to women who may feel that they are being somehow blamed for their gender’s troubles or that their own stories go unacknowledged. However, these do not mean that the conversation should be avoided or be dismissed altogether. In fact, we are now in an interesting period where people constantly try to find new ways to discuss this and make it relevant to others. This book is our attempt to elevate the conversation about women and the relationship between the genders by analyzing the earliest history of the subject in the calmest and honest way that we can.
6- As you mentioned “extreme reactions” earlier, are you worried that this book will offend people in that way?
Yes, I am. I fully realize that this is a sensitive issue for a lot of people. However, we have seen throughout history the results of avoiding sensitive and important conversations about genders, sexuality, racism and so on. Although having these conversations can be difficult, not having them keeps us ignorant and ignorance breeds anger and hatred. So, I suppose, although I am afraid of offending some people with this book, I am much more afraid of what will happen if this issue is not being addressed.
7- Why do you focus on the history of this subject instead of discussing the issue as we deal with them today?
A few reasons. The number one reason, of course, is because history is my trade. Another reason is that this book is a part of a series where Dr. R. K. Fisher and I go as far back in human history as we can to talk about many subjects from civilization to writings. Of course, femininity and goddess worship formed a large part of how the ancients viewed the world and how we view our world today. And lastly, my father always said “you can’t change anything if you don’t know where the problem comes from” – I think that, at this point in the discourse, it is useful for us to look back in history and figure out how we got to this point in our conversations about womanhood.
8- How long did it take you to research and write this book?
The “Time Maps” series, which includes this book started in 1996 by Dr. Fisher. He was a mathematician by profession and a lover of history. Although I spent some time reading his drafts much earlier, I did not start my part in this book until 2008. So between the two of us, this book is a culmination of about 22 years of research.
9- How do you generate new ideas?
A lot of reading. I will read anything I can get my hands on and I’ve never been particularly picky about the subject. I would read at least 5 newspapers a day and take notes if there are topics that I might need to be aware of later. I also rely on social media (Twitter in particular) for some more up at the minute information as I follow many people who are experts in my field. I also finish at least 2 books a week and I’m rather addicted to courses. I try to do a course at least once a week, whether it is a course on Yoga or marketing. I am doing a course on taxation at the moment.
10- What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I read a lot. I also play a few musical instruments, paint and cook. I am also learning a few languages and I always try to go to places that I’ve not been familiar with before.