Fairien Azeem is a Business Chicks Premium member, and the founder and CEO of Financially Savvy Society. Fairien attended our inaugural Knowledge and Study Tour to Los Angeles last year. Here she shares her experience…
As I embarked on my first solo trip after nearly 20 years in business, I was unsure what I was in for; I had no husband, and no children travelling with me – this trip was about me.
I was joining 23 women on the Knowledge and Study Tour in Los Angeles, California. All I knew was that I wanted to be open-minded, learn new things and bring them back to put into practice. I am at a stage of my life where I am seeking knowledge and looking for new ways to do things. I’m tired of the same old. I’m looking to grow and learn. I was ready for the level of commitment and engagement needed for this trip.
The first evening I had organised to meet up with some of the other women on the tour, and we had a lovely evening at The Catch in LA, and then ended up at the Beverly Wilshire until some ridiculous time in the early hours of the morning.
Meeting these women for the first time, you would have thought we had all known each other for years. The conversations flowed freely and everybody was so open and honest about why they were on the tour, and what they wanted to get out of it.
The tour was a blend of in-class lectures, site visits and evening functions. Our first evening was a wonderful meet-and-greet in LA, with lovely food, great conversation, and cocktails. We all got to meet everyone on the tour and learn a bit more about each other.
Our first day at UCLA Anderson School of Management was information-packed with case studies that were relatable and engaging. In just one day, I had learned new strategies which I could take back and apply to my business – the best part was learning never to discount. We were all like sponges eager to learn and absorb the information.
Register your interest for our next Knowledge and Study Tour in LA, here.
Dinner this evening was at a fancy LA restaurant – Baltaire. We were ushered to a private dining room. The ambience of the restaurant was beautiful, cosy seating with candle light, a delicious three-course meal and good wine (I don’t drink, but the other women assured me it was!).
The next day was our adventure to The Disney Institute and Disneyland – The Happiest Place on Earth. Attending the Disney Institute was a highlight, it had always been a goal of mine and it did not disappoint! We were provided insights into how Disney operates; with intention, a vision, and clear storytelling. We also went behind the scenes to see how Disney puts this into practice.
That evening as we all raced back to change into our cocktail attire, we were to meet Chelsey Martin the Australian Consul General in Los Angles. It was a great networking evening, we met some amazing Australians and Americans who are all doing incredible things in LA.
Being a lover of skincare, I was eagerly waiting our site visit to Dermalogica. We were taken on a tour of the Head Office and heard first-hand from the founder, Jane Wurwand, who shared the story of how Dermalogica was built and now operates. I had always thought of Dermalogica as just a skin care brand and to hear that it fundamentally started out with education and teaching people how to do skin therapy was enlightening and inspiring.
That afternoon, we headed back for an afternoon lecture at UCLA. Our session was about bringing the Future to the Present and Iris, our lecturer had us all enthralled at her storytelling abilities.
On our last day we woke up to wet day in LA, we had a field trip to a tech savvy company Snack Nation. At Snack Nation it’s all about disruption and culture, you could even bring your pooch to work.
Our final lecture at UCLA was on the power of persuasion. A perfect way to finish off an amazing few days of lectures at UCLA. But the best part was still to come, we had a graduation ceremony with music, caps, robes and a graduating certificate with the UCLA logo on it.
The Business Chicks team were outstanding, led by Emma Isaacs, the warmth and care that they showed was amazing, from not knowing them to by the time we left five days later, feeling like we were all part of something so special – and we were. I knew I was going to miss them.
To the 23 other amazing women on this tour, thank you for being there and being part of this journey. It was so wonderful to connect with such intelligent, incredible woman and learn from you all. I think many of us created very special bonds that will turn into life-long friendships as this experience was truly life-changing.
What I learned from my week in LA
I learned that being away helps you to grow and appreciate what you have. I learned that it’s important to dream the biggest goals possible and have the end vision in sight and to not give up, but be resilient and keep working towards your vision.
I learned that having a support network of like-minded people helps drive you to the next level. Kindness is the most important thing and you don’t know who is going through what and to accept everyone as they are and not to judge. Be nice, you never know when your kindness could just help someone.
I learned to not fear change but to embrace it and look for opportunities from it. Be visionary – be futuristic. It’s also important to let down your barriers and not always display the perfect image, but show that you also have insecurities and are vulnerable.
Life is a gift, its an opportunity, you have to make the most of it. Take risks and fail sometimes, not everything is perfect. But we are so blessed to have been given the opportunity to dream and turn those dreams into reality.
My week in LA has been life-changing, I’ve grown as a person and I can’t wait for what the future holds.