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Real Life Stories
By: Jada-Rae Onyeaka
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Faith all the way--from marketing expert to 'mogulicious' diva...

As she's not one to indulge in media attention, getting this exclusive interview with Habiba was not an easy task. Expecting a grand entrance by an entourage-escorted prima donna who might have chosen to be 'fashionably' late for the interview, our DivaScribe correspondent was pleasantly surprised to be warmly greeted by a solo-flying Habiba, with a cheery "hello" that was filled with excitement and energy. "It's an honor to be asked," she replied, after she was thanked for allowing DivaScribe into her space. Habiba exudes confidence, and her presence illuminates a room while softly commanding respect. It's no wonder why this charismatic lady has been fondly nicknamed "Diva" by her friends and loved ones.

Habiba has so many job titles, they would clutter her office door: philanthropist, author, mentor, investor, entrepreneur, ambassador (for Middlesex University), and business leader. A 'no excuses' approach to following her passion for adding value to others has helped Habiba become one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs of her generation. As Founder of Aspiring Moguls Group (formerly Emprez), she has created a dynamic enterprise which she explained "is devoted to helping small business owners take their business, their spirit and their soul to mogul status without sacrificing their values."

In a smiling response to our quick pre-interview question about why she goes by one name, she said: "Back in 2005, a PR pal of mine recommended that I do so during a rebranding conversation we had. He said my name was unique, and asked me to consider the growth-pulling attention it would bring to my business, just as it did for Madonna, Cher, Oprah, and the like." With a giggle, she added: "So I trusted his judgement and it has worked." Then she took a sip of Tropicana orange juice before we start.

Once the interview commenced, it became obvious that this small-framed diva is a force to be reckoned with...

The Birth of an Entrepreneur

Born into a wealthy and influential family, Habiba's story is not quite the typical 'rags to riches' one, but it illustrates how far a person can go in life when they apply the right mindset and action steps required to make their dreams come true. "I would constantly feel frustrated about having to explain my maverick choices to my family, so I decided to live life on my own terms instead - by design and not by default. That resulted in being forced to choose a few years of ostracization over conformity, but my life wouldn't be fulfilled today if I didn't take that chance," she said.

Habiba's earliest business experience was at age 12, when she persuaded her grandma to let her sell some Arabian veils to her school friends. Since then, she continuously dabbled into several business opportunities - failed some and won some - until she found the right fit. In between what she calls "my 'finding myself' life chapter," Habiba has finished a law degree, lived in four countries, job-hopped from one corporate giant to another, changed religion, and emulated many super moguls. However, from heart breaks and dramatic family feuds to failed ventures, legal threats, betrayals, nearly going bankrupt, and wrestling with faith, she has certainly had her fair share of adversity and challenges in life... but through it all, she remained focused on her dream, persevered, and quantum-leaped into the mogul she is today.

The Making of a Mogul

Five months after her 24th birthday, Habiba took an action step that changed her life forever. She set up her first 'serious' enterprise - an information publishing business with a marketing consulting division - and incorporated her company within two months. "My entrepreneurial dreams kept recurring. I got convinced that it [entrepreneurship] had to be my calling when it would always take me just three months to get frustrated in a new job about not being able to take charge of company strategies, and I would be ready for my next big move yet again. I finally realized that it was time to take the risk wholeheartedly! I had told everyone that I would be a millionaire by age 30, so I figured I needed to get moving on the empire-building front."

With a thirst for success, Habiba threw herself into 'how-to-start-a-business' and 'how-to-get-rich' books, courses and programs, as well as motivational books and biographical pieces. "To this day, reading at least one book, and/or attending at least one program per month is part of my routine," she mentioned during our break for lunch.

When her funds started drying up, Habiba utilized the power of online marketing to rightly position her brand and build her business. The low-cost and global reach nature of the internet appealed to her, and she loved being able to work from home in her nightwear.

Challenges Beckon

Entrepreneurial life wasn't always a bed of roses for Habiba. In the early years of launching her business, she often had to take on temporary contract jobs in the corporate world she thought she had left behind.

Habiba said: "I felt like a part-time entrepreneur at one point, but rather than allow my emotions to rule me, I chose to be grateful that the on-and-off 'survival jobs' I took on during my low seasons in business were actually high-paying contract jobs, packed with perks that many people dream to have. In fact, my parents couldn't understand what I was complaining about, as they were so proud to boast about their daughter working for one prestigious conglomerate after another. I was fighting to keep my 'serious entrepreneur' identity, while they wanted to keep my 'hotshot temporary corporate worker' identity. Business revenue was sporadic, but I had an unwavering belief that my success was a matter of 'when' and not 'if,' despite the fact that my empire-building was at a painfully-slow pace." At this point of the interview, Habiba paused, had another sip of orange juice, and then added: "Actually, calling it "slow" is an understatement."

Although she was excited about being in business, that was a difficult period for the burgeoning entrepreneur. She got training from one of the world's foremost marketing gurus, so she knew exactly how to market her business, but she didn't have the funds for the marketing plan she initially wanted to implement. She had wasted so much money on glitzy business stuff that brought no returns, and had made several staffing mistakes. "I had maxed out my credit cards. I invested every penny I had into my newly-launched business, the Forex market and company shares, but returns were close to non-existent at that time," she explained. But, Habiba was determined to turn her dreams into reality...

Bouncing Back from Bottom

Refusing to be stopped by a family feud that abruptly got rid of her financial security blanket, faced with a mountain of debt, law suit threats and the inexperience of how to run the empire she dreamed of, Habiba persisted. In pursuit of excellence, she reconnected with her life purpose, changed her business model as many times as needed, explored different niches, immersed herself in continuous learning through books, courses, events, and programs, found more mentors, got coached as needed, cut off those she calls "energy vampires," and mastered the art of networking and strategic partnering. She learned from her mistakes and took massive action. All of that catapulted her company into today's success.

She said: "My company has had many lives, as my vision keeps evolving. It was an information publishing company at first, then I added on marketing consultancy. Today, we are multi-faceted, so that has enhanced the value received by our clients, but our focus in relation to who we serve and the needs we meet has remained the same. Initially, my big "why?" for starting a business was to have financial freedom. Today, my reasons for remaining on the entrepreneurial path are so much more than that.


"A monumental part of my reason for being and doing, is to positively impact lives at a colossal level."


As we were served green tea, Habiba added: "However, I make no apologies for advocating wealth-accumulation or for enjoying its benefits. Amongst other things, money broadens your reach, and I cannot help the poor if I am one of them."

Responding to our question about what was going through her mind when creditors were calling, so-called friends started disappearing, and former employees were threatening to sue, she stated: "I thought about how Oprah Winfrey bounced back after her 1998 court case, which she said revealed who her true friends were. Then I thought about the ridicule and negative publicity that Bill Bartmann faced years ago - he has been a millionaire three times, bankrupt twice, and a billionaire once. He happens to be friends with one of my mentors (one of the few who stood by me through the rain), so his 'welfare to the 25th wealthiest man in America' story was easy to remember for motivation. Then I thought about the ten-figure debt that Donald Trump's company owed years ago in comparison to where he is today. I also thought about Richard Branson's 'one night in jail' experience in relation to taxes, and I reminded myself about Chris Gardner's life as shown in the movie In Pursuit of Happiness. By the time I was done thinking about the somewhat 'tragedy to triumph' experiences of all these moguls, on top of fasting, praying, and listening to my husband cheerleading me and encouraging me every day, I began constantly saying to myself: "with God, all things are possible, so oh hell yes I can." That was the turning point. I kept my focus on my 'conversations' with God, so I soared on the wings of faith as I relied on my husband's ceaseless support, embraced support from a few friends, and knew that God already had the solutions before I had the challenges, so it was only a matter of time before harvest would manifest."

The Risk Pays Off

The moment when Habiba realized that her risks would be rewarded, was when collaborative marketing became the main part of her company's business strategy, which resulted in hefty revenue from strategic partners and sponsors. She explained: "It's always a eureka type of gratitude moment for me, when a corporate giant decides to sponsor us or a strategic partner agrees to promote us. I'll never forget that feeling the first time it happened. I was so overwhelmed with joy. I burst into tears as I realized that the journey was worth it. The top three biggest business lessons I've learned from my experience are: firstly, that I must ignore my critics, as they're only there to remind me that I matter. Secondly, I've learned that time is more valuable than money, because unlike money, time cannot be multiplied, and must therefore be spent wisely. And thirdly, that when done wholeheartedly, giving is so much more joyful and rewarding than receiving. Every time I give, I always unexpectedly get back much more than I've given."

Global Quantum Leaps

Habiba is the mastermind and driving force behind the rapidly expanding Aspiring Moguls Group (formerly Emprez) empire that now includes Aspiring Moguls Club (formerly Global Association of Small Professional Practice Owners), Aspiring Moguls Academy, Aspiring Moguls Media, Aspiring Moguls Publishing and Aspiring Moguls Outreach Squad. The primary focus of each subsidiary within the Group is to help small business owners magnetize and multiply wealth. They receive empire-building tools, tips and resources to help them take their business and their life to a whole new level. The philanthropic efforts of the Group are centered around offering health grants, entrepreneurial assistance, and poverty relief by feeding the body, spirit and soul.

Aspiring Moguls Group has drawn clients based in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, and has attracted corporate sponsors such as American Express, agreatertown.com and Starwood Hotels, to name a few.

When we asked what entrepreneurial achievement she is most proud of, Habiba answered: "My passion for adding value to people's lives has no boundaries. Although my career has been full of several triumphant moments, what fills me with great ecstasy, are the testimonials that my team and I get from people who tell us they are immensely grateful for the phenomenal impact we've made on their businesses and their lives. For me, it is truly a blessing, an honor and a privilege to be able to serve those who need what we offer."

Habiba has been featured in numerous media, including Benefits Marketing Online Magazine, Restaurant Business Magazine, Pizza, Pasta & Italian Food Magazine, Masala Magazine, PR Leads Expert TeleSeminar Series, and Women4Success Expert Series, to name a few.

She has authored several publications, including 77 Tips for Collaborating Your Way to More Clients and More Revenue in Any Economic Climate, 99 Tips for Maximizing Restaurant Profits, and Ten Mindsets You Must Have in Order to Take Yourself and Your Small Private Practice to the Next Level, to name a few.

Today - A Blessing to Her Generation and an Inspiration to Entrepreneurs

Evident from her personal achievements, entrepreneurial highs and lows, and philanthropic activities, it's safe to say there's nothing petite about the way this 5ft 3' diva thinks. She certainly lives a life of passion, prosperity and purpose.

Habiba attributes her success to a combination of things. She explained: "My utmost praise, thanksgiving, and gratitude goes to God for all that I am, all that I've been, all that I've had, and for the connections, influences and alliances that have been superbly and rightly placed to help my destiny. God has truly raised me up to walk on stormy seas. However, my success story would be incomplete without mentioning my husband, who has been my mentor and my rock from the first day we met in 1998. He makes me quickly forget my weaknesses, and his faith in me increases my own belief in myself. He has been a powerful behind-the-scenes mastermind in relation to my life and business. I am, because he is, and, I am, because he does. I am also indebted to my maternal grandma and both my parents, for instilling the gift of fearlessness, confidence and fierce determination in me to the point of overachiever syndrome. Then of course, I am thankful for the role models I drew inspiration from, especially during my trials and tribulations, and who went before me to pave the way, so that I can be - Mike Bloomberg, Nelson Mandela, Anita Roddick, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, and so many others. Lastly, my library tells a story about the many mindset-related, entrepreneurial development and business growth books, courses, events and programs that I learned from, particularly in my moments of despair."

Habiba divides her year between living in Chicago, Costa de Prata and London. She says her forthcoming book entitled Oh **** Yes I Can: Strategies for Stepping into Your Entrepreneurial Brilliance and Living a Life of Passion, Profit, Purpose and Plenty, tells the story of 33 successful entrepreneurs (including Habiba) that were dreamers who became doers, and also provides tips and insights from each of them. "I would insert 'hell' there, but I figured I'd leave it blank for people to insert their own unacceptable four-letter word," she answered with a laugh, when later asked what the four asterisks in the book title stand for.

Creating a Legacy

When asked what her future business plans are, she responded: "With God, all things are possible, and that's why I often say oh hell yes I can. To whom much is given, much is required." With a smile, she added: "My ultimate goal is to leave a legacy when I depart from earth. And my vision derives from my life purpose to transform businesses through my marketing expertise, and enrich lives through my entrepreneurial endeavors."

Quite the exceptional go-getter and shrewd operator, it looks like this diva is set to continuously leave an unforgettable imprint on the lives and businesses of small business owners globally - taking several aspiring moguls on the exciting journey of "mogul status" entrepreneurship in "business, spirit and soul" style.

 

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