🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶
🎶 Episode Intro: Today I get the pleasure of introducing you to Urmi Hossian. Urmi can do anything. I mean, you tell her she can't do something and just watch, she will prove you wrong. She has overcome fears, overcome glass ceilings, overcome so many obstacles from within herself and from others that they have put in front of her. Her motto, get this, is: "Get comfortable with the uncomfortable." She's a fantastic guest. She's going to teach us so much. I can't wait to introduce you to her. As always, any questions or comments, jump over to the blog. It's linked in the show notes. And watch the video portion on YouTube. That link is also in the show notes. Let's welcome Urmi to the podcast. 🎶
Melissa Ebken 0:01
And as we begin, I do want to ensure that I'm pronouncing your name correctly. It's Urmi Hossian?
Urmi Hossian 0:08
Yes. Urmi Hossian, yes.
Melissa Ebken 0:11
Okay. Urmi, Welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. How are you today?
Urmi Hossian 0:20
I'm doing good. And you?
Melissa Ebken 0:21
I'm doing well. Thank you. Now Urmi, you're joining us from Montreal, I hope it's a little cooler there than it is here.
Urmi Hossian 0:30
The problem is, it's so cood that it feels like we're back to winter.
Melissa Ebken 0:35
Well, that might be a little too much for August.
Urmi Hossian 0:40
Melissa Ebken 0:40
So Urmi, I'm very excited to speak with you, you, as a woman have accomplished a whole lot. You're working in the finance sector, there are probably not a lot of women, or hopefully more so than there were before that are working with you. And you've had to overcome a lot of uncomfortable situations and experiences to do the work that you do.
Urmi Hossian 1:04
Melissa Ebken 1:06
So you're in so many ways, the exact type of person that we like on this podcast, because I think you can give us insight into a whole plethora of areas where you have encountered those difficult situations and leaned into them to overcome them. So yeah, how have you learned how to assert yourself in your work environment?
Urmi Hossian 1:31
For the work environment, I think I just, I just decided to be more firm. Every time I was handling a situation. And I know that woman being assertive sometimes is seen as negative or seeing as bossy. But this is the thing, being bossy and being assertive are two different things. And usually, when women are trying to be assertive, people don't seem to like it. But it's a feature that society and people have to accept. So I would say that I just started to become a bit more firm, with people; being less sweet, because I do tend to have this I want to say this feature where I tend to please people, but I started started to put boundaries whenever I was not okay with things, saying no, when things were not serving my purpose. And I think there is nothing wrong with that. And just doing things that were just basically fulfilling my purpose; fulfilling me as a person. And I think there is really nothing wrong with that. And this is how I started to become a bit more assertive, pursuing what I like, doing things that were uncomfortable, and which started to become comfortable. And this way, I started to become a bit more confident, a bit more secure. And I would say that I also started to create respect from other people. Because sometimes people tend to, I want to say, take advantage of you when you're too nice, too kind. And I think being assertive really helped me to grow as a person as well. So I've been doing pretty well so far.
Melissa Ebken 3:08
So what I heard in your response there is that you had to change your mindset about who you're going to be and how you're going to view yourself that there are perceptions of how strong women are viewed in the workplace and in culture and society. And instead of buying into that you chose to change your mindset on viewing that. That no, there is a distinct difference between being bossy and being assertive. And once you changed your mindset about that, then that enabled you to move through that fear and that discomfort. Am I hearing that correctly?
Urmi Hossian 3:50
Yeah, I would say so. And I think it's related to the concept of leadership, because I would say that I use most of my assertiveness skills more at my work. And I've seen how I would work with people that were a bit bossy. And when I would look at them, this was something that I never really liked. That you would you don't want to like, tell people what to do, but you want to encourage and motivate people what to do. And this is how I started to realize that being assertive means also being a good leader. So I started to apply more leadership skills when I was working in a team when I was working with people. And I think it's always important to use your preparation skills and to really, like involve other people when it comes to like making decisions making changes, rather than just imposing your views, like forcefully on someone because that means being bossy but being uncertain religious means also like having good leadership skills.
Melissa Ebken 4:48
And sometimes that assertiveness can create space for other people to bring their voices to the conversation by not letting one person dominate or a couple of people dominate, but encouraging others in that space to also share their voice.
Urmi Hossian 5:05
Exactly. And that's important, I would say it's, it's important because you're also building relationships with other people, and you're making them feeling valued and accepted. And you're also getting them involved with do by having them sharing their own views, which is important. It's very important, especially when you work in corporate world.
Melissa Ebken 5:24
Now, how did that change in mindset, and show up tangibly, in your work? How did that help advance your career?
Urmi Hossian 5:35
Well, for instance, there were times where I would always be afraid of speaking up, and I would never share my own view, like I would just do whatever my manager used to tell me, but I think sometimes that's not good. Like, if you always have different opinions, it's important to speak up. So initially, I was like, not that confident with like speaking up when things were not okay. When, when, for instance, I would have the one to one meetings with my manager. And I would tell myself that, you know, this is a chance for me, an opportunity for me to really just tell when something is not going well, when you know how to make things more efficient. And that's how I started to become a little bit more competent, a bit more assertive, and I started to speak up when, you know, we wanted to make some some procedures and be more efficient. And I would say that it has also really helped me in my career, because for instance, when there were promotions, I would be like, chosen as a candidate for like promotions. And that really helped me because I think it was just showing me as a, as a good employee, because I was being assertive, I was like, speaking up when things were not okay. And also, when I felt like I was deserving a promotion, like, I would not wait for my manager to like, offer it to me, I would just speak up about it and be like, Okay, I think I'm ready now, for the next step. I want to know what these steps are. Because I think it's important for the company, but also you as a person, like if you work in a company, as an employee, I think everyone wants to see you, you know, succeeding in a role. And this is also where I use a lot of my, as I was very assertive about that. I was like, I want this, I want you to tell me what to do. And I think there is, honestly, there's nothing wrong with that. And I think every woman should do that.
Melissa Ebken 7:23
Now, at first, I'm sure this was much more difficult than it has become for you. So what did you learn those first couple of times that helped you to make this more of a habit and an instinct in yourself?
Urmi Hossian 7:39
Everything was very uncomfortable. Yeah, it was, it was uncomfortable. And I think because we're not used to it, I was not used to it. That was the thing, I was very, very uncomfortable. Like talking about this, I would be nervous when I would have this meeting because I was like, I don't want to be perceived, as you know, as I'm begging for this. But then, deep inside, I knew that I deserved that. And deep inside, I knew that if I want something if I don't ask I'm not getting anything. So it did come from a place of like, being uncomfortable. But sometimes we really have to get out of this comfort zone to achieve what we want to achieve in life. And I would say now, it may be much more comfortable when it comes to speaking up, like I just, you know, recently changed companies. And when there is something that I'm now okay with that, I just say it and I'm much more comfortable with that. And I'm now worried about how I can be perceived.
Melissa Ebken 8:39
When I was growing up, we had cartoons that were on the TV and a lot of those featured characters where an anvil would fall out of the sky and just crush them into a little mass on the concrete. And while we know that that's not going to happen, I mean chances are really, really rare that we're going to be walking around and an anvil falls out of the air and squishes us. But I think sometimes that we allow ourselves to believe the emotional equivalent of that. That it's quite possible that something will just squish us and that thing sometimes that we're afraid of is speaking out for ourselves, or to have the mindset that our opinion our and our presence matters, that if we do speak out if we do assert ourselves that the emotional equivalent of that anvil falling out of the sky is going to happen. But what we discover is, that may not be the case. And in fact, it's probably not going to be the case that especially if we are hired to work for a company, they see something in us that they value, and everyone benefits everyone is a beneficiary of us sharing our opinions. Will the company go with it? Maybe, maybe not. But They are better for having heard it.
Urmi Hossian 10:03
And, and I think like you as a person, you're not losing anything, you know, you're like you're not losing your job. I think it just helps you to be a bit more confident when, you know things like that happens. And I think as a company, it's always important to share your opinions or your views about things because you want things to be better. And I think that's how you make changes as well, you know, you evoke change using your voice. And that's the only weapon I would say that we can use when we're working in a company, but I would say everywhere voice our voice is, I would say the most powerful weapon that we have, that we can use to make a change. And, and that's how you can honestly just make a change, just by raising your voice and giving voice to the voiceless as well.
Melissa Ebken 10:51
And increasingly, when we are a minority in the workplace, whether that's racially, ethnically, gender, or what have you, in whatever way, we might be a minority, we feel more and more pressured to not speak out. But I think that the more that we are a minority in our context, the more vital it is that we find that strength to speak out, because we bring something we bring a perspective that others don't know. Exactly. And you've experienced that yourself. In fact, you've written a book about it, you've written a book entitled Discovering Your Identity; A Rebirth From Interracial Struggle, and you talk about finding your identity. That can you tell us a little bit about that and how that book was born?
Urmi Hossian 11:41
Yes, I actually just published this book, it's been probably two weeks that I have published it. Well, congratulations. Thank you. And it's my very, very first book and not my last, for sure. So basically, it all happened in June that I was reading this other book that is called How to Write a Book in 30 Days. So I read that and, and after that, I was like, okay, I have the ideas, I'm gonna go ahead and write this book. So then what happened is, I had this, I'm gonna say, short term goal, I was like, in 30 days, I'm going to make sure that I have written this book and have have it published. So then what happened is like, every day I will sit down, I will they dedicate an hour, or say 30 minutes write this book, but I would make sure that it was like a habit, where every day I'm writing this book. And then the reason why I wrote this book was because I feel like I was in a moment of my time, where probably was the best point in my time in my life to actually publish a book because I was never comfortable with that, like, I was never comfortable talking a little bit about myself and who I am. But in this book, I do speak about a lot of the things you know, the struggle that I went as a third culture kid, because my parents came from Bangladesh and I was born and raised in Italy. So I did go through the struggle of like, not belonging anywhere. And in this book, I do talk about a lot of things, a lot of episodes that happened to me when I was growing up and how it was to be a woman, but how it was also to be a South Asian woman growing up in a western culture. So then I was like, okay, I'm gonna go ahead and publish it, I have all the ideas. And after thirty days, I had, I would say, the draft ready. Then I contacted someone on frill unlike, as a freelancer on paper, I contacted this person, and I said, I need this book to be edited, formatted, and then I'll just go ahead and publish it. So it was probably my biggest accomplishment. It was probably one of the few steps that I took to be really comfortable with that uncomfortable because I would have, like, if you asked me this couple of years ago, I would have told you Yeah, no, I'm never talking about this. But I know that by writing this book, I'm helping other people. And I'm creating a community of other women like me, who shared some of these things when they were growing up. And I know that I'm helping them. So that was pretty much the whole purpose.
Melissa Ebken 14:05
And you understand yourself is Italian Bengali. You live in Montreal. So you live in a Western culture, but also a western culture that has a few extra layers of complexity upon it. So if anyone can speak from this place, you have so much to bring to this topic. Not just your own experience, but the many layers of your own experience. I think there are going to be many entry points for other folks to jump in and identify with how you've grown and what you have to share. So thank you for putting that out into the world. Thank you. So can I get a little nosy and ask you about a few specific talents that you've had to develop within yourself?
Urmi Hossian 14:53
Yeah, why not?
Melissa Ebken 14:57
So public speaking, were you a fan of public speaking?
Urmi Hossian 15:00
Oh my gosh, yes. Oh my gosh, yes, I'm so afraid of public speaking. I would say I was actually because, well, so the whole thing with public speaking, it all started a couple of years ago when I was still a student. And being a business student, we have to do presentation. This is like a mandatory requirement that you're like, if you ever have to talk about a company, if you have to present a product or service, you have to present it to the clients, and you have to develop public speaking, public speaking skills. So I remember when I was a student, I would go and do this presentation. And I was so uncomfortable with that, like, I used to hate them, I would be super nervous. I was like, why am I doing this? Why am I like, putting myself into this? into this like, why? Why? Why? Why? So I would still do this presentation. But I knew I knew that they were not good, because I was like, I didn't know how to present because they don't really teach you about presentation skills at school. You just go in front of an audience, and you're just talking. And then I was like, No, this is not working, I have to do something about it. So in 2015, I joined the Toastmaster Club, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to practice of public speaking skills. So I joined that in 2015, but only joined it for like eight months. And when I would go there, basically, I would just go in front of an audience speak. But I would never like take the constructive feedback, I would never apply the constructive feedback that I was like getting. So I would just go and speak and go back to my seat. And I was like, Oh, that's it, I'm never doing this again. And then 2019 came in, I was like, no, no, I have to go back to it because I had a goal in my mind, which was to do a TED talk. And this is because I got inspired by different TED talks that I used to watch on YouTube and other female speakers as well. They inspire me a lot. And I was like, You know what, I'm gonna go back to Toastmasters. But this time I'm going to be committed, I'll be determined. So in 2019, I went back to Toastmasters. And I remember the first meeting that we had, it was a disaster. I remember they call me to speak. I was super nervous. I didn't know what I was saying. I was just glad that I had to just speak for one minute and go back to my desk. But after that, I was so embarrassed. I was so embarrassed. And I was like, Oh, I'm probably never going back to this place. Okay.
Melissa Ebken 17:31
You had an emotional experience of the anvil falling on your head.
Urmi Hossian 17:35
Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. So then I was like, I'm never going back to this place. But then I was like, no, no, no, no, no, I have this end goal I have to go back to it, so I went back. And every week it was a disaster. But it was me getting comfortable with uncomfortable. And I'm glad that I did that because it's been three years and I'm part of this club. And I also took some executive role role like VP of Education and President. And that really helped me to become a bit more comfortable and just believing in myself. And now, like, I'm not gonna say I'm afraid of public speaking. But I can say that I do enjoy it a lot. I do enjoy speaking in front of a crowd. And I feel like I'm even able to be at ease, like I'm able to be myself when I'm speaking, which is also one of the things I want to achieve, just show the world who I am, and not who they want to see me as. So I do enjoy it, I go to these meetings pretty regularly. And I think being an executive in these clubs really helped me to grow a lot personally and professionally, because a lot of the skills I'm able to use them also at work. And it just helped me to be very confident woman and I'm, and I'm glad of the outcome.
Melissa Ebken 18:49
So not only was it uncomfortable once but it was uncomfortable repeatedly, but you just kept leaning into it and look at you're now. An executive and you can be yourself and you have a comfort level with it. Kudos to you. That's amazing. Thank you. And what about putting yourself out there on YouTube and social media, that is frightening too.
Urmi Hossian 19:15
Yeah, that's super scary. It's so scary to the point that basically I so first of all, I never thought I would have had a YouTube channel like never never in my life. But I do think one of my friends who basically she did an interview with me on YouTube for the first time she was like, I need you to come into class on this YouTube channel, I think will help you with your personal exposure, your brand who you are and stuff like that. And I was like, Okay, fine, I will do it. And I remember being super, super nervous the first time, even though it was just me and her recording on like on a PC. But I was like oh my gosh, I'm gonna die after this. So then what happened is I did it, we spoke for 20 minutes she she asked me a little bit about like finance, how is it to, to work in finance and stuff like that. And I'm glad that I did that. Because after that, I don't know what happened, it was like a sparkle, I just realized that you know what, I want to keep going to this stuff and I want to keep having like, I wanna, I want to keep having interviews on YouTube. And I think I want to have my own YouTube channel. So then I got invited into a couple of more channels. And then after that, I was like, You know what, it's time that I have my own. So in 2022, I actually created my first YouTube channel. I don't have that many subscribers, subscribers, but it's a work in progress. It's trial and error until you find what you are supposed to be doing. But I do get like a lot of feedback. People like the content that I put out there. And it's a learning process, you know, like, we're not born knowing everything on YouTube. It's, it's a lot of work. But it's something that does fulfill me and I started to become much more comfortable, the more I started to do that. Even with my social media, like I remember that I never wanted to have a LinkedIn account, because I was like, I don't want people to find out what I'm doing when I'm working, what I have achieved. But then I was like, I do have a lot of achievements, and I want to share them with the world. And I think if I do this, maybe I can, I could inspire other people to do the same. So then I created my LinkedIn profile. I always had an Instagram account as well, but it was always private. And then I was like, you know what, I'm just gonna become public with it, I just have to be careful with what I'm posting. And I'm comfortable with that, too. Like, I was never never comfortable with any of these things. But now I'm comfortable with that. Because then I think me as a person, if I want to do personal branding, you have to show who you are to the world or you like, you know, no one was gonna come and talk to you, you're never gonna get into, like, invited into podcast shows. And now I also get invited to podcast shows as well, which is another thing that I was like, Yeah, I don't know, if anyone will invite me. But then I started to get invites from people. And it's been like, a whole year that I've been doing podcasts with people. And I do enjoy it. Like I enjoy every bit of this, every bit of it. And and the thing is, before, if you Googled me on like Google, you'd probably not find one thing about that. Now, there's so much about me that I'm like, Yeah, I'm okay with this. I'm okay with this. Because I know I'm putting good stuff out there in the world.
Melissa Ebken 22:27
Well, and I think we can trace that, all of that possibility that's available to you now, back to your original mindset shift, when you made that change within yourself that your opinion and your presence matters. To the people that it doesn't matter, they're not going to follow you. But to the people that do, they have someone to find. They have someone who who can they can identify with and who they can learn from. So you've changed your mindset about yourself, and you've given other people so much permission to lean into the difficult for themselves. And you have so much more available to you now that you didn't before.
Urmi Hossian 23:10
And I think if it when you talk about, like changing our mindset, I think it goes down to self belief, like the belief that you can do anything. And I think that's the most important thing. Because you know, you might not be you might not have the necessary skills. But if you believe that you can learn it, I think that's the most important thing. So. And I think me believing in myself really helped me to achieve whatever whatever I have achieved so far.
Melissa Ebken 23:39
Well, I have loved talking to you. I do want to know one other thing. What's next for you?
Urmi Hossian 23:47
So I'm very ambitious. And that's one thing that you have to have. That's coming through. And I do have a lot in plan. I think after publishing my first book, I was like, Yeah, I think I want to publish another one. So I do have a plan. Probably before, I'm 35. I wanted to publish my second book. And I do want to talk a little bit about my life in Canada. That's one thing in plan. And the second thing is that I wanted to give my first TED Talk, hopefully before I'm 35. That's another thing that I have on my to do list and I also do want to create some courses. So I'm very passionate about finance and I want to be able to create some like educational courses in finance and sell them that's another thing that I want to do. And I also do want to create an Italian course because I do speak Italian and I think I want to promote more people learning Italian. I do also want to create an Italian press eventually.
Melissa Ebken 24:53
I have absolutely no doubt all of these things will come to be. Again we are having this conversation together in August of 2022. In June of 2022, you read a book about how to write a book in 30 days. So here we are two months later, and you're talking about your newly published book. You were once terrified of public speaking. And now you are planning your path to a TED talk, and you're an executive in the Toastmasters Association. So this is what is possible when we lean into the difficult things. You are such a prototype example for all of us who love this podcast that things are possible. They're going to be tough, they're going to be uncomfortable. You had a lot of difficulty when you were in Toastmasters. But you stuck with it, and you kept doing it and look at you now. So thank you so much for joining us on this podcast today. And I look forward to connecting again next year and seeing where you are.
Urmi Hossian 26:01
Thank you. Thank you.
Melissa Ebken 26:04
Any last words to the to the listeners today?
Urmi Hossian 26:07
I would say which is my favorite motto is that if you want to achieve things in life, you have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, because this is the only way you can grow and be happy with yourself and what you what you bring to the world. So this is my only advice to everyone that is listening now.
Melissa Ebken 26:30
Perfectly said and I did not pay you to say that. No. All right. Urmi, thank you for joining us.
Urmi Hossian 26:39
Melissa Ebken 26:40
🎶 Episode Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into today's episode. If this encouraged you, please consider subscribing to our show and leaving a rating and review so we can encourage even more people just like yourself. We drop a new episode every Wednesday so I hope you continue to drop in and be encouraged to lean into and overcome all the uncomfortable stuff life brings your way. 🎶