Meet Yasmin and Seema

June 03, 2019

Meet Yasmin and Seema

We decided to try something different this month with these two #BossyLadies who are each powerful on their own but together unstoppable forces for good!

Our very first Mother and Daughter interview.

What's your name?

Yasmin Halima (YH) - Mom

Seema Yasmin (SY) - Daughter

Please provide any links or social media handles by which we can have other #BossLadies follow you

YH: n/a

SY:     

Describe what you do (professionally) and how that came to be?

YH: I'm living my dream--as a fellow at the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute I'm embedded in a sumptuous, intellectual environment, focusing on what matters to me most--growing women's voice. How did that happen? Many journeys, decisions big and small, but mostly incredible people who challenged and guided me here--and continue to inspire and help me.

SY:  Doctor, journalist, poet, author.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

YH: Tea with family. The tradition of tea blends the best of my Indian and British heritage. One of my earliest memories is sitting with my grandfather and cousins in India, around a big yellow tray full of steaming rice with a spicy curry bowl in the middle. When we moved to England, we continued to eat the same way. But as kids we knew the real fun happens when the dishes are cleared, little hands are washed--and the cardamom tea and cakes arrive. To this day, when I think of home--I think of tea and fun with family.

SY: No clocks, no sense of time, in nature with good snacks and a sense of peace.

What is your greatest fear?

YH: Poverty. Witnessing the lives of women living in poverty forced into circumstances of violence in townships in South Africa and my own family in England. At times, the fear of poverty in my own life has been very real. I let home terrified of how I would feed my child as a single parent leaving home without economic, educational or social capital.

SY: Injustice prevailing.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

YH: I'm a big believer in self-care, so don't deplore any characteristic in myself or others. But I value kindness above all so am mindful of that. You never know when a gentle touch or kind word can change someone's day--or life. Of all the people I remember--it's not the smartest or the ones with important titles, but those who showed me kindness that I remember the most.

SY:  Nothing I deplore! That's too strong, plus I'm practicing self-compassion these days :)

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

YH: None

SY:  Bigotry and narrow mindedness.

Which living person do you most admire and why?

YH: Arundhati Roy and my sister.

SY:  My mother - she is BRAVE.

If you didn't have to consider finances, how would your work life change?

YH: Worry less, read more and continue to support women strengthen their voice.

SY: Work wouldn't but I'd travel more and live even more luxuriously. And maybe I'd give up my 9-5 to travel the world and write books full time!

What does family mean to you?

YH: Everything. Despite growing up in a community where women are not expected to have a voice--or education or career, my family's generosity and gentleness shaped me and my expectations for the communities of choice I went on to cultivate.

SY: Complicated support network.

What's your humble brag? The one thing that you really think people should know you've excelled at but don't want to appear showy

YH: I'm a good teacher and mentor. I take pedagogy very seriously. As a professor or leading a staff team and now as a coach, to be able to part of the journey seeing voices and lives transform is a privilege.

SY: I can do really good blow outs.

Do you ever suffer from Imposter Syndrome? If you do, how do you overcome it?

YH: It comes and goes. I've got better at recognizing when it's creeping up, going through my confidence exercises and give it a shove. I'm surrounded by people I respect who never fail to remind me of what I know and who I am. That helps.

SY:  No.

Which talent would you most like to have?

YH: I love looking at problems from 16 different perspectives. That's why a lot of my career has involved me sitting in rooms with multiple stakeholders with competing agenda. I'd like to expand that capacity. Imagine even more dimensions ...17, 18 ....

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

YH: My daughter Seema has a voice. Whether she's elucidating the consequence of race discrimination in a newsroom to a student or calming the nation on CNN following an Ebola scare, it means a lot to me that she has a voice--a voice that is informed, compassionate, funny and uniquely hers.

SY: Fly a plane.

What do you consider your biggest failure?

YH: I ask myself could I have helped my family more? My mother lived a life without agency, without a voice. Seema was her favorite grandchild (yes, acknowledging my mother's bias is a family joke!). I wish she could see Seema and all her grandchildren and their children taking their place in the world.

SY: I feel like I fail anytime I don't try something that scares me.

How has success and failure defined the person that you are today?

YH: I don't see my life as a map of success and failures. The relationships I've had--good and painful--have shaped me.

SY:  Same!

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

YH: Goodness, I don't despair. It's not the Muslim way.

SY: Cruelty.

How do you feel when someone asks you to be their mentor?

YH: Happy. Ready.

SY:  Honored, overwhelmed.

What traits do you most value in your friends?

YH: Honesty--delivered with a side of humor.

SY:  Honesty, kindness, easy going.

Who are your heroes in real life?

YH: I don't ascribe to hero-worship. But I just heard Safiya Noble from UCLA speak at Stanford on the ways in which algorithms oppress those already poor, black and disenfranchised. What a powerful voice!

SY: My mother.

What advice would you give to your 25 year old self?

YH: Laugh more.

SY: Relax, it's going to be amazing!

How does wearing lipstick make you feel?

YH: Ready for the world.

SY:  Fun, brave

 

For more information on Dr. Seema Yasmin -> 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seema_Yasmin

 

For more information on Yasmin Halima -> 

https://dci.stanford.edu/yasmin-halima/



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