PAOLA DIANA

EP 008 / 02.12.2020

FREEDOM FOR HUMANITY

Farah Nanji: 0:01 

 

You're listening to the Mission Makers show, a podcast that inspires humans to get into the mindset of success. My name is Farah Nanji, and I'm the founder of a business in the Motorsports industry that explores leadership lessons from things like Formula One. I'm also a DJ and music producer in the underground electronic scene, and a public speaker on key topics like resilience, building high performance teams, overcoming learning difficulties and stimulating creativity. And to tie it all together, I love writing thought provoking content as a journalist with these industries, which is so unique in themselves. On this show, I'm sitting down with some of the most inspiring and driven people I've met around the world to talk about their processes, their failures, the lessons they've learned, and how they are truly making an impact in this world.

 

For today's episode, we're back in London, this time welcoming Paola Diana to the show. Paola is a best selling author, activist, entrepreneur, speaker and journalist. Her work has been featured in publications such as the BBC, Vogue, the Huffington Post and Forbes. And her journey hasn't been easy growing up in a household of domestic abuse, which has sparked the fire in her to fight fiercely for human rights around the world. In this episode, we talk about her journey towards removing oppression and her lifelong mission of unity and female empowerment. Just before we begin, if you're interested in watching the video version of this podcast, head over to YouTube and type in Mission Makers, Paola Diana to see the show. 

 

Hi, Paola, how are you doing?

 

Paola Diana: 1:41

  

Hi, Farah, I'm doing quite well, considering this mad period of COVID, lockdown and everything else, but I can't complain.

 

Farah Nanji: 1:51 

 

I'm glad to hear you're keeping well during these times. And thanks so much, again, for being a guest on today's Mission Makers, I think our listeners will be so excited to learn about your journey and all of the amazing things that you stand for. And really for all the effort that you've given to help many, many women succeed in their lives, and be a supportive figure. So before we delve into the female empowerment and the politics that surround that, I'd love to start from the beginning and have our audience hear from you. Who is Paola? And where did it all begin for her?

 

Paola Diana: 2:21

  

Yes, absolutely. So I'm an activist, author, entrepreneur. And now I'm also a producer, because I have a new project, I'm producing a documentary on important social issues I will tell you more about after. I describe myself as a fighter as well, because this is my character, my personality. So I was brought up in Italy, in the northeast of Italy, in a very conservative family. And I struggled when I was a child, I wasn't very happy at home because especially my father was very conservative, very strong. He could also be violent sometimes so I was very scared of him. And I didn't feel loved as I needed. I felt he didn't understand me and so it was very, very hard for me. I also saw the misogyny that was involved in my upbringing, not only in the community, but definitely also my family. You know, I remember my father talking about the difference between my brother and me. And so you know, brought up the surname through his children. And I wouldn't have done that because of course, at the time in Italy, you couldn't give this surname, your surname as a mother to your children. That is something unbelievable is still like that legally. If you don't make requests, if you make a request they can let you add your surname to the one of your children can you imagine? But anyway, it's more things, bigger things. I was really struggling and I think I developed my feminism during the time even without knowing that. And then I was lucky enough to study political science that I loved so much. I studied the history of religions, I understood why traditional patriarchal societies are acting like they're acting and they also have strong connections between religion and culture. And I understood much better, the society in which I was living, and I decided that I should have done something in order to change it. So that's why I always try to err on the side, even when I was working politics or when I wasn't seven, become an entrepreneur. I decided to do some activism in order to give back to society in order to help other women. And, even if I help one, only one girl, only one woman, I'm happy because if I can inspire only one person to change your life, to feel more empowered to find the way to speak up, stand up for her Right. But that's for me, it's my mission seriously. And that's also why I've written my book is saving the world, women, the 21st century factor for change, I published it in Italy, and in the UK. And now I'm actually writing the second book, I will let you know, after some detail about that. And, and definitely, in this book, I go through old history of traditions that are very, very misogynistic. And the horror of this tradition is still with us sometimes, you know, in some parts of the world, even in the United Kingdom, I'm afraid. And I tell it, you know, I want to write about that, because I think we can't turn the blind eye, you know, these problems, we have to face them, we have to talk about them, we have to acknowledge that there is still a lot to do. And my opinion is that, you know, until all of us will be free in every part of the world, all of our sisters will be free, none of us will be free.

 

Farah Nanji: 6:01  

 

Absolutely. So talking about that. The famous feminist, Joan of Arc, once said, She's not afraid she was born to do this. And it seems like you have a similar embodiment of fearlessness. So where does that come from? Is it not about having a fear? Or is there a healthy balance in having fear, but knowing how to navigate through that feeling?

 

Paola Diana: 6:21 

 

I definitely think everyone has fears, more or less, and you have to navigate them, I decide personally, to go through them to destroy my fear. And sometimes and also to follow my anger. Anger, in a good way, in the positive meaning because for me, sometimes hunger is just a creative force is something that lets you stand up and speak up like Rosa Parks, one day she decided that she didn't want to be discriminated against anymore. And she helped so many other people just by doing that, and this is amazing, and she was just tired of being discriminated against. So that's the point. You know, I think we have to all of us, we have to just say this is enough. This is enough, even if I'm scared, I have to say something I have to do something. And, and yet, of course I think maybe my character helps me, because I'm quite a fiery person. So maybe that helps me, but definitely, I think everyone can do that.

 

Farah Nanji: 7:30  

 

Talking about emotions and fiery feelings. What do you make of the angry feminist stereotype that sometimes women are labelled as when they speak out so vocally about these things? Oh, my gosh,

 

Paola Diana: 7:40

  

I just hate all the stereotypes, seriously Farah. I hate all of them. Can you imagine saying Italians, they're all mafia people, you know, how stupid you know, thinking that all black men they are, dangerous. Come on. I mean, all stereotypes are just absurd and stupid. I think only ignorant people can follow them. And so I just think this one is another one to be put in the trash.

 

Farah Nanji: 8:09  

 

I fully agree with that. You can't stereotype anybody really. And, and so at the moment, who's working are you following and whose work are you really excited to see develop in the coming years?

 

Paola Diana: 8:22  

 

I mean I'm excited about everything that is happening, because I can see changes everywhere, I can see changes everywhere. Look at what is happening in the United States, I truly believe that women voters made the difference in voting for Biden and Harris and let them win at the end. I strongly believe that feminists and and they can be women and men as well but they can change the world. 100% this is happening already. Under our eye.

 

Farah Nanji: 8:57  

 

It is a unity of brotherhood and sisterhood. And talking about unity. In the last few years, we've seen the black lives matter and the metoo campaign completely change the narrative around equality. So how important do you think it is for all of these different movements to stand together and to work together for the causes to create this balance of equality around the world? 

 

Paola Diana: 9:23 

 

It is really fundamental, Farah oh, my God, I think, black like matters and feminism, and LGBTQ all have one mission and the mission is to end all oppressions that are all connected to patriarchal society. They're all connected. one to the other is like a chain of oppressions. So we have to dismantle the whole system of beliefs of prejudices and biases, we have to just break it and create a new world where none of these would be accepted. We don't have to accept it anymore. Before we were maybe indifferent, we thought, it's something that is not related to me. It's not affecting me, but actually, it is affecting us.

 

Farah Nanji: 10:11  

 

Yes, it absolutely is. And so talking about politics, I know, this is a field that you're very passionate about. You've been involved heavily in politics in the past, and most notably, when you worked as an executive director in a school for the Democratic Party in Italy. Talk to us a bit about the Italian landscape, and what you think is the key to engaging the next generation into these issues? Because I'm sure you've seen the landscape evolve heavily in the last few decades.

 

Paola Diana: 10:41  

 

Yes, thank God it's evolving heavily, especially in Italy. But still, there is so much to do, I love politics, I love to read and to be informed, I love to do my own little things, even in my own community, even in your own family, you can actually do politics. So when you speak with your children and you talk to them about what's happening around the world, what's happening in the society, you can talk about something that comes to your attention, and you can explain your opinions. So I truly believe each of us is responsible, and each of us can make the difference, and another thing that I believe is that we have to not be afraid to, try to put ourselves there, I love when I see women who want to be elected in whatever position, I don't know, willing to become prime minister or president, why not? Why not? I think we have to vote more for other women. Of course, we are not all the same, of course, we are not all good because like men, they're not all bad. That's the reality. That's why I always say try to find a feminist, because even between women, there are differences, there are the ones who are more vocal and fearless, who wants to fight for other women? They're the ones that like, as an example, Miss Iron Lady, Thatcher, they didn't really care about other women's destiny. 

 

Farah Nanji: 12:28 

 

And so when it comes to the next generation, do you feel like they might have been turned off by just how crazy this whole thing has gotten in the last few years? What do you think will be  the key to engaging them and getting them inspired to be a part of the change? 

 

Paola Diana: 12:47

  

I think they actually should not be turned off at all. I think they should be furious. I think they should be furious. And I think actually, Trump had this effect on the new generation, he made many of them curious, about this oppression, this discrimination, this conservative type of society, very unjust, and very bad for for the majority of the people. So I think they should just understand that we rely on them, we need them. You know, I love to talk with young girls. I'm lucky enough to be a mother of two young adults, and I love to talk with their friends as well. For me, it's fascinating. I learned so much all the time. And I just love this new generation, because I think they're much better than eventually we were, I think they don't want to be oppressed. I think they are disgusted by many things that maybe we were accepting when we were younger. And that's great. That's really great. As an example, now in the United Kingdom, The Crown, third episode, I don't know if you're watching them, and they're very popular. So this is the time you when they talk about Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and and many of the young girls are just horrified about the life she had to go through because, it's true enough for a young woman, I mean, this is unacceptable, this is not even something that you should even think about not even doing, but actually she was the virgin who was just, put through, and used because this was, what it was and, and it was accepted at the time, in order to be part of the system, you should just be silent, accept everything, just be happy to be a princess with no love, no affection and something else. So, yet time changed and our new generations are definitely wiser.

 

Farah Nanji: 15:00  

 

I have to admit, I watched the whole season in about less than 24 hours. But of course, I think there's a certain amount there that's not the truth in terms of the depiction of history and things like that. And I think that there's been a bit of backlash about the fact that they should have put a disclaimer that some things have been sort of falsified for viewers' effect. But however, as you said, the key in that sort of plotline between Diana and Charles, is the fact that she was the sacrificial lamb. And he was supposed to marry somebody, or encouraged to marry somebody that he didn't truly love. 

 

Paola Diana: 15:47  

 

Of course, he was a victim as well of the system. You know, he wasn't able to marry the love of his life, because she had too much history. Yeah, that's crazy. 

 

Farah Nanji: 16:00  

 

Yeah, absolutely. That's a sad thing. So going back to Italy, what are your feelings at the moment? And what do you want to see change for your country?

 

Paola Diana: 16:09  

 

Yeah, of course, even though I live in London, my heart always beats for Italy. I think it's a beautiful country. Unfortunately, I'm not so optimistic nowadays, because I am still, quite involved in the political dynamics. But I'm positive for the future, I hope that when all this madness of COVID, and the crisis ends maybe in a few years, I think, eventually, we could see the light again, but definitely, it's difficult, it's really difficult because we have to change and Italy, maybe people they don't know, but it's a very conservative country, very conservative. So we have to change everything starting from the economic system to the way we treat and discriminate women, because still, Italy is one of the worst countries in Europe, related to the way they treat women, and this is just not acceptable.

 

Farah Nanji: 17:16  

 

So, when you were working over there in politics, what were some of the things that you were doing to make a change? 

 

Paola Diana: 17:24 

 

So personally, I was always telling the professors I was working with to give voice to more women, to involve them, because they were just asking men, I mean, incredible men, intellectual, very, very smart, to talk, and to give lessons and to be on the stage, and I said, you know, to everyone, every day we need to give visibility to to other women, because we have other women, we have a huge amount of professionals, lawyers, economists, entrepreneurs who are female, and just as good as men, and I said no one maybe knows them, we need to let them have the light of the stage as well, because visibility is really connected with the power. And we need to empower women. So that was my first mission. I remember when I was working there. And then of course, everything was connected, because I always try to do a lot of flash mobs. So in order to support my friends who were MPs at the time and were debating laws that could help women and I knew that my relationship with the press and the TV might make the difference. So I was definitely using all my connections all the time, in order to help.

 

Farah Nanji: 18:52

  

The debate around social media and its impact on activism has been well documented. There are many that say that those sites offer previously disenfranchised individuals a platform to share revolutionary ideas. And others argue that in fact it stifles genuine conversation, discovery and debate. Where do you stand on social media? Do you think it is an effective tool in looking to advocate for change? Is that something you found has personally helped you get the results you want for change?

 

Paola Diana: 19:26 

 

Yeah, I think social media can definitely help to change society. The metoo movement wouldn't have been possible without social media, and I think it's a great way to disrupt the system. I think it can definitely help with revolutionary ideas. It all depends on the point of view because If you think about it, just a little bit more than 100 years ago, thinking about women, voting at the elections was considered a crazy revolutionary idea. Now, we think this is just the minimum standard of democracy. So I use it, thank God, we change opinion, when time passes and maybe one day, we will think about other issues that now we are suffering, and we will live in a completely different world.

 

Farah Nanji: 20:39

  

It seems like sometimes there isn't a balance in the pendulum, because it's definitely necessary it does make a huge change. And at this moment in time, it's been one of those things that's kept us all connected, of course, but at the same time, it can have such an adverse effect, and there isn't enough policing on the internet for the people that say negative things, there's just no consequences. And it's similar to globalisation, we just went so fast, and there wasn't an opportunity to take a step back and reflect and think, is this really a sustainable level of growth for our world?

 

Paola Diana: 21:12 

 

I agree with that, definitely. We need more control. Unfortunately, Facebook, I don't use Facebook but I it's not really doing the right things, because it's not controlling fake news and that's very bad, I really hope in the future, they will change. So there is still much to do, I agree with you. But definitely, I see the positive points. And my nature is to focus more on the positive.

 

Farah Nanji: 21:47  

 

Absolutely. So let's talk about your book, because you referenced it a little bit earlier. Now your book, saving the world, became a bestseller, which is an absolutely incredible achievement. So talk us through that journey and your feelings as an author on what you want your literacy legacy to be?

 

Paola Diana: 22:04  

 

Yes, for me, sitting the board was like a baby, it is like a baby, you know, still because I decided to write it after, I think 10 years of experience and start is I just wanted to share my knowledge, what I learned, you know, through my experience, just observing other people just starting, and because every time I was talking to someone, I, I felt like there was a need to explain the things because they weren't really widespread, you know, I was like, Oh, my gosh, maybe we are not on the same page, because they actually don't know something about history or women, you know, they don't know, something that happened. They don't know why, you know, society is constructed in this way. And, and I felt the need to just share it, you know, there's opinions and I needed, we received a lot of us support, the first time in Italy. And then of course, when I published in the UK, from girls and women, you know, contacting me and finding me on social media, and, and just sending me the sweetest messages, like he, you know, watch, I decided to change my life after reading the book. And before I wasn't really doing anything for myself, I wasn't, you know, support. My, my own, you know, life and career and myself. And I, I was so happy about this, you know, and I'm still and when I talk, of course, not doing COVID times when I talk and I present the book, or I you know, they invite me to, to speak at events I am. When I finished I always received You know, a lot of women come in and, and talking to me and telling me they relate with my story. They went through the same and they agree with me, you know, that's and that's also very, very important for me, because I strongly believe we need to be united. We need to form you know, a strong network and we need to support each other. This is fundamental.

 

Farah Nanji: 24:01 

 

And is that something that you want to be known for? For bringing people together in every sphere that you can?

 

Paola Diana: 24:07 

 

Yeah, absolutely. I especially Yeah, talking about women's rights. I strongly believe that only united we can win. And definitely again, you know, not only women, but also enlightened men. I always say that, you know, I think when a man is enlightened, it isn't like it feels in our pain. It feels injustice, he understands what we are going through. And he wants to change this for the better. He wants to change maybe for his daughter's, you know, for his wife or his sister. But definitely we need these kind of men who are empathetic and who are, you know, fighting with us because we can create a better world for everyone seriously.

 

Farah Nanji: 24:48

  

I think a lot of it comes down to upbringing and the environment you've been exposed to. I've come from an Indian Pakistani and East African background, which is quite different in itself. The culture is very much like, the guy is the absolute king of the family. And he shouldn't have to lift a finger, he shouldn't even have to run his own bath, or even be allowed in the kitchen. It's crazy. And maybe that was more applicable to our parents' generations, but it is crazy. Because then those people, they come into reality someday, and they're completely helpless, they don't know what to do. They have a hard time letting go of those expectations that have been set in their heads from an early age that this is the woman's role to do it, and those types of things. And it's absolutely not, I mean, some of the best chefs in the world are men, there's nothing that should limit us from doing the same things as our counterparts.

 

Paola Diana: 25:42  

 

You know, Italy was the same. Can you imagine, two different countries, different religions, different parts of the ward, they just were sharing the same. And this is just a system of oppression of women, you know, especially for young girls. That's why, you know, we used to get married, very young, we used to be, you know, forbidden to study. I'm talking about the past, you know, but that was a form of oppression. Because when you can't study when you don't have your own money, when you're separated from your original family, from your, you know, circle of friends, and when you have kids very young, I mean, you just become, you know, an object, maybe like a servant, you know, of a husband who might be bad or good, but just by luck, you know, you don't know, you can tell, you know, especially if they found that husband for you or yourself. And unfortunately, there are many, many girls who are in the same condition nowadays. I hate the word child bride that many journalists use, because it's nonsense. If you are a child, you can be a bride. So it's impossible. You know, I mean, they're just, you know, victims. They're victims, child victims, you know, they're abused. I consider, you know, marriages, this marriage is just some kind of, you know, legalised paedophilia. So, we have to save these girls, we have to save, you know, the women.

 

Farah Nanji: 27:15

  

Yeah, it's really, really heartbreaking, as you say, legalised paedophilia, that's literally what it is. We can't turn a blind eye to it. We are lucky to be here in the West with a roof over our heads. We have to urge our tribes and ourselves to make change for all of those people around the world who don't have the same freedoms, the same liberties as we do. What do you believe is the ultimate reason for oppression in this world, why do you think people want to control us at the end of the day, when it comes down to it? What's it all about?

 

Paola Diana: 27:46 

 

It's all about controlling our sexuality. Everything started from there, you know, because we bear children. And as the latency is to say, you know, Mater, semper serta, asked Bob Potter, you know, is not to, you know, the father is not, or, you know, we don't really know, unless you do take the DNA test. And that's why the marriage was invented. That's why, you know, was invented, you know, the need of virginity for women, of course, only for women, not for men. That's why, you know, it's so important. A was so important. I mean, luckily, it's not anymore, especially in the Western countries. So it's all really connected in, in controlling our body. And the same thing, you know, you see, it's happening, you know, in the states in America, but don't want to give in America and Poland, as you just saw, you know, they don't want to give their women the rights to determine if they might need an abortion or not, you know, we don't need a legislator to tell us that. I mean, we are very capable to understand by you know, ourselves and no one really is happy to go through an abortion. You know, it's not something that makes us happy. Any girl or any woman is a tragedy every time it happens, you know, but it's all a matter of power, you know, who has the power to control our body, women, ourselves or someone else? Historically, Fisher, aka society wanted to check to control our bodies and our lives. Now we want to change things, and we want to be able to just control ourselves.

 

Farah Nanji: 29:29  

 

What do you think the people in the positions of power gain from controlling somebody else's body? What do you think, is the ultimate gain for them?

 

Paola Diana: 29:38 

 

They control the public sphere as an example. You know, for centuries, women were just relegated in the household. We had to do house work, you know, and we're like housekeepers. Of course, who aren't, you know, nobles are very rich ones. And who wants to do that too. No, definitely men don't want to do that. Sorry, they didn't. So they preferred much, you know, to go out and you know, control the public sphere, gain power, you know, gain money, because financial independence makes you powerful, make you free. And they're all things that are connected, unfortunately. So this is a time to give some of his power to women as well, in order to create a more balanced society and in order not to oppress anyone.

 

Farah Nanji: 30:30  

 

So talking about your time as an entrepreneur, what have you had to sacrifice? What have you had to say no to, to get to where you want to be? How much of your success not only in business, but in life has been about knowing when to walk away? 

 

Paola Diana: 30:43 

 

It's really important to walk away, and especially to say, no, it's very important to be strong, and show that you're strong. That is another thing, you know, you need a poker face. Sometimes, sometimes, even if you really need to, you know, something, but you don't have to show that you need that, you know, what I mean? In order to be, you know, a strong entrepreneur who knows, you know, her value. So you don't have to go to too many compromises. Because if not, people would think that your value is diminished, they would think they can buy you would think they can offer you less money for everything you do, you know. So I actually personally always push my, you know, companies and my level very, very high, very high. And I never wanted to go low, because I knew that there would have been a problem. You know, I still remember a client. And many, many years ago, almost at the beginning, I would say maybe 14 years ago, in Italy, a famous entrepreneur. And he needed one of the services my company was offering so he wanted to read talk to me with the founder, fine. I said, Okay. And he said, Listen, so Yana, I made, you know, a survey on all the companies that are offering the same service in Italy. And they are so cheap, it's so much cheaper compared to your company, that is that, you know, it's unbelievable. But then I thought, if they're so you know, expensive, and they're still in the market, and apparently, they're doing very well, you know, from the reason everything, there must be something good that they're doing, you know, because I believe in the market. And I believe that if you do something good that the market, you know, makes you the winner, you know, gives you back and I said you are absolutely right, and so you should come with us, and you should try, you know, yourself. And he was so happy that he even, you know, gave me a marvellous bag at the end, not that I, you know, received so many gifts, usually, but I was very, very pleased. And this is the way I think, you know, I think if you are doing a great thing, and great service, a great product, whatever you know, you have to stand there and just don't expect too many compromises. Don't accept when people want to know to value what you do. So you have to be proud of yourself, and I'll be your work, you know, and let them understand that they have to tell you the truth, actually, my I went through a visit with my father who was just, you know, psychologically emotionally abusive, and you know, sometimes also violent when I was a child, and it was very scary for me. But my husband, no, was a really good man. I actually married a very good man. It was just not right for me, you know, so I married very young, I think I definitely needed a father figure. But then, you know, I decided it would have been a mistake for myself and my children as well, you know, to just stay in the real marriage. But he definitely was a very good man, and it was just wrong for me.

 

Farah Nanji: 34:01

  

So let's talk about martial arts as I know, that's something you're super, super passionate about. I know you're currently training in Krav Maga and jiu jitsu. So what's that taught you about the importance of discipline?

 

Paola Diana: 34:12 

 

Yeah, I love martial arts. I think everyone should do one at least of course, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the best for me now, even though I just said you know, I tried others so I actually try a taida definitely, oh my god, that is a mix of martial arts is not really a proper martial art. I tried muay Thai and kickboxing for many years and, and also boxing for a while because I had to even box for a charity event. And you know, martial arts, they really give you the sense of discipline and the sense of patience, the sense that you have to earn it, you know, so you have to really work hard in order to achieve a result. And they're all things that are good in life, you know, because they teach you to be strong. To be silent, that is to be patient, that is sure not to get scared, you know, when you're in a bad situation, but to stay calm, because staying calm is fundamental if you want to react to it in a proper way. And they also let you feel strong. And it's very important because you know, you don't have to only be strong in your mind and let your body go. Absolutely not. Because the body and mind are connected. So strong mind and strong body and vice versa. And if you're not, you don't have to be strong, you know, in order to enjoy just having a lot of muscles. And I'm not saying that, in fact, actually in jujitsu, definitely muscles count, but not so much techniques that are more important as an example. It's a, it's a different way of being strong, it's a real soft feeling that you can do it, you know, and when you feel that you can do it or when you feel that you are actually capable. Everything changes are on you. And inside you. I always say that I think one session on Brazilian jiu jitsu is like one session of free therapy. So definitely suggest everyone who is listening and yourself as well to try. Let's come when they open the gyms again, of course.

 

Farah Nanji: 36:21 

 

So you haven't been able to do any of it during lockdown, right? 

 

Paola Diana: 36:25  

 

Unfortunately, not. I go to the park running and working out and you know, walking, and I love that course, I'd love to be in touch with nature, but I can't wait for the gym.

 

Farah Nanji: 36:37  

 

100% agree with you, I am definitely missing the gym, haven't been literally this whole year, I think minus maybe like twice, which is crazy. And so going back to some of the stuff you were talking about around sports. When we get involved in sports, obviously, there's a competitive aspect to it and sometimes that can become an almost obsession, you know about defeating your opponent. So when you're in that mindset, how much of it is about not losing and how much of it is about defeating the voice in your head to push those limits? 

 

Paola Diana: 37:08 

 

I mean, that connected Of course, personally, the main competition that I feel is within myself, because I love to learn, I love to make things right in the right way. And I just want to, you know, be the best version of myself that I can be. But of course I know, when I'm doing a competition, you always have to be in a competitive mood. So you have to prove that you're actually better than the other person with no bad feelings. Of course, it's just a sport, you know. So when you finish, you just can you know, hog and shake hands and and be you know, very professional and yeah, but the competition is good. I think competition is part of our lifestyle, I tell the truth, I don't see anything wrong in that. I actually think that women should be more ambitious, you know, because I've been ambitious, there is a way of being competitive, because out there is like a jungle, you know, so we all have to compete in order to succeed in some way, you know, in, in every industry really. So, I'm for that.

 

Farah Nanji: 38:18  

 

Hundred percent. You mentioned earlier that you have two children and they're beautiful children, I've had the pleasure of meeting one of them. So what has having children taught you about yourself? And how has the journey of motherhood been for you? 

 

Paola Diana: 38:34 

 

Oh my gosh, I'm in motherhood really changed me and made me a better person. And he gave me a lot of responsibilities when I was quite young because I had them in my early 20s. But I love every second of their upbringing, because, you know, they don't, they don't only ask you a lot, they also give you a lot, they give you a lot of love and, and purpose, you have a purpose in life, you know, that's why I value you know, mothers when I have to hire someone, I don't discriminate them. And for an Italian is quite something strange because unfortunately, we are still, you know, discriminating against women, especially if there are single mothers. On the contrary, I think you know, motherhood is like a master degree. I really value it because I think you learn how to do maybe you know more things in a shorter time period because you have limited time and you're very responsible, especially if you have to Orn for them as well in order to sustain them. You really need a job, you really need to work, you are, you know, reliable, you are trustworthy. So we have to all you know, support more mothers in our communities. And definitely I am very maternal, you know, it's my instinct, so I am very happy with them and now we are also friends you know, they're younger. They go to university. I'm really proud of them.

 

Farah Nanji: 40:04  

 

Now Paola, there's something you said once when we were talking a while ago that really stuck with me around the first time you felt free. And I thought that was very, very powerful. And I'd love for you to explain that to our audience.

 

Paola Diana: 40:19  

 

I mean, you know, freedom comes in many ways, personally, I, I felt I was free. When I understood that first of all, economically, I was independent. I was independent from asthma, and I wasn't dependent from my original family for my father, I made it. So I became a successful entrepreneur without my own first is, you know, starting from nothing, just, you know, with one idea. And then I was feeling free when I was mentally evolved. When I understood that I had to unlearn what they taught me whether or not the child you know, what they showed me, that was the normality, the reality. So again, you know, I think, you know, when I was maybe 35, I felt that I was wiser. And I realised that reality wasn't static, wasn't the one that I learned, it was something that could have changed. And I was part of this change, you know, and I felt, I felt free, I felt like, wow, you know, I can make my own life, I can change things, I can help other people to change with me, you know, I can have a dream and make other people dream with me. And that's the most important and powerful thing you can do, you know, dream together a better word for everyone.

 

Farah Nanji: 41:53 

 

Definitely. So how did you break those self limiting beliefs that you were taught as a child?

 

Paola Diana: 42:01 

 

Definitely, creation is the key education is the key. That's why I support Malala so much, because I think she's such a champion for women when she says that, you know, Chang panda wants one book is turning, right. So education and being able to start it with very good professors. So it really changed your life, it can really change your life and your mindset toward life. And then, of course, the example, you know, I had a lot of role models, men, you know, mainly, I have to say, more than women, but they were amazing. And I just, you know, thought, you know, I can become like them, I can do it. And I will, I was just in a positive mood about that. And I saw the board in a different way. Also feeling more confident about myself, because you have to feel confident for you know, if you are scared, if you are undecided, if you don't value yourself, all these things, they just keep you down. And, and we have to start from ourselves, that's the most important thing, like learning who we are really, and truly, you know, and who we want to be. And then from there, you know, step by step, we can grow. And, and it's very, very important that we, we, we feel our voice, our inner voice, our inner strength, you know, and loud and clear. So, everyone can do that, seriously, as I did, everyone can do that. Now, absolutely.

 

Farah Nanji: 43:35

  

I think once you start that journey, and you get on the first step, it then becomes infectious and there's no turning back, from the happiness that you feel. Sometimes life throws you curveballs and it does it to all of us. But you have to figure out how to come back. Because I think once you build the rituals that ground you and the surroundings, the tribes of people that you surround yourself with, that's what's going to be what sees you through. So talking about difficult times. What's 2020 been like for you? I mean, it's been difficult for everyone but what have been your biggest takeaways and what would you like to achieve next year? 

 

Paola Diana: 44:12

  

2020 is definitely the most challenging year ever, not to volleyball myself for I think, the majority of people I learned that as an entrepreneur, I can survive everything if I survived, you know, this period. And I did. I keep investing in myself in my projects. So as I told you, I started writing and researching for my next book, that will be about you know, marriage, attachment, sex and all this, you know, things connected together, and I'm producing a documentary, because I strongly believe in the power of media, you know, and I personally love documentaries. And I want to talk about social issues. So now we are filming the first episode, of course, with all the problems of lockdown. And there will be a to happen. And we have still decided which network but I would definitely keep you updated.

 

Farah Nanji: 45:15  

 

That sounds amazing. Well, Paola, thank you so much for coming on the show. It's been an absolute pleasure and I'm wishing you all the best for your projects in 2021.

 

Paola Diana: 45:23

  

No, no, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure. I know your podcast is very successful. So well done you. I'm really happy I could share with you know, my knowledge and my life and my experiences. If anyone wants to get in touch. Please let me know. You know, if they write to you, I'm happy to be in touch and good luck to everyone with their you know, change, and they're in a journey of becoming free and empowered. 

 

Farah Nanji: 45:55  

 

Absolutely. Thank you so much. We'll put your links to get in touch directly with Paola in the Episode Notes. And so do keep an eye out for that. Thanks so much, Paola. It's lovely insofar as it was really inspiring hearing the resilient spirit and positive mindset Paolo has embodied throughout her life. There are many things that struck a chord with me in this episode, and I'm sure they struck a chord with you too, particularly around the discussion of empowerment and how we can all support the tribes around us, forming stronger networks and stronger communities because by empowering others, you empower yourself. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to listen to this episode. I hope you're leaving with some great inspiration that can help you with whatever you want to achieve in your life. If you enjoyed today's episode, be sure to subscribe to your favourite podcast platform so you can be notified when a new episode is posted. It would also mean the world to us if you could rate and review the show and share it with your friends so we can reach as many people as possible. If you want to reach out to me as well you can get in touch directly @DJ.n1nja on Instagram and Twitter. That's DJ.n1nja and also @MissionMakers on social media. Thanks so much again for listening. Until next time, mission makers stay safe and have an amazing week.

Lessons To Fuel Your Mission

  • By empowering others, you empower yourself

  • We all have a responsibility to end oppression

  • Don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe in

  • The regret of inaction will outlive the fear of action

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