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EP 002 / 28.10.2020



Farah Nanji: 0:00  


You're listening to the Mission Makers show, a podcast that inspires humans to get into the mindset of success. My name's 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.


I'm delighted to say that my guest this week is the former princess of Luxembourg, and someone I'm very proud to call my best friend Tessy De Nassau. Tessy is a social entrepreneur, businesswoman, philanthropist, UN aids ambassador, and the mother of two wonderful boys. All of Tessy's pursuits are grounded in her life's mission to empower, elevate and encourage voices of the world, strengthening basic human rights for everyone. She previously spent five years in the Luxembourg military and was deployed in Kosovo as a peacemaker, where she was the only woman of her draft. There were some unbelievable things that happened to her during this time. And she speaks to us in great detail about it on the show. Her achievements are absolutely phenomenal. The list of awards she's received for her work are endless, but the ones that stand out to me the most are when she got crowned as the woman of the decade by the woman Economic Forum in 2017 and when she received the United Nations and NATO Medals of recognition for her work in the military.


Tessy De Nassau: 1:59  


Hi. How's it going? I'm good. I'm good.


Farah Nanji: 2:09  


Yes, so Tessy I'd love to ask you, where did it all begin? I know that you're incredibly passionate about the world, making peace and being a humanitarian so I'd love to understand where that all sort of stemmed from.


Tessy De Nassau: 2:25 


So I guess it started at a very early age, I was always very concerned in helping my loved ones, that's how it started. I think charity starts at home, no matter what you do, always focus on what brings the most benefit to the people you love, your tribe, you know. That is how a passion develops when you see a need for the people around you. And then after that, you know, people get inspired, you just see, well, maybe I can help more people, you know, and it just grows with you. I think my passion for helping others is why I became a humanitarian and global advocate for several courses, specifically on women's rights and education and sexual health, and so on. I think it's just it, it increased gradually, as I grew as well. Because obviously, when we're young, we have other needs, and we see other needs, then when we get older. And so education wise, you know, that need grew when I had children myself, because before I was in the military, and I was doing other things, so there was more sexual violence and conflict and, and women's rights as a whole. So I think the passion for me, yeah, has gradually grown and I have invested in it. So it doesn't mean that just because you're passionate about something, that that's enough, you need to read about it, you know, you need to take courses about it, you need to ask peers about it, you need to to see who is the leader in that field, and kind of like connect with that person, even if often it's not in person because some people are just you cannot reach them. But that's fine. We dare work, get familiar with what they have done, learn from their mistakes, kind of like sitting on giants shoulders, as I have done that as well because I think you know, nowadays we have all of these online experts on all of these topics who have actually no clue what they're talking about. But it's just the passion and they think that's enough. And passion is great, it gets you your firearm, but I think passion needs to always be linked with knowledge and knowledge you cannot acquire any other way by learning from others doing your research and reading. And hence that is that is what I have done as well. I keep on accumulating degrees. You know, nowadays you can do so many online degrees for free. Or like Coursera you pay 25 pounds a month. And you can take as many courses as you want like shoot yourself off right now and have a summer holiday of three months. As a student, why not take more courses? You know, that will definitely set you apart. And you know, it will just deepen your understanding and make your voice even stronger. So that is how it started. And that it's as it has, that is how it has become one of this today. Exactly.


Farah Nanji: 5:22  


I see, so how was your childhood growing up? I believe you grew up in Luxembourg? 


Tessy De Nassau: 5:26  


Oh, my childhood was a very beautiful childhood, I must say very protected. I know that a lot of women and a lot of men and a lot of children now, do not have had that or have that childhood. I totally, totally, totally acknowledge that. And it's sad. And that is also why I work the way I work to help these individuals. But my childhood was quite carefree if you want. Yes, my father was working a lot. his motto was always from nothing comes nothing. So I saw my parents working a lot. My father was always gone. He was very engaged in politics, very engaged in helping others. He had his own businesses then after that went actually bankrupt his roofing business, because some people couldn't pay their bill. But he fought, I'm not gonna take bread if I can't give them bread. So he rather became bankrupt, then putting these people in misery with their families, which I think is something really admirable about my dad. And it says a lot, that he would rather take one step back and create something new than putting people in real, real trouble, who cannot pay their bills in the first place. So yeah, I grew up on a farm as well on the weekend. So during the week in the city, and on the weekends on the farm driving my tractor had my cow, cats, chickens, and rabbits, and pigeons, and dogs, and everything, really horses. And I really loved it, because it really showed me when it gave me that empathy towards nature, the importance of how nature heals, which also goes now with my PhD, and it's just really helped me to stay grounded in a fast moving world at the time, but not as fast as now. So maybe even giving me that resilience in order to cope with what we need to cope with today. And I think that is also why a lot of young people nowadays have so many problems with coping, and anxiety and depression and anger. And just that overstimulation because they never learned how to decompress properly, because they're on their phone all the time. And nowadays, people live more in apartments than in houses, which I think it's a disaster in Luxembourg, you know, they destroy all of these beautiful houses, instead of making them affordable for people to live in. But no, then they break them down, build these apartments who are like chicken houses, super small, super expensive, and, and, you know, no garden. And it's just, you know, the urbanisation of our society has led that, that we're really living in boxes now. And yes, we have nature around us, thank God. But even that is always at fret, you know, more and more gardens are disappearing, and forests and all of these things. It's just not appropriate anymore, for politicians, to actually give us that space of decompression, which is nature, and not just hanging at home, sitting on the couch, and playing your computer games, which now it is mostly the reality for a lot of young people. I have met young people who didn't even know that the milk comes from the cows. This is a serious reality Farah, you know, or eggs and stuff. They don't know where that comes from. And for me, it's just so common sense. But it shows me really, in what a dire need we are to reconnect to the basics, and make parents accountable and make our schools accountable as well, for the basic education that our children need just to grow up to respect what we're having, because how do you want young people to respect nature if they have never learned that nature provides for us properly? You know, like, I was cooking for children, and we have chicken wings. And I made fresh chicken wings from happy chickens in Switzerland. When you came from a farm they were running around. And that person said to me what they were running around his chickens. And where do you think chickens come from? Where do you think, you know, the meat comes from? I said that? Yes, they have been killed. They have been killed. I'm like, Yes, but they have been humanely killed. I think also with Dad, I think young people need to really just reconnect to that And know that you know, some animal needs to die for you to have meat. And that's fine as long as you respect that process. So yeah, a lot of different things. But going back to your initial question, that is how I had my childhood, and that is how it primed me to who I am today and why I do the things I'm doing.


Farah Nanji: 10:19  


Yeah, I can imagine, luckily having a really nice childhood filled with a lot of nature and protection and love from your parents as well and a happy family, you must have been quite surprised when you got onto the sort of big real world and sort of seeing the sort of how terrible some of the stuff is, and how it's like continued manifests that kind of what drove you to go even further with what you're doing?


Tessy De Nassau: 10:45  


I wasn't surprised, because I grew up in the city during the week, and I was on the weekends on the farm. So I didn't know about what happens in society, I had quite a lot of friends of mine were with me, in primary school quite a few. Some alcoholics, others died of drug abuse, some killed themselves. And it's just, you know, sometimes when I work with homeless people, for example, for Christmas, I do that since eight years, I helped them you know, also access a nice Christmas Day, but their families where they get food and gifts, and we play bingo, together, we have a good time, you know, hundreds of them. And it's really then when I realised, the last few years, I saw some of my old school colleagues from primary school, and how, you know, how they wasted their life, really how they became in how they got into that circle? You know, and I felt so sad for them, and I didn't really know how to help them. And, and I thought to myself, How did I end up the way I did? And not them? You know, and I think it's just, yeah, I think there's a lot of things out there that weren't, I grew up. And now that made me appreciate what I have, and make me work even harder. Because I think we're all privileged, we all have roof overhead, we all have food on our table, we all are healthy, as good as we can we have health insurance, which now 44 million Americans don't have who lost their jobs, because of Corona. And just all of these things. And I think that made me really appreciate what I have, but also fight even more for the ones that don't have it. Even today, I use my social media channels for it as well, to create my advocacy chair, my voices, because social media is mostly for young people. So my speeches, the conferences, I'm doing the papers, I write the work I do with my company I do for adults and companies and corporates and individuals and institutions, and governments, but my social media is more for the young people, for them to understand, you know, social media, we create all of these avatars, right? But social media is also there to help support one another, and lift each other up. And not to be to be trolled around. So I think, yeah, I think just because of the things I saw, and keep seeing, you know, as I travel to India, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal, Thailand, and so on, I see good things happening. So our societies have grown a lot. You know, I read a book, when the title comes back into my mind, I share it with you, or you can share it later. But it really shows statistics on how we have come a long way in a lot of domains, everywhere, we have improved our lives. child mortality has gone down by more than 50% and so on. So, you know, we are on the right track, but still these D cells, these communities who just are not there yet, and I think you know, in some it goes exponentially India, and others are just really struggling. And now that, you know, developing budgets are going down. Women have access more to education, but AI is taking away more jobs now. So you know, how can women get on that boat as well in technology? Because we're still lacking that. So all of these different things just by observing me, made me work in the things I'm working in and I think a message to all of the people listening to this, just listen more and observe more what is going around you really what is going on around you. Just take away these horse claps and open your horizon and actually see, I know it will be embarrassing, some things will be terrible. Some things will be inspiring to some people. We'll just throw you off and completely change your path forever. But you just need to start really looking in order to do that. And I think we don't do that enough anymore. Because we are just scared of what we might find.


Farah Nanji: 15:18  


There is a fear mentality, definitely. I'd like to ask you, being your best friend


Tessy De Nassau: 15:29  


You know, me inside out.


Farah Nanji: 15:32  


But for those that are listening, just tell us a little bit more about, particularly the topics that you're focusing a lot of your energy on when it comes to these humanitarian missions. I know you advise a lot of governments. What topics in particular? 


Tessy De Nassau: 15:54  


So I work on quite a lot of things. And a lot of people say, how can you do all of these things at the same time? Firstly, I do the things when they come up. So not everything happens at the same time, there's phases or different things, and I organise myself quite well in that. So that I also have time maybe to squeeze in a little bit, yes, project in the middle. And what I'm mostly involved in is woman empowerment, women's rights, and education. So that's why I have professors without borders without Professor borders, where we work in eight regions around the world now created four years ago with two of my fabulous co founders, Karolina and magics. And it's really about reversing the arrangement and bringing quality education all over the world, for everyone, to have an opportunity to have that quality of education, we're not there to replace. So we complement the educational systems they are already growing up in. Because I think a mistake would be to come in and say we're teaching you now how it works. Because you know, other societies also have their merits and their ways of living, that we should also be learning from. So. So Professor borders is definitely one of my most proudest projects, works really well. And so yeah, we have grown a lot. And it's just beautiful to see how it's still now our alumni are so engaged with us. And we have a 98% retention rate of teachers. So we're doing something right. And it's really beautiful, then, other than that, un aids, when the global advocate for young woman and adolescent girls, so sexual health education, which goes along as well with you in the UK, which is also focus on my military career, and sexual violence and conflict, because Sexual Violence in Conflict is often linked to HIV outbreaks, because specifically, in African states, it's still used as a weapon of war, to intimidate, specifically between tribal warfare, things that often don't happen in the West anymore, like Europe and so on. But very much in developing states Still, we do have as well rape here, and problems with peacekeepers in Europe to talking about Greece, for example, and, and other areas, Ukraine and so more of Southeast Asia as well, and South America, so we do have it all over the world. But the consequence of that is also the sexual health education part, which I think is really important also to keep women out of the trouble of becoming pregnant at 16. So there's a school I'm working with in Colombia, who just does that takes young girls at a very young age and literally raises them until they're old enough to go to university, and even to be able to export without anything happening to them in the US. And I don't know if you plan it right like that. But in, in, in the bone use of Brazil, for example. So yeah, these are specifically the courses I invest in. For now. Obviously, psychedelics and mental health education is coming more and more, as well as a topic, also linking it again to woman empowerment, post traumatic stress, which goes again with war, and mental disorders as well, which goes as well with rape and with illness, and, and psychedelics as a treatment for all of that. So and my medical doctor I'm doing right now, so I'm progressing, but everything is linked to each other, which is also really important because you don't want to do everything at the same time. So for example, I don't work like you in the advocacy of motor sports, for example, or in the museum. industry, there's a lot of charities there. I don't work in protection of animal rights. For example, even though I do love animals, I really do. And I'm getting a little puppy now. And I always want to be a vet. But I just have such a full plate already with what I'm doing. And I want to be an expert in that instead of being doing all of these little things, and not being an expert in anything. So I think as well as a key message for the people listening to this, when they say, Well, you know, what should I do? Or what do you really care about. And once you find that, just look out the window as a test. Some would see health, some would see trash, you know, whatever it is, but these are all the means that you can invest in, but only you can prime your brain and, you know, your brain will tell you what your heart is really pumping for and then become an expert in that. So that if you need someone to call you that is your ultimate goal.


Farah Nanji: 21:02  


Absolutely, it's incredible. So house professors without borders were doing during this time, because I knew you must have had that pretty cool. Summer programme lined up. So are you doing some of this now online? What's the situation?


Tessy De Nassau: 21:17  


Yeah, sadly, Corona. And now probably the second wave. As we are seeing in Switzerland, we had to scoop a spreader two days ago, infecting around 300 people in a nightclub. And he has moved on. So they're suffering out how many people are actually being newly infected. Germany closing their borders, again, probably Luxembourg, as well have seen a spike in the UK still today. 400 people die a day. Even if we don't talk about it. And yet three days ago, we saw on Brighton Beach, literally so many people, it was sitting on top of each other hundreds, if not 1000, or something. Like it's ridiculous seeing the pictures. So I think it's a confused message of our leaders, right. And so because of this confusion, confused, while the confusion of the messages, we don't want to risk it. And so we have for now decided to not deploy our teachers, just because, you know, if we deployed to Nigeria, and African states, they can't come back. Because you don't get entrance or you don't get a visa to come back to Europe. Then other states, you know, they have had dead dead peaks. Now. We don't know what the research is about hospitals. It's just such a risk. So what we have done so far is we have engaged with our students online as everyone else, we have created different articles for the students to orient themselves on how to get prepared for for homeschooling themselves, shared all of these resources, which are not free, Cambridge, Harvard, all of the big universities have shared online courses, which are free, or really reduced on price. And other than that, we have worked on our back end as well, you know, automized, a website, we're working on that we are hiring two new trustees. We're working on our fundraising model, we just became a charity. We're working on our policies now to adjust them to charity status. So there's a lot of things in the back end that we are able to punish now just because we have more time in doing so. Also working more in deepening our message with our sponsors and donors, for example, carrier holidays, election holidays, being one and others, you know, how will our relationship moving on from here? You know, what should we be focusing on? How can we support one another even more? What could be other sponsors? Maybe for health insurance and health insurance providers? I wish we're still looking so if anyone is listening, and wants to help us with travel insurance, which is not much like nine pounds a person, but still fast, it's an expense and we want to rather spend these nine pounds a person on the programme, rather than on the travel insurance. And so yeah, all of these things in the back end, we have hired a new CFO if you want a new financial director and Talia Lloyds, which we're very excited about. And each and every one of these wonderful human beings to trustees, Natalia Caroline magics, myself, everyone Richard Maryam, Colin, like all of our wonderful team, we're doing it for free. So no one is paid. And I think as an organisation that works on run by volunteers, we're doing a really great job and I'm so proud and I think we took advantage of that time at home if you want to really just fino aos and and make it even better. So we are running, we are growing We have created new articles for the think tank and so on. But the deployment as for every other company, probably and for people going into the office is just not possible. And we cannot risk it just because our teachers are also volunteers. And we don't want to risk their lives, even though it's their passion, and I'm sure they would actually travel for us, we do not want to risk that because, you know, it's not nice when people get sick. And you don't know what to do then, because it's such a volatile virus. And it's just that we just don't know what's going to happen in the future now.


Farah Nanji: 25:34  


Absolutely, building the houses or strengthening the house is definitely a great thing to do at this time. And I'm happy to hear that you're still making sure that the children are still getting access to education.


Tessy De Nassau: 25:49  




Farah Nanji: 25:50  


So let's talk a little bit about the military because you knew I wouldn't let you escape that one. Every time you talk to me about your experiences, I find it absolutely fascinating. You've referenced it a little bit already about your time in the military. What I find absolutely incredible is you joined up so young as a teenager. What inspired you to do that? I know that you were one of the only women in your draft, and also that that came with its own pressures and challenges. Just tell us a little bit more about the whole thing.


Tessy De Nassau: 26:26  


So I'm looking back at my military career, it has been the best school of life I could have ever asked for. Did I know that when I started it, of course, not, you know, bleeding feet, for getting my gun in my 10th, because I went to the bathroom on an exercise. And then my gun was gone. And I needed to take a truck wheel for the whole day, just to remind myself not to forget my gun ever again, because I could be dead. And then the truck will run down all the streets, and I lost it. And my whole platoon needed to run behind the truck wheel. And so to die, so they hated me for day two. So do all of these experiences, you know, to organise myself better, teamwork, cohesion, you know, get to know my weaknesses, build my strengths, really breaking down, and then building myself up again, has been really such an incredible experience. I did it with my twin brother, which is a wonderful human being. And I owe him a lot, we did it together. And it was a really beautiful experience. And he is just a wonderful, wonderful man. And I love him so much, even though sometimes he could have killed me as well. Because, you know, sometimes I was just really grumpy when you don't sleep for a week, I as a woman could not take but I couldn't go to the bathroom as the guys in the forest and I couldn't wash myself as a guy. So I needed to wait for them. Some of them. Most of them sleep in order for me to get ready. And then by the time I was ready to actually take a nap then escape, we needed to leave again. And it was just, it was hard as a woman, you know, to work with so many men and do the same things, which I think is important that there's no exceptions. But as we are a woman and we have different needs, like if you get your period, for example, and you're in the middle of nowhere, for an exercise for weak, it's not great, you know, but you still you know, you need to look after yourself and your health and your personal hygiene is really important. And so I think all of these things have taught me really to organise myself well. And I'm very grateful for that. Other than that, yes, of course, I'm being deployed as only one woman, my draft, I had had incidents where I had an attempt of rape by a Belgian soldier, I did manage to kick him out out of my room and break his notes. But not everyone does that. Because a lot of women are just afraid. They don't have the strength. They don't have the training, that it's just so many different things. And once it happens, you know, they're humiliated. You know, it's often and it's such a bad devil circle, isn't it? That that the victim often is the one that is ashamed. Which it should be that the one who did it should be the one ashamed of his or her actions. And I'm saying her as well deliberately because men are also being forced to have sex with woman. And yes, a lot of people, some people might listen to this will be saying, How is that possible? Right? Men are so much stronger. Well, no, there's some men who have happened to have had that happen to them by woman and by the man. And I think that's also stigma we need to talk about it's not just woman experiencing rape, even though it's mostly woman and child And so, so that was an experience also being the only woman attaches benefits, you know, so if I needed anything, there was always 15 guys who able to provide whatever I needed, which was funny. But also, but then again, you know, if you needed to talk to someone, and being deployed for the first time away from my parents, I was 18, I was a truck driver, I was logistics, they called me five, I was doing orders, such as a woman. So it was very lonely for me, even though I was hanging out with the guys, I needed to be cautious because, you know, being deployed with men for five months, you know, they go, some of them go nuts, you know, because there's a lot of adrenaline, they're very young, a lot of them do not understand their own sexuality yet, or to control it, you know, and I think also the military still today, and I talked to heads of military in the UK, when I spoke at NATO. Not in Norfolk, Virginia, about my experience in the military, I really talked to the generals, and I said, that is such a problem, that you do not teach your men about your sexuality before deployment, while deployed, and post deployment. It's such a stigma. You know, like when I was deployed, I, you know, some of my guys, they had masturbation charts on their door. Disgusting. But I thought to myself, if that helps them to get over this, no problem, right? They took it as a joke. And I thought it was brave at the same time, because at least they were talking about their sexuality in some ways. And we're not hiding it, you know what I mean? And they were being human about it. They weren't bothering me. They were just doing a between the guys like ovoot, massive, it's more, I think it's disgusting. But still, if that is what they needed to do, to get it out of their system, and for me to stay safe. No problem, right? But it's just you know, all of these things, people don't talk about it, or sex with locals is a big no go right. You get sent home if you do that. But a lot of young military would risk that after being deployed for four months. And I know some Belgian soldiers who have been sent home who have been sleeping with locals in Bucharest, for example, where we did the night searches, you know, and then they said, I just could not stand it anymore not having sex. You know, and these locals, you know, the rule is, it's what they said that when I was approached, I don't know how it is now, but in order to, to kind of like scare guys off to do it. He said, Well, if you get her pregnant to take her home, you know, and they always obviously, they said that probably just to scare the guys off. But that stuck with me in my head, you know, don't mess with the locals. You're not here to do that. It's just not appropriate. Right? They have their lives. And, you know, who are you to take advantage of that. That is also something I'm working with you in the UK, for example, because there is abuse with UN peacekeepers, they make locals have sex with them in order to get resources back, for example. So the peacekeepers give out resources in return for sex. Which is disgusting, right? You hear about it all the time people write about it, obviously. Now, we have such an influx of news with Corona and all of these other problems we have, you know, paedophilia, and sexuality in the church is still a big topic as well. And all these things. No one talks about this other than when UN peacekeeping day is happening, right, which is in me, then all of a sudden, people are like, Oh, yeah, there was something there too. But I think if you're not looking for it, you don't know it, but it is still a big problem. So yeah, so all of these things I have experienced and learned. And I work in it nowadays, and help as well to raise awareness of these things and make it better. Because it's not just about complaining about things and seeing, showing the finger and saying you're a bad guy, you're doing all of these bad things. I think we also need to adjust our policies and our laws to convict people who do these wrongdoings because still today, the convictions of UN peacekeepers, when they do something wrong is very, very low. And I think we need to also invest more into that. And also Yeah, just empowering the victims when something happens is definitely also something I'm working in more to help women and men just find their voices, you know, have their voices, they have voices, but help them implement it. Just amplify it and just tell them, hey, you're not alone. You know, we're here for you. And you don't need to be ashamed of it. And help the societies cope with that as well. Because often the families let these people go then so it's a whole social stigma as well. So a big topic, and that is what I got to know in the military again. And that is why I work on the things I'm doing right now.


Farah Nanji: 35:10  


Well, Tessy, I mean, it's just incredible that at such a young age you had to go through those things and to stay resilient. I'm sure everybody listening to this is probably mind blown. You're someone who is a public figure, and do you think there are misconceptions about what you do? And what might those misconceptions be?


Tessy De Nassau: 35:39  


Oh, for sure. Absolutely. Well, you know, for me, it's actually hard as an example, it's hard to get paid for my work. For my company, it's hard because people think I don't need the money. I was married to a prince, I must be loaded. Right? And that I only get 70 pounds a week for the kids, you know, is another debate, but it's just as all of that stigma, you know, and all she must have it all now and all of the things I'm doing, you know, yeah, it's just that which is really annoying. Then secondly, you know, as a woman, I think when a woman gets divorced, it's always her fault. She must have done something wrong. Or you know, again with the topic before the woman gets raped, she must have worn something differently, you know, only woman we change our status from Miss to Mrs. And Miss. Men don't change from Mr to Mr. Their Mr. When they are men or their child. But we women need to always change statuses. So people can categorise us. And I think that really shows is a good example of what happens with me too. You know, people just categorise me all the time. Oh, she's a former princess. So that is what she is. But you know that I have three university degrees, and I'm doing my doctorate and I'm doing everything I'm doing is just secondary, because it has been given to me obviously, right? I have not worked for that. Of course not. You know, I was just sitting chilling on my couch watching Netflix all day long. And I had 20 nannies and someone who cooked for me Did my household chores. Does my hair buy my clothes? What else? Yeah, just all of these things. I have these people on the call all day long. Right? And that is a perception people have. And it's really sad. Because, you know, and I'm and I'm not complaining about it, because how do they want to know any other way? It's just not, it's just not possible, right? Because also, I don't take the time to clarify my life to people, I don't know, right? A lot of people say we'll talk about it, or write a book about your life, what really happened? And I said, No, why would I because at the end of the day, people will have an opinion about you. And I'm not going to change that. Even with this talk. Anytime, whatever my work, no matter how many degrees I have, you know, it just doesn't change. You know, it's just always going to be what people think of you, what they think you should be and what they think you should be doing. So yeah, I don't waste my time on that. Because there's billions of people on this planet. And I think, you know, if I can just hang out with people that inspire me like you, and just do the work I'm doing and I change one person's life. I have succeeded entirely. You know, my kids are happy. I'm a full time mom. I do my household chores. I work, study, I do everything and take care of myself as well. And yes, I do travel from time to time so I do go on holiday as well. Like if I put a picture of me in a bikini on a holiday people are like, Oh, yeah, there you go. She's always on holiday. No, I'm not. When you go on holiday, you post a picture of yourself as well. Do I judge you? No, I don't. But it's just you know, as soon as I drive a nice car, even though it's not mine, it is straightaway mine. Right? It's just all of these preconceptions, you know, and, you know, it makes me laugh. It's entertaining, actually. But it also makes me sad often because, you know, it is a reality that everyone needs to understand for themselves to some degree or other obviously, that you just can't please everyone. And no matter how hard you work, and no matter what you do with your life, you will always be something in someone's eye, is it what you really are often not, and that is something you need to live with. So grow some skin, because life that is how life is and that is how it is for me too. So I think it's just, you know, to advocate more for kindness and to just help people overcome that jealousy of other people, I guess as well. I have a quote, actually, let me see if I find that quickly that I put on my LinkedIn. Which, which I think sums up really well as well, with some of the trolls I have, because we all have people that talk bad about you, right? You have some people that don't. Like you, Farah, I have people that don't like me long, right? That's fine, that's human. But what I have learned as well, often when it comes to my work, or when I see some articles, it is exactly this, you will never be criticised by someone who is doing more than you, you will only be criticised by someone doing this. read that again. And it's just really bad, right. And so I think it's just stop comparing yourself to others, because the grass is always greener on the other side. But once you sit on the other side, you see that that grass also has some patches. So don't compare yourself and just be happy and proud of who you are as a person. Because only you can define yourself and what you want to be in your life. And no one else if you give that to someone else, then don't you know, don't be surprised. If people you know if you feel bad about it. So, you know, try to try to be that unicorn you want to be because everyone else has already taken


Farah Nanji: 41:36  


Love it. Absolutely. Energy is sacred. And it's difficult because you're out there to help and change the world. But you're then putting yourself out there for people to have an opinion. And it's really sad, because I've seen it firsthand with you. And I know how much you do. And it's just unreal how much you do. It's like, you know, if there's a superwoman, you know, I definitely believe your hair. And it is really, it is really sad. Like you're saying all you do is surround yourself with inspiring people and people who truly know what you do. All that stuff is the main thing and not letting those people stop what you're doing as well.


Tessy De Nassau: 42:22  


Exactly, just work and live for you and your tribe. You know, it's just a fact, you know, you cannot know everyone and you cannot be liked by everyone. And that is the beauty of life as well. Because every bad experience teaches you something, too. So, yeah, just go out there and collect experiences.


Farah Nanji: 42:45  


100% agree, and you have to go through those bad experiences otherwise, what would be the point of growing and evolving as a human being? Let's talk about your TED Talk. Because you did one in December, I believe I was with you. Tell us a little bit more about how it went? That's quite a daunting thing to do. 


Tessy De Nassau: 43:12 


Yeah, so my TED talks about as a fellow TEDx talk, or yourself, and love your TED Talk. So everyone listening, you tune in to Ferris TED Talk. It's so nice. So yeah, there was really an incredible experience, I must say, I was dreading it. So the first I got asked quite a few times. And a few times in Luxembourg, too. And I finally said, yes, then. Well, for me, it was quite an extra pressure, because I came into a room full of people living in Luxembourg, who already had an opinion about me. So, you know, it's, it's hard, because, you know, being in a country that everyone knows you and as their opinion, and then just being vulnerable, and actually sharing something so personal as I did, I talked about the three pillars of magic, about being bold, you know, getting out there the importance of connection, and giving examples of my personal life. It was really something I have not done before, and really to try to give it as an inspirational talk, that gives ideas and sparks memories and helps people to move forward in their own lives. So using my experiences and making myself vulnerable, for others to maybe see down. And so yeah, it was an incredible experience. I was shaking during the talk as well, which was amazing. At some point, I forgot what I wanted to say. And I had that blank. And I was just like, Oh my God, this can't go any way. No, it was just like no in my head that was like that's huge. Screaming even though in the camera, you can't see it and I got that smooth. transition, all of a sudden, because it was just fitting what I said in the end. And it created that connection to my next point, which, ah, looking back at it, it was just I thought I would really collapse that second. And at the same time, when it clicked back, I was just, yeah, I was just riding the wave that, you know, like, when you are surfing and you get on that wave, and you know, you know that we've can crash you any second, when you've got it, and you come out of the tunnel, and you just swiftly smooth around. That is how I felt. And I was like, wow, this is freaking amazing. So I really enjoyed the experience, I didn't do it for anyone in the room, to be honest, I did it for my father, who was sitting in the first row, which I was very proud of, you know, you obviously there and Frank was there, and Sammy was there and some other friends. But the person I was really talking to was my dad. And you know, he's just the most vulnerable, wonderful, and the vulnerable, he's invulnerable, is the most wonderful. And just human being, you know, he's just always there. And you know, he has his demons as well. But he's just for me, the most amazing support now, as a dad as an adult, and just seeing his eyes and talking to him, was just, it was so beautiful. It was such a connection. And after he came up to me, and he kissed me, and he said, Wow, I'm so proud of you. And it was just so overwhelmingly beautiful. Because that was, while I did it, you know, I just did it for him, really. And if anyone else gets inspired on the way, I am very, very happy with that. But if not, that's okay, too. It was just that one experience. You know, when you do a TEDx, it's really just for you personally, to kind of like get out of your comfort zone. And also, you know, just share something so precious to you, you really give a piece of yourself, because it's something so personal, that you will be transformed forever. No matter what happens if people like that Ted Talk or not, you as a person has matured enormously. So I would really really emphasise that whoever's listening now you know, you're doing something really cool. Something, you know, people get inspired or something that is needed for the society. Just get in touch with a local TEDx. I'm sure they would love to have you and you will see, you will understand what I'm talking about and how you will feel like after, when you have done it. It's just really incredible. And yeah, I hope as well, people listening here, and listening to my TEDx. It's on YouTube, to be tested and so TEDx talk, you find it on my YouTube channels as well. They're tested on a NASA YouTube channel. When I zoom o'clock sighs. Well, you find it. And yeah, some people have written to me about it, have asked me questions. Something I did a little, a little take away I give you from the TEDx is at the end, I said, you know, for 30 days, take a notepad, kind of like a little homework for all of you listening here, take a notepad, and for 30 days, every day, try to meet a new person, on the bus into shop, online, whatever it is, get in touch and speak to that person, not just write a person not get to speak to that person, get to know that person, and see what happens and then write it into your journal. After these 30 days, you will not be the same, I promise you, I absolutely promise you. And if not, I take you out for coffee, I'm so confident that you will be changed entirely. Just because these people will change the way you look at things will change your path will inspire you to do something else will inspire you to do something not again, you know, whatever it is, you will change and it's so worth it. So just try it.


Farah Nanji: 49:11  


Absolutely. You speak a lot in the public sphere. But like you said, doing a TEDx talk is just something totally different outside of your comfort zone. And I really believe that, I totally resonate with what you say that it really is more for yourself and your family and the people that have supported you, more than anyone else. Because, as you say, anything can happen from it, it's really just having the courage to go on such a big platform and put yourself out there and, obviously one of the beauties of the TEDx sort of platform. No lecterns, no notes, which in public speech, you normally have this kind of Yeah, it is, you know, like when you said you know, you forgot something I actually really trying to think Like when when was that in the speech? Because like, I didn't like that. And, and, and that's also something that, I recently wrote an article about my experience with doing this TEDx talk, because I have six weeks notice to do this talk,


Tessy De Nassau: 50:15  


Oh, yeah, you did really well, I pushed you into cold waters there. You know, guys listening to this, I didn't want to do the TEDx in June. And I said, I have my best thing. And I pushed it on to you, Farah, and you mastered it so well. And I love your article you wrote about it. And I love the picture you took when you were laying on the bench. And you said, Wow, I'm transformed forever. It's over now. And I'm laying here and I'm just enjoying the vibe. Like, really beautiful. It gives me goosebumps after the picture is so powerful, and what you put with it and your article, so yeah, definitely guys go and check it out. It's amazing.


Farah Nanji: 50:53  


That was insane. I think I read something like it was climbing the Mount Everest of public speaking, because that is literally what it felt like. And particularly big shout out, you know, to dirk from TEDx Luxembourg because he's, he's really got some incredible venue, he's got like, this team of like, maybe 40 students or all, you know, helping out in it at some point, you know, it's very overwhelming on the day, because you're just in that mindset of like, I need to deliver this talk. And keep remembering But yeah, I just, I just, I didn't sleep as well, no surprise. And so when I finished it, you know, I just had to go outside and just like, just close my eyes for like, minutes. And just so that the vibe of Luxembourg be absorbing me. But yeah, no. So another thing I wanted to ask you about, and actually, I was just laughing, because I think we've actually never discussed this as best friends. But what do you think? Is the purpose of our existence here on planet Earth?


Tessy De Nassau: 52:27  


I think the purpose of I exist, that's a really complex question. You could write several books about that. talk forever. Um, the purpose of us being here, I think it's just Well, firstly, to feel complete inside you. It's kind of like put your mask on before helping anyone else. So kind of like, why are you here? Which community? Are you? And how can you be a beacon of change for that community? Kind of like to make things better? I think, you know, it's kind of like, yeah, we're born, we get old, you die. It's a cycle, we cannot change it. So I think the time is very limited, you know, where no one has been immortal. If anyone is listening to this and your model, please get in touch. But it just doesn't exist, right. And even though I said to him yesterday, we walked 14 kilometres in the forest. And I was asking him these questions. And I said to him, Noah, what would be your biggest dream, if you could dream of anything. And he said, I would love to be immortal, and travelled through time, and make things better. Like when people cut their arms off, that they grew back, and things like that he really got into it. But you know that without any mortality, we don't have that. So I think it's just to make it worthwhile. Some people have more time on this earth and others, you know, some people die very young. And it's very sad. Because the young ages are always very sad when you don't have a life to live. Right? Some people die when they're 98 or 100. to two different scenarios, right? It's still sad, but you had a life, right? And the question is just did you find the purpose of your life and why you're here, right? So I think it's very individual. It's like a fingerprint on your lobe. My purpose will never be yours, or anyone else listening to this, but it's just about you know, when you go to bed in the evening, and purpose, you can reevaluate your purpose daily, you know, and it's actually good doing that, where you can say in the evening, have I been the best I could be today. You know, what, what can I be grateful for today? What didn't I do? so well? How about I tried to work on that tomorrow, you know, who have I reached or who have I not reached? What do I need to get there? So I think purpose evaluates itself with you. And yeah, just to check in with yourself continuously, but definitely from Purpose is about making this world a better place than what I had it when I found it. So you know, leave this world behind in a more sustainable and human friendly way where people work more with each other, instead of working against each other. So that is kind of, I think, my purpose, and just spreads happiness. I love making people happy. And you know, even people who hurt me a lot, I still try to make them happy, and I'm still there for them. Just because, you know, it makes me happy to and, and, you know, if I can die with a smile on my face, I die the happiest person, that is really what I want. So yeah, I think it's all about what, you know, to reevaluate yourself at all times, because me 20 years ago is not the mean now. So your purpose will change as well, or it will grow with you. So check in with yourself, and just be better today than you are tomorrow. I totally think that I think we're all energy. Everything is energy really. And the plants, the energy around, I just finished a course, where it says actually the heart energy grows of age, and that you can measure heart energy from the outside of the body. And I think that's how you connect to others and so on. So I think there's definitely something after we go, what it is, I have no clue. You know, some people say they can see ghosts, some people say they feel energy, some people, you know, say they are reborn, some people say they died doing surgery and in back and what they have seen, you know, there's so many difference fobs and school of thoughts, religions and different opinions about it. I don't know what it is. But I do know that this can be all because the study of energy is just so advanced, and tells us so many things already. We can inherit from our grandparents, anxiety, depression, and different gene defects. So there must be something else coming, that we are also preparing here to be better and guiding maybe there? I don't know. But it's a nice part to have. Because how sad would it be, if you would think I'm just dead to be dead, and everything you have done? religious history in the eyes of human or human history in the eyes of a human or something like that. And it really talks about how and when we started to ritualize. So religion, and you know, some School of Art depends, of course, right? Who knows who exactly that was, but that person set? Well, at some point, Adam and Eve, right? When they one day, continue to multiply. When people died. At some point, people were dreaming about other people, right? We dream. And that is probably when they were like, ah, someone is speaking from the world to me. And that is how that myth came with, you know, is something else. The book is really interesting. It talks about other schools of thoughts, it talks about sheets, a friendly as you know, that's what we think and you know, things like that it's quiet, you will find something for you, no matter what you think happens. And that book is really great. I'll give you a link later for the video. But yes, I do think there's something even though I don't know what it is. But I think it's going to be great no matter what it is.


Farah Nanji: 58:55  


I'm sure we will enjoy this conversation offline in Zurich someday. And last two questions I have for you, is number one, you're an incredible mother and you became a mom at quite a young age. So just for anyone listening, any tips, any sort of secrets to your parenting, what has been your style of parenting? 


Tessy De Nassau: 59:26  


I have two boys. I raised them to become really proper men in the future. I have seen some male role models in the past, which were not so great and I don't want my son to be the same. So I'm raising them to be empathetic, strong, but yet compassionate and inclusive. Human beings leaders that understand the dynamic of society as a whole and not just a male side. I read a book called hate me now. Love me later. On the importance of creating boundaries, which has helped me a lot with my kids, and then as well, more trust, your kids are better off than you think they are. So be not so hard on yourself. So I had that quite a lot in the past. Or still now you know, where I would go to bed and I would cry, because I think, Oh, my God, I was a horrible mother today, I could have done that better. So I think you know, just don't be so hard on yourself. And also, you know, you're just teaching your children to learn from your past mistakes. What they do at the end of the day is none of that is none of your business, because you can't change it, your children are just there, because they're bored, you bore your children, because they will become their own individuals, and they will become what they want to be. So just spend enough time with them. Because time is of the essence. And it's very limited. 16 summers, if you want, my son is getting 15 years old now. And they say 16 summers, that's when they leave the nest, which is soon. And if you think about it, like that is nothing right? So listen more, speak less, and also be not so strict. I am a very strict mother. And sometimes I really need to break myself where C comes in to see you know, when I say what issues, what is this? Have you cleaned this? Have you done this? Have you read this? Have you ever and at some point, the day passes? And I'm thinking, what have I done to deal with them? And have I heard them laugh already? You know, I think it's just Yes, we want them to become the best human beings. And yes, they need to play music, they need to be able to read, they need to do all of this. They need to be perfect human beings in order to compete with other children, right. And we parents want them to succeed as other kids. And so we push them even more, right. It's a kind of like a default cycle. But I think what is important as a parent is that you need to make sure that every day you create some lasting memories to which are nice for them to remember. Because at the end of the day, you know, happiness creates children and adults who are balanced and have a better self esteem than some were always terrified and always on the run from something and always think they did something wrong. So I think it's about creating beautiful memories with your children as much as you can. Because they are not there forever. They might be when they are adults, but it will be different.


Farah Nanji: 1:02:32  


Very beautiful and very powerful. Powerful. Yeah, I love it. And the last question I'd love to ask you is you talk a lot about nature, and your love of nature. So what would be maybe some of the top places you've been in the world that you've just been absolutely mind blown by. 


Tessy De Nassau: 1:02:57  


Um, well, I have been to quite a few countries. But the one that stuck with me that I want to go back so badly and I love it. After thinking back at it, it's just such an amazing experience as one was New Zealand. So I really love New Zealand for its nature, but also people and society and the way it's run. It's fantastic. Then Morocco, I did a suffering retreat, because I wanted to learn something so badly. And there's something or book a yoga retreat online. And you can find these holidays, which are so cheap, like a whole week of surfing rich with food, the teaching material, and they picked me up at the airport and everything was like 350 euro. Like it was amazing. So there's no excuse not to travel because it is so affordable now. And so Morocco was just beautiful. And I connected with locals. And I got you know, I went for local massages, and I just met this wonderful woman. And then they invited me for lunch and I was having this Moroccan dish for lunch and I met the kids. And then I send these little girls princess dresses from London. And that made it totally that day, you know, and it's just, it's all about connection and some rock was really incredible. I really emerged as a different person after that. And Jordan, Jordan and Israel were just so beautiful, so rich, and Israel, specifically Israel and Palestine. My mom would just call continuously if you say his bombs or do bad stuff. And it would be like mom, I'm drinking a coffee with my father or my den father in law now at Expo in LA, drinking coffee with him. We're just sitting on the market and we're fine. You know, it's just about just walking out and just travelling to countries that you don't know about and stuff. To stereotyping, just experience a choice of creating your own experience. So yeah, these countries were definitely my top. Of course, Switzerland is amazing. And Luxembourg is where my heart is from Luxembourg. And I would definitely for everyone listening to this, go to Luxembourg. It's a morning fairy tale, and you will be enchanted and transformed forever. It's just so beautiful. And you will find something, whatever you like. It's in Luxembourg. So yeah, there's so many beautiful countries, but the ones for me, which are not Luxembourg, definitely Morocco, Israel, Palestine, and New Zealand, that really, really changed my perspective on life a lot. Also, New Zealand, I went to see the mosque shooting place where sadly in March, two years ago, people died, right because of that shooting in Christchurch. And that as well. It was mind blowing. But it was also mind blowing, because the person who lost his son was four years old. He gave me the tour. And the love he had for human beings was just, I was crying. I wasn't crying. I was literally crying because his love just completely overwhelmed me. And I thought to myself as a mother, how can you love that person so much that killed your son on your lap, they were having the ceremony in the mosque. And the guy came in and shot the son in the head while he was having him on his lap, and he was sleeping. And he was shot, like, so thinking about it now, like it was just, it was such an experience. And they had so much love. And you know, they opened their arms. And they took me for lunch after we just talked about everything and, and he said, you know, at the end of the day, everything that matters is love. And yes, that man probably had not someone who loved him. And that's why he became the way he did. And when I heard that I was just like, wow, you know, you lose the most serious thing to you and your life, your child in your lab. And yet you forgive that guy who did all of that, and send him love. I think, for me, the most inspiring and heartwarming and just, oh, it's just the most beautiful thing in the world. And that trolled me really, you know, I have a lot to learn from him on forgiveness. And and you know, what hurt and how you heal hurts, really met means. So yeah, that was my travels. And that is why I like them so much.


Farah Nanji: 1:07:45  


Incredible. Well, Tessy, thank you so much. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you on Mission Makers. You are definitely somebody who's on a mission. Thank you so much for your time, and I really hope to see very, very soon.


Tessy De Nassau: 1:08:03  


Thank you so much for your time we talk offline. I miss you so much. I hope to come to London soon and I hope everyone listening to this that this is enjoyable and get in touch. If you have more questions, do not hesitate.


Farah Nanji: 1:08:15  


A huge thank you to Tessy for being this week's guest. Her story is a massive testament to the unwavering commitment she has to women empowerment and education. And the things she's gone through, particularly in the military and during a tough divorce bought her an unprecedented level of attention and scrutiny. Most people will never realise just how hard she's had to fight to get her own freedom, and how her story is really about not judging a book by its cover. Tessie also just launched her own sustainable fashion line during the Luxembourg Fashion Week. And I highly recommend that you check out all the incredible work she's doing, and particularly with her NGO professors without borders. 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 get in touch directly at DJ.n1nja on Instagram and Twitter. That's DJ.n1nja and also Mission Makers on social media. Thanks so much again for listening. Until next time, Mission Makers stay safe and have an amazing week.


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