49 minutes | Mar 23, 2021

Brigitte Ayoub: Growing up Palestinian-American, surviving loss, and thriving

If you like what you hear today, visit my Fertile Ground Communications page on Patreon and find out how you can support my work.Brigitte Ayoub is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. She grew up experiencing the challenges of finding her place as an American with Arab roots. Right after leaving her corporate job to start her own business in April 2018, her dad died…then her mom was diagnosed with leukemia the following year. Brigitte believes that “we have two choices every day, to sit and lament, or face the adversity with courage and choose to lean into it.” She has chosen the latter option.Brigitte grew up as the youngest of three in a mostly white, affluent area in the Philadelphia suburbs. She struggled to find her place between Palestinian culture and modern American culture.In addition to being tall, she had olive skin and felt like the hairy Arab girl. Her parents also were strict, so that made her stand out among her peers even more. She sought her comfort in food.As a Palestinian, Brigitte often feels misunderstood. Many people assume all Palestinians are Muslim, but her family falls into the 20 percent of Palestinians who are Christian. Brigitte’s parents fled for safety. Her father carried his little brother on his back while they were fleeing Palestine, and her mom taught in a refugee camp in Lebanon. While Brigitte’s classmates were focused on boys, she felt beyond her years with a completely different world view. Brigitte left her corporate role in April 2018 to pursue a health coaching practice. The month before, her father had open heart and quadruple bypass surgery. Unfortunately he passed away in August. She had been taking clients at her dad’s bedside, working hard to make her new business work. Within a few months, she had to grapple with grief. And then her mom was diagnosed with leukemia on Christmas Eve in 2019. Then a few months later, COVID hit.“I think the biggest thing I've leaned into is believing that everything happens for me and not to me, and I've laid that as my foundation to being an entrepreneur. It's always about trusting yourself and I trust myself. I trust that my higher power has been here for a certain reason and has everything laid out. I can only see this step. But someone or something bigger than me sees the staircase.”I asked Brigitte what she finds most gratifying about being an entrepreneur.“Nothing beats seeing a client who literally told me she has stumbled and struggled with a problem for two years in her business, and she gained that clarity within 20 minutes of working together.”Brigitte and I spoke about the experience of being an entrepreneur and the fact that not everyone is well suited to it. She says it’s 70% mindset and then 30% strategy and execution. “At the end of the day, it really comes down to being energetically aligned and what's going to set your soul on fire.”The Finding Fertile Ground podcast is brought to you by Fertile Ground Communications. If you enjoyed this podcast, please give us a rating and subscribe to hear our next episode.  Contact us if you can use some help with your writing, editing, communications, or marketing. With 30 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry, I am passionate about sustainability and corporate citizenship, equity & inclusion, businesses that use their power for good, and doing everything I can to create a kinder, more sustainable, and just world. We help organizations and people discover what makes them special and help them share that with the world. 
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