Rania Hoteit - Pushing through Fear
© 2016 Rania Hoteit. Photos by Natali Truax. Shot at ID4A HQ
Rania is no stranger to entrepreneurship having founded 2 other companies previous to ID4A. She is also a visiting speaker, mentor and Judge at AngelHACK and an active mentor and advisor for multiple emerging startups all while leading ID4A into the future of making products. She was also recently honored at White House and was nominated "Change Maker" at The United State of Women Conference for recognizing her contributions to support gender equality and women’s empowerment in education, business and technology. Seeing that long list of achievements which is just the tip of the iceberg for Rania, the biggest question that comes to mind is how does she do it all? The answer..a dynamic energy she has inside which pushes her into constant motion with the ultimate vision of making change, engaging with the world and teaching others around her.
That desire and ambition to help others has also brought some impressive recognition to Rania coming directly from the White House for her efforts and contributions to bring design and technical education to schools across the country and for her dedication to the mission of fostering innovation and promoting creative learning, and making through schools' curriculum. She was recently invited to the Champions of Change event at the White House where she served as a review panelist on the judging committee for the CTE Makeover Challenge. It is a government initiative where over 650 public high schools submitted proposed designs for maker spaces in their schools and of which 10 were selected for funding of their space.
She believes passionately in leveraging creativity and imagination through programs such as CTE where students benefit from hands-on immersion in problem solving. Her dedication to students and mentoring comes from her own experiences of pursuing a creative career without much support or guidance.
ID4A, with Rania at the helm is a design technology company that helps companies with R&D and is involved with all aspects of building new products from Prototype to Manufacturing, Distribution and Marketing. ID4A operates with design thinking as a central tenet which Rania champions as a methodology to solve complex solutions.
Design thinking is not problem-focused but rather solution-focused which leads to a creating a better result, it builds ideas up vs critical thinking which breaks ideas down.
It is her belief that design thinking should be at the core of the entire organizational structure from procedures to protocols, acting as a powerful tool for developing core strategy, solving problems and enacting organizational change. When it is applied to strategy and innovation, we’ve seen success rates dramatically improved.
Rania's own inspiration comes from her internal motivation blended with external triggers such as observation of diverse settings, art music, design, literature, philosophy and poetry (which she also happens to write).
Some of Rania's Words of Wisdom for new founders:
Be authentic. Learn to have integrity and be true to yourself
Stay connected to who you are as a human being. And know why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Confront yourself on regular basis and have positive, constructive self-talk to quickly learn from mistakes and free yourself from patterns that don’t serve your purpose.
Don’t be afraid to challenge conventions, and do things differently than everyone else. That comes with being more connected to your own identity and your own vision as an individual away from external influences and pressures.
Listen to others' needs, and work on meeting those needs. Watch your ego - it can definitely damage the growth of your business if you can’t listen, if you can’t meet people’s needs to build connection and loyalty.
Have compassion when you’re doing business, it can’t just be transactional.
Be fearless - speak up, say what’s on your mind,
Embrace fear and discomfort.
Take action, don’t spend time holding back and over analyzing because getting to places requires a lot of work and energy.
Learn new skills, take challenges as a sport and advance yourself all the time. To evolve you need to keep learning.
Trust yourself and exude that so other people can trust you and you can trust others as well. Fear and insecurity will keep you away from building healthy trustful connection with anyone around you in business and in life.
Rania first arrived in the US after graduating from high school to attend college at the young age of 18 with only $1000 in her pocket and no resources except her own steel determination with which to succeed. That experience has certainly shaped her worldview, as well the fact that she came from Lebanon, a country that was war stricken during her childhood, where confronting one’s own mortality was an everyday reality for people. It’s inspiring to hear her story and see also how committed she is to giving back to today’s youth and underrepresented minorities.
Her multiculturalism provides an open mindedness that helps in a variety of ways - personally she finds herself in healthier relationships because of her ability to be sympathetic to multiple viewpoints. From a professional and design perspective, multiculturalism leads to a human centered approach which is helpful to implementation and research. And provides a lens that leads to alternate ways of thinking, expanded creativity and an adaptive cognitive flexibility.
In this conversation what really shines about Rania is her fearlessness. We asked where that powerful source of courage comes from and without a doubt having to face death at close proximity has played a key role for her. Living through Lebanon’s civil war as a child meant Rania and her family were constantly on the run in the search for safety. In that state..”everything else becomes so meaningless, beyond survival." Life is fragile when it’s so threatened and the fact that death was at close proximity at such a young age, really made her at peace with her own mortality.
Life is so meaningless and meaningful at the same time. Everything else dissolves, you feel that your energy is all about moving forward. Nothing is more tragic than death, so you may as well live everyday focusing on what you can produce while you’re here.
Combine this with true authenticity and self awareness of where you need to do the work and fearlessness bubbles to the top. This is a topic that is deeply personal to me, as I continue to strive with my own courage so I truly appreciated this conversation and take to heart Rania’s tips for pushing through my own fear.