Welcome to the Author Hour podcast. I’m your host, Hussein Al-Baiaty. My next guest is CEO and philanthropist, Micheline Nader. In her new book, LEAP Beyond Success, she introduces a transformational system called LEAP, which is designed for leaders who want to accelerate their growth and impact. I’m excited for this episode because Micheline is a true gift to our world and I can’t wait for you to hear her remarkable story. So let’s get into it.

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the show. I’m here with my new best friend, Micheline Nader, who’s here to talk about her new book, LEAP Beyond Success. You guys, I’m so excited because Micheline is somebody so unique, so beautiful. Her story is profound. I’m really excited to have you on the show, Micheline. Thank you so much for taking the time and joining me today.

Micheline Nader: Thank you, Hussein. The pleasure is mine.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Absolutely. With our audience, I love giving our audience a perspective, a window, if you will, into your childhood, into sort of where you grew up, what was life like, what were the people around you, like the ones that influenced you and motivated you. Can you kind of give us a brief recap of sort of your childhood and your upbringing, until we get to the good stuff about writing your book?

Micheline Nader: I was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and I had a beautiful childhood and upbringing. Between Beirut and the mountains in the summer, a beautiful family, everything was like a dream. Until of course, the war in Lebanon started. That was when I was going to college at the American University of Beirut. Then, life took on and a really strange way. Because, as you know, Hussein, probably, you’ve experienced that in your own country. That wars, not only tear people apart and tear countries apart. They shatter our emotions, our mindset. They shatter our being at the core. Then our reality shifts. How do you deal with this and how – not only that, how you allow for the leadership inside of you to expand and to unleash as you’re going through a crisis like this?

Hussein Al-Baiaty: It’s such a powerful story, because the moment I opened up your book, you literally take me into that world in which you’re literally laying in a tub, war is happening outside, chaos is ensuing from bombing to bullets flying. You just really reconstructed—for me, I instantly got emotional. I’m not going to lie to you. For me, it brought back my memories to that time of the Gulf War. To go there with you, and then here’s sort of what happens next. Because not only are we going through these extremely terrifying moments, right? The only thing at that level that truly exists in our minds, I feel like and perhaps I’m wrong, the only thing in your mind, I’m sure was hope. I feel like hope comes in and saves the day in different ways.

However, if we go back a little bit in time, you talk about your father and him passing on, sadly, from cancer and you’re at a very young age. But it kind of motivated you to go find the cure for cancer, which when that happens, I feel like there’s something else that really comes to life, like your greatness starts to unfold. In that moment, it sounds like, when you were going into school in nursing and learning the medical world, you didn’t stop there. In that moment where you’re in the tub, your phone rang. Can you describe that story a little bit more for our audience and what happened when the phone rang?

Micheline Nader: So literally, the week before that, I had graduated my Masters of Public Health and I was going for hospital administration. My intention was to go to Johns Hopkins. But in the meantime, I had applied for a job at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. It was the biggest hospital, teaching hospital in Lebanon, of course. As I was just resting after a night of crazy war, like literally, we had lost the top floor of our building. Then the phone rang, that my first reaction was like, “Wow, I’m still alive.” Because I know and I had that brief moment of rest that I was still alive. Then, the voice announces that they would like to see me for a position at the University of Beirut Medical Center, which is like really the first medical institution in the Middle East. Just to give you an idea, this medical center, we used to see like 350,000 patient visits at the outpatient department. The voice said, “We’re interviewing you” and I said, “Which position are you interviewing me for?” The voice said, “You will know when you come here. It’s highly confidential.”

Hussein Al-Baiaty: So you go in for the interview, the next day, distraught, I’m sure from the night before of just chaos. Walk me through that. What happens next?

Micheline Nader: So I called my aunt. I was 23. I said, “Do you have something for me to wear?” It seems like it’s a very important position. The only thing that they said it’s an executive leadership role at the hospital. This what happened—I had to borrow clothes from my aunt and go for this interview with the medical director. This is when he announced to me that instead of doing my training as a resident in hospital administration, I was going to be recruited as assistant director of the hospital. Back then, we were three, the director and two of us, assistant directors. I had the responsibility one week. We were like alternating, one week the director, one week the other assistant director, and one week it was me to have the whole responsibility of the hospital during a war and in a war zone.

That was the highlight when I say I was baptized by fire. I say, sometimes you don’t really know that you’re a leader, but you’re entrusted into a leadership movement. I remember, my dad was a networker, yet his dad owned a business. At that age, he had to handle and manage the business. So how do you allow yourself to discover that leader within you?

Hussein Al-Baiaty: So powerful and this just unfolds. I wouldn’t even say the beginning of the journey. I feel like this is in addition. This is the part of the journey that really starts to take you and start to shape you into who you become. I feel like as much as it was a gift, it was also—it’s like putting yourself out in the line of fire. I mean, it was completely courageous for one, to show up to this interview and to take on this role. Because it’s such, at a young age—I feel like when I was young, I knew I could do anything. I was really empowered. I was blessed. I had my mom, and dad and my brothers, and they really made me feel like I could do anything. However, that’s not the case for many people. In your case, you really just had to believe in yourself and show up.

You go on and you start working this very intense role, because let’s just take a moment here. A war, a civil war is not something to take lightly. Then to work at a hospital where a lot of these injured people for whatever reason, are going to end up and then to manage the chaos. You got doctors, you got patients, you got all kinds of different variables. So I commend you and I’m grateful that you stepped into that believing could simply just show up to do it as very powerful sister.

But let’s get back into your book a little bit. I love the simplicity of your book and you broke down your system of this L-E-A-P, this idea of LEAP, which stands for Lean, Execute, Align and Program. Can you share about how that developed over time? Because I know you went on to do many more things after this amazing experience. Can you share about those experiences and how LEAP became sort of the foundation in which you started to stand on?

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Foundation of LEAP

Micheline Nader: Yeah. If you read through my book, which I believe you did, you saw that three years after, I went to Paris to be at the American Hospital of Paris. Then I worked also with the French government on turnkey projects in Africa. Then after that, went to Canada and the US when I started my own chain of long-term care. I had gathered an international experience. But what I did, not stop believing that my initial experience that we discussed during the war had shaped my leadership and in the best ways, I could say. Because throughout my experience, even when we had crisis, management crisis, when we had challenges. I not only kept my calm, I knew how to operate, and that was because the system of priorities that I had developed under that warzone, was a very important system that helped me overcome everything. I knew what the priorities are at each level.

But then, with the experience came also the growth and development. I became also my passion, which in this book, I draw a lot, because they say lean into your passion. Why do I say that? Because I discovered that a lot of leaders became very successful. I mean, they are like, immensely successful, but they were not fulfilled. I discovered also that some leaders will never be able to attain their full potential. And that I found out because of my passion, and self-growth and development, what I own my own company, and my chain, and several of my centers and I had a lot of directors and CEOs reporting into me I discovered that my leadership team meetings turned out into really leadership growth and development sessions. We had them like every week. Our executive leadership team was every week and my leaders wanted to be in those meetings.

At one point, they call them the Oprah Winfrey, and then the Oprah Winfrey meetings. But what happened with the company, these leaders became the coaches of their department and the company started soaring. Success not only followed, but fulfillment. People were happy to come to work because they found the team that could support them. Then I saw that some of our centers became the best in that state, innovation, and people did not need me to guide them as a leader of my organization.

What happened then, the leap started happening. It wasn’t a small progress. It wasn’t a small innovation. It was like, “Oh, let’s leap into a complete different thing.” Like one of our centers was just a normal, long-term care nursing home in the State of Oklahoma. Then all of a sudden, that team decides they wanted to answer and fulfill a need of geriatric psych in the State of Oklahoma. It became the best with the lowest number of medications. We had a system.

As I was evolving as an individual, as I was evolving as a leader, that I made the system available to our directors and whoever wanted it. Then I felt that those people who were invested in their growth and development were the most successful and it’s not a surprise. I mean, Daniel Goleman, with his study in the Harvard Business Review found that people who have the highest emotional intelligence are highest on the spectrum of success, right? So then, I discovered that what I love. My passion took me through different expressions of leadership throughout my career. But at one point, I discovered that my passion was going to lead me to write about this, do workshops and help leaders evolve.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, it’s so powerful. I feel when you said that these experiences were expressions, and then basically was cultivating and bringing out more of your emotional intelligence, to embed in certain aspects of what you were doing. This sounds like the most fulfilling aspect of that, was how you were able to get that across to your team, to your leaders, who then got that across, right? Because you can’t be everywhere at the same time. This idea that they call it, the Oprah Winfrey meeting, it just goes to show actually how your emotional intelligence, has unfolded to the degree that people loved and looked forward to a simple meeting that talked about these things that you care so much about, and how it—kind of like the river breaking off, and it just kind of flowed into the right places.

It’s very powerful, and how you took your passion, and the impact, and you really deployed it in a way that’s very selfless, I feel like. These are the things that you picked up because of the experiences you’ve had. Because let’s be honest, not everybody learns leadership in the moments of war, right? Because that is going to bring out the best in you. Sadly, because those moments are so—they’re so deep, right? They’re so—they are pulling at you in every direction. However, when you’re staying calm, and learned how to position yourself to make effective decisions in those times, I feel like that is probably one of the most powerful. I mean, I hate to say this, but I can’t figure out another word, almost like warrior-esque mentality of, you’re in the eye of the storm, and everything’s happening, but you’re calm as a butterfly and just moving through it. I don’t want to make it seem that easy. Of course, it’s not easy. But it sounds like your experiences really added to that.

Can you discuss a specific incident where executing from your purpose led to a successful outcome? Can you share a little story about sort of how you understood your purpose and what that led to?

Executing from Your Purpose

Micheline Nader: So, as I say in my book, purpose is a nebulous word and a lot of people shy away from it, because it may have a connotation, religious, spiritual. In reality, purpose is only one you contribute your passion to the world. Only that. When I discovered that my passion was, that I was able to demystify these big principles or something that is very complicated and put it in a pragmatic way that can help leaders evolve, they can help them up-level their game in a way. Throughout my career, especially when you first grow from management to becoming a leader, you realize that a lot of people don’t want to be leaders, they want to be followers and that’s okay. But even if they’re followers, they’re leading some other people. Even if you’re at home, you’re leading someone, right? Even if you’re a housewife, you’re leading.

They don’t realize that leadership is actually an innate capability of the human species. A lot of people say, “We’re not leaders.” But what I discovered when people shy away, because—and I described it really well in LEAP Beyond Success, but stopped by either our mindset, or what we say, or our narrative or our experience about the past, whatever is in the past is giving us the present, except if we deal with that past. What I discovered when people connect to their passion, then they will be able to lead, and then they will be able also to decide whether this passion is going to lead them into a purpose for life or not. This what happened to me. If I was leading only for myself, only for my success, only for financial earning. If that was my ultimate measure of success, then I could not execute from my purpose because I would be moving from one job to another, any job that would give me more remuneration or more earnings. But if passion and fulfillment are the ultimate measure of success, then you can lead a purposeful life. This is when you get the fulfillment.

Throughout the experience, if you look at your life, and you know that your passion was to add. For me, it was to add value. If I’m adding value, and I’m contributing my passion to the world, which my passion was to demystify big projects, principles and render them pragmatic, where the leaders can not only grasp but can use them and utilize them in their daily work or living, then it doesn’t become only about me. I mean, success is very important and it means a lot for leaders, especially in the beginning of their career, but it won’t create fulfillment.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: We see it a lot in modern-day world, but continue. I’m sorry.

Micheline Nader: When you really understand that you want to contribute your passion to the world, then that becomes a purpose of yours, then you can create your own mission statement that will direct to. People don’t know sometimes that executing from that purpose. If they look back at that life, they’ll see how that purpose has been unfolding all along.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, and how it’s interconnected almost with really not only who you’re becoming, but the situations that you’ve been in, the circumstances that have put you in certain places and what you did to come out of that. The purpose is like unfolding alongside how much you pour that passion into whatever you’re doing. I think, yeah, that’s so powerful.

Micheline Nader: Exactly. If you’re committed to something bigger than yourself, this is a source of power and inspiration.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah. It requires you to expand. It requires you to bring more of yourself to the table, be more passionate. I love that idea, because what you’re tapping into something so, like you said, innate in all of us, it’s just how do we break the shell. And believing in yourself, and those kinds of things, of course, all tied together. Can you share any, I would say, maybe one or two techniques or practices that you use to program your emotions and maintain a positive outlook? Because just talking to you before the recording, you just have this really light, sort of beautiful poetic way of just your perception on the world and I love that. So I wanted to ask about, how do you maintain a positive outlook? What do you deploy? What do you practice?

Maintaining a Positive Outlook

Micheline Nader: So that’s interesting, because that’s really very important. You have to quiet your mind and do some introspection in order to know whether it is at the level of decision making, or at the level of reactivity. Whether this reaction and that emotion that is linked to that reaction is coming from the past and it always does. Because if you’re reactive, it means that it’s coming from a past experience. If the past is giving us our present leadership, then we can’t evolve. Because all that we do is to repeat the past, whether it’s your emotion or your cognition. If you’re thinking about the same thing, and having the same emotion, you’re going to act the same way. This is what’s giving you your behavior, and the world and what you’re creating is of the same. It’s a vicious circle, you’re repeating the past all over again.

In Leap Beyond Success, the in order to leap, you have to come from the future. You have to be able to envision the future. Then, as if you’re far-reaching and you’re bringing the future to the now. But at times, you’re doing this because you have a big dream. You think about the future, you want to bring it to the now, but then something inside you tells you, “Oh, no, no, you can’t do that because this is not reasonable.” Right? Oh, because when you did that a few years back, it wasn’t successful. You failed. So the past comes in to play a role and does not let you propel yourself into that future.

One of the practices I do whenever I have a reaction or anything negative, you feel it whenever any thought, any negative thought. You stop, you pause, your ask yourself, you breathe, have like three breaths, not a lot, not asking you to go meditate on the mountain. But just take a few breaths, like okay, take it easy, and then think. Where is this emotion coming from? It tells you, okay, because maybe yesterday, you got into it with one of your staff members. Okay. But that same emotion, where did it come from, and you go back. What else? When did this happen before? Until you get to the root of it, and the root of it may be as simple as a failure. That’s why I describe in my book, the leadership, an emotional logo.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: God, you have such a beautiful way of describing the depth of these ideas that you not only talk about in your book, but that you’ve obviously have lived and you’ve experienced. These ideas of just taking moments, collect yourself, keep your calm. Because from a calm place, you can make a decision that’s not reactionary, more of a response in your training. If I trained myself to think from the future, which the future is actually, you can decide if it’s going to be positive or negative emotions. You can justify your positive outlook by the unknown. And because it’s unknown, you can create it. This idea of reflecting, asking yourself where that emotion is coming from, that’s so powerful.

For me, I feel like I started learning about this after my father passed. I sought some therapy, and all those kinds of things and I finally started sitting with the traumatic experiences of the war, when I was young, and the refugee camp, and all of these things, and really started to put in place things that were altering my emotions. I’m like, “Okay. I can’t make this business decision.” But it was actually embedded in, like you just said, past experiences that didn’t work out. So I had to really change my mindset on how I see my future self and not allow my past self to just hold me back. It’s all done out of fear and protection, but once you start to discover, really put things in place, then you can push yourself forward, which is so powerful. If your readers pick up your book, right now, and begins reading through it, and they finish it up, what would you hope they feel after putting it down?

Micheline Nader: Everyone is going to feel what is important for him or her. Most of the time, when I do workshops—by the way, I did better testing on the methods that I described in the book—most of the time, we have breakthroughs. Even the most resistant leaders, if they don’t have a breakthrough right there during the workshop, a lot of them register breakthroughs after. Because it’s a big relief when you have a tool that helps you overcome the moments that you were talking about, the war, that pain, that fear that stops you. But if you have a tool, or where you can, as you said, quiet your mind and go back to that experience.

For you, it was traumatic. For me, it was traumatic because it had to do with the war and war is always traumatic for a lot. For a lot people, it could have been insignificant for us, but it was very important to them, right? Could be a kid that his mom left him when he was young to go take care of his sibling. What he made out of that experience [was] that my mom doesn’t love me and lived his life or her life through that. So when you can go back to those moments, like for me, when I go back to that moment, where I was thrown an emergency room when we had 80 injured and I was on call. Then, I had someone holding a gun in my head, telling me, “If my cousin does not survive, you’re going to die.”

This moment is not insignificant and I was pregnant at that time and I was alone in the office because it was a Sunday. I emerge from that reasoning, and saying, “Okay, this is what we’re going to do. Because if you do this, you’re not going to win. If you kill me, there is no chance for your cousin to survive. If you let me go, I probably can help at the emergency room.” I convinced the person when I’m like 23, 24. That experience could be very traumatic. It could stop a person from going in any emergency situation saying, “No, no.”

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I had my fair share.

Micheline Nader: Right. I had my fair share. I’m not going to do that. Or if you have this tool, let’s say one, small tool, and I describe a lot of tools in my book as you know [inaudible 0:30:49]. But one tool is to go back to that moment and see what you learned from it. And what you learned, like for me, my priority system has helped me million times more than being in that crisis tuition. When I start being grateful to that moment, and change my narrative about that moment, and how I frame it, and I bring that emotion from the past. I can even isolate it and attach to that experience a positive emotion that tells me, “Wow! Look at how many people you have impacted with this. How many people benefited from you being grateful to that moment.” Then I can flip it, and I can transform it. This is what I do. You ask me what do I do. This is one of the tools I practice.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That you deploy, yeah. This is such a powerful tool, because the hardest lessons come from the toughest teachers, right? But usually, they’re the best lessons and they’re the lessons that really stick in our memories. I think, unfortunately, these events that have started you off at a such a young age, that started triggering all of these things into place, and how you are able to reflect back on them and say, “That was a really insane situation. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, of course,” all these things. But here’s what it taught me, when you can reflect that deeply and be that introspective, which I love that you talk about that. You talk about the marriage between introspection and being pragmatic. There’s this emotional and very logical viewpoint that you can direct yourself from. It’s so powerful.

I’m just grateful that you sat down, you brought all this knowledge together. Not only this knowledge, but really your experience having lived such an immense and beautiful life in serving others, under high degree of pressure, I would say. I think the whole medical world. I worked at a hospital for like three months after I went to university for architecture. Because I just couldn’t find work in architecture in that moment. That was a very interesting, very beautiful learning experience. However, it was probably the most stressful environment I’ve ever been in. Because I’ve been—I grew up around a lot of—my mom and dad were fairly sick, here and there, so we always visited the hospitals and things. It was just a place that I was just like, “Wow!” I always felt a ton of gratitude for everyone that worked there.

I made an effort to just say hello to every single person that worked at the hospital because it’s not easy. I feel like whether you’re the nurse, or the custodian, or the person at the very tippy top, there is no easy job in that world. The fact that you went on and took it to different places, and tried such different methods, and approaching people and helping people, I really feel like that experience exposed yourself to yourself, and what you are truly capable of. It’s so empowering, insanely inspired by your story and I’m going to finish up your book this weekend. I’m really excited to do that.

But Micheline, I learned so much today. Thank you for sharing your stories and experiences. The book is called LEAP Beyond Success: How Leaders Evolve. Besides checking out the book, where can people find you?

Micheline Nader: They can find me on my website, michelinenader.com. They’re going to find a lot of information about also my previous book right now. In a month, they’ll find a lot of information about the book that is going to be released on the seventh of February. And on Facebook, social media, Micheline Nader author, you can find me. LinkedIn, also. They can find me on LinkedIn. They will be able to buy the book from Amazon or other distributors and on my website as well. I really wish for the leader to be able to take the tools, to leap.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yes, it’s so powerful, and I love this idea of what’s beyond success and it’s truly your evolution what you do with it, where can you take yourself next. So powerful. Everyone out there, go get the book, LEAP Beyond Success. Micheline Nader, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I very much appreciate your time, your commitment and your service to our world. It is a privilege to have gotten to know you today.

Micheline Nader: Thank you, Hussein. Same here.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Absolutely.