Somi Arian on Raising Women's Socioeconomic Status

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Somi Arian is a tech philosopher, award-winning filmmaker, author, entrepreneur, and a LinkedIn top voice in the UK. 

Show Notes

Somi Arian is a tech philosopher, award-winning filmmaker, author, entrepreneur, and a LinkedIn top voice in the UK. She has a background in philosophy of science and technology. She describes her role in society as a transition architect, as humans merge with technology, and society enters a new phase of human evolution. 

In this episode, we talk about Somi’s background growing up in Iran, moving to the UK, her film making career and business, and latest initiative to raise women's socioeconomic status through the Fempeak platform. 

We discuss:

  • Somi's entrepreneurship journey
  • The fast growth of the Fempeak platform
  • Somi's achievement in being a top voice on LinkedIn in the UK 3 years running.
  • The importance of choosing the right social media platform and doubling down on it. 
  • Creating quality content by understanding your audience

LinkedIn: Somi Arian
Twitter: @SomiArian
Instagram: @somiarian

Book Somi recommended: 
Let it Go - Dame Stephanie Shirley

Valuable Resources:

Register to attend the Brand Tuned book launch on 28 September 2021
Brand Tuned Accelerator 



Shireen Smith: Hello, everyone. Somi Arian, my guest today, is a tech philosopher, award-winning filmmaker, author, entrepreneur, and a LinkedIn top voice in the UK. With a background in Philosophy of Science and technology, Somi describes her role in society as a transition architect. As humans merge with technology, and society enters a new phase of human evolution, Somi works on frameworks to address the challenges ahead. She is the founder of Smart Cookie Media, a modern-day digital marketing firm, for thought leaders, and FemPeak, a platform that aims to help raise women's socio-economic status through the application of technology. So hello, Somi. Welcome to the Brand Tune Podcast.

Somi Arian: Thank you. Thanks for having me, Shireen.

Shireen Smith: So, you've had a really varied background, including growing up in Iran. Tell me a bit more about that. I'd love to know.

Somi Arian: Sure. Yeah. Well, I was born during the Iran-Iraq war. So, my early memories are of sirens and going into the shelter, and you know…Yeah, and my parents had to take me to another city where their family came from. So that was quite traumatizing. Because, you know, at that age, when you're separated from your parents, even though I didn't have a good relationship with my parents from very early on, I…it was still quite traumatizing. So, I was actually recently reading the autobiography of Dame Stephanie Shirley, I highly recommend it, if you haven't read it. But she talks about the World War and how…World War II and how she was separated from her parents, you know…to come to the UK, to live with a different family. And it just…it resonated so much. So, it was quite similar. I think for a lot of entrepreneurs now living in the West, you know, that is a very foreign idea. But, you know, I grew up in actual war.

Shireen Smith: How old were you at that time?

Somi Arian: Well, when the war finished, I was…I think about…I was…I went to school then. So, I was about seven years old when it finished. So, so the first six to seven years of my life, the war was still going on. And, you know, Iran is a very oppressive country towards women. My parents were not very open. They were pretty traditional. You know, I questioned religion and everything from very early age, and that didn't sit well with my parents. My mom,…

Shireen Smith: Rebel.

Somi Arian: Rebel. Yeah. My mom said she, she said, “I regret the day that you learned English”.

Shireen Smith: Really?

Somi Arian: Yeah.

Shireen Smith: Well, I…I come from Iran originally. And I was at school here and would go back in the summer holidays. That was pre-revolution. So, it was a very different…

Somi Arian: Very different times. Yeah. But I mean, I wasn't born then. So, I…but I hear that it was a very different time.

Shireen Smith: But women had quite a lot of power. So, although in theory, it was men who had the power. You know, my grandmother was very, very powerful. It was quite matriarchal as a family. I'm just wondering whether it changed after the revolution that it became so male chauvinistic, or what?

Somi Arian: Yeah, I think so. I think so. I think that something happened, you know, I hear that people…that things were very different before and it was a lot more progressive. I remember looking at pictures of my mother, you know, she was wearing very Westernized kind of clothing and, you know, she wasn't wearing hijab. And then all of a sudden after the revolution, obviously, wearing a hijab after the revolution became compulsory. So, you had to wear it. But even in, you know, closed environments where she didn't have to, she still wore it. And she just became quite religious. Same with my father. You know, they both became pretty religious. And I don't know if this was the…whether felt like they needed to, you know…I think that it is It was more than that. It wasn't like, just like us now wearing masks, because we have to, you know. Because, you know, I think, I think some people really buy into those things, you know, those…those kinds of, whatever it is that the government says you should be doing, right. And, you know, some people really actually buy into it and never question things. So, I don't consider my parents as being critical thinkers, or, you know, like I…we're just very, very, very different, very different. I just really don't feel any affinity with my family back home.

Shireen Smith: Was there any figure who guided you? because, to me, it just sounds amazing that somebody being brought up in Iran, in that sort of background would be able to learn English come to the UK live here. I mean, how did you achieve all that?

Somi Arian: Um, I just had incredible drive from a very early age. I didn't have any role model. I didn't have anybody helping me. Not really, no. I…actually, if anything, you know, my teachers, a lot of times thought that I wouldn't amount to anything, you know. I had ADHD; I wasn't very good at school. I also later on discovered that I have like a mild to moderate kind of autism, depending on where the situation is. Let's say more on the mild side. But you know, the thing is, like, I'm a very high functioning autistic person, if I have…the way I talk about it, you know, people sometimes think like, “how can you be autistic if you're so outgoing?” And actually, the truth is that I don't…I'm not an introvert, and I'm not an extrovert. I'm quite kind of bang in the middle. But the way…what, what…basically, what really defines my characteristic is the high achievement, right? So, the desire for achieving pushes me to do things beyond my ability. Yeah, so I defy everything. You know, I've defied everything; whether it was like poverty, whether it was like the, you know, lack of education of my parents, you know, the background that I came from, I defied everything. And when I look at my, my family…like, for example, all of my family are obese, like, you know. And I never wanted, I never allowed that to happen to me. And I remember, like my cousins, and my Auntie's used to say, “by the time you get to your 30s, you will be as big as us”, you know. And I was like, “no, I'm not going to”, and they were like, “No, no, it's gonna happen. It's genetics”. So, I never bought into the idea that you're defined by your genes or by your environment, you know, and I was like…Yes, environment, I realized that has an impact. That's why I changed it, and I came to the UK. But when I was in Iran, I learned English. You know, I taught myself in English pretty early. And by the time I was 17, I was working as a tour guide for European embassies, and, you know, European tourists come to Iran. And that's how I got exposed to European embassies. And then I got a job offer at the Dutch embassy in Tehran, when I was 19. I was the youngest kind of…I was a, a visa officer, a junior visa officer there. So, that was a very early age to be in that position. And all of a sudden, I was earning three to four times more than both my parents did. And, you know, and that gave me a lot of power, a lot of confidence. You know, I felt like I…you know, I, I'm just my own person, and I don't need to answer to anybody. And that was…so learning English was a turning point. And also, I discovered heavy metal music. I don't know if you know, but I was in a Death Metal band.

Shireen Smith: Yeah, I was going to ask about that. So, you came to the UK, and then you took up this…

Somi Arian: Yeah, I did it when I obviously in Iran, it was pretty impossible. But I got into the music, and it kind of helped me a lot to get through difficult times. But yeah, so I've worked for United Nations after that. So, I've worked for the European Embassies and the United Nations altogether for about four and a half years or so, while I was doing my, my bachelor's degree in Tehran, and then I applied for universities in the UK. I managed to get a partial scholarship, you know, and brought every penny I had earned and saved from being in the…in the United Nations and European Embassies. I brought all that money here. It was pretty scary. I was only 23 when I came here.

Shireen Smith: And how…how enough did you get the right to stay here? Because I found that very difficult when I was…

Somi Arian: It took me 11 years.

Shireen Smith: 11 years?

Somi Arian: Yes, yeah. I was…at first, I was a student for four and a half years. Then I got a post-study visa. Then I was living with the…with an ex-boyfriend at the time. He was like “we are already living together, let's get married”. So, I got married, and then got divorced later. You know, it was like, umm, I…basically I was in a position where my boss at the time, he could have sponsored me, but he didn't. And he also “you're already living with your…with your boyfriend? Why don't you get married?”. And I was like, you know, I just sort of had to make a choice between either going back and asking for asylum, which just didn't make any sense, because I was already here for like, seven, eight years. And I was living with this guy. So, umm…

Shireen Smith: Oh, right. Okay. And then you got into entrepreneurship, how…how did that…

Somi Arian: So, I couldn't really start a business or anything until…I mean, you can start a business if you're not a British citizen, but it's a little harder, right, you know, getting a loan and things like that would be very hard. So, 2015, I became a British citizen. And by then I had worked in TV for five years. Because when I finished my studies, I worked for a Persian language channel in London for five years. And I learned quite a lot about filmmaking. And, you know, I became a full-fledged producer there. And then 2015, I started my own business. In my first business, as Smart-Cookie Media, which was initially, just like a marketing agency, which is still…goes on, and that's what pays my life…for my life and pays for my team. And also, the money that I made from Smart-Cookie Media allowed me to invest it into building FemPeak, which is my new project.

Shireen Smith: Hmm. Right. So, I mean, you've…when I first came across you, you were just doing this documentary, you were hardly known. And then suddenly, it shot you to fame, that documentary you did, but you've also transformed quite a lot.

Somi Arian: Yes.

Shireen Smith: You know, and being a top voice on LinkedIn, three years running. How do you do that? I mean, it seems that you can teach people a lot about personal branding.

Somi Arian: Yeah. So, you know what, I never did any of these things with the view to personal branding. So, I wasn't like, “Okay, I'm gonna go and build my personal brand”. And I always explained to people who come to me and say, “how can I build my personal brand?”. I don't, don't do that. What I do is, I get passionate about something, and I focus on, you know…Like, for example, the documentary was my own journey of discovery for what's happening to the industries that, you know, to the, to the business landscape. And so, I did it, because also…because I discovered something, and I wanted to teach what I discovered to potential clients, you know. Like, I wanted to talk to say, the…Mark, at that time, that was a marketing director of large corporations. And I wanted to explain to them, you know, why the market is changing, and why they're going to be left behind, why they're going to go out of business, if they don't catch up with the, you know, with the modern-day way of communicating with their audience. And that resulted into, you know, a documentary, which…And also, the other thing is, I'm a risk-taker; I take big risks. I spend money, I spend money. I put my money where my mouth is. A lot of people want to build their personal brand, but they don't want to spend money. You have to, you know, it's not cheap. Either, you pay someone to do it for you properly, or you wait. You spent a lot of time and well, I did. I did both, you know; it was a combination because you, there's only so much you can do. And ultimately, if you focus too much on just creating content, then you're going to lose the track of actually gaining clients. So, the best thing to do is to hire a team, you know, build, like…that's what I was running a marketing agency. So, I already had a team. But I put some more money into that. But the… making my documentary cost me about 100 or 1000 pounds, what…sorry..100,000 more like dollars, like 80,000 pounds or so. That was making it, putting it through film festivals, putting some money behind advertising it, you know, for people to sign up.

Shireen Smith: Over what period of time was that?

Somi Arian: Over 18 months.

Shireen Smith: 18 months?

Somi Arian: Yeah.

Shireen Smith: So that helps you…you also had somebody who was creating content for you, as well?

Somi Arian: Well, I had a team because I already run a marketing agency, right? So, I created a team of…because also, remember I'm a filmmaker, right? I'm a…I'm a producer, filmmaker, right? So, I created a company which was creating content for, you know, for other companies, right. But also, that team, like say, I would say 40% of their time was dedicated to my content, 60% of their time was dedicated to the client content. So, but also, I…like I traveled quite a lot for it. I went all the way to New York for 25-minute interview with Gary V. It took me five months to get that interview. You know, I'm like, I'm very, like, what’s the...persevere? Yeah, persistent, right? Yeah. So…so it took me, you know…I reached out, I knocked on doors, and I reached out to people, and I was like, “this is what I'm doing”, and they saw my passion. So, they allowed me. So, that created a huge network for me of people, you know, who were like CEOs of Bentley, and your Jaguar Land Rover…the economist…

Shireen Smith: I remember thinking, “this is a really good idea if your target market is big brands”, but then you haven't stayed in that, you…

Somi Arian: No. I get bored very quickly. Hahaha. I get bored very quickly. I just…that market’s already not as interesting to me anymore. You know, so…And I got to a point within that market, where I created a brand that was comfortably paying for my life, and paying for my team. And I was making enough money that I said, “okay, I would like to now invest in something new”. I wanted to build a really big business. And that kind of business, you can…You see, the thing is that you can make a big marketing agency, but it all comes down to what your goal is in life. So, what happened was that I got approached then by, by Kogan Page, to write a book about the future work. And in the process of writing that book, I…the things that I wrote made me realize that this was not where I wanted to be for the rest of my life, you know…I…like I could see the value of it, I can see the value of, you know. I think I will always keep Smart-Quick Media. It’s a company that I'm not going to sell. I really love Smart-Quick Media. It's my, you know… I think marketing is such an important thing for…and I'm going to…keep very selected, selective companies I'm going to work with. So, our biggest client is Steinway pianos, my biggest client for the past five years. You know, Steinway is an incredible brand and…Right, like, through them, we get to meet and work with some incredible, you know, individuals and brands. Like, for example, right now, today we created, like, we just sent them a beautiful film that we made for their 150th anniversary [inaudible]…So, for the 150th anniversary of Royal Albert Hall. So we are, you know…it's given us the opportunity to work with such brands, right. So, Steinway is an amazing brand. They've, you know, I think that they will be our clients, they have been for our client…been our client for a very long time. And there, there's also another company, Neurocore BioElectronic, that I have invested in, and I, and they're our clients. And we have a few other businesses that we work with. What…we're very selective about who we choose to work with. And that's a really nice little business by itself. And it pays for my life. It's going to continue to pay for my life for a while, you know, and maybe forever. But also at the same time, I've built FemPeak from scratch during the pandemic.

Shireen Smith: So that's your passion project at the moment, and also what you ultimately think is going to be…

Somi Arian: You mean FemPeak?

Shireen Smith: Yeah.

Somi Arian: Well, FemPeak is already…I don't know if we can call it a passion project because it's now valued at over 25 million pounds. And, you know, the valuation is going up almost every day. Because the…because of the traction that we're getting. Right now, like today, we had, for the first time, we had 690 people who opted into our mailing list. You know, that's like, like a pretty long, large number in one day. So, we went, we started from 50 a day to 100 a day, 150 a day. Now we're at, you know, I'd say on, at the moment, as of this recording, we are on average around over 500 a day. And I, depending on when this is released, I, I think that, I reckon we will be at about 1000 a day by the end of summer. So, I think it's so much bigger than just a passion project. The way I see it, I want to change the world and I want to change, you know, I want to raise women's socio-economic status. When I look at the top tier of Business and Technology, there are no women, no, no women. The world is run by literally a dozen companies. Five in China, five in, five or six in China, five or six in America. And all of them are run by and founded by men. None of them, none of them are founded and run by women entirely. So…

Shireen Smith: So, you want to be one of the ones…

Somi Arian: You know what, the way I see it, that's not how I look at it. It's a little bit, again, similar to…I didn't go out to build my personal brand. It's not that I want to be one of them, it would be something…it's like, to me, if that happens, that’s a byproduct. What I want to do is change that status. Like that…change the status quo. And the way I see it is like, I'm building a platform. Whether it happens in my generation, it may not happen in my generation, it may happen in the next generation. But I will definitely make a contribution to women have…like I want to see equal number of, you know, like…Instead of having a dozen, I want to have two dozen and a dozen of them then being women. You know, so I'm building a platform to contribute to that. I don't measure it in terms of where I am. Just like, I never thought, I never wake up in the morning thinking “today, I'm going to build my brand”. I don't care. I don't think that way. It…to me, it's a byproduct, money. You know, like, I don't want to, I don't want to have children, you know, I don't need a lot of money. You know, and even if I become a billionaire, you know, or, you know, be one of those people who would be in that top tier, the way I see it, like, all of my life is going to be dedicated to check…making changes, like you know, making change for the better.

Shireen Smith: Yeah. So how are you hoping to change women's socio-economic status?

Somi Arian: So, yeah, through FemPeak. So, when I wrote the book, I realized that over 95% of the references on my book were men. And a question that I was like, “why?”. Look, I look at my own role models, there were no female role models, they were all men in, you know, the world of business and philosophy. Of course, you know, I studied philosophy. I say that I'm a tech philosopher. And I wanted to find out why that was. So, I started a think tank for women in business and technology. And I interviewed hundreds of people, I put together conferences. These conferences were extremely hard, in the beginning, to put together. You know, some of them I had, like, 16 people on the panel. It was so hard to, like, I was pretty alone, you know, doing that with like a very small team. But what happened as a result of all of those conferences, and interviews, and interacting with 1000s of women, was that I discovered there are six reasons why women are left behind. So, the FemPeak platform is designed to overcome those six reasons. So the six, six reasons are lack of confidence, lack of financial literacy, lack of tech skills, lack of Business and Entrepreneurship skills, women's health issues - so that’s PMS, menopause, childbirth, and family and relationship support, or lack of; because a lot of times, by the time women want to succeed, you know, when women are succeeding, society doesn't have a norm, it doesn't have a previous paradigm for how we should be…like, you know…we haven't defined man and woman or…I think maybe in say, the same-sex relationships, this may be less of an issue. But then, you know, heterosexual relationships, it's been historically that the man is supposed to be the breadwinner, and the woman is supposed to be, you know, the child carrier. So, you know, all of that has an impact on women's success. So, so FemPeak is a platform, which is, it's like its ecosystem to overcome all of these. And it starts with the knowledge hub. And within our knowledge hub, we will be creating a lot of mentorship events on these six areas. At the moment, we have two to three a week. Eventually, we will have several a day. So, it's going to increase you know, massively. And then people will be able to come in live, ask their questions, you know, and create, and then everything gets recorded and it becomes part of our on-demand content. But that's only one hub. That's only the knowledge hub. The next year, we're going to release our career hub, which is a talent pool and companies can come in and hire women. So, the idea is to…in the knowledge hub, to encourage more women to go into finance and technology, and you know, STEM fields, and then bring them into our talent pool so that companies can, can tap into that talent pool. The year after that, we will be creating our own marketplace, the FemTrade marketplace. And then the year after that, 2024 will be our investment network. And then the FemCoin cryptocurrency and the FemLab. So, FemLab is like our research and development on everything to do with Femtech.

Shireen Smith: Well, it sounds a very, very big project to me. I mean, like…

Somi Arian: Yeah, I think, I think the project…

Shireen Smith: One of those could be enough to keep somebody going for a lifetime.

Somi Arian: Yeah, that's it.

Shireen Smith: Five or six.

Somi Arian: Yeah, but I…like I said, I get bored. So, I need to have lots of things. And I'm…and I have the ability, I just discovered that I…I have a talent for…and I have the ability to connect the dots and keep all of the desperate areas connected, and bring them all together. I see, like, I can zoom out and see really the big picture. And I can zoom in and see the small as well.

Shireen Smith: So, is it mainly women who are joining your platform?

Somi Arian: Yes, it’s female-focused. At least, at the moment, it’s female-focused. Because the way I see it is that, there's a big discrepancy between where women are, in terms of the areas that I described, and where men are, and we want to level the playing field, we want to help women. That's why FemPeak, we’ve got Sherpanis. Sherpanis are people that help you get to the top of Mount Everest, you know. So, we use that as an analogy or as a, you know, metaphor. So, we have Sherpanis that will help you get better in those areas. So, I don't want this mainly female-focused, you know. You never know, if in 10-15 years’ time, we get to a point that we feel like we have leveled the playing field, then FemPeak could morph into something of a human peak.

Shireen Smith: Hmm. So basically, what competitors do you have. Are there other people running platforms?

Somi Arian: Yeah. So…there are. So, the way I said, first of all, is a very fragmented market. So, everybody else who has anything…it's usually one aspect of these areas that unlike…first of all, those…the definition of those six areas, that is something that we discovered, that's holding women back, and that's our IP. You know, we…it came out of our think tank. So, we figured those six areas, and we're developing a program, you know, like it, almost like a decade-long program to overcome those. So, there…as to the best of my knowledge, nobody else has done, so systematically, to focus on the big picture and see and connect all these dots. And the way I see it, where there are other female-led platforms, we would like to collaborate with them. Because I don't believe in competition in the, you know, in the traditional sense of the word, and I feel like this is something…it's a very female, you know, the collaboration model. Yes, I think it's very, it can be a very feminine way of doing business. So…

Shireen Smith: I'm just wondering, you know, like Amazon started by selling books, even though their overall ambition was to sell everything, you know, whether it wouldn't be easier to tackle one…

Somi Arian: But that's what we are doing. That's why we have the knowledge hub, right? That's why I said every year we are going to add a hub.

Shireen Smith: So, you have, everything else is on hold?

Somi Arian: Yes.

Shireen Smith: Basically. you're just focusing on…

Somi Arian: And the knowledge hub this year. Yeah. This year is the knowledge. Next year is the career hub. So, every year, literally, we will release a new hub.

Shireen Smith: Right

Somi Arian: Overseas.

Shireen Smith: And you are looking to collaborate with other organizations that do similar…

Somi Arian: Yes, definitely. The only thing, I would say is, if anybody wants to reach out to us for collaboration, I really, I really request that people are very clear about what…because I get so many people ask and saying, “hey, Somi, I love what you're doing. Let's collaborate”. And I work 15 hours a day. I, like, I literally, I just literally have enough time to sleep. I can't stretch myself anymore to like discovery, right? Just so anybody wants anything from us, from me, you know, wanting to work with us, all that stuff, I just really want people to be very clear about, you know, understand, look at the picture, big picture of what we are trying to do, and then come to me with a very clear recommendation or, you know, proposal to say, “how can we collaborate”. Because this is our timeline, I'm not gonna push our timeline around, because I just don't have the capacity. It's like, every year, we're going to do one of these things, and I need to do them in that order. So, it may well be that some of these collaborations will happen a little bit down the line. You know, I'm raising investment right now. And we are still raising seed, seed funds. You know, also next year, we'll start looking at raising our series A fund. So, it's a…it's a matter of having enough funds, enough staff to help. And from my, my time is completely gone. Like literally, there's every minute is counted for.

Shireen Smith: Is there some way that you could actually spend less time in the business? If you have the right skill level helping you or do you think it's necessary for you…

 Somi Arian: It's necessary for me, because this is now the…the business is in its infancy. I have an amazing team of, you know, we have our share parties, each of them are working on their own. And the thing that…the main thing is that I move so fast, that it's incredibly hard for everybody to know what's going on in my head at all times. And like, literally, I wake up in the morning, and I have 10 new, you know, ideas of things that need to be implemented. So, I don't think anybody could build a big business. If you look at Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, like all of them, they still work like that. They still to this day. Like, look, like Elon, I remember seeing an interview where he's like, sometimes he thinks that, or it was, I think it was a clubhouse thing, where he’s like, sometimes he thinks like, his brain is going to break. You know, if he is saying that, and he's got all these people helping him. So there…the truth is that, if you are, you know, if you are somebody who can see the big picture and the small picture and all of the…you have a vision, it's impossible to delegate. This is not a normal business. It's not like let's just get some clients and make some money. It's not like that. This is, you know, bringing a vision.

Shireen Smith: All-consuming.

Somi Arian: Yes.

Shireen Smith: And don't you think you might want a relationship or just something might happen the way…

Somi Arian: So that is like…So I was in a relationship, and it broke up because of my focus on work. And that was actually before I started FemPeak. So, you can imagine how difficult it would be now. I just don't have the space for it at the moment.

Shireen Smith: Um, so you just do nothing but work the whole time?

Somi Arian: No, well, I have, I have company, I meet people, you know. I have friends. I do. I make time for socialization. But it's very rigid. It's like, like, you know, half a day per week.

Shireen Smith: Wow, it's pretty intensive. And how do you manage to remain a top voice on LinkedIn while you're busy focusing, say, on your business? And what you find…

Somi Arian: So, for the past. I mean, that's been the past three years, right. So, maybe this year, they may not pick it, because I have not been as active. But I mean, I still post very regularly, but you know, my focus has been more on FemPeak. The way, I don't know, they pick it up, they pick it, they just look at who…

Shireen Smith: I mean, don't to actually think LinkedIn is going to find this interesting. I'm going to write about this sort of content. How did you go about achieving, you know, top voice even for two, three years?

Somi Arian: I don't know. They just, they just pick it. I don't know. I have no…it's not like, it's not something you can apply for. It's not like that, you know, they just…

Shireen Smith: I know. But…So, you have no strategy at all to achieve it?

Somi Arian: No. I just wrote good…I just made good content. And I focused on giving value. You know, I created so much content that I could have monetized, you know. Like I just give, give, give so much, you know. Everything I learned, everything I do, you know, I share them. I tried to teach stuff to people who, you know, who were my target audience, so I knew exactly who my target audience was. I connected with the right people and then, it sort of creates a network effect, right. So, then people who like your work, they comment, they…Then other people see what they're doing. And the funny thing is that every time you change direction, like now I've changed direction, I don't talk about marketing anymore. Every time you change direction, you lose a lot of engagement, a lot. Because, you know, because people are used to you talking about something. Like all of a sudden, I'm talking about women, and a lot, a lot of people in my LinkedIn are like, “what's happening?” I don't care, I do what pleases me. You know, it’s like…

Shireen Smith: Because a lot of big brand people, like marketing directors, are not even on LinkedIn very much. So, if they are your audience…

Somi Arian: They are, they are. So, let me tell you something. I believe, it doesn't matter which platform you choose, you need to pick one platform and go all in. It's not that you don't have a…For example, I don't put much effort into my Instagram, I don't put much effort into my Twitter, there are just there. And we just share whatever we share on those platforms, which, on the other platforms, we share, share on there. My content, at least before FemPeak, it has always been focused on…like, it's been designed for LinkedIn. So, I would, I would know what my target audience is on LinkedIn. And I will also know what the LinkedIn algorithm, the way that it works, the way that it, you know, the length, the way the introduction, all that stuff. So, we figured out the LinkedIn code. And we've done that for several of our clients as well now. We have about 10 clients that we do their LinkedIn management. So, we manage their LinkedIn, we create their LinkedIn content with everything, get leads for them on LinkedIn. Yeah. So that's one of the things that we do at Smart Cookie Media. So, it's one of one of the things that our business does. And we're very good at it. And most of those people whose profiles we build, a lot of other people looking at, they don't even know that we are creating the content, right. We're creating the content, we're, you know, managing their entire system. So, so there is a way of doing things on every platform. And I believe you need to pick one, and go all in, and they're…and the same people, they are on Facebook, they're on Instagram…you may not find that particular person as active in other platforms. But within that company, there will be people who, you know, like, let's say, a big corporation will have several marketing people, right. Some of them may be very active on Twitter, some of them may be active on Instagram, or LinkedIn. But to be able to do all of these platforms really well is extremely difficult and extremely expensive. You know, like somebody like Gary V, Gary Vaynerchuk, you know, he's got 17 people, dedicated to his social media. 17 people do his social media.

Shireen Smith: Yeah. So how do you learn new information? Like when you were beginning, LinkedIn, and wanted to really understand it. Do you use books? Or how do you actually go right…

Somi Arian: I think a lot of it is trial and error. Because, you know, obviously, there are, there are quite a lot of, you know, there are quite a lot of videos that teach you stuff, they help. But ultimately, so much of it is trial and error. And until you hit upon the right, kind of, you know…In my book, I talk about this, I said that, succeeding on social media, every social media channel is like a casino. Lots of people come in and play; some people win, some people lose. But the house always wins. And one of the things that I wanted to do differently with FemPeak, is exactly to overcome that, is that we are picking content creators, rather than letting people just like create a mass of, you know, on targeted content. So, we are picking content creators that are really good and don't have a massive audience, or maybe even they have or they want to increase. And we say, “look, you come and put on events on our platform. And it doesn't take that much of your time, maybe four times a year, you know, what…we will promote it”. And this is about quality over quantity. So, it's not about getting you massive following. It's about the kind of people that come there. They're definitely people who are interested in what you've got to offer and say. So, it's a different model, different business model. But the truth is that to ask how do you become a LinkedIn top voice or you know, how do you become a, you know, a YouTube influencer? To ask that question is the same as asking somebody who is, let's say, poker, you know, expert and wins a lot of poker games. Somebody who's like very at gambling, you know, asking them. Because it's a gamble, it is a gamble. Like when I spend that money on my, on my documentary, I didn't know it will succeed. I just had a good…

Shireen Smith: But it is also…it's not just…It's about having the right topics. Because there are certain topics that, say, cyber security was quite big a few years ago. So, if you were discussing that, you know, you were more likely to be a top voice than if you're discussing a topic that isn't generally interesting to people. So…

Somi Arian: I don't know if I agree with that. I think that as long as you have a good size audience, so it's very easy, you go to Sales Navigator. And you know, you can look up people by industry, you know, and look at…Like you can make a guess of, for example, sports, let’s say, fitness, is really oversaturated in Instagram. So, if somebody wants to be a fitness guru on LinkedIn, it would do really well if they are consistent with it, you know. So, let's…somebody could be like…I've seen somebody on LinkedIn, who is a painter. And she really stands out. And she's got a huge following. But all she does, she does these beautiful portraits. And she shares them on LinkedIn and talks about it. It's just like, because, there, if she does the same thing on Instagram, it will be much harder, because there's too many of them. So, I think it's just like understanding what…who your audience is, what the size of the audiences, you know… and, like, right now, I'm not putting as much effort into, to be honest, even my LinkedIn this year, because I'm building FemPeak, and it's, it's just so all-consuming, right?

Shireen Smith: Yeah, yeah…So do you read books? And if so, what recommendations would you have for people who are trying to improve the…

Somi Arian: Yeah, I think I finish one book per week. But I listen. So, I get through quite a lot of books.

Shireen Smith: Apparently, you, you'd recommend. I often…

Somi Arian: Of course, yeah, yeah. There's, so it depends on what people are looking for. Right now. I'm finishing Dame Stephanie Shirley’s autobiography…I’m listening to it. It's called Let It Go. I'm listening to quite a lot of books about blockchain and, you know, because I'm, like, right now my biggest, my next big thing is digital assets. That's what I'm, that's where I'm getting into really. So, every now and then, like, every couple of years, I get really obsessed with something. And then I put a lot of effort into it. I really learn everything about it, you know. So, it was marketing…

Shireen Smith: Similar. I mean, basically, I got really into branding. And now I'm really interested in Jobs to Be Done, you know, and Competing With [against] Luck by Clayton Christensen.

Somi Arian: Yeah…

Shireen Smith: As I approach to understanding what customers want.

Somi Arian: Yeah. I remember, I read that book a couple of years ago. It's such a good book. I like Clayton Christiansen, Christensen. Yeah. So, so…

Shireen Smith: Good way to learn, to really hone in on the topic.

Somi Arian: Yeah, so like, right now I'm very big on everything to do with digital assets, space. But if I were to say like…

Shireen Smith: What do you mean by digital assets?

Somi Arian: Like NFT, cryptocurrency…You know, those are things that are, like…because, yeah, because of the way that the governments are printing money. So, money is going to be pretty not valuable, you know, not very valuable over the coming years. We're gonna see massive inflations. So, I think people are going to find, and also, increasingly, we're living in a, in a digital environment, and there's going to be massive job losses in the normal new job market. So, I think there will be a massive exodus of people from, especially younger generations, digital and native generation, you know, like the, the younger millennials and Gen Z, I think they're gonna do most of their work. And, you know, which like economic activity in the digital space, and, you know, they could be like, basically playing games and earning money from NF T's. You know, that's like, it's just a fascinating, whole new area.

Shireen Smith: And what have you learned? During your period in entrepreneurship that you would, you know, one single issue that you would pass on to a best friend, somebody who's about to start in business? What would you advise them?

Somi Arian: Yeah, probably…that's an interesting one. I would probably say, “don't listen to anyone's advice”. I think that mentorship is overrated. I think that in, in the West, it's a big thing. And like, and I'm saying this as somebody who's creating a whole, you know, space of mentorship on FemPeak. And so, there is definitely value to mentorship. But people need to experience things for themselves. And they need to allow themselves to fail. And they need to allow themselves…and just be more courageous in taking, taking. It's always good to listen to people just to listen to hear different ideas and see what other people have done that maybe not right. But like I've had many people who would look at, you know, what an idea that I have. And they would say, this is not doable, and I've done it, you know. So, ultimately, you know yourself better, or you need to know yourself better.

Shireen Smith: Well, you've certainly blazed the trail on your own.

Somi Arian: Yes.

Shireen Smith: Coming over here. Yeah. Great. Well, thank you very much, Somi. It's been really nice talking to you.

Somi Arian: Thank you. Thanks.

Shireen Smith: Bye.

Somi Arian: Bye.