Dounia Zellou is the Founder of Humanaya, a Paris-based company that provides holistic change management services to purpose-driven organizations worldwide. Since 2020, Humanaya has been changing the way organizational transformations are led.
For more information on Humanaya visit their website here.
Here we sit down with Dounia, to know a bit more about her journey as an executive coach.
Q. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Dounia: When I was a kid I dreamt of building not only one company but a kind of holding covering different companies and activities. This dream has always been within me. However, it looks like I had some learnings to get before moving into entrepreneurship.
I have been inspired by all entrepreneurs around me and in particular by close family members. Thanks to all! Seeing them getting out of their comfort zone to follow their dreams has awakened something in me that can’t be described, a kind of energy that drives me in my everyday life as an entrepreneur. This feeling has been growing and inspiring me since my childhood until the day I felt ready for the move.
Q. How did you get started?
Dounia: Before jumping into entrepreneurship I worked almost a decade in the banking industry where I held various positions in operations, marketing, management, and consulting. During the three last years of my career in banking, I was supporting C-levels of Tier 1/2 Wealth & Asset Managers in transforming their organizations and I faced my own limits in such roles. I jumped into entrepreneurship for a totally different project and life redirected me progressively toward my reason for being on earth: supporting transformations. However this time, it meant to be different. Before launching Humanaya, I explored various approaches to supporting human transformations, starting with my own. From executive coaching to dance therapy and energy healing, I explored, learned, got trained, started working as a coach. The more I moved forward, the more I understood I was called by different approaches to bring them into organizations.
Q. What was your biggest startup challenge? What steps did you take to overcome it? What did you learn?
Dounia: One of my biggest challenges was to reposition money at the service of purpose. And according to what I observed that’s not only my company’s challenge but one of many entrepreneurs…and even our societies.
I have been working a lot on myself, identifying my beliefs about money and raising my awareness about myself. I’ve learned that self-knowledge and self-awareness are keys in entrepreneurship, in particular when we are pioneers in our markets.
Q. What is the Most Memorable Thing You’ve Done Since you Started your Business?
Dounia: I’ve launched my podcast in December 2021! It is called the Re.connections podcast and the mission of this show is to open new flows between entrepreneurship, art, and spirituality to support the emergence of the new generation of change-makers.
The first time I thought about launching a podcast was in 2019. The idea grew progressively but I wasn’t feeling legitimate and wasn’t really friends with my voice. I found the impulsion in Valencia in October 2021 and in a few weeks the Season 1 was live.
I consider this podcast a success because of all the emotions and positive impacts it generates. This podcast is all about love. Feedbacks I get from the extraordinary guests I interview as well as from all our listeners give me the energy to make it grow.
Q. What is one book you recommend, and why?
Dounia: “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.
Managing change is part of the daily routine for most entrepreneurs. This book has personally helped me to change my perception of life, build more resiliency and learn to focus on the present moment. What I’ve learned from this book serves me every day as an entrepreneur.
Q. What are your top 3 favourite online apps, tools, or resources and what do you love about them?
Dounia: Shapr – I love human relationships and meeting new personalities. Thanks to this professional networking application I meet amazing people worldwide, business partners, clients, providers, and friends!
Youtube – My favorite meditations are posted on Youtube and meditating is part of a daily routine.
Spotify – As I love dancing I often listen to music and I personally like the quality of Spotify’s application as well as the diversity of artists referenced.
Q. In terms of legacy, what is the mark you’d like to leave on the world?
Dounia: “Believe in your dreams, follow your heart and doors will open easily” that’s what I would like people to remember from me, as this is my guide for everything I do, serving my vision, my mission, and my values.
Q. In one sentence, what’s the best advice you’d give to someone just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?
Dounia: I would advise taking some time to self-question: “why do I want to be an entrepreneur ?” until reaching the emotional answer… here is the key.
To keep up to date with Dounia and her journey, connect with her on LinkedIn.