Trigger Tribe Stories: Haneen
The tale of a young woman who used conversation to change her path from Solicitor to Sensual supper clubs.
Brought up in Dubai, Haneen moved to the UK in 2009 to study Law at the University of Bristol before going on to secure her training contract with a city firm in London.
As a dance addict, interested in travel, trekking, nutrition and yoga, Haneen felt disillusioned by corporate life. Inspired by her friends, Haneen decided to make the leap into start-up life with a company called Unforbidden after she qualified as a solicitor in August 2018.
Today, Haneen shares how conversation helped her engineer serendipity and find the job that filled her with joy, along with advice on how you can too.
Going from Law to Unforbidden is quite the turn in adventure, could you tell us about what prompted this change?
It was a combination of three things!
1.) The fact that my training contract was coming to an end, so there was a natural break in the career that made me at least question what alternative paths are out there
2.) An underlying feeling that law wasn’t really ‘me’. I didn’t suit corporate life, the rigidity of hours, face time culture etc - the work as well just didn’t get my blood pumping with excitement.
3.) An opportunity through sheer serendipity! I met Tom - the co-founder of Unforbidden - through a friend (she knew I was interested in spiritual-wellness fields and connected us). Tom was looking for a founding employee to head up this exciting startup, curating events in spirituality sensuality and sexuality. It was SO me, and such a holistic/entrepreneurial role that I knew I couldn’t turn it down.
I turned down Associate job offers, and took the leap - the rest is history!
“Conversations about my contemplated career change also made me feel a lot more accountable to my intention. I had more motivation to keep exploring.”
Could you tell us about the kinds of conversations you had whilst making this change?
Wow, there was so much conversation. Where to begin?
I am lucky most of my friends are self-employed entrepreneurs, so conversations with them were always empathetic and supportive. They made me feel as though the leap was within grasp, that fear was normal, that life was short. I was inspired. After all, they had gone through the same experience.
They also served as great questioners. What brought me joy? What suffering do I choose? Did I really want to quit law or just the environment? What are my values? I was encouraged to think deeply about this fork in the road, and follow my curiosity.
Conversations about my contemplated career change also made me feel a lot more accountable to my intention. I had more motivation to keep exploring.
Friends also connected me to relevant communities or contacts, which sparked even more conversation and introspection.
Most of my conversations were with friends. Conversations with people at work were more law-focused (naturally). I couldn’t exactly admit I was considering fields outside of law!
Similarly, my family would have been mildly concerned (to put it lightly) about my decision to abandon law, sooo I decided to leave that conversation for a later date…
Did you face any challenging conversations? If so, how did you get through them?
Yes! Both the ‘good’ kind of challenging and the ‘bad’ kind of challenging…
As a whole, too many conversations could be de-energising because everyone has differing opinions and advice. It was a lot of noise and exhausting to balance and remember all these competing thoughts.
In hindsight, it’s because I didn’t incorporate enough solo reflection (I blame the extrovert in me!). I should have been careful to pause and self-analyse what people shared. Instead, I allowed myself to be consumed by all the different advice, because I felt like such a lost little chicken. But often this made me more stressed and lost!
I also had some challenging conversations of the ‘good kind'. I spoke to an ex-lawyer turned dance/yoga teacher and coach. She warned me of the potential risks and challenges of turning my back on law. I felt both inspired but intimidated by the irreversibility of this decision, should I take it. However this conversation gave me the clarity I needed, I could understand what I was confronting and plan for the risks better.
My conversation with my parents wasn’t as scary as I thought. I decided not to place a lot of value in my parent’s concerns. I knew it came from a place of wanting safety and security for their daughter. It was caring but financial stability was not an important basis to make a life decision. This made it easier for me to impart some distance between my parent’s reaction and how it affected me.
“Secondly, always know that even when you aren’t having productive conversations, you never know when or if that conversation might lead to a connection, or idea that will be responsible for your new chapter.”
Since taking on this new adventure, how have your conversations changed? With yourself, with your colleagues, family or friends.
They are much more energising.
The six months leading up to me quitting was full of uncertainty and stress, which weighed me down. It monopolised my time, my conversations, my headspace.
As a result of the change, I feel more myself. I’m doing something that aligns with me, so I leave the office feeling motivated to spend quality time with myself and really show up for my friends and create more space for them.
What conversations does the Sensual Supper Club spark?
Our vision is to unlock headspace and push peoples boundaries within sexuality, sensuality and spirituality (both for singles and couples).
Our theatrical events are totally immersive and provocative (I can’t give away the secret themes!), which really sets an atmosphere that deconstructs social norms, and encourages people to get off script. We break the ice early on at our events with facilitated interaction, games, performers and conversational cues.
Everything we do at Unforbidden, we do to inspire friendship, romantic connection, community love, love for the self, love for the world, love for the experience, love for Unforbidden. So, really the Sensual Supper Club aims to spark conversations that unlock self-expression around sensuality, sexuality, spirituality and beyond.
For others who are wanting to start a new adventure, but are not sure how to broach the conversation with their employers, colleagues, friends or family, what conversational advice would you give?
Speak to as many people as you can! Not just those in the industries that you are interested in but any of your cheerleaders (friends/family etc).
I find people are always flattered when you ask them for advice. Pick those people who have similar values to you, who will challenge you in a loving way, but also support you in tough times.
Secondly, always know that even when you aren’t having productive conversations, you never know when or if that conversation might lead to a connection, or idea that will be responsible for your new chapter.
I would ask questions that don’t just revolve around someone else’s journey. Everyone’s path is different. Focus on questions around mindset, motivation, industry tips, and perhaps who they can connect you with etc.
Conversations allow for engineered serendipity. It’s how I got my job! You have nothing to lose.
Final question, you're a bit of a Trigger Conversations super-fan having attended events for over a year now. Have the events - or conversations with Georgie - had any effect on you?
Oh yeah - HUGE fan! It’s made me soooo much more conscious in conversation.
I appreciate the importance of curiosity (asking good questions), active listening, mirroring, allowing a conversation to flow (rather than forcing it in a direction), and I am better at following strands of conversation rather than being an excitable mess!
With Georgie specifically, she was equally inspiring and grounding in a time where I was such a stress ball! She has a way of encouraging me to identify the source of what was going wrong (when I was losing myself in the process of all this indecision and uncertainty).
My conversation with Georgie helped me to zoom out and really understand what I actually needed. She has a very reflective style that prompts the kind of thinking that is not leading. It’s a conversational super power that I am trying to harness slowly! Trigger has definitely been a game changer for my conversations.