Hello, my name is Janine Bensouda, and I am the Founder and President of Bensouda Consulting, an organization focused on Bringing Brands to Life. I am a devoted mother of three, daughter and sister, a business owner and an aspiring triathlete. What’s so special about me? Nothing really. Like most of you, I am on a journey…on a mission actually! On a mission to be a better mother, on a mission to take my company to the next level at a time when the market is very challenging….and I am also on a mission to push my mind and body to new levels of fitness. And why? Well, that’s my story.

Would you like to jump aboard the train and take this journey with me? Over the next few months I am going to share my life with you in the form of pictures, words and video. I will document my thoughts, express my challenges and share the decisions I am taking and what the outcome is. Why? Well, because it is interesting how there is always someone out there who is going through similar experiences; and it will be a great opportunity to engage in dialogue and exchange ideas or simply to feel some comfort in numbers.

So, let’s get started! First I would like to share a little bit about myself. How did I end up becoming an entrepreneur? It may not be how you imagine!

I have always had a love for the performing arts and my dream was to be a Broadway star. For various reasons, that didn’t work out, so I thought I would become a fearless reporter, crisscrossing the globe, ferreting out the latest news story to share with the world. Well, this didn’t happen either. But don’t be sad for me, I found my calling from a different angle and am now living and breathing my dream every day.

It started with a summer internship that turned into a full time job at Citibank in the Marketing Department where I was tasked with looking at product development and marketing. This crossroads between internal processes and products that touched external customers was where my passion and creativity for connecting the two began, because I saw that there was a definite disconnect. I joined a Consulting firm where I travelled the world for seven years, assisting organizations to make that connection. But I still wasn’t convinced it was working.

Organizations build brands and spend millions communicating them to the world. Product Development teams come up with fantastic products for their customers. Marketing departments use exceedingly creative means to reach these customers; then distribution channels deliver these products to the customer. Somehow, when customers receive the promised product, they are too often disappointed. Something gets lost in between the promise and the experience. Why don’t people deliver on what they promise? What creates the gap between internal operations and the external portrayal of a brand? Why don’t the people on the inside get it? Why is employee engagement often so low, even in organizations that we, as consumers, think are outstanding?

I decided to work at Ogilvy in their head office in New York City, the center of it all, to understand how brands are built and then communicated to the public. And that was when all of the puzzle pieces finally slotted together.  As soon as it clicked for me, I hopped on a plane with my two-year old son and took the direct flight on Emirates (JFK to Dubai) to start Bensouda Consulting in 2007!

Our initial tagline was “Connecting Thoughts” which later evolved into “We Bring Brands to Life”. We have had a successful few years delivering outstanding programs to a range of clients, particularly in the banking industry, where we have seen some fantastic results. And now we, myself and my company, are at a crossroads yet again.

We want to expand our customer base, expand our offering…and we realize it needs to be done a little differently in order to keep up with evolving technology. We traditionally used to conduct our consulting and trainings face to face – in small groups, in workshops, in classroom situations, through experiential events – and we will not change this. But we also need to embrace the digital age and create a mode of communication with our clients that allows them to speak to us and learn from us through their mobile phones, tablets, web portals, apps, and through whatever technology is developed next. This is where we stand now and this is the path forward.

I am always running on paths – rubberized tracks, the beach, the road – and this helps me in my daily life. I need strength, resilience and endurance to support this move forward. I also need space, time to think, and time to get inside my own head; silence to hear the voices of my sub-conscience.

I started running four years ago and it really helped me overcome a personal tragedy.  This time alone, hearing the constant rhythmic thump of feet on the ground, and then feeling the adrenalin high and euphoric positivity of accomplishing a target distance or speed, gave, and continues to give, me the energy and stamina to keep me going both physically and emotionally. It also pushes me and extends my capacity to be positive, be in a good mindset and reaffirm my commitment to make changes and deal with challenges.

Now even running isn’t enough so I’ve decided to add two disciplines, cycling and swimming, and set myself the goal of racing a 70.3 triathlon, also known as a half Ironman which comprises a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and a 21.1km run.

If you’re anything like me, then you’re probably wondering why anyone in their right mind would subject herself to such a challenge. I mean, what for, right? Well, here’s the truth. Giving myself this challenge, setting myself a goal that I can barely believe is possible myself, both excites me and allows me the chance to prove what I am capable of. And interestingly, the physical growth and raising of bars helps me to renew confidence in my capacity to continue to flourish and build on the success of my business.

So what can you expect as you follow me on my journey?

I promise that I will give you honest feedback on what I am experiencing – any troubles, fears, questions, decisions and insight that I experience. I hope to interest you in how my professional and personal goals overlap and assist each other to be achieved. I will share my stories through videos and written musings, I will relate my journey with what is happening in the business world around us through more structured articles, and I will share with you any links I come across that may be of interest – industry news and research, announcements from our clients, triathlon training tips…and perhaps even the occasional song that inspires me so that my childhood dream can still be a part of who I am today.