ANOUSHEH ANSARI - Co-Founder, Prodea Systems
Anousheh Ansari, Co-Founder, Prodea Systems
Every day, millions of dreams are born, and millions of dreams die a silent death. Only a few ever make it out of the dream world into reality. What sets those few apart? I’m not an expert on the subject, but I managed to nurture one of those little dreams into a big reality. I actually ended up writing a book about it appropriately named My Dream of Stars.
I left Iran and came to America at age 16 without speaking a word of English, but nevertheless with my head full of dreams, especially dreams of flying to space. After a dose of reality, I ended up in Engineering school, becoming an electrical engineer in the field of telecommunication. Later, with my husband, I ventured into entrepreneurship. My strong passion for space became the fuel for my desire to grow and make my company even more successful. I knew the fruits of my success would help make my dream come true.
Here are a few tips I picked up along the way:
- Life is about how you live it -- not about your list of accomplishments. I have had my share of accomplishments, and the neurotic engineer in me always looks for finishes and check marks. But every time I reach a successful ending, in the midst of the happiness, I feel a kind of nostalgic sadness. I miss the long hours with my team – the laughter and the challenges. It’s at times like these that you realize that as much as you want the final results, it’s the experience that makes it all worthwhile.
- Imagine. Our imagination is a gift, but we start ignoring it as we grow up and become “practical adults.” Keep that inner child alive so you can imagine as a child would, without fear, without boundaries and without hesitation. Remember - dreamers are the ones who change the world.
- Fall madly in love with your calling. I have encountered many people who say they haven’t found their passion. Sometimes our passion is right in front of our noses, but we’re looking so hard that we miss it. Whatever you find important enough to spend your time on, try to learn if you can love it. Think about it all the time; find ways to make it better; give it to others/teach it to others; tell the whole world about it. If you can, then you have found your passion. Sometimes we know our calling, but we don’t dare admit it to ourselves because it’s so “big” that we’re afraid of failing at it. Remember, we would never learn how to walk if we didn’t learn how to fall!
- Don’t give up. If I have learned one thing in life, it’s that nothing is ever constant. The same way that good times don’t last, bad times don’t either -- so don’t give up. If you have found your passion and you are going after it, you are bound to make mistakes and to encounter obstacles. The important thing is that you believe in yourself. With this inner strength you can find the courage to work through all those obstacles and to find your way to your dream. Remember everything is constantly changing, so sometimes you can just wait out the storm.
- Inspire. I feel blessed to have learned the lessons I have and to have lived the life I have -- with all its ups and downs. If you have received such a gift, pay it forward. Become that beacon of hope for those who are facing challenges in their lives, and remind them of what awaits them on the other side of the mountain they face.
Anousheh Ansari captured headlines as the first female private space explorer. Afterward, back on Earth, as a successful serial entrepreneur, Anousheh returned to her job as co-founder and chairman of her latest technology company, Prodea Systems. In her previous endeavor, in 2001 Anousheh had served as co-founder, CEO and chairman of the board for Telecom Technologies, Inc. She is the author of My Dream of Stars.