Recently, Bahar Etminan, joined Tory Archbold on her Powerful Stories Podcast. In this full episode transcript, Bahar talks about recovering from having her life publicly implode, her “fraud” life when she lived in Australia’s most exclusive suburb but was hunting for money under the couch, the one thing women entrepreneurs need to know and love at first sight.
Hi, I’m Tory Archbold. For two decades, I’ve nurtured the world’s top-performing retail brands and celebrities. Now I’m asking women entrepreneurs, CEOs, and influencers to share their own secrets to success. Their highs and lows, game-changing moments, and how they got to where they are. It’s the podcast equivalent of opening the best little bite book of contacts ever. I’m loving having you with me to hear the powerful stories behind the famous lives and careers.
00:31 Tory: Today’s extraordinary woman with a powerful story is my gorgeous friend – Bahar. A digital pioneer, serial entrepreneur, diversity champion, and a mother of one. Welcome!
Bahar: So excited to be here. What a powerful step we took out of the rain today.
Tory: We definitely took a powerful step today. But we’re going to be taking many more as we share how you came to own your own success story today. I just love this angle and we have been talking for the last week thinking about what it is that women in business out there really want to own and it really came down to that success phase. So what I would love to kick off with, is tell us a bit about you, the real you, and let’s start with the foundation which I always say is our value set.
Bahar: Well, it’s an interesting thing because I think that we are always evolving and I believe very firmly that there are many parts of us and in my life, I’ve been a lot of different versions of myself. But the thing as you said is it’s your value system that stays consistent and my value system is fierce loyalty. I am loyal to a fault. And actually, I find it really difficult to let go of things and people long after their expiration date. I put that down to being an immigrant and leaving my homeland, leaving my family so for me the loss of people is really really hard so I stay really fiercely and blindly loyal. I’m a hard worker. I believe that if it’s going to happen, it is up to me and I’m willing to roll up my sleeves get into the trenches, negotiate, work hard. I get up early, I stay later than anyone I know. And finally, I love really fully. If I love you as a friend, as a lover, as a partner, as a child – I love you with all my being.
Tory: And I really feel that, being your friend for almost two decades now. That love really does shine through because you’re one of those women that no matter what goes on in your life, you’re not afraid to pick up the phone and say “Can I help you or can you help me.”
Tory: And that is such a rare thing especially for women in business to have someone like you in their network, in their tribe, and actually having your back. And I love during lockdown how you called me and we had that conversation, and I felt truly blessed because we were able to help each other. So that’s a wonderful value and attribute for me.
02:59 Bahar: I had to learn the part about asking for help and I learned that around that time that 11 years ago when I was brought to my knees in my first business called Brandmakers, a cosmetic distribution business. Having had a really great career in luxury brands, I was the youngest ever General Manager for Gucci Timepieces, I was 24. I was 21 when I got my Masters in Business Administration Degree, the youngest in Australia. I was 27 when I was the General Manager of two companies for the Estee Lauder group in Australia. And then when I was 28, I started my own business and in a very short time, I had a huge business distributing to 3500 points of sale. I had an online business, the GFC came and pummeled me. I nearly went bankrupt in two weeks and I suddenly owed $960,000 to the bank, I was margin called, and I really really really just crumbled. And it was at that moment that I realized that the strongest thing to do, the strongest response at that point was to ask for help. And it was the first time in my life that I put up my hand and expressed vulnerability and I was really surprised and I think we’ve had this conversation before when you stepped into that, people love to help you. People actually love the opportunity to shine and for their kindness to be revealed, or their generosity to be revealed. Now I had an amazing experience from asking for help in that instance, but very soon my subconscious habits of being a warrior on the outside, of being strong, of being unflappable, unbreakable, they crept back in. So this time around during the pandemic and during a number of personal issues that came up, I really forgot the power of vulnerability and the power of asking for help. And it was not until I really was on my knees again that a couple of very close people who love me very much said, “We can’t help you until you ask for help. Ask for help.”
05:10 Tory: And you asked and that’s what I think is the brilliance of you. Because you know you’ve gotta own your failure but you also need to own your success and I really feel that, you’re brilliant to do that. And now when I see your comeback, the RESCU 2.0, you know it’s so fabulous, it’s so dynamic but it is so you because you’ve come back up from rock bottom and you’re about to hit sky high again.
Bahar: I think the important thing that you said is that it’s so me. And for the past 4 years, I want to say that I was really distracted and I think anyone who’s experienced chaos, or loss, or a toxic situation will know that in business, a business is actually a live extension of the founder and so you know for companies crumbling, we look at the CEO and we say what was the culture that CEO embedded in that business and why is it crumbling. And you know, in entrepreneurial businesses, you and I, we are the business so if we are distracted, the business doesn’t succeed because it is a living breathing organism and I had lost the me-ness of me, and so that was reflected in my business. And when I went back to basics and as I said to you, I just realised that halfway through the year, no one was going to come and save me. The publishing industry was being decimated in Australia, 12 of the top publications in the country got shut down overnight and here I was, an independent digital publisher at the time where all the advertising dollars had dried up and there was so much competition from social media and search, basically sucking all the advertising dollars. And also there was just that incredible amount of fear and uncertainty and I could’ve looked at that and gone “Who the hell am I to compete in this environment?”, I should just pack up my cookies and go. In fact, I did consider it and I was very lucky because on two occasions, I came very close to selling RESCU for a terrible deal, and both deals fell through. So actually I was blessed and by some miracle and grace, those two deals fell apart so all I had was me. And because I’d started Rescu, because I know the depths of my capabilities are, the only option I had was to either walk away or to double down and reinvest.
And so the decision that I made is that I would put all of me into Rescu and I would go back to really really owning every single aspect of it and I do some keynote speaking, and hosting other media stuff like you and I gave a speech last year which was almost prophetic. It was called “Own Your Ugly” and it’s something I’m really passionate about because I think that when we own the wounded, the ugly, the things that we want to disown about ourselves – that’s where the power lies. One of the things that I was doing very successfully for these past 4 years was numbing out. I was living in chaos.
08:23 Tory: Do you think that was also a denial?
Bahar: Absolute denial. The chaos led to complete adrenal fatigue. I stopped getting my period. I was running from myself, like a marathon runner. And one of the key things that I did to address my comeback was to address my health. I slowed everything down. I was in a car and I was with my now ex-partner and I remember the exact moment that my body hit an upper limit of chaos. I actually felt my soul leave my body and watched the situation and everything suddenly slowed down, I heard myself say “And now you’re done.”
Tory: So this year, you talked about chaos and the one thing that rings true for me was that you were knee-deep in a global media scandal and your name was plastered all over the tabloids all around the world. From London to New York to Milan to Sydney, and possibly even Asia. And I remember speaking to you at the time and you were very gracious around the experience that you had been going through. How did you survive something like that?
09:53 Bahar: It wasn’t my media scandal. Somebody else had got themselves into a terrible mess and was not owning their ugly. And my role was a support crew. The person at that time was my partner, and I was doing what I thought was the appropriate thing which was to be loyal. Not loyal to the decisions and the actions of that person, but loyal to the humanity of that person. I was very concerned about you know his health and well-being. I got lumped with the title of ‘glamorous girlfriend’ who stood beside her partner during his sex scandal. At the end of the day, the part that I was able to reconcile is that it wasn’t my scandal. My job was to be loyal to my partner and I would do it again. I would be loyal to whomever I was with from a moral perspective. So anyway you’ll learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about people and I certainly learned a lot about the media at that time.
Tory: The media can be ferocious as we both know, but it can also do (Bahar: Especially to women) a lot of. But I do think you know it is around positioning and it is around story-telling and I was often told that at a very young age when I choose to go into media and you’re in media as well so you know this better than anyone is sometimes these stories the next day is someone else’s fish and chip paper, so if you have the strength and the mindset to go that was a time in my life that something exploded but also know that deep down that it’s not you, and that’s not the way ———-
11:27 Bahar: It wasn’t me and it was a perfect opportunity to go back to my values and to go back to what do I want my life to look like? And who do I want in my life? It was literally a chapter in my book and it’s not my book, and so I closed the book.
Tory: Now listening to this and I think this a question that not many people would ask, but I’m going to ask them . So we talked about switching on our A-game, we talked about being your own success story but you were coasting along playing a B, if not, a C-game for 4 years.
Bahar: I’d say a D-game.
11:59 Tory: Yeah, so how do you coast along like that but how do you switch that mindset? What would be the top tips that you would say to people because so many of us, as entrepreneurial females/women or even women in corporate and men as well, sometimes we are coasting along that B/C/D level. How do you switch your thinking to really get back up into that A-game league and show the world what you truly have to offer?
12:25 Bahar: In Rescu, I talk about the 3 core pillars which are Style, Substance, and Success. When these three pillars of a woman’s being – whether you’re an entrepreneur, whether you’re a mother, whether you’re a student, whether you’re a waitress, whatever you are, if these 3 core pillars of you are somehow out-of-whack, your entire life is out-of-whack.
So for Style, I consider that your outside face to the world. So it’s what you project, how you look, what you drive, where you’re going, your circle of friends, your makeup- all of that. So that’s a pillar that you can catch and you can fix when you’re feeling a little bit wobbly. Substance is all of the inside, you know – your relationships, very very important, both you and I have met, interviewed, worked with some of the most beautiful, most successful women in the world, and you and I both know that that supermodel who is all smiles and dimples – if her relationships are out-of-whack, she does not feel beautiful and neither does anyone you know.
After this media scandal, it was about 3 or 4 weeks afterward, I was looking for the ray of light, I was looking for how can my life be different, how can I climb out of this chaos, how can I be myself again, how can I trust the grand that I walk on again. You know, I always say, you know if you pray or if you hold the vision strongly enough, the answers come from you and the only voice, the only sign that I got was “It’s done”.
Some people really have great boundaries, this experience taught me that my boundaries were completely permeable. And that I hadn’t followed the rules of having appropriate boundaries, having a really strong values set that you run everything by so I take full responsibility, and by taking full responsibility, I was able to pivot really quickly. Like literally the next 3 months eclipsed the 3 years prior.
14:32 Tory: I definitely think you were from like your B-C-D game to your A-game overnight. and I think you do need to thank him for that (Bahar: Yeah I do!), because he’s given you the gift of the next journey and you know these experiences, you know, they’re all about translating the midst of possibilities and opportunities and learning the life lessons and honestly, I’m so proud of you. And you’ve never been afraid to start again and that is just such a great attribute but most importantly from a friendship perspective, you’re never afraid to be there for yourself but for others as well, and thank you for sharing this because I know —–
Bahar: I have not talked about it…
Tory: I know it’s a hot topic and it’s one that definitely got a lot of media attention but I also think it’s one that it is important to confront and take ownership of and just go “You know what, I went through it. So what? I’ve moved on, and this is my next success story!”
Bahar: Yes, absolutely. And you’ve got to be your own success story, you can’t live in a shadow of someone else’s success or failure. And you have to reclaim the fragments of your soul, the fragments of yourself. If you can just slow everything down and step out of the chaos, you actually know exactly what you need to do.
15:46 Tory: So my question to you is when you have an out of body experience like that, it’s obviously you being pushed to extremes, and you know it’s the glamorous side that people see for female entrepreneurs when you talked about the style and the substance, it all looks fabulous on social media but deep down there are deep-seated issues that you have to address.
Bahar: I was a total fraud! There I was being you know, a poster girl for success. Giving speeches, driving around in a Mercedes, living in Point Piper which is the most expensive address in Australia arguably. But I was looking under the couch for money. And no one was coming to save me. I had to admit first and foremost that I was not all that, and I had to own that aspect of myself.
16:34 Tory: And with the ownership of that, because I mean this I relate so much, I remember when I pulled back from business with Bella, and Bella was like “Mum, all the money is not pouring in!” and I was like “It’s not pouring in because we going to fix ourselves, we going to fix the problems and the challenges that we’re facing because we going to build a really strong foundation together at the other side, and we will not mis-budget.” and so we used to go to this supermarket, and my daughter who was used to flying around the world business class and traveling to all the best destinations in the world —- Bahar: Yes! Same with my daughter.
Tory: All of a sudden, I’m like what’s on special at the supermarket. And it was the most valuable lesson for both of us because it stopped, actually, looked at the surroundings and be grateful for what you have. So I love the fact that you say, you scrape the around one where the next dollars gonna come from and I think that’s brilliant because the setback is always the beginning of the comeback. Right? And now this comeback that you have is so strong, so why is failure your secret source?
17:36 Bahar: Failure is where we learn and failure is where we get to examine how we are motivated and what the subconscious leads us to. Failure is often the repetition of bad habits and bad decisions that we make on auto-pilot. I refer to the fact that one of my values is fierce loyalty and sometimes with fierce or rather blind loyalty, you can actually be used. And so one of the things that I’ve learned through failure is you know what I call the essentials steps to prevent being taken advantage of.
I’ve learned to believe in patterns, and not promises.
I’ve learned not to fall in love with peoples’ or things’ potential.
I’ve learned to believe in all red flags.
Tory: I think we all should believe in the red flags. I’m with you on that one!
Bahar: I’ve learned to know my worth. And I’ve learned never to lower my standards.
Tory: I love that, And those are amazing tips. Thank you so much for sharing those. I really believe that you know to own your own success story, you also need to own your failures. And so —-
18:45 Bahar: We’ve all been to crazy town, but the trick is not to make a home of it!
Tory: 100%, there are so many people that stay in that little crazy stir pot but you and I know where we can fly so let’s do it. Well, we haven’t deep dive into, there is a spiritual gangster’s side to you (Bahar: Oh yes!), and I know that so many women when they hit their 30’s and 40’s like they’re looking to be inspired, they’re looking for the reason to step into that power to you know to reach their true potential and quite often we go looking for answers. I would love to understand a bit about your journey and how you found the answers to become the woman that you are now.
Bahar: I was very lucky because in our household, both my parents introduced me to some quite evolved thinking. My father meditates twice a day and he’s been doing so since he was in his 20’s. My brother and I were both born in France, my dad was studying and he was getting his PhD in Geology and he learned meditation because he was doing his PhD in a language he didn’t know. And it helped to still his mind and absorb and learn more quickly. So when I was 18, my father insisted that I learned transcendental meditation. He also insisted that I became completely versed in ayurvedic medicine.
20:11 Tory: At a very young age! This is amazing.
Bahar: From an Iranian scientist father to introduce this, my mother on her side was a massive believer in the mind/body connection and also, that you are what you think. And so my mum would listen to Brian Tracy, and motivational material, Dr. Wayne Dyer was like – I met him 3 times before he passed because my parents were take us along to all of these Hay House summits, so this idea of constant self-improvement, constant reevaluation, visualization. You know when I was 11, I started competing in public speaking competitions. I was 8 when I learned English and 3 years later, I was representing Australia in public speaking. And one of the key reasons that I was able to do that is my parents would sit me down and make me do visualization exercises. So more important than actually speaking the language and being able to, was the envisioning process. And I’ve never lost that, I literally know and I’ve tested it on small things and big things. I can do anything. It’s just a matter of envisioning it correctly and putting my energy into what I want. I can also do anything of things that I don’t want because if you put your energy and you keep visualizing and keep talking about and keep marinating in the things you don’t want, you’ll get that too.
21:50 Tory: That’s amazing. So you do believe, visualization, the meditation, intention, purpose, that lead you to be the success that you are today.
Bahar: I love coaching. I really believe in life coaching and therapy. So I had an amazing life coach, John McGrath, who is one of my mentors who introduced me very kindly to his life coach, Dr. Fred Grosse. I think 25 years ago, and on and off I’ve had life and business coaching with Dr. Fred. He was in my book, he’s given me countless, amazing pieces of advice. But on and off for the past 25 years, I’ve worked with him and his group, and about 5 years ago, my 2 best friends introduced me to therapy and said “Look, you’re not just going know yourself after this.” and I was like “I don’t know about this. Ugh”, and my god, what a difference. To get to know yourself and to really unpack that part of yourself is mind-blowing. And it was a really good time, I just turned 40, and it was a time where I could, it was the appropriate time to unpack all of that story and it has really helped me make great decisions. It really helped me cope with things and behave differently, respond vs react.
23:12 Tory: It’s the power of the mind. So I remember one time, we were speaking I think I was in Australia and you’re on your way to Kamalaya, Thailand which is obviously a beautiful place for both of us. And I said “Bahar where are you?” and you said “Oh, I’m striding down the escalator which goes through Bangkok Airport. And I have gone down that so many times as well.” And I said “What are you going to achieve this week” and you were like “I am going to find love!”
Bahar: I know, and I did!
Tory: I couldn’t believe it! And you were just “And the man is going to be this is his needs”, and I just know that this is going to happen. And you came back, and you called me. You said “I visualized it. I made it happen!” and you were so happy!
23:56 Bahar: Do you know I met him 18 hours later and it was literally the only time in my life where I had a love at first sight moment. I checked into Kamalaya, which is a health and wellness retreat. Went to my room, put down my bags. Got changed. Went up to dinner, sat at the table, and 30 secs after, I sat down. This gorgeous, beautiful God from The Netherlands came to the opposite side of the table and sat down. And we literally looked at each other and that was it. And you know I had a lovely moment. He actually taught me really incredible lesson. He taught me about living in my feminine aspect. And I became childlike and feminine through that relationship. Tory: And playful.
Bahar: And playful. He was a really fun, intelligent, capable, competent, soulful man. And still is, he just isn’t my man. But I remember so we met in Thailand, he lived in The Hague and I lived in Sydney. And 4 days after I left the retreat. he came and visited me in Australia, and we had this long-distance relationship. It was really marked by all these big romantic gestures. And I remember he was planning to take me on a private jet to see the Opera in Vienna and to go and have a private viewing of my favorite piece of art which is The Kiss by Gustav Klimt.
Now, I am the master of controlling things and masculine energy, and kept on wanting him to take me to Venice. Not knowing that this wonderful man had planned this huge romantic gesture and then it was going be followed by a stay in a castle in Bruges. But I kept on wanting to arm wrestle with him and say that I want go to Venice because I had it in my head that that would be the more romantic thing. And he sat me down and he said “Listen, I’m trying to be a man here. And I’m trying to impress you. And I’m trying to spoil you. If you do this all the time in your life, no doors will ever open for you. You need to let go.”
26:22 Tory: Yeah. Great wonderful advice and I also think you know as female entrepreneurs, and women in high-performance roles, you’re used to being in control.
Bahar: Well, we think you should be. But actually how many times has —-
Tory: … take the lead.
Bahar: And surprise you.
Tory: Surprise and delight. You know when I met my husband, the one thing that I said to myself was “I am going to just allow what’s coming to me to come to me. And I’m not going to fight it.”
Bahar: Do you remember?
Tory: Yeah! And I sat with you in a cafe and he was in New York. And he said come to New York. And you said to me, just text back. Send the jet. (both laugh). And so I did. So I guess the standard where set high in my relationship, but great advise. I just have one last question. Now your daughter Lilly, beautiful beautiful beautiful daughter Lilly. What would be the one bit of advice you would give to her that has been a key learning for you that you believe would transform her up unto the highest vibration possible to be her own success story?
27:26 Bahar: I have this motto, this life motto that “Every day is New Year’s Day!”. And I think that it’s a really empowering life motto because you don’t have to wait for a date in the calendar. You don’t have to wait for fireworks. You don’t have to wait for your life to go to hell. You don’t have to wait for a shooting star to come along. Today, this moment, this second, is New Year’s Day. Choose your own adventure. Choose one or every aspect of your life that you want to transform today. Today can be the start of a new beginning. Today can be the start of being your most powerful version. Today can be the start of being your own success story. So for Lilly, I would say to her “Don’t worry about yesterday. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Today is New Year’s Day. Every day is New Year’s Day. Every day we get to reimagine ourselves.
Tory: Hmmmmm, I love that. And what’s next for you?
Bahar: Well, I’m mid relaunch as you know for RESCU. So it’s the RESCU side, it’s the RESCU social media. I have a very successful YouTube channel, RESCU TV, where we do some really incredible, inspirational interviews. And I have an online education platform called RESCU Me Academy where we have a very powerful relationship therapy cause called “Reignite your Relationship” and an incredible makeup industry cause called “Be Your Own Makeup Artist”. So I have my hands full.
And….. I’m looking to fall in love again!
28:58 Tory: You’re definitely going to fall in love again. (both laugh). He’s going to find you somewhere in the world. That I know for sure. Thank you so much for being my extraordinary woman with a powerful story shared. Loved this conversation and I just feel that there are so many nuggets of gold in here. For women out there really looking to believe in their own success story but most importantly, take powerful steps towards their future and know that sometimes you don’t need to hit rock bottom to hit the sky heights of what the world has to offer. So thank you.
Bahar: Thank you.
Tory: Thank you for joining me for Powerful Stories. I absolutely love what these fabulous women are sharing. If this resonated with you, and you’re ready to step into your own power, even more, I invite you to join me for my exclusive business attraction program in February 2021. Places are limited to just 60, and I loved to save one for you so you can plot your personal path to take your business to the next level. I’ll share the strategies I used for 2 decades with the world’s top-performing brands and celebrities. Head over to the website and sign up for more information. Hope to see you on the other side!
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