TL: Welcome to Heartrepreneur Radio, and thank you for tuning for another episode. This is Terri Levine, business strategist and chief Heartrepreneur here as your host today, and I’m excited. Today we have a very different kind of opportunity for you. We are all here, all connected, all opening our hearts and filled with love, and looking to do business as a place where we know, trust, love other people, right? A place we’re coming from integrity and authenticity, and yet, we’re living in some very strange times. So, I want you to open up your hearts and I want to introduce to you, Sam Mak. Sam Mak is a humorist, entertaining, informative speaker who is a staunch, American patriot and a devout Muslim. Contrary to popular belief, I really want you to get this, the two are not mutually exclusive. Listen to what I said: a staunch, American patriot and a devout Muslim. Sam came to the US as a child from Pakistan speaking no English, and grew up to obtain her master’s degree in electrical engineering. Sam watched her achievements culminate on the day Senator John Glenn presented her sophisticated radio system design to the US Congress. Holy-Moly! Sam Mak raises the veil and reveals to audiences across American, the real deal about Islam and the Muslim faith, and sheds light on those dark areas that have been hidden from our view. And I asked Sam to come here today because all of us want to open up our hearts, and we want to have better understanding and clarity, and come from a place of love. Sam, thank you so much for joining me.
SM: Thank you Terri, it’s so great to be here and be speaking with leaders that lead with their heart.
TL: I really appreciate that. You know, I’m just finding nowadays it seems like people stop doing business from a place of caring and connection. What are you finding out there? What’s your experience?
SM: You know my experience is that most people are kind, loving, generous and caring, and they have a few bad apples. Unfortunately, the bad apples, sometimes we give them more spot light or more attention than all the great things that are going on. With the state of the way things are, I have seen more outpouring of love and support and caring for Muslims in this country than I ever have in my 40 years that I’ve been here. And so, I think great times bring out great people, and I’ve seen more love and connection and support. In fact, I was surprised to see how much, and so it’s good and bad. But you know, there’s plenty of bad on TV, but people are still good.
TL: Ya, I’m so glad to hear you say that. So, what do we do? Like, how do we shift that what is spotlighted and what the media and the press likes to talk about, is not necessarily the way that things are and the way that people are? How do we, day to day as business leaders, and business owners, how do we make the shift so that we’re able to keep ourselves balanced and in conversation and in love with people of various religions?
SM: So, I think the solution is very simple. We just open a conversation. Like you teach Terri, you lead with your heart, just lead the conversation with the heart. Lead with curiosity, ask the other person what their viewpoint is. And what you’ll find out is that there’s a real human being behind the opinion, it’s not just a facade. But, there’s a human being behind an opinion, and if someone is doing something that we don’t understand fully, usually they have a pretty good reason. And once we understand their reasoning, or their fear or beliefs, it’s very easy to understand their actions without having to judge the person or the action.
TL: Mm. I love that piece about not judging the person or the action, I love that piece. So, what is it like? Really take us into your world. What is it like day-to-day when you meet someone, or you’re looking to do business with someone, and for whatever reason, religion comes up. What does that look like in your world?
SM: You know any time we’re in a group that may not fully understand us, there’s always a hesitancy. There’s always a little bit of a hesitancy of how much can I share, and in what context can I share it? So, what I try to do is mostly focus on what we have in common. And if you look at basic human values, being kind, being honest, keeping our word. Those transcend, cultures, everything. So, I focus more on our values and our common ground then maybe what our religious differences are. Because, you know you can get into an argument about just about anything, but I think we have more in common than we realize.
TL: Excellent. And then, what do you do or say to someone who just really doesn’t understand, and really is confused? How would you approach that conversation? And, how can we, regardless of our religion, how can we do a better job of just being more human and open and accepting of every religion?
SM: Well, I think the first thing we need to realize is that some of the stuff that’s shown on TV and the media is designed to sell papers and promote the program themselves, so normal, boring people like me don’t always make the news. And to understand that for everyone you see on TV, there’s a million-people doing good, giving charity, doing acts of kindness that maybe are not spotlighted or as visible. So, I think the best way I heard it saying was that every city in this world has a sewer and stuff coming out that’s sewage. But putting a camera on it and calling it news, does not tell you anything about the city. And sometimes we just focus on the negativity so much, and to realize there is a lot of positivity behind everybody. You know, every time I’ve broken down in this country and had a flat tire, some random stranger has come three times in my life to change me tire. You know, why? People are good.
TL: Mm. I love that. And I just really want to repeat it. You know, people are good. Basic human beings, I believe we all come on this planet, whoever, however we were created, we share the same DNA. And its DNA of goodness, we really are here to do good. So, if we have an opportunity to educate people about your faith, what are some of the key points that you want people to know? Because, they might be working with people of various faiths, they might be watching the things in the news that are put in a negative spotlight. How can we really bring them back to the truth of what was, as you called it, the real deal is about Islam? What are the key points we really need to know to have some less-than ignorant viewpoints, which many of us just don’t know enough, about what we don’t know?
SM: So, I think the first thing would be just to understand what our perspective is. You know the perspective I see of Islam in the media is like going to a KKK meeting and asking them: what did Christ and the Bible teach? You know, the people that usually get spotlighted on those shows have lost their way, and are not at all representative of 1/4 of the world’s population that is Muslim. You know, 1/4 of our planet’s population is not that violent. There’s several countries doing amazing work. In fact, in Morocco recently, they just had a conference where Muslim countries have come together and decided how they’re going to protect their religious minorities, particularly the religious minorities. So, there’s a lot of work being done in Muslim countries to up-level their game that is not maybe showcased as much here. And if you look at some of the last few Nobel Peace Prize winners, many of them have been Muslims in the recent past, including Malala Yousafzai who is from the Pakistan/Afghanistan region. Again, a woman, youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient. So, maybe that there’s positive and negative aspects of Muslims, and just start with the positive. And then if the person has reason to convince you, you can go to another stereotype, but to always assume that people have good intentions and have a good heart from doing business.
TL: I just love that, I really do love that. So, I’ll share something very transparently. So, one of the assistants who’s worked in my company for a number of years, uses an American name, and yet, he’s living in Pakistan. And recently I said: why are we not calling you by your name? And he said: oh, it’s too difficult to say. And I said no, it actually isn’t, let me pronounce it. Did I say it correct? And he said: ya. I said, well, it’s not that difficult, and then I asked him: is there another reason? And he said: yes. I’m concerned that your clients might stop working with you if they knew that I was on your team! And I’ll tell you, my stomach just dropped to the floor! And you know, my response was, if I have a client that would feel that way, they’re clearly not a Heartrepreneur and I’m happy to have them go! What are your thoughts as you even hear that? Still, part of me is in a little bit of shock, this just happened recently.
SM: Very honestly, I would say that it’s pretty common.
SM: Anytime we come into a different culture, you always have to determine on how much you want to melt. With Muslims and Western cultures, a lot of times they’re picked on with dress-codes, but you know what? When people from Europe or the United States, they still wear their jeans and t-shirts, they don’t decide to melt all the way. So, I think it’s an individual choice on how much to melt, and also a personal journey choice. You know, how strong is your faith and your personal power to take those constant digs about having a funny name, or being different or the way you look? And however much that person can absorb, is probably how much they’ll blend in or not blend in.
TL: Hmm. That’s really well stated, that’s well stated. I just find it so interesting that you know we’re all put here, different shapes, different sizes, different hair, different skin tones and we also have different religious beliefs. And we have different dress in different countries, and in different areas and for different religious beliefs. And instead of being righteous and trying to make everyone meld into our belief, to just be curious and to be open. And to be kind of excited that the world has so much diversity. I always look at this like, when I was a little kid I remember getting my first box of Crayola crayons. And I’ll always remember like, there wasn’t just green you know, there was every variation of green you could imagine and all these fancy names. And I remember my mom saying to me: that’s what makes the world so amazing is that everything can be different colors and we could appreciate, even though we may have our favorite and our preferred one, we can appreciate all of them.
SM: Absolutely. And the Muslim’s perspective is that God has been creating Jews for over 4,000 years, Hindu’s for over 4,000, Buddhists for over 4,000, Christian’s for over 2,000 years, Muslim’s for over 1,500 years, other religions for longer than that. And if God wanted to change the plan, God wouldn’t mind it.
TL: Oh I love that! I totally love that! I remember in one of my books many year ago, I think it was Work Yourself Happy, I said we need to take off the judgement robes. And as we’re having our conversation today, that’s really what I’m saying. I want people to not watch the news as-if it’s gospel. I’m not going to get into a conversation about “fake news” and “real news” and all that, I’m just gonna say that they don’t want to spotlight the great things that are going on in the world. And this person helped that person, and these are wonderful things. Their job in media is to spotlight the bad, the stuff that doesn’t look so good so we can find a bad apple, or a bad person everywhere, of every color, of every religion, of every kind of preference you can imagine. And I just want the listeners to be more educated, and I really want to ask them to be Heartrepreneurs when in business and when in life, all the time, to have that open heart-to-heart connection. And that’s why I thought you’re so important to come here. I think that having a speaker like you who can really bridge this gap, is so important. How do people get in touch with you? Where do you speak, and where would you like to speak? I’d love for the listeners to actually be able to connect with you.
SM: So Terri, my website is speakerauthormotivator.com, so wwwspeakerauthormotivator. Being an engineer, I’m into acronyms, so it’s also SAM.
TL: I love it.
SM: And I would love to speak to college arts audiences, and corporate audiences on inclusion and diversity. I see so many of our youths suffering either because they’re different and don’t know how to be accepted, or because someone else is different and they’re afraid. And so, when I see people suffering from basically, just misunderstanding, that breaks my heart. And I always want to go in there and shed the light and show people how similar they are, and the core values of love and caring and compassion that they share.
TL: Wow. I have goosebumps, I love the work that you’re doing in the world. I have to thank you for doing this. And listen to that, it’s such a great website, right? Speakerauthormotivator.com, I’m hitting myself in the head, like, wow! And that’s how we connect with Sam Mak, speakerauthormotivator.com. And, I personally believe very strongly that this message is an important one. Shedding this light is important. So, if you’re involved in a college or a university or you know somebody who is, or you’re a corporation or you want to bring in someone who could really help with diversity and education, I personally know Sam and can’t think of anyone better to bring in. I just want to thank you so much for being here today on Heartrepreneur Radio.
SM: Thank you. It was an honor and a pleasure Terri.
TL: It’s been my pleasure. And for the listeners, I’m gonna actually recommend that you re-listen to this episode. I think there’s so many gems here, and there’s meme’s we could actually make out of this episode and we could be sharing more love just from this one episode. So, please make sure that you tune-in to Heartrepreneur Radio, and the best way to do that so you never miss an episode, is to subscribe on iTunes. And then make sure you also connect with us over on Facebook and over at heartrepreneur.com. And feel free to share our shows, share our episodes, particularly I really encourage you to share this one. And then, go over to speakerauthormotivator.com and make a connection with Sam Mak. Thanks for joining me today here on Heartrepreneur Radio, and I will see you next time.