Interview with Mounira Latrache
CEO and Co-Founder @ Connected Business

Unconventional thinker with 15+ years of experience working with global brands in international markets. Very passionate about bringing mindfulness & compassion to our business world, believer in the power of collaboration and trust.
Hey Mournia, how would you like to introduce yourself?
This is Mounira. I'm here in the London airport and I am one of the founders of Connected Business. And in the last 15 years, I was in the business and I worked in marketing and PR positions. And my last position was at Google where I was the PR person for YouTube for many years and then started leading the YouTube space in Berlin and next to this my 20 percent project became mindfulness and finding out how mindful leadership works how we can integrate mindfulness into our business culture and how mindfulness can help us to find an inner compass, a way to work differently. And through my very personal search for how can I deal with this overwhelm and how can I make you know make this work. And don't lose my cool in all of this. I've found a way to do that and that was mindfulness but also showed me much much more than that. It showed me how to connect with the people I work with. How to be a compassionate leader. And it showed me that in times when things are really going crazy they found a way to look inside for answers and to find stillness where there is no stillness. And that's why I'm also here in this airport because mindfulness doesn't mean to meditate in a silent room. For me means to find ways to cope in exactly that world that we live in and I'm super passionate about this and passionate about empowering others to really go into their authentic self.
How do you teach emotional intelligence? How does this benefit a workplace atmosphere?
Emotional intelligence is one of the key skills that we actually need for digital time. There are a few key skills that will be even more crucial tomorrow than they are already today. I mean basically, emotion intelligence has always been a really important factor. But once machines are taking over this is going to be the skill that we all need. And what emotional intelligence for me means is, first of all, having awareness about myself. That's the first step and has a lot to do with also being able to self-reflection being able to understand do I have a growth mindset? Or do I have a closed mindset? And innovation is really hard for me. So the more I understand myself the better I can understand others and the better I can work with others. That's basically the principle of emotional intelligence and why this is so important for a company culture is because we need to collaborate and many people try to fix things in the outside. And my experience is you can't fix anything in the outside when you don't start with yourself. If you're a leader or not it doesn't matter. But if you want a change you need to embody that change and so transformation can start with a great logo, with a great motto, with a great purpose. But if the motto and the purpose is not embodied it and live by everyone is just a sentence. It's just a really nice concept. And so the embodiment of it is when we start becoming aware of ourselves and understanding. Maybe I'm you know sometimes I overrule people. That's not something bad. The more awareness about it, the more awareness I have about it the more I know in the moment when it happens and I can change this. We're all humans.
How do you reach out to new clients? Who are some major clients you have worked with so far?
We reach clients mainly through them contacting us which is obviously this is a really nice thing when you are starting up and you just starting with the company and companies approach you really luxury situation. And I think most of the people find us because they're looking for mindfulness and they're looking for a solution that actually includes this. Many many companies have offered mindfulness in the past. I think what is really different is that we are really so open about it that it's mindfulness and business and many people are also interested about how we did that at Google and I think that's that's why they also approach us. And then we also like you know do stuff like every other normal company. We have social media, we do advertising mainly like basically online. And yeah we reach out to people in person a lot. We do a lot of workshops that are for free so people can get to know us. We do a lot of Keynotes and talks at conferences and in companies and some of our first clients were companies like the Zalando and Telecom. So we're really really happy and VW. We're really really happy that bigger companies are super interested in it and we're also collaborating with for example the Tech Open Air where we curated a mindful stage with like all things around mindfulness and mindfulness in business. And what we see is people really look for that content. And that's lucky us. I think that we've found something that people want.
What is something that recently inspired you personally? Could be a great film, or book, meal or conversation...
The thing that inspired me recently is or recently something that inspires me ongoing me is is listening to audio books. I have a habit that is listening to audio books on a daily basis. I love it. I love to be inspired. One of the authors that I love love love right now and she's really good at audio is Briney Brown and what she's doing is this phenomenon. She's like she is putting science together in such a human way that we can relate to it and say wow this is so important and because she puts science behind it. It's like we are more likely to open up for these topics anyway. She's amazing. So big a commendation and maybe sharing an inspiring moment with the book. For me one of my bosses who like yeah fool wanted to reach out to me and connect with me more and better gave me a book and that book really made such a huge difference. Called Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and I will never forget how he did it because on the day he gave me the book he also said to me that he really appreciates me the way I am and that he wants to accept me fully as I am. The May maybe totally trivial but for me this was one of the most empowering moments with one of my bosses could ever have had and it inspired me for the rest of my life and I wanted to read the book. And afterwards I understood where he came from. And then we both had this joy and skill set but also knowledge about how we can approach our relationship in a way that empowers each other that he listens to each other truly and that creates something that is more than just work.
What can the world expect from Connected-Business in 2019?
2019 Connected Business will be all about increasing the reach of mindfulness and business. Our vision is to change the way we do business in the whole world. And we already started with teacher training this year and we hope to have more teachers next year and reach even more people around the world. So we are definitely becoming more global and also having more people who will be part of the connected business community which for me is one of the most inspiring things to empower others to step into these things and to share these amazing tools these amazing easy steps to work in a different way. And yeah I have to say one part of what we have to do obviously is planning and the other part is we want to see what is coming next, we are so more so much more interested in what does the market want. And there are a few things that we are looking in to right now. To understand more what is most useful for the people who want to do this work. And there's one thing I can unfortunately not talk about yet but it's going to be great. We definitely want to also become more digital next year. That's what I can say and the rest you will see. And if you want to get in touch this year or next year there will be multiple more trainings to come. And multiple ways for our community to meet and for people want to make it change for you. 'Oh, I'm so alone with this topic. I'm the only one who wants to work different'. No, you are not alone. There's so many people out there and just say 'hi'.
What is the idea behind Connected-Business? Tell us the story of your founding.
So the idea about Connected Business was actually just like a project that I did beside my job. At that time I was at Google and my 20 percent project became teaching mindfulness at Google. And it really started with that little thing I wanted to set up a meditation group for my colleagues because I felt it would be really useful for me and also for others to do this on a regular basis together. After one year all of a sudden 800 attendances were recorded. So I did know. Wow there's a lot of interest in it. So I started organizing courses. One of the courses was the Search Inside Yourself course which is the one that has been developed at Google and I saw the feedback and saw, and knew I have to share this externally, so outside my job I would start organizing public trainings. So I invite other people to the Google office to do these trainings and it was clear to me that I needed share this even more. And I became one of the co-founders of a conference that is called Mind Conference. So the founders of 7 mind are actually the initial founders but I became one of the team members to work on it and set it up and so we organized it at the Google office in Berlin and we were so surprised that only after a few months the conference was already sold out and we had a waiting list. So I knew, yes this has to be more external and then people ask me if I can come to their companies and speak about what I do at Google. And so more and more the requests were there. And my co-founder he was working in co-creations so we like how do you implement what a single person does into a group and we found this constellation is just perfect to do this outside.