Episode 24 – Yasmine El Baggari (World Traveler) | Human Connections: Keys to Having a Better Life!
Being a dreamer is limitless! In this episode, Yasmine Elbaggari shares her thoughts and experiences in accessing human connections and teaches us the beauty of connecting with people in our lives that will help us realize how we can expand our knowledge and wisdom.
Ravi (Host): Hi there welcome to another episode of Spontaneous Conversations. This is Ravi Gundlapalli, founder CEO of Mentorcloud and I’m honored, excited to be with Yasmine, the founder CEO of a company called Voyaj just changing the world. Please introduce yourself.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Well, thank you so much for having me on your Spontaneous Conversation show. I, first of all, love the name because that’s what I’m all about. I’m Yasmine Elbaggari and I’m originally from Morocco. And I live in San Francisco, California. And I love human connections, I love to travel, I love to talk to strangers. And I love spontaneous conversations.
Ravi (Host): Fantastic. So, since you mentioned human connections, that should be the topic, right? Why human connections? Why did you pick the topic and how will you see the power of human connections?
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): So I would say that you know, I remember when I was growing up in Morocco, the only human connections I would have with the West was actually through movie screens. And I wanted to meet those people. I wanted to know their stories where they come from, how they grew up in their local environments, but I didn’t know how or how to access those human connections. And so it was not until I left home, and I was able to travel that I started talking to people and realized how, you know, the knowledge, the wisdom, the mentorship is all through the human exchange. And so, to me, human connection is life-changing, it opens doors expands your perspective of your mind. It changes you forever. So that’s why it’s important.
Ravi (Host): Interesting, right? Because people remember experiences, right? People may forget a course that they have taken, but they will never forget the experience they had with a human being. Because we are, we are by species, every tribal community, we are tribal? Absolutely. We like to hang around in groups in people. Some people may find solace in watching a movie all alone. But in general, humans like to work with similar people go to work together. So I think when mentorship happens when learning happens, directly between human to human, it’s a lot more sticky, isn’t it?
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Absolutely. It is. Yes. I mean, it just in the last one hour, two hours that we’ve been talking, I feel like as I’ve gained so much understanding about topics that I didn’t know before, so even to us having offline conversations, like it’s been very insightful, and, you know, inspires me to do more to think bigger to, you know, to, to think outside of my comfort zone, even though I think of myself as someone open and dream, a dreamer. But it’s never enough, you know, it’s never enough. Never enough, it’s limitless. So the more you can talk to people who have shared interests of shared values, you know, you never know where that’s going to lead you.
Ravi (Host): Exactly, because you have to let the so-called in a “serendipity”, you know, take explain exactly what left to be completely choreographed. So how will human connections help in their organization, because I don’t see an eye? I’m wondering how you see human connections playing a role in the company because our company has, they have to hit their top line and bottom line.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Well to think about it this way, you know, when you have happy employees, they’re more productive, they’re more likely to produce, you know, whatever projects or ROI or impact they need to do. So think about it. As you know, if we empower our employees to relate to each other at a human level, they’re more likely to be happier and just, you know, do create co-create together and collaborate. So the way that I like to think about it is when I look at our organization, especially global organizations that have, you know, members around the world, and we think about the age diversity, the, you know, the skill, diversity, the culture, the religion, the political views, I mean, so much diversity, that just by interacting with people from different countries, it will interview, they will innovate together, they will come up with new ideas or new solutions to problems that they might not have thought about, you know, because of their local environment. So I think the company should encourage their employees to not just get together for a business meeting, but to get together for coffee to have lunch together to, you know, have a spontaneous conversation about their kids about their, their mothers, and you never know where that’s going to lead. So it does take that leap of faith.
Ravi (Host): Absolutely. In fact, I wrote an article called engaging the human behind the employee, because everybody is very, very big on employee engagement, you know, so I came up with these words, in fact, it happened while I was in Santa Barbara driving on one, I can have said, you know, there are certain things we do. And then there are certain things we know. And obviously, what we do is a subset of what we know, because the company may not give you the opportunity to do everything that you know, but then there is one more layer over it, we are because we are much bigger than what we know. And we admire we know much more than what we do. So the “do”, “know”, “are” and then “dream”. So who we are is smaller than our dreams. So in the article, as they expanded on companies help see the human being behind the employee, “What are their dreams?”, “Can you do something about their dreams?”, “Who are they?”, Are they parents, you know, fathers, you know, husbands, brothers or sisters? What can you do to make that part of this person? Easier company? What do they know that you can, I mean, you may have hired them to do programming, but if they are excellent at yoga, maybe you can bring that wisdom back to work for somebody else. And of course, what they do, because you have a task, somebody has to do it. So any thoughts on that?
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Oh my like, yes. So many thoughts. I, you know, one of the best cultures, I’ve seen you like, when you look at Google or LinkedIn, you know, these companies have really figured out a model in which to make their employees happy by creating endless classes of yoga, and this classes of meditation, and also having a lot of time free time to go, you know, volunteer with organizations around the world of their choice. So this mechanism allows the company to thrive. And then employees stay, they don’t want to leave, they don’t want to move to other companies. And therefore, that’s why there are some of the best companies in the world. And so for me, the more companies especially in other countries, you know, those who are still seeking innovation or looking to transform their culture, they need to think about it from a human perspective, it’s not just the ROI, I mean, it’s really going to be about thinking about the individual who they are, what they care about, and their interest, and figure out how to innovate from that place. And you know, bringing the human back to the organization. Because, you know, statistics show people are not happy in this company’s like, what 26 years old, I could never imagine working for a company, because I mean, having experienced freedom of being of doing of, you know, traveling of human connection, I really believe that everybody should experience that whether you are a corporation or not, everyone should have that freedom to bring the skills and their gifts to their community, to their friends, their colleagues. And it’s possible, and it might seem like a waste of time for a moment. But actually, the impact of that is going to be so much stronger.Ravi (Host): Absolutely. Because you’re creating a better human being much more was much more engaged, happy with who he or she’s connected to the organization. So productivity can go up with being stressed and unhappy. And so do you have an interesting story of, of how the human connection change your perspective about someone?
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): About someone or someplace?
Ravi (Host): About someplace?
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Well, so in the last nine years, I’m, you know, very excited to share this because I had a dream. And my dream is to go to all 50 states on buses and talking to strangers. And everyone said You are insane. Like, how are you going to do that? You don’t have money, you don’t have resources. I said, Well, I don’t think I need any of that. All I need is people who are going to be open to learning about my culture, and where I’m from, and who knows. And, you know, nine years later, I ended up home staying with over 250 families in all 50 states. And with not a lot of resources, I was able to travel by buses and trains and, you know, get in whites and talking to people and it changed my life. I feel like I know America, I know the world so much more because of the human stories that I’ve heard in kitchen tables, in you know, walking on the side of the streets and bus waiting for the bus and just saying, “Hi”, “What is your name?”, “Tell me about you”. That curiosity completely transformed me. And now I’m 26. I feel like the sky’s the limit. And the fact, as of two days ago, I decided that I’m going to go to the moon in my lifetime.
Ravi (Host): That’s amazing. So when you said 50 states, these are 50 US states that you have gone to and you’re in stay in hotels, you stayed with people.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Always with people.
Ravi (Host): Fantastic, it aligns with your human connections idea. And you just said in passing that you want to go to the moon. So tell me about it.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Well, you know, I’ve always wondered, why haven’t we come back? We know we went to the moon in 1956. Then what, it was we just that was it. I mean, there was a moment of unity, the entire world was looking in the same direction.
Ravi (Host): 1969.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): 1969, sorry, 1969. Of course, my bad. And so but then I was wondering for a long time, like why we haven’t come back. Even with all the technological advancement, we can go back. But not no news from that, you know, people want to conquer space, they want to go to different galaxies. But just this past weekend, I was at the United Nations. And they the United Arab Emirates in collaboration with novice canal who you must meet, they decided to have the first woman on the moon in the net within the next 10 years.
Ravi (Host): And you want to be that woman?
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Yes, I want to be one of the first women.
Ravi (Host): That’s unbelievable.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Yes, I’d like to wait, this makes sense. And you know, with my mission with Voyaj, I just feel like, you know, having been to 60 countries, I love the earth, I don’t want to leave the earth. But I do want to have another moment of unity for all people around the world reunite again because this is it. This is my vision for the world, where we walk around and we say hello to strangers, where the word stranger no longer exists.
Ravi (Host): A stranger should not exist. If your heart is open. Then the world is one family. In fact, in it, and I come from an Indian heritage, and we say it is a world family, we could we say in our language we say [inaudible] means the world family. So with your approach to human connections, and it’s interesting, you want to go to the moon because sometimes you have to leave home. So if the world is if the earth is your home, then going to Moon is you’re going to a second home.Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): In my next home.
Ravi (Host): Your next home, right?
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Yes. The universe is my home.
Ravi (Host): Then you have to make the universe is as your own. So and you can appreciate how beautiful the home is, you know, from outside, right, especially where I work with a lot of high school students and young people. They always are like, I have to leave home, I have to be on my own. And then they realize how beautiful the home is. So it’s almost like,
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Well, it’s interesting. It’s interesting because a lot of people don’t realize the beauty of their homeland until they leave. You know, even with Morocco, it was not until I came to America that people said, I want to go to your country. I’m like, I don’t know much about my country. So I had to go back and had to learn about all the different regions and mountains and deserts. And then I fall in love, I fell in love with my country again. So you have to sometimes leave to we appreciate the beauty of the conference.
Ravi (Host): That’s very well said. It happened to me about India as well. So every time I go to India or work or to search or to see my mother, I do travel and I’m like, “Wow, how proud I am to be born in this heritage in this beautiful country.”, when sometimes you have to be reminded because you hope you don’t you think everything in the world is like this, but then you don’t see the beauty of it as much. So you traveled to 60 countries, you traveled to 50 states, and now you’re working on a company called Voyaj. So tell me more about Voyaj.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Voyaj was born out of this, you know, really inspiring to connect and bring people together. I mean, having interacted with thousands of people around the world and said, everybody now needs to know each other. All these amazing people don’t know each other they must meet. And so I founded it back when I was in school in college, with the idea that, you know, the more people interact from across differences. That’s how we can break down walls and create more peace and understanding. And so we connect and engage global communities. We also interconnect the communities together online to offline. So for hours is about using technology as a tool to go offline and connect with other human beings and travel the world and meet like-minded like-hearted people, wherever you are. You’re home everywhere.
Ravi (Host): Home everywhere. Well, I just love it. I just love it like that, you know, you don’t have to, to feel out of home anyway.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Well, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t shout out to my friend and ally Cameron, who’s the former head of innovation at Airbnb. I was just with him in New York, and he offered a homestay in New York. It’s amazing. But the home everywhere was very much a co-creative process, of course, how we came up with that. So thank you, Cameron.
Ravi (Host): Of course, you know, home everywhere is just wonderful. Because then, like I was telling us, you don’t feel out of home as few understand the other families culture, because recently, we went to Bali. And we spent a lot of time with the Bali family. It was just amazing how much to learn. And we found so many similarities. At the same time, we saw so many differences. But the differences were less important than the similarities that we became instant friends. And we just went on a trip. But his daughter, according you know, she got married last month he got invited to the wedding. It’s an unbelievable me. So next time we celebrated to stay with me. So almost like I have experienced what you’re trying to do millions and millions of times.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): And you know that you have a home in Morocco too because now we are family be not only collaborators because we have some incredible plans for the world. Yes. But we also you know, I want you to know that you can come to Morocco anytime. And mostly because I’m planning to come to India.
Ravi (Host): You have a home in India as well, and multiple places in India.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Which part of India do you live?
Ravi (Host): I’m from South India.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Okay, great. And what is your mother’s name?
Ravi (Host): Pad Mallati, yes.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Nice.
Ravi (Host): And yours?
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): My mom’s name is Nadia. And my dad’s name is Mohammad.
Ravi (Host): Wonderful. And it’s just amazing. I mean, you have done so much in your career traveling all over the world, you know, empowering women. And you’re off to Thailand next week to mentor high school students. Incredible, incredible. And in all these cases, you’re not talking about a Skype call. So I want to maybe ask a question about everybody thinks we’re well connected. Now, over your Facebook, we have LinkedIn, we have all of these amazing tools, we have slack and all these tools. But I think that we are more disconnected than connected. So I see your company’s product is bringing back humanity into the world. So are we that connected or disconnected? Am I right in saying you’re disconnected?
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): No, you are right. There’s so much technology with all these different applications. But it seems like people are no longer talking to each other. And he amazes me that when I’m you know, I can travel so much. So I’m always at airports and train stations, and everybody’s on their phone, I just do not make sense to me. And we just really have one of the main goals is to bring back the art of communication, to look at each other in the eyes and smile and you know, have each other and you know, say hi, which sounds so simple. But yet it feels so difficult these days to just, you know, have someone’s attention. And so, you know, while I think, you know, all these technologies have brought us where we are today, we need to be mindful, we need to go back to our consciousness and have the choice to go offline, rather than being, you know, on Facebook or for hours and hours.
Ravi (Host): And you know, I do see the problem there. Because when I’m in airports, when I came to this country, 29 years ago, I used to have great conversations, because nobody at them at the bus, they had a book. So they would feel interrupted reading a book, and they would welcome a conversation. But today, it doesn’t happen that much. Everybody’s on their phone, checking things. And I’m more worried about the younger population. So I think if they experience the power of human connection, hopefully rather than keep telling them, get off your phone, get off your phone, hopefully, we showed them something even more beautiful, that they don’t see this, they don’t see the need to be on the phone all the time.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Absolutely. And that’s that’s really one of the things that I’m most excited about is creating an alternative of, you know, social media platforms in which we could choose to leave because I’d rather be hanging out with my new friends or future friends outside in the street than being on my phone for seven hours, and at the end of the day feel lonely and sad than ever before. So loneliness is a real problem. Also, with humility. I mean, this is a life’s mission, and I’m honored for the rest of my life.
Ravi (Host): Fantastic. I focus on the loneliness epidemic. You know, I saw lots of data on how many more young people are feeling lonely, because they think everybody else they have a great time, because social media is only giving you a snapshot of the life, they’re having an ice cream, that means Oh my god, that is nice to him. But there’s only a minute of ordinary few seconds of the life. We don’t know what what’s the story, but other people are thinking, everybody is having fun, not me. And it’s just very unfortunate that that becomes the truth. A few series of snapshots become your truth to all the other people that causes the causes of loneliness, depression, and so on. So shall we come up with the social media did not bring people together, you probably need a human media somehow, if you have a new term? Media, that’s it, right? That’s what you’re doing with human connections is social media did not create the social interactions that are supposed to, it made us more disconnected. We’re connected as one thing is, but we cannot assume the real connected just because I can make and send you a message. I can do a call with you. But nothing like being in the human media. So why don’t you ask me, you and I and our teams come up with a platform for human media, that people come together, sing together, shake hands, see each other, like you said, Give me a hug, do things together to appreciate the true beauty of humanity? And then you’re very good, so ending on the human media thought. So they have he has been as my guest today. I’m honored to have you and very, very proud of your mission. And I hope to see you on the moon and wherever you are taking off from it come to that station to do to see you lift off.
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): Amazing. I can’t wait.
Ravi (Host): So where can people find more about you like me?
Yasmine Elbaggari (Guest): So actually, here’s I’m going to give you my email. One of the things I love to do is the first 12 people will email me I usually bring them together. I travel all over the world. So you are my future friends. So it’s “Yasmine” firstname.lastname@example.org, so when you email me just mentioned up you heard me on this Ravi’s Spontaneous Conversation and I will respond within a few seconds.
Ravi (Host): That’s amazing. So email@example.com and you should check out yh.com and this is Ravi Gundlapalli, I enjoyed my spontaneous conversation today with Yasmine. Thank you for listening and look for the next episode.
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