“ Beginnings Are Always Hard” 5 Leadership Lessons With Imane Bensalem, Founder of Tribe Of Why


“It gets better! The beginnings are always hard, even 5 years down the road you’ll still cry. If you’re not willing to cry, don’t go into this. It’s so hard sometimes I cried daily. I still do, but it gets better over-time because you understand this is a practice.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Imane Bensalem (known to her community as Mani), Experimental Artist and serial Entrepreneur , Founder of Tribe Of Why that uses experience-art to allow people work and live anywhere and promote culturally respectful travel that transcends race and division and promotes peace. She is also the founder of Marketing Of Why that helps companies communicate their why and build a tribe around their work through tailored Why-booklets and why audio-books. Influencer, author and above all humanist, Imane built an international tribe around her and her story and she continues to use art to inspire others to pursue purpose.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

When I was born, mom changed my name from “sarah” (joyful) to “imane” (Faith) because she knew i’ll need it. I was a single child to a single mom who was the only one out of her 4 other sisters to have a career as a professor. I grew up within a highly traditional family, where it was clear very early on, that being myself was going to be a long battle. I got into experimental art by accident, as I experimented on myself first, to break free from labels in a Muslim country. I later was intrigued by the simple idea of inviting all kinds of people to live at home with us to help break stereotypes. This had been a big part of my art and how I evolved as a person, the encounters I made helped me become my true self. I started Tribe Of Why to extend this experience of giving a home (literally) to people in a new country with strangers that will later play a big part in advancing each other’s work and dreams. Tribe Of Why creates residency experiences around the world for some of the brightest entrepreneurs, investors and creatives. The residency is designed to make people feel instantly at home, build strong synergies and exchange skills all while having an authentic experience of their new home-country.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company

I was fixing my make up on Zoom.in thinking the client was not yet there, he did not say anything to let me know he was there and his camera was off, at one point he just added: no now the lipstick shade is darker, it was nicer earlier.

That was the last time I ever fixed my make up on zoom.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I took years to build the Tribe and when I did it, it was for a higher purpose of Unity and Peace, the business came as an outcome almost. I take time to know the people in the Tribe and I genuinely care about them. I think what makes Tribe Of Why stand out is that its Residencies are set to achieve things beyond business, it is a new way of life: a place that transcends economic and geographic barriers and immerses the world’s best minds into new worlds. In a way, I myself am reminded daily with the Tribe that we can create new ways to live, think and create.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am very grateful for people like Yitzi Weiner, who do not interview women founders because they’re women, but because they matter. I am grateful for a few friends and mentors, like Mark Turrell, who have been a constant inspiration. My mother has been a great force too, as she accepted my quest although she was not at all familiar with entrepreneurship altogether. I am grateful towards a person I rarely thank, and most people will find that that’s their most important companion: myself. When you can rely on you, when you have the conviction nothing can really stop you, you grow a new kind of self respect and mental strength.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

All my projects are now centralized on my website www.imanebensalem.com : besides Tribe Of Why, I am the founder of Marketing Of Why where I help founders get their ideas on their feet and squeeze purpose out of them in the form of a why-story book and audio-book. I find the why to be the single most important thing a founder needs to know, for themselves first and then for their tribe and their colleagues, it is what keeps everyone going.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Great question. Very great question because if success does not benefit the world, it benefits nobody and nothing. The reason I enjoy this journey with all its ups and downs is in fact the possibility that one can make the world a better place. In 2012, my first movement with the tribe helped empower 20.000 creatives who got together to create magnificent things to make a statement about art and freedom. I believe that was a strong moment in my journey, as there is nothing higher to aspire to than to wake people to their highest potential.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

I read a lot so this question is very hard! Eckart Tolle “The Power Of Now” had helped me during very difficult times: sometimes as a founder you forget to rest and enjoy the journey, you go from one thing to the next and push yourself to a likely burn-out. This book has helped me slow down at a time when I needed to and I always re-read it to learn something new, it is quite profound as a book.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

My 4 things I wish someone told me before I started my company are the following:

1)You’ll never be ready for anything.

I used to think I should know the ins and outs of business before I could launch, only to realize after I launched that i’ll never quite be ready for anything, now is generally a good time to do anything.

2) It gets better.

The beginnings are always hard, even 5 years down the road you’ll still cry. If you’re not willing to cry, don’t go into this. It’s so hard sometimes I cried daily. I still do, but it gets better over-time because you understand this is a practice.

3) Nobody has it figured out.

Don’t compare yourself, don’t be distracted by someone else’s yacht posts on social media, let people go on their own journey while you focus on yours. Nobody has it figured out, not even your mentors. Life is an endless learning journey

4) Be good hearted.

People in business will not be the greatest, but it is those with good hearts who really captivate others into their visions and dreams. They’ll buy not what you do, but why you do it, maybe even the fact that YOU do it. Realize you CAN matter that much if you give your business the right purpose.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

I would love to have a private chat with Gary Vaynurchuck. I think he has a huge deal of wisdom and experience.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, Authority Magazine, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.