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The Legendary Leaders Podcast

Jul 13, 2021


What stories are you telling yourself about your past?


Did you know that being compassionate and honest about the stories you’re telling yourself can help you heal and see other people’s perspectives?


In this episode of the Legendary Leaders Podcast, we have Shabnam Curtis, the author of My Persian Paradox. She was born and raised in Tehran, experiencing the Iranian Revolution of 1979 first-hand, and later immigrated to the US in 2004. Her book is an Iranian tale revealing the challenges and secrets of life under dictatorship in Iran.


Listen in to learn how Shabnam developed a passion for storytelling and how it has helped her understand her past and let go of resentment. You will also learn the importance of being honest and compassionate with the stories you are telling yourself.


Key Takeaways:

  • How to see your story differently by self-improving to find inner peace.
  • How to have the collective wisdom to understand stories from other people’s perspectives too.
  • How reading and storytelling can help you let go of resentment and understand others.



If you enjoyed this episode, check out the video show notes and SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST on Apple Podcasts.


Episode Timeline:

  • [0:41] Intro
  • [4:47] How to turn your pain into a light that will help you move forward from your adversities.
  • [6:13] Shabnam narrates the painful moments that led her to share her story through a book.
  • [10:31] How to live fully by finding value in yourself and improving.
  • [14:52] How she becomes more self-aware by working to see the bigger picture in situations.
  • [20:15] The events that led to her collapse plus how she built a community through storytelling.
  • [30:16] How Shabnam discovered her talent and passion for writing.
  • [33:33] How she became understanding of her parents on why they did the things they did.
  • [35:15] Shabnam on how she’s organizing workshops to help women tell their stories.
  • [38:20] The importance of embracing storytelling elements to help you heal from your past.
  • [40:57] How to be compassionate and honest with the stories you’re telling yourself.


Standout Quotes:

  • “You can transform the pain to that light that can help you to move forward.”- Shabnam Curtis [5:31]


  • “The more authentic we are, the more connected we are to one another.”- Shabnam Curtis [29:52]


  • “It’s important to step into your emotions and see what’s going on there and where the stories you’re telling yourself are coming from.” Cathleen Merkel [40:46]


  • “Being compassionate brings a little bit less pain, but it needs practice.”- Shabnam Curtis [42:51]



Find | Cathleen Merkel


On Instagram: @CathleenMerkel

On Facebook: @CathleenMerkelCoaching

On LinkedIn: @CathleenMerkel



Find | Shabnam Curtis


On Instagram: @Shabnam_Curtis

On Facebook:

On Twitter:

Book: My Persian Paradox: Memories of an Iranian Girl





About Cathleen: 


As a Thought Leader in the Mindset & (Self-) Leadership space, Cathleen supports high achieving, but worn-out women create a more content & balanced life without sacrificing their hard-earned success. Following a simple 6 step framework, she helps you not only reconnect with your inner feminine side; Cathleen also supports you to rediscover your REAL YOU!

Cathleen focuses on women who lost their sense of purpose, who feel they are running in a hamster wheel, trying to please everyone but themselves. She helps you to turn your careers, your social connections and personal life around so that you will start feeling fulfilled and excited again about the days to come.  

At the end of the process, Cathleen's clients will feel healthier, happier, energised and clear about their future.  

With over 15 years of leadership experience in Retail, Media & Broadcasting, Engineering and Property Investment, Cathleen has not only experienced the challenges and opportunities of a female leader herself; she has also been leading and supporting various leadership development initiatives within large, complex, multinational matrix organisations.


Only by deeply experiencing her very personal life challenges – ‘hitting a wall experiences’ –Cathleen was able to redefine her own purpose, deciding to bring ease and content to as many women as possible on the planet!



Tune in here: 




About Shabnam Curtis


Shabnam Curtis, the author of My Persian Paradox, was born and raised in Tehran, experiencing the Iranian Revolution of 1979 first hand. In 2004 she immigrated to the United States, where she now works as a project analyst by day and a passionate writer all other time. Shabnam teaches memoir writing workshops and has been performing lectures to colleges and universities about her book and the concept of sharing stories. She actively practices variety of storytelling workshops to help people develop deeper empathy towards each other. She is currently working on her second memoir (sequel). Her articles and excerpts of her memoir have been published on The Write LaunchViews & NewsThe Canadian Business DailyThe Abstract Elephant Magazine, and Eat, Darling, Eat network. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two dogs.


Her motto is, "We all have a story to tell. Share your story, listen to others' stories. Create more EMPATHY & LOVE!"