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Thursday, 9 September 2021

My Morning Routine: Heba Shunbo, co-founder of The Four Fat Ladies

Heba Shunbo, co-founder of The Four Fat Ladies: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Heba Shunbo, podcaster, author and co-founder of The Four Fat Ladies.

Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Heba Shunbo. I’m the co-founder of The Four Fat Ladies, a podcaster, and the author of the newly published book, Mommy’s Happy Hour, which shares the same title with my podcast. I'm a mother of three-and-a-half-year-old twins. Since 2015, I’ve been mainly focused on The Four Fat Ladies, but interior design has been my passion since 2006. I’ve also been loving my recently discovered hobby: my podcast, Mommy’s Happy Hour, which was the natural follow up to my book.

Though I’m juggling several projects, my main focus is still The Four Fat Ladies. I'm the co-founder along with my two sisters. We always had a passion for baking and it's very dear to our hearts, so in 2012, we decided to open a bakery together. My oldest sister doesn’t live here, so her role in the business is limited, and my younger sister and I mainly manage the business. We've hit many milestones, and we partnered up with TBS in 2015. But we have more plans for 2022.

And the fourth lady? Is our mother.

My book, as the title suggests, revolves around motherhood: It is very much about surviving the first year of motherhood because for me, it was really tough. I had postpartum depression, a topic that people generally do not talk about. The book was my cathartic journey through my depression; it was my way of expressing myself through humor.

I’m an introvert, but I'm very open about my life in my podcast and my book. I had suffered from infertility for many years. My goal was to have kids, but when I finally did get pregnant — at the age of 41 — I realized that it wasn't a happily-ever-after story. I didn't want to seem unappreciative, but at times, I was just having a hard time. My book and podcast made me realize there's nothing wrong with being vulnerable.

Season 1 of my podcast: I dropped 16 episodes in season one, which I had to fit in between all my other work, The Four Fat Ladies, interior design projects, being a new mother, a wife, etc. For my podcast, I interview different women from around the globe to talk about how, as women, we strike that balance between the many different roles we play, all while maintaining our sanity. For some of the episodes, I thought it would be fun to add a male perspective, and so I invited my husband to co-host with me.

I'm launching season 2 on 15 September with a “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” type interview. Both my husband and I co-host this episode and our guests, Farah & Yehia are a couple who have happily decided not to have kids. We talk about our differences and similarities, and tackle other hush-hush topics. My aim is to get a dialogue going about taboo topics that people shy away from, in a more creative and fun way.

I'm part of The 5am Club, but I’m not diehard. I fall off the wagon at times and then I get back on it. I love to get that hour of alone time in the morning before my kids are up, I find time to meditate, read something interesting and do some journaling. I usually work out or do yoga. I’m definitely a morning person.

My average day at work involves the same thing most of the time. I've been doing this for six years, so I know what to expect. When I’m at the office, we troubleshoot any problems, we work within a team, make sure sales and managers are okay, and handle complaints. We focus on the seasons, during which we launch new products and come up with new marketing campaigns and brand stores. Our main season is fall and Christmas, which is my personal favorite time of year, and it's always a chance to come up with new products. This past summer we had the chance to set up our fridges in Total Gas stations in Marina 4 and 5, and also launched our ice cream product this summer, which is a nice addition that complements the rest of our menu.

My moments of creativity come in spurts. Some people can push themselves, but I can't. It has to come naturally. When it came to writing my book, it took me a very long time to get the ball rolling. I knew what I wanted to write, but wasn't sure exactly where to start. I wrote and rewrote the first two chapters over the course of four months. But once I got the style done, then it flowed pretty well and I finally finished the book within four months.

WFH made me depressed actually, because for me, I had my kids and everything else at home. I needed a break. I needed to get out of the house. I most definitely need the balance between getting work done and getting some downtime. When the pandemic happened, my kids were two and a half, so there was a lot of chaos at home. It was very difficult to focus or switch off. When I lose focus, I must get out and connect with a friend or family member.

There are so many books that I would recommend. I love Robin Sharma's The 5 AM Club. I loved Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert that I read just recently. The last book I read was Brene Brown's Daring Greatly. My favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I love Lewis Howes’ podcast the School of Greatness. Jenna Kutcher has her Goal Digger podcast, which is also great. I am currently reading Bn USD Whale by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, which is one of the most gripping true stories I’ve ever read, it’s insane!

You'll never be ready to have kids — whether you’re in your 20s or your 40s, that’s the best piece of advice that I got from my sister. I always wanted to be completely ready, but apparently it's never the perfect time. Another piece of advice that I follow more as I’ve gone into my forties is the quote by Rober Schuller; “better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” And it's so true, as I prefer to move than to just stand still waiting for everything to align perfectly, which most likely will never happen.

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