Since last fall, we are able to pride ourselves on having Sofia Kacim, an expert in rhetoric as a member. She works as a communications consultant, coach and rhetoric trainer. Sofia is also the co-founder of HER Global Network, an expert on millennials, former head coach for speakers within TEDXStockholm and one of Veckans Affärer’s super-talents. Sofia’s face is visible in a lot of places thanks to her open personality, the lectures she’s held at Helio and a lot of activities on social media – but we thought we’d put her against the wall and see who she really is!
Give us an elevator pitch about Sofia Kacim – what are your best qualities?
Tough question! I’m an optimistic person on the hunt for the next kick, I love to try new things, I’m fearless and see opportunities in just about everything. The result of this is that I do about a billion things a day.
Is there a downside to being positive about everything?
The downside is that I get completely exhausted from time to time. It’s also my biggest weakness, I become socially drained from saying yes to so many things.
Give us an elevator pitch about what HER Global Network is?
A global network for women who help each other from time to time. A community where we hold intimate conversations about current topics. It all started here in Stockholm five years ago, when me and Alexandra Avli founded the network, we’re available in twenty cities now. Simply put; a positive forum for women!
Alexandra Avli has previously mentioned that she was bullied by her female colleagues while she was working at the EU parliament in Brussels. Do you have any similar experiences that pushed you to start the network?
No, nothing similar, but that is where our desires connected to start something that would change that. I was working in party politics myself and felt like I didn’t have anywhere to turn to. There was Ruter Dam and a few other similar organizations, but it all felt so corny. We wanted to start a network with a clear vision, the possibility to help each other. Five years ago, there was no belonging or natural platform that women my age could be a part of. This was a time where it was an affront to be a feminist, people were pissed off every time the subject of FI came up. There’s a big difference today and we’ve come a long way.
Your motto is that women, like superheroes, should choose to help each other through collaboration instead of competition. Give some examples on how you motivate that?
Through conversations we have the ambition to undress women of the extra-capes they carry with them into every situation where they need to perform. When I lecture about rhetoric, I often hear about how women say that you are supposed to be a certain way, stand another way and express themselves. We become boxed into molds that belong to the male norm. We need to return to how we are as people, without these molds and layers. Our personality should be the main thing, without having to feel any pressure to add other elements in order to be a certain way. You should be able to be a woman in a floral dress, holding a board meeting, if you want to.
Give some examples on the topics that you go through during these talks?
Everything from how to build a company in male dominated businesses to finding inner strength within yourself and maintaining a balance in life. Everything we’re interested in becomes a topic of conversation. We talk to women who have exciting carriers, or who go through difficult times in their lives, and see how we can learn from all of it. Again, to see the possibilities instead of the problems – and we do it together.
How do you become a part of the network?
You fill out an application on our website and wait for our lovely community manager to get back to you! We are very careful about who joins. It’s an intimate setting and we put a lot of emphasis on making sure that everyone can feel safe and are able to be themselves. We also put a lot of emphasis on how much each person is able to contribute to the group so that we are all helping each other move forward. It’s not a business network, but we are building connections around personal stories.
You also work as a communications consultant and coach big profiles within enterprises and politics. What is the most common issue that the people you coach need help with?
To put their thoughts into words. A lot of them can tell you about their thoughts, but it gets difficult as soon as it comes to presenting them. There is a big gap between with a lot of obstacles, a lot of the times it’s anxiety that plays a big part in the whole thing, as well as the inability to structure it correctly. Aside from that, it differs a lot from person to person, you wish you could give the same advice but what you need coaching in is a very individual thing.
Do you win all the arguments at home?
Haha, god no! My partner must have been one hell of a rhetorician in his previous life, he’s impossible. He is also a communicator today, so once we get started, there are some very long discussions.
During one of your lectures at Helio GT30, you were talking about Millennials and Generation Y. What would you say is the strongest characteristics of someone from this generation?
They are very driven by purpose. They are driven by a desire to work with things and in businesses where money isn’t the main thing. They want to work with meaningful tasks and to some extent change the world through sustainable and social solutions. They also put a lot of importance into keeping a balance between work and free time, and they value freedom higher than a salary to a greater extent.
You are also a jury on UR’s program the Retorikmatchen! Tell us about your experiences and what the purpose of the show is?
It’s the nicest assignment I have ever been asked to do! I’m so grateful for it and so incredibly impressed by the power that exists within these young people. They are amazingly good! There are fifth-graders that apply and compete in holding various speeches in front of us, the jury, it can be anything from argumentative speeches to tribute speeches. The education program clearly shows that if we give young people the right tools early on, they can build the confidence to put whatever they want in words. UR has gotten so little attention for this, get in there and look and cheer for them! We’re in the middle of recording next season right now.
What’s the difference between working with children and working with adults in rhetoric?
Adults tend to think that they have so much to lose, an image of themselves that they have built that they want others to see. Children just are. They think clearly “how do I get the message out”, gather facts and then they execute the assignment in a clear way, more genuinely.
What do you think is the benefit to sitting on another type of network, in the form of a co-working community?
Although I do enjoy being alone, I also really appreciate being part of a context. Now I have a place to go to with returning people around me. I have coworkers! It’s nice to have a Robin who always says hello, Emmy asks how the weekend has been or Martin asks how today’s lecture went. The people working at Helio makes it so damn good!
HER Global Network has affiliates in New York, Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong, Copenhagen, Barcelona and Los Angeles, Miami, Nice, etc. When are you planning on taking over the world?
We are working on it. More and more cities are added constantly and it’s so incredibly nice, but it’ll take however long it takes. As with everything else, I don’t think you should rush into expansion, or anything at all for that matter. I believe in building things slowly and sustainably.
Thank you, Sofia, we will keep on rooting for you – both presently, in your engagement with HER and during Retorikmatchen!
If you are curious about reading more or becoming a part of HER Global Network, click here. Do you want to see what you’ve missed in Retorikmatchen, you can check out old episodes here, while waiting for the new season! Follow Sofia on Instagram via @sofiakacim, HER via @her.europe and Helio via @wearehelio!