Mind the GAHP | Charlotte, NC
Shaza Ibrahim is paving the way for those like her to succeed
Anxiety is a common experience, but it’s not a common school or workplace topic. Shaza Ibrahim wants to change that. As an anxiety sufferer herself, she knows how it can interfere with a person’s goals. That’s what motivated her to start Mind the GAHP, a business that provides workshops and trainings around mental health for schools and corporations. (GAHP stands for “gaining access to higher possibilities.”)
The current public health crisis—and the resulting changes in the way we work and go to school—only underscores the importance of Shaza’s work. Mind the GAHP’s website points out that “the truth is, if your workplace isn’t providing mental health resources that fit our new norm, your employees’ work performance and overall productivity will continue to suffer.”
“I’ve received amazing guidance and support, both personally and in my business.”
Like so many Sky’s the Limit entrepreneurs, the idea for Shaza’s business came out of her personal struggles. When she was growing up, Shaza found herself experiencing test anxiety, and as she got older, it turned into workplace anxiety. Eventually, she realized she was suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder. The manifestation of her own anxiety prompted Shaza to see the same thing happening to people all around her. Then, a couple years ago, something clicked while she was listening to her friends describe their struggles. No one was identifying the root causes of their issues. Shaza knew she had to do something. “This is what prompted me to start my first wellness event,” she explains, “which introduced attendees to the concept of therapy and to scientifically-validated forms of self-care.”
Shaza’s vision for Mind the GAHP is to be somewhat preemptive and to address mental health before there is a full blown crisis. Rather than providing mental health services once students or employees have experienced a standalone trauma, Shaza advocates mental health preparedness in order to lessen the impact of traumatic experiences and to recognize when trauma has already occurred. One of the products Mind the GAHP offers is a masterclass on work-life balance. The class is self-paced so employees aren’t overwhelmed by trying to get through the material in a certain amount of time. That’s just one of the ways Mind the GAHP mirrors the mental health awareness it advocates.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses online, Shaza knew she had to figure out how to do her workshops virtually. Keeping her business model flexible is part of what makes it special. However, that flexibility doesn’t come without its challenges. Having already lost her job in 2019, the job she was using to fund her dream, Shaza was free to focus on Mind the GAHP full time, but without a source of income, moving all her workshops online felt impossible. She didn’t give up, though. Instead, she turned to Sky’s the Limit. The mentors and friends she met through Sky’s the Limit have been “invaluable” to her. The volunteers from Accenture that Shaza connected with during a virtual Milestone Day gave her advice on sales strategy and guided her through setting up a pricing model. And the Sky’s the Limit magic doesn’t stop at business topics: “I’ve received amazing guidance and support, both personally and in my business.”
In addition to support from her Accenture mentors, Shaza has found a great business ally in Caity Connolly, Senior Managerial Consultant at Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
“Caity has been really instrumental in helping me to strategize and turn my ideas into a concrete action plan. She is very resourceful and has even helped to connect me with experienced individuals in the wellness sector. She has even helped me with my business pitch and on a personal level, has become a great friend of mine. I will definitely recommend Caity's expertise and guidance to anyone!”
Echoing Shaza’s enthusiasm, Caity explains how they were able to form such a productive mentorship, “I met Shaza pretty quickly after updating my profile with my interests- health and wellness and working with female entrepreneurs. Shaza reached out via the messaging feature and I really loved her story on her profile and how she had turned it into a great business idea, targeted at corporate audiences at the time. I saw a need for in my own corporate environment and believed in it. We started meeting, and the first challenge Shaza mentioned she was facing was her pricing strategy. We worked together to do some research, both live on video/phone calls and asynchronously, bonding over our mutual need for deadlines to stay motivated. We discovered who her competitors might be in the market and honed in on a starting place for her to pitch her pricing model. As 2020 unfolded, we began to collaborate on strategies to help her pivot to accommodate the impact of COVID, tailoring her product towards university students who have had to adjust to this crazy new reality and who will really benefit from her service. She’s continuing to learn and invest in herself and her business and I can’t wait to see what she builds! Overall, it has been really fun to get to know her and be a small part of helping her shape her dream.”
“She’s continuing to learn and invest in herself and her business and I can’t wait to see what she builds! Overall, it has been really fun to get to know her and be a small part of helping her shape her dream.” - Caity Connolly
Shaza’s plan for the future of Mind the GAHP is to expand into a nationwide program that schools and businesses can easily adopt and implement. She also wants to broaden her reach to include parents and educators and all those affected by the mental health struggles of students.
Throughout the process of starting Mind the GAHP, Shaza has stayed attuned to what the community needs from her company. When she originally conceived of Mind the GAHP’s mission, she expected her personal story to be the inspiration behind the business but not part of the services offered. Then she noticed that her own experience with anxiety and mental health was a major point of connection for her audience. So she is adding speaking engagements for herself to the services she plans to offer. Part of her goal is to grow from her experience so that she can continue to help others.