It took Hiba Balfaqih 15 years as a corporate HR professional and then as an entrepreneur dedicated to investing in start-ups to realise her fulfillment lies in coaching people into healing their trauma and achieving their goals.
The Canadian national, 34, who has a background in psychology and is the co-founder of the stress-relieving concept The Smash Room and incubator The Start Up Factory, developed The Mindhacking Method in 2019 to help people address negativity, anxiety and deeply held unproductive beliefs that limit their capability to thrive.
This, she says, was the result of her journey into changing her mindset about everything, from relationships to money matters.
Ms Balfaqih lives with her dog Sage in The Springs community in Dubai.
How did money feature in your childhood?
My father was a successful businessman and professional, so money was never an issue and we lived a very comfortable life and travelled all over the world.
But I remember that, despite our privilege, it was always a point of conflict between my parents. There was always a need for a bigger house and more cars. It never felt like it was enough.
Has this shaped your outlook towards money?
We were always told we needed to be grateful for what we have and that what comes also goes, even though my parents argued about money all the time.
I had a very bad relationship with money well into my adult years and I made hasty decisions. First, a business partner stole my life savings of Dh1.5 million in 2014 and then I was conned by my ex-husband.
I realised this was a pattern and started taking an active role to change my conditioning over money. When I changed the narrative to believe that I have a healthy relationship with money, that it is attracted to me and loves me back, it was a game changer.
I do not shy away from saying that I love money and money loves me.
Do you remember your first salary?
I started my career as a HR administrator, with a monthly salary of Dh10,000.
How did The Mindhacking Method come about?
After 15 years as a HR professional, I had come to the point where I was at the top of my career, earning the highest salary that I could and ticking all the career boxes. But I was not fulfilled and started to feel burnt out, confused and tired all the time.
In fact, I had developed a psychosomatic pain in my hip, which would only act up when I went into the office.
I started dabbling in entrepreneurship in 2017 and around the same time my grandmother passed away, which caused a lot of heartache. I started smashing things in my backyard and that is how the idea for The Smash Room was born.
A friend and I also started The Start Up Factory and I quit my full-time job in 2018. But I was still trying to find my purpose.
I started spending a lot of time on self-reflection and self-development, guided by courses and books by Tony Robins, Bob Proctor and Guy Kiyosaki.
At the same time, I honed my skills of inspiring others and developed a unique mind-hacking methodology. We are now a team of five that works with clients from all over the world. I’m still very much involved in my other businesses, as well.
When did you attain financial independence?
This happened simultaneously around the time of my self-development. I bought a house in 2017 and mortgaged it, considering it an investment.
A friend of mine, who is an established investor, said it was a mistake and a liability. That was my "a-ha" moment and I thought my whole life was a lie until then.
I started educating myself and learnt that something is only an investment when it is making money for you. We are made to believe there is a scarcity of money and fear there isn’t enough for everybody, and investments are risky. Once I let the fog clear, it was evident I had to start investing right.
What does your investment portfolio look like?
First, I’m a big investor in businesses and I love investing in start-ups. All my businesses are self-funded or with a trustworthy partner.
I also invest in cryptocurrencies and have recently started considering NFTs (non-fungible tokens). I moved from stocks to cryptocurrencies because high risk will yield a high return. I also invest in properties.
How much time do you spend on your investments?
I spend about an hour every week on my portfolio. I invest very intuitively, even though I understand market trends and statistics.
What has been your best investment so far?
Most definitely in myself, which is an ongoing investment. When the markets are fluctuating and everything else is happening, like a pandemic, the highest return is on the investment that you have done in yourself.
Any learnings from the past few years of running several ventures?
The first thing I learnt was that you are the master of your own reality. We were very adamant that all our businesses would thrive, even during the pandemic, and they did.
All that was needed was a great mindset, creativity and resourcefulness. We adapted very quickly during this time.
We created home boxes to engage with customers of The Smash Room and my mind-hacking practice went online, giving people from all over the world access to tools to help them cope with the situation.
What are your future financial goals?
Right now, I’m very interested in everything Web3 and its evolution. I am also rooting for Ethereum (blockchain platform) as it is the foundation for a lot of the decentralised applications.
I’m also looking to improve my cryptocurrency profile and buy volume when it is low. I will be investing in property in the US and continue to invest in small businesses this year.
What would you splurge on?
I splurge on anything that I want without hesitation. I believe that the more money circulates, the more abundant it is.
I have one simple rule though: if I can afford three times the price of the product, I will buy it. If I cannot afford three of the same product, then I will not buy it.
What was your last indulgence?
I splurged on a month-long vacation in Mexico. It was a lot of sightseeing on a moped and spiritual retreats.