Meltem Naz Kaso Corral Sánchez: “How to succeed despite your success?”

Today we have a pleasure to interview Meltem Naz Kaso Corral Sánchez who will give a workshop for our Community on 21.09.2018 on “How to succeed despite your success?”.

About the author of the workshop “How to succeed despite your success?”

Meltem Naz Kaso Corral Sánchez has experience in casting for documentaries in Turkey, conducting research for an LGBT organization in Armenia, writing investigative journalism pieces near the Syrian border, facilitating intercultural seminars in Chicago, and studying Islamic culture in Cairo. In academia, her work is described as “a rare coupling of imagination and analytical sophistication” (Gul Ozyegin, The College of William and Mary).

Meltem is enthusiastic about mindfulness, literature (she drafts her own stories), swimming, traveling, gourmet food, and wine.

You can reach out to her at if you are interested in collaborating on projects or just to say hi!

  • From your biography, I see that you studied Human Development. Why did you choose this career path?

That is a very good question! When I got admitted to a fancy university in a fancy country, the first thought which crossed my mind was to study a field that the rich and successful study, something that is guaranteed to be helpful to find a well-paying job. Looking back, I can only say that these were thoughts of a teenager who was not sure about who she was and what she wanted to do. She just wanted to fit in. But a month after my acceptance, my university mailed me a college catalog which included the core curriculum as well as the programs of study. I sat by the sea (back then, I was attending a boarding school by the Adriatic) and read the catalog from cover to cover. When you read good literature, or when someone tells you something that makes you vulnerable because it is right, you just know that you have to say yes. To me, this has been the case when I read the description of Comparative Human Development program at the University of Chicago. This study is comparative in a sense that you look at likeness and difference across cultures, behaviors, and patterns in order to deepen your understanding of your subject. “Human” focus speaks to the most basic question that our kind has been asking since the beginning: Who are we and what does it mean to be alive? And finally “development” appealed to me because I was not going to be studying fixed definitions and pre-determined discourses repeated over and over again. I liked the time element of the development term and how we could afford to pay attention to the change that was happening. Overall, although I was not sure what I was going to do with my degree after my graduation, I still recognized Human Development field as most people say they spot their husbands or wives the moment they met.

  • I see that you are passionate about self-development and you are eager to share your knowledge with others. I would like to know about the theories and methodologies that you are following yourself. What do you do to become happier and more satisfied with life?

I like that you use the word share because I am interested in having others open up about their experiences as much as I am in revealing my knowledge on issues of self-development. Just like most of us, I too get distracted regularly by my own thoughts and feelings, what is around me, and I also cling to memories. In 2012, I was beginning to make a transition that was difficult for me while I was still suffering from a past pain. I was feeling unloved and I found it hard to value my own life. Nevertheless, I kept searching for answers and fresh solutions to my problems and finally, I encountered mindfulness. Scholars and trainers who produce material on this subject do a good job at explaining how non-judgmental awareness can help us find peace and provide us with a starting point from which we can talk back to our inner critic and take constructive actions. Equally important is to follow a healthy diet and to exercise regularly. Technology and the increasingly sophisticated tools that it helps us build might change how we live our lives but our genetic information continues being akin to the first homo sapiens. For this reason, I like to make my life easier by giving my body the nutrition and the movement it needs. Mindfulness, a healthy diet, and quite a bit of movement help me be happier and more satisfied with my life. Not that I walk around ecstatic 24 hours a day, but just that I get to maintain a rather stable tranquility from which other positive emotions and thoughts begin to emerge.

  • What are the biggest challenges nowadays for most of our population? What prevents us from feeling happy and fulfilled?

It looks like, in the developed world especially, most of us are getting evermore distracted and restless. Most of us have potential and resources, but the price we pay for having more options tends to be a high degree of uncertainty. On the one hand, we have applications to communicate with others and be accessible ourselves. But on the other hand, recent research reveals that social isolation, and suicide rates, are increasing. Unfortunately, there is a long list of challenges we are facing that makes it difficult to feel happy and fulfilled.

  • As you will be giving a workshop on “How to succeed despite your success?” I believe that you have your own opinion on what we should measure as success. Why is the success not always the key to a better life?

That’s right! I have been formulating my opinion on success over the years. In 2010, when two people who were close to me passed away unexpectedly, I inevitably started having a paradigm shift. My rigid definition of success (with scores, results, money, reputation as parameters) did not hold true anymore. Success, from what I understood from this term before, was like a plastic bag ripped at the bottom, in such a way that as I moved, the rupture grew. So yes, the success which is defined as money, fame, numbers, titles, and reputation is definitely not good enough and cannot be taken as a key to a better life. I made this point obvious in the text I wrote to introduce my workshop, where I explained how Anthony Bourdain and Avicii, two famous figures who were undisputedly successful, committed suicide. Today, I believe that success is rather a subjective term. The most important aspect of success is that it should make sense to us when we are alone, and it should make us grow.

  • Do you have any advice for people pursuing “success”­ in their career? What should they really focus on?

I am not going to deny that except for the most privileged amongst us, we need to make a living and we need financial security for ourselves and for our families in order not to worry about affording our next meal or the roof over our heads. But once we are beyond this point, I believe our focus should be pursuing “success” in whatever shape or form that makes sense to us. And if we don’t know precisely we want to do, it is still okay so long as we are experimenting, growing, and using our learning experiences to create value. At the end of the day, I think pursuing success should look like choosing to do something, getting better at it regularly, learning from our failures, and extending our responsibilities. The process we are following should make sense to us since nobody can guarantee that we will achieve the success we pursue, and even if we do, there is no guarantee that it will make us happier than we are today.

  • Tell me more about the purpose of your workshop? What are the main topics you would like to cover?

The idea of this workshop emerged soon after I found out about my beloved Anthony Bourdain’s suicide on the BBC World News podcast. I had been an avid viewer of his TV program “No Reservations” (2005-2012) and I have always felt that he was living one of the most amazing lives. His suicide followed that of Avicii a few months back. I couldn’t help but wonder: If even the most accomplished amongst us aren’t immune from suffering, how are we then supposed to find the joy and the motivation to succeed and be happy in the long run?

This is the existential question which is going to bring together our participants and we will proceed with activities and games to use the most effective mindfulness techniques that help build our self-esteem (positive thinking), realistic goal setting, and motivation. This workshop will be suitable for those who haven’t heard about “mindfulness” before as well as for those who already practice mindfulness and want to try something new while extending their network with like-minded people. I am planning to dedicate an entire hour to the workshop itself while leaving the first and last half an hour for networking.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *