Walid Khuraibet is an Insurance Agent and Personal Financial Advisor. Until two years ago, he owned and operated an advisory agency. He describes his decision to sell the business as one of the hardest he’s ever had to make. Currently, he is co-owner of The Sanctuary, a first-class Ladies Lounge in Kuwait. His inspiration comes not from a person, but from the desire to do the right thing.
Asya Alseayleek is the founder and CEO of The Sanctuary, a first-class Ladies Lounge in Kuwait providing solutions for life and business. She enjoys learning from books, gaining experience from different projects and then passing her knowledge to others (especially women of all ages) to empower them. Asya is a happy wife and mother of a ten-year-old daughter.
Please tell us about your academic backgrounds:
Walid: Graduated with a BS in Management from Southern Illinois University. Earned my MBA from Phoenix. I owned and managed an advisory agency targeting financial and insurance clients where we advised over four thousand contracts and over three million dollars in revenue. I sold my company two years ago.
Asya: After getting my degree in health information administration, I went to the USA to pursue my passion of management and change management. Furthermore, I took courses in HR, leadership, project management, life and business coaching.
How and where did the two of you meet?
Walid: A semi-blind type of date arranged by a couple of lady cousins.
Asya: Through my friend from a reading club, Amina Alattar.
As a professional, what are the qualities you admire in your spouse?
Walid: As a professional, I’m astonished by her networking skills, her ability to distinguish opportunities and most importantly her follow-up skills.
Asya: I love the way he plays with numbers. He is simply charming and makes an excellent first impression. He is also very calm during business discussions and negotiations. He’s a good listener. Most importantly, he is a decent, honest man who refuses to trick others.
Where do you concur and where do you differ from each other?
Walid: Our basic life philosophy is similar in that we both believe that hard work transforms to luck when the opportunity shows-up. We may differ in our approaches to relationships. She is the romantic type and I’m the idealistic type.
Asya: We are both original, independent and have developed our own set of values and way of understanding the world around us. We are both courteous and like to socialize. We have the same business aspirations. We complement each other in so many ways. He enjoys numbers and formulas while I enjoy reading.
Do you think being friends with your spouse is an important part of marriage?
Walid: Yes! Being friends is the foundation of long lasting relationships. Friendship transforms itself to love when the partners are friends and not enemies.
Asya: I can’t be married to someone whom I can’t be friends with. We like each other’s company and feel very much comfortable around each other. We have so many common hobbies that guarantee us quality time together and a comfortable silence.
How do you handle a work-life balance and challenges in a dynamic work environment?
Walid: It’s important to me to compartmentalize my life environments. I mention events to Asya but discuss them only if she expresses desire in the event. I don’t get disappointed if she does not want to listen.
Asya: It is not easy for me, but with Walid being around, he tends to calm things for me and make me slow down and take a break every now and then. I also have an activity schedule for the family that will guarantee us a healthy work-life balance. Most importantly, we designed a business where we work together to make sure we spend more time enjoying each other’s company.
When do you spend time with each other? How do you unwind?
Walid: A good movie night, quite meal and/or a staycation.
Asya: The weekend is the time when we unwind as it is an unplanned free day. We visit the family and do other activities in Kuwait, like painting.
What is the best gift you received from each other?
Walid: She took me on a week-long trip to Thailand, a place I never visited before.
Asya: A day trip to Dubai for my birthday.
Any memorable holidays?
Walid: Yes, our first trip together was our honeymoon. We went on a European road trip visiting several countries.
Asya: Our trip to Thailand. I will never forget the long talks that we had in our fine resort. It was magical.
One would imagine that both of you probably discuss business issues a lot at home too. Does that happen?
Walid: Yes. Families should be multilayered in their relationship. We discuss health issues, books, concepts, relationships and business.
Asya: It happens all the time, especially because we have our own business together. I run The Sanctuary daily operations and he handles the financial issues, yet we brainstorm and plan almost everything together. We also consult each other on our clients’ projects.
How are household responsibilities divided? Who is the boss at home?
Walid: Simple – she tells me what to do and I do it!
Asya: Our wonderful house manger handles most of the responsibilities, such as the groceries, cooking, laundry etc. At the end of the day, Walid and I both have a say on how things are run in the house.
Has there been any significant event that has changed your marriage? What was the event? How did it change your relationship?
Walid: We met two years ago and married a month later. All the significant events we experienced were shared decisions. I hope this sharing continues between us forever.
Asya: Walid told me from the start that if, for whatever reason, I am not comfortable with anything and he can change it, he would do it without me having to explain why. He proved that the first time I asked him. This made me realize that this man will honor his word and that I am in a safe relationship where I can be myself.
How do you manage your time together? Do you have any time left over for your marriage at all?
Walid: My time management is based on priority. Family first, work second.
Asya: We make sure we have all our meals together as a family and we share our schedules along the day. Bedtime chat is an essential part of our day. We have other friends that we go out with.
What are the challenges of being two powerful people at the top of your professional game?
Walid: Currently we are in the process of the soft opening of The Sanctuary, our first class ladies lounge. Dealing with investors, financiers and government bureaucracy is a complex process. The market research, authoring the feasibility study, conducting the pilot program and analyzing all the above is time consuming and takes away from personal life. Asya’s support and encouragement is vital in this process.
Asya: I believe we redefine power in our marriage. Powerful also means a win-win situation. I value Walid’s experience and judgment and his calm way of presenting it. He is a strong, wise and funny man who makes sense most of the time.
What have been your most challenging moments in life?
Walid: My most personal challenging moment was the Iraqi invasion in 1990. I scrambled to participate in the fight against that terror. On a professional level, selling my company was a very hard decision to make. The price was right and the time was right and yet selling it felt like selling my child.
Asya: As anybody else, I’ve had my share of challenges. But the most recent one was retiring and having my own business. I believe it turned out very well.
How do you motivate each other during tough times at work?
Walid: Asya is a self-motivated person. I think what she needs from me is to rephrase the goals and the big picture.
Asya: Getting back to basics is very important. We know that at the end of the day, our family is first and we will get through things no matter what. In fact, we enjoy challenges and we learn from them.
Who’s your inspiration professionally?
Walid: My inspiration is not a person. My inspiration comes from my desire to do the right thing.
Asya: Any successful happy person is an inspiration for me.
What have you learnt from each other?
Walid: Cooking, relationship skills and love.
Asya: I have learned a lot, especially in business and finance. Most importantly, how to manage our financial plan together. I have also learned his wise way of choosing the right battles to fight and his family values and integrity.
Some marriages are “passionate,” some are “companionate”: which fits you?
Walid: Primely passionate. Secondary companionate.
Asya: We are a little bit of both. Walid loves me and takes good care of me. He Supports me and is proud of me. I have the same for him.
What are the keys to a successful relationship?
Walid: Honesty, ability to communicate freely, creating good memories together.
Asya: Honesty, integrity, trust, acceptance and growing together through mutual experiences.
Do you have any common interests or hobbies?
Walid: Watching documentaries, painting and cooking together.
Asya: Watching documentaries, intellectual gatherings, painting.
Tell us about your children. How have they changed your life?
Walid: I have four grown children from a previous marriage. My children changed my life when I recognized that they can make their own good decisions. I became a better father and a better person when I became a support to them not a director.
Asya: I have Remas from my previous marriage. Yet in this family, Remas treats Walid as her dad and he treats her as his daughter. He gives her emotional support and helps her grow healthy. They enjoy each other’s silly jokes and math homework. Having Remas always makes me want to be a better person for her to look up to.
Advice for other couples:
Walid: Always be honest. There is nothing worse than covering up a lie.
Asya: Be committed to the success of the relationship. Support the other becoming a better person. Share your dreams and fears. Show daily gratitude for the blessing of marriage.
How do you feel being selected one of the CP Magazine’s Power Couples?
Walid: I’m truly honored.
Asya: CP Magazine is doing a remarkable job with this article. We need to spread more of this image of happy couples to inspire others. It means a lot that we are doing this interview as we are launching or business in Kuwait.
Walid: Blue – Asya: Blue
Walid: Authentic Kuwaiti Food – Asya: Chinese, sushi
Tea or Coffee?
Walid: Cup of Joe – Asya: Coffee
Walid: Volvo – Asya: Range Rover
Walid: Love by Leo Buscaglia – Asya: Power of Habits
Walid: My Way – Asya: Time to say goodbye
Walid: Avatar, A Few Good Men, Star Wars, Men in Black – Asya: Amadeus, When Harry met Sally
Walid: Being surrounded by stupid people. – Asya: Not achieving my goals.
Favourite app on your phone:
Walid: MS Office – Asya: Calendar
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Walid: Oxygen and maybe goals. – Asya: Books