It’s been awhile since I’ve chatted with someone on my blog! Whenever I type these up, I imagine being on a talk show set – my guest and I lounging in big, blue armchairs with mugs of steaming tea and bright decor jazzing up the room. So, I’m going to that place now – and I hope you join me – to speak to Dr. Zahra Jiwani. She’s a children’s book author, among other things, and I asked her for this interview because her book Set A Goal, Get A Goal really piqued my interest! Every morning on the short drive to the kids’ schools, I ask them what their goal of the day is. My older daughter will always attempt to say something different, but my son just responds, “My goal is to miss my mommy.” When I got wind that Zahra was launching this title, I figured I should look into it so I could help my kids learn something I think is important.

I couldn’t make the launch, but here I have her ‘on set’ with me – so without further ado, please welcome Dr. Zahra Jiwani!

Zahra, thank you for being here! Can you briefly tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Brussels, Belgium and lived in Africa for the first 7 years of my life where my family business was. I have been in Canada since then, for both my education and my career. In terms of education, I have a PhD and an MBA in Marketing. With regards to my career, I have over 12 years of work experience in marketing and sales in the healthcare industry and for the past 8 years have been teaching Marketing and Communications at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, as well as part time teaching at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.

On a personal level, I am married and have 2 little girls aged 2.5 and 4.

So, you have a background in marketing and sales – but you decided to write a children’s book! How did that happen?

I didn’t actually sit down one day and say, “Let me write a book!” I teach a course at UBC called Business Communications and much of the course teaches individuals how to build self confidence in presentations and in general – and this is to 3rd and 4th year University students.

It got me thinking about how important it is for kids, from a young age, to learn to build self- confidence and self-esteem.

One great way to motivate them is to teach them about setting goals, because once they reach those goals they feel great and proud and they know they worked hard to achieve that, thereby building their self-confidence and beliefs in their own capabilities.

We teach our little girls to set goals, even if they are small ones, in the hopes that they continue to believe in themselves and build their confidence.

Goals not only will help them to build self-confidence, but just as for anyone –  no matter how old – goals help us learn to prioritize, to focus, to have direction, and to work efficiently to achieve the goal.

That is so true! It’s a great feeling to achieve something and I can appreciate the importance of teaching this at a young age. Can you tell us what Set a Goal, Get A Goal is about? 

It teaches children what goals are, explains how it must be something you yourself want to achieve, how you set a timeline for it, how you may stumble along the way, but you shouldn’t give up. Keep working until you meet that goal. Essentially, I am talking about managerial SMART goals, but in a simple, easy to understand way.

It is illustrated by April Hartmann and the illustrations show a monkey whose goal is to learn to swim by the end of summer, and how he works hard with baby steps, to reach that goal. His facial expression at the end of the book shows realistically how one feels once they have achieved a goal they have worked hard to reach.

The book caters to ages 2-10 because those who can read, can read it with their parents or teachers,  – it’s all in rhyme, and for those that cannot read yet, or who are too little to understand a complete story, the pictures say a lot. A 2 – 3 year old can easily follow the pictures and guess what the monkey is trying to do and that can help facilitate a conversation between a teacher or parent, and the child.

Permission granted to publish on Let ME Out!! by Dr. Zahra Jiwani

Permission granted to publish on Let ME Out!! by Dr. Zahra Jiwani

That is one cute monkey! I’m sure this book would be fodder for many personalized discussions between parent and child – the content sounds great! You say the target ages are from 2-10 years. Can you expand on that?

The book is written for 2-10 year olds to teach them what goals are, how to set them, and why they are important. The book stresses the fact that it is not always about being first place, but rather, setting goals that are right for you, starting with smaller ones, and working your way up.  I have shown this book to many friends of mine who say the book should be aimed at all ages because the value of goal setting is often forgotten and all of us, no matter how old, need to work on goal setting. A friend of mine who is a family doctor, has given this book to her elderly patients to help them stay focused on simple day to day tasks like going to the bank.  She feels this book is also great for them to learn the importance of goal setting and to work towards their goals of running errands independently.

Agreed that we could all use a refresher, no matter what our age, because practically every thing we do requires some form of goal-setting. 

Here’s a question that a lot of moms out there are silently begging me to ask…you clearly have a lot on your plate with a full-time job, two young children and a home to manage. How did you find time to write a book? You must have had to be creative!

This is a great question and one that can be hard to answer in short. I was writing this book while being a mom to 2 kids under 4, and teaching full time at UBC, and finishing my Ph.D. – and the way I was able to do it was to be organized, and have many goals and to do lists.  Every day I have a written plan that I have prepared a month prior, and that I have reviewed 1 week and 1 day before, just quickly before going to bed. I make sure that I always complete that day’s goals before I sleep, so that I am able to complete all the things I am working on, within the time frame I have allotted.  Of course things happen and it doesn’t always go as planned, but I have been far more successful at completing things and multi-tasking due to my ability to set written goals that are realistic, and follow them.  (Just like we learn in the book!)

So we know you really believe in this philosophy! 😉 Well, you publishing this book is proof that practicing these skills pays off! By now, we all want to know how we can get our hands on a copy! It sounds like the perfect gift for any child on our Christmas lists or for upcoming birthdays. Where do we go?

For now, the book is available for purchase at Indigo Books Park Royal in West Vancouver, and Save on Foods Park & Tilford in North Vancouver.  It will slowly be available in more locations and areas in Vancouver.  A parent looking for the book can always email me at and I can help them get one.  Or anyone is welcome to visit my website for updates on new locations at

Great! I would encourage people to go check out your website for some great information as well! And congratulations – as of yesterday, your second book Around the World in 7 Days has been published! The same little monkey takes readers around the world to learn about history, culture, language etc. Readers can learn more about this on your website as well. 

Thank you so much for joining us today, Zahra! Best of luck to you in your writing endeavours!

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Zahra Ladha Jiwani is a new Canadian author whose passion for children, teaching, and writing, have all come together in her new journey as a children’s author.

Zahra strongly believes in teaching children from a young age to believe in themselves and work toward becoming self confident individuals who strove to reach their goals and dreams.

Zahra holds a Ph.D. and an MBA in Marketing, and teaches several Marketing and Communications courses to university students in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.