2/30 The Turkish Baths (and the leadership lessons that can be found there)

The Hammam And The Leadership Lessons To Be Found There

In Istanbul, we will also be visiting a traditional hammam.

In Roman times, the bathhouse was an important social and civic institution. The Turkish hamams were modeled after them. Some date back to as old a time as the 7th and 8th centuries. 

In a traditional hamam, there is a dressing room, a cold room, a warm room and a steaming hot room. Furnaces provided the hot water and steam. Hot air was also piped under the floors.

Modern day hammams, like the one we are going to, can be mixed gender. It usually requires visitors to visit a hot room to get the sweat going. Then a staff member gives you the scrub of your life.

Even at a hammam, there are leadership gems to be found.

  1. Hamams created community. It was a communal space to bring people from many backgrounds together.  Men would meet to relax, socialize, discuss and conduct business.  Women would gather in separate hammams, but it was a rare space where they could socialize freely, outside home. A networking tip I shared this week: whenever I speak at a conference or give a keynote, I create experiences outside of it that I can invite one or two people to.  Folks have reached out and said they will be in Turkey when I am there. Maybe they can’t make the sail, but they can join us at the hammam for an afternoon since its a mixed gender experience.
  2. The hamam experience requires a bit of trust. You’re quite vulnerable during one of the traditional scrub downs.  I’ve never seen so much skin come off me when I had a hamam experience in Morocco.  An attendant sloughs away the top layer of your dermis. Its not particularly relaxing, FYI. I had to trust that the attendant knew when ‘too much is too much’ Hint: the wincing on my face.
  3. Hamams create spaces to role-model self care. One of my members often marvels at how the male partners at her firm never compromise on their morning workouts.  She understands that this is a key and critical part of their peak performance at work. Hamams are public. It publicly role models this brand of self-care and normalizes it for others.


I host a business Mastermind for women leaders looking to build a powerful personal brand. My current class is achiving this by giving a Tedx style talk on a NYC stage Nov 16th on a topic from their zone of genius.

I’m currently enrolling for the class of 2024. Fill out the form here


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