13th Olympian, Goddess of Cigars: Anastasia Psomiadi
Dr.Anastasia Psomiadi, a Ph.D. holder in Psychology and MA in Theology is a wonderful lady would have been the true Greek Goddess of Cigars, is not only a cigar smoker but also a huge activist in terms of women empowerment, in cigar world but more importantly in business - through her organization Womenitee - and social life. She is also not a leader in business world with her company in corporate sustainability. She as well invests her time in the coming generations through teaching at an university MBA program on sustainability, while she also acts as scientific supervisor and advisor in Entrepreneurship for youth and start uppers at the local governments, the Central Union of Municipalities in Greece and IASIS NGO.
We have been talking for a while for an interview and she kindly devoted some time from her busy schedule for this unique and interesting interview, which reflects the true power of a SOTL in the cigar scene.
Before diving into your journey with cigars, how do you fill your schedule besides work, any hobbies besides cigars?
Due to my origins of a Pontiac benefactor family (with influence in society, education, religion factors), I am very sensitive in issues of tradition and business ethics.
Generally I am involved in issues regarding ethical and responsible entrepreneurship. I am a public speaker about Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, Business Ethics, Women empowerment, entrepreneurship, cultural identity and other related issues.
I love to promote issues for female leadership. I am also a member of the administrative board of «World Congress of Pontiac Hellenism», «Association of Female Managers & Businesswomen-TOGME» of the «Hellenic Management Association» and co-founder and administrative member of many organizations (American-Hellenic Educational Organization-AHEPA and others).
I write several articles about the new trends and directions of CSR, entrepreneurship, social innovation along with television and radio interviews
I also love going to the gym and dancing till morning at least three times a month ( I really don’t know if this is a hobby).
How did you start smoking cigars?
I had never seen a cigar in my life. I also never smoked a cigarette before. I dislike cigarettes. In 2003 during a safari in the jungle, a lady offered me a cigar – it was a Cohiba corona I think- and as soon as I smoked it I felt it was an extension of myself. It was exciting. I was fascinated. As soon as I got back to Greece I started reading about cigars, buying cigars, humidor, lighters, cutters etc. A new world opened up in my life. My divine journey to the cigar world had just began.
What was the most interesting reaction of a man seeing you smoke a cigar? Could you please share an anecdote?
Ever since I started smoking cigars, I am used to smoke at home, in my car, while working , writing on my computer nd of course when hanging out with friends drinking and dancing. I was at the time only 26 years old and many times happened to listen to what men where discussing about me. It was not very flattering I must say… mostly sexist comments, at times even being insulting. And of course people used to try to manipulate me on what to smoke, how to cut, how I light up the cigar, how to smoke. I didn’t pay any attention on what they seemed to think and say. I didn’t give them a dam!
What attracts you to cigars and cigar world?
It is a divine journey. Its like an inner dialogue with myself. Anytime I light up my cigar, that moment of the day is the most sacred moment! My most beloved part of my daily ritual. My heart beats faster, I feel the adrenaline filling my head and body, and my mind and soul become one, revealing unique paths of pleasure and spirituality. Besides that, it’s magical how cigars connect people from all over the world. Everyone of us can feel it.
Can you share a bit about your cigar rituals, vitola choices and also your thoughts on Cuban vs. New World cigars?
I smoke almost every day, sometimes 3 cigars a day and at least 15-20 cigars a month for sure. While I am working on computer, while I am in a business meeting and especially while I am driving! Smoking my cigar inspires me with the most innovative and important projects for my work. Especially while I am driving I love smoking my cigar. I love Partagas Salomones & Trinidad La Trova which I can smoke in the morning. Of course there are times in my life that I am obsessed with a specific cigar, for example Hoyo de Monterey Double Corona or Diplomaticos Ammunition - Regional Edition (Exclusivo Phoenicia).
I smoke Habanos. Can you imagine that it was 2018 that I learned that there are cigars coming from other origins than Cuba? I went through the process of trying them and for a few months I used to smoke only non-Cubans just to taste them. I was excited by this journey on flavors, colors and aromas from other countries. After this period I continue smoking Habanos in my everyday life, without rejecting tasting and smoking non-Cubans.
You are very active both professionally as well as in the cigar scene. You have created SOTL of Greece. What was the driver for creating the club?
Firstly, I dislike the stereotypes and especially the image that many men used to have for women smokers. Αs I told you, I have been insulted several times with inappropriate comments. But in the end of the day, that was their psychological and personal issues. That’s why my motto is “we break the stereotypes”. Furthermore, I wanted to share my love and passion with many women and give the opportunity to feel so free and strong as I feel when I am smoking. The same goes for the men who have been introduced by me into the cigar world. Finally, I love to see strong and successful women and I enjoy having company when I smoke in public places.
Could you please share some information about the club? Number of members, what you are doing as a club. What is your vision and what are your achievements so far as a club? If there are any international ties to other clubs- which ones etc.?
Sisters Of The Leaf Greece is about creating a culture around cigars and building a community of women and men entrepreneurs and professionals who on the occasion of cigars communicates, exchange ideas, collaborates, creates social bridges and enjoys life!
Our Vision is to create a culture around cigar in Greece and empower women and men to express themselves as they feel in their lives both in business and pleasure. Our Mission is to develop a community of business women and men who, on the occasion of cigars, build social and business bridges and simultaneously live exclusive experiences.
If someone wants to be a member, s/he has to sign this commitment to our principles,
SOTL Greece Principles are:
SOTL Greece is a momentum
SOTL Greece makes statements
It’ s in our nature to break the stereotypes
We believe in Business Ethics
We collaborate with integrity
Our goals are:
Introduce women entrepreneurs and professionals in the cigars world
Create fruitful partnerships
Build business and social bridges between Sisters and Brothers of the
Leaf around the world.
Support Local business all over the country
Live exclusive experiences
We don’t promote smoking or encourage it! It s all about introducing people to the cigar world and eventually initiating them to a whole new world of pleasure. Our members are more than 600 women and men from all over the world.
Last year, and for the first time in Greece, Habanos honored SOTL by assigning the organization and launching of their new product, Partagas Linea Maduro. The President and V. President of Habanos also joined this absolutely successful event!
If and how smoking cigars contributes to your personal and professional life?
Because of the fact that I am a self created entrepreneur and because of my innovative and sensitive business field (politics and social issues) and my interests about education and ethics, I can say that smoking a cigar would not be an asset in my CV.
But we are here to break stereotypes anyway and I chose to be free of socially accepted image. The counselors I have in my company(media relation and communication manager) usually try to persuade me not to confuse my public profile with what my favorite habits are, because it may not be socially accepted. Although, I tend not to agree, I focus in promoting the internal drive and the principles of doing this.
Do you travel related to cigars?
This is my favorite activity! And I am planning to participate in more cigar events! I love to smoke with sisters and brothers of the leaf worldwide. Recently I participated at the Habanos World Challenge in Cyprus just to see how it is and to feel the experience! It was amazing! During all the contest I was smiling and laughing like a little child.
Reflecting on what you have explained earlier, how do you think women smokers could make their stand against men in cigar world, do you see any need?
I believe, I support and I promote fruitful partnerships and collaborations among every one. So women and men have to be together and support each other. I would prefer men to be more helpful and supportive. Be a little bit more of a gentleman. Maybe a nice start would be their wives, sisters and daughters, introducing them to cigar world or when they see a woman smoking a cigar it would be nice to treat her like she was their sister or a related and beloved person. We have to consider that every person makes their own choices. So it is not effective or clever for someone to rush to conclusions or form a certain opinion for another person.
Anything else you would like to share?
I would like to summarize the story of my life: “Blissful people are the unchained ones and to be unchained, should be brave”. Thucydides, Pericles' Funeral Oration.
I would once again like to thank Anastasia for her time and agreeing to the interview and wish her best of success with her initiatives in the cigar scene.