Reflections on Being 30

30 years.jpg

Dear Reader,

It’s been a while since I wrote blog post, but I’m taking the occasion of recently turning 30 to reflect on what it means to me, where I stand in life now and my perspective on what is yet to come in the future.

To start, I’m glad to say it’s been hectic, rewarding, challenging, stressful at times but most importantly an enjoyable journey. Looking back at the last 10 years, I feel blessed to have been faced with many challenges, phases of life, career changes, love life changes, and I even lived abroad for a short while.

In the past 10 years, I’ve changed 4 jobs and had a complete career shift from IT into Management Consulting. In that period I’ve also earned 6 international certifications and a masters degree. I’ve establish multiple NGOs, elected to the Board in some, advised numerous others, trained more than a 1,000 youth and professionals alike, travelled to numerous countries, met some of the most inspiring people but most importantly married the love of my life and got a beautiful baby boy.

Now that I’m 30, I feel I’m at the nexus of life where I’m definitely more mature, experienced and knowledgeable than any of my previous years, but I’m also less interested in many things, less eager about proving myself here or there, less enticed by new adventures and definitely less willing to take risks.

Overall I feel more rooted in who I became, my family, my country, my friends, my network, my comfort zone in general. Yet 2 things I can’t seem to quench, my curiosity and my ambitions. I constantly feel restless to learn more and achieve more things in my life. In every avenue I take whether it being professional life, academic knowledge, volunteer work or personal/social life… I constantly am on the lookout for what is yet to come, what is next, what the future will bring.

This restlessness is sometimes a much needed fuel that keeps me going, to aspire for more impact and growth, to do more and learn more. Yet at times it somehow feels like a burning desire to take some unwarranted risks, to dedicate more time and effort in things that might not necessarily be in line with what is best at the moment, to dream of things that are not yet attainable nor practical.

One thing I know for sure is that my brain never stops pondering about the possibilities that lay ahead, the “what ifs”, the different ways I can be spending my time and effort. Sometimes I get that urge to just quit my job and break free from the never ending rat race and go freelance, do what I am passionate about, explore different options, establish some social enterprise or simply just hustle my way through life. Sometimes I feel like I want to take a whole quarter of un-paid leave and just spend time with my wife and baby, do some volunteer work, travel around different countries, experience new things that I have been wandering about.

Then reality check comes in and reminds me of all the pros and cons. It reminds me about the lifestyle I’ve put my self and my family in, about the responsibilities of being a husband and a father, about the potential of not being able to provide to my family the basic needs if things go south.  The debate goes on for a while in my head, and usually this happens late at night while gazing out from my balcony to the view of the city, the sea and nature. I realize that the 3 of them are co-existing, balanced somehow, even though some take a toll on the other, but they co-exist and have found their equilibrium (though they are ever changing, they still stabilize somehow). So I remind myself of all that I’m doing lately, from work to volunteering to quality time with family and friends. It gets me to realize that the sea ought not take over the city and nature, nor the city to overtake the others, and balance is the key to sustainability. So I calm myself down and hold my horses from going irrational.

30 is an interesting age, a time in life where one is equipped to do much more than before, but also has many more guidelines and responsibilities. It’s exciting and calming at the same time. It allows me to reflect on the many things that have passed and been achieved, and the many more things that are yet to be done. It reminds me that 3 decades have passed, and God willing, I’d have many more yet to come, so there is still time to do a lot. It gives me the realization that the world doesn’t move as fast as I hope it would, things don’t change as rapidly as I’d like, achievements don’t come by as frequently as I desire, nevertheless there is time and patience is a virtue.

For now, I’m going to take it easy and enjoy the 30s, keep on dreaming and aspiring, keep on pushing for more and learning more while still ensuring that I’m well rooted and grounded, lest I leap into the realm of the unknown.

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Guest Writer: “#1 Business Startup Killer” by Roger Khater

Dear Reader,

I’m glad and proud to present to you my third Guest Writer on the blog, Mr. Roger Khater.

Roger Khater is a Serial Entrepreneur with an Electrical Engineering degree from USJ/ESIB; in addition to his responsibilities as the Managing Director at IP Engineering Pro, he has main board roles and major managerial functions in Caliber Workforce (Human Resources Services) as a Partner and Maktabi (Virtual Office Services) as the Owner. Roger also serves as the President of the PMI Lebanon Chapter.

To know more about Roger, check his LinkedIn Profile or email him at i@rogerkhater.info

Enjoy the read!

Afif

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Many entrepreneurs whom I often meet have great business ideas, very few though have a good business plan, and the worst are the ones who only have a fancy website, a distinguished business card but no or not enough clients.

Call me old fashioned but the truth remains, starting a business is all about selling, assuming the business idea is viable. The act of selling involves customers, who are real people after all. So bet on people and invest in relationships.

What is the #1 business startup killer nowadays?

It is the course of actions that is driving our young entrepreneurs into having all the necessary business vehicles, from business identity, to website, to social media, etc… But they forget the key business aspect that is to sell their products or services to real people.

I never recall selling anything to a sheep.

If you have a business idea, don’t waste your time, just sell it. Get your first few customers and leverage on them. Capitalizing on your personal relation, enhance the trust quickly and stay close when needed.

Forget about the shiny stuff, they will eventually come at a later stage.

After a few successful deals, reassess your market in $ value, know your competitors, they exist in one form or another, and only now you can decide if the market size is enough or suitable for you. Embrace this market, make it your target, position your portfolio, have a value proposition and again go sell for more.

If after 2 years you are still stuck with few customers that do not generate enough income, drop the idea, change business line and redo the exercise better. Always ask for help, you need that, secure as many mentors, they will make a difference.

The key to success is gaining customers by selling to people.

The accessories are merely a plus.

 

Project Management for Entrepreneurs

I have been doing some enthusiastic research on the topic, and I have come to realize that most of the current corporations and governments are not being able to provide enough jobs for the hundreds of thousands of young Arabs who graduate every year. Besides, those amongst them that were planning on emigrating lost their chance to travel to the US or Europe for dream jobs due to the economic downturn.

With 60% of the Arab nation being under 30 years old, the number of educated individuals is rising, and yet the supply of jobs is inadequate. In this context, numerous institutions, banks, and government agencies are focusing on fostering entrepreneurship among youth.

Consequently, hundreds of startup projects and initiatives are being launched annually by young entrepreneurs who have the education, the idea, the drive, but lack the experience and the systematic approach to enhance their chances to succeed in their ventures.

This gap has certainly led to numerous failed initiatives, shattered dreams, and lost investments. Imagine all those young aspiring youth, full of enthusiasm and creativity, but crushed by their own inability to drive their business enterprises to success.

The fact is, good ideas are a dime a dozen. The true value is in the ability to transform those ideas into reality…and rare are those that have the intrinsic knowledge to go through the process. In this context, I have realized that project management skills, knowledge and tools come in very nicely to fill a gap for the aspiring entrepreneurs and empower them to be able to transform their ideas into a reality.

So after some well-thought of analysis, I have pinpointed 5 project management mantras from which entrepreneurs can surely benefit from:

  1. Ability to clearly define the scope of their startups, products, services and communicate it clearly.
  2. Knowledge of how to break down the scope of work into clear and comprehensive work packages, schedule the work packages, and work on a budget accordingly.
  3. Skills in recruiting the right people, engaging them, and motivating them to work synergically.
  4. Communication skills with main focus on unifying terminology used, choosing the proper communication channels, and disseminating the right information.
  5. Expertise in understanding possible risks that are inherent to new ventures and ways to manage them. This usually becomes better with time…trial and error being the best tutor.

That’s what I have in mind so far, I hope it helps. Knock them out!

 

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