Archive for October, 2011

Best of the World Economic Forum – Special Meeting on Economic Growth and Job Creation in the Arab World


I’m just back from the WEF meeting in Dead Sea, 3 days of discussions and opportunities to meet and interact with interesting
people. Sceptics would say that discussions are not enough and meaninglesswithout action. I agree with them and look forward to seeing real results taking place.

In the meantime, I’m sharing some the most remarkable thoughts that impressed me, not in order of importance, nor in order of appearance!

  • “There’s nobody on this panel, nor a VC, nor a bank, nor a Government who will create someone’s job. Just get out of the way of entrepreneurs and investors and they’ll do it.”
  • Don’t ask the youth what they want, they wouldn’t know. Listen to what’s working and multiply it. Take a bottom up approach. (Habib Haddad, CEO Wamda)
  • It’s time to take action, everyone of us is responsible. Starting tomorrow each of us should go to a classroom and speak to young people about entrepreneurship and show them the way. It’s everybody’s responsibility and if you don’t do it I’ll come after you, I’ll know. (An amazing and very heartfelt closing word by Soraya Salti of @injaz)
  • “Building a new political system takes a whole different skill set than tweeting.” By @shadihamid while discussing the impact and importance of social media in the Arab spring. 5- Arab Youth have done the impossible politically. We need to empower them to do the impossible economically. (Again by Soraya Salti of @injaz).
  • We are moving from Capitalism to Talentism. (Prof. Klaus Schwabb).
  • It’s a 3-stage process: we go from Uninformed Optimism (we think we can do it all but we don’t really know what it really takes) to Uninformed Pessimism (we see it not working the way we hoped it would) to Informed Optimism (when we know that it will work and how to make it work). (Othman Sultan, CEO du).

Finally a note of appreciation for 2 remarkable personalities of the WEF. They’re not the most successful businesspeople, nor the richest, nor the most powerful of all attendants. They’re simply the most authentic, to me at least:

  • Awn Khasawneh, nominated Prime Minister of Jordan: for being the most humble, self-aware and apparently clean-handed politician of the Arab World.
  • Amira Yahyaoui (@mira404), the young Tunisian activist, for a truly inspiring 60 second speech on the aspirations and potential of Arab youth.

8 Survival Tips For First Time Fathers & Entrepreneurs


Don’t panic. Focus.
When I quit my job to start my entrepreneurial journey I didn’t know that we were already blessed to have our first child in less than 9 months. I admit that fear took hold of a part of me. Granted, the upcoming responsibility weighted considerably on me but I had to face it. Don’t panic. Instead consider this great news as THE greatest motivation of all. 

Manage your partner
I wish to everybody to have a wife as supportive and understanding as I have. The problem with supportive people is that we tend to take them for granted. Make sure you don’t. If you think you’re going through a lot remember that she’s probably going through much more. Just like in your startup, you need a strong team at home, and it’s up to you to make it happen.

Take the morning shift
Trust me, there’s no better wake up call than a baby wanting to eat! Use that and take the early morning shift. You’ll be amazed by what you can achieve with the extra time you have when you’re up and running by 7:00 am. Hit the coffee machine and go make the best of that new day!

Cash-flow. Cash-flow. Cash-flow.
Do I have to say more? If cash is king for startups it’s the ultimate emperor for startups with a growing family on the side. Stories of entrepreneurs compromizing on quality of living for the greater good are nothing less than abundant. You can compromize when you’re on your own but it’s not as easy to do it for your baby. Be smart in using your resources, be creative, if you can generate fast cash from small engagements do it but don’t lose focus on the bigger picture.

Be smart in social activities
Meeting people, new and old acquaintances, has always been the best aspect of work and life to me. But it takes time, and time is the luxury you really don’t have. As important as it can be, socializing has to be optimized just like everything else. Be selective in your activities, weighing their importance, their return and don’t hesitate to say No to some.

Stay in shape
As the Arabic saying goes, a healthy mind is in a healthy body. You need both of them to be at their best performance level so make sure you maintain your body well. Sleep well, eat well and don’t skip working out. Even if you don’t have time and it seems to be the lowest of your priorities don’t let go. You can skip weight lifting, you’ll be doing plenty of that gradually but don’t skip a run or a swim at least three times a week.

More to do in less time? Oh yeah… Big time! Train yourself to take advantage of every single minute and optimize your performance. Kill your tasks as soon as they arise, or the soonest possible. Leverage technology to get organized and fast. Say No when you have to and when you say Yes make it as fast as you can.

You ‘re twice blessed. Enjoy it!
You were blessed with the greatest gift of life and with the opportunity of pursuing your own dream and passion, both are priceless, enjoy them to the max. It’s true that both are also fragile, demanding and exhausting but their reward can be worth each and every sacrifice you make. Stay positive, believe in yourself and in God and enjoy every moment. You will make it!

This post was published on Wamda

How Steve Jobs inspired me


I’m not writing this because this is the trending topic of the day nor because I’m a big fan of sensational news and collective panic.

I’m not writing this because I’m an old-time Apple fanatic; my first Apple product was this MacBook I bought less than a year ago (although I admit I wish I had done it many years before).

I’m not writing this because Steve Jobs was my idol since I was fifteen. I barely knew more than his name and that he was the “Apple guy” until some recent years.

I’m writing it because I was never moved by the news of someone passing away the way I was this morning when I saw the “1955-2011 Steve Jobs” photo of (Note: I’m not exaggerating, I’m lucky so far I haven’t have to deal with any close person’s death).

Why was I moved if Steve Jobs didn’t mean that much to me? The truth is that he meant an awful lot. This guy changed my life and not because he invented iPhone.

He changed my life simply because his Stanford speech gave me the courage to follow my heart and intuition. I had been hesitating for years about quitting my secure job and starting my own business when I got to hear that famous speech accidentally in 2010. That day, I went home and wrote on a piece of paper “I’ll have my own business on November 1st” and put that paper on the mirror I shave on every morning. By November 1st, I had quit my job and started my dream.

When I look back, I see how marvelously the dots end up connecting to each other and how one really wins if he follows his heart and passion.

I know this story is nothing compared to what this great man did but for me at least it means many things and I couldn’t let this day pass by without saying: Thank you Steve. May your soul rest in peace

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