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Happy what?

Happy what?

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Here comes Ramadhan.

The month where almost no work gets done
When productivity of just about the whole Muslim nation grinds to a halt
And efficiency is not even a concept to be tolerated
Where people willingly stay up all night, and sleep all day
Where gluttony is the rule
And piousness is only the facade people wear
It has become indeed the most un-Islamic month in the calendar, by the habits that people bear and what they made it to be.

No wonder people celebrate when it’s over. So let me press fast-forward, and wish everyone a fantastic Eid! Did you enjoy the month-long break?

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Breakfast with Inspiration, the humbling activism of Rüdiger Nehberg

Breakfast with Inspiration, the humbling activism of Rüdiger Nehberg

I am truly humbled with the stories of Rüdiger Nehberg whom I had the absolute honour of meeting for breakfast this morning along with my friend Zahra Al-Harazi in Munich, Germany. We’re all invited to speak at the annual #EOGermany conference, this year entitled Rule Breakers.

Rüdiger is a passionate philanthropist leading the fight against female genital mutilation in the Muslim world, from the inside. He got the Al Azhar to proclaim it a sin and is working now to get the grand muftis of Saudi to do likewise.

Earlier in life he crossed the Atlantic 3 times; on an 18 meter fir tree, a paddle boat and a bamboo raft from Africa to Brazil and into Washington to deliver a letter from Amnesty Int’l to George Bush.

He fought for the rights of the indigenous people in Brazil for 20 years and effected change. He also authored 30 books of which many were translated to multiple languages.

Truly inspiring. Please Google him and offer help if you can. We definitely need him to speak at the OIC conference and meet with people of influence to further the cause and stop the heinous crime against women.

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Oh no, not another new year resolutions list!

Oh no, not another new year resolutions list!

Well, like it or hate it, the single thing that successful entrepreneurs have in common is writing down what they want to achieve, their goals, their aspirations, in lists.  If creating a list of your own aspirations is the only thing you take away from me, then I have truly succeeded in paying it forward.

I’ve already shared with you a list of some of my accomplishments and things I am proud of in 2013, let me now make public my list of my targets for 2014; in no particular order, but each carry with it the determination to make it happen. I’m okay with being held accountable for them too, so by this time next year go ahead and ask me to report and I’ll be happy to. So here goes; the Mahmood 2014 New Year’s Resolutions List:
  1. Maintain 85 kgs as max weight (today I’m 88 kgs)
  2. Go to gym 5 times a week
  3. Read one book a month; 4 fiction novels in the year
  4. Dedicate Sunday and Wednesday nights for no TV
  5. Take an online course in something
  6. Organise a photography exhibition
  7. Make a short movie
  8. Start a business that has nothing to do with technology or video production
  9. Start the GB Saudi branch in the Eastern Province
  10. Get a comprehensive health check; get Frances to get one too
  11. Get massage every 3 months
  12. Get one more international client for GB
  13. Take a one week holiday every 6 months without kids
  14. Run the Athens half marathon in May
There you have it. And here’s how I’ll report on the achievement of these: I’ll create a KPI dashboard and publish it here to show progress, or things I need to pay more attention to. Feel free to poke me if I don’t.I’d love to know your thoughts. Please share them in the comments. Together, we can encourage each other to achieve better things.

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Season’s Greetings
Personal 2013 Reflections

Personal 2013 Reflections

Time to reflect on my 2013’s resolutions/achievements and set myself up for ’14:

  1. Lost 30kgs (66lbs)
  2. Went to the gym at least 5 times a week
  3. Able now to run for 30 minutes at 10kph (variable hill) 5 days a week. Same with the elliptical machine.
  4. Got off the Crestol cholesterol medication
  5. Increased my circle of friends
  6. Grew revenues (unaudited) by 23%
  7. Profitability still positive but definitely needs improving
  8. Raised $862 for Movember
  9. Can now thoroughly annoy the wife at a moment’s notice
  10. Bought a new car
  11. Retooled Gulf Broadcast with latest production equipment: 3x Sony Cameras, 2x edit suites, 1x Colour correction suite, Black Magic Cine pocket cam and a bunch of latest software suites including 5x Avid Symphonies/MCs. (Thanks Tamkeen!)
  12. Assumed the presidency of the Bahrain Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation; reflections on this will be in June 2014.
  13. Continued in my role as the Internal Awareness Chair at the Global Communications Committee at EO Global
  14. Got recognised for my “Outstanding Contribution to New Media” by the Next Century Foundation’s Int’l Council for Press and Broadcasting
  15. Took some time off to be with my lovely wife and enjoyed Muscat for a few days
  16. and then again in New York
  17. and jogged in Central Park. Twice around the reservoir!
  18. Put up the christmas tree and decorated it all by myself this year!
  19. Actually created a profile video of myself! http://goo.gl/ryI7Sg
  20. Travelled to new countries: Vietnam and Austria

I must have missed a few; regardless, really looking forward to 2014. With the vigour that I’m feeling now that I’m the healthiest I have possibly been in my life, I say BRING IT ON!

Have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year. Thank you for being part of my life.

Love you all.

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It doesn’t take one

It doesn’t take one

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People think that entrepreneurship depends on just one person, the entrepreneur. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Entrepreneurship isn’t a one-man game but a team sport. Yes, the entrepreneur is normally the leader, the visionary or even the bully that pushes the ideas forward; however, if success is to be achieved it will depend on a team of people to make things happen.

Look at Felix Baumgartner. Do you really think that he alone was responsible for the success of his freefall from the stratosphere? Hardly.

felix-control
click the image to view the incredible video of the jump

To be successful, you need more than entrepreneurship. You need people who believe in your vision and who will jump on your train. Without them, you might find success, but it will be rare and very, very hard.

A thought for the Eid Holidays. Eid Mubarak my friends!

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Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Malala_Yousafzai

“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.”

 Malala Yousafzai

A breath of fresh air in a  world that has lost its way.

Regardless of her winning a Nobel Peace Prize. She is an inspiration and very much worthy of respect. She’s just sixteen… just watch how this young lady will continue to change the world in the next few years.

Respect.

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Running after the money

Running after the money

running-after-the-moneyOne simple but powerful mantra I’ve followed that led to many of my successes is “don’t run after the money, it will always run away from you; do your job well, and money will come running after you.” This advice was given to me by my late father, may he rest in peace. I must confess that I dismissed it at first, not fully understanding its significance. Now, several years later and after its been proven time and again, I actually live by it.

It’s a universal truth. If one concentrates on doing their job well, use their passion, creativity and diligence to make something useful, they’ll ultimately be amply rewarded. Money, after all, is a by-product of success and it’s never the other way around. At least, not in a sustainable fashion.

How has it been for you? Did you receive a poignant advice that you found quite effective and now live by?

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We Are SPARTA!

We Are SPARTA!

Who’s not familiar with that blood-curdling cry before the hapless messenger gets kicked into the well to his death? Very few I think. That particular scene in the film 300 must now be one of the most popular in film history. That shout conjures up images of pride, determination and patriotism.

We are Sparta!To me, the word “entrepreneur” conjures up powerful images too. Positive and inspiring images of determination, direction, achievement and success. And you know what? I used to associate that word with others, not me. A small businessman is what I was comfortable with and if anyone identified me as an entrepreneur, I thought they were talking about someone else. But once I started to accept being an entrepreneur, magical things started to happen. Strange how simply changing the lens, changes reality.

The truth of the matter is that being an entrepreneur is within everyone’s reach, and that description needn’t even be specific to “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit” as the dictionary would have it, but I rather associate it with the act of answering a need and creating something useful, normally against objections or hurdles, thus, taking measured risks to make a difference. Financial gain is simply a byproduct of that success.

Looking back, I would have found success much sooner had I had mentors whose experience and expertise I could have benefitted from. I can count many instances where losses or failures could have been averted by having that much needed voice.

Now, it’s time for me to pay it forward. I’d like to have the opportunity to mentor young entrepreneurs and help them on their journey. Through my association with the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, there are several programs that will allow me to impart knowledge in a structured manner in order to project the value of mentorship even farther. The Global Student Entrepreneurship Award in particular is one program I’m quite interested in. I believe that through it I can leave a positive impact on my community. GSEA, incidentally, is an annual competition in which young entrepreneurs pitch their ideas and businesses in a competition format in front of EO members. These judges select winners based on defined EO-set criteria and the winner gets the opportunity to be sent to Washington, DC to compete in the global finals.

There are specific GSEA entry criteria of course; chief amongst them is for the competitor to be a current university student at the time of the global finals, have a business which has been continuously running for at least six months and that enterprise is for profit.

EO Bahrain is running GSEA this year – the first in the Middle East – and we’re accepting entries and nominations. Should we receive a good number of entries, a live pitching competition will take place by the 20th of October 2013.

Yes, we fully realise that time is extremely short; however, we’re determined to run it this year and to learn from the experience. We launched this initiative last month, in September. That gave us the opportunity to understand the some of intricacies of running such a program. We’re in this for the long haul though, hence, we intend to visit schools and universities almost immediately to encourage students to aim to compete in next year’s GSEA.

Why am I so passionate about this? Simple. Apart from the obvious benefit of having self-sufficient families and creating a better and more resilient economy, I truly believe that the best method to resolve our political problems is to grow an entrepreneurial middle class. I’m convinced that the thing that will resolve our political situation is a strong and vibrant business sector. It will also ensure that whatever solutions that are put in place will be sustainable.

Will this create our own cadre of Spartans? I don’t know. I do know that if one has something to lose, he’ll fight to keep it. Maybe if we create the platform for Bahrainis to really take ownership, they’ll fight to keep it. That’s probably one of the definitions of patriotism.

Now it’s your turn to help. Do you know anyone whom you could nominate to enter GSEA? Please visit http://gsea.org and fill in the form. If you need help or just want to pass on a name and number, please do feel free to contact me.

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Changing lenses

Changing lenses

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One of the things I love about blogging is the creative and intellectual energy that the process generates which I in turn invest in every post. Yes, the results may vary, but each post holds an issue that I cared enough about to voice. I miss this. When I stopped blogging, virtually since that fateful day in 2011, a part of me went into deep hibernation. And I compensated for that by becoming a consumer of information.

I don’t like that.

And I want to change the situation. I want to go back to being a producer rather than just a passive consumer.

Now although I haven’t blogged as much as I would have liked, that is not to say that I stopped being curious or interested in what’s happening around me. In fact, that lull allowed me to look through another prism which opened up other avenues of interest, and also allowed me to reexamine even some hard-held convictions. I feel this stoppage was indeed a much needed breather to extract myself from my eye of the storm, if not completely, at least to a level which made me realize that the world is even more gray than I thus far believed.

My interest in Bahraini politics has almost completely dissipated. Not because I now feel that the issues have become unimportant – not for fear of reprisals once again for voicing my opinions, though I admit that is always there – but because of the realization that there is no real interest from any side to effect resolutions. Both sides are intransigent to an extent, and the blame – as far as I’m concerned – lies with the ruling regime. It is them, to a very large part, who hold almost all the keys which could bring positive change leading to resolution; however, they currently lack the vision and courage to bring that about.

My interests now have evolved, and I choose this word with intent, to effecting change through entrepreneurship; the launch of a grass root effort to benefit as many of my compatriots as possible. My concentration will be on the younger generation which can well be lost through the rudderless political quagmire if not offered rays of hope to ease the journey into their future. 

In effect, this blogging stopping gave me the required pause to change. Change from simply saying and pontificating to actually doing.

It is this that I shall concentrate my blogging efforts on now. I shall recall my trials and tribulations of this new and active direction, and seek your guidance and help in making this change happen.

Allow me to get into specifics; I have taken on the responsibility of the presidency of the Bahrain chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation. An honour and responsibility I take rather seriously. It is not every day that one is given an opportunity to lead leaders. 

The programs we’re implementing this year can have a profound impact on the local youth entrepreneurship scene; two in particular: the Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards and Accelerator. 

GSEA essentially removes the fear of entrepreneurship in rewarding youth seeing their innovative ideas into implenentation. Accelerator on the other hand is to help established entrepreneurs grow their revenue to surpass one million dollars annually. 

I’m excited that the board approved the launch of both this year. In fact, we’ve already announced GSEA and invited applicants to enrol before October 10th. If enough enrol in this enaugural year, we’ll host the live competition by October 20th. The deserving winner will then be sent at the Chapter’s expense to Washington, DC in November to compete in the Global finals. Have a look at http://GSEA.org, for more details, and if you know of any candidates, please encourage them to apply or get in contact with me. 

I shall keep you updated. 

There you have it. The first blog in the new era of Mahmood’s Den. 

Now I’ve got to jump into a taxi to the airport. Bangkok this year was great, but it’s always better to head home. 

It’s good to be back. 

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