Ferdinand teaches us 3 Steps to befriending the monster and healing after trauma

Ferdinand teaches us 3 Steps to befriending the monster and healing after trauma

As I reflect on my almost 4 years of intriguing and challenging research into balanced human behavior, my seemingly random choice of flight movies seemed to trigger more thoughts, but not this time, this time, I will go all the way to an animated feature, something more light and less philosophical.

But as you know, it won’t end well.

Ferdinand is a bull that doesn’t like fighting. He just wants to see the world being a beautiful place and to enjoy being part of this beauty, but being the intimidating bull he is, he doesn’t seem to have much of a choice as he is grabbed into fights. I don’t know if this was supposed to happen with everyone, but I did relate to Ferdinand.

I tried to understand and extract lessons from this story and from my own life experience that can help us make sense of this dilemma affecting many leaders today. The empathetic, warm and supportive person who shares a vision for a beautiful world, and being grabbed into bringing their hyperaware, confrontational, aggressive side.

The things that I have seen in common with Ferdinand are:

Trauma and Loss

Nice people are often struck by Trauma due to the exact qualities they exude, it’s the empathy, warmth, people-first approach that  haunt them down, not just on a public stage but also on a very personal traumatizing experiences. It’s this moment in which you realize that these exact qualities are the core of your weakness as they will be used against you. From angles and from people you have never expected, it often results in resenting these exact qualities as the source of pain and loss.

Natural Expression of Rage

Driven, intelligent and strong people often have a very powerful dark side, they do good not out of lack of capacity to do harm, but out of choice and self reflection – right after or during the moments of trauma and resentment to these qualities, expect nothing but raw human rage, coupled with intelligence, the effect of acting upon rage could be immensely shocking and destructive.

Confusion and Identity Crisis

For the big-hearted leader, reflecting on what they have done. Not only this bring about confusion, remorse and identity crisis; but it also promotes concious reduction in assertive behavior, almost leading to total inaction. It is for the greater good, people like me are not meant to lead with assertive actions, I will just settle down here and pretend to be doing my best.

This is a state that I have personally visited and stayed at for a while and came to see people with great potential stuck at it, what seemed to work for me to evolve out of this state are the following:

Step 1: Identifying, Accepting and Channeling Your Shadow Sides

It is easy to identify, accept and channel our positive, socially acceptable traits like being empathetic, positive and loving. Though, the way we respond to sudden, shocking events often shows us snippets of our nature that we are more likely to deny and avoid dealing with. With deeper questioning and reflection you can discover the shadow sides that sometimes goes totally against how you see yourself.

The aggressive commander with outstanding oratory skills. The uber idealist with unrealistic expectations. The master manipulator with social hyperawareness.

Owning these shadows and putting them to good use is essential to reversing the cycle of inaction. Now, not only you don’t need to deny your shadow sides, but you put them to the best use through acceptance and proper channeling.

Step 2: Mastering your emotions and responses

Regardless of how much we tend to exaggerate events in our minds, a traumatic experience is only an external triggers, you can still own the way you respond to them.

Stoicism promotes getting yourself used to responding to challenging conditions (e.g. cold showers in winter), this way when you have to face an unexpected negative situation, you can still get your mind to lead, probably avoiding immediate emotional reaction and planning a proper response.

As you have identified your shadow sides and know for sure the types of situations that’s more likely to trigger an unpleasant response. You can now set the boundaries to avoid being exposed to these situations.

Step 3: Building or moving to a new environment/social circle

It is certain that different industries, social circles and environments have underlying dynamics that might be exposing you to constant confrontations that trigger and activate your shadow sides. The wisdom then is to change the industry, social circle or environment in which you find yourself under constant pressure of acting in ways you don’t like.

In conclusion, don’t let your trauma lead you inaction, rather use it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and to get ready for the rest of your journey with more in-depth self-awareness and readiness to lead and respond properly while investing your capacity in the environment most receptive to your giving.

Have you faced a traumatic experience before, how did you manage to recover, share your story with me for more inspiration as I research more into the topic.

10 mental images to practice growing a thick skin as CEO!

10 mental images to practice growing a thick skin as CEO!

I decided that in the next 10 years, Im going into Global Trade and Investment on behalf of Generation-Y in Egypt well, he mumbled, you were just complaining about corruption and power struggles in your local Cairo community, now you are about to kick ass with the most powerful people in the world? You think you are ready for this?

Anyway, It’ll either destroy you or youll will grow into it.

His scenario planning methodologies and projecting ones vision into the long term of 10 and 20 years, came to formulate Egypreneurs vision statement: Establishing Cairo as the modern Mecca of Global Trade and Investment and taking the lead in systemically influencing the economic behavior of Generation-Y in Egypt.

Dont get me wrong, he did believe in me when I was just a kid selling stuff on the internet and consistently invested hours and hours of his expensive consulting time waiting for me as I make it to our meetings 45 minutes late, as he looks at his watch and say EXACTLY 45 minutes, its almost like a branding thing, right? Well, I impressed him a few time as I show up sharply on time, he wondered, then, If I can do it, why not to do it consistently!

He still told me he saw massive potential in the CEO version of me. Though, he always wondered whats really behind this cold mask of formality, why would I be overweight, why would I be late to a meeting when I know exactly how not to, as he carefully thought about these matters when I couldnt care less.

He asked me for a meeting at the Conrad after a meeting with a large international institution, he relaxed on the lobbys sofa and told me, I was hearing a States Man in there, your strong voice was taking over the room with these perfectly picked words, ideas are sharp and clear as it can be and scenarios are given, I looked at everyone taking glimpse of respect and consideration to your words, you are planning on becoming a President one day right? Im flattered thanks, and no, no plans to go anywhere.

He once pushed too hard for answers, and was surprised that this cold smart kid who has a special talent of picking the right, diplomatic words, exploded. Emotionally exploded with why is he like this. What do you want to know, huh? You want to know what the people I trusted the most did to me? You want to know how many time I was back-stabbed in a period of 6 month? Or you want to know the cunning of your friends and the corruption of the institutions you work for?

He comfortably relaxed back into his chair and did nothing but staring into my eyes while my body language is getting more and more aggressive, while Im throwing stories of pain, deceit and betrayal right and left, with the same boldness of the one who made the impression of a states man some days back.

Wow, my f**** lord. He mumbled quietly as I nervously adjust myself back to my chair and took an aggressive sip from this finished cup in front of me, while throwing my eye contact away to the wall, wondering what the hell did I just do!

I didnt expect him to understand, neither I think he did while taking glimpse to my round belly, fallen hair and slightly discouraged spirit at the tender age of 26 which a few years back stemmed with positive energy, with stories about my Parkour adventures, and how much my Kung Fu coach tried to distract trainees from the fact that this barely 5’7″ dude, just delivered a stylish flying kick to a heavy sand bag that dropped into the ground of this underground training garage with a sound of an explosion. And all eyes of the new guys headed towards me as I respond with a cocky smile and aggressive eye contact of a SIDI who can do serious damage.

He had to give up. He tried his best. And the asset that he was working on had so many emotional blocks he didnt know how to fix. Do you know the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear about wasted resources and potential. What? You? you represent the wasted resources of your generation as you continue to live with fucken 2% of your capacity.

As the image of a mentor fades away to the back of my mind, and the few people who just came to look me in the eyes and tell me, I only do this because I believe in you.- I always found renewal, self-discovery and willingness to resist and bite only just not to let them down.

I even started searching for these emotional blocks to tear them down, to crush them as I crushed the sandbag.

As we get down to business with the philosophies of a cute childhood, we are often struck with the reality that the values, principles and ethics we brought up on are challenged in the workplace. That the people we get in contact with are often influenced by completely different paradigms about life, power and society. Its unless we discover and re-discover whats really motivating these people and how to deal with them we will fall a victim to either their cunning or our own sense of giving up after seeing the worst part of human behavior.

I tried to search for these situations that caused me emotional blocks from doing what I want to do in the past, I wanted to study them to tear them down, to accept the fact that, often people who we trust the most will be our worst enemies and that there are relationships in life that we cant fix an dont need to.

1. Personal Envy
Do you know that some of the people who betray you, they do so only because they wish theyd be like you? You have these qualities that tortures them and they just cant stop until they completely destroy you if they can. The kid who is getting all the toys, support and power and still challenged to keep up with you, the amount and consistency of hate, cunning and betrayal coming from this jealous kid will either destroy you or them.

I have tried to fix some of these relationships and think that, If Im nice to him, hell just stop and like me or something, which only made me more vulnerable to more betrayal and cunning. Mark the jealous kids and know what to expect from them.

2. Your Mentees
You see potential in them, you bring them close, too close, you cherish them with your attention, you award them with shiny titles and unconditional support and belief, you expect them to be grateful, but no, they resent you and the only thing they can think of is proving how much they are better than you, that they didnt need this care, that they didnt need this attention and that they would have got it on their own.

A very clear example of that is the relationship between Rocky Balboa and his mentorship to Tommy Gun and how it turned into revenge and animosity.

This is probably one of the hardest situations to be at but Adrians response is brilliant here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr4x9aEWHZc

3. Power and Control freaks
Your potential scares them, they believe in nothing but power and more power and control, they always place their bids with whatever works best for them, ethics, morality and gratitude are extremely self-focused and self-centered principles in their dictionary, they will slaughter you if it works for them and they will just follow you and support you if it works for them.

Their betrayals might trigger resentment in your heart, as I wrote here after experiencing their swords in my back How do people react upon resentment, but believe me they are not worth it, they dont care and you shouldnt care either, these are the roles of the game, never take it personal or go emotional about it.

And if you dont like their ways, just dont be like them.

4. Taking advantage of your naivety, till when?

So, you like to be the specialized, narrow and deep type? You are only doomed to be used. They dont like this type in the club of leadership, they dont treat them as equal. They consistently take advantage of them, which can be a blessing as you can learn power games from the scratch, the more you pay attention and see whats happening, the more you master the game early on and punish them for their misbehavior later.

Learn their ways and let them taste their own poison.

5. Fortify yourself against betrayal/character assassination trials
Sometimes they are undecided about you, they like you a little bit for qualities of passion, dedication and commitment, but you are a possible threat, even some of those who you trusted must see you vulnerable at some point and consider taking a shot. To them, its a no brainer to take on clean shots at you for their advantage when they can.

I had been consistently guilty of leaving close people so much space and probabilities that they might take a clean shot at me, now understanding that without the need to go through its emotional content, it is vital to be always ready with a counter strategy. To ring their phones immediately after, letting them know you are going to get what you want regardless of their betrayal and evil cunning.

6. Hypocrites will take advantage, haunt them and crush them!
Some situations in life are too complex already, its when both sides are trying to avoid a foreseen undesired result that will hurt both, with good intentions and inter-mediation, the whole situation can be fixed. Though, its the hypocrites serving their own agendas and taking on the role of innocence and finding the best results are often are the ones who run the whole show for their advantage.

This scene from The Rock shows how a general who only intended to pressure authority, not to kill fellow soldiers ended up killing dozens of soldiers, why? because some of his mercenaries just wanted to cease these fuckers.

7. Do you know where I live? Then, fuck off!
Barking dogs are most likely not to bite, though the cost of psychological stress causes by others noise can be really exhausting. Enemies and haters will try to overload you with psychological stress, as long as you are not doing anything ethically or morally wrong, its important to cut through the chase, assess potential damage, plan recovery and fuck everything else off!

8. Maybe they dont want the Sheick
If you have a quality you might not realize its a big part of the source of your own power, the best way to take off this quality is not direct hits into it, though, it can be your own manipulation so that youd strip yourself out of this quality.

If what gives you strength is being vulnerable, with great belief in collaboration, community and open source, the best way to haunt you down is to take off the belief in these principles from your mind, and the best way to do that is to force you into situations where you are forced to let go of them as you see them abused.

9. The queen always protects her king, let her in!
For the workaholic entrepreneur, its often relationships that hurts the most, to the extend that we try to avoid having any, though, the presence of feminine energy is essential for growth and sustainability, a loving woman is capable of bringing the best in you, they are extremely hard to find and there are bad investments are often done along the journey of discovery, but if you arrive there, itll be all worth it.

There is only one woman who should be allowed to be more powerful than you, after she earns that, a big part of your job is to allow her to lead you towards your inner being and external goals.

Because in life, just like chess, the queens job is to always protect her king.

10. A warrior doesnt give up what he loves. He finds the love, in what he does!
We are often in a continuous battle with our ego, as I blogged here in Arabic about the ego and how it influences our behavior, its important to acknowledge the ongoing internal battle, try to understand it and always defeat your ego for the sake of doing the right thing.

These mental images might help aspiring CEOs navigate around the though world of business, especially if they come across more experienced and powerful people who want to take advantage of them or completely eliminate them, which had been my case for almost four years now.

As I break through my emotional blocks, I come closer to the image of the CEO someone has hoped and worked so hard for me to reach.

Power vs. Vulnerability. Which is the behavioral framework to live by?

Power vs. Vulnerability. Which is the behavioral framework to live by?

In my previous posts In Egypt, Are we hypocrites? and From Good to Great, what makes outstanding performances I have highlighted how I have seen vulnerability as a source of inspiration, progress and beauty.

Furthermore, I have integrated that in a lot of aspects in my life, recently, I was invited to deliver a session to members of a student organization called SYS, they introduced me as former President of Cairo ToastMasters Club, da, da, daaah! and while everyone is waiting, this guy in sports wear to drop public speaking bombs, I told them the best way to make a great speech, is to embrace vulnerability.

A girl told me she has a problem with the Arabic letter R, it sounds funny and they ask her to avoid it. Well, I told her even to stress on it, to be proud of it. I guess, after my session, some of the attendees doubted that I had any qualifications to make this session or if they should take my 2 cents seriously!

I have also fully embraced vulnerability in my startup life, with my team, with my surrounding, I share myself openly and do everything possible to avoid power games.

Though, being sharp, open and transparent fires back I remember a Facebook chat with a friend of mine, who told me that naivety and failure to understand power games was the reason that Im still being hit and back-stabbed right and left.

For the few years in business I had been trying to understand the hows and whys of that, I have read The Art of War for Sun Tzu and The 48 Laws of Power for Robert Green, and more of which actually made a lot of sense to me, I would bite my lips while relating some of the ideas in these books with some real life situations in which I was used and taken advantage of.

In this interview with Robert Green, author of 48 Laws of Power he makes it clear starting minute 41 that the world has changed and that consistent practice of these principles is the only guarantee for Mastery, he makes a valid point that most of those who shine for a while and then disappear experience that because of failure to turn it into a craft.

Which very strongly supports the argument that Power is what matters most and that the conscious practice of power is what sustains and grows whatever you are doing.

With these two conflicting paradigms about living life and interacting with my surrounding, I think I was suffering from an intellectual dispute, or social psychologists call it, dissonance, should we interface with our society with the beauty and energy of vulnerability, or should we control or seek to control, predict and direct as much as we can.

In my quest to answer that, I finished 2 courses on Coursera Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence by Dr. Richard Boyatzis and Social Psychology by Scott Plous, I have also became a member of the social psychology network to keep myself posted with all knowledge and news in the topic.

Social Psychology as an experimental science didnt provide a direct answer to my question, though learning about principles like Obedience, Conformity, and Deindividuation provided basis to better understand authority, power and influence.

Obedience shows that human beings have the likelihood of blindly following anything that looks like an authority. They even ran an experiment on marrying strangers as below:

Milgrams Obedience experiment even makes this clearer, people would take it to extremes and even feel they havent done anything wrong as they were following what they though is an authority who takes the responsibility.

Furthermore, principles of conformity and group biases have shown that people are more likely to agree and join who they think is more powerful and who based on their judgement is more likely to win in any situation, disregarding whether they are right or wrong, good or bad, its a fact that people want to place their bids with the winner, no matter what.

In another experiment on Dissonance, it was found that students who were paid a good amount of money in exchange for a lie, didnt really feel dissonance or guilt, they felt that it was worth the lie. Those, who were not paid well felt strong dissonance and guilt, comparably, not for the wrong they have done the lie but for what they have got in exchange.

Though, Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence had been a fabulous resource in putting all the leadership lip service to the test, as I proceeded curiously with the course, I was stopped at the Sacrifice Syndrome and everything started to make sense.

The Sacrifice Syndrome assumes that leadership is not just a skill or a gift, its also energy, that fades away and gets exhausted if you dont initiate regular Renewal Cycles. Its regardless of how much of a great leader you are or you can be, if you run out of energy out of providing everyone around you with what they need and more, youll reach the point in which youll not be able to provide them with the minimum they deserve from your attention and compassion and everything you invested in, will eventually collapse.

As I take notes of the number of times, I dropped myself off on a bean bag without getting home, and invested more time on refining or often redoing everyone elses tasks, I wouldnt have the space and focus to do my own as well as it should be.

And I guessed thats why I have probably asked this question to start with, the consistent practice of inspiring leadership while allowing renewal cycles to get more fresh energy wouldnt make the practice of power and authority any necessary, though, people would continue being inspired by the vulnerability of the goals and dreams they are executing against.

But does this mean that understanding power is not needed or not important and that the understanding and practice of these principles wouldnt defend boost and maintain our focus and energy on our goals?

Well, I guess Im still experimenting so Im not sure, but what I became more sure of from this exercise is what I shared with the kids of SYS in my public speaking session, Is that vulnerability by far, is the most brilliant practice of power.

Here, tell these people something they dont know about me!

P.S. The 48 Laws of Power can be looked at as evil and hostile, I did look at it like that for years, though, watching the interview above will educate you with what the author meant by highlighting these ideas and the video at the end might help you understand how they can be ethically used in business, watch this video from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ons-MA2PMGg

From Good to Great, what really makes outstanding performances?

From Good to Great, what really makes outstanding performances?


A bit over a year ago, as I went through From Good to Great for Jim Collins, I was inspired by the topic to research more of what makes outstanding performances, the book talks to CEOs about building resilient companies, finding the hedgehog concept of their companies and flow in greatness..

It did want to digest the concept on a deeper level..

It turned out that what really makes great performance in life and in business is the truth..

Is passion..

Is the genuine expression of who you really are and what you want to make in the world..

This is perfectly described and clearly shown in this amazing performance by the beautiful Lara Fabian..

See what she says in the introduction

I truly believe its impossible to explain how to genuinely write a song something happens that I cant say with words, its like something crosses my body,  a melody comes out of me and this melody speaks, there is something magical about that, there is something that you cant explain that goes through, like a storm, like something blossoming..

She is speaking about the genius, the magical thing that takes over her existence and graduate performances like the above..

When was the last time you had been taken over by the genius?

You know, it doesnt have to be fancy, or perfect, or even socially acceptable..

It only has to be true..

Thats why this dude, nails it with true words, he is speaking shit about himself, but it doesnt matter

As he speaks the truth..

And he even get more love after it..

Do you know that the truth is also the core of the pursuit of happiness..

Rocky, couldnt stay away from what he really loves.. The stuff in the basement didnt let him..

And see how strong his statement here is:

People are capable of doing extraordinary stuff when they are most vulnerable, you know as an entrepreneur, you know this very well..

Everytime youre taking a pivot, making a new shift, calling for a new sale..

When you embrace this vulnerability for the sake of the truth you are living for, thats when great performance comes in..

Highlights from the World Bank Annual Meeting

Highlights from the World Bank Annual Meeting

I was invited to attend The World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting in Washington DC during October last year and participate in The Civil Society Policy Forum, you know me, I wouldn’t pass such an opportunity without leaving my mark so Egypreneur organized a panel discussion there entitled: Engaging Local Entrepreneurs on Solving Development Challenges, featuring, in order of the photo below, beside myself, Lana Newishy, Chris Schroeder, Hasina Kharbhih and Magdi Amin, will write more about it on Egypreneur Stories.


I arrived to Washington DC with the government shutdown thingy, I’m glad that a lot of people have blue eyes there otherwise they would say it was mine that caused the disaster – In case you are not Egyptian, Egyptians consider blue eyes, the evil eyes, so if you’ve got bluish eyes like mine you gotta live with being an envious bastard everywhere you go 🙂

Landing from London I could notice the difference in scale and availability of “real estate”, though, Washington DC was very boring for my active taste, probably because we couldn’t move around given the shutdown, but I loved the underground, It seemed the same story, same faces and expressions in Cairo, London and Washington DC. People, real people are not any different after all.

Anyway, technically speaking I was invited to represent “Civil Society” in Egypt, I branded it as Civil Society/Private Sector, given that I have a for-profit + non-profit hats, as you are in Washington DC, you gotta start doing what everyone is doing, lobbying, the first day after arriving, my hotel room hosted the first civil society lobbying session with around 5-10 of Civil Society Representatives from Palestine, India, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Nepal – Hopefully, the room was big enough to comfortably host us all, which I didn’t mind as long as it’s paid by the world bank.

The world bank group is a large institution that has only one client, governments of the world, and oh boy, you can smell all the criticism and attacks, even my fabulous friend and mentor Dr. Claudia Gross, sent me some materials to make sure I don’t get lured with what I’m about to see, recommending that I’d read Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which sounded pretty attractive for my investigative taste, or call it conspiracy theories if you wish.

So, what’s the story of The World Bank?

And why is it relevant to Egyptian youth and entrepreneurs like myself?

After World War II, the war winning allies gathered at Bretton Woods and created what Wikipedia describes as: “Setting up a system of rules, institutions, and procedures to regulate the international monetary system” part of this system was creating The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a bunch of other institutions gathered today under the umbrella of The World Bank Group, The World Bank is the biggest institution at the group and its missions was stated as provides loans to developing countries for capital programs.

But who was controlling these institutions?

“World War II devastated European and Asian economies while leaving the United States’ economy relatively unharmed. As European governments exhausted their gold reserves and borrowed to pay the United States for war materiel, the United States accumulated large gold reserves. This combination gave the United States significant political and economic power following the war.” Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_United_States_dollar#History

After the war; Europe, Asia and of course the rest of the world was exhausted, yet the United States still maintained its economic power and influence, the US hosted all these meetings and had the boldest say in the creation and design of all these systems and institutions. The reason why Washington DC is the center of policy and influence in the world today is that it’s the center for all these powerful institutions with big funds and influence to mobilize, which is obviously dominated by the US government.

Since then, the reason of existence of The World Bank had been generally criticized of overloading poor countries, which was re-branded into “developing” countries with debit that the next few generations will have to pay off from their hard work, guaranteeing that poor countries will still be poor or even get poorer while rich countries who own majority shares at The World Bank would be increasing their economic and political influence over these countries.

The way the world bank functions is that it finances major government projects, usually developmental or infrastructure-oriented projects, some of these projects had been criticized by organizations that claim to be representing the people and beneficiaries of these projects, for different reasons including that these projects doesn’t take the environment into consideration and plenty of other reasons, they call these organizations the “Civil Society Organizations” or CSOs.

Also, allegations of corruption in the execution of these major projects were in the air, where monitoring organizations like The Bank Information Center (Independent Watchdog) says at some cases government officials strike deals to get projects executed by companies they own, resulted on being indirectly benefiting from these projects and accordingly caring less about the impact it creates on their people.

And you can imagine how much corruption can be built upon that, a corrupt government can indebit its own people while its officials are making tons of money through getting their affiliated companies to execute and profit from these projects, yet, among all this pressure and criticism, the World Bank seemed to take active steps towards transparency, that seems to be satisfying most pressing CSOs and monitoring organizations.

Today, you can download iPad applications that will include detailed information about projects they contracted, status of these projects and for the most part contracted entities and built quite strict guidelines on granting such contracts. You can play with some of these apps from here: http://apps.worldbank.org/

You can also check plenty of other information on the World Bank operation in Egypt from HERE, detailed list of these projects and status from HERE and also the watchdog organization (BIS) track, verify and republish these information, sample resource is here: http://www.bicusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/WB-projects-in-Egypt-Jan-20132.pdf

In the past, Civil Society organizations were overlooked in policy discussions and only had the external pressure paper to protest against The World Bank-funded projects, yet with increasing pressure, Civil Society Organizations seemed to secure more attention from the decision makers and governing bodies at these large institutions, bit by bit, The World Bank started hosting a Civil Society Policy forum in parallel with their main yearly meetings, you can check this page at The World Bank website for engagement with civil society and can even subscribe to a monthly newsletter from here.

I was surprised and quite delighted that the Chad Dobson, the Executive Director of BIS, the watchdog organization that monitors and criticizes the World Bank the most actually hosted a conversation with Civil Society representatives introduced by John, the team leader of The World Bank Civil Society Team, during the program we attended, which shows the development in the relationship between the Civil Society and The World Bank.

But still, beyond monitoring and criticism, starts an endless debate among activists and Civil Society Representatives, whether there is any actual value from engaging with such large institutions in development or it’s just a waste of time and effort, are the recent openness to host the civil society an actual realization of the importance of allowing the Civil Society a role to play or is it an effort to contain them and probably gain the loyalty of a few?

I went through these debates both in Cairo and Washington DC and I didn’t compose a final opinion yet, I only seemed to judge my next step based on the information that I have and previous experience dealing with the institution, I see that if the people can influence large institutions and direct them to serve their goals and solve their problems, that’s great, also given that Civil Society is not powerful enough to terminate the impact of The World Bank, not saying that it should, neither for the most part can permanently replace it, the government will still need this money to build Airports and conduct major projects.

The panel discussion Egypreneur organized on Engaging Local Entrepreneurs on Solving Development Challenges was seeking to explore any potential of a large institution like The World Bank group with all its arms to engage unusual entrepreneurial projects to achieve its objectives not only in reducing poverty through increasing employment but even in having unusual “entrepreneurial” development projects that the government can’t envision.

I don’t know, but it seems a bit odd to me to be speaking to an international institution about what I want my government to do, in some moments throughout the discussion I felt something is not right, as I should be having this conversation with the Minister of Investment, Finance, Youth, Development, but obviously these ultra important people don’t have time for kids like me, or the tribe of Egypreneur(s) that I belong to, as shared by fellow Civil Society representatives, their own government officials are more open to talk to them in Washington DC than at their own countries!

As I was attending one of the panel discussions with a fellow Egyptian lady, who is a program director for a human rights and economic development/monitoring institution in Cairo, who seemed to criticize an IMF Economist, who seemed to me to be only giving a direct systematic answers, this internal dispute flooded with a corny comment, stating why are we insulting an IMF economist for our own government’s lack of awareness and our own lack of ability to play influence on our own government and I suggested that the best solution out of this is to work on putting the Egyptian lady on the Chair of the Minister of Finance in 10 years or something.

Understanding how The World Bank works with hands on experience was the biggest gain from my participation, I get to understand that the whole structure of the world bank and its governing body is just the vehicle that maintains the capacities, knowledge and expertise to be driven by the 25 Executive Directors, where all the power and influence should be played, everyone at The World Bank including the president are just employees within a structure, the ones who really decide on where to take the organization are the 25 EDs supposedly representing all countries, with voting power according to the ownership of the bank assets, where obviously the US comes on top.

It was made clear to me that getting any influence around this institution can only be done through its Executive Directors especially The Executive Director representing your own government, in my case was the Kuwaiti Executive Director who represents majority of Arab countries.

Civil Society representatives were allowed a meeting with those who could make it from the 25 Execs, which showcased a great ability for diplomatic responses, except for the Swedish Exec who responded honestly on a remark on funding corrupt governments in Africa by saying: so are you suggesting that we stop funding these countries and let people die of poverty because of government corruption, is this what you want us to do?

Another thing I understood is that regardless of the scale, basic human behavior is the same, it was surprised to know that, it is an unspoken rule that the World Bank president will be American, the International Monetary Fund will be European and the MEGA group will be Australian.


My favorite and most inspiring part of the trip was listening to the speech of The World Bank president who seemed to be an honest person seeking real change and as he mentioned that some years ago he was outside these building protesting against the policies of the world bank, he stand today on top of the organization and breach reform with a new strategy with more engagement to the civil society and lighter more efficient organizational structure, god knows whether this will land in success or not, but we will see.

I also had the chance to meet with vice president of The World Bank for MENA for the second time, and I also enjoyed a nice, diplomatic response on my comment about “The World Bank going Entrepreneurial”. Though after the meeting I made very critical remarks on a specific project The World Bank executed in Egypt, that I had negative experience with, you always expect executives in large institutions to act in a way representing the brand and institution but some times you get really disappointed, I wished that my comment would really be taken as an advice to mind local entrepreneurs while executing projects landing straight from Washington DC.

More importantly, I seemed to grow my lobbying muscles on the spot as I picked up a few minutes chat with Sara Aviel, the Alternate U.S. Executive Directory, technically the person representing the highest voting power in the institution, The U.S. Government seemed not to like The World Bank enough these days and left the Executive Director position vacant, yet Sara replaces the ED and presents the U.S. government in the institution.

Of course after an introduction of having 50,000 wild Egypreneur(s) following us on Twitter from Egypt, I was directly speaking of how large institutions should pay more attention to the potential of entrepreneurs, through some seriously solid financial empowerment programs and criticizing the scope of involvement in supporting SME development in MENA by international organizations and how most of their programs in this regard is superficial and ineffective, I landed myself a few minutes of serious attention and a business card. That’s what lobbying is about.

I even made use of the business card recently as I emailed my previous posts regarding Bamyan Media’s El Mashrou3 to the U.S. Executive Director office as a form of abuse to what we were talking about months ago about empowering youth in MENA, ending up wasting 10,000,000 EGP by an amateur on a single contract, among plenty more disasters they committed, on the name of promoting entrepreneurship by a US government body, while real entrepreneurs are struggling to survive.

Transparency requires these information to be revealed and for impact to be properly assessed, previous and upcoming whistle-blowing is an effective way to guarantee that abuse of resources will not be taken lightly. This is a critical point for youth of my generation, we already paid or paying for this Aid money, we do have the right to track and direct how it is being utilized. I will probably speak more about that in upcoming posts.

Anyway, I enjoyed the company of fellow 60-something Civil Society representatives from around the globe and a fabulous Civil Society team at The World Bank HQ who managed the organization and logistics of the whole thing, and I continue being well connected with The World Bank offices in Cairo through Nehal and Eman from the communication team, who had been doing a great job bringing representatives of the civil society together in frequent meetings in the past 2 years and channeling us to the right resources within the organization for better engagement.

Whether any of this will actually pay off in a partnership between large institutions and civil society/entrepreneurs is something that I don’t really know and have still to explore…

Sponsored CSOs Group Photo #1

Group photo with Civil Society Representatives from Around The Globe with the Civil Society Team at The World Bank HQ

Talent Discovery TV Shows – Social Media Presence

Talent Discovery TV Shows – Social Media Presence

In the last 3 years with DSL connections going mainstream and increasing consumption of online video content and with YouTube being the hub for video content in the region, I interestingly tracked down some of the popular YouTube channels for number of subscribers and views, here I provide a quick comparison in numbers between some of the popular TV Shows for talent discovery in signing.

Definitely these numbers is a reflection of the success of every show, plus, I’m trying to dig deeper on the campaigns conducted as a part of every show and how much did it affect these numbers.

See you next post with more in depth analysis

The Entrepreneurial Revolution in Egypt, an Ecosystem Approach

The Entrepreneurial Revolution in Egypt, an Ecosystem Approach

Okay, this is a piece of old writing that I ran by which was the original script published afterwards in an Article at Business Today, HERE, I didn’t publish it by this time as an better edited version was hosted on Business Today, but I found it among my files and used it in a study about the ecosystem in the last couple of years.

Below information is outdated, I just didn’t feel like posting it on the past, so, so that was in May 2012. I will be publishing updated about how I see the ecosystem today and the shift in Egypreneur approach, why, how and till when.


We all remember the entrepreneurial stories of current Egyptian business leaders who started with little resources with the absence of any structured support and they successfully grew their businesses to a national and international scale. There is no doubt that the previous generation of Egyptian entrepreneurs who were able to assemble the ecosystem necessary for their ventures to survive and grow have positively influenced the state of the Egyptian economy.

While eyes are still gazing at the generation of the Egyptian revolution and speculations about the future of Egypt and its economy is in the air. The current rate of unemployment and lack of productivity in the economy keeps a pessimistic view about the short-term effect of the political change on the economy, yet an active community of youth entrepreneurs in Egypt is still being boldly hopeful and optimistic about the future.

Economic studies and examples of countries that pursued entrepreneurship successfully shows dramatic increase in employment rate, economic growth and GDP. Entrepreneurship presents an opportunity for the Egyptian economy to flourish and for the country to start a new era pursuing the post-revolution more free and open mentality in becoming a startup nation.

We have every right to think that a new generation of entrepreneurs is being born right now, the increasing number of events, competitions, activities, NGOs and private sector entities getting involved in entrepreneurs support shows a positive movement towards a more entrepreneurial new Egypt. While others have a different view:

“As entrepreneurship has grown in Egypt as a concept; with better social acceptance, a host of training courses and even the government jumping on the bandwagon, successful entrepreneurial ventures have not grown as fast as the number of organizations that claim to promote entrepreneurship. I suppose that’s the price of being fashionable” Eric Zoetmulder

Eric Zoetmulder, a Cairo-based management consultant and close observer to the entrepreneurship scene in Egypt argues that these activities had only contributed to building a society of “entrepreneurship entrepreneurs” a small society of those attending, involving and showing enthusiasm towards becoming entrepreneurs and while an increasing numbers of activities is taking place, the practical output in successful startups had not been up to the expectations and might not present the opportunity to ignite an entrepreneurial movement just yet.

More people argue that fostering entrepreneurship and providing outcomes from all these entrepreneurship-focused activities can only be done by a holistic approach and proper mapping and analysis to what’s happening and what needs to be done and assembling a coherent set of entities its objective is to serve entrepreneurs at different stages in different sectors, clusters and geographical areas.

By then the entrepreneurship ecosystem can be defined as a naturally assembled set of entities with interest to serve entrepreneurs at specific stage of development in a specific sector, cluster or geographical area. The word ecosystem implies being naturally assembled which guarantees sustainability as interest and benefits was the factor to initially get involved in the cycle of supporting entrepreneurs.

In a rapidly changing sector with potential for innovation like ICT, we can see how initiatives from Microsoft, Intel, Nokia, Orange and others tapping into the community of entrepreneurs to promote their technologies and expand the use of their products have participated in building a more developed ecosystem in ICT.

The climate, environment or ecosystem entrepreneurs are operating within will have the biggest influence in inspiring more entrepreneurs to jump in and will decide on the rate of successes and the possibilities of growth for existing startups. By then the future of entrepreneurship in Egypt is determined by the ability of current stakeholders to assemble themselves in a way that maximizes the benefit of entrepreneurs and to support and even “guard” their work.

In his Harvard Business Review Article – How to start an entrepreneurial revolution, Daniel J. Isenberg, mentions 10 factors to be taken into consideration while building an entrepreneurship ecosystem with potential to empower a new generation of entrepreneurs and really start an entrepreneurial movement:

  • Stop emulating Silicon Valley
  • Tailor an ecosystem around your own particular characteristics
  • Engage the entrepreneurship stakeholders early on
  • Support the high potential entrepreneurs
  • Get some visible successes, even by “brute force” if necessary
  • Change the culture head on
  • Stress the roots: don’t provide easy money
  • Pave the footpath
  • Remove bureaucratic obstacles for entrepreneurs
  • Experiment relentlessly and holistically

Daniel argues that what really ignites an entrepreneurial revolution is a holistic approach to the entrepreneurship ecosystem and engaging all stakeholders in supporting entrepreneurs at different stages, in different sectors and clusters. Trying to replicate other models like Silicon Valley would take a generation 30-years to start showing practical results, while it might take a few years if the entrepreneurship ecosystem is analyzed and addressed correctly.

With this logic, then Entrepreneurial renaissance in Egypt can only be accomplished through an ecosystem that provides entrepreneurs with all needed support at different stages of growth from ideation, business model generation, team building, seed funding .etc. That’s when analyzing and growing the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt becomes a serious matter for the growth of the economy at a new stage Egypt is entering.

Egypreneur, a project I started back in 2008 as a young entrepreneur to explore possible opportunities to meet fellow entrepreneurs and find out more about what’s out there for them, developed with time to take the lead in inspiring entrepreneurs in Egypt and support their startups by connecting them with opportunities already available from the ecosystem.

At Egypreneur we fully believe in the importance of having enough intelligence about the ecosystem and understanding who is doing what to support entrepreneurs. We initiated a project through which we were able to identify and analyze 350+ organizations that’s involved in supporting entrepreneurs in different ways from ideas generation and innovation support to shared workspaces to funding sources .etc

We believe that availability of the information of who’s doing what in the ecosystem and using it to influence what comes next will have a positive impact on Egyptian entrepreneurs who we’re here to inspire and support. The outcome from the current phase of the mapping project will be available online at (www.ecosystemmap.me) and long term work on analyzing the ecosystem at different sectors, clusters will be sustained and presented there as well.

From an entrepreneur’s perspective the focus on getting the support needed to succeed and passing his/her current stage to the next, at Egypreneur we’re launching a network just for that purpose. (www.egypreneur.com) is planned to gather both our expanding community of entrepreneurs and the 350+ organizations interested in supporting them to serve as a platform providing entrepreneurs with all what they need at all stages.

Exploring the current state of entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt through different examples can be a good start to assess what happened, what’s happening and what needs to happen to scale the effect of entrepreneurship and to start really showing results on economic growth and employment rate.

Culture plays a major role in creating an ecosystem for entrepreneurs; most Egyptian entrepreneurs state that our culture doesn’t tolerate risk and failure. Entrepreneurs quitting their jobs or ignoring their academic studies to pursue a business opportunity are not expected to be faced with tolerance and support from their families.

In the co-working space he started in Maadi, Mazen Helmy is experiencing a smaller version of the ecosystem in Egypt. Entrepreneurs setting up their companies and in need of a workspace and either can’t afford or don’t need a separate office space at an initial stage use The District not only as a place to work but more importantly to be a part of a community and ecosystem with varied expertise, backgrounds and service to offer.

In the co-working space a small ecosystem gathers itself to help everyone involved; results from a three months of operations starts to show, May GahAllah just moved to Nubai executing a development project and starting a foundation, May found The District and its ecosystem a suitable place to initiate her project while staying in Cairo.

Mr. Ahmed Dakrouri, do have an interesting story, as an MIT graduate with years of professional experience, after the loss of his father who had been leading family’s developmental work in their home town in Minya. Mr. Dakrouri was left with a hard decision to make, whether to end the development work carried by his family for three generations or decide to head to the south and dedicate his time to leading it.

Mr. Dakrouri has chosen to continue his family’s path and currently focusing on promoting entrepreneurship and creating an ecosystem for entrepreneurs in Abu Korkas, Minya to start and scale successful businesses through Abu Korkas-Minya Association for Economic, Social and Environmental Development.

In a confident tone, Mr. Dakrouri states that he could see serious opportunities for growth in a few clusters in Minya if only stakeholders who’re operating very well in Cairo can expand their activities there providing support to the association work, the power of entrepreneurs can be unleashed and we can sit and watch new clusters and Egyptian products getting exported from there.

In an effort from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology through its Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC); Hayiy initiative launched last March, an initiative stimulating the local ecosystem in different Egyptian governorates and allowing local entrepreneurs to step up and get involved in solving problems of their society.

Being a part of the promotion campaign for Hayiy in around ten Egyptian governorates, I could obviously see the level of energy and desire among Egyptian youth to pursue the entrepreneurial path, still the ecosystem in each of this governorate needs a lot of effort to stimulated and effectively support the ambitions of young potential entrepreneurs.

Flat6Labs is another example of an accelerator that built and ecosystem around itself to guarantee the quality of experience entrepreneurs who join it will have. In partnership with the American University in Cairo, Sawari Ventures provides seed funding for startups accepted to be accelerated through Flat6Labs, last round, entrepreneurs received mentorship from CEOs of industry leading companies and gained media exposure.

In the final presentations graduating last round, Hany El-Sonbaty, co-founder of the VC firm financing Flat6Labs invited other investors to get aboard in investing in graduating entrepreneurs. The network of entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and business executive created around Flat6Labs is a good example of supportive ecosystem to entrepreneurs.

INJAZ is another NGO who was able to foster the ecosystem for the benefit of entrepreneurs getting involved in their “company program” seeking to give students the experience to start and run their businesses at a sensitive stage at college when everyone is thinking of a career track to pursue. Last year, INJAZ were able to tap into private sector entities to provide seed funding and mentorship to successfully graduating startups from its program.

Now, a graduating startup from INJAZ can tour around a large corporate like Mobinil preparing their marketing strategy with the help of Mobinil marketing team and learning how to project and take care of their finances from their finance department, while being initially seed-funded through it. This model of collaboration between NGOs and Private Sector entities interested in supporting entrepreneurs can provide a leap to a lot of the efforts being carried out to inspire and inject new qualified entrepreneurs into the market.

At Egypreneur we firmly believe in the effect a homogenous, balanced and synergetic ecosystem can provide to entrepreneurs in Egypt who remain the ones with the keys to the future development of the Egyptian economy through their startups.

For entrepreneurship to flourish in Egypt and really start showing results and output in the economy, it had to be approached holistically. Mapping the ecosystem and keeping an updated presentation of who is doing what and possible forms of collaboration, synergy that’s possible between these organizations is an essential step to reach the desired outcome of a more entrepreneurial new Egypt.

Brand Positioning in Football @EtisalatMisr & @VodafoneEgypt

Brand Positioning in Football @EtisalatMisr & @VodafoneEgypt

As an entrepreneur, having marketing and branding going through my veins, I like taking a deeper look at the billboards around the city. The slick design and fancy look of Etisalat Ads grabbed my attention since its introduction in the Market.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Yet, I could observe a marketing battle between Etisalat & Vodafone after Etisalat launched Al Ahly Football Campaign. Etisalat closed a three years sponsorship deal for Al Ahly Football Team T-Shirt for a full 135 Million EGP (Read More) and launched a campaign after that.

As you might know, branding is about fighting for a position in the customer’s mind, its a battle that takes place in customers’ minds as they associate a brand with a specific word. The Etisalat campaign was clearly associating the quality of Etisalat service with key points of strength in Al Ahly team.

After Etisalat campaign Vodafone Egypt launched a Football campaign associating its brand as the official sponsor of football in Egypt, being more general and inclusive I thought it was quite a wicked hit for Etisalat’s campaign.

The last photo shows players dressed up in different T-Shirts, coming from different teams probably playing for the national team (including Al-Ahly) — when you think about this from a branding and positioning stand point, I think Vodafone was successful in retaliating to Etisalat campaign by being more general and inclusive, what do you think?

And branding campaigns around the city still grabs my attention and I love analyzing what’s behind the designs, locations and messages there…

Google Ebda2 – Project Management Tools

As a part of Google Ebda2 Crash Course to entrepreneurs who passed the competitions initial phase, I would like to share the resources I mentioned during the presentation and chat more about project management and available tools.

I wanted to strengthen on the fact that project management for entrepreneurs should be approached as a very simple subject to get stuff done, by then project management for a startup entrepreneur is not a complete body of knowledge to educate – at this stage – but it’s only about deliverables.

By then project management is simply about who is doing what, when. We’ve used the example of four individuals came up with the idea of an iPhone App and moved on with the example through different stages.

Here are some important resources that I mentioned:

Short link to access this is http://bit.ly/Ebda2_PM

Alternatives to Basecamp: http://bit.ly/PMAlt

Following presenting is interesting as an extension to what you’ve learned from today’s session:Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

View more presentations from Wrike com

Enjoy! If you have any question about project management for startups, feel free to post here and let’s discuss it together!

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