25

I just turned 25. 

Not sure if it's supposed to be a big deal, because it probably isn't.

I have reached a point in my life where I'm hungry for success.
Seriously! I am so focused on winning. But the reality is, it's simply not that easy. 
And that's super frustrating. Like really really depressing, beats the hell out of me - day in & day out - keeps me up at night.

I understand that some of you reading this will be like ahhh this punk is just 25 and he is complaining!
Well sure, I need to be patient. But patient for what?! I work hard, really hard - but all that doesn't matter because I am not winning.

And to each their own definition to winning. To me, it's making a lot of money. 
Might sound superficial. But honestly I don't have a number. It's not a 100M and it's not 1B US$. I personally think I would never stop (even though I have been contemplating the idea of a world where jobs and AI advancement in Financial Markets can make a huge shift in people's lives and maybe have them retire at 40 - but that's a totally different story) I just wouldn't stop because even though I hate to admit it but I love the game. I love the stress and the journey.

As I turn 25, I get to understand myself a bit more. And that's a key pivotal point. Being honest with one's self is a hard and lonely individual process that is crucial to raise self awareness and understand how we make our own decisions. I realize that I am too molded by the people/society/family/friends that I surround myself with and I am not sure that's a very good thing. I am not sure if that's the type of character I want to be. But regardless of that I am not here to get all philosophical.

And since I am 95% honest with myself (I still leave some room for BS - keeps my sanity); I realized that none of my behavior is really prepping me for the big leagues. Like ZERO. Like I say I want to be rich and I want be an entrepreneur and do my own thing - but my work/life behaviour doesn't say that at all.
I am just another high performing corporate employee. While that might be great for some - but it ain't enough for me. 
And that's where I need to get real. I am not saying it because entrepreneurship is some sort of a trend but because I feel it's what I was born to be. Whether I win or lose is irrelevant but that's seemingly what's going to translate to making me happy. Or very miserable. But I want to keep trying. 

I read a lot about this and I meet a lot of entrepreneurs that might argue that if one is just in it for the money, then they are in it for the wrong reasons. Others can claim that worldly pursuits are evil. But honestly, I don't care what others think. I am not them, I am not Zuckerberg nor Spiegel, so I just need to figure out something different and do it my way - there is no right and wrong to it. 
It's so much fun to find that one problem that you are willing to dedicate a large part of your life to solve.

I am not saying I am some sort of an anomaly nor a sales genius - I just think my 30 year old self would have wanted me to tell my 25 year old self to start changing my behavior to map what I want. If I crash I crash, sure I'll get bruised and my self esteem will be down the drain - but at least I tried. Because my 25 year old self wants to prove that I am not just a super ambitious guy with "entrepreneurial tendencies" but I am the real deal. Corporate life suffocates and I just can't keep going on like that forever.

Anyways I am not jumping yet.
Not because I'm all just talk.

But because to me it's not about just building any company (for I can just go start a coffee shop) but it's more about solving a problem I really care about. Building a company that I wouldn't want to sell.

In addition to the fact that it's more practical for me right now to get the exposure and to build the network I need through the job I have right now. I can then later on leverage all those close up experiences and relationships with the CEOs I interact directly with to start my own venture.

One last point, would be that it might not even be "My Own" venture - but maybe a startup that I am employee #4 in and I am able to grow it from revenues of 4 digits to 7 and beyond.
 

This post is about me taking a moment to think about the major lessons / thoughts / realizations that resonated with me over the years, the following comes to mind:
 

Family:

  • Family and friends come first. No excuses. I can't stress the paramount importance of this. Especially for those special people that can tell that something is wrong, no matter how hard we try not to show it. These are the true heroes getting us going when the going gets harder. Cheering us up when all else fails.

    We all stopped carrying phones in our pocket, but instead carry small computers (which is great!) but during that transition, we lost touch of people we really care about. We rather text than call. Which I for one agree it's much easier.
    But make an effort to call ... to meet. It's much more personal and it's 100% game changing when it comes to building lasting relationships.
     
  • Kudos for my family for instilling true values and ethics in me.
    As you tend to grow and interact with the world, you tend to realize that life is no longer black and white. It's all shades of warped grey. Your judgement may get cloudy. Differentiating between what's right and what's wrong is all very relative. You tend to question everything and everyone (no one is 100% good or 100% bad). Unfortunately, there is no guide book for that (even religion might not give such distinct guidance). People can often sound very convincing at and for all the wrong reasons.
    A lot of times dealing with all this is a function of how pure and strong our values are from within and one's ability to understand what we stand for. Trial and error might be painful in such scenarios.

....

Myself:

  • I no longer have the patience to engage in nonsensical debates over certain things with people.
    Not out of being arrogant but what's the point of wasting time.
    I respect people's views but some people debate just for the fun of it. Others engage for the BS art of criticism.
    Often more times than not, winning such debates adds nothing to me as an individual.
    Unless, I really care about you or it's going to affect some team decision - I find no point discussing that matter.
     
  • We are never going to be "ready".
    If you are waiting for that perfect moment to present itself to make our decision. I'll be very honest - It never does come.
    The universe doesn't give a crap about anyone ... life moves on.
    So if you decide you want to do something - most probably today and 5 months from now won't differ much.
    Whether its for love, gym, work, study ...etc. - all the same.
     
  • On a micro level my life can be all negative but on a macro level it's incredible. And it's good to step back every once in a while and give yourself a pat on the back, reward yourself and focus on the positive. I think this helps your brain focus better and drives you to see the bigger picture. Sometimes we get so caught up with daily life and carry it around on our shoulders and that depresses the hell out of us. And trust me it shows!
     
  • Bet on yourself. A lot of entrepreneurs want VCs to fund them, people to trust them - when they don't even trust themselves. 
    What I mean with this is I spend/invest money on myself - whether it's on learning or on some travel experience. And there is a simple reason for that: I trust that my older self would have wanted to lend my younger self money to go out there and blow it all and have fun as much as possible. So that's exactly what I do. Money comes and goes and one must really trust that there are certain things in life like happiness that have no price tag.
    The other point with this regard is TIME.
    One very certain thing is the older you get the less time you have. More work responsibilities, wife, kids, ...etc. and the younger the more time you have naturally. Time is money like they say and I have the luxury of that today.
     
  • Love is the most powerful thing in this world. Nothing else matters. Follow your heart and do what makes you happy. 
    Love yourself, love the people around you and don't be afraid to get hurt. Put yourself out there. I'm not saying be naive though.
    Love is magical but that doesn't mean you can't understand and break it down logically into stages. Love evolves and so do we. Falling in love and the initial spark stage is different than being with someone for 2 years, different than 5, different than 7.
    From a personal experience, 7 is the lucky number that can prove if that love can withstand the test of time.
     
  • Hope and expectations are very different to ambition.
     
  • Learn to forgive yourself.
     
  • Don't stop learning. Don't base your knowledge based only on headlines. Read and ask more questions. The internet is endlessly growing.

....

Work:

  • EQ. EQ. EQ. No that's not a typo. 
    EQ is crucial in the world we live in.
    I would probably even say it's much more important than IQ. You build your professional network totally based on your EQ.
    It's fundamental to have that intuition to be able to understand people and be empathetic. 90% of the game is about understanding people and clicking with them - 10% is about acting upon that.
     
  • Business is business - it's just that and it should stay that. Don't make it personal, yet try to find the right balance in work for some empathy. 

    In addition to that, I think it's very important not to burden your life partner with your work problems. Because let's face it. 95% of work is fire fighting and facing the shit straight on. Your partner doesn't need to be a part of that - it stresses and drains each of you, taking you away from what's important. Relationships already carry a lot of baggage and loading them with work stress is a formula for disaster and tension.
     
  • Screw fake working hours. Jobs are like from 9-5 or 8-6 or whatever combination it may be to meet that 8-11 hour work day, and of those, I can bet that 99% of people only work 4 hours or less! Some hard workers go for 6 - but that's on occasion!
    In other words corporate cultures suck! they are broken.
    Long "Lunch Hours", "Breakfast Meetings", Candy crush, Whatsapping bae, facebooking, checking the world of instagram ... 
    It's just stupid and ridiculous - I'd rather have my team work from 9-2 everyday ... really really hard and go home early than suck their life and expect them to deliver more by spending more time at work. 
     
  • Have the courage not to conform, when something is against your beliefs/thoughts/ideals. Don't be afraid to have your own opinion.
    A lot of people would rather conform than speak their mind out and be viewed as different or opposing to others' ideas.
    There is a broad difference between being respectful and conforming. Resilience can often be measured by how people refuse to settle for something mediocre.

....

Life:

  • Nothing lasts forever. and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
     
  • Filter out the negative news everyday.
    While the world is full of wars and terrorism, it's also full of hope, beauty, technological advancement and scientific breakthroughs.
     
  • Have absolute faith in God, that everything will work out.
     

I couldn't be more excited to see what the future holds for me and the world around us. Technology is moving in such a fast way that over the coming 10-15 years the internet as we know it today could change in so many different ways.
I am so thrilled to be living in this day and age getting to see AI, autonomous driving and virtual reality come into mainstream.
I hope to be one of the people that are able to build products and companies that can bring value to the people all around the world.



To a better Year!



 

Ali Darwish

Business Development, Hyflux | an entrepreneur at heart | inspiring presenter | graphic designer | challenge junky | dreamer