Here We Start

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Dear Sail Readers,

Here we are with the second edition of Sail. We had so many ideas to publish for you, but so little space. For this issue, the “Think Aloud” section introduces entrepreneurship as a definition, a concept and elaborates on its recent growth over the past few years.

To aid with giving you a real life example on entrepreneurship, Mr. Ali Al-Saloom has kindly agreed to share his exciting story with us, and it can be found in the interview section. We have also included a rather interesting and funny video on leadership and how to start a movement in our “spotlight” section. This is a MUST see.

Finally, we hope you will enjoy Sail’s April issue, and contribute to it with your comments, thoughts and possibly even start a debate. We want to know what you think.

Happy Sailing,
Shaima Al-Tamimi

Generation Me

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

To start with, we may need to admit the word “entrepreneur” has been pretty much abused lately. It got generalized on what does and doesn’t fall under its umbrella. So for the sake of this article, we will define entrepreneurship as the act of starting a business from a new or renovated idea in a current field, cross fields, or a new field all together.

I have observed in the past few years a rise between the young generations pursuing entrepreneurship, be it in our region or internationally. I had to research this fact to confirm it is not only my observation. The articles termed these generations doing so as “Generation Y”, “30 years and younger”, “millennial generation”, “Generation Me”, etc. So the question arises as to why this is happening.

External elements

Looking at the rate of growth in the corporate world compared to the rate of growth in the population, the gap is easily noticed. So whether Generation Me are smarter or not, organizations cannot absorb them all for employment. This led to a number of this generation to pursue entrepreneurship, either voluntarily because that was their passion, or forcefully leading them to find their way into it.

From another angle, the focus was always given to build the main infrastructures, and facilities. Now that the city is pretty much built, the focus is directing towards enriching the community itself.

The fact that more people have embarked on entrepreneurship, lowers the risk and fear of doing the same. Hence, more and more are not being intimidated with the thought of entrepreneurship.

Technology and knowledge economy

Generation Me had the privilege of growing up with technology. Most of them, had a computer at home since school days, and most of them are experts at exploring the internet. This has added a new dimension to the way they think of dealing with new gadgets constantly. It also undeniably broadened their horizon, by being exposed to vast knowledge while growing up. Any information they needed is always at the tip of their hands, from any field, age, country, etc. This built their comprehensive perspectives across fields. In the old days, gaining such information wasn’t as easy, which inevitably perhaps meant less information.

Social networking

All sources of current technologies as mentioned above, have largely transformed and evolved the social networking fields, be it through emails, forums, blogs, social media websites such as LinkedIn, facebook, twitter, etc. All these made networking with different sorts of people much easier, sharing ideas and discussing them became a trivial matter.

Forming support communities have never been easier; the number of online foundations, group, councils, etc. is growing every day. This gathers people of same interest from around the world to discuss ideas and give support.

All these form a stepping stone for entrepreneurship, because it builds on sharing ideas using easy, fluid, and instant communication between people with the same interest. Such communication allows them to stir ideas and ignite them, till they finally execute them. Set aside, that the power of networking and online marketing grants the entrepreneur higher success through the easier spread of word of mouth.

Individuality

Individuality is the acknowledgment of your unique set of traits, qualities, and skills that sets you apart from others. Generation Me has shown their high sense of individuality around the world, they acknowledge it, celebrate it, and demand to be treated upon it. I couldn’t point a finger as to why this is more prominent on this generation, it may be a subsequent result of all the reasons above, it may be because they have witnessed so much from the previous generation that they refuse to follow the tribe. Whatever is the reason, the fact remains valid, Generation Me are individualistic.

The higher sense of individuality is a vital part to pursue entrepreneurship, because entrepreneurs are often inhibited by others from endeavoring in it. It is often those who are highly individualistic that can stand still against such inhabitation, because they believe in their traits and skills, they demand to own their own future, and are persuasive enough to fight for it.

Needless to say, these factors are not by any means generalized on all the addressed generation, and are not exclusive for them either.

Interview with Ali Al Saloom (@AskAli)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Interviewed by Iman Ben Chaibah

What do you do?

I raise awareness about the Emirati culture through programs and tours. I get appointed by universities and colleges to educate young nationals, to motivate and inspire them into entrepreneurship.

I am the CEO of Maestro Commercial Enterprises, the holding company of all my brands: Ask Ali, Embrace Arabia; a cultural consultancy establishment, and OneTVO; an online television company; which I jointly own with Mr. Reg Athwal.

How did you start before this?

My life till today is pretty much influenced by my father. He passed away last year, March 2009. He believed that if you do not do something with your own hands, you will not be an expert in it, appreciate it, and will never understand the significance of its value.

I went to the United States to study Hospitality and Tourism Management. When I graduated, my father thought I should start my career as a doorman in Beach Rotana Hotel. So I started as a doorman, then became a concierge, and then moved up to a receptionist. As the days passed I was getting qualified for the next push. However, I had to leave my work due to my father’s sickness, and accompany him for his therapy travels.

When my father recovered, I went to Canada to pursue an MBA in Branding. That is where I started my cross cultural lecturing, where I was assigned by a dear professor to conduct lectures on raising awareness about the Middle East culture.

Why did you decide to pursue cultural awareness?

I was working in Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, in the business tourism division. My role was to conduct tours for the VIPs visiting the country. However, I felt something was missing. It seemed contradictory to say we have our culture and heritage, when no one was there to deliver it. We say we have great buildings which people can come and see them, but they cannot see the cultural side of the country, when no one is showing them.

That is when I thought of starting Ask Ali website. I booked the domain name of www.ask-ali.com, and I started working on the website from design and content. The content included what may be needed by tourists, business travelers, or residents. I was aware that there are already plenty of websites that may talk about the same, but not all of them were correct, and none were wrote by us, we ought to be putting the words about us.

When did you decide to commit to the idea?

I decided to commit to this and take the responsibility for it when I attended “Unleash Your DNA” seminar by “Reg Athwal”, towards the end of year 2006. The seminar inspired my epiphany moment. I knew then what I was meant to do, and that I should start it. During the seminar I drew a sketch that had the milestones I wanted to achieve, it had: website, column at a newspaper, TV show, CD, and a book. When I look now at it, I feel grateful, because within three years, all that was achieved.

What did u do about it?

I launched the website with some assistance from my IT friends. I quit my job with only AED 16,000 in my account, and pursued what I wanted. Launching Ask-Ali was my real start. I had to obtain a trade license, however, to get that, I needed to have an office, and for that I needed money for the rent. So that was a dilemma. Right about then, I heard of a company that was in the process of rebranding, so I pitched with a branding plan concept as a consultant, and I got the contract for AED 30,000. That went directly as a down payment for an office, and then I registered the trade license.

I started cultural guiding, people already knew me, so I just had to announce that I am taking requests. I started charging AED 350 for half a day. That was very cheap. Within two months, it became 3500 AED for half a day. People started to understand the significance of what I do. Now the rate of my basic package of half a day is around AED 5000.

What were the reaction of peers, family, and society when you first started?

My father asked me why I could not work and do what I wanted both at the same time. I told him that he always taught me to be focused and committed, and I believe this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. That is when I got his blessings immediately.

My mother did not approve and stopped talking to me for three years. My sisters thought I was wasting my time. They did not understand the value of what I am doing as a whole. My mother endorsed me only in March this year, during the launch of my first book at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. I was so relieved at her reaction when she saw all the people around my booth, the interviews I had and so on, only then she understood the value of what I was doing.

My friends and colleagues tried to talk me out of it. They believed that with my graduate degree I ought to be having an actual job. Now they do have higher respect of what I do, and they understand.

What did u learn from your experience?

When you build a business of your own, it requires 3 to 5 years to stabilize it. It is not an easy ride like some would like to say, but it is definitely a worthy one. I had days when the bank account, literally, had no balance in it. The key to become an entrepreneur, in my opinion, is to adjust yourself to accept less, without having a problem with that. Once you believe in that, you will prosper, because you will know, that a better day will come.

You will always have obstacles, but they are there to reveal your strength in overcoming them, and letting you know how much you really want what is behind those walls.

If you had the chance to go back in time, what would you have done different?

I would have spared the moment to be by my father’s side when he passed away. Aside of that, I would not change a thing. I am a big believer in fate. Because whatever have happened to me is what got me to where I am now, and I could not be any happier.

What do you advise the readers?

When I was starting up, I got this valuable advice: expect less appreciation from family and friends. When you are mentally prepared for this, you can endure the journey. The problem is, while you are starting, you need to spend a long time on what you do. With that, a gap starts to grow between yourself, family and friends. You would miss them, but you are occupied with what you do. Eventually, they start to think you became arrogant and proud. You need to acknowledge that this may happen, so always stay humble, and try to keep in touch with your loved ones.

All it takes is one firm moment with yourself, deciding to commit is your first step. I had nothing to put me where I am. I had worked hard for this, struggled, sacrificed, suffered, and lost a lot. All that had led me to gain this much now.

Leave with a smile. Believe in yourself as the messenger of your own field. Be a pioneer or disappear.

Derek Sivers on How to Start a Movement

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

This is yet another video from TED*. From a side it is very short in duration, from the other side, it is great in content.

Derek Sivers explains in 3 minutes how a movement can start. Little needs to be explained on this. Here is the video.

*To those who don’t know about TED, please check it out on TED.com. Its simply life changing for those who are ready for it!

Closing Note

Shaima Al Tamimi (@iamshaima)

Shaima Al Tamimi (@iamshaima)

Shaima, a 20 something year old who loves to immerse herself in all things fresh and interesting. She loves to travel, observe people and experience new cultures. Her quarterly column “Food for Thought” discusses important social topics from thought provoking perspectives. Shaima is also a food blogger
Shaima Al Tamimi (@iamshaima)

Fellow Sailors,

It was Iman’s mission to dedicate this current issue solely towards entrepreneurship and clarify the reasons towards the rise of this motion.

Ali Al-Saloom could not have been a better candidate for this issue. His story is not only inspiring to others, but also shows us the adventurous journeys of being an entrepreneur. Make no mistake, it is not a walk in the park, but it is also not rocket science. If you positively believe in what you want to do, the hardships you will encounter should look like a challenge not an obstacle.

I only hope that April’s issue has encouraged you to take the steps you have long been willing to take, but could not find the encouragement from elsewhere. Think Derek Sivers TED talk on how to start a movement. The first guy accepted the challenge of being looked upon as a ”lone nut” by dancing shirtless in public, however soon enough came the second one, who encouraged the third, fourth, so on and so forth. So if you take it as a challenge, you will always be positive, and if you take it as an obstacle, you just might feel defeated.

So my fellow Sailors, this is your project, your business, your life. Take charge and own it.

Regards,
Shaima Al Tamimi