Friday, July 29, 2011

What is Life - The Essence of Success in Life

 A story I always loved, appreciate life for what it is

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in han d, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, ! not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups and were eyeing each other's cups.
"Now if life is coffee , then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of Life doesn't change. Some times, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it."

So folks, don't let the cups drive you..., enjoy the coffee instead.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Embracing Change

an excerpt from my forthcoming book Shift Into High Gear

It's healthy to embrace and respond to change as the new normal. In this day and era, with a volatile and unstable global economy, your prosperity  and your future will be determined by how you deal with all those changes. For Change is all around us, and ever happening with or without us. Change is neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong, change just reshapes life. 

What you make of it is up to you, how you react to change, how you deal with changing circumstances around you greatly impacts your life. Life is not something that happens to you, life is what you make of it.

Mark L. Feldman asks, There are five frogs sitting on a log, and one of them decides to jump off, so  how many frogs are left?

Answer: Five!

Because there is a big difference between deciding and doing.

Accepting change is good. Thinking about it is good too. But one needs to make a conscious choice of embracing  change rather than simply embracing one's good intentions. Otherwise, we will continue to be our own victim, which will keep us caught in the same place.

The real measure of change is; can you change yourself?

It is as bad as you want it to be.

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who really make it in this world are the ones who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, they make them.*

Do you think that what has happened to you is bad ? 
Is it a situation you wish you weren’t in? 

Then Change it. 

Look for the positives and realize that life presents many lessons to learn from. Think about what you can do yourself to turn around these difficult circumstances and grow from. If you wish you had a better relationship with somebody significant in your life, work to get just that. If you know that you have unhealthy eating habits, and have just been brushing them aside because you are “too busy,” make an effort to bring about change. Go for what you really want out of life. Maintain a positive outlook. Magic can happen.

It's all up to you!
Shift into high gear and May you live every day of your life.

…..and I know you can do it, its time you understood that too!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Connecting the Dots: Find Your Own Social Media Recipe

So yesterday, I finally, decided to Explore Empire Avenue the social game, that I've been hearing and reading about quite often lately!  I did create an account, and set my profile and connections, and started exploring some.
I found it interesting and fun. but this post isn't about Empire Avenue, though the story of yesterday started with it. 

You see, I was curious about the 16 investors who had bought my shares. So I searched for some of them on Google+ and added them to my circles. Surprisingly, later in the day, I received Linkedin invitations to connect from those I circled on Google+. and I thought I'd check my G+ to see if they have circled me back. And sure enough they did. Oh Cool, and then I got back to work.

Early evening, I got on twitter, and seeing that I got new followers, I checked and I found a few of my Empire Avenue shareholders whom I have circled on G+, got connected to on Linkedin and now we are following each other on twitter.

I don't know about you, but I find that fascinating. especially that it completed the thought I have been entertaining for the past week.

I was thinking about the different social media platforms I personally use, and engage in. Specifically that, for the past few weeks (ever since Google+ launched) we have been seeing debates, comparing, and even over- analysis of which social media giant will lose to whom. I am not an expert on this, but as regular user of those platforms, I don't see why they one should lose to another. I find that each social media tool serves a specific purpose for me.

Despite the many similarities social media platforms such as Google+, Twitter, Linkedin, facebook, and other tools out there, they are different and am sure their users are also different, even though there are many users like me who use and rely on more than one tool regularly. Users are people, and people come in different shapes and personalities, eventually they will choose the Social Media tool(s) that appeals to them the most, and works for them the best.

Connecting the dots, I cannot do with only one social media tool. I find that all of them are useful in more than one way. 
Click image to buy on Amazon
Facebook Marketing: An Hour a DayTwitter Marketing: An Hour a DayThe Power Formula for Linkedin Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand, and Job SearchNetworking Is a Contact Sport: How Staying Connected and Serving Others Will Help You Grow Your Business, Expand Your Influence -- or Even Land Your Next Job                                          Now, Going back to my Empire Avenue story yesterday,and let's say that I was on vacation (My Empire Avenue exploration), and I met a few people, discovering we both belong to the same Country Club (where we have fun, relax, help each other, learn new things, get to know each other better, and build good relationships) my club in this story is Google+. Some of our club friends, connections and fellow members,  may be interested in further networking, and a professional meetings is mutually agreed on and set up. Thus further connecting on Linkedin: Conferences and Conventions, and following up on each others news on Twitter, the perpetual Trade/ PR Show.

After all of this networking and connecting,and given that deal is in the horizon, you can comfortable move to the Meeting room to discuss particulars (Email, IM, skype, phone, or a good old in person meeting).

Although, I find better uses for Linkedin, Twitter, and Google+, am still using Facebook, on a personal level (keeping in touch with Family, friends and old classmates), and on a professional level, a good number of my audiences are there, and its a good way to connect with them.

Therefore, depending on your own business needs and purposes for using Social Media, you may well find yourself using more three to five tools on regular basis, and using another two to three for certain events or purposes on occasion. Do not feel that you have to choose one over the other just because it is trending.

Find out what works for you and your business, experiment, connect the dots, and learn how you can improve and perfect your very own recipe for using social media.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


an excerpt from my forthcoming book Shift Into High Gear 

The only constant is change. This has been accurate for all times. If you understand that, and believe it to be true, it has profound implications for your growth, development, success, 
happiness and well being.

Change is universal, it is the only constant. Change is inevitable, it is certain that things never remain the same, even people change; over time or suddenly; willingly or unwillingly; by external or internal forces; people will change as everything else changes around them.

Every day, at any given time, somewhere, something is changing. It is happening all around us, and it will forever.

However, most people fear and resist change. Why? One of the biggest reasons is that we as humans tend to get comfortable in the way we do things, it's easy for us to get accustomed to our set ways. Even though sometimes maintaining the status quo would be negatively affecting our lives and holding us back. Most of the time, we resist new things, new ideas, new possibilities just because that New Change takes us out of our comfort zone; perhaps it's the loss of a job, moving into a new city, a failed relationship, dealing with a new boss or policy at work, it could be anything, really! Anything that's pushing us out of our comfort zone.

Most people have difficulty adjusting because they are basically uncomfortable. Yet, both personal and professional growth at some level, need and depend on change.

Change is inevitable, but personal growth is a choice. – Bob Proctor

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Step Out, Step Up

an excerpt from my forthcoming book Shift Into High Gear

The doors are open, what's stopping you? Step out, step up to who you are!
Yes, it's that simple, for you to be what you want to BE. But first you got to find the door, the doors are always open, if you find a closed door, or a block in the road know that it's you who's blocking your roads and locking  yourself inside, and you may be surprised to know that you always hold the keys within you; You got everything you need within you, all your tools, solutions and answers are within. All you have to do is look.

Found your door, Step out, Now!

Much as we may wish to make a new beginning, some part of us resists doing so as though we were making the first step towards disaster. – William Bridges

You may feel scared about taking the first step on a new path. At some point, we all do. Starting a new career, ending a comfortable relationship, moving on after a death…all of these can be frightening things to deal with. In life, you must be willing to take risks. Although that first step can be the most frightening, most of the time it is the most rewarding. It is the step that can launch you into success. Into the life you always wanted.

Even if you are afraid, do it anyway! risk it…and take that step you’ve been scared of. Step Out.

By searching, you have already made the decision, by stepping out, you explore options and push against comfort zones, and actually taking action towards your goals, It's time to step up to who you are.

Stepping up to be who you are, is taking charge of your life, taking responsibility for your life, for what you want and following through with a second step, and another and another. Until your reality becomes your very own living dream.

Shift into high gear and May you live every day of your life.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Life is About Choices & Decisions We Make

There are long and short roads in life; smooth and rocky roads; crooked and straight paths. Many paths shall come our way as we journey through life. There are roads that lead to a life of marriage or living single. There are also roads that lead to fame and fortune on one hand, or isolation and poverty on the other. There are roads to happiness as there are roads to sadness, roads towards victory and jubilation, and roads leading to defeat and disappointment.

Just like any road, there are corners, detours, and crossroads in life. Perhaps the most perplexing road that you would encounter is a crossroad. With multiple roads to choose from and with limited knowledge on where they would go, which road will you take? What is the guarantee that we would choose the right one along the way? Would you take any road, or jusstay where you are: in front of a crossroad?

There are no guarantees.
You do not really know where a road will lead you until you take it. There are no guarantees. This is one of the most important things you need to realize about life. Nobody said that choosing to do the right thing all the time would always lead you to happiness. Loving someone with all your heart does not guarantee that it would be returned. Gaining fame and fortune does not guarantee happiness. Accepting a good word from a superior to fast-track up the career ladder is not always bad, especially if you are highly qualified and competent. There are too many possible outcomes, which your really cannot control. The only thing you have power over is the decisions that you will make, and how you would act and react to different situations.

Wrong decisions are always at hindsight.
Had you known that you were making a wrong decision, would you have gone along with it? Probably not, why would you choose a certain path when you know it would get you lost? Why make a certain decision if you knew from the very beginning that it is not the right one. It is only after you have made a decision and reflected on it that you realize its soundness. If the consequences or outcomes are good for you, then you have decided correctly. Otherwise, your decision was wrong.

Take the risk: decide.
Since life offers no guarantee and you would never know that your decision would be wrong until you have made it, then you might as well take the risk and decide. It is definitely better than keeping yourself stuck in confusion and indecision. Although it is true that one wrong turn could get you lost, it could also be that such a turn could be an opportunity for an adventure, moreover open more roads. It is all a matter of perspective. But take caution that you do not make decisions haphazardly. Taking risks is not about being careless and stupid. Here are some pointers that could help you choose the best option in the face of life’s crossroads:
  1. Do Your Research: Get as many information as you can about your situation. You cannot find the confidence to decide when you know so little about what you are faced with. Just like any news reporter, ask the 5 W’s: what, who, when, where, and why. What is the situation? Who are the people involved? When did this happen? Where is this leading? Why are you in this situation? These are just some of the possible questions to ask to know more about your situation. This is important. Oftentimes, the reason for indecision is the lack of information about a situation.
  2. Identify and create options. What options do the situation give you? Sometimes the options are few, but sometimes they are numerous. But what do you do when you think that the situation offers no options? This is the time that you create your own. Make your creative mind work. From the most simple to the most complicated, entertain and explore all ideas. Do not shun anything out when an idea comes to your head. Sometimes the most outrageous idea could prove to be the right one in the end. You can ask a friend to help you identify options and even make more options if you encounter some difficulty, but make sure that you make the decision yourself in the end. Even if you've hired a coach, at the end of the day, you'll be making your own decisions.
  3. Evaluate; Weigh the pros and cons of every option. Assess each option by looking at the advantages and disadvantages it offers you. In this way, you get more insights about the consequences of such an option.
  4. Trust yourself and make that decision. Now that you have assessed your options, it is now time to trust yourself. Remember that there are no guarantees and wrong decisions are always at hindsight. So choose… decide… believe that you are choosing the best option at this point in time.
Now that you have made a decision, be ready to face its consequences: good and bad.
It may take you to a place of promise or to a land of problems. But the important thing is that you have chosen to live your life instead of remaining a bystander or a passive audience to your own life. Whether it is the right decision or not, only time can tell. But do not regret it whatever the outcome. Instead, learn from it and remember that you always have the chance to make better decisions in the future.

Take a risk, decide how to live your own life.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Circles My Rules

 +1 My Circles ==> MY Rules
Here is an illustrated article, that describes my usage and views of the top four social media platforms that I use the the words of Donna Svei @AvidCareerist "sums up the state of play on the Big 4 Social Networks 

Google+ 1 page infographic"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

There is no such thing as a silent investor, or a silent partner

First Posted on | Mowgli Foundation on July 4th, 2011
by Ghada El Kurd

There is No Such Thing As A Silent Investor, or a silent partner, and that’s why I turned down 110 thousand US Dollars.

Yes, I really did turn down 110 thousand dollars cash-flow injection into my relevantly new company. As tough as things were at the time, with limited to non-existing funds, trying to build up a wider network and client base, having just bought out a partner, and above all, managing a big project that required dedicated and costly resources; when an investor came along offering to inject 110 thousand dollars, as a silent partner. I said No, thank you!

I will explain exactly, how I came to this decision as a result of my firsthand experience, although my knowledge and decision also were supported and came by way of observing the businesses and partnerships of colleagues, friends, relatives, clients and other SMEs, whether up close or from afar.

Now, my experience in my own ventures as well my work history in the family businesses, have taught me many valuable lessons over the years. The one that came crashing back into my mind with a neck breaking speed, was that There is No Such Thing As A Silent Investor, or a silent partner.

My first business, was thrown at me, no, really, it wasn’t really a choice at the time, I was barely 18, and dear old father decided that I will own (legally) and run the family’s new venture. Now that may sound impressive and yes, it was really very satisfying to my 18-years old ego; yet, little did I know that I really owned and controlled nothing.

In the first few months, I realized that I did have partners, the head designer who was the real talent was one, whose salary was 5 times mine and who banked 50% of net annual profits. But it was fair as he was the talent, and the whole business was built around his talent and skills. And naturally father was also a partner, actually the main partner for that matter, as he had the last word on everything. I was just the owner/manager! I accepted that, and tried to learn from both as much as I can.

Father started getting me involved, periodically, in our other businesses, especially when he’d be travelling. Little by little I came to understand the dynamics of the group, and became aware of the existence of investors, to whom we were accountable, and whose involvement gradually progressed to the role of active decision making partners. Conflict arose, and things started getting too chaotic, key personnel were at loss too, as they knew not whose orders to carry out. It was a total mess, especially that those investors-evolved-into-partners, had very little or no idea about the nature of our businesses, management or even a basic understanding of the markets at the time.

Essa El Kurd, my wise father, realized that the probability of losing everything was becoming a very real and high business risk. He boldly decided to buy everyone out, each and every investor and partner, which resulted in a 7-figure debt. We planned and implemented the buy outs over a period of 18 months. With every buy-out we regained more control of our own businesses.

And for the next four years, the business I managed, was our cash cow, it was what kept a roof over our heads and those forty other roofs over our employees’ heads in all of our businesses; Those other businesses were running successfully and making profits, but all profits went to paying out the debt we incurred in the buyouts.

As for my unofficial partner, well, he was the only partner we had by that time, we were investing in him and his talent, and as managing investors we had absolute control.
Know that if you are looking for an investment, whether it’s a kind old Uncle, an angel investor, who simply likes to get small businesses off the ground or a venture capitalist, without being held accountable to your investor or think they will assume the role of silent partners, you are seriously mistaken.

Sooner or later, they will want to know what and how you are doing, and increasingly more often, and gradually you will see them start to get involved at one level or another, regardless of the promises of letting you run your business, they WILL be involved, even if it’s just a phone call once in a while! And with the first mishap or trouble, even if it’s a minor one, you can expect even more communication, physical presence and active involvement. Every investor and every “silent” partner will want to be sure their money is being used and managed properly. And that their investment is in good shape, and it is their right.

I repeat, there is no such thing as a SILENT investor or partner, that is the main reason why I declined the investor’s tempting offer which could have saved me a lot of time and hardship in my business.

I know that raising outside investment is a difficult and time-consuming process. It is not for everyone though. But without some basic understanding, it can not only be extremely frustrating but could end in angry failure. SO if you are looking to keep majority control of your business, seeking outside investment requires proper due diligence and study of: the reasons, purposes, alternatives, investment type, terms and conditions, shares, management, stage where at investment is required, your team, and many other criteria that should be considered, but above all, don’t be blinded by money.

Don’t be blinded by the investment value or dollar amount that you need that the investor is about to make available to you, that you do not see the investors themselves. Know your investor, study and understand, their character, their goals, their interest in your business, and their expectations. Expectations also include how often and how to report back to them, division of shares, roles, and even additional investment if required.

Think before you jump, know what you both want and need, plan it well, put it in writing; and remember it is still a partnership just as it is a human relationship communication is essential to your mutual success. SILENT investors/partners do not exist.


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