Friday, March 25, 2011

Lebanon Better Project 2 Days After

The wall is full. It took only two days and all quote spaces are full. Not only that but there are quotes that have been written by more than one person! Someone started with a couple of words and other people completed the sentence!

Check out all the quotes here in the gallery. You can also read the rest at .

Personally, I found something very beautiful about this project. Its not only the amazing quotes that have been written, but the way people view this wall. I just observed the wall for five minutes and almost every person that passed by, stopped to read, and smiled. That made me very happy because it was beautiful.


I think it’s beautiful because those people who posted their thought on the wall made complete strangers, whom they will never meet, stop in their tracks, stop their journey and smile. And for those couple of seconds, that complete strangers is not thinking about his long day, or her job or even the work he has to do. But rather, the complete stranger is smiling.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

We're stimulating a better lifestyle at Vida

This is life changing. We are stimulating a better lifestyle and making you an 'every-day hero'.

"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer." —RALPH WALDO EMERSON (1803-1882), The foremost authority on leading an ideal lifestyle.


VIDA is a community of people like you.
People that accept you just the way you are.
People that support you in achieving your full potential, safely at your own pace.
Be stimulated into action, stimulate others, and be loved for it.

And that’s not an easy thing to do. But it can be done.
We are rewarding a better lifestyle by turning 'everyday-people' into 'everyday-heros'.
and to find out EXACTLY how we do that, vist
thank you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lebanon Would Be Better Project


The Lebanon Would Be Better project is an experiment. It's a canvas where people are asked to write on. The sentence ' Lebanon would be better if I' is stenciled with a line next to it. There is also a cup containing chalk stuck on the wall. The lines are open for anyone to add his or her suggestions and thought. And this is the goal of the project, to see how people see a better Lebanon as individuals.


I invite you to check out the project. It close to Bliss street in Beirut, in front of Books&Pens. And I would love to know if you wrote anything and what you actually wrote too.





The project was inpired by the work of an artist called Candy Chang who built a large chalk board around an old house in New Orleans. Here project was called 'Before I Die' and you can check it you here.

This is something me and my friend Karim Badra, may or may not have done.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Guide to Buzzmarketing


Buzzmarketing is a book Roy Riachi gave me a while ago and I finished it last Thursday. The book basically provides arguments and guidelines to use word-of-mouth advertising which is ten times more efficient than TV, billboards and written media. And I'm going to tell you all about the six steps here:

1) Make Buzz: create a story that has to do with your product that is buzz worthy. These topics are: the taboo, the outrageous, the the unusual, the hilarious, the remarkable, the secret. Having one or more of these traits gives your story buzz.

2) Capture Media: let newspapers, tv and radio talk about you. To do this, give the media one of five things. Something unusual. Something controversial. A celebrity story. Something already hot in the news. A week vs. Strong story.

3) Advertise for attention: when you want to advertise for your product, make sure you focus on how much people will actually pay attention to the message you are trying to give.

4) Strategize wisely: out-think your competitors and dont out-spend them. Sometimes, knowing the right thing to do, which might be uncomfortable, can lead to explosive results. Compared to usual methods which bring you usual results.

5) be creative

6) Police your Product: make sure that even after your product becomes a success, it stays worth it. Even if you think you achieved that goal, the quality and worthiness of your product should stay the same.

The book gives more examples that are more convincing but basically this is what it gives in the raw. I think it's a good book but it's outdated. He doesn't talk about viral videos and social media which tipped advertising and marketing on it's back.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lessons From My Third Month Out of University

Lessons I learnt this month:

1) Productivity is as important as your mother.

2) Losing doesn't mean you lost.

3) Health comes first. Pizza comes second.

And here they are explained:


1) Productivity is as important as your mother:


I had 22 meetings this month alone: since February 6th, 2011 till March 6th, 2011, . So if I had one meeting a day this month, I would end up with 8 days just to myself. These meetings happened in Jbeil, Baabda, AUB, Hamra, Ein el Mreysse, Raouche, Awkar, Spears... and even on Skype. I didn't count those 40 minute phone conversations that also happened several times, most of them while driving. And when that happens, trust me, you will pay the price. Around 11 cents per minute.

The funny thing about meetings is that they are essential to what I'm doing now but at the same time, I'm not doing much. For example, I had to meet with a business man close to Pheonicia at noon.

It took 35 minutes to get there. The meeting lasted an hour. And it took 25 minutes to come back home.

So I have to put in an extra hour for every meeting hour I have. Some times its more.

The real problem is not there. What bothers me is when nothing actually happens after meetings. In this specific example, we were discussing a business plan:

In one hour of skimming through a business plan, he gave me three important points to work on. He said he's going to send me an sample of what he thinks I should do and I was off. I said to myself 'Great! I will be expecting an email from him in the next two days. I'll get the sample and start working!'

Well, the email never came. I forgot about it. And I didn't work on the business plan. Frankly, I don't blame the meeting. I blame my productivity because I see it this way:

A couple of days after the meeting, I look back and I think 'was this meeting worth it or should I have spent it with my mom?' It;s a very good excercice that helps me find out I'm doing something wrong. I don't live with my mother so I barely see her. It's important for me to make time to just sit with her, talk about stuff, and eat. However, spending time with my mom is one of the most unproductive hours of my day. No offense. I'm just saying, if it would have been better for me to be with my mom than to go to this meeting hence, I should:

  1. Try to see why I didn't work,
  2. Salvage what is left and do work, and
  3. See my mom.

BUT. But. but.

If I didn't go to this meeting, I woudn't have found out that my business plan is not even 10% complete. I woudn't have found out that there is a lot of more work to do, more than I expected. And that's true for every meeting. If I didn't go, I woudn't have found out something essential to what I'm doing now.

The trick is not about 'not having meetings'. The trick is to make sure that your meeting was worth it. (Worth the time with your mom).

And to make sure that happens:

  1. Take notes during the meeting. Usually, their called 'Minutes'.
  2. Make action steps from your discussions. (ex: Fix font on page 5. Ask Joseph about NFC. Write proposal.)
  3. Create deadlines and notifications. (ex: let your phone remind you that you have to do that action, an hour before it's due).
  4. Recap before you end the meeting.
  5. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Do I repeat it again? Follow. Up.

What you need:

  1. Paper and a pen.
  2. A gmail.
  3. Google calender that syncs on your phone and gmail.


2) Losing doesn't mean you lost:


Suggested reading Sherif and Roy didn't win the Creative Award

I'm talking about not winning the Deutsche Bank Creative Award. Yes I didn't win. Yes I worked hard. Yes, I could have done something else.

But we won stuff that you can't buy with 10,000 euros. What we got was:

  1. Publicity and exposure,
  2. Expert advice and suggestions,
  3. A business pitch,
  4. A website,
  5. Three videos,
  6. A facebook fan page,
  7. Connections and
  8. Fans

Although we made most of the things we listed, but we would have never had done these actions if we didn't feel the pressure from the competition. And this is true for everything you do. For example, imagine you went to an interview, did the best you could and didn't get the job. You won something because you got:

  1. Interview experience,
  2. A better CV
  3. A chance to refine your CV
  4. A glimps of what employers want
  5. A connection to that company

I know it would have been awesome to get that job. But where can you get a real-life, genuine interview excercice from? It would have been easier for me and Roy to launch Brandmee if we got the 10,000 euro too! But we are still launching it.

"Just because I'm loosing, doesn't mean I'm lost" - Coldplay


3) Health comes first. Pizza comes second.


There aren't many things in life that make me as happy as good food with great company.

I'm being serious. I dislike eating alone. I look for anyone to share a meal with. Even you, internet. Even you.

I've been doing that a lot for the past two years, since I had a very lovely loved one and we loved food. Food together.And the best food was at Pizzeria Bread Republic in Ashrafiyeh... Get the Goat Cheeze Calzone with spicy oil. Thank me later.

I didn't get sick of it, but my body did. So my body gave me a kirish. Not only that but it also gave me back pain. I recently played basketball a couple of times and I coudn't play longer than an hour because my back starts cramping and it doesn't let me walk. So I picked up this diet William Choukeir passed on to me. It's basically I diet where you stop eating legumes (no pizza). I'll talk about it more later on. But how do I put health first and pizza second? Well, I can suggest the solution to you, but I prefer you check out this TED talk which can answer on my behalf.


Stay hungry, stay foolish and stay in school.

- Sherif

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What my mom thinks of 'What I'm doing now'

I had lunch with my mother and sister the other day and I was telling mom what I'm doing in life. She wasn't happy. And I understand why she isn't happy. Why would she be happy if her son is not getting a higher education.

I can imagine my daughter telling me she doesn't want to go to high school. I can imagine myself panicking while she explains to me that she wants to be a ballerina and there is no point for her to get a baccalaureate diploma. She can directly go to dance school. I can see myself looking into her dream-filled eyes while she describes 'how incredible it is to be doing what she always wanted to do' and 'how happy and complete it will make her'. While I think that 'I lost my child'.

It scares me.

And I'm sure my mother is scared for me too.

But how would I handle the situation? 

Should I come to terms with my daughter's decisions and stay scared or should I convince her to go back to school?

      • She is only 17!
      • She is still young!
      • She is not safe!
      • She is not as mature as me!
      • She doesn't understand what life is!
      • She will not be happy!
      • She will regret it!
      • She is risking her life!
      • She is wasting her future!

And that's what my mom tells me. She said during our conversation that day:

Mom: ...You are wasting your future.

Sherif: What if I got employed at a big company and they payed me $10,000 a month?

M: Without a BA?

S: Yes.

M: Then it means nothing.

S: Why?

M: Because we are in the 21st century and people are asking for Masters! 

S: What if I had 40% of that company and I would be set for life?

M: What kind of company employes people without diplomas?

S: I'm just saying this as a suggestion.

M: This is not a suggestion. Stop this Sherif and go back to university and be a student like everyone. Go back to be the smart child that I was proud of.

It's really tough to be a parent. Imagine how hard it is to get them to school and then keep them in it. A school that is designed before the 21st century. 

Would I put my 21st century children in a industrial aged habit-forming system?

Would I make my ballerina daughter study calculus?

Would I make my ballerina daughter fail biology and tell her she is not enough?

Would I make my ballerina daughter stop dancing because 'Math and Sciences' are more important than 'Arts'?


I think the real question is,

wether it's with or without a college degree: How can we make our children lead a happy life? 

*Mind you: I am accepted at Central Saint Martins and I will be going there in September. My mom still talks to me as if I'm a drop out.