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

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