Monday 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a year of peace, health, happiness, fearlessness, focus and success. 



Blogger and co-founder 

Friday 23 November 2012

The entrepreneur chooses a winner

Entrepreneur LouLou Khazen Baz won with Nabbesh, an inspired skill sharing business supporting women, youth and SMEs.

Congrats on the win. Lou Lou received 2 million UAE dirhams to develop her business further. 

Monday 19 November 2012

Why the Entrepreneurship Revolution is Critical for the Arab World

By 2020 over 100 million job seekers will have entered the job market in the Arab World. This, according to some sources, is from an overall population of just 372 million. The strain this population bubble is already placing on the job market and resources is unprecedented in the Region.

How will the impending skyrocketing jobless rate for youth impact the stability and daily life within the region? The recent shortage of youth jobs has already been sited as part of the fire which fuelled the Arab Spring. The sheer numbers of placements needed are no longer manageable by adding more government jobs. The dream of a government job for life has been eroded for most.

That leaves only the creation of new jobs. Investors to build organisations may be part of the solution when areas of the region cool down, but no solution alone is likely to reach the scale of new jobs needed. Entrepreneurship is becoming survival.

With technology,  inexpensive communication interconnectivity and access to knowledge, skills and learning, exporting knowledge based solutions has become possible and is happening.

While at the International Startup Festival in Montreal this summer, a Startup CEO of an online marriage counselling site asked me how to hire programmers and coders from Palestine. Why Palestine? The nature of our dialogue didn't allow me to delve deeper, however the interaction brings focus on a small wedge of the pie of possibility.

The ecosystem of entrepreneurship is weak in the region. A majority of business success has historically revolved around trading, and importing.

It's time for local and resident entrepreneurs to focus their energies on developing exportable knowledge based services and homegrown solutions which fit their community's cultures, lifestyles and unique problem sets. Easier said than done with complicated bureaucracy, a distinct lack of mentors and a culture of interfering investors and a business culture which doesn't make an exit part of the plan let alone a strategy.

But think about the realm of the possibilities. We write future history through our actions today. It's time to get to work and be part of the entrepreneurship revolution.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Ban Ki-Moon UN Secretary General on collaborating in our interconnected world.

SEO and the ICEMAN are Dead

SEO is Dead from Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr shares insite into Google's new SEO approach on the slides above.

Finally - a new discovery... as if we didn't know.

People don't like to read intrusive, uninvited advertising. Content created for SEO is uninteresting.

Stories should be created for the reader/listener/viewer.

Back to basics; let's communicate in a natural way. Captivating, relevant content re-rules!

My guidelines for successful content:

  1. Keep it real
  2. Be authentic, be human
  3. Be you - you are interesting! 
  4. Be relevant to your intended audience
  5. Don't try to sell - all those guys who told you they could sell ice to eskimos... where are they now? Did they create a global ICE e-commerce business yet? 
Don't die with the Iceman and SEO. Keep on keepin' on with interesting conversation. 

Saturday 17 November 2012

An Entrepreneur to Watch: Jaber Henzab, Young Qatari Inventor and Winner

While attending the wrap up dinner for the Global Entrepreneurship Week Qatar last night, I was fortunate enough to connect with a pleasant, matter of fact Jaber Henzab. Jaber is a recent graduate of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A and M University, Oct 2012 winner of a Stars of Science award, inventor of an automated dispenser of medication and inspiring entrepreneur.

He is one of those people that squeezes the quality out of every opportunity life offers and during his studies at Texas Aand M he participated in 5 internships around the globe from Germany to Japan and including Porsche and Toyota.

Jaber shared some of his internship experiences, one of which was life changing.  Jaber's most significant lesson was one of self awareness and personal development. Through his internship experiences, Jaber decided he wanted to be in charge of his own future when he graduated. He did not set out to be an inventor, but his passion for entrepreneurship and independence led him there.

Jaber developed a prototype of Tahi using his own resources, sought out and worked with star mentors from Education City and won significant prize money from the Stars of Science TV experience. Tahi now has investors lined up to support the development work ahead.

This is one young man to watch.

Wish you best of luck Jaber!

Global Entrepreneurship Week Qatar Wrap Up

Dr Rachel Awad presents a prize to winners of ..

Thursday 15 November 2012

Collaboration Poll

Going Beyond the Hive at Network Connect - Startup Collaboration

Master Connectors Cross Disciplines to Solve Problems

This group's diverse background consisted of ten countries of origin and professional backgrounds from Technology, Construction, Design, The Arts, Entrepreneurship, Youth Community, Education, Management Consulting,  Fashion, Retail, Luxury Brands, and Social Media.  

Collaboration, support and problem solving rocked. The lesson: mix it up.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Q&A With Suzanne Grant - Collaboration & Startups

Entrepreneur, Suzanne Grant - collaboration a key success factor for local and international business

Why is collaboration important to entrepreneurship?

Startups usually have limited resources, from cash to talent. So they can benefit from helping each other out. Kind of like old-fashioned barter. What is special about entrepreneurs, however, is their wonderful openness to help one another. We are all learning along the way, and today as soon as you get used to a new technology, tool or process it changes. Nobody can make it alone – at least not to potential. If you look at collaboration as part of your strategic tool kit, you have the opportunity of making progress faster with your existing resources.

Are social media and internet tools the answer for collaboration?
I have personally developed solid business relationships starting from Internet and social media connections. But a majority of people are still using these tools in the wrong way. Whether face-to-face or using Linked in Groups, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc principles of collaboration still apply.

Too often I see people trying really hard to “sell” their products or services without working on building a connection.  Social media is all about being social. And when it comes to selling – how can you do that successfully without knowing the person you are interacting with – at least just a little.

Collaboration starts with connection and we all seek this as human beings To seek connection is completely natural, but somewhere along the way, growing up,  we became shy and forget our instincts.

People can develop themselves. Shy people can be charismatic. I think I have managed to do that, although I am still learning too. We can always be better.

How can collaboration be strategic?
We can collaborate at many levels. Collaboration can lead to friendships and thought leadership. It can be for charity. Aligning our collaboration energy with our business mission is where we can take it to a strategic level. 

Network Connect Startup Collaboration


Tuesday 13 November 2012

Expert set to share experience with budding entrepreneurs Wednesday, 14 November 2012

DOHA: Opportunities that collaboration offers when starting up a new business will be the main topic of a workshop organised by 8Ovate Canada and The Youth Company Qatar, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The event will take place today at Crowne Plaza Hotel, from 7 to 9 pm.
Suzanne Grant (pictured), CEO of 8Ovate and entrepreneur that left Qatar two years ago, is back in Doha to share her knowledge and experience after founding projects such as Qatar Happening magazine.
She added that starting up a business in Qatar can be difficult at first without contacts. In this context, she encouraged other entrepreneurs to interact with peers that are experiencing the same problems and discover the skills their own personality has to offer. 
Grant talked to The Peninsula about the effectiveness of social media to build strong business relationships. 
Nevertheless, she added that “the majority of people are still using these tools in the wrong way, and try really hard to sell their products or services without building a connection”.
About the fields that offer opportunities for entrepreneurs in Qatar, Grant pointed towards development of online content in Arabic.
This businesswoman recommended future entrepreneurs to get solid legal advice before starting a business in Qatar because a partnership is very similar to a marriage. The Peninsula

Network Connect - Startup Collaboration Workshop at GEWQatar

Network Connect - Startup Collaboration Workshop
November 14, 2012 at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Crowne Plaza, Doha, Qatar

You are invited to share collaboration secrets in a fireside chat/working session. Brought to you by 8ovate Canada and The Youth Company, Qatar as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. All GEW Qatar events are free.

@SuzanneMGrant has launched, built and supported countless local and international brands pushing the envelop of the possible. What's her key to success? She credits collaboration as one of the key factors behind business growth. From a bootstrapped one-woman startup to a multi-million dollar success story, multiple disciplinary global projects and enterprises, Suzanne relies on the same principles.

You are invited to share collaboration secrets in a fireside chat/working session. Build your own collaboration strategies to suit your natural style, interests and business objectives.

Looking for co-founders, investors, a talented team, strategic alliances, mentors or more clients?
Get a jump-start developing your collaboration strategy and skills with Suzanne and Qatar's entrepreneurs.

Register for free: Select the Youth and entrepreneurship stream for Wednesday 14 NOVEMBER.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

The #1 best opportunity for content marketing in the Middle East

The people in the Middle East are fast adopters of technology. The region, in-fact, leads the world in technology adoption. Internet usage is skyrocketing, with major global social networks siting growth in the region as their best.  Some of the world's best news networks spawned from the region, creating a legacy of content.

Despite all the reasons the Middle East should lead in content marketing,  arabic web content remains at only 2% of the world's content and consumption products are still largely originating from outside the region.

This represents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to stand out. Compare competing for ranking and search optimisation on the web in English and Arabic.  Creating relevant, engaging content in Arabic should be a key part of any marketing strategy in the Arab Middle East.

The info-graphic below illustrates how marketers are measuring the success of their content marketing.

Next blog post: creating strategic digital content including my #1 tip.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

We all need an Eddie Obeng in our Lives

"You are sitting at the headquarters of a global corporation if you are connected to the internet.

"it's called smart failure because you can't put it on your CV"

Monday 15 October 2012

What did Felix say as he took the leap?

Post Jump Press Conference with Felix He talks from 7:42 Minutes.

What did you say before you jumped? 
"When i was standing there on top of the world you become so humble--the only thing you want is to come back alive. You don’t want to die in front of your parents, your girlfriend and all those people.”

"I know the whole world is watching now and i wish the world could see what I see…Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are.”

Felix Baumgartner's supersonic freefall- Highlights

The most exciting thing I have watched live  - ever. Apparently 9 million people live streamed this event. In my mind - it should have been more. 

Likely reminiscent of watching man landing on the moon.  

And now a brand, Redbull has a better space program than the US. 


Sunday 14 October 2012

Daily Creative Juice

Is Sheryl Sandberg still "leaning in" at Facebook?

I became fascinated with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, after watching her TEDWomen video. She was criticizing women taking a back seat and not aspiring to their full potentials in the workforce. Her advice: lean in, come to the (meeting) table and lean into the dialogue.

I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by strong women in my professional life and haven't experienced what Sheryl described in her talk. I do respect her experiences in Washington and Silicon Valley. She was very convincing, her delivery authentic. 

Apparently Sheryl spent one year preparing for that TEDtalk and hired her own researchers to get the facts right.

Sheryl later appeared on Makers talking about authenticity, a topic near and dear to my heart. After seeing her interviews and commencement speeches,  I liked her even more.

Sheryl pitched for Facebook's new business strategy in early October 

Having followed this convincing woman promoting her thoughts, Sheryl's televised Facebook pitch appeared to lack her usual authenticity. The delivery left me questioning if  Sheryl still believes in the Facebook she is selling.

If you no longer believe in something, and you deliver speeches on authenticity, you best let someone else do the promoting - or even better go find something you believe in and lean into that.

Do you think Sheryl is still leaning in as her authentic self?

Tuesday 2 October 2012

When People Say You're Crazy - You're Onto Something Arabstarts GEW 2012 Series

I can't agree more: When People Say You're Crazy - You're Onto Something

Ghassan Halazon of Team Buy (Canada) Speaks at TedxDeadSea talking about; starting up, pitching on Dragon's Den, punishment as a reward, company culture, the power of a threat, the need for failure and getting people to feel something 

Inspiring talk in English and Arabic

Shy away from people who belittle your ideas!  Big thinkers are those who support you (Mark Twain said it first a little differently - now startup legend speak)

Saturday 29 September 2012

tips on closing an efficient meeting articles usually have fantastic titles but often lack depth and substance.   The article 3 Ways to Keep Meetings Short , however, is brief with some useful reminders of how to set up a productive meeting with some non-obvious takeaways. It speaks to one hour meetings which may or may not meet your "short' criteria for a meeting.  I'll share the non-obvious tips part with you :

How to wrap up a meeting - very similar to closing a sale. I would recommend this approach for a one-on-one or a small group meeting with a client: 
  1. "In one sentence, what was your single biggest takeaway from this meeting?
  2. In one sentence, what is one topic that should be discussed in our next meeting?
  3. Give one word or phrase describing how you feel about this meeting?"

One and three may be repetitive - but try it out and see for yourself. Sometimes repetition is what it takes to get the info you want flowing. 

 This technique certainly reinforces that you care about what your client wants and is a great opportunity for feedback and building trust. 

Wednesday 26 September 2012

The Essence of Starting with Heart

I am sharing a work in progress. My designer will cringe as he has not yet seen it, nor therefore touched it. If you click on the link below it will take you to a powerpoint presentation. Images are rough, and the sound is even scratchy - how did that happen? Maybe some kind of intelligence on behalf of the MAC? This is an early communication from a startup hence let's select scratchy garage 1970s recording sound? 

I'm interested to know what kind of content could enrich the presentation. It is meant to help startups find a place to actually start their startup from. I put it together in early early days when the to do lists were overwhelming and impeding creativity and progress.

If you don't feel like going to the presentation a synopsis of the notes are below. 
Start with heart – Finding the Start Up Essence 

I am sharing some of my own discoveries and wonderful wisdom of other entrepreneurs that only experience can bring 
  • The learning curve can overwhelm:   Business models, financial systems, technology, competition, creating pitches for funding, engaging partners and sponsors, revenue models, corporate tax, how many people will we need to hire, what skills will we need, where will the money come from, … the daunting list goes on

  • Business schools are big on teaching how to build business models and business plans….But there are so many reasons why the best place to start is on your idea – the essence of your start up – your product or service.
  • Trying to do to many things at once can block creativity.
  • Building a worthy product takes some stretching of the imagination, questioning our own idea, testing our ideas, throwing some away, starting over, finding better solutions. 
  • And until we have our product prototype designed - most of the to do list will need to be redone anyway.
When you want to bring a start up to market, creativity can be one of your best allies.  To put your best foot forward:
  •  Step back and take a long look at your start up 
  • Set your own preferences aside and step into your customer or users wardrobe. 
  • Live in their space, think about their joys, problems, influencers, inspirations.. 
  • Feel how your idea change your customer’s world – even if just a little bit?  
  • Or think how would you like to change their worlds?
Find the reason you must bring your idea to your customers. 
There are a lot of people we need to reach, engage and motivate to be on our team: start up partners, investors, clients, end users, collaborators.
Your business model will be essential – but it will not enchant the people around you. 
We typically have about five minutes to convey that our startup is worthy – of partnership, of funding if we are delivering that message personally.
Passion conveys confidence, it is contagious. Get an angel investor excited about your idea and your opportunity for success skyrockets. 
What can you say in a short time to gain interest in your idea? How many words do you need to use to prove your point? How long will you have a key  person’s interest?
Passion and enthusiasm will get attention and it’s infectious – just like laughter. An excited audience pays attention. 
We learn by doing, we remember through activity. Demonstrate and test your prototype. A prototype shows you mean business and are not just batting an idea around, Your business is the real thing. 
Heart and authenticity build trust with your users and investors
 Most importantly – live your customer's/user's life. Understand their desires, their problems, their culture, how they make decisions. Love them. Love to help them. That’s how you will create an authentic business and attract a trusting audience.
You need heart for your clients and for your partners. If you love your customers.. then you will love your solution and this creates passion. 
Passion is contagious and fuels courage and tenacity. 
 If you build your business with heart, if you love it, so will others.