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ET Project \ Podcasts

ET-065: How to overcome the 7 career myths that are holding you back

With Mr. Mustafa Ammar

ET-065: A conversation with Mr. Mustafa Ammar

and your host Wayne Brown on September 19, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Mr. Mustafa Ammar

Hello and welcome to the ET Project. I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and as usual, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET.

Today we’re off to an undisclosed, beautiful countryside location in Italy, and speaking with the founder and CEO of the Passion MBA, a global coaching company, Mr. Mustafa Ammar is a life coach who has coached hundreds of professionals around the world to find their dream careers and build their dream business by applying his coaching methodology, the Passion Blueprint.

Mustafa is the author of Time To Move On and the upcoming book, The Passion Project. He has truly managed to cram several very diverse careers into one single life, starting as a pharmacist, out of passion for chemistry, and then switching course to become an international diplomat out of the passion for building bridges among different cultures and traveling the world.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“So it wasn’t easy. But then also at the same time, I had many dreams. As kids we dream a lot about being different things and you just spend a lot of time on building dreams. So I had those dreams with me, they didn’t left me. And at the same time I understood early in life is that, okay, if I don’t have any of those whatever magic powers or I’m not intelligent enough like other kids, or I’m not extroverted enough, I have only hard work. And I had my dreams. So I have my dreams to inspire me. And the only way I could do it if I would is to just… Working hard on it. And somehow you figure out things, you discover things about yourself you never thought you had, and the journey gets more interesting because it’s about achieving dreams, conquering challenges. And then at some point if you think, okay, I think I’m done with the challenges and the dreams in this career, why not dream of something else and go out and conquer it and get it and move on?…….”

Today’s Guest: MR. MUSTAFA AMMAR

Mustafa’s role led him to places such as Beijing, Malawi, United Nations headquarters, before he switched careers in industries once again to work this time as an investment specialist at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, where he was in charge of business development and bringing investment to various regions, including Africa, middle East, and Latin America.

Mustafa successfully brought in more than $1.1 billion worth of finance in infrastructure projects in the Middle East alone during his tenure. Somehow along the way, Mustafa has obtained his MBA together with his master’s degree in diplomatic studies and negotiations, and of course, where it all began with his BA in Pharmaceutical sciences.

During our conversation, we touch on some of the mentors that Mustafa continues to work with. People such as Jack Canfield, the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul Series, and Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of the world’s largest networking and referral organization, BNI. I found Mustafa to be a true serial entrepreneur with an insatiable appetite for growth, his own and his clients

Final words from Mustafa:

“I think the main issue I’ve faced with a lot of people is that they edit their dreams. And what happens, what I mean is, they get an insight, they get an idea, inspiration, and they cut it. No, no, no, I cannot do this. It’s like, it’s a nice dream, it’s a big dream, but they cut it.

And what happens is that your subconscious is bringing you that inspiration from somewhere, but then you’re just cutting it also subconsciously or unconsciously. So, the first step is don’t edit your dreams. Never edit your dreams. If you got an idea, also put it on paper, put it in front of you, assess it, spend some time on it.

Because somehow if you have that big dream, and it’s very scary to you, if you wanna build a billion dollar company or whatever you want to do, maybe the only way to achieve it is just to accept that inspiration because you are destined to have it. So that’s the first step if I would say, just keep your dreams close to you, don’t edit them. Spend time on writing about them and then let’s see how things will evolve.”

0:00:05.9 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as team ET. Today we’re off to an undisclosed, beautiful countryside location in Italy, and speaking with the founder and CEO of the Passion MBA, a global coaching company, Mr. Mustafa Ammar is a life coach who has coached hundreds of professionals around the world to find their dream careers and build their dream business by applying his coaching methodology, the Passion Blueprint. Mustafa is the author of Time To Move On and the upcoming book, The Passion Project. He has truly managed to cram several very diverse careers into one single life, starting as a pharmacist, out of passion for chemistry, and then switching course to become an international diplomat out of the passion for building bridges among different cultures and traveling the world.

0:01:08.8 WB: This role led him to places such as Beijing, Malawi, United Nations headquarters, before he switched careers in industries once again to work this time as an investment specialist at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, where he was in charge of business development and bringing investment to various regions, including Africa, middle East, and Latin America. Mustafa successfully brought in more than $1.1 billion worth of finance in infrastructure projects in the Middle East alone during his tenure. Somehow along the way, Mustafa has obtained his MBA together with his master’s degree in diplomatic studies and negotiations, and of course, where it all began with his BA in Pharmaceutical sciences. During our conversation, we touch on some of the mentors that Mustafa continues to work with. People such as Jack Canfield, the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul Series, and Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of the world’s largest networking and referral organization, BNI. I found Mustafa to be a true serial entrepreneur with an insatiable appetite for growth, his own and his clients. So team ET, I’m really excited to bring this conversation to you and welcome our guest, Mr. Mustafa Ammar as we look at debunking the seven career myths that may just be keeping you from finding your dream job.

0:02:41.9 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor Wayne Brown as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:02:58.3 WB: All right, well, welcome back team ET. Great to have you here for another week. It’s a big week for many of you. I believe this recording is going to be live at the end of September, so I can imagine for many of you, this is the end of financial year. We’ve got a really interesting, a fascinating guest today. I’m sure you’re gonna be inundated with insights and probably a lot of tips that you’ll be able to take away, particularly any of you that are looking at career transitions. Mustafa Ammar, welcome to the ET Project. Welcome to the show.

0:03:34.8 Mustafa Ammar: Thank you so much, Wayne. It’s really a pleasure being with you.

0:03:37.4 WB: Mustafa, your accent doesn’t give you away. So would you like to introduce yourself? Where are you from originally and where are you sitting now?

0:03:48.6 MA: Thank you so much. So, yeah, I’m originally Egyptian. I was born in Egypt, never raised in Egypt because I traveled with my parents since I was one year old. My dad used to work in the government so I was lucky to travel with him in different countries, different cultures. So I get to explore early the fascinating, I would say, magic of travel. And that somehow was embedded in my subconscious when I transitioned in my life. Somehow when I was 16 years old, I had many dreams in, you know, where I wanna be when I focus on one career. But I had to choose one. So I choose pharmacy, because I loved chemistry at that time. I did chemistry for five years in university.

0:04:38.5 MA: I worked for three years and a half while preparing myself to be a diplomat, and that was my second transition. So I moved to diplomacy. It’s a bit of different lifestyle, so I get to travel more, back to my old days when I used to travel as a kid, and I enjoy that life a lot. I work in Malawi in Africa. I work in New York, United Nations for a few short missions, and also in China for a bit long. China is another experience. I studied Chinese my first year. Then I immersed myself in the culture and language as a diplomat. Worked there for five years at the embassy. Somehow toward the end of my posting at the embassy, I was looking and assessing my career, and I thought, I think I reached the peak of my career and I don’t think I could offer more to my job and I was looking for something else.

0:05:35.5 MA: The answer came after some time in investment banking, so I moved to a multinational development bank, which is also headquartered in China, AIIB, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. And I worked there for four years, was again a whole new experience. Again, jumping into a whole new ocean. I had to learn how to swim and I had to learn a lot of other things. I focus on the learning because it’s a lot of suffering of course when you’re starting a new career, you are always an outsider. But then I enjoyed a lot of the whole experience. I decided to do my MBA during those four years, and I did them… Did it in Manchester University in the UK.

0:06:19.1 MA: And the MBA gives me a whole new perspective of things. So I saw myself in different other possibilities. And this is how I ended up actually after four years in banking, moving both banking and diplomacy, ’cause I was still on leave from diplomacy. And I started my own career coaching company in 2020. And the idea was, okay, I lived my life with all those values. They transformed my life. I think it’ll be so selfish of me if I just kept them close to my heart and never share them with people. So I felt the necessity of starting sharing them. And this is how I somehow manage the difficulty of leaving the corporate world to starting something on my own. Also how to overcome resistance, you know, my family, parents, all of this.

0:07:09.9 MA: And then for the last two and a half, three years, things have been going quite well. Of course quite challenging as usual, but then of course, quite well because you get better every time you transition and learn how to be very efficient. And somehow I was able to help dozens or hundreds of people. And this is how I ended up transitioning in my fifth life if I would say right now. So I thought, I’m able to help dozens or hundreds of people. How about helping more than this? Thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions hopefully. And I thought okay, the only way to do this is to have a tech startup, is to have a platform that can help people to transition smoothly and seamlessly in their careers, learn the skills needed, do the orientation process. It’s the whole thing, the whole solution inclusively. And right now I’m in my fifth life, so while I’m doing coaching, while I’m writing books, I’m building that startup [chuckle] now.

0:08:09.8 WB: Okay. So I’ve gotta pause you there because I’m losing count. So let’s recap. We started as a pharmacist. We studied pharmaceutical sciences, we moved into pharmacy, we then transitioned to becoming a diplomat. Now, I missed when we first met, the connection there, and now I understand it’s largely through your upbringing with your father being a diplomat.

0:08:33.3 MA: Yes.

0:08:35.7 WB: So you already had a wealth of knowledge and insights into what the life of a diplomat looked like, I guess. So you went from pharmacy to being a diplomat, and then you said, to heck with all that, I’m gonna now move into investment banking and then from investment banking… Yeah, that’s not interesting enough, I’m gonna do coaching. And now from coaching, you’ve gone back to a startup and looking at building an online platform to help people career transition. So you have a book, and we’re gonna come to that in a moment, but in the book you use a term that I think is very apt for you. It’s called “A career Shape Shifter”. So I have to… [laughter] I have to say, I believe you fit this model very nicely. I personally have transitioned, not in so many industries but around countries and continents. And I thought I’d experienced a great variety but I think you win hands down.

0:09:37.4 MA: Thanks, Wayne. Yeah, it’s a journey but it was never planned. And I think the only thing I had even in my childhood with me was I didn’t have enough confidence in myself. I was a very shy introverted kid, also traveling with my parents around different countries, changing countries a lot. I didn’t have close friends. So it wasn’t easy. But then also at the same time, I had many dreams. As kids we dream a lot about being different things and you just spend a lot of time on building dreams. So I had those dreams with me, they didn’t left me. And at the same time I understood early in life is that, okay, if I don’t have any of those whatever magic powers or I’m not intelligent enough like other kids, or I’m not extroverted enough, I have only hard work. And I had my dreams. So I have my dreams to inspire me. And the only way I could do it if I would is to just… Working hard on it. And somehow you figure out things, you discover things about yourself you never thought you had, and the journey gets more interesting because it’s about achieving dreams, conquering challenges. And then at some point if you think, okay, I think I’m done with the challenges and the dreams in this career, why not dream of something else and go out and conquer it and get it and move on?

0:11:10.7 WB: That sort of leads into the question I had in mind was if we look at coaching, is this something that as a leader you practiced anyway, or was this a totally different field for you and somewhere along the investment banking cycle you said, you know what, I think coaching might be the right angle?

0:11:32.5 MA: It’s a great question because yeah, I spent a lot of time on understanding at that moment why coaching. And I would say one of them somehow are related to your personality types. If you have done the 16 personalities type, you’ll see that some people are, they are more, I think at that time, my personality was an advocate, which means you have a course, you spend your time, your life on it. You are advocating for it. You are helping people to realize that course and understand it. And one of the, how to say the top careers there are coaching ’cause you have a course, you are fighting for the course, you want to help more people to build awareness around that course. And then coaching comes in.

0:12:20.5 WB: Right.

0:12:21.3 MA: When I also went back to my earlier life, I remember as a pharmacist, I was graduating 22, 23 years old, and I had a team of five or six assistants with me. And mostly they were younger than me. They would have anywhere between 15 years old to around my age.

0:12:41.0 WB: Right.

0:12:41.5 MA: And I had one more person was, I think 10 years older than me, but you are the boss in that space. And many of those if I could call some of them kids, they need coaching and coaching in anything, like personal development. Somebody left school and I say, “Oh, you cannot work out of school, you have to go back to school.” So I developed that early in my life because I saw the value that I would offer, even as a non-official coach in that working space. And I saw how those people, some of them, they changed their life. Some of them were really able to change their life when they listened to those ideas. So I would, I remember I would spend an hour or two every day talking about those issues with them and gathering them around and we talk about those issues. So, no, I think it was in my blood early in my life.

0:13:35.3 WB: If I look at the different industries that you moved between, they’re vastly different. So how much did that mindset that you had towards, I guess transparency or being willing to ask questions, how much did that help you to make that transition into those new industries?

0:13:56.4 MA: Well, I think in the beginning when I was transitioning to diplomacy, I thought, okay, I’m doing diplomacy forever. It’s my dream career. I am not enjoying pharmacy and this is where I wanna be. It’s a place where I serve my country, where I’m a civil servant, but at the same time, I’m doing an interesting job. Every single day is different. And actually it’s a very great training for diplomat is like, you get to do different things every single day. We always have a definition of a good diplomat is like, you cannot say no for any task. You really have to figure out how to do it. So I learned a lot like, okay, how to do it. I never done it in the past, but I have to learn how to do it.

0:14:42.5 MA: So that mindset really helped me a lot. I worked across different experiences like, from Malawi doing different kind of nature of work, and then to China to the UN. One day you do political work. One day a very high level visit, two presidents are meeting and you are taking care of all the security protocol issues, and no one single mistake could be done. And then on the other side, another day, a cultural event where I was lucky actually even in China to use some of my artistic hobbies to train some kids, some teenagers, they were deaf and mute, to dance on an Egyptian song. So we created a masterpiece that never existed in the past. So they danced on a pharaonic song. We brought an Egyptian song, we designed something with them. So it’s so interesting. And really that helped me a lot in, okay, if I don’t know the answer, I get to know the answer. And how about doing different things every single day? But then somehow, I thought after China, I would be maybe posted to another country. I don’t think I would do higher than this. So I thought, okay, then now it’s the time to just move out, start something on your own. And then in banking, it’s a totally different story.

0:16:08.9 WB: You highlight something that’s always very interesting, particularly for all of us that work on a global base, that is the cultural differences. Did you ever struggle in the locations that you were based assimilating into those cultures? Did you have any challenges like that?

0:16:28.8 MA: Of course, challenges always exist, but then also, if I call this how to raise your cultural intelligence, it’s so crucial to how to say, when you arrive in a country for, I don’t know, the first few, I don’t know, weeks or month, you just need to have an open mind.

0:16:51.6 WB: Yes.

0:16:52.5 MA: A very open mind. I’m trying to read everything is happening in that culture. And I learned this through my travel, very early, wherever I go, okay, I’m a student here. I just need to learn what are the norms? What are the things to do? What are the things not to do? How to talk. How to greet people. Everything. If there’s some taboos that I shouldn’t actually touch. And that actually helped me a lot, whether in Africa, even before being a diplomat, I lived in several countries in Africa after being a diplomat, in China, because China is an old civilization, it’s a big culture. So I get to understand a lot about that.

0:17:38.4 MA: And then very interestingly, in your diplomacy career, you get to negotiate deals between two cultures. So I’ve seen very interesting experiences. I’ve been through, you have two negotiations, maybe sometimes are fighting over something that once you see both perspectives, it doesn’t make sense. But then from this perspective or that perspective, yes, it’s understood. So I get to play the negotiator or moderator role in many of those deals, whether from something new, small or a very, very big deal. And somehow I played that role again in the bank, because also, again, in the bank, I’m a diplomat, I’m a negotiator. I have more of holistic view of things. So we could go to a country in Central Asia, and [0:18:25.2] ____, so I manage my team to how we can negotiate with them doing something in India, doing something in the Middle East where I’m, come from, a bit in Latin America. So it’s really given me a bit of exposure. Plus, I did a bit of academic study in my MBA and before, so I did understand how to work in a multicultural context, how to negotiate with different cultures, what to do for example with a French company, not to do with a British company. It’s like very interestingly been through that a lot.

0:19:03.2 WB: I think there’s so many great insights that you’ve just highlighted there for leaders in today’s landscape, particularly with the virtual environments where the larger organizations are very much engaged in global teams, working cross borders, working cross countries, different cultures, different regions. I think this is one of the crucial ingredients today for all modern day leaders, is they really must come culturally sensitive and culturally aware to become successful. That’s my own experience. But I think you’ve just reinforced that.

0:19:40.7 MA: There are several dimensions to look at, and there’s many interesting things, let’s say hierarchy, the level of hierarchy in cultures. Coming from an egalitarian culture is different from hierarchical culture, or let’s say we call them a low context culture and a high context culture. So in East Asia, for example, people wouldn’t say things abrupt, very direct. They say it indirectly, while in other cultures, things are very direct. So understanding those are like treasure, actually.

0:20:11.9 WB: Yeah, very much so. You have a company or a business called The Passion MBA. It’s what you set up for your coaching business. And I wonder, I love the title, but I wonder if you can just explain the logic in naming it and what it’s all about.

0:20:29.7 MA: Yeah. The logic in naming it, I was finishing my MBA, I was fresh graduate of all the MBA. And, in the end, it’s interesting, you knock on different doors, exploring different subjects of interest, you learn about different things. So it’s a bit of upskilling and re-skilling. But then I also asked myself the question, and a lot of my peers in the MBA program asked the same question, what’s next? Once we finish the program, what’s next? It was hard. We couldn’t find an answer. And I saw that happening with my peers as like, okay, what’s next for a couple of months? And then you cool down, you go back to your normal life, the same old job, the same old thing, and that’s it. So I saw a waste of time, money, effort, life.

0:21:19.7 MA: If you spend 50K to 100K on a important program like this and enjoying learning different things, but you never use them. And I thought, what’s next should be The Passion MBA, because the MBA helps you to open doors, but it doesn’t give you the answer of what’s next. So I wanna help to give the answer on what’s next. Whether you did an MBA or not, the answer is there. So the idea of having this coaching program that help you to do the orientation, that helps you to decide what’s your next step, and then also helping you to transform. So after six to eight weeks of orientation that you really know where are you heading in the next career help you to transform your life, your career, learn the skills needed. And all of this could happen in a span of six to eight months, for example. And I thought if MBA program could take two to four years, if you spend six months to one year on a program like this, and it helps you to answer that question, I think it’s worthy to pursue.

0:22:34.0 WB: Yeah, absolutely. We’ll dive more into the program that you’re building right at the moment. I wanna transition now if I could to the book, because I think the book really hits on so much of what we’re alluding to within this conversation anyway. You released it in April this year, and it’s called Time To Move On. Before we get into the book, what was the driving purpose behind writing the book?

0:23:04.2 MA: Well, actually, I was dreaming about writing the book even before I started my coaching business. So I was still in my MBA program. I thought writing those academic assignments, I’m really enjoying them. As a diplomat I got trained to write very analytically and connect things and always integrate.

0:23:25.2 WB: I think the largest in the world, right? The referral organization, the largest referral organization. And then you have Jack Canfield, and I’m sure most people probably know the name, Chicken Soup for the Soul. How did you come about knowing these two people?

0:23:41.7 MA: Well, it’s interesting. As you mentioned, Jack Canfield is a New York Time bestselling author. He sold worth of, I think, 700 million copies of his books over the span of 30 years or so. Dr. Ivan Meisner is the founder of BNI, the largest networking organization in the world. And you get to step by step, get to know those kinds of people because also you learn from them. So I started, of course, learning from Jack. The first moment I planned to write a book I said, “Okay, if I wanna learn how to write a book from scratch, it takes time. So I really have to learn from the best.” And the easiest way to learn from the best is go out, Google them, find videos for them. So I started by that. So okay, go out and see a video for Jack Canfield.

0:24:32.3 MA: So interestingly, I saw that video, Jack Canfield with Steve Harrison. He’s also, was one of the foremost book marketing experts, they worked together a lot. And Tim Ferriss, so three of them were talking about Tim Ferriss’ books. So I got into that world through that end review. I did a bit of courses on how to write a book with Jack and Steve, and then slowly, slowly, I got to meet Jack in Santa Barbara. So we had a very interesting retreat, where only 15 people with Jack and his team would get to work on my book idea, my business idea, several other things. And then slowly, slowly things evolved because also I got interested in the way he coached because he, for example, is number one success coach in the world and he teach the success principles in a very interesting way.

0:25:33.4 MA: So I thought of maybe merging his success principles with my own coaching methodology. I think that would help a lot. So I did the certification with him, and then since then, I get invited to coach with him as a supporting coaching team in several programs. So, for example, we had this Game Changer program. The last six months we’ve been coaching people to change their life over the span of six months. Also in October, I’m gonna join him and his team in Breakthrough to Success Summit. It’s happening right now this year in LA, in Newport Beach. So it’s slowly, slowly of evolution, getting more interested in his work, supporting him in many ways, learning from him.

0:26:24.2 MA: I really enjoyed it. The same applies for Ivan. Dr. Ivan is someone I met through Jack as well, and we get to build connections very, very easily and very quickly. And he’s a very interesting person with all his responsibilities. He’s always supportive, and he believed in this. It’s not easy to find somebody who’s busy, famous, that would give a helping hand, but Dr. Ivan is that kind of person. So, I was in a position where in the beginning I wanted people to help me in many things. And when I see somebody has the potential, I really want to help him or her. So yeah, really, I’m really grateful for both of them.

0:27:07.2 WB: Let’s look at the book itself. And as you introduced, it covers seven myths about making that career transition. What would you say to people listening at the moment, if they’re interested in the book, what would they really take away from the book?

0:27:26.0 MA: Well, the way I wrote the book, it talks to every mindset in different ways. So if you like the power of stories, there are a lot of stories that tells you, and convince you that what, for example, we used to believe in, one of this conviction is a myth. Also there are a lot of research that was done on several things. Just also to prove my point, let’s imagine speaking about specialization versus career shape-shifting, showing the power in career shape-shifting versus specialization. If you have both the story argument and the research argument, I think you’re more convinced. So it’s an interesting read as per many people who give me feedback. Also authors, also having the name of Jack, as you mentioned, Jack Canfield and Ivan Misner is a good sign for me at least, because also the foreword was written by Jack Canfield. So it applies to both. It’s an easy read, it’s 150 page. I don’t want to write 300, 400 page books, because we wanna focus on the 7 myth, and then if successfully, if you managed to bust three or four of them, I think that’s a great success for everyone who would read it.

0:28:46.5 WB: So for those listening, if you’re interested, where would they find the book? Is it available on Amazon?

0:28:54.7 MA: It’s available in all the platforms from Amazon to… Yeah, people live in the US, Canada, Barnes & Noble, also indie bookstores. Go to your local indie bookstores, order from it, it’ll come to you within days. Online on several other platforms like Kobo, Goodreads, it’s available in all of them.

0:29:18.7 WB: I look forward to getting hold of a copy myself and reading through it. Within the time that we do have available I really wanna touch on where you’re heading now with your startup and this online platform. Would you like to introduce that a little bit more for us?

0:29:34.7 MA: Sure. It’s again a new transition. It’s again, okay, if I live four lives, I’m still in my fourth, but I’m starting the fifth. Going again through the cycle of, if I would say suffering, but also again achieving. And I see it’s very crucial because, yes, doing what I’m doing is important, but then I thought at some point, especially when I was scaling my coaching business last year, I felt I had the model of scaling my business. Very interestingly, could offer me very good revenue. I would say 100K a month, that was the plan. But somehow I look at the numbers of people I could serve every single year, I think 120 to maximum 150 a year. And look at that and I found that a very, very low number compared to the vision, or at least the purpose.

0:30:34.5 MA: I wanna help as many people as I could. And, at least for another, I don’t know, 10, 20 years helping 120, 150 people every year is not really… Wouldn’t really do that. And I thought, okay, the only way to do that is to scale the business in a untraditional way. And the untraditional way was to have a platform. So I started learning about this. I knew nothing about how to create a platform, how to design a platform. So I started reading about AI, how to design multi-sided platforms, I’ve read almost all the books in the market about them. And then slowly, slowly learning more about building products, learning about sales, because also you need to be good at sales at that level. Going on, I joined a coaching, I would say a mentoring program, startup incubator here in Italy, this year and it took me from one point to the next.

0:31:38.5 MA: But then also now it’s the time where you really need to test all those assumptions in the hard way. So I dive deeper into several problems, especially when you are stuck in your career, you wanna change. We might look at, maybe, I don’t know, 5 to 10 types of problems. And as a tech startup, you cannot solve all those problems. So the mission now is to focus on let’s say the biggest pains or the biggest gains that you will get and be very good at this, scale that on a very high level, and then you can move on to the whole cycle of pains or gains.

0:32:17.2 WB: Your approach appears to be that you like to have a hands-on understanding of whatever it is that you’re going to get into, as opposed to hiring people to come in and do that for you. Is that a correct assessment?

0:32:36.1 MA: But somehow also because I believe in the power of a team, and I believe that if you do everything by yourself I will never have the chance to grow. Because we have a capacity you cannot reach beyond if you don’t leverage power of your team or hiring other people, bringing people on board. But then also I believe in the power of preparation. I think preparation is key when you’re starting something new. And the easiest, the simplest and also the least risky way not to fail is to learn from other people, right? Like when I started in diplomacy, I had to read about, I had to really prepare myself a lot. I really had to also imagine myself in that new world. And I did the same in every single career transition.

0:33:33.7 MA: And here it comes to, okay, being the founder of a tech startup, what entails? I even look at stuff like what tech startup founders wear. Because I have to change that, I was wearing a suit at some point. So you really have to get the soul of that, and the secret sauce of that as well. So preparation is key. And it doesn’t harm while I was doing what I was doing, is to spend a bit of time every single day on reading books about that. Doing courses, learning more about AI, and also trying to get the idea in your mind closer to reality. ‘Cause an idea can be an idea, maybe it’s not applicable, but then also trying to apply that idea on every single thing you see around you, you read about or you learn about, and then see how that is close to reality or how that would apply.

0:34:31.3 MA: And I think that process helped me a lot to transition in that world. And I would say, for example, the startup incubator I joined last year, before joining I was just doing everything on my own. So I was reading books and preparing myself. And it’s a long process almost to have 550 people competing for that. And at the end, they take 40 people. And when you go there and start the program, you’ll see most of the people are coders, software engineers, the people who are already in the field. So for me, it was a good sign. I got accepted as somebody who was an outsider. But then also I think because I did the preparation well, I could get into that world. Having said that, the power of building your team is undeniable. Like how we can all get better at getting the right hires, getting the right co-founders, scaling quickly by leveraging the power of people around you I think it’s key.

0:35:35.4 WB: Yeah, very true. So where are you at the moment with the startup, with the platform? How far away do you imagine before you’re ready to launch? What’s the forecast?

0:35:46.9 MA: I’m working with my co-founder, he’s from the UK. So we’re working together on deciding the, how to say… The final problems that we are looking at. And we have already tested the market, so we have possibly, I would say few types of clients that we already tested and they’re ready to buy the service. What we need to do is also find the third co-founder who has the tech background, which is we are working on right now, and then build the products in a very… If I would say, in the starting point, you need to fail cheaply, which I mean like, you need to build a very simple product that fits the purpose, but at the same time if it fails, if they have mistakes around you can fix it easily and then move on from there.

0:36:40.0 WB: If you were to offer any insights or words of wisdom to our listeners about your learnings throughout your career for them as they come into their careers or transition in their careers, any words of wisdom?

0:36:56.6 MA: I think the main issue I’ve faced with a lot of people is that they edit their dreams. And what happens, what I mean is, they get an insight, they get an idea, inspiration, and they cut it. No, no, no, I cannot do this. It’s like, it’s a nice dream, it’s a big dream, but they cut it. And what happens is that your subconscious is bringing you that inspiration from somewhere, but then you’re just cutting it also subconsciously or unconsciously. So, the first step is don’t edit your dreams. Never edit your dreams. If you got an idea, also put it on paper, put it in front of you, assess it, spend some time on it. Because somehow if you have that big dream, and it’s very scary to you, if you wanna build a billion dollar company or whatever you want to do, maybe the only way to achieve it is just to accept that inspiration because you are destined to have it. So that’s the first step if I would say, just keep your dreams close to you, don’t edit them. Spend time on writing about them and then let’s see how things will evolve.

0:38:09.4 WB: Great advice. Where can people connect with you if they wanna learn more about what you’re doing?

0:38:17.2 MA: Thanks, Wayne. So I have my two websites. Personal one is mustafaammar.com and thepassionmba.com. On both they can reach me, whether it’s through… There’s a contact form. On mustafaammar.com, they can find an excerpt from the book. So the first two chapters, they can maybe find something they would enjoy as a starting point. And then on the other side, they have the 10 top mistakes to avoid when you are transitioning your career. Also, it’s very interesting.

0:38:48.9 WB: Well, Mustafa, just listening to you, I can sense that you are a real high achiever in your aspirations, in your drive, and I really look forward to seeing what comes of this online platform. Please let me know how it goes. But thank you so much for coming on the ET project. It’s been great listening to your insights and I’m sure our listener base will have got a lot from our conversation. So thank you.

0:39:14.1 MA: Thank you so much Wayne for being an amazing host. Very open, very natural. So I really enjoyed our conversation, as we did last time, and I’m looking forward for more connections and in the new future.

0:39:26.7 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs at coaching4companies.com.

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