Hallelujah

I have been thinking a lot about what I am most grateful for this year, and I’ve realized that it is the luxury of dreaming – the luxury to dream big and to go after those crazy dreams. Furthermore, the luxury of having a support system that nurtures those wild ambitions, tolerates my madness in going after them, and are all-in for the whirlwind adventure.

I’ve heard there was a secret chord

That David played and it pleased the Lord

But you don’t really care for music, do you?

Well it goes like this; the fourth, the fifth,

The minor fall, the major lift

The baffled king composing Hallelujah

2016 was a heavy year at the macro level, the planet aching under the weight of all the tragedies and disappointments. Yet at a more micro level, I can’t help but feel blessed. So I ask you all to take a moment of silence to pray for all those fallen stars we have lost in 2016.

Professionally 2016 has been extremely rewarding elhamdollelah. I am often driven by the philosophy that “if you are still talking about what you did yesterday, then you have not done much today.” Yet the drawback of that philosophy is that you often lose track of the multitude of reasons you ought to be proud and happy within that time-frame.

2016 was a year of big risks. I’m not much of a gambler, yet 2016 was certainly a high stakes year. I quit the comforts of a regular pay check and a job I know I could do well, to follow THE dream. I am now a very lucky co-founder of a start-up that I love with the same intensity and whole-heartedness that I would my unborn kids. Acumen Consulting is almost one. I dare say that this was a phenomenal first year. It was a year of challenges, learning, growth, patience, and hard work. We saw instant success, suffered the business cycle and fought hard to make come-backs when we needed to. I learned that there is possibly greater layers of multi-tasking than I thought imaginable. I’m greatly appreciative of the collaboration, team-work, value creation and success. I’m proud of us for working both hard and smart to contribute to changing Egypt for the better. I am indebted for all the help and support we got along the way.

Well baby I’ve been here before

I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor

I used to live alone before I knew you

And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch

And love is not a victory march

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

2016 was a year of great variance, its highs were sensational and its lows were back-breaking. 2016 was filled with health scares, trips to the emergency rooms, time spent in hospitals, clinics, labs and waiting rooms. There were so many funerals as friends and family bid farewell to siblings, kids, parents and friends.  There have also been so many near misses; so many tears; and so much faith and hope that things will get better. Our fears and our pains bring us together. Hugs remain the sincerest (and at times the only) form of support and solace during these darkest times.

2016 was also a year of love! Four weddings and a funeral. All grand acts of love! Four of the closest people in my life got married. I got to be a bridesmaid once, sister of the bride 3 times, best man once and wedding co-host once 🙂

Through it all they were days and nights full of the pursuit of perfection. More significantly they were wedding bashes full of music, dancing, joy, family, friends, surprises and vows. May their lives be everything like those wedding nights: endless symphonies of love.

I remain grateful to all parties who contributed to making my sister’s wedding perfect. I’m thankful to Sarah for managing the customized M&M delivery. I’m indebted to Sandra for re-arranging the first dance. I’m start-struck that the talented Nathalie Alain took time out of her hectic schedule to come in and record it. That studio recording time will forever be a highlight for me.

Mustafa Ghannam’s death has changed me. In a sense it has changed all of us. Yet it has triggered dormant emotions that had originated with Bassem Sabry’s death. (Please remember both in your prayers and your end of year donation themes). I’m once again in an existential phase. I’m obsessing about my mortality, my legacy and what I would like to leave behind. It took a lot of soul searching, yet I have realized that I want my legacy to be education. I want to bring knowledge and science into this world. I want to improve the quality of education in Egypt. I want to provide access to a better alternative to Egyptian talent.

Well, baby there’s a God above

But all I’ve ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

And it’s not a cry that you hear at night

It’s not somebody who’s seen the light

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

2016 was the first time in 6 years that I got a proper summer vacation. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see some more of Europe before the devaluation. I’m grateful for having such amazing travel buddies to share the moments with. I will always have a special spot in my heart for Tegernsee and Cesky Krumlov. I’m grateful for the ziplining adventure (and that despite emergency room pit-stop it ended well), shopping sprees, lakeside & riverside dinners, high profile oud concerts, Ibrahim Maalouf by the pyramids, and countless other perfect moments.

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I’m grateful to family and friends whom have been partners in crime, back-bones, sounding boards and voices of reason throughout the madness that was 2016. I’ve discovered new facets of these amazing individuals which I appreciate endlessly.

I tend to claim that my universe often treats me like my success is inevitable/easy/expected. While their faith is extremely flattering, given how tough this year has been, I’m realizing the extent to which divine pats on the heads & “bravo”s have re-energized my stamina through it all. I’m grateful for every opportunity we have had to raise Acumen Consulting’s name. I’m grateful to RiseUp’s overbooked workshop. I’m grateful to the ICT Khales application launch. I’m grateful to the YEEL events and conference. I’m grateful to the “thank you” that our clients share. I’m grateful for having gotten into Stanford. I am grateful. A thousand times over.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

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Find Joy

Mostafa Ghanam RIP

As another light goes out I am reminded of the extent to which Cairo is a modern day Gotham in all its gory glory. It is dark, hopeless, scary, sad and beaming with negativity and injustice. This year, it has only been getting darker. We keep losing those whom are the brightest and most full of life and light. So the rest of us, those opting to stay in the city, we owe it to ourselves and to their legacy to fight the darkness. We each need to find it within ourselves to shine bright, to become beacons of positivity, light and life. Dig deep… shine bright… Find the joy.. protect their legacies.

2016 Bucket List Update

2015 was a year of celebration brimming with engagements and weddings and partying. Yet it was also a year of personal growth. Taking time today to take stock of the key updates since the last posting of my bucket list.

  • Travel the world. Safari in Kenya, dance in the streets of Brazil, snorkel around the Australian reef, pray in Palestine and take a photo sitting cross-legged on the floor in the square in front of the Kremlin. – Pending
  • Write and publish a book that means a lot to me and which becomes a worldwide (ok, fine! regional or local) best-seller in the field of economics or business. Extra points if it has an awareness and/or local flavour. – Pending
  • Jump out of a plane (preferably with a co-conspirator who understands the beauty of that experience). – Pending
  • Start my own firm. Indifferent between a boutique management consulting firm and a VC. – HUGE YES!!!! More news soon :)))
  • Write a hit song. Get a friend to sing it. Record it in a proper studio. Get the radio to air it. – Pending
  • Study abroad at an Ivy league school (and get the highest GPA of that class). – Enrolled in Stanford’s LEAD Certificate for Corporate Innovation UPDATE!!!
  • Hold a photography exhibition. Work on my craft to be worthy of hosting one. – Pending
  • Speak at an international (economic) forum. – Spoke at local forums yet still pending on an international one.
  • Teach university. – Being randomly invited to speak at classes but yet to formulate a course of my own – Taught economic development at PLP
  • Become the policy maker. – Not minister yet 🙂 But got to be project manager to the Egypt 2030 Strategy.
  • Be the best boss that I can. – Work in progress
  • Be a positive influence. – Work in progress
  • Strive to learn something new every day. Seek to spread that knowledge and coach and teach others every day. – Work in progress
  • Inspire people. – Work in progress
  • Make Egypt a better place. – Pending
  • Get fit. – New addition inspired by the five floor torture.