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Q&A with Nicholas Gholam

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Nicholas Gholam , Founder @AL Mawsam

How could you describe your career path in few words? 

Bumpy at first! I have been suspended from Business college at some point due to my low grades and my confusion on my future. We did not have the proper orientation in school so ultimately my generation had to wither go for the easy options or any available option to get a degree. My reaction to that was getting enrolled in Business school and failing drastically for the first 3-4 years before discovering what my passion really is. It took me until I was 25 or 26 to find that Rural Development is what I really want to do for a living in order to make a living while helping other people; and accordingly, I have redirected all my efforts towards mastering it.   Today, at 31, I have a Master of Science degree from the most prestigious university in the Middle East, founded a small business called Al Mawsam as a validation to my thesis and working as a consultant in local economic development. My plans for the future is to build on my misadventures in academia and my mistakes in being an entrepreneur (wannabe), to maintain a hybrid profile that is able to work in scientific research and conduct business, which are two extremes in today’s world.   What was your most challenging experience and it has changed your mindset?

The most challenging experience was living the Lebanese crisis of 2019, where the currency devaluated and people's savings became peanuts, including my parents' pensions. The mark that was left on me from observing this downfall and not being able to interfere is nowadays my drive to succeed as an entrepreneur. I decided that my life and the one of my family’s will not be dependent on weak safety nets in countries like Lebanon. Even if my future is to reside and live in my home country, my approach is to construct a safety net that is resilient enough to face similar crises. Every time I get squeezed or things go sideways to the point of giving up, I remember that I have to succeed today otherwise the next crisis, which is imminent countries like Lebanon, my children’s livelihood and mine will be on the line at a senior age where I might not be as agile as I am today.   Based on your experience, what skills should an entrepreneur develop in 2023? 

Imperfection. In 2023 and after what the world has gone through during the past 3-4 years in terms of COVID and in terms of the political traumas that are affecting businesses everywhere, entrepreneurs in my opinion should take it easy on being perfectionists. It's a waste of time, stupid in some cases and ineffective amid the fast changes that this world is witnessing, and which it requires from us to be lean and agile in order to properly innovate solutions for newly emerging problems. Perfectionism limits the ability of entrepreneurs to validate as it drowns them in over-strategizing and assumptions instead of helping them validate the models and retrieve feedback. Just get things moving and sculpt the final product as you go. 

Based on your recent experiences, if you had one piece of advice for an entrepreneur's success in the context of 2023, what would it be? 

My advice, and which the circumstances in my country have obliged me to abide by, is to put an expiry date on the venture. I am living in a country in which being a business owner is not the easiest thing given the non-existent ease-of-doing-business. The overall social security that is able to support individuals who attempt going into ventures is absent, rendering them to prioritizing their living before investing totally in their hustle. For that matter, I advise everyone living similar conditions of mine to put an expiry date on their venture before things start to affect their mental health and their social obligations. Parents are not getting any younger, partners are not getting any patient and life itself is not getting any easier for adults. It is not secret that entrepreneurs tend to get emotional about their 'babies'; however, in some case the financial bleeding needs to stop, the mind needs to refresh and move to other things. The trick is to accept the fact that this kind of babies have to have expiry dates, since it might be the only expiry date that we can control. There is life outside the bleeding of a startup, and one’s potential may well be fulfilled in other ventures, in different sectors or geographic area, when conditions are more suitable to properly implement.  

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