They Asked Me Seven Questions About Entrepreneurship, Mentorship and Fitness

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The July 2015 Cover of Gulf Insider magazine

Gulf Insider recently did an interview with me.  I thought it was fairly insightful so I thought I’d share it with you.  Hope you like it 🙂

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1. Among your many entrepreneurial ventures, you’ve introduced in Bahrain the world’s first and only 23-minute weight loss centre. What’s the science behind this concept?

The concept you’re referring to is the DreamBody Centre (DBC).  At the DBC we combine three things that you need to lose weight, which is fitness, Diet/Nutrition and motivation.  The fitness part is based on circuit training, which is a mix of high and low intensity resistance and cardio training.  You train you’re whole body in just 23 minutes.   The common term in the fitness field for this kind of training is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and it’s a very powerful fat-burning process.

2. At which stage of your professional life did fitness come into play?

I used to live in London in the 1990’s and saw the rise of the professional, branded health club chains (as opposed to the single-location bodybuilder-owned gyms that were common place before that) and thought that it would be good to start something professional and high level in this field in Bahrain.  I eventually ended up starting a kickboxing school in the early 2000’s in Bahrain, and started the DBC in December 2007.  Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal with the DBC is to have 529 locations around the world, and through our non-profit Healthier and Happier Initiative we want to positively affect the lives of 23 million people.  We are particularly passionate about eradicating child obesity.

3. You hold a third degree black-belt rank in Zen-Do kickboxing. What is the meaning and value attached to this title?

I’m very proud to have received my Black Belt from Master Rafael Nieto, former British, European and World kickboxing champion.  The Black Belt is supposed signify a certain level of skill, but more importantly I think it should also portray wisdom and humility. It’s not about having a black belt, it’s about being a black belt.  I don’t teach martial arts anymore, but the values the belt represents have never left me.  Training and teaching martial arts was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.

4. What sparked your interest towards startup mentorship?

I love being an entrepreneur, I think it’s the most glamorous job in the world.  It’s also very hard, stressful and fraught with danger. When I started I had no mentors, and I know how difficult it is to start a business.  The toughest challenges are the psychological ones, dealing with your own inner demons.  The entrepreneurs I mentor appreciate my guidance, knowledge and experience. Sometimes I give them tough love, but they know I mean well.  I think mentoring will be something I’ll do for the rest of my life.  I truly believe that it’s every experienced person’s responsibility to mentor someone younger, not just in the field of entrepreneurship.  Everyone wins, and society becomes a better place.

5. Can you share your best business advice for the first-time startup founder?

Sure.  First, think of the buyer/market, not the product.  Too many startup entrepreneurs think of the product without giving nearly enough thought as to whether there is a market for it.  Second, make sure you have enough cash, because you’ll probably need more than you thought you did.  Third, offer ten times value, meaning if you sell your product for BD 10, then the value the user is getting should be BD 100.  Finally, stop doubting yourself and get on with it!

6. What’s the best source of information about startups? Would you recommend the how-to type of books?

There’s a great digital startup magazine in Bahrain called Startup Bahrain, that’s a good start.  I also recommend reading Entrepreneur, Fortune and Fast Company magazines.   I’d also get my hands on any book about successful entrepreneurs.  And if I’m permitted a quick plugin, subscribe to my marketing and entrepreneurship course at FREE course. Also, I would definitely read self-improvement books!  Start with The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People and go from there.  This book is timeless.

7. Who was/is your mentor?  

As mentioned I never had mentors.  But I probably read hundreds of business books and I admire people like Ray Croc, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs.  My late father was also a huge influence on me.  Though he wasn’t a businessman or entrepreneur, his presence, moral and financial support were invaluable.  I miss him greatly.

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