Saturday, June 1, 2013

It is Ok to Make a Fool out of Yourself

I got a connection request on LinkedIn that brought back a memory so significant in my life, yet almost forgotten until I opened LinkedIn on my browser this morning. A connection request from a friend who facilitated my first introduction to the entrepreneurial spirit.

We were high school students, about fifteen years old when he got this "crazy" idea of building a resort on the beach of Casablanca. He believed so much in it, it was all he talked about. He was not afraid to share his dream with me. I listened and shared some immature thoughts. But he took it a bit further by making his own feasibility study, added his entrepreneurial optimism and enthusiasm to the mix to turn it into a project worth $150 Billion Dirhams, at least on paper.

One afternoon, while wandering around the break court, he came to me and said: "Sara, I want you to come with me, I will be on national TV". I was happy for him, but also flattered he asked me to give him company. The TV show was called "Challenger". It was a business plan contest hosted on the national Moroccan TV. Contestants applied from different cities and different fields. He was the youngest applicant and probably the least experienced. But as a fifteen years old, my thoughts were very typical :

" OMG, I am going to be on national television!".

Once we get to the studio, my friend enters the recording room and was bombarded with questions. Most of which were to embarrass him. After all, he was asking for an investment of $150 Billion Dirhams to build a resort. At that point, I started regretting going along. I did not want to be associated with a "crazy dude", who will be aired on TV for people to get a laugh from. It was pretty embarrassing. But he did not seem to care,  he answered the judges' ironic questions with confidence and professionalism. His first words to me after the interview were : "They don't get it, I will make it happen without them". All I was thinking about is the need to get out of there as quickly as possible. I immediately stopped believing in my friend and his "crazy" thoughts and lost hope he will ever make it. It was not until later, that I realized this friend has taught me a great lesson about entrepreneurship. He taught me that It is OK to make a fool of yourself, as long as you believe in yourself and in the greatness of your dream.

He did not let the TV hosts' silly comments, the investors' ironic questions, and the million of viewers' laughs discourage him from pursuing his dream. He had fallen but quickly and surely stood up even stronger. I was surprised to see him come back to me with a new idea a month later. This time, it was much more realistic. To my biggest surprise, in four months he started a summer camp company where he toured the country, animating shows and hosting beach parties. He followed his passion and made a business out of it.

Eight years later, I learned he is CEO of a business expo company organizing trade shows nationally and internationally. He certainly learned a lot from his experience with Challenger but I learned more seeing his persistence and indifference to people's devastating negative comments about his ability to make it as an entrepreneur. He proved everyone wrong, including myself.

Never be afraid of  making a fool out of yourself because you dream bigger than everyone around you. And it never hurts to believe in the beauty of your dreams, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship. Today, I certainly believe in his ability to build and run a resort in Casablanca.

Music Background: 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this great story, Sara! I remember a friend of mine who made a fool of himself over many his teenage years trying to be like Michael Jackson... long behold, he's running a successful Michael Jackson shows and tours extensively all over Morocco and maybe father.