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Suhail Algosaibi’s Random Rants on Business, Life and Everything in between [March 2020]

Hello my friend,

Strange times, right? The whole world seems to be falling apart because of the Coronavirus. Before I share some of my thoughts on this (as if you really need one more opinion on this outbreak) I want to give kudus to the Bahrain government on the handling of the matter. It’s true that personal freedoms have been curtailed, and that businesses are suffering, but the outbreak has been admirably contained. Bahrain has become somewhat of a model for others to follow. Well done to HRH the CP and his team.

Personally, I view the Coronavirus as the most well-branded flu in the history of the world. It has more media mentions than HIV, SARS, MERS and Ebola combined. It also has less disease deaths per day than HIV/AIDS, Malaria, the seasonal flue, Swine Flu and many other diseases. However, it is also highly infectious and if it spreads quickly it can strain the health system, or even bring it to its knees. Here are some interesting facts on the virus.

My advice to you is to not give into fear. Some view the measures taken by the government as overkill, while others consider them not enough. Regardless, your job is not to make things worse by giving into fear. Here are some personal pointers for your consideration:

  • Beware the WhatsApp forwards! There is so much misinformation out there, and people are keen to forward the messages that confirm their own biases. My advice is don’t forward any WhatsApp message relating to the Coronavirus. You’re not adding any value, in fact you might be adding to the stress others are already experiencing.

  • This follows from the previous point. Don’t believe everything that is sent to you. Some information is outright false (fake), while other information might contain half-truths. If you must read a Coronavirus news item received on WhatsApp, use critical thinking when reading it. According to the Financial Times, the US is experiencing a massive misinformation text campaign against it.

  • Use the extra time to reflect. Read more and do other things you’ve not had the time to do in the past. Turn this crisis into an opportunity as much as you can.

  • When it comes to business, I know things are bad (including for us) but with the various stimulus packages coming out, and the relatively short life span of the virus (if China is anything to go by) we’ll all probably emerge much stronger as a result. Have faith and keep calm.

  • Use this time in your business/company to make necessary changes that have been put on hold for a while. Clean up house.

Again, I want to emphasise, don’t give into fear and don’t make things worse. This too shall pass.

The advice I gave a friend about starting a business in 2020

A friend approached me recently with a new business idea she is considering. She wanted my input on her idea of starting a new import business into Europe. I thought the business idea was interesting, but I was surprised that e-commerce was not a central component of the business plan from the start.

I told her that there was no excuse to start in 2020 without a digital component to her business. If fact, I suggested she start with an e-commerce business and drop the B2B import component altogether. I told her that she has a somewhat outdated business model considering how digital technologies can make it so much easier to reach the desired customers.

We spoke for a long time before she became convinced. To be honest, I didn’t really care if she would be convinced as I had nothing to gain personally, but I did think she was going about the new business the wrong way. I told her to look up companies like Warby Parker who first started exclusively online, only to later open physical outlets.

I gave her a copy of the book The Lean Startup and told her to read it before she takes the next step. This book is a must read for anyone considering starting a new business. It can help you save a lot of money by avoiding expensive mistakes.

The Falak DNA Inspirations

At Falak we take culture, innovation and continuous improvement very seriously. As such, we want to infuse our cultural DNA with practices of companies we really admire. We’ve listed the five world-class companies we admire most and added them to a document we call “The Falak DNA Inspirations”. This document is a reminder of who we aspire to be like. The companies are:

  • McLaren Group: for their technical excellence. McLaren is a globally renowned high-tech company best known for its racing team, which won 20 World Championships and over 180 races. The company has built on its successful racing expertise and diversified to include a global, high-performance sports car business, McLaren Automotive, and a game-changing technology and innovation business, McLaren Applied. At Falak, we aspire to be as technically excellent in our business as McLaren is in theirs.

  • LEGO: for their creativity and innovation. LEGO is considered by many to be the Apple of the toy industry. It is also the world’s most profitable toy company. What is fascinating about LEGO is that they have stayed true to their core product (the LEGO brick) while innovating round it with video games, apps, Augmented Reality, movies and TV shows and much more. A very inspirational company indeed.

  • JW Marriott: for customer experience and people development. I’m a fan of how the JW Marriott treats its customers. And as an entrepreneur and consultant, I’m doubly impressed by how they design their whole customer experience. My family and I have visited the JW Marriott Resort in Phuket five or six times in the last decade. We just love the place. Your five senses are always positively stimulated and wherever you look there is a vase with fresh flowers sitting in the corner, and there is always someone ready to serve. Moreover, they have remarkable employee retention. They train their people well and make sure they go up the ladder. We find this very motivational.

  • Mayo Clinic: knowledge excellence. The Mayo Clinic is ranked the world's number one hospital. It has been innovating and leading knowledge creation in medicine since the 19th century, and spends over $660 million a year on research. What the Mayo Clinic does other hospitals around the world eventually copy - sometimes years later.

  • TOMS: for their social mission. TOMS Shoes was the pioneer in the one-for-one social enterprise model (for every pair of shoes sold they give a pair away). Though the model has been criticised in the last few years, and has eventually been abandoned by TOMS, the spirit of what they do remains. They built a social mission into their business model. This has been very inspirational to us with our own Learn & Grow Initiative.

Our DNA Inspirations document hangs on our wall, but we don’t stop there. Every week, in our Business Development, Marketing, Research and Content meeting (BDMRC), we review the latest news of these companies. We go over the RSS subscriptions we have on them and share relevant news items with the whole team. We’ve found this to be a remarkably educational process.

Why not create your own DNA Inspirations document? You can do it together with your team as a team building exercise.

Well my friend, that’s all I have for you right now.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and talk soon.

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