A Story on How to Fund your Dream
The following applies to Egypt, and parts of the Middle East too.
If you choose to play professional football, and get far enough in that career, there is an established, well oiled and financed behemoth of an institution that takes care of you. You get the right food, access to trainers, international training camps, and if you’re really good, you might even bag a TV ad campaign and endorsement to boot. Basically you’re at the top of the sporting food chain and you should be. After all, you’re good at what you do and people love to watch you do it.
Olympic Sports & Squash
Unfortunately though, there are no 2nd or 3rd places in this sports food-chain podium in the Middle East. Team sports as well as track and field get a flurry of interest every 4 years during the Olympics then nothing. Non-olympic individual sports come after that with Squash as the world’s most amazing displays of world-class talent getting a fraction of what they deserve in attention and support. Amr Shabana and Rami Ashour are two of history’s most amazing players so why is it that not every single person in Egypt knows who they are? One time I heard a big company proudly talking about a squash player they were sponsoring saying that he’s part of their CSR program!!
What about adventurers?
So ya, things are pretty tough out there. So what about us adventurers? I get emails every day from people who tell me they want to climb Everest, swim the channel and motorbike across the Sahara. Some have not done their research and the total sum of their inspiration was the 10 minutes before they emailed me after watching a video on Youtube; honestly, those people don’t have the stamina to go the distance. Luckily there are many out there who do have the passion and determination to push boundaries and they will definitely make it. These people are usually quieter, they do their research and understand that the road is long and hard. They live for the journey, not getting to the finish line. These people work hard, get little recognition yet are ultimately happy and proud of the work that they do.
So what’s the message here? well… if you’re one of the latter bunch then don’t fall into the trap of waiting around until someone gets impressed by what you do and decides to support you. Learn to face rejection, don’t take it personal, just get up and try again. Most people will never understand what you do and how you feel like you so don’t expect them to, instead work harder on your own communication. Understand that real success only comes after you fail often and don’t even try to predict it, it will always come from where you least expect it. Just have faith and open yourself to possibilities. Here’s a personal story:
How I funded my dream
In 1996 I decided to climb Everest. Until 2005 I kept it to myself, relatives and close friends, little of whom took me seriously. I hung a photo of Everest on my wall and prepared myself physically and mentally for it. Along the way, I failed getting to the top of many mountains because of weather, my own weakness, ill-preparation and illness. Throughout all of these experiences I learned something new. In 2005 I announced to the world on TV that I was aiming to climb Everest in 2007, thinking that sponsorship would come flying at me from every angle but nothing happened. I met with the government thinking they have to help me but they didn’t care. Some companies I met thought my dream was pointless, others were afraid about their reputation if something happened to me and most of them didn’t reply. I must have approached more than 50 companies over a 1.5 year period and all of them said no. I gave up many times along the way but my team kept me going. That picture on the wall kept me going.
I realized I needed a change of strategy because sometimes hard work is not enough. So instead of attacking companies with emails and letters like a machine gun I thought about the one person in Egypt who might understand what I’m trying to do and support me. The name Naguib Sawiris (then CEO of Orascom Telecom) came up and I had a strong feeling he may relate but how on earth can I reach him. Then I got a light bulb moment… I went home and sent a passionate email to 10 email addresses [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] etc. 9 emails returned undelivered and only one went through. 3 weeks later a woman by the name of Sabrine Al Hossamy (who has since left the company to follow her own passion of being a percussionist! – www.sabrinedarbuka.com) gave me a call. I still remember the call vividly till this day. Without taking a breath I began regurgitating the pitch I had told the 50 other companies but then she stopped me mid sentence. “that’s not good” I thought! She said, “forget what kind of exposure you can generate for us, we want to know if you’re well prepared and if you think you can really make it?”. I was stunned and impressed. I explained to her my preparation, vision and plan for the expedition and she liked it. 3 weeks later the money was in my account and my attempt on the world’s highest mountain was finally going to happen.
So if you’re about to give up, have you tried everything? I mean really really tried everything?
P.S: I’m going to write another blog soon with tactics and strategies you can follow first before having to send an email to 10 email addresses of the same person 🙂