ahmed el meleegy


Reading and writing instead of going to parties, mostly.

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Franklin's Virtues

Having just read a great article on the Business Insider, I feel like I need to speak about my own ambitions in the arena of virtue.

The article discusses the 13 virtues that Ben Franklin outlined as the virtues he wanted to work on and improve. I don't have a list of virtues, per se, but I have a list of habits that I would like to develop and maintain. However, after reading the article, I think maybe I should add some true virtues to the mix.

Something that I have been wanting to do on a daily basis, is the simple act of writing down my goals for the day, every day. This may seem as very simple and trivial, but I find that orienting yourself throughout the day with some goals is a really excellent way to be more productive.

Another habit, is what I am doing now, writing more. I don't aspire to be a writer full-time, but I find that writing teaches us the importance of clarity of thought, which almost always translates into clarity of prose. Training my mind for the clarity needed on the daily job grind is a worthy goal in my view, and something that will come in handy whether I am writing or doing something else unrelated. Clarity is the goal here.

Lastly, a habit that I intend to really develop in 2018 is what I will call organized persistence. I often find myself juggling multiple tasks that all seem to take way longer than any of them should, and I believe that's a combination of a distracted mind, and a lack of pure persistence. I want to develop a methodology that allows me to be persistent about my goals and tasks, and be organized in that persistence so that I end up finishing my tasks in a reasonable timeframe. Duration is not the only goal, however, but quality as well. Jumping from task to task ends up in the quality of the products deteriorating, and organized persistence will help me raise the quality of what I work on, as well as lower the time it takes me to finish what I am working on.

Read Ben Franklin's tips, for a look at virtues that one should develop. For my short and sweet habits, I think 3 is way more than enough.

The Corporate Gig

As someone who has had quite a few (and almost too many) interviews lately, I have a few observations about work, corporations, and life that I have to share. Some of this is pure and shameless complaining, and some is just an honest reflection on how far out of touch with reality corporate culture has gone.

One of the many themes that come across during interviews is the idea of the superstar. Companies now truly expect everyone walking through the door to be a superstar. You should have figured out how to do this job even before you hit the apply button. For some roles, I understand that you may want someone who's ready to go. However, for the vast majority of roles, the person who's applying is hoping to move up, learn something new, take on some extra responsibility, and develop as a person. Pointing out to them, and expressing dismay, that their previous experience doesn't reflect their ability to fulfill the full responsibilities of the role is just pure ridicule. 

Another pain point I have with large corporations is the asymmetry of commitments. Most companies are perfectly willing to ask you to make commitments, push targets on you, or impose entirely arbitrary timelines, and in return make very few commitments themselves. Partly because of the often complex liability and responsibility structures, such an attitude overwhelms and frustrates those on the other side. Many times in my experience, there doesn't appear to be a clear decision maker. The intricacies of hiring aren't always clear to those on the receiving end, and they often get confused by who is asking the questions, who is sending the emails and who is making calls.

Lastly, there is a prevailing idea at most corporations, that truly stifles career mobility: the fact that since you are now doing A, you should continue doing A. I have faced this a few times, when I have applied for roles that aren't similar to the role I currently occupy. I always get the question: Are you sure you want to do B, after doing A for a year? This baffles me. It baffles me that the idea of change appears incomprehensible to others. One isn't born for a certain career. Most skills are transferable. You could always learn something new, and the idea of doing the same thing forever really doesn't apply unless you're a doctor. My mom was a physician for 35 years, and even she will claim that while most cases are somewhat similar, all of them were still unique. I witnessed this first hand, as she and her team would sit for 15 minutes before every surgery, walk through their plan, and almost always change a thing or two based on the patient. 

I have way more to say about this, and I think I would like to write a bit more about the mental models that anchor people to certain judgements about career, hiring and firing.

The Directions of Content

Whatever content this experiment is going to house is a topic that has been on my mind recently. The truth of the matter is, I don't have such deep expertise in one area of work that I could devote an entire blog to. My day job as a Business Analyst does not yet merit its own blog, even though it is rather interesting. This blog, then, will cater to a different need and a higher urge.

As many of you, on daily basis, I read a variety of blogs, I encounter concepts and ideas I am familiar with either through formal education or interest and inquisition. But, as a mere reader, I never consider these ideas in depth, but only in passing. This blog aims to correct and offer a space for me to consider in depth some ideas I find interesting to a 25-year-old (at the time of writing) aspiring successful entrepreneur. I am just starting on a journey to build a solar energy company, and spread the gospel of clean energy in Egypt and the Middle East.

This blog will be a vehicle for me to consider ideas - in business, in life, in morality - that I find compelling and merit discussion. However, this blog will have some overarching themes. One of the themes that you will find common between many of the coming posts, is organization building. I am interested in what would it take to build an organizations that attracts quality caliber, and inspires them to do great work. 

Another theme is that will come across in this blog, the prevalence and role of technology in our lives. It is a well-beaten horse, I know, but in the energy world it still takes a back seat to economics. Further, as a West-educated Middle Eastern, I hopefully have something to add from those two perspectives.

On My Nightstand

Every once in a while, I take a look at what I would like to read for the next 2-3 months. I find that timeline much more digestible than yearly lists of reads. I discover new and great books all the time, and having the flexibility to priorities and change the order of books I will read is very important to me.

At the start of 2018, I sat down and considered the books that I would like to read during the first months of the year. There are 2 short books that I have already finished, which is great, and there a few that I am either working on or have yet to start.

A booked that overlapped between 2017 and 2018 is Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It's a collection of essays and speeches by Emerson that outline and dive deeper in his philosophy on a lot of topics, ranging from gifts to the significance of academia, and the then-new era of Americanism. It is a difficult, but worthy read.

In 2018 so far, I started and finished two of Harry Frankfurt's great books, namely On Bullshit and On Truth. The first discusses in depth what the differences are between bullshit and lying, and how to distinguish the two. Frankfurt also discusses the importance of being able to identify and separate the two.

On Truth, is an antidote to On Bullshit, offering a succinct discussion of what is truth, and what it serves in our day to day lives. Further, Frankfurt highlights the value of truth to our well-being and the well-functioning of society.

In the vein of On's is Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny, a great short book that identifies twenty lessons from the twentieth century that represent key takeaways from his observations as a historian. I have just started the book, so I will write a longer blurb once I finish. However, having only read two chapters, I can still say that the book is particularly relevant for 2018, as this year appears to be rife with attempts at tyranny all over the world, and in particular in the United States. 

Lastly, a book that takes me in a different direction is Power: A Radical View, by Steven Lukes. Lukes is interested in the theory of power, and how power is represented, applied and considered in politics. It is a heavily theoretical book, but still easily digestible. 

With those, I think my 2018 is off to a great start in the reading realm. I have many books still to be read on my Kindle, and an ever-expanding list on my Amazon account. 

New Year, Ambitious Thoughts

One of my new year resolutions, I actually prefer to call them goals, is to write more. I believe that creativity and good ideas are inherent in all of us. We just have to get out enough of the crap in our heads for the good ideas to shine. So, to generate some good ideas, I am going to be writing a lot, to get rid of the layers of rubbish ideas and thoughts in the hopes that good ideas and thoughts will find the air to breathe.

Another reason why I will be writing is to get some good practice in formulating arguments, thoughts and ideas. I am a fairly well-spoken individual, but I haven't been writing since my college days. Writing, like any other skill, needs constant exercise and practice. Applying myself to writing everyday will result in a) a solid record of writing and analysis that I can look back on and reflect; b) a prepared and ready mind to write when the time comes for me to write something truly good, I will have had hopefully years of practice.

So, there it is. I will be using Standard Notes' lovely Listed feature to publish a daily blog, the content of which will be the focus of the next post.