Name: Anwar Elkamony
Title: CEO & Founder
Organisation: The Hope Giver Campaign (THGC)
CEO & Founder of the worldwide campaign "Hope Giver", the only athlete to return to professional sports after a bone marrow transplant operation, speaker, book author of the autobiography book "Match at the Stadium of Death", and inspirational content creator.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Anwar's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
As a leader, I have faced numerous challenges in my life, both personally and professionally. The first one is related to my tennis carrier where I had a clear vision of reaching tennis at a higher level than when I was a soccer player, and my ultimate goal was to become a professional tennis player.
However, many people surrounding me were doubtful or offered little support. Despite the challenges and mental difficulties, I faced, I took my own decisions and pursued my dream. Starting tennis at the age of 21 is relatively late compared to other professional players who usually start at a much younger age. This late start would have required me to work harder and train longer hours to catch up with my peers. Additionally, dealing with people's doubts and lack of support could have been mentally challenging and could have caused me to doubt my decisions.
As a leader, this experience has undoubtedly taught me the importance of perseverance, self-belief, and the ability to make tough decisions against others' opinions. My tennis journey has undoubtedly made me a stronger and more resilient leader, able to face and overcome obstacles that may stand in the way of achieving my goals.
However, one of the most challenging aspects of my leadership journey was my battle with bone marrow failure and the subsequent health complications that followed. In 2006 I had to undergo a life-saving operation and a bone marrow transplant, which resulted in significant health issues such as GvHD and major problems with my liver, kidneys, skin, and digestive system.
These complications caused me to gain weight and weakened my muscles, making it difficult for me to continue with my athletic pursuits, finally, I had gangrene in both of my hands, which miraculously recovered after I refused to make an amputation. However, I persevered through these challenges and eventually made a remarkable comeback to professional tennis, becoming the only athlete to return to professional sports after a bone marrow transplant operation and more than 7 years of fighting the disease.
As a leader, I need to have resilience, determination, and the ability to overcome significant challenges. My experience with bone marrow failure and its aftermath has undoubtedly been a difficult journey. Still, it has also shaped me into the compassionate and empathetic person that I am today, which is undoubtedly a valuable asset in my role as the CEO and Founder of the Hope Giver Campaign.
In conclusion, I think my battle with bone marrow failure and its aftermath has been one of the most challenging aspects of my leadership journey. However, my resilience and determination in overcoming these obstacles have undoubtedly made me a stronger and more empathetic leader.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I became a leader through my personal journey of overcoming significant challenges. When I was 21 years old, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a professional tennis player, despite many people's doubts and mental difficulties I faced. I took my own decisions, worked hard, and eventually achieved my goal.
However, my life took a difficult turn when I had to battle bone marrow failure and other health complications. After undergoing a life-saving operation and a bone marrow transplant, I faced major health issues that weakened my muscles and made it difficult for me to continue with my athletic pursuits. Despite these challenges, I persevered and eventually made a remarkable comeback to professional tennis.
Through my experience of overcoming adversity, I decided to give back to the community by initiating the worldwide campaign "Hope Giver "which is currently running in more than 22 countries around the world. The campaign aims to spread hope and inspire millions of people worldwide, including the handicapped, cancer fighters, golden-agers, cardiovascular patients, orphans, homeless people, mental health patients, and hopeless people who faced a traumatic event or serious disease.
My leadership journey is driven by my desire to help people and uplift them. The Hope Giver campaign is a testament to my leadership skills, my altruistic nature, and my ability to inspire millions of people worldwide. By taking people out of depression and inviting them to amazing places, we help them regain their dignity and appear in the moments of victory despite sickness, problems, or depression.
I am committed to spreading hope, uplifting people, and making them feel special, appreciated, and respected. I believe that nothing is impossible, and I want to show people that they can achieve whatever they want despite facing significant challenges.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am a hard worker, and community work takes a lot of time and effort. However, it brings me great satisfaction to see other people happy and to see the impact of my efforts. My typical day starts early in the morning with a cup of coffee and a plan for the day. I prioritize the activities related to the Hope Giver campaign, which requires a lot of communication and organizational skills.
In addition to the campaign, I try to stay active by practicing tennis, participating in tournaments, and running. I believe that keeping myself physically fit helps me to stay focused and motivated. I also make time for self-education, as I believe that learning new things is essential to personal growth and development.
My days are usually long, and I work late into the night as I am dedicated to the Hope Giver campaign. However, seeing the campaign grow and involve more people around the world makes all the effort worthwhile. It is rewarding to see the impact that the campaign has on the community and to know that I am making a difference in people's lives.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a forum on leadership with worldwide leaders who have made a significant impact in the world. During this forum, I was reminded of the most important lesson I have learned in my life, which I follow every day: to stay humble and modest.
This lesson was first taught to me by my grandfather, and it has stayed with me throughout my life. It's crucial to remain humble and modest with everyone in your life, including family, friends, employees, and the team you lead. It's also essential to make everyone feel important and appreciated, and to show them that their efforts are valued. As a leader, it's important to work just as hard as the team and to avoid letting your ego get in the way.
At the leadership forum, I was reminded of the importance of this lesson, and it has renewed my commitment to staying humble and modest in all aspects of my life. I believe that this lesson is fundamental to effective leadership and that leaders who remain humble and focused on others will be more successful in achieving their goals.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
To be honest, I don't read books on leadership as such. Instead, I prefer reading inspirational biographies of athletes, successful entrepreneurs, and famous people who have made great achievements in life. These stories truly inspire me and have a profound impact on my leadership.
I find that reading about the struggles and successes of others helps me to gain insight into my own challenges and to develop my own leadership style. For example, reading about the journey of successful athletes who have overcome significant challenges to achieve greatness inspires me to persevere and never give up.
I believe that learning from the experiences of others is an essential part of leadership development. By reading about the lives of successful people, I gain new perspectives and ideas that I can apply to my own leadership journey. While I can't name one specific book that has had an impact on my leadership, I can say that reading inspirational biographies has been a significant influence on my leadership style.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
If I could give only one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be to never give up. Life is full of challenges and obstacles, but it's important to keep pushing forward and never lose sight of your goals.
In addition to perseverance, it's important for young leaders to stay humble and control their ego. It's easy to get caught up in your own success, but it's critical to recognize the efforts of others and to work as a team. Teamwork brings greater achievements than individual efforts alone.
As an example of this philosophy, I did not name the "Hope Giver" campaign after myself. I want all people to become "Hope Givers," and the campaign logo shows people holding hands in a circle, representing unity and teamwork. In summary, my advice to young leaders is to keep pushing forward, stay humble, work hard, and work as a team. With these qualities, young leaders can achieve great things and make a positive impact on the world.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
One meaningful story that comes to mind is not from my time as a leader but from the success stories of my grandfathers. Both of my grandfathers had very difficult life circumstances, but they were able to build themselves up from scratch and become real examples for their families and employees to follow.
The stories of my grandfathers inspire me to be a better leader and to strive for success while remaining humble and dedicated to my team. They showed me that anything is possible with hard work, determination, and a positive attitude. Their success stories are a reminder that we can all achieve our dreams, no matter where we come from or what challenges we face.