Name: Salman Halawi
Title: Founder & CEO
Salman Halawi is an Entrepreneur, Futurist and Global Keynote Speaker who has worked on creating impact across several industries including Architecture, Design, Hospitality, Web3 and Metaverse.
Helping scale and grow several successful companies and advising young entrepreneurs on how to make an impact in an ever-changing world.
He is the Founder & CEO at Metadesignerz, a company that serves as a bridge between the brands of tomorrow and Web3 Service Providers from all over the world.
He is also the Innovation and Strategy Manager at MetaGate Summit, Metaverse Evangelist at Polybius, as well as an Advisory Board Member of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Lebanon.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Salman's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The most challenging part during my entire journey and I think many leaders will agree was the very start. You begin with little to no knowledge about how things work, how to build a product, a team and most importantly finding ways to generate profit to hold on to everything you've done so far, you report to a lot of people and are never really sure what they think of you; it's a period of time where you feel lost.
I was lucky enough to have a leadership position early on in my career as a project manager and later a chief relations officer at two different startups; that helped me understand processes better and learn how to lead by example through patience, a will to learn and a whole lot of emotional intelligence. [Hint: You'll need it the most]
Those three experiences alongside others helped me realize that leadership is not about a title and much less about YOU, it's about the people around you without whom none of this would be possible and none of this would cease to exist.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
After working in people centric environments from Tourism as a tour guide starting off at the age of 16, to Architecture and Project Management at the age of 21 and Later on a Chief Relations officer at the age of 22, I was lucky enough to grow into the position of leadership by taking ownership, responsibility and understanding what needed to be done at any given moment and doing whatever I could to ensure that it got done. Pushing people to thrive for greatness, leading to the best possible outcomes in what was at times, the worst possible situation.
I always wanted to take the lead on everything because I feel like that's where I can create the most impact on others and in return, on an organisation so that's what I did when working in in startups, which led to a gradual growth into leadership positions; later on extending to the most difficult role in leadership: Becoming a first-time Founder.
I also honed my ability in being able to read people, something I feel like everyone is born with but only leaders notice and work on enhancing.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
In order to have an effective and productive day and after trying endless types of schedules, planning my day typically starts the night before.
Every night at around 10:30-11:00 pm I try to set up a schedule that is divided into all the tasks that I have and the time slots during the day that are to be dedicated to those tasks.
This allows me to achieve one of two things:
1. Prepare my conscious and subconscious mind for what I will be doing the next day.
2. Know exactly what I am going to be doing everyday and thus, less time preparing myself to get the job done.
On an ideal day I wake up at 7:00am, read for 25 minutes, meditate for 5-10 minutes, get up and do some push ups and drink lots and lots of water; After that, I get up, clean up, get dressed and try to be at my Laptop by 8:00am.
I try to EAT the FROG early on in my schedule, taking care of the bulky large unamusing tasks that I would regularly keep pushing till the next day (From 8:00 till 10:30am) [Mind you each one of these tasks are scheduled in time slots]. Once I finish, I have a quick 30 minute call with the team to hear their updates and tackle any issues on the spot.
By then I have some breakfast and at 11:30, I'm back on my Laptop to get more work done. This period of time is typically when I'm answering my emails, LinkedIn and WhatsApp messages till around 12:30 when I get dressed and head out to the gym for a 1-2hr workout, get back, have a shower, have lunch and by then it's around 4:00pm.
4:00 till 5:30 is dedicated for meetings/Other tasks.
5:30 till 7:30 is dedicated to creative work (Writing, Creating Content, Ideation...)
and 7:30 till 10:30pm is typically Family/Friends time.
10:30 till 11:00pm is for scheduling the next day.
11:00-11:45 pm is reading time.
11:50 pm Is typically the time by which I try to sleep.
Mind you, this schedule doesn't always work or look the same, in the life of an entrepreneur there are days when you are working from the moment you wake up till the moment you sleep, there are days when you get a surprise you weren't aware of and there are days when you need to solve problems you never saw coming, that's the nature of the lifestyle, it's all about adaptability and that's the beauty behind having a schedule that breaks your day up almost by every half-hour. It allows you to make changes based off of what the situation requires.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Perhaps that just because things are taking too long to happen, it doesn't mean that you should focus on something else.
When you have put your blood, tears and sweat into something and things don't go to plan, that's when you need to be doubling down on it, a shift in focus will open the door to regrets in a much later time.
Do what needs to be done to get things done, and if, after that happens, things don't work out, at least you tried, and at least you and your entire team learned a valuable lesson.
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?
While I have read a lot of books during my journey and a few stand out, the one perhaps that most impacted my leadership so far is start with WHY by Simon Sinek, what it did was it helped me better understand WHY I set out to do all of this in the first place and made the end goal a lot clearer in terms of my career path and that of my company.
When you know your WHY you learn how to plant that why and ingrain your faith and desire to achieve that WHY into the mind of your employees, thus soon enough, you have a workplace that is absolutely infatuated by what they are part of and most importantly, WHY they are part of it.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Don't sit on the sidelines and wait for the coach to call you on.
Be your own coach, you are the only person who can help you propel yourself into greatness.
Figure out what it is that needs to be done for you to get where you want, and based off that, build a plan and take action; all day, everyday.
If you can't do that, you're not ready for leadership; A discipline where everyone is watching you every minute of the day waiting to see what happens.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
It's not a story as much as it is looking back and seeing that everything happened for a reason.
The people you met, the problems you faced, the times you looked yourself in the mirror and said "Why am I still doing this?", the times you got humbled by life because your head was too up in the clouds to notice what was actually happening, the times you felt like you were absolutely worthless and beyond that, you got back up and made sure to SHOW UP and TAKE ACTION, the mistakes, the triumphs, the falls, the rise... All of which, at that specific moment, mean little to nothing, but when you take a step back and envision the road, you see how everything was part of a much bigger puzzle and everything that comes, will be part of continuing that puzzle, your destiny. A destiny that changes with every decision, but shapes up based on what you want it to be.
I felt like leaving you with that, because, very often, we forget that our days are part of a much bigger journey.