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Freelancing Success: Have you got it?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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In celebration of nabbesh.com Beta being launched, I want to talk about freelancers today (and next week too!). It seems that finally, the day has come where we are valued as important members of society. So much so that in addition to the launch of nabbesh.com, the Dubai government now issues a permit specifically for freelancers allowing them to operate as a sole professional and to conduct business in their own name as opposed to a brand. Yay for us!

So now that we can legally operate in the UAE without being dependent on a company, spouse or sponsor, what do we need to be freelancers and how do we assure success?

What do you need to be a Freelancer?

In brief, to be a freelancer you need to have credibility and that consists of two things:

  1. Expertise in a very specific area

    An expert is someone who has made more mistakes than other people, has learned from those mistakes, has found a solution that works and is able to replicate that solution.

    It’s not as hard as it sounds. For example, I know a freelance translator whose niche was technical translation for the pharmaceutical industry. She had brushed up on the lingo, learned the jargon in Arabic, and was able to translate French and English into excellent technical Arabic. As a result, she’s in high demand and charges 150 AED per page while others are only able to charge 75 AED or less.

    Why such a huge difference in fees for the same freelancing field? Why are clients willing to pay some freelancers so much more money than others? Because price is a function of perceived value!

    Once you have expertise, maintain it! Keep reading, learning, participating in programs and workshops, and practicing. Develop yourself as much as you can.

  2. People skills

    Ok, you have the expertise, now what? If a potential client contacts you through nabbesh for your services, what do you do? I say get their attention and earn their trust fast!

    In the first minutes of a meeting, you need to get your message across quickly and concisely, show them that you understand their problems and earn enough trust for them to see you as the solution. That will get you the job.

    Keeping the job though depends on managing the relationship. Does your client want a friendly rapport with you or are they looking for a quick efficient non-chatty business transaction? Having the ability to read your client, understanding the type of person they are and the quality of interaction they’re looking for will keep you the job and get you referrals.

    In freelancing more than anywhere, the ability to relate to people, understand what they need and successfully deliver exactly what they’re asking for is how you become successful.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Luck, Chance and All of That.

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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Don’t you hate those people who are so lucky they always get what they want? That job, a good deal on a car, the perfect spouse… they seem to have something that we mere mortals always come close to but somehow always miss.

Meanwhile, you’re the poor bugger who always picks the line that moves the slowest, gets overlooked for that promotion and finds a splash of ketchup on your shirt just as you’re headed in for an interview. You tell yourself you’re just not one of those lucky people.

Well, I think that’s bullshnozzle. I once heard that ‘Luck’ is simply a combination of preparedness and opportunity. I tend to agree.

Before you start arguing, let me make a little clarification. There’s luck, as defined above, and there’s chance. Chance is the probability of an event happening to you at any given time. So the chances of you getting a 6 when you throw a die (if you actually throw it!), is 1 in 6 and has nothing to do with luck. Absolutely nothing.

Luck on the other hand is you making a few really nice hand made samples of jewelry at home as well as an extensive design portfolio, whether you plan to sell them or not, and enthusiastically telling and showing everyone you know all about it. So when Joe let’s say, tells you his wife loves handmade jewelry (opportunity), you are happy to inform Joe that his wife is in ‘luck’ because you happen to have a very nice collection waiting for her at home (preparedness).

So now you’re selling your amazing jewelry to Joe’s wife, who needs no encouragement to tell all of her friends and her friend’s friends and you suddenly have a booming business doing something you love, you lucky bastard.

Your friend on the other hand, who also makes hand made jewelry, has been waiting for clients to place an order because she makes her jewelry on demand. But she’s shy to talk about her work and expects her website to bring her business. So even though she’s the better designer of the two of you, you’re the ‘lucky’ one and she thinks that she just has no luck.

So that lucky person who has it all, the deal, the car, the spouse, may have a certain amount of chance playing in their favor, as all of us do, but she may also be creating opportunities for herself, or be prepared to take opportunities that come her way.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” –Mahatma Ghandi

 

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

I’m sorry to say this but…

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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‘I’m sorry to say this but…’ Have you ever started a sentence with the following words?

‘You may not believe me but I really feel that…’

‘Please don’t take this the wrong way but I think that…’

‘I don’t mean to be an ass but…’

Someone I was speaking to the other day started by apologizing for something they believed in and it got me wondering. Why do we do that? Why are so many of us so worried about how people will view our beliefs, our opinions, our thoughts and our feelings?

When somebody says to me: ‘You may not believe me but I like capers.’ I find myself telling them: ‘Yes, I believe you. Believe me I believe you!’ It’s almost as if they’re not sure of their own beliefs and are looking for someone to validate them. Why wouldn’t I believe you?

The other thing I get to thinking when someone says for example: ‘I’m sorry to say this but your pie doesn’t taste very good.’, is: What are they sorry about? Why are they being apologetic? It’s almost as if they had something to do with making my pie taste like cardboard. Wouldn’t stating an opinion simply be so much better? ‘I don’t think this pie tastes very good.’ That’s it.

Now I ask you, why the apology? Why the qualifier before stating something you think, feel or believe? All it does is weaken what you’re saying. It’s undermining your credibility and your authority before you’ve even made a statement. When you start a sentence with a negative, you’re conditioning your listeners to look for negatives!

In a business context, this is so much more relevant. Try it. Say these two sentences out loud and tell me which one rings true to your ears:

‘You may not believe me but I interviewed 40 candidates.’

‘I interviewed 40 candidates.’

‘I don’t mean to be an ass, but this graph is completely out of scale.’

‘This graphic is out of scale, do you think you can fix it?’

I assure you your boss won’t believe you if you start by telling him not to! I assure you your colleague will think you’re an ass if you start by telling her you don’t want to be one.

Be assertive. Don’t condition people’s thoughts for them! Be firm and confident, say exactly what you mean and don’t defend yourself if no one has challenged you yet!

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Image by: farconville http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

The Speed Bumps Of Life

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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Driving my daughter home from school a few days ago I slowed almost to a stop on a particularly large speed bump near our house. A woman in a large SUV behind me got very impatient with me and instead of slowing down, she swerved dramatically around me, jammed the accelerator and flew over the bump, leaving me and a cloud of dust hovering in the space behind her.

The incident got me thinking that many of us deal with the speed bumps we encounter in our lives in very much the same way. We are impatient with ourselves, we are impatient with others, and we just want to keep moving.

It seems that we all forget that speed bumps are there for the specific purpose of slowing us down in the first place! And we’re being slowed down for very good reasons: there’s a school close by, we’re nearing an intersection, the road is changing or there are children at play.

Why is that so different from the speed bumps we encounter in our everyday lives? Aren’t illness, death, changing jobs or countries, marriage or divorce, childbirth, and difficult choices like staying home with the kids or going back to work, freelancing or setting up a business, etc… all part of the speed-bump mélange?

I personally spent 12 years of my life hurtling towards an objective that I thought was going to be the culmination of all my dreams. When I got to it, I realized that my priorities, my desires and my values had changed completely in those years and I had never bothered to slow down and check on them. My objective turned out to be a dead end that I might have foreseen had I slowed down a little on the way!

I’ve heard that if you do the same thing all the time, you get the same results. So when we’re going through life full speed ahead and we come across a speed bump, doesn’t it make sense to slow down a little, look around and ask ourselves some pertinent questions like, ‘where am I? Where am I going? Is that still where I want to go and is this the best way to get there?’, instead of simply jamming our foot down on the gas and speeding ahead?

Sometimes the full-speed-ahead solution turns out just fine but sometimes, we’re just ignoring the whole point of the speed bump, which is to just slow down, look around and think for a few seconds…

 

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.


In the shoes of…

By: Loulou Khazen Baz

As an entrepreneur, an Arab woman and the founder of nabbesh, I have the pleasure to kick off the “in the shoes of” series of blog posts, which will feature some up-and-coming, talented and inspiring people in the MENA region.

Did you ever wonder what it would feel like to be in the shoes of an entrepreneur? A talented artist? A nurse?

Every day, hundreds of millions of experiences are gained and internalized or shared with a few people. Wouldn’t it be great if we can learn from these experiences? Well this is why we would like to feature “in the shoes of” inspirational people.

From my humble experience as an aspiring entrepreneur for the past year, life couldn’t be more interesting and full of surprises. A typical day can start in complete peace and quiet then go through complete turmoil. Of course, there are the boring uneventful days too, but they are numbered.

If you’re an adventurer, then entrepreneurship is going to quench your thirst; it’s the path to fulfillment, self-discovery and testing your own limits.

As the founder of nabbesh, a venture which is currently taking shape and will be ready for launch very soon, I take pride in every little accomplishment my team and I have done and on a daily basis, we are all pushing our limits to produce a unique product that embodies our values & beliefs.

I’m not going to preach about how organized and perfect we are… If you thought so then you can stop reading 🙂 I’m going to give you a snapshot of reality, the confusion that you face on a daily basis and the rollercoaster ride you take to build a “hopefully” sustainable and successful business.

So here’s a snapshot of my day.

The day started with a meeting with my partners in crime. We had a long session of status updates, social media monitoring and then Hassan the lead creative tried to teach me a magic trick.

Hassan’s Magic Trick

We try to mix a bit of fun in every day… Note, to be an entrepreneur you have to wear 10 different hats on a daily basis. In one day you can be your company’s lawyer, designer or coffee maker; diversity at it’s best!

Around 2pm I was off to a meeting with a Lebanese tech entrepreneur who has successfully started and sold several companies in the USA and he is currently a venture partner in a US based Venture Capital firm. It was a great learning experience which gave me great insight into the mind of a VC. For over an hour, I was challenged, questioned and sometimes got a tap on the back 🙂 I can’t stress enough how important it is for an entrepreneur to identify and meet with key people who can add value.

It was almost 4pm and I went back to the office where we worked on the storyboard for the video we are producing for nabbesh. A nice brainstorming session with our animator where ideas were flying at a crazy pace 🙂 Let’s see the results.

At 6pm, I’m writing this blog post, which I hope was informative to you… It’s a snapshot of my day.

Later on this evening, I will be catching up on some reading which I’ve been putting off for a while and will most probably be checking our social media channels to see what’s been happening.

The day will end with a call to our lead developer to get hopefully a positive status update, which will enable me to sleep peacefully tonight 🙂

Technically, you work a lot but the work is an absolute pleasure.

Happy Friday to you all!