I need to say something right off the bat. Even though this looks like a post I wrote for you, so you can get to know me better, I actually wrote it for me.
If you have been writing for any amount of time (even if you just started writing today), you will know exactly what I’m taking about. It’s very hard to break out of your protective shell and write in your own voice. It takes years of practice and it still never really feels 100% authentic.
So this post is just me, ripping off the shell like I’m ripping off a Band-Aid in one fast motion. I am making it a priority today for me to be 100% authentic with you. So without further delay, let’s rip off that bad boy!
1. I’m 34 and feel like I should be 44. I’m not out of shape or anything; I just had a lot of experience in my life. I grew up fast and took on a lot very young. I started working at 11.
My dad got me a job that paid me cash at where he worked, washing cars at a luxury car dealership. I learned how to drive at 13. Don’t worry, it was legal. It was private property so at 13, I drove some pretty sweet cars without the fear of the law- just the fear of scratching them.
2. I’m an Egyptian-American. I was born in Long Island, NY and was raised there and in parts of New Jersey as well.
I have visited Egypt 11 times. It’s not perfect but it has its charm. Egyptians are known for their warmth and sense of humor. We are also everywhere. Egyptians where the first Arabs to migrate to America in the late 60’s. Take a look at Egypt.
There are a few more structures than the pyramids. And roads! My friends in the 3rd grade didn’t believe me that there are roads, with cars, not just camels. Eat it kids from the 3rd grade!
3. I’ve been a Michael Jackson fan all my life. I grew up on his music and I guess there are a lot of childhood memories attached to them. He didn’t have the best public image but for some reason I never really paid attention to it. I just thought he was a creative genius, probably because he is. Here is me on my 4th birthday trying to get my groove on to Billie Jean.
4. I have 2 beautiful daughters…from a previous relationship. They are 12 and 3 and remind me that life is about how we grow and not what we were. They live with their mother. I think they are going to do amazing things and show me how it’s done when I’m old and grey.
5. I love the movie Inception because I dream every night. It’s kind of strange for most people to hear that I dream every night but actually we all do. I just get up during REM sleep (the time we dream) so I remember that I dreamt every time I wake up.
6. My middle name is Shariff. Yes, my name is Omar Shariff. Like the actor. No, not the guy who plays the terrorist in all the actions movies these days. I’m talking about Dr. Zhivago and Laurence of Arabia. Yeah, baby!
7. I can dance. And I’m pretty good. As you saw earlier in this post, I had an early start. It comes naturally to me. I think I get it from my dad. He used to dance professionally on stage back in Egypt for a national folkloric performance group. Rock on Dad!
8. I’m old school. I actually call people on the phone instead of texting with them for 30 minutes. I believe in manners and old fashioned values. I write emails with a salutation and closing. Phones should be away at a dinner. Take a picture or 2. Not 200 and then post them on InstaFace. Aren’t you are supposed to be hanging out with me in REAL LIFE?
9. I’m fluent in Arabic. My parents made us speak only Arabic on weekends or we would be deducted 25 cents from our allowance for every time they caught us speaking English. They wanted us to grow up bilingual and it worked.
The Arabic language is very poetic. Those harsh guttural sounds you hear, when some idiot comedian pretends to be speaking Arabic, is not Arabic. They are looking for a cheap laugh.
Arabic is argued by scholars (and the Encyclopedia Britannica!) as the most preserved language in history. I speak the Egyptian dialect of Arabic, the most commonly used and understood because Egypt is known as the film and music capital of the Arab world. Want to make it big in Arabic movies or music? You better speak Egyptian Arabic!
10. I love old people. I think in today’s society, we over-glamorize youth and often disregard and disrespect the experience of our elders. Anyone that has 20 years on you has tons of stories you don’t want to ignore. If I’m at a party, I’m scanning for wrinkles and grey hair. That’s where the party is at.
11. I’m 6’4’’. If you never met me in person, you will be compelled to say “You’re so tall!” when you do. Everyone does. It gets old but hey, I’m a tall guy. To save some time when we do meet. Yes, I do play basketball and yes I can dunk.
12. I lived in Dubai for 10 years. The money was good and I was figuring things out. It was very hot.
13. I have a few nicknames that only Nicole is allowed to call me. I know you are dying to hear them so here are a few: Baby Cakes, Bella Gioia (look it up) Omi and “Darl” (Short for darling but the ‘r’ is silent when pronounced. She’s Australian.)
14. I think that the work Nicole and I are doing will resonate with the right people, our people, and is really going to be successful. I believe in what we do and know that all great things take time to shine. We never want to take our readers, listeners and community members for granted. We know without you, we don’t exist.
15. I don’t drink. For many reasons. I don’t like the idea of being under the influence. I like to be the same person all the time. I also don’t like the idea of needing alcohol to change my state or mood to have a good time. This is very apparent to me at conferences and meet ups. I often wonder why drinking is such a central part of the event. I don’t feel left out or anything but I know that a lot of people wonder about me.
I also happen to be a Muslim and growing up, alcohol was just not in my life. So, I never really got into it. I’m an open-minded person and believe in accepting people as they are (because I expect the same in return) so I’m not hating on anyone that drinks, I just simply choose not to.
16. I love cats. Grew up with them all my life but ironically don’t have one now. Responsibilities man. Cats to me seem like they know something we don’t. They’ve got a grace and sophistication about them that intrigues me. Cats rule. Period.
Wow. I wish I could say that was easy but it wasn’t. Maybe I’m just a private person or I have insecurities that I will be judged. Either way, it was holding me back.
Earlier this month I told myself, I want to make it a priority to be able to have an authentic relationship with you. You are not just a figment of a person or a name on an email list. You are a real person who took the time to learn from me and about me. I can’t ignore that.
Now that this post is pretty much done and my Band-Aid of insecurity is off, get ready for some posts I have been holding back for some time. There are a few things I have been seeing in the online business space that I strongly disagree with and frankly don’t like. Yes, these posts will be controversial but they will be honest. I am also committed to keeping them progressive and constructive. Stay tuned for those.
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