Episode 30 - Ahmed Abdelaal - Prepared for Success

Ahmed Abdelaal (00:00):
If I went back, I would not change a single thing. You don't need to read a million parenting books. You don't need to sweat it. You will figure it out.

Young Han (00:12):
Hey, Meetings. Nice. Hey guys, I'm young, a full-time dad and a, a full-time professional with the goal to become the best parent possible. The girl at show is my journey interviewing fellow working parents aspiring to be both good at work and parenting. I'm gonna do this by gathering and sharing unfiltered perspectives for my guest. So join me as I research parenthood one interview at a time. I'm ed. Welcome to the girl at show. Thank you for joining me today.

Ahmed Abdelaal (00:43):
Oh, thanks for having me. It's a, it's a pleasure to be here. Awesome.

Young Han (00:47):
Let's jump right into it. So why don't you tell the listeners what you do for a living?

Ahmed Abdelaal (00:52):
Yes, yes, absolutely. So I work at a at a startup, but well, not, not a very small startup anymore. I lead operations there. I've been there for about two and a half years and seen it grow from a very, very tiny baby to a to a big multi-billion dollar company.

Young Han (01:12):
Oh, wow. That's incredible. So all the way into the billion range. So you guys are unicorn status

Ahmed Abdelaal (01:19):
Unicorn yeah, we're unicorn status. It was it, there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved and the growth outpaced, anything we could have imagined. I think, I guess we got lucky.

Young Han (01:30):
Yeah, I don't, yeah, I'm sure there's a little bit of luck, but I'm sure a lot of it had to do with your hard work and your perseverance as well, too. Yeah. What stage did you join?

Ahmed Abdelaal (01:39):
I joined the series B I was employee number four on the series B 80 million valuation, tiny office, everyone cram tiny office in downtown San Francisco in Soma in a in a very I believe the CEO described it as a very grungy building. Where very few things worked in the building and right before COVID we raised the C and then D and and moved into big office just for COVID to hit and and no more office.

Young Han (02:17):
That's right. Yeah. That's wild. So what did you guys do? Did you guys disperse after that or did you guys still have the office space?

Ahmed Abdelaal (02:22):
We had it for a while. It took us a while to actually get rid of the office cuz we didn't know when we were coming back and of course COVID hits and everyone has to start everyone. It got everyone thinking, well, why do we have an office in the first place? And it was, it was very interesting cuz we were having these conversations even before COVID hit. I was like, why do we need an office? Couldn't we just hire people wherever, wherever they need to be. And the talent is decentralized, so why not? And the conversation stalled and then COVID hit and we had to do it.

Young Han (02:55):
Yeah. That's amazing. So kind of like push that conversation forward faster. I feel like most you know, fast growing companies or hyper growth companies tend to have this conversation within themselves a lot because the, the problem becomes staffing technical talent and you inevitably have to like think about remote work because you just cannot hire people fast enough, especially in places like San Francisco, you know? And so these conversations seem to happen like at every hyper growth company I've experienced, like everyone has this like, oh, should we like not have an office? And then obviously, yeah. And then obviously the pandemic has like prompted everyone to have this conversation, but it's so funny because you, you think that you're so pioneering, but the reality is I think every hyper growth company has this.

Ahmed Abdelaal (03:39):
No, no, we like to tell ourselves we're special in that aspect, but we all know that we're not. And we were having this conversation prior to COVID and I even moved to Austin. That's that's one of the primary reasons I moved to Austin. Yeah. Is I'm gonna prove it out that I'm so committed. And I still believe in this, that I'm actually moving to Austin. I'm gonna start an office there. I'm gonna get that there. And I'm gonna show you that this works. And then after that, we're go doing Seattle, we're doing Boston, we're doing Miami, we're doing Chicago, we're doing salt lake city. We're doing all of these places. And then we're, we're opening up. We'd opened things up for talent everywhere. And right now, one of the initiatives that've been leading for a while which became a team on its own is actually opening it up to the rest of the world because the conversation is, well, if Seattle San Francisco, these places have talent. That's right. What about the rest of the world? I'm sure there are smart, talented people there as well. So let's go get EMS.

Young Han (04:34):
That's right. I love it. And I love that the game is really around decentralizing the office spaces. So it sounds like you guys are doing somewhat of a hybrid model where you're building up these satellite locations versus actually like having centralized everyone into San Francisco and then having remote. That's awesome. And you're like the Guinea pig for this model of like building out of a satellite branch in Austin.

Ahmed Abdelaal (04:54):
I volunteered to be the Guinea pig. Yes. I, I believed in it so much. And I, I genuinely do believe the it, a, an action is worth a thousand words. So instead of having the conversation go back and forth, let me just go out there and show, show you how it's, how it, how it's gonna work. And let's see how it's gonna work on the ground. And I'm the one I'm the only one doing the move. So no one else needs to to suffer for this.

Young Han (05:19):
That's amazing. I'm I, I have to ask, what did your family think about this?

Ahmed Abdelaal (05:24):
They had mixed feelings. So we lived in downtown Soma as well. So the girls couldn't couldn't go out as much as they could. Yeah. And and when we moved to Austin, all of a sudden there's all these green and activities and space backyard, like they couldn't believe we have a backyard. Unbelievable. compared to the tiniest Soma apartment. But they, they, they loved, they loved a lot of things about San Francisco, but I think they adapted very well to Austin.

Young Han (05:57):
That's awesome. Let's talk about your your kids for a second. Yeah. Can you tell me about your family? How many kids you have and how old they are, et cetera.

Ahmed Abdelaal (06:06):
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I have, I have two girls. Well, hence the yes, girl. Yep.

Young Han (06:13):
No, it's great. Yeah. It's actually so funny cuz I, I love the first thing people say to me. Well, not the first thing. The most common thing I hear about like the podcast is, oh, but I'm not a girl, dad, can I listen to it? And I'm like, I'm the girl, dad, it's the girl, dad show it's a parenting podcast. Anybody could listen to it. I'm the girl, dad, you don't have to be a girl dad to listen to. I'm like that would be targeting a very niche niche listener group if I was only targeting girl dads. Yeah. Oh, it's so funny. I apologize for sharing that random story. Please continue.

Ahmed Abdelaal (06:44):
No, it's absolutely wonderful. I mean, I mean, having girls is and it's funny because I have two sisters, I have two siblings and both of them have only boys. Oh wow. So I've seen, always grow up in an, in an only boy, dad and boy mom households, and now I'm having only girls, so. Wow. That's amazing. I've seen the contrast and it's, it's interesting. It's very interesting.

Young Han (07:09):
Yeah. It is interesting. Isn't it? Yeah. I, I feel like I, I wanted a boy pretty badly. But like now that I've like seen all my friends with boys and like of growing up, I'm like, oh, I'm glad I have girls, but I've also been told that it's actually inverse. Like you're gonna want a boy when they become teenagers. And then, then you're gonna like regret, regret saying that. But I, I, for now I'm gonna enjoy it because they're so soft and nice and sweet, you know? How old are your girls? 

Ahmed Abdelaal (07:38):
They are 12 turning 13 actually in a month and eight turning nine in three months.

Young Han (07:45):
Wow. That's great.

Ahmed Abdelaal (07:47):
They, they're still the, at least the low one. She's still in the in the soft nice daddy. Daddy. I love you. You, you mean the world to me. And and it's funny cuz I don't notice it, but but my friends, they, they, when they visit or when they see us, they're like this girl really looks up to you. She, she wants your approval so bad. I was like, oh my God, that's a lot of pressure.

Young Han (08:13):
Which one? The younger one or the older one?

Ahmed Abdelaal (08:16):
The younger one, the, the older one was in the same boat on until she until she she hit puberty and then she turned one day I went to sleep one day and she was daddy, daddy, daddy. I love you to, why do I exist? I like my friends more than I like you. I was like, okay, here we go.

Young Han (08:41):
We're off to the races here.

Ahmed Abdelaal (08:44):
What are you going to college again? I think you can skip grades you're girl. You can skip grades

Young Han (08:52):
Was it a, was it a switch like that or did it happen? Graduated?

Ahmed Abdelaal (08:56):
It, it, it happened, it, it took a, it took a while it went, it happened over a period of maybe three months where, where she, she went, she went from, from a little girl and she's starting to become a, a young woman and all of she she's growing. She's she's experiencing a range of emotions that she hasn't experienced before. And I, I am, I'm glad that I built a very strong relationship with her, that she actually talks about this emotions and she tells me all the time I'm, I'm confused. I'm angry. I'm happy. I'm sad. I don't know how to deal with people. I, I don't know if they like me. I don't know if I care. They like, if they like me and all sorts of other things and, and the, the issue is it happens. It happened all. It happens all at the same time. She'll in the same day. She'll be very happy and very sad and very angry, very excited all in the same day. And it's, it's a function of growing up and I keep telling her, sweetie, it's no natural. What you're feeling is right now is very, very natural. It will be fine. You will be fine. All you have to do is just not let yourself build bad habits. That's all, everything else will work through. It'll be easy. And even if you build bad habits will work through those two. It'll be harder if you, if they become habits. But beyond that, you're a good girl. You're a smart girl and we'll get through this together. And she, and she's starting to stabilize a little bit

Young Han (10:28):
Wow. What a great relationship you have with your daughter. That's fantastic.

Ahmed Abdelaal (10:31):
Yeah. Yeah. She's she was my first and it's funny. I, I had, I had Alia my eldest when she was, when I was 26. And before, up until that point, I've never held a baby in my life. Mm. Like these tiny, fragile, whiny things. And I, I wanted nothing to do with them. Right. Yeah. I, and, and I started my career as an offshore oil driller. Right. So very, very much so big dudes. I was this I'm, I'm five, 10, almost five 11 and well built. And I was, I was the smallest guy on the rig of like all these monstrous men and, and stringing sledge hammers, and playing with blow torches all day. So a baby, obviously wasn't my thing until, until I went into that delivery room room and I saw that baby and all of a sudden a switch went off in my head and the first thing, and the only thing I could think about is I wanna hold that baby. I wanna protect that baby. I went all of a sudden from, I wanna solve problems. I wanna be the biggest, badass man on the rig to protect the baby.

Young Han (11:37):
Yeah. It's like a, it's like a lightning switch. I have very similar story about the transition, not about my professional career. We have to talk about the oil drilling? That's really interesting to me, but about the switch about seeing my kid, I also have never really interacted with the baby. Like I've seen babies and you know, my girlfriend at the time would basically get to hold the baby or like do activities with the baby, but it just never ended up coming to me. And so it's so funny because until my kids, I had very little experiences other than my kids. I had some with my sisters that my nieces and then, but I like, you know, like doing all the diaper changing, that was like the first time I've ever done this. Cause it's just like something that you don't realize, guys don't ever get an opportunity to do, because even if you like, yeah. Even if you go to your friend's house or something like that, and they're like, Hey, you wanna change my kid's diaper? Like, it's just not a question. You ask a guy, you know what I mean? It's like a terrible, like stereotype and disservice we do to men. Because like, just not something you ask your guy, friends to do, but like the reality is I like all of a sudden was responsible for doing this and I've never done it before. And I'm like so it's so funny, but yes, you're right.

Ahmed Abdelaal (12:46):
It's funny that you mentioned this, it's funny that you mentioned the diaper changing because at some point, at least with the, with my younger daughter, she saw the diaper changing as a bonding experience. She's like, I like you more now you changed me, this was when she was a year old. She's like, no, I want daddy to change me. I was like, oh no, not you now not you. Now you go away, that's wild. You, you, you, you're not letting me do what I want. So you go away.

Young Han (13:18):
That's awesome. It was like her way of like spending time and like articulating her her point of view. That's awesome. It's like, it's like that switch, you know, from being a need, need, need, need to like being able to articulate things, to sort and find herself. Yeah. That's funny.

Ahmed Abdelaal (13:33):
But by allowing us to change her dirty diaper, yes.

Young Han (13:38):
What else are they supposed to grab at? I mean, come on that's they have no domain. They need to grab whatever they can control. I mean, that's the diapers, the diaper

Ahmed Abdelaal (13:46):
That's true. That's true. Yeah.

Young Han (13:49):
My little one managed the crap outta me and we, she manages me on the most weirdest things. Right. Like, so you just have to like, I don't know, go with it because, I mean, what else are they gonna manage? You know, they have no domain. That's so true. Can we talk, actually go kind of go out of order here. I just wanna like jump in because I'm actually really curious now, like how did you end up being a hypergrowth tech executive? Like what was the, what is the career trajectory like? How'd you go from being an oil rig guy to working for a hypergrowth tech company.

Ahmed Abdelaal (14:22):
It's so, so the, the short version of the story is I, I get, I get bored and most of the, I get bored quickly and I don't like doing things in general. I like not doing things. I end up doing things. However, I end up doing them by finding ways to to, to not do them, myself and I like to solve problems. I realized that later on in the beginning, I didn't think about I wanna solve problem. No, I have a problem. I automatically jump on it. So I started as a, actually as a deck hand, it's called, they called roundabouts on an oil where got promoted within a year, quite a bit actually, and became a driller. And I had this intense problem on the rig. And every time I asked around, I asked all the experts and the veterans, and they all said, ah, it's not solvable. This is the way it's always been for 40 years. And I'm doing the specialized job, no space to do, to store anything. So I put together this little piece of software code had to learn, put together this little bit of software that helped me figure out how to fit more stuff on the rig by moving stuff back to shore, only bringing stuff as needed and by looking at what we needed exactly. Instead of guessing. And it freed up a lot of space, I was talking someone randomly at a party. And it was an older gentleman, I guess I'm, I'm almost at, his age now. And he is like, Hey kid, what do you do? And I tell him, and he's, he's interested. He's surprisingly interested in the details. Guy turns out to be a VP at Oracle, that's spinning off to start his own company, and he offers me a job cuz apparently the little piece of software he invented is something that Oracle builds and has been struggling with for some time. So wow. Offers me a job. I transitioned to that. And then I transitioned to Oracle, become a product manager for supply chain and operations software and then decided to take a break. So I went to grad school and also I wanted to do more or I wanted to solve the broader problem, not just the problem that that software was solving. I wanted to solve the actual client problem. so I, I joined McKinsey for a bit, did a random walk did a lot of M and A, a lot of other stuff. And from there I went back to my roots of operations at Amazon and from Amazon I transitioned to scale and through the years I, I specialized in building and turning around operations or businesses that that weren't doing too well. And scale had a business that needed to scale well, pun intended

Young Han (17:11):
Pun totally intended, come on. 

Ahmed Abdelaal (17:14):
I'm totally intense, maybe I love it. Just love it, and they couldn't scale and they didn't know how or where to start. So they brought in a guy who specialized in building and turning around stuff and new operations. And that's how I moved from being from swinging sledge hammers to well, I guess, developing products for artificial intelligence.

Young Han (17:39):
It's amazing. That's so cool. What a wild story. I, I, I love that story so much because you basically took something that was quite opposite of where you are right now. And the, the bridging factor was this like aspect of like questioning the status quo and solving for a problem and, and addressing it and kind of getting creative with how you wanted to solve it. And then that kind of like led through circumstance and all these different roads and in roads. And it's so amazing to hear that story, man. Thank you for sharing that. Can I go even deeper if you don't mind real personal with you, let's get, let's get into it please. What was your childhood like? How does someone end up into an oil rig? I'm still stuck on the oil rig things. There's like so many questions. All I can think about are all those YouTube videos about these, like guys like whipping the thing around and like, like these huge machines and drills and looks so scary. And like you could like any second, if someone's arm can snap off, like it looks crazy. You know, it's all I can think about.

Ahmed Abdelaal (18:44):
It's it's a very dangerous place. It's, it's a very dangerous place. If you know what you're doing, if you don't know what you're doing and you're not accompanied by someone it's a, one of the most dangerous places you could be on the planet. There is a lot of metal it's moving at high speed and it's swinging around and you're the weakest thing on that setup. I also used to drill offshore, so even if something were to happen, you have nowhere to run. You can't jump into the water. It's it's it's about, well, it depends on, on the type of rig, but it could be anywhere from 30 to a 90 foot drop. It will not go well in open water, open, freezing water in the north sea. It will not go well. If you jump in with that water.

Young Han (19:32):
Why is it so high? How does it stay? How does it stay steady then?

Ahmed Abdelaal (19:38):
So it stays steady. Well, depending on the type of rig, some rigs just float. They're they're just big ships. They have stabilizing mechanisms, others they're called Jack ups. Those are the ones I mostly worked on. And they have like these giant legs that go all the way down to the ocean bed or sea.

Young Han (20:00):
Oh, that's what I thought they were.

Ahmed Abdelaal (20:02):
They just Jack the whole thing up. Yeah. And, and you usually try to do that where the sea is very turbulent waves are high, cuz you don't wanna well working, you just keep getting waves and keep getting stuff thrown around and people pushed overboard. It'll happen with the high waves especially with the, with high winds and high waves. It will it's it's you, you do need something like a Jack.

Young Han (20:24):
Geez. Yeah. I always thought that that's how you did it. Like I thought you just drilled all the way down to the sea floor, but I didn't know that they had mechanisms to like let it float. That sounds amazing. It's a ship.

Ahmed Abdelaal (20:34):
It's a ship. It's just an ugly, an ugly triangular or square ship.

Young Han (20:40):
So wild. You, you, you must have some really crazy stories and perspective from that experience.

Ahmed Abdelaal (20:45):
Oh, how much time do you have?

Young Han (20:48):
I can imagine anybody, any of your employees complaining about how hard the startup life is like? You're like, OK buddy. Yeah. This is like, you're crying about the, the amazing technical job that you have sitting at your office computer.

Ahmed Abdelaal (21:02):
Yeah. Let me, let me tell you about the time I got poisoning from two drops of chemical falling on my hand.

Young Han (21:10):
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. but to go back to the original question. Yeah. Tell me about your childhood. Yeah.

Ahmed Abdelaal (21:17):
Yeah. I keep, I keep going off on all sorts of tangents.

Young Han (21:21):
No, I love it. You're I fascinated right now.

Ahmed Abdelaal (21:25):
So, so I grew up in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi is, is the, it's the capital of the UE. And it's the same country where Dubai is. But most people know Dubai. They don't realize that Abu Dhabi is actually it's like the, the older brother and surprise, surprise. It's actually much wealthier than Dubai. 

Young Han (21:44):
I didn't know that. Yeah. That's awesome.

Ahmed Abdelaal (21:45):
It'ss ridiculous. Like I was, my parents were doing fine. We were doing well, we were all off. Like just as a representation, my dad drove a, a Mercedes S class and I was the poorest kid in school. Oh my gosh. I was literally the poorest kid in school. Wow. I was, I was, I was the equivalent of Kenny from south park. Like I'm the poor kid in school. 

Young Han (22:11):
I got context. Got it. So very, very wealthy area. Yeah.

Ahmed Abdelaal (22:14):
So very, very wealthy. And of course it's very oil wealthy and so on. And every other neighbor worked in oil and gas somehow. So I knew what I knew, what a top drive was by the time I was 13 and I understood the general concept. We lived very close to it's in the Arabian Gulf or Persian Gulf. However you wanna call it. It was a five minute walk from the sea or from the Gulf. Beautiful. And it's crystal, Clearwaters beautiful golden sand. And I used to go every single day. Wow. Every single day, either swimming, play volleyball beach for football and by football, I mean soccer, but you know, it's, it's football it's okay, or frankly what, every other 13, 14, 15 year old boy does go up to there to meet with friends and and try to talk to girls.

Young Han (23:08):
Key word being try?

Ahmed Abdelaal (23:10):
Yeah, the keyword being try. Right. So, but, but I went every day and I, I guess my childhood was mostly being a beach bum. I used to go before school and sometimes after school went to school, tried to finish as much of the work as possible. During school and after school, I went to Tawanda training and played soccer. I played varsity soccer. Nice. so it was very active, very active childhood. And it, I, I, I didn't realize it until now, but both my parents worked and both worked in high profile jobs for the, for the UAE government. And I didn't realize how busy they were until I started working and realized how busy I am. Then I was like, this, this is not the norm. Is it? Yeah. But, but it was a happy childhood. I I played a lot of sports. I made a lot of friends. I was full at school. I was very, very fortunate and very, very lucky.

Young Han (24:09):
That's a very, very interesting childhood. You're like, you're a very interesting man. I had no idea what to expect here. And I'm like, I wish there was more, more to the show than just parenting. Cause I wanna like know more about the, the, the Abu Dhabi. And I also wanna know more about the the, the oil rig and just so many other, but I'm gonna keep moving forward. Cause it is a parenting podcast please. So let's talk about a couple of things here. How, how do, how do you quantify success at at work and then how do you quantify success at home as a dad?

Ahmed Abdelaal (24:39):
Yeah. Yeah. There, there, I break it down into the core concepts of it. So success at work, I define it. It's always defined by two things. And those things started with me from my oil and gas days and carry till today. Today it's deliver results for the business and hire and develop the best people. You, you hire good people, they deliver good results, good results attract good people. Flywheel keeps going in oil and gas days. It was, it was almost exactly the same, but it was different. It was the drilling never stops. And everyone goes home in one piece and it was always these two things, never anything else. Right? Because if you think about it at the end of the day, these are the outcomes that we want to drive. Everything else that companies put on on their credos or profiles or objectives or whatever. Oh, we dive deep. We are data driven. We have ownership. We do all of those things. All of those things are great. They need a little bit of context and but they're an, a, a means to an end and the end deliver results. And the results need to be defined very, very clearly. I have three results that we are driving for as a business and nothing more nice. So, so that's, that's the business side.

Young Han (26:02):
Can you share what those three things are? I'm like dying of curiosity yeah, yeah, of course. Of course. Yeah. I love that level of focus. And I think that to boil something down to like, like, obviously your job must be very complicated. I can only imagine like the level of complexity that comes with having a hyperscale company, that's a unicorn so quickly, but for you to boil it down to three specific results must have taken a tremendous amount of work. Someone told me something about like creating, what was I saying? I'll think of it, but it's something about like, if I had more, oh, it's mark Twain. If I had more time, I would've made this shorter. Yep. Yeah. Yeah. And so the fact that you got it down to three key things that your job is is measured on is like incredible. So I'd love to hear it if, if you're comfortable sharing.

Ahmed Abdelaal (26:43):
Absolutely. So, so I, I realized, and to your point, I realized very, very early, I was fortunate to make, to have made the right mistakes early on, where I realized that as a manager and a leader, my job is not to do the work myself. My job is to enable others to do the work. And a big chunk of the at is coordination and creating an environment where people can make the right mistakes at the right time so that they can develop and learn and push themselves. If they develop and learn and push themselves, they deliver better results. It's an investment that never stops paying back. So the three, the three results are very basic. One deliver on the SLA, the service level, agree and deliver on what we promised the customers we deliver on two while doing that, do it cheaper every day, every day has to be cheaper than the day before and cheaper doesn't necessarily mean cost cheaper can mean cost. It can mean with less effort and three be more scalable, meaning that, however, we think we can grow today up or down how much flexibility we have, we need to increase that. So if whatever you're doing is not directly contributing to one of these three, then don't do it. I love it. And the priority is very clear, very simple. You deliver the SLA first, then you cut the cost and then you add the scale ability.

Young Han (28:05):
Yeah. I love it. Very good. And then how about parenting? How do you, how do you quantify success

Ahmed Abdelaal (28:09):
As a dad? Oh, surviving till the end of the day. Of course physically, mentally, emotionally, or all of the above. Of course. All of the above, all of the above. And, and, and, and I, I I'm, I mean, the, the, one of, one of the benchmarks is when am I gonna need actual medication? I don't need it yet. But once I get that point, I know I'm, I'm past the success, mark yeah. Gone into deep territory. No, seriously, the on, on the parenting side, I, of course, of course I have the macro responsibility to provide them protect. Right. And, and that, that is, everywhere. That's every time that's all the time. That's my primary responsibility. That's my SLA. the basic need. Right. Love it. I need to make sure that they are they are safe. They  have advantages that hopefully I didn't have. And the second part is I need to provide them with I, the success in as a parent is to create young women, not create, but develop young women who are, who have options, the option to you, do everything and the option to do anything and everything they want. And the options fall into multiple categories, as well. As you can tell, I'm a consultant, I have frameworks for everything. So, yeah, I love it. So the, for, for, how do you create options? You create options by one having the right education, two, having just enough money. That money is not a serious obstacle, it's not a, they're not working 80 hours a week to just keep their heads above water. No, no, let's keep, let's keep that as not a problem. And three their own personality that they're good people. I'm not trying to, I'm not trying to raise nice people. I'm trying to raise good people. Good can be nice. Nice. Doesn't necessarily mean good. I'm trying to raise good people who have a strong, moral and ethical compass and do things out of conviction. Not just because it's the right thing, or it's perceived as the right thing or it's in fashion, or it's the current trend. These things change your moral compass on what you believe is right or wrong. That's what I'm trying to instill in them. And I'm not trying, I'm trying to, to develop young women who don't really care as much about how they're gonna be judged. They care more about how they're gonna judge themselves, how they're gonna look in the mirror and say, I have done good today. Without anyone watching, cuz no one will ever be able to watch. I cannot enforce anything.

Young Han (30:57):
That's wild. I love that, man. I have to ask like, I, how do you think you're doing against your goals here?

Ahmed Abdelaal (31:06):
I'm trying, you try you do your best to put common sense into them and try to save them a lot of the, a lot of the mistakes you've made, but at the end of the day they are their own people. I mean, I see this in my, in my, especially with the older one the younger one has a more outgoing personality, but I could see it in their eyes when they were even toddlers. Right. They have very distinct personalities. They do all of these things just to push the limits. And I started realizing I have much less control than I think I do, all I can do is have them, trust me, respect me and like me enough that ultimately they ultimately, at some point they will listen to me. And at least in the meantime they will remember some of the things I tell them or show them and hopefully learn something from it.

Young Han (32:05):
I like that a lot. All right. So I'm gonna move into the rapid fire questions here. Okay, please, please. So this is the part where I try to ask the same four questions to everybody. Oh, I, sorry. I updated it to five. Sorry. I apologize, so let's go right into it. Okay. What advice do you have for other parents and soon to be parents?

Ahmed Abdelaal (32:30):
Breathe, relax. That's a good one. It's gonna, it's gonna be fine. We, as humans have been doing this for thousands of years, it's gonna be fine. You don't need to read a million parenting books. You don't need to sweat it. You will figure it out. And the, the babies, even for new parents, especially for new parents, the babies talk to you, even if it's just through crying, even it's just through base expressions, they talk to you. They will let you know when something is up. Don't worry. They're fine. And they're much more resilient than you think they are.

Young Han (33:09):
Such good advice. I love it, if you can go back and tell yourself one thing before having kids, what would you tell yourself?

Ahmed Abdelaal (33:17):
Oh that's, it's a very interesting and a very difficult question because if I went back, I would not change a single thing. Knowing what I know today, I would not change a single thing. I've made a lot of mistakes. I'm appreciative of those mistakes. There were times of course, I, I have two girls and I have two girls and of, they are very, they have both have very, very strong personalities. So of course there were times when I was frustrated. There were times when, of course I lost my temper. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna go into other room now, cause I'm gonna start yelling soon and I don't want to do that. And I think those mistakes have helped me become a better father and a better man. So I wouldn't do that. However, if I could go back, not knowing what I know now, I would probably tell myself to wait a couple more years before having, before having my first baby, I had my first child, when I was 26, she was born. I was 26. I've probably, would've made, waited a couple of more years, but knowing what I know now and knowing her there is nothing I would change in how things played out. Yeah. And I would not risk not having those exact two girls. I love it for anything in the world.

Young Han (34:38):
Oh, man. You love your girls. I love it, I do, girl dad status pro I totally feel that. What is the most surprising thing that you've learned about yourself? After becoming a parent?

Ahmed Abdelaal (34:54):
Yeah, I, so a little bit of background. I've, I've always pride myself on being very rational, very sensible, reasonable, logical, methodical, and oil break, right? Here's a problem. Here's gonna solve it. There are no emotions involved in it. Right. I don't care how I feel. I don't care about how others feel. And then all of a sudden, I, I had my first baby girl and all of a sudden this dormant part of me started waking up and the more and more I interact with them, the more I became in touch with my emotions and stopped being a robot. Now of course it has some downsides because in some instances I'm not as effective because I'm not as as a client, put it before my ruthless. And sometimes in business, you need that. However, I don't regret it because it genuinely made me a better leader. It made me more empathetic. It made me stronger. It made me more attuned to, to the people around me. And that allowed me to unblock potential in people and eventually achieve ridiculous and think ridiculous things that were deemed impossible, like what we've done at scale and achieve them. And I couldn't have achieved them just through pure Mac. Valiant reasonable, rational, no emotions ruthless. That's right. I couldn't have done that. That's right. Everything I've done at scale, I've done through other people. And I couldn't have done that if I hadn't had my girls. And if they haven't awoken that side of me, that I didn't know existed.

Young Han (36:37):
Beautiful. I love that answer. So what's your all time favorite business book?

Ahmed Abdelaal (36:44):
Oh there are, there are a few, actually it depends on the it depends on the time of the year. So or it depends on what's going on. The moment I see market volatile I automatically go to NA to and Black Swan and start thinking about Black Swan events. I was like, oh, he keeps telling us about that. I reread the book. It all makes sense. I'm gonna remember next time. And I forget next time.

Young Han (37:15):
When you here it, does it kind of help you like see the possibles?

Ahmed Abdelaal (37:20):
It helps me understand the fallacy in how we tend to plan things like, for example for example, if you're, if you're planning on market return, like the average market return is what 8%, whatever, but it's not gonna be 8% every year. It's gonna be, there's gonna be fluctuation and some years it's gonna be 60 some years, it's gonna be negative. Right. And, and that's just the way it is. And, and we we've had a black Swan event. We've had COVID we had a massive one. We've had we've had the, the massive flu outbreaks a few years ago, seven years, eight years ago. Right. And if you, if I think about it, black Swan event events, aren't exactly black swans. They are just part of the norm. We just choose to think of them as black swans and exceptional events,

Young Han (38:10):
But on a macro level, it's actually part of the math

Ahmed Abdelaal (38:13):
It's it is. It absolutely is.

Young Han (38:15):
Wow. That's interesting. That's a good way to look at it.

Ahmed Abdelaal (38:18):
Very cool. Yeah. Is the only constant.

Young Han (38:22):
Yeah. I love that. The one other question I want to ask is when you're not being an awesome dad and an awesome executive what do you, what does, what does Ahmed do for fun?

Ahmed Abdelaal (38:33):
Oh, so I do a lot of Brazilian jujitsu.

Young Han (38:39):
Oh yeah. You said you did, growing up. And so now you, you probably lead that into Brazilian jujitsu. That's awesome.

Ahmed Abdelaal (38:46):
I I like, I like physical sports and Brazilian jujitsu to me is like playing chess with your body. Yeah. I I specific train with people who are much better than I am and I train with competition teams. So I get my butt kicked every single day. Which is, which is wonderful, but I'm, I'm getting a lot better. And I started competing myself and I did fairly well. So I do, I do a lot of Brazilian jujitsu. I do enjoy I do enjoy grilling quite a bit, actually. I'm bad at it. I'm still learning about it, but I do enjoy that quite

Young Han (39:22):
A bit. Yeah. But you're in Texas. You have to, you don't have to start picking that up. 

Ahmed Abdelaal (39:26):
Yeah, it's an obligation. Like I have to do it. Exactly. I just have to and and recently I'm actually learning to surf, even growing up as a beach bum. There weren't as many waves and surfing. Wasn't big. Yeah. So I'm learning to surf now.

Young Han (39:43):
Where are you going? Are you going to Galveston, like Corpus Christi? Where are you going?

Ahmed Abdelaal (39:48):
So I have a trip. I have a trip coming up to Corpus Christi, actually.

Young Han (39:52):
Nice. Very cool. Yeah. Very, very cool.

Ahmed Abdelaal (39:55):
I planned at probably somewhere around late fall. I'm probably gonna go to probably gonna go to LA nice or somewhere around, around LA area.

Young Han (40:05):
Yeah. Cuz that coastline, I think has bigger waves for sure. That's wild, man. How fun sounds like you, you find a lot of time for creativity and kind of exploration for yourself as well. That's really, really good.

Ahmed Abdelaal (40:15):
I find physical activity to be very, to be very healthy. I find the intense physical activity to be very healthy. I find it to keep me in good shape, keep my mind sharp. And of course, apart from staying healthy it actually, I think helps me do better in my job and do better as a dad. And if you look at most success, school executives, most of them have a few things in common and one of them is they are healthy.

Young Han (40:42):
That's right. Yeah. That's a really good point. I love that you brought that up and that's a really good piece of advice for everyone. That's trying to figure out how to do both of these things really well is like, don't forget about your health, right? Cause like you're not gonna be good for your work or where your, if you don't take care of yourself. So I, I love that. Yeah. Hey man. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I had so much fun getting to know you better and I really appreciate it.

Ahmed Abdelaal (41:07):
It's it's my pleasure. It's my pleasure. I had a lot of fun as well and good luck and high five for girl dads, yeah.

Young Han (41:17):
Perfect, hey brother. I'll talk to you soon. Thank you.

Ahmed Abdelaal (41:21):

Speaker 3 (41:21):
Thanks for tuning into another episode of the girl dad show. We really hope you enjoyed that interview. And as always, please take a moment to review rate and subscribe. We'll see you next time.

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