14 Feb

Chapter 5: Lessons in success, entrepreneurship & diversity

Earlier, I posted Chapter 1-4 of my new series of blogs, which will collectively form an online book. Below, I have attached Chapter  5.

For Chapter 6 click here.


Chapter 5: lessons in success, entrepreneurship & diversity

Disclaimer: Disclaimer: Since this is primarily a fictional story, please do not take everything I write too seriously.

… For a while, we decided to take a break and retreat from the comfort of the cafĂ©. Here, we could indulge in some refreshments and continue our conversation in a more relaxed setting. As we made our way to the counter, we helped ourselves with some chocolates from the vending machine and ordered cola from the bar.

Our chosen café, situated on the 32nd floor, offered a breathtaking panorama of the city below. Its spacious interior boasts brown leather chairs and tall tables, creating an atmosphere of understated elegance. This place held a special significance for me; it served as my sanctuary, where I often sought solace after the hustle and bustle of the workday. It was here that I first encountered the person who would forever alter my perspective on the world.

Interrupting my thoughts, Elara says, “It’s so beautiful here. I can’t help but envy the work you do and the places you work in”.

I respond with a smile, acknowledging the beauty of our surroundings. “Indeed, the building holds its own charm. However, despite having everything I could ever imagine in my life, there remains a profound sense of emptiness within me. But let’s set that aside for now. We can talk about it later. Shall we go back to our previous topic?”

Elara nods in agreement, returning to her laptop poised on the table and ready to resume our conversation.

I followed: ”As I previously mentioned, we left Kabul, leaving everything behind, under the care of my uncle Sulaiman. As mentioned before, my uncle was a very successful entrepreneur, whose primary work involved consulting and selling technological equipment to other large companies. Given his frequent travel and his refusal to leave me and his partner behind, we journeyed together from place to place, traversing countries across the globe. This arrangement meant that I primarily received homeschooling during my formative years. By the age of five, I was already fluent in four languages. My uncle, being highly educated and a boundary pusher, enrolled me in a private school at a very young age, alongside children who were already six to seven years old. Thanks to my homeschooling, I was proficient in reading and writing by the age of five, which enabled me to keep pace with my older classmates.

I distinctly remember struggling with mathematics, biology, and physics. Whenever I needed help with my homework, I turned to Elena for support. Unfortunately, she lacked education to assist me, always explaining that she could not help with my homework. My uncle, a tremendously busy businessman, was rarely home. He typically returned around 2 am in the middle of the night, only to depart for work in the early morning hours.

This is where I realized at a very young age the importance of women being educated, as they are often the first individuals to whom a child turns. I recognized the crucial role that a woman plays at home, influencing the growth and development of her children. Naturally, I deeply missed my mother, who was vastly different from Elena. Unlike Elena, my mother was intelligent and well-educated. While Elena possesses a kind heart, I find it difficult to engage in meaningful conversations with her. So, most of the time, I ended up calling my mother, especially my father, to ask them how things were going. Unfortunately, due to circumstances, I had no choice but to figure out on my own how to solve my homework problems. I often found myself alone, staying at school after lessons to seek extra help and assistance from my teachers in order to finish the homework.

Another significant problem was the lack of friendship. In my early years, I missed having any friends because we moved around many times. Because we travelled extensively because of my uncle’s numerous establishments worldwide, and often I could not speak the local language or understand local aspects, I struggled namely to form real connections with our neighbors’ children, often finding myself lonely at home after school, either playing with my toys or spending hours gaming.

I would also often lose myself in the quiet corners of the library, surrounded by the scent of old books and the soft rustle of pages. In these quiet corridors, I explored the wonders of the universe by immersing myself in the mysteries of galaxies, stars, and the intricate web of life on our planet. I wondered about the mysterious essence of time, delighted by the beautiful details of butterfly flight, and studied the ancient world of dinosaurs. I learned more about the forces that shape our world and the gravitational pull of earth from every book I read, diving deeper into the secrets of our planet. While other children may have viewed me as odd in class, I did not mind it much. With books, I could engage in conversations I could not have with my peers or classmates of the same age. With every page turned, I felt a sense of connection to something greater and a profound understanding of the enormity of existence that surpassed the walls of my classroom or playground.

After some time, recognizing my growing sense of isolation, my uncle decided to purchase educational games designed to teach me new things and boost my creativity.

And my uncle did not stop there. He wanted me to learn about his work too, so he took steps to involve me more in his work. At the age of six, I found myself immersed in the world of large corporations, engaging in conversations with successful entrepreneurs, who were all friends of my uncle. Occasionally, I accompanied them to meetings, learning from them how to do business and building friendships.

I was particularly often found in my favorite place, the underground sections of buildings where various types of technological equipment were housed. These underground spaces served as hubs for selling technological equipment to various clients of my uncle. Sometimes, when equipment arrived broken or malfunctioning, it would be placed in a room to be opened up and repaired. It was like a hidden world, full of secrets and surprises. So, even though I didn’t have many friends, my uncle made sure I had lots of interesting things to do and learn. And in those quiet moments, I discovered the power of curiosity and resilience.

In those underground sections of the buildings, I discovered my love for technology and science. I enjoyed playing with the broken equipment, attempting to fix them. Surrounded by the calm expertise of my uncle’s employees, my young mind buzzed with inquiries: How did these small silicon chips orchestrate such feats of electronic ingenuity? What mastery over matter is required to coax these devices back into life? How is it possible even to turn a lamp on by just pressing a button?  Seated among my uncle’s employees, I bombarded them with questions about the placement of chips and construction of various devices.

In a company shaping the world through business and technology, the seeds of my lifelong passion took root. Since I was very talkative and everyone loved me, people in these buildings always gave me the opportunity to help me fix the equipment with them. However, in the beginning, nine out of ten times, I could not fix anything, and sometimes I ended up breaking the equipment even more. My efforts ended in failure, and I succeeded only in further damaging the equipment. This often left me feeling sad because the equipment could no longer be fixed. I felt that I did something very terrible wrong and blamed myself why I could not figure it out to fix something.

My uncle, witnessing my struggles, offered words of encouragement, assuring me that mistakes were part of the learning process and life. “It’s alright”, he reassured me. “Next time, you’ll know the right way. Don’t be too disheartened.” With keen attention, he acknowledged that each stumble I encountered celebrated every successful rebound, recognizing the valuable lessons gleaned from my errors. He often reminded me of the wisdom of Greek philosopher Socrates, who believed that progress stemmed from navigating through mistakes in the discovery of truth. He strongly wanted to introduce me to the concept of failure as a learning curve–an essential landmark in the sprawling landscape of life.

So, there I was, a little girl, partly homeschooled, partly attending private school, and spending a lot of time surrounded by entrepreneurs and managers of large corporations, as well as plenty of equipments to fix, or at least try to fix. Surrounded by visionaries and captains of the industry, I found inspiration in their tireless pursuit of innovation and progress. This is where my love for technology began to take root, sparking my journey into the world of technology. Each time I tried to fix something and succeed, I marveled how a few lines could bring images to a TV screen or make things move. It was here that my journey into the realm of technology began—a journey fueled by curiosity, resilience, and an unwavering determination to uncover the secrets of the digital age. With every failure and subsequent reflection, my affinity for science and technology grew ever stronger, fueling the early days of what was to become a lifelong odyssey into the realms of the digital unknown.

During my childhood, I witnessed also firsthand how young entrepreneurs could transform small ventures into thriving companies within just a few years. I observed the crucial role that mindset plays in entrepreneurship, as well as the impact of being surrounded by successful individuals and a conducive environment. I saw how the environment can have a significant influence on people’s behavior. Even at a young age, I recognized the significance of negotiation skills and the value of persistence. I also learned the importance of maintaining a mindset of resilience and refusing to give up when facing difficulties. I saw how adept negotiations could pave the way for success and how crucial it was to persevere in the face of challenges. These early insights laid the foundation for my own entrepreneurial aspirations.

For me, it meant also spending hours outside, gazing at nearby rivers, and envisioning myself as a successful entrepreneur, like those I admired. I felt a deep sense of conviction that I could change the world for better, making it more equitable and just.

It was also a period when my uncle’s success skyrocketed, teaching me the power of an unstoppable mindset in achieving one’s goals. I learned how an unstoppable mindset can bring people much further into life, especially when I compared parents and families of my classmates, for example, to the lifestyle I had. My lifestyle was markedly different. It was for example a routine for me to receive lavish gifts, such as $2000 on my birthday. From lavish birthday presents to luxurious possessions, abundance defined my upbringing. My wardrobe boasted the most exquisite garments and footwear, while our household staff, including our personal chef and cleaner, ensured that our daily needs were meticulously addressed. Growing up amidst such affluence, I was shielded from the responsibility of maintaining my personal space, fostering a life of effortless orderliness juxtaposed with an intriguing disconnection from reality.

Initially, I was too young to grasp it, but as I grew older, I began to observe the respect I received from other children, simply because of my family’s wealth. It was during this period that I started receiving inquiries about how I obtained all my possessions without worrying about basic necessities, such as food and clothing. Whenever I desired something, my uncle would effortlessly fulfil my wishes. Whether we were walking in a mall or passing by shops, a mere indication of interest behind the glass was enough for my uncle to swiftly make a purchase without any hesitation.

From a young age, I could not help but wonder why I had everything, while some of my peers did not. How was it that I could enjoy lavish meals daily while some others at my school went hungry? Despite my efforts to share, many would decline, feeling ashamed of their own circumstances. I also noticed the glaring contrast in treatment between myself and less-privileged children, especially when we played outside our apartment. Even in those early years, it was clear to me that wealth influenced people’s perceptions and interactions. With my affluent lifestyle and fashionable attire, I was idolized by others, as if I were the most popular girl in both school and the neighborhood.

During my childhood, I also realized the importance of fostering strong relationships with strangers and treating them like family. Even at a young age, I understood the significance of cultivating a supportive environment and building a strong network. I could see that my uncle’s success stemmed from his unwavering dedication to solving societal problems and providing valuable equipments to his clients. I witnessed firsthand on national television how other companies expressed gratitude for his remarkable work and how strangers showed him immense respect.

Living with my uncle, I also saw the sacrifices he made. Despite being wealthy beyond measure, he worked tirelessly, often putting in over 80 hours per week. He sacrificed his time of being with family and having fun for his work. His motivation was not financial gain or fame, he had more than enough money. But it was rather a deep-seated belief in the importance of helping others. He always told me: “Marya, if you want to change anything in the world, you must adopt an unstoppable mindset. You must be willing to work tirelessly, not solely for the sake of money or fame, but because, as a great entrepreneur, you possess the power to make a greater contribution to the world around you than the average person. You must strive to exceed the efforts of those around you, leveraging the abundant opportunities within your reach. And if opportunities seem scarce, then it is your duty to create them. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself merely complaining about issues without taking meaningful action to make a difference in your lifetime.” So from my uncle, I learned that becoming a successful entrepreneur means going above and beyond what others are willing to do and actively contributing to society rather than merely complaining about its problems. I also realized that creating something worthwhile often required sacrificing your time. It was during this time that my strong motivation and deep respect for entrepreneurs and changemakers were born. I constantly told myself that when I grow up, I will be like them because, otherwise, what does living on Earth even mean?

“One day”, my uncle would tell me, “I will return to Afghanistan. I will do everything in my power to help build a great country in the Middle East. This is why I work hard. I hope you will do this too, with me as one team,” he smiled. His words left a lasting impression on me, inspiring me to strive for excellence and to create a positive impact on the world.

So, this was the lifestyle in which I grew up – one in which I did not fully comprehend the intricacies of the relationship between money, politics, and society. I was shielded from the harsh realities faced by my own country and family in Afghanistan, all part of my uncle’s protective strategy to ensure I could enjoy a childhood filled with maximum opportunities for personal growth. My uncle fervently believed that a child needed a nurturing environment to become unstoppable, and insisted that childhood should be a time of exploration and development, providing children with the resources they needed to make a positive impact on the world as adults.

In summary, my upbringing was characterized by affluence and extensive exposure to diverse cultures worldwide. This experience ingrained me a profound respect for the richness and variety of our global community, stressing the significance of acknowledging and celebrating our differences. Interacting with diverse cultures taught me the crucial skill of transcending cultural divides, a mindset commonly embraced by entrepreneurs, fostering cooperation and advancing human progress.

Engaging with individuals from varied backgrounds, without prejudice, and encouraging cooperation helped shape my viewpoint and foster empathy and comprehension inside me”.

For Chapter 6 click here.

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