2012 Comes with a Bang!

Tomorrow is the end of the world so thought it was a good time to say my goodbyes to the World. Dramatic, right? Gosh, what is all this end of Mayan calendar and people moving to the hills etc bull? Even NASA jumped in to stop the madness. But whatever …

2012 has been a special year just like 2011 was super cool. I know if I tell you one more time about the business plan adventure in UAE thanks to GIST, (you) will look for (me), (you) will find (me), and (you) will kill (me). Then there was the Business Basics workshop at Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Success with Social Media one at Kuch Khaas, incredible honor of attending a workshop by Ken and Laura Morse (of the MIT fame) and so on.

But the two highlights of the year were;

1. Learning I Knew Nothing

I spent 7 months working at a BPO company in Islamabad. To be honest I was a bit snooty. Me? Work in a run-of-the-mill BPO company that has become a trademark with the South Asians and Filipinos? I was too cool for all of that. I read TechCrunch and Mashable. I worked with cool firms based in Silicon Valley. What can a BPO teach me that I don’t already know or something that I would want to know? How wrong I was! Those 7 months taught me more than the gruelling 4 years I had spent pouring over all those fancy Valley publications and, my love, Quora. You see, doing business in Pakistan has completely different dynamics. There are so many hurdles and power shortage is just one of them. That comes after you have successfully built a team and a company large enough that can’t be run from your basement any more on a backup device you can buy easily for $500. Where do you find the people to work with? Pakistanis are incredibly talented. I mean challenge them to hack the hardest website in the world and they will do it blindfolded. We have TED Fellows, we have entrepreneurs covered by Forbes. We have sportspeople (YES THAT’S A WORD). Scientists. Guinness record holder students. But how do I reach them? Where do they hide?

And then of course, it’s learning about pipelines and funnels. Oh God, how I hate those two words. They were my bane and still are. Truth is, the most brilliant, amazing business plan means nothing if you don’t tweak it to your market. So you may impress a judge in a business competition with your beautifully and most articulately written plan with some sprinkling of facts and figures here and there but implementing that plan is a completely different game all together.

Above all, I realized how important it was to work with a positive energy. Sitting on a garbage dump and getting frustrated over why you can’t smell the roses is just foolish. 🙂

2. Be Realistic

Here is a great quote my friend posted on her Facebook wall:

Some people will kill you over time if you let them; and how they’ll kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases like, “be realistic.” When this happens, close your ears and listen to your inner voice instead. Remember that real success in life isn’t what others see, but how you feel. It’s living your truth and doing what makes you feel alive.

Who doesn’t like buying new gadgets and travelling and getting lipo? This is also what people judge your success by. There was a great TED Talk about what is failure and a more humane idea of success. When I walk into a room full of people, no one rushes towards me to greet me and offer me a chair and requests photographs with me. WDL is not huge. But you know what … it makes me HAPPY. Also, being a social enterprise you don’t measure success by numbers but by smiles. Who can put a number on that? Yes, it hurts at time when you know there are people out there sniggering at you coz of the awards you haven’t won or the goodies you don’t own. But all of that disappears when someone looks at the difference, minute but difference nevertheless, that you are making.

Alec Ross, whom I met a couple of months back and blogged about here, gave a shout out to WDL that has left me honored and humbled.

In his TEDxMidAtlantic talk, “What Alec Ross Learned in 1,298 Days Working for Hilary Clinton” he mentions how despite visiting Pakistan at a terrible time when Malala was shot he found hope in the story of WDL.

Not a very long time ago I remember the annoying 25 yr old telling me WDL was about HOPE. It was about telling people there was a way out if they cared enough to look for it.

I am ending 2012 on a very positive note. Don’t let anyone stop you from dreaming and if you are gonna dream, might as well dream big. Forget about what others think you can or can’t do. It’s just them saying THEY can’t do it but using YOU instead. Don’t be the guy who tries to please everyone and ends up looking like a fool.

This wasn't necessary - just been dying to find a way to add it to a blog. :P

This wasn’t necessary – just been dying to find a way to add it to a blog. 😛

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Webcam Credit Card Reader (?)

Now that sounds like gibberish, right? It did to me. But then found out about Jumio on TechCrunch (of course). Here is how it works:

You plug it into your website, it turns your webcam into a credit card reader, you hold your card in front of your webcam, authorize a purchase, and you are done. Plus, it’s more secure than other conventional online cc transaction as it requires the physical presence of the card in order to work. Jumio even has a wordpress plugin so those using WP for their websites can also benefit from it.

Do you still not understand my excitement? This could be the solution to my PayPal woes. I could add it as a payment option on my website (will tell you my website plans in another post) and customers won’t hesitate too much using it thinking ‘give my credit card details to a Pakistani website? I guess not!‘ because you are actually sending the data to Jumio and not to me.

Did I mention it’s FREE? Yes, dahlins – you heard me right … the darn thing is free to install. You don’t have to pay a one-time fee, a monthly fee, a yearly subscription fee …. nothing. Well obviously, it’s not a charity … they charge 2.75% of your transaction but considering I am using a friend’s PayPal account (OK, who am I kidding -am using the 25-yr old’s PayPal) that’s based in Singapore and costs me about 10% in transaction fees (PayPal fees, converting US $ into Singapore $, then converting it into Pakistani Rs = 10%) 2.75% is almost free.

Now, what I need to find out is how I can withdraw the money. Can I have the money wired to my bank in Pakistan? Would they give me a debit card like Payoneer, or what? The site is temporarily down (uh-oh, not a good sign) but considering the product just went online a month ago, I won’t make an issue of it.

To see how the thing works, check out the video below:

That’s all for now, Folks …

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee