Category Archives: Careers

What does it take to have a co-founder spirit?

What does it take to have a co-founder spirit? Let me start with a personal story first. In the story, which is personal, I will give you an implicit answer; i.e., read between the lines. Then I will be more explicit.

Early Childhood

The Civil War

I grew up in a small village in Lebanon. I was in my early teens when the civil war started (1975). At the end of the 9th grade, I wanted to give up school or go into a vocational training school. My dad, being an independent “entrepreneur,” was supporting the idea to quit school and come work with him. In those days, we had lost almost everything we owned, our house was burned, the villa we were building was demolished, my dad lost all of his business, and we became refugees. That is why I wanted to quit school.

A turning point

A family friend convinces my dad not to let me quit and continue to high school, which I did. That moment was a turning point in my studies since I transformed from a mediocre student to being among the top three of my class. After high school, I left Lebanon, still in a civil war, and came to the US to study, and later worked. I had never thought of myself as a risk-taker or an entrepreneur. Sometimes, I was mad at my dad for some of the risks he took and did not understand them. I did not know, or understand, or even accept that risk-taking is part of life. I thought my dad was making mistakes when he would do something risky. So I wanted to be different.

Ahmad Mounir Ajam, my dad! A man of honor, tolerance. So words can be enough to show my respect. Rest in Peace

Education & early career

I focused on my studies and worked my way through college when my parents could not send me money anymore because of the collapse of the economy in Lebanon. I did well in my education, got a job, went back to uni for a masters’ degree that was 1990. Graduating from the University of California Berkeley and with top grades, provided me the necessary education to join Exxon and later other companies. All along, I was choosing the safe route, good school, top university, excellent working environment, and global companies. However, something was missing.

Risk Averse

I guess the risk-taker blood was running in my veins. I never thought of myself as a risk-taker, on the contrary, I felt I had a neutral attitude to risks, and maybe even averse to risks. About 8 years into my career with Exxon, I was frustrated. Exxon offered me a great opportunity and excellent salary and benefits, but I was not satisfied. In the early summer of 1998, I decided to quit, without any alternative in mind. In those days, entrepreneurship and startup were not a hot topic. Fortunately for me, I started freelancing and got an opportunity to work on a megaproject (in Texas), and later officially registered a company. The company was a legal structure for my self-employment.

Passion for project management

I am sharing all of the above to share how life was framing my future. Many of the steps that I have taken up to that point were mostly reactionary and not by design or long term vision. The only constant was my passion for project management and its value in all aspects of life.

After three years of self-employment, I was offered a job in Saudi, with Saudi Aramco. I did not want to take the job, but expecting my first child, pushed me into giving up on my US company-dream and go back into the corporate world. Being an entrepreneur was moved down on my priority list. However, two to three years into my “employee status,” my father’s blood started to drive me again.

a side note, for those who do know what it means to work for Saudi Aramco, here is a hint, wealth, and prosperity for the rest of my life, if I retire as an Aramcon.

The second startup

I started to plan to startup a company again. Everyone thought that I was crazy to leave the “Aramco Dream.” In 2004, we started SUKAD FZ-LLC in Dubai, UAE. I left a $20k/month total package to go into the unknown. A new company, in a new country, and with no real salary. I ran SUKAD from 2005 to 2019; earned many leading customers and their respect for repeat business year after year. During those years, we worked on the SUKAD Way, developed CAMMP, started our blog site and YouTube channel, and published a few books.

The third and current startup

That UAE SUKAD and the work we did during the period, allowed us to transform into SUKAD Corp, a USA Startup, working on developing an innovative project management solution, the Uruk PPM Platform.

The Moral of the story

Once again, I am sharing all of the above, a personal story, to reach the point of answering the question, the question that I posted as the title of this message. “What does it take to have a co-founder spirit?” What I shared is one example and the story of a “late-entrepreneur” if there is such a term. Other entrepreneurs started earlier in life, maybe even when they were still in school or university. So, what is the point?

So far, I gave you an indirect or implicit answer to the question of co-founder spirit. I used the term co-founder instead of an entrepreneur because most startups are teams, although triggered or driven by one vision. If you prefer, you can think of the “Entrepreneur Spirit.” What is the moral of this story? What is the explicit answer to this question?

The explicit answer

I do not know if there is an answer for everyone to subscribe to. To me, here is an explicit response to “What does it take to have a co-founder spirit?” It takes:

  • The courage to go into the unknown and maybe unchartered path.
  • To accept the threat of potential failure and seek the opportunity to serve.
  • The realization that we need to find solutions to problems and practice gaps
  • To understand that entrepreneurship takes dedication, hard works, and sleepless nights.
  • To be willing to reach the verge of burnout but the wisdom to realize that the exhaustion is temporary and to be expected. Of course, that requires the rebellious spirit to snap out of it.

The Co-Founder Spirit

It sounds like a horror story, so why would anyone want to be a founder, co-founder, or an entrepreneur. Well, not everyone wants to and some of those who want it might not understand what it takes. So, why do we do it? We do it because we have the spirit.

I do realize that many do it for the glory, being a Unicorn or a Camel (a new term that I am still trying to understand). Maybe we do it to be rich and famous. Each of us has different triggers. Even if one is at the highest level of the Maslow hierarchy of needs, one would still like the recognition. However, the real answer is here. Many of us do not do for glory, recognition, or wealth. We do it because we see a need. Founders see problems that someone should address. They see gaps that must be filled. We do it because we believe in a cause. We do it because we have the “Co-Founder Spirit.”

Co-Founder Opportunity, the Uruk PPM

In closing, our startup, SUKAD Corp, and the Uruk PPM Platform can benefit in growing our startup team and we are looking for someone with the spirit to join our working, co-founders’ team.

So, if you have the passion to excel and serve, you appreciate the value of project management, you have the business development skills to help us go to market, we would love to hear from you. You would be working with me and our CIO, Neville Goedhals.

The Uruk PPM Platform

How to take a sneak peek into a project management online programs?

This post is an indirect promotion of our project management online learning programs. Earlier in 2018 SUKAD launched the Quest to Mastering Project Management, PM Quest, which is a project management online program. The idea behind this program is to offer various online courses, learning adventures, from different school of thoughts. The adventures follow three vital concepts, which are (a) project-based learning (for some adventures), (b) applied project management, and (c) bite-size learning. In this post, we will share sneak peaks with a couple of those adventures.

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Is there any project management association that accredit training providers?

Recently, I was meeting with a client, and they were talking about “accredited PMI providers” and as far as I know, there are NO accredited providers from PMI or any other professional association. However, to be sure, I asked the question on LinkedIn.  I will conclude this post with two resources, the Ajam Acid Interview Questions, and How to Select a Project Management Training Provider. What did we ask and what were some of the answers? Read on. Continue reading

What are the Ajam Acid Interview Questions in Project Management?

I was going to post these interview questions one by one, and I did post two or three on LinkedIn before but let me post all of them today. So, what are the Ajam Acid Interview Questions in Project Management? Continue reading

The Quest to Mastering Project Management, PM Quest

Why the quest to mastering project management?

Today, many people are into project management since the project management skills are of great value regardless of industry or type of position a professional holds. Many consider project management learning via pursuing a professional certification or two. However, if you manage small and simple projects, maybe certification is an overkill. On the other hands, if you are involved in medium to large projects, with moderate or high complexity, then certifications might not be enough. Therefore, whether you are involved in small or large projects, simple or complex, you need to master what you do. This is one of leading reasons SUKAD is launching The Quest to Mastering Project Management. Continue reading

What is the iSMILE™ series?

Years ago, we had a concept to create cSMILE which we later changed it to iSMILE™. Since we cannot have a physical center or institute today, why cannot we have a virtual educational series?

I will not write much today, I will let these two short videos explain.

The first video

The second video

What do you think? Any topics you like us to cover?

Are there any topics that you like us to cover in future videos?

Should you bring your team along or leave them behind?

Sorry changed the title after the initial release

This post is a personal story, which is a lesson I learned in 1999. and I remember it every time I am working with a team, especially in a volunteer environment. I have included this story in one of my books and possibly also posted about here on this blog, but I am going through the same experience again, so it is worth repeating.

I remember it every time I am working with a team, especially in a volunteer environment. I have included this story in one of my books and possibly also posted about it here on this blog, but I am going through the same experience again, so it is worth repeating.

The story is about patience, decision-making, procrastination, and volunteer work. Basically, how to bring your team along, when a decision is made? Or should you leave them behind?

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Is the PMP real world?

A while back, we tried to answer the question Is the PMBOK Guide Real World? The point was that many practitioners believe that the guide does not reflect the real world. We cannot agree and BELIEVE that the PMBOK Guide does reflect the real world.

In order not to repeat – refer to the blog post on this.

Now, does the PMP exam reflect the real world? Continue reading

How to discover your genius?

This post is somewhat related to the previous two posts.

Please note – discovering your genius is not about reaching a genius level. Some are judging the article without reading. It is about being the best that you could be whether you have average or high intelligence!

As I work with professionals and youth, some often ask me for advice about careers. I am not a career counselor but in project management, I have enough experience to say something that could be of value.

What is my advice (one of a few) regarding a career in general? Read the background first but if not patient jump to the end :). Continue reading