Modern technology has provided our current world with many conveniences, luxuries, and benefits no prior civilizations ever experienced, or much less, could even conceive. Perhaps the most extraordinary technological convenience is the internet. It’s true the telephone gave us an inkling of what it’s like to communicate with someone outside of shouting distance but being able to reside in one video session with people from 6 different continents at the same moment is nothing short of a miracle.
Likewise, I have met many outstanding people from various cultures, backgrounds, and countries, all on several virtual platforms. It has been an experience which has broadened my perspective and point of view. These relationships ranging from owning a family restaurant in the United Kingdom to working as a customer support representative in the Philippines, would have been deemed nearly impossible only a few decades ago.
Of all the people I’ve met and befriended, undoubtedly one of the most unique and accomplished is Bashir Gafari. As fate would have it, one of my articles ran across his feed a little over a year ago. After reading it, he made an insightful comment which prompted me to send him a connection request.
Since that time, we have enjoyed many conversations and personal endeavors. Although there are many qualities Bashir exudes, what stands out most for me is his continued effort to maintain integrity in areas of business in which so many have overlooked or disregarded for personal gain.
His success is due in large part to his unique upbringing. He was born in Lebanon and for most of his young life lived in the shadows of civil war and away from his home country. But even at an early age, he used these precarious conditions to learn how to cope and adapt to the many different races and cultures he lived amongst.
His father was frequently away on international business; however, Bashir was fortunate enough to accompany him on several occasions. He spent time in eight different Middle Eastern and African countries furthering his ability to familiarize and assimilate with an increasing number of cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, and customs.
At the age of 19, he became the manager of a restaurant which was responsible for providing meals for large venues including a 1,200-seat nightclub. Shortly into his career, he followed the advice from a mentor who told him to work for a maximum of 6 months for a period of 5 years – all in differing industries. He also told him to disregard the salary and concentrate on mastering cost control, various operational techniques and “you will do just fine in management later on.”
This was by no means a simple task for Bashir, sometimes juggling two fulltime professions simultaneously. Most of his opportunities were with seven to nine figure startups and at the age of 23, he reached middle management. The challenge facing startups was intriguing and any time he received a better offer with a new startup, he resigned his position and joined the new venture. In the span of 10 years, he found himself traveling to more than 25 countries on 4 different continents. With such vast experience under his belt, Bashir became a business developer, analyst, and consultant for high-net-worth individuals and multi-national companies and startups at the age of 29!
“In today’s volatile economic climate, a company’s ability to manage the cost of change is a significant factor in determining success,” Gafari notes. “Thinking out of the box alone is never enough. A company must practice emotional intelligence with its main assets and most importantly, its employees. It must always remember its corporate social responsibilities as well as apply individual responsibilities to each working person within its organization.”
Young Bashir never gave in to the temptation of greed even when it was common practice for others in similar positions. One of those times was when he joined a multi-billion-dollar company owned by one of the Royals in Saudi Arabia. He was tasked with opening original casual restaurants concept with less than half of the employees and half the budget the corporate plan specified. Additionally, he had the added pressure of working with eleven different nationalities from across the globe.
Taking unprecedented steps and refusing personal perks, he inspired everyone to work as a team in an otherwise hostile situation. Also, his success was so remarkable it led others in the corporate structure to believe he had to have been using devious methods.
These rumors caused him to be summoned to a meeting with the Managing Director. Upon entering his office, the Director laid out a list of complaints against him. The 27-year-old Bashir calmly began defending his decisions by showing the Director how he was able to succeed with less than half of the staff and budget of the other properties. His ingenuity motivated the employees, while he pampered them with gourmet meals by refusing hefty commissions from suppliers and used them instead as free food for his hardworking crew. In addition, he offered them opportunities rarely available to ethnic groups outside of the Saudi Kingdom while maintaining business sustainability at an incredibly low cost. Needless to say, the Director was highly impressed and complimented the young man by the end of the meeting.
Dedication would be an understatement for describing him and more remarkably, his goals do not focus specifically on profits. “My purpose is to show the importance of individual social responsibly and emotional intelligence in the business sector,” Gafari notes. “Our world is becoming more connected and we must consider being a global citizen and entrepreneur, not simply depending on social responsibility coming only from corporations.”
When asked what he thinks is the most important task in business, there is no hesitation with stressing how vital he believes leadership is. “No matter how effective one is at decision making and problem solving,” he says, “And even if their analytical skills are spot on, the most important aspect of a thriving company is serving others in a leadership role.” Bashir notes that to build a culture of success within a corporation, it requires treating everyone on the payroll as a valuable member and part of the organization.
He also warns that as the world sheds its need for oil, the new fight for control will be over water, agriculture, trade routes, and technology domination. He is, however, quite optimistic about the future.
His ultimate goal is to foster a business run completely by women. “I have always believed from the beginning of mankind that women have been successful entrepreneurs.” Without women, there would be no family, no home, no better educated generations to come. And the most important quality they possess which is vital for corporate success is emotional intelligence.
“Business success over the past century has always been based on a strong, organized foundation,” Gafari notes. “And from its inception, consistent persistency while thinking outside the box and learning to work smarter not harder will cultivate business success.”
Admittedly, it would be difficult to state what I admire most about Bashir but knowing the kinds of multi-national corporations for which he has both worked and consulted, he continues to live with honesty and integrity each step of the way. It takes a strong person to uphold those kinds of values when so many people are easily subdued by their own greed.
I certainly do wish him and his family all the best in their lives ahead.