'Relax and you'll earn more' says Dubai entrepreneur

The Life: Shun emails and get personal to succeed in business, one entrepreneur tells Rory Jones.

Karim Ghandour has adopted a more relaxed approach to running his company, MLG Family Office. Randi Sokoloff for The National
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Karim Ghandour did not know he was bumping up against "the ceiling of complexity".

The phrase may sound like a chapter from a Harry Potter novel, but it refers to a common affliction among entrepreneurs - getting bogged down in the daily grind of the office and losing sight of the bigger picture.

With the help of a business coach, Mr Ghandour adopted a more relaxed approach to running his Dubai company, MLG Family Office. The company manages family offices, private companies that oversee the investments of individual wealthy families.

Mr Ghandour says he has not sent a business e-mail in two years and speaks to clients only face to face. This enables him to see the bigger picture and build relationships in a traditional and more organic way, he says.


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The style may be unusual but it works for him, he says, and he would not have developed it without attending a training programme for entrepreneurs run by Strategic Coach, a Canadian consultancy that hosts events in Toronto, New York and London.

"Every entrepreneur reaches a point where you're putting in more time and you're getting the same results," Mr Ghandour says.

The value of coaching programmes is a source of debate globally, with some critics dismissing them as touchy-feely nonsense and a waste of busy professionals' limited time. Others believe they can help to expand a business's revenue.

A number of companies in the UAE offer coaching programmes for senior executives in large organisations, but guidance for executives running small to medium-sized enterprises is limited.

That is why Mr Ghandour travels to London every 90 days to attend the Strategic Coach seminars. The staff help him to recognise why certain goals were not achieved in the previous quarter and what can be done in the next 90 days to further the business.

Three people from companies in Dubai now travel to sessions globally, and officials at Strategic Coach say they aim eventually to set up a base in the UAE.

The seminars encourage entrepreneurs to focus on personal qualities that ensure they stand apart.

"Every successful person has a unique ability," Mr Ghandour says. "People like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and even Elton John, it's not just entrepreneurs … As a child, I was always playing chess and thinking a few moves ahead. It's this basic quality that the coaching returns you to."

Strategic Coach also encourages professionals to take at least 100 free days each year - each day being 24 hours without going into office, checking a BlackBerry or even thinking about work.

Despite the liberal level of time off it prescribes, Strategic Coach says the course on average increases income by 22 per cent in the first year and doubles it over three years.

At US$5,900 (Dh21,670) a year the course is not cheap, and professionals must be earning more than $200,000 a year to enrol.

Mr Ghandour says he has increased the revenue from premium high-net-worth clients by 500 per cent since he began the Strategic Coach training, and has shifted much of his time to this type of client.

"I have not yet finished the course but have nearly doubled my income," he says.