I used to think that another country’s economic problems could never inspire me to overcome mine. That was before I left on my trip to Egypt where I toured the land of the Pharaohs for the first two weeks of this past October 2018. I run a solo legal practice in New York City. I needed to get out, away from the struggles and challenges of running my practice, Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law, P.C. I chose Egypt as my escape because I knew I would learn something. I planned to forget about my business struggles and gain insight into my life direction.
Egypt is a land rich with history but lacking in prosperity. Until my trip to Egypt I had never seen animals walking around with their ribs exposed. Nor had I ever been in a place like Cairo where it is a way of life for many to never give anything, be it advice or directions, without demanding money. It is not because they are not kind or giving, its because they have nothing. When you have nothing, you find something to sell pretty quickly.
Similarly, when you are struggling in a new legal practice, you have an advantage. Problems force us to find solutions and as Lawyers it our ability to solve problems which we sell. We need to recognize that our problem solving ability is a valuable commodity that should not be given out so freely that we burn out.
I met many people are on my trip to Egypt. I met my peers who had never left their country and yet their humility told me they knew alot about life. They are also sophisticated because they constantly meet people from all over the world who come to see the splendors of Egyptian history. The tour guides in Egypt and surrounding countries must be licensed to guide tourists and are generally well educated. In Egypt the only real industry is tourism. After the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, the lack of tourism was like a plague to the Egyptian economy. My tour guide Nader struggled through the lean years in the tourism industry which came after the revolution, by working in a customer service call center owned by an American company for two years. The American company did not pay well because they knew they didn’t have to. Despite having earned a masters degree and having engaged in constant self learning, he was stuck working in a call center. Nader told me it was the worst two years of his life but in hindsight he learned alot about Americans and human behavior in general. He learned that not every American was good but that not every American was bad either. He learned how to be a better business person because he had to constantly deal with people who were calling with a problem.
If you can’t deal with people, don’t go into business and don’t even think about a legal practice. I can not tell you how many times my last experience with a difficult client helped me easily deal with the next one. Improve upon your people skills and you will improve your ability to run a business.
As Americans we have no excuse not to be prosperous. We have every advantage at the tip of our fingers. We can go wherever we want and say whatever we want. Even the poorest of us have access to healthcare, food and clothes. Egypt is a socialist society where in theory everyone is supposed to have equal access to healthcare and other resources. But, in reality the country has a large lower class which considers happiness to be having somewhere to lie their head at night and having food in their bellies. Egypt has little or no middle class and only about a dozen families monopolize the wealth. In America we have the luxury of the ability to complain without consequence about our government and change it. We can use the internet to sell ideas and influence even if we don’t have the money to invest in inventory. We can move between societal classes and confidently start a business knowing that the prosperity in our country is not reserved for a special class with special access. American entrepreneurs come from every class and background.
After my trip to Egypt, I realized how spoiled I was. I was complaining about not bringing in enough revenue to a new legal practice while I lived in the East Village and attended several charity events a month–all while paying my bills on-time. I realized I had no excuse not to keep pressing forward. I had to remember that the early struggles of my business were the only ones that were going to prepare me for my later success. I had to remember to ‘never look down on your small beginnings.’ While I was in Egypt Nader’s former professor, the current Minister of Tourism, led First Lady Melania Trump on her tour of the Pyramids. He was well prepared. He began his career has a tour guide. It made be think about what my struggles were preparing me for and I realized that I could never know unless I kept pressing forward.
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P.S. I had a wonderful time in Egypt and I highly recommend that everyone go see Egypt with a licensed tour company. The people are wonderful and the experience will change your life! Check out my trip photos here: Egypt 2018