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July 27, 2022

Sabir x Michael Kahwajy-Hyland

TL; DR

During my discussion with Michael Kahwajy-Hyland, I referred to him as Forrest Gump. Not only has his life been full of adventure and interesting encounters, but he has embraced it with an admirable degree of enthusiasm that we can all learn from.

Whether you’re an executive, business owner, freelancer, or entrepreneur, you can learn a lot from Michael. The following insights are summarized from our discussion:

  • Never Give Up: Everyone fails, especially in business. You will make mistakes. You will lose money. You may feel embarrassed, disheartened, and even defeated. But we all have those experiences and we all wear those scars. What defines a successful entrepreneur is their ability to climb back to their feet and keep going, even when it feels like all hope is lost.
  • Take Advantage of Opportunities: Michael Kahwajy-Hyland wouldn’t be where he is today if he didn’t take advantage of a random opportunity that he stumbled upon several years ago. Many successful entrepreneurs can trace their big breaks to similar encounters, proving that you must be ready to embrace all the opportunities that come your way.
  • Don’t Try to Be Someone Else: Be authentic. Be transparent. Be yourself. Stop trying to emulate someone else. It will be obvious to your customers and it will also lead you on a journey that you don’t want to take. Find the thing that makes you unique and do what your love.
  • Communicate What You Do: The best products and ideas in the world mean nothing if you don’t know how to communicate them. What’s the point of doing something unique and extraordinary if your customers don’t know about it? Why have the best USP in your industry if your clients know nothing about it?
  • Be the Most Confident Person in the Room: A calculating and creative mind can get you very far in business, but only if it’s backed by confidence. If you want people to listen to what you have to say, you need to express yourself confidently. If you’re not confident in your ideas or methods, then your employees, investors, and customers won’t be confident, either. Oftentimes, being the most confident person in the room is more important than being the smartest person in the room.
  • Clarity is Key: You should always know where you’re going and why you’re going there. Are you actually doing something that you want to do? Are you heading in the right direction and do you really care about being the person you want to become? Don’t let money, success, expectation, or jealousy muddy your perspective and try to maintain clarity at all times.

At the end of my discussion with Michael Kahwajy-Hyland, he provided his most valuable insight, a piece of advice that all professional and business owners simply must hear.

To see this for yourself, watch the podcast episode or read the accompanying guide.

Michael Kahwajy-Hyland has led a very busy, fulfilled, and interesting life, making him the perfect guest for This Week With Sabir. He has an infectious enthusiasm and passion that has helped him to become a leading consultant and an influential entrepreneur.

Over the course of an hour-long discussion, I picked Michael’s brain about entrepreneurship and business ownership.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, founder, or aspiring professional, if you are seeking to take your career to the next level and lead a more fulfilling life, the following tips should help you out.

Always Seize Opportunities And Do What You Do Best

Michael Kahwajy-Hyland runs the Turning Point Pen Company, a brand that creates unique, customized pens for special occasions.

It’s an opportunity that arose out of personal experiences and not something that he forced upon himself after finding a gap in the market or studying Google Trends.

There are two things we can learn from this.

First, it’s important to take opportunities when they arise.

Michael began making pens when he was 12-years-old. He developed his skills at a very early age.

A number of years later, a friend asked him to create a commemorative gift and he jumped at the chance.

It wasn’t going to be particularly profitable for him and it also required a lot of time and hard work. When he accepted that opportunity, he was working multiple jobs and had a full schedule, so it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

But he accepted the offer; he grasped the opportunity with both hands. As a result, he discovered that he had a knack for producing unique pens and that people were willing to pay good money for them.

From there, he created Turning Point Pen Company and turned a part-time hobby into a full-time profession.

He could have rejected it and done other things. He could have chosen to binge a Netflix show or go on vacation.

It’s proof, if you needed it, that you don’t achieve your dreams by sitting on your ass and doing nothing. You reach those goals by seizing opportunities.

The second insight is that you should stick with what you know and don’t try to change your personality.

In previous blogs, I have talked about the importance of telling your own story and always being authentic.

Anyone can build a successful personal brand that includes a popular YouTube channel, but if you’re a quiet, calm, socially-phobic introvert, you probably shouldn’t be trying to replicate Jake Paul.

If you’re not very good with numbers but can tell a great story, turn your hand to content marketing or advertising, and stop looking up to investors and Forex traders.

It’s important to play to your strengths. Not only will you do a better job and seem more authentic to your customers, but when you eventually have the success that you crave, you’ll be happier with the outcome.

Learn How To Communicate What You Do

When he began spending time with entrepreneurs, Michael realized that a lot of people had trouble communicating what they do.

They do something honorable and worthy, something that would get customers excited, but they communicate it in a poor way, and so they don’t benefit as they should.

It reminds me of a friend who founded his own small business and went to great lengths to make it environmentally friendly. His product, packaging, shipping process—everything was environmentally friendly.

He didn’t make a fuss out of it, as he assumed that customers would know and appreciate the effort. But customers didn’t know. Not only did no one praise his efforts, but his company actually received a few comments and bad reviews noting that he should do more to be eco-friendly.

They saw the potato starch mailing bags and assumed they were made from plastic. They thought the paper tape was vinyl. He did everything right, but he communicated it poorly, and so he wasn’t able to benefit.

It’s an issue that many inexperienced business owners have.

This realization is what drove Michael Kahwajy-Hyland to launch a consulting business, one that focuses on helping entrepreneurs to communicate and express themselves better.

It’s all about the message. If it’s not right, then nothing that you do matters.

To learn more, I recommend checking out my video with public speaking guru Orly Amor. Public speakers are the best in the business when it comes to self-promotion—their income relies on it.

Give A Gift And Get Opportunities In Return

Michael creates very unique pens, and these serve as the perfect gifts for graduations, weddings, and major birthday milestones. But they are also used as corporate gifts.

B2B companies use unique gifts like customized pens to grab the attention of potential clients. They learn enough about the individual to create something that matches their personality and preferences, and then Michael’s company does the work.

The effectiveness of these gifts is something I have discussed at length in previous episodes, including this one on commodity marketing and this one on how to get a meeting with anyone.

Michael goes above and beyond when providing these gifts. He doesn’t just make and supply the pens; he also offers the expertise that his customers need to win new clients.

If you’re an executive, freelancer, or you run a B2B business, learning how to use these gifts is imperative.

It might be an expensive way to get someone’s attention, but that’s why it works.

If you’re a business owner getting dozens of spam emails and cold calls a day, you’ll pay more attention to a personalized message that comes with a unique, thoughtful, and eye-catching gift.

And once that happens, the hundreds of dollars that you spent on that gift could lead to thousands and even millions of dollars in business revenue.

Be The Most Confident Person In The Room

People listen to and follow the most confident person, not necessarily the one who knows the most. Whether you’re the smartest or not doesn’t matter unless you’re also the most confident.

If you want people to hear and heed what you’re saying, say it with confidence!

This is true whether you’re a boss trying to inspire your employees or a business owner trying to win new clients.

Michael was a Division 1 soccer goalkeeper, and this is where he learned the importance of expressing himself confidently.

He was tasked with commanding his defense and being a strong leader, while also keeping his nerve between the posts. Like all goalkeepers, he was a leader in the locker room and on the field, and when he left the game behind him, he used his experiences to help other business leaders and professionals.

You don’t have to be a confident person to say something with confidence. Oftentimes, it’s just about practice, patience, and passion.

You can be the shyest introvert in the room, but as soon as someone talks about something that interests you, whether it’s a band, TV show, or hobby, you’ll open up and express yourself.

This is why it’s important to love what you do as a business owner. If you do, you’ll be able to express yourself passionately whenever the subject of business is raised.

If you’re still struggling, then practice. Speak in front of the mirror. Chat with family and friends. Get a feel for standing up, speaking out, and letting others know your thoughts.

We’re all a little shy and anxious on the inside. We’re all worried that we’ll do something wrong or say something stupid. But the more we get used to speaking out, the easier it becomes, and the less we worry.

Never Give Up

It might not work this time or with this business, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work the next time.

There’s always another chance.

It’s just like being a goalkeeper.

You might slip, concede a goal, and lose the game, but you’ll be back on the field the following week and can redeem yourself.

In 2018, Kepa Arrizabalaga became the most expensive goalkeeper ever when he signed for Chelsea F.C. A year later, he took the unprecedented step of refusing to be substituted in the cup final, only to lose the resulting penalty shootout.

A disastrous couple of years followed and he was eventually replaced. But he continued to work hard and in 2022, he found himself back in contention.

Think about all of the goalkeeping howlers that led to lost games and cups, ones that are still mocked today. Did those ‘keepers instantly retire or drop to the reserves? Of course not.

Mistakes happen. You will have bad days. You might even have bad years. But if you keep working hard and looking ahead, you can still make it to the top.

Sure, some players never recover. They hit rock bottom and they struggle to rediscover their form. But failure is fleeting in sport, just as it is in business, and there is always a way to redeem yourself.

What’s more, you’re never restarting from zero. It’s not like starting your career all over again. You have experience now, and that’s worth just as much as talent and hard work.

If you think of it as restarting from step one, you’ll be more inclined to give up. After all, it took many years for you to reach that point. There was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears on the way and the idea of repeating that is soul-crushing.

But you have the experience of taking those steps and shedding those tears. You have the practice, the wins, and the losses, so you’ll be able to fast track your way back to the top.

When you get there, you’ll also have the experience of losing everything, so you’re less likely to make the same mistake again.

This resilience is one of the best traits that an entrepreneur can have.

We all have scars. We have all made costly mistakes. What makes us successful is not our ability to get everything right the first time; it’s our ability to crawl back to our feet after getting repeatedly knocked down.

In the words of Rocky Balboa, “It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

The $100,000 Question

As my discussion with Michael Kahwajy-Hyland was drawing to a close, I asked him the question that I ask all of my guests: What is your best piece of advice?

As you can see from the guide above, Michael had a lot of insightful things to say, but he saved the most profound for last, telling me that the advice consisted of just three words:

Life is special.

He stressed the importance of being grateful and appreciative of what you have, while also acknowledging how privileged you really are.

If you drive a car, keep your food in a fridge, own a television, and connect to the internet using a smart device, you’re already more privileged than millions of people on this planet.

If you don’t have to worry about where your next meal is coming from, you have an advantage over millions more.

The fact that you’re able to put your creativity and energy into a business means you’re more privileged than half of the people alive right now, and that’s before you consider that the odds of you even being alive are trillions to one.

You’re a miracle. You’re unique. So, don’t waste it.

Also, it’s important to remember that happiness isn’t always about money and success.

If you are happy and fulfilled, you’re successful. You don’t have to be the richest or the biggest; you don’t have to be a multi-millionaire or billionaire. As long as you’re doing what makes you happy, you’re successful.

Find the thing that makes you happy, do it, and stop concerning yourself with what others are doing and whether or not you should be as successful as they are.

Do you want to work 15 hours a day in a career you hate just so you can flash Rolex watches to Instagram followers who don’t care about you, or would you rather earn a modest living doing something that makes you happy?

It should be an easy question to answer, but these days it seems that we’re all on the same long and stressful road to success, even if most of us don’t really care about the destination.

ABOUT MICHAEL KAHWAJY-HYLAND

Michael Kahwajy-Hyland has big dreams in business and in life… and for over a decade he’s been steadily achieving them and helping others do the same. Starting with average beginnings, after experiencing significant loss of life and misfortune during his teen years, Michael realized that life is a gift and was inspired to find ways to live in the biggest, happiest, most fulfilled ways possible. Since then, he’s been working to realize his dreams one at a time, often against many odds, achieving titles like division 1 athlete, celebrity designer, top cultural dancer, and “The Business Connection Architect,” with more sure to come. Known for his contagious energy and curly hair, Michael genuinely loves waking up every day building his dreams. His desire for others to feel that same excitement for life drives his work. He helps business leaders achieve this level of fulfillment mainly through his speaking, business messaging consulting practice, and his luxury writing instrument brand.

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