The Co-Founder of MENA’s fastest-growing media company Bahaa Moussalli explains how having a passionate team can take your business to the next level.
Does teamwork make the passion work? Actually, having a team is essential if you aim high in business.
Bahaa Moussalli is the co-founder of the fastest-growing media company in MENA. Early on, he met friends who shared his interests. They got led by passion and managed to develop four successful online and offline brands.
All the business partners are on the same page. “We know the core of who we are. We know the core of the company, the mission, and the vision.”
Bahaa thinks that it’s mandatory to trust your passion tribe and to identify your role accordingly. When the members share a strong relationship, they help each other and the business thrives.
“You can never achieve something huge without a team.” Bahaa believes that if you aim for the stars, you need a group of passionate people on your side.
Do you want to use passion to reach your boldest business goals? Watch here and remember to share it with your friends and spread the passion.
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Moustafa: Welcome to Passion Sundays, the best way to end a week and start another. Our guest today is the co-founder of the region’s fastest-growing new media company and the coolest conference ever: STEP Conference. Bahaa, thank you very much for being with us today!
Bahaa: A pleasure!
Moustafa: It’s awesome to meet people who finally managed to turn their passion into something successful and more importantly creating a platform that is helping others launch their passion.
Moustafa: So, first of all, tell us how did you end up here?
Bahaa: Oh, wow! So the story begins basically like a lot of people out there when you are studying. And you know, you are excited and you are young and you’re not afraid to take risks. That’s the main difference. And you meet a friend who thinks like you. In my case is Ray Dangham who is the CEO and co-founder and… we just started. And actually we started off based on leadership and basically trying to inspire people to chase whatever they want to chase, actually. That’s how we started and we evolved into a media company, right? And… At the time I was studying economics, which is very far off from and I’ve never taken a marketing course in my life. However, somehow I ended up as the CMO of the company. So it’s kinda funny how life turns out after a couple of years. But in case you have an idea of it, it’s never going to be that, it’s going to be somewhere around that.
Moustafa: It’s leading you somewhere.
Moustafa: So you just basically pursued whatever your passion was at the moment, you never had the necessity, clarity at the end.
Bahaa: Definitely. And I think this is something that you learn, it, it is an acquisition in a sense that you don’t… when you are starting something ‘This is how I see it, I want something exactly like it’. But a lot of people because they want to stick to exactly what they think and what happens is that maybe they go off the wrong direction. And right now we’re a new media company, we have stepfeed.com, yallafeed.com, and STEP Conference, which is an offline event. And now we have STEP Music. We have four brands technically and they are online and offline, and I don’t know what. We are extending our tentacles across, you know? And we’re just figuring it out. We know the core of who we are, we know the core of the company, the mission, and the vision of what we are trying to do and it’s fine to let things go and for the things to kind of…
Moustafa: Play along.
Bahaa: Exactly! Play along. The thing is that most people don’t recognize early on that they can do it only by themselves so what happens is ‘This is what I want, I want to achieve this.’ However, you can never achieve something huge without a team.
Bahaa: And when you have a team, you have to accept their opinion. They have to value the opinion.
Moustafa: So a passion tribe, to have a passion tribe.
Bahaa: It’s a tribe, exactly. That’s why we have co-founders, partners, because you trust their opinion and they help you build whatever you want to build. And it will go into a direction, you have to trust that from the beginning, blindly.
Moustafa: So, talking about partners, I mean, that’s a tough topic because can’t do without them but very tough to have them.
Moustafa: Especially when you’re so passionate and then you got clashes of passions and directions. How do you handle that?
Bahaa: It’s a mix of both professional and personal relationship. I’m close to my co-founders, Ryan, Nizar, and the rest of the team, so there is the fun bit a little bit. We talk. There is a relationship. So if we are hanging out together, we sometimes talk about personal stuff, not just work. However, when we are at work we don’t have this barrier of not voicing your opinion. You know what I mean? Most importantly, I think this is the most critical thing and this is what breaks up companies and breaks up the team is that trust. That this person will always have your back. And there are no politics. Usually, in a startup it’s very strong but as you grow as a team… At first the entire company was maybe ten people, when we started 2-3 years ago properly. And now we are over 40 people.
Bahaa: So we have been bubbling and tripling in growth and in people as well. We secured our investment recently, a couple of months ago, six months ago, four months ago and things are exploding. And what happens is that everybody is focusing on an area and sometimes, when you are a startup in a small area you always work together and you always juggle tasks and projects. But when you are growing bigger, everybody has to have a role. Everybody has to focus on an area. And you rely on that person to update you in like ‘ok, what is going on there?’ and then you challenge him and you challenge each other and you help each other. This is kinda how, the most important thing is knowing the weaknesses and strengths of every single person. And every single partner in the company or founder in the company has a very strong skill and has a weak skill. We are trying to cover for each other.
Moustafa: I love the way you describe the best dynamics handling for a passion tribe. Because in a way, you are very passionate about what you do, but it’s not that passion that people are thinking that’s just up in the clouds. You are fairly grounded, you are figuring out ways to work with other people, tone down on your own passion in exchange for a more cumulative passion tribe, a vision in a way.
Bahaa: Exactly. I mean, in a way, obviously there are some things that I’m personally passionate about. But I know what I bring to the table and I know that other guys, my co-founders, also bring to the table. For example – me, personally, I’m very – obviously because I’m the CMO – I’m very much, I’m obsessive, I’m obsessed about the brand. I’m obsessed about how people and the consumers and how to present ourselves. And every single thing has to be perfect and whenever it is a mistake, in the event of small things I’m like ‘no, it has to change, I go crazy’, you know? But they know, they trust that. Ryan and Nizar, and the rest, every single person, they have something, we let them be. But there are other things that ok, no, we can’t do that.
Moustafa: So there is not only passion per se in every area, it’s about where do you want to put so much energy and where you want to let go in exchange for your focus.
Bahaa: Exactly! You have to know. You have to identify what you want to take, what you want to really own and then you have to give the rest. You can’t have them all because a lot of passion can be sometimes comes off as ‘you know, you’ve been too much’ and sometimes it can backfire.
Bahaa: But I think groundedness, being humble, team-oriented and just focusing on the vision, on the objective, it lifts the entire team up. And one of my favorite companies, though a lot of people don’t like the corporate culture that they have, is Elon Musk and his companies – SpaceX, Tesla, Gigafactory, and the rest. It’s because it’s a very intense environment. I love intensity and that passion. They are all very passionate. The mission statement of Elon Musk is that they want to colonize Mars. How big is that?
Bahaa: How do you motivate a team for that? And it’s basically about whether you do it, you’re a part of a public tribe or you’re not.
Bahaa: And you’re a guru, but in the same time you are a family.
Moustafa: Yes, I think you summarized it nicely. You are part of the tribe. You are obviously building the STEP tribe globally so well, done for all this passion!
Bahaa: Thank you, thank you! I mean, it’s been, it’s been one hell of a ride.
Moustafa: It’s been hell of a ride and it’s gonna be more, more of it.
Bahaa: Yes, every year the event is like bigger and ‘What are we going to do next?’ and this year we started STEP Music and ‘What are we going to do next year?’
Moustafa: STEP Passion.
Moustafa and Bahaa: STEP Passion!
Bahaa: This is it.
Moustafa: I love it. About passion.
Bahaa: We could do it about passion.
Moustafa: This has been an amazing interview. Thank you very much for all these insights for building a passion tribe and a Step tribe.
Bahaa: Thank you!
Moustafa: Thank you!
Moustafa and Bahaa: Passion!
Moustafa: What do you think? I would really love to hear your opinion. If you found this episode as useful as I did, please write your comments on the blog below and do share it with your friends. And if you’d like more tools, tips, techniques and exclusive interviews that I only share on my website, got to Moustafa.com. And until next episode, live passionately!