Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I find there are rarely enough hours in the day, but EO helped make me a more complete person. And I want to make time to help others enjoy the same experience.
By Ami Kassar, EO Philadelphia president FY2023-25
In late April, I attended the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Leadership Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, along with more than 1,300 EO members from around the world. In July, I will start my presidency of the EO Philadelphia chapter, where we currently have 111 members.
Taking on a leadership role in a non-profit organization is a big commitment of time and energy, especially while building a business. So it might be a fair question to ask why I’m accepting this responsibility. And how do I intend to manage my already-crazy schedule with this extra load?
How EO helped me evolve as an entrepreneur
The answer is that being a member of EO taught me that spending time working on and thinking about things other than my business is healthy. Before I started my EO journey in 2018, I was in survival mode. Life was about work and whatever time I could squeeze in for my family. It was around the clock, 24/7. Having fun and pursuing hobbies were not a part of my DNA. I considered attending a workshop or a talk that I didn’t think could improve my business a waste of time. I was completely caught in the rat race.
It was EO that slowly started to break me down and change my mindset. I remember my first Forum, where the members asked me—well, told me—to toss my cell phone into the bag during the meeting. I shook. I recall going on our first Forum retreat to Puerto Rico and participating in activities I would never have done in my “previous” life. But as I slowly became more comfortable talking about personal and business issues, it became clear to me that I was becoming a more complete person.
EO is more than just the Forum experience. There is an ever-expanding menu of local, regional, international, and virtual learning experiences to pick from. The more experiences that you can take advantage of and the more relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs you can build, the more transformational moments you will enjoy along the way.
For me, one of those moments came during an exercise members did with a group of Scaling UP coaches during the pandemic. We worked together on developing our One Page Personal Plans, a tool designed to help entrepreneurs and owners grow their businesses without sacrificing their personal lives.
My Aha! Moment
During this exercise, I had an epiphany. A friend said, “Ami, you close loans to pay your bills and keep your lights on, but let’s face it — your passion in life is helping entrepreneurs grow and succeed.”
As I took that in, I realized that he was right. And suddenly my perspective changed about what was possible. I am not sure I would have accepted the EO Philadelphia chapter presidency if it had not been for this experience.
EO provides a natural platform for me to continue this vital work. In EO, we have regular learning events, and most of our 17,500 members worldwide meet in monthly Forums to work on their businesses. But the real magic of EO happens when our members have epiphanies like the one I described above. And if I can help make this community more robust, other entrepreneurs will have similar experiences.
The power of entrepreneurship
I had another one of those transformational moments on our last day in Cape Town. Earlier that same week, we rallied about 60 EO members to Mzansi Restaurant in Langa township. We wanted to experience the local culture. Sadly, the “mama” and founder of Msanzi is in hospice care in Cape Town. While we didn’t get to meet her, we did meet her husband and two sons. One, Mbasa, runs the restaurant, and the other, Sabu, has a transportation company that organized the vans that got us there.
We arrived and were escorted into the restaurant, and then the security gates were closed. We ate delicious food and listened to beautiful music. But most inspiring of all was how Sabu explained how his mom and dad started the restaurant, the principles their parents taught them, and how they marketed their family business. Deep in the surrounding poverty of the township, they have built a thriving business.
Together We Grow
A group of us put some money together, and on our last day of the trip, the brothers took us to an orphanage in their township. About 36 kids were living in a small shack. They had beautiful smiles but no running water or electricity. The worst part was that maybe 20 yards away, a party raged at the local pub.
On one hand, it felt great to go into Langa township and contribute some money to help the children there. But it was also clear that our donation couldn’t begin to address or even make a scratch into the larger issues.
But I am hopeful that with the collective energy of entrepreneurship, with strong, steady progress from the more than 17,500 members of EO worldwide, we can together try to make the world a better place. And with this commitment in mind, I stand ready to start my journey as EO Philadelphia president.
Contributed to EO by Ami Kassar, an EO Philadelphia member who will serve as that chapter’s president in FY2023-25. Ami is the founder and CEO of MultiFunding, a Philadelphia-based consulting firm that specializes in helping business owners achieve ambitious growth goals through creative and personalized funding solutions. His work has helped create tens of thousands of jobs.
This post originally appeared on 21 Hats and is reposted here with the author’s permission.