Story telling is at the very heart of our culture as human beings, but few of us have the opportunity or the pleasure to pursue it as a career path. Ahsan, a poet and writer and director of the Dhaka Literary Festival, tells us of his literary journey, and all the ups and downs it’s brought him over the years.
How do you start a career as a storyteller?
One can say storytelling is my passion, and that is why I enjoy the three things that take up most of my time: writing, organising a literary festival, and running a PR company. However, when I graduated, I didn’t find my dream job, nor did I have the experience to start a business. Like most of my class, I joined the banking industry.
The City of London was seen as the coveted space for anyone with a degree in Economics or Finance. The competition for a place was intense. I succeeded only to realise my heart was not in it. Like many of my colleagues, I bit the bullet and carried on working - there were some aspects of the work that I enjoyed but mostly it proved to be monotonous. I stuck at it for 10 years before deciding to start my own business in the Far East. It was then a question of using the savings to either make the move or buy a house here. I chose the former as I always believed in the mantra: “fortune favours the brave”.
After two years in Malaysia and Singapore, with no major breakthroughs in my commodities trading enterprise, I was forced to close it and return to London. My savings had been depleted and I was back in a market that would offer me jobs in banks. Recruiters, sadly, often miss the idea of transferable skills, and so I decided to take my own path. And that is one thing that I reiterate to all aspiring entrepreneurs: if you have the belief in yourself, let no one stop you!
What difficulties did you have to overcome?
The main difficulty or challenge was the inevitable; setting up a new business initially with no staff, no office and no existing leads to get clients. Like any market, it is extremely hard to break into it and gain confidence of a client. In PR and marketing, there is no tangible product, so one has to really buy the person and his/ her ideas before agreeing to work together. The other aspect is all results are longitudinal. These are some of the common problems that are faced by any new PR company, anywhere in the world.
What drove or inspired you?
It was a simple factor: either making the business work or
go back to finding a job. I had been dreaming to starting and building my own business for a long time. I knew it was now or never; it was do-or-die. When human beings are pushed to that extreme, everything suddenly falls into place, maybe the Universe even responds to help you out.
What “one piece of advice” would you give to someone just staring out?
Be determined and try to surround yourself with positive-minded people.
Do you have a favorite motivational quote?
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
--William Arthur Ward
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