Ahead of our Dubai Braver Conference we caught up with speaker, professional triathlete Omar Nour.
How can marketers be braver?
Being braver is all about pushing the limits and pushing the limits is all about being comfortable being uncomfortable! With that comes the possibility of failure and failure is how we, as human beings, learn. I see failure as an integral part of the process to success as opposed to its antonym. I never look at it as in a negative light. To accomplish something great, limits must be pushed and, by definition, risks taken. Playing it safe seldom yields incredible results. Failure should not be a deterrent but rather a motivator to keep on trying until the desired outcome is reached. I encourage all marketers to push the label, take risks, learn from their failures, be resilient, and keep on tweaking their ideas and concepts in their relentless pursuit of excellence.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
I am often described as not having a dial but a switch. It is either on or off and when it is on, I am all in.
I have taken countless risks in my career. One of the most notable ones was in 2010 when I gave up my position as CEO of Tot Solutions, the company my brother and I founded in 2006, to pursue a professional career as a triathlete at age 31 which is an age when most pro triathletes retire. I had to transform my body from an overweight 105 kg amateur athlete to a lean 74 kg professional. The learning curve as a professional athlete was steep. Furthermore, I had to use my business acumen and my strength as a marketer to develop my own athlete brand, o.n., and ensure that it became commercially viable.
Later, in 2017, when I was injured in the lead up to the Rio Olympics with herniated discs in my back, I went against all odds and decided to dive back into the unknown and push my boundaries yet again by attempting to row across the Atlantic with my friend, Omar Samra. I began training for this wild adventure while preparing my new company, Enduro Supply, a sports distribution company based out of Dubai, to flourish in my absence. The race onboard a 7x1.5 meters boat can take from 40 to 100 days at sea. I had to learn about something I knew very little about and transform my body and my knowledge base to be able to tackle the challenge. The stakes were higher than ever as failure could mean losing my life. I committed to my new project 100% to show the world impossible is nothing and if one sets their mind to something, sacrifice, commit and stay resilient, nothing is out of reach. Omar and my journey turned into an epic survival story which we have transformed into a documentary, Beyond the Raging Sea, which was featured as a work in progress in Cannes Film Festival and is now being presented to the leading film festivals in the world.
What brave projects/adventures are you planning for the future?
After Omar Samra and my near-death experience on December 22, 2017, we have challenged ourselves once again in a different way: to create a documentary that is true to our story, inspires people to dream big and show that when someone is relentless in their pursuit, good things happen. The working version of the documentary was featured at Cannes Film Festival in May of 2018. We are now finishing the feature length documentary and applying to the most prestigious film festivals on earth. My mom always told my brother and I to shoot for the moon so if we miss, we hit the stars. This is exactly what we are doing with our documentary, Beyond the Raging Sea, and I would love to win some awards with the film.
On the business front with Enduro Supply, my distribution company, we are pushing the label and introducing premium brands to the region in a competitive market, the sports and lifestyle segment. We successfully introduced On Running, the premium Swiss brand, to the Middle East and are taking on the "big brands" such as Nike, Adidas, Puma, Reebok, etc. I am happy to report that we are doing great and 2019 will be about gaining an even bigger market share as well as successfully introducing more premium brands to the region.
My brother and I also own Ventum, the manufacturer of the fastest triathlon bike in the world. We have secured the first global bike partnership with IRONMAN and are working hard to continue gaining market share against the incumbents.
On the adventure/sports side of my life, I am enjoying being recreational for a bit before coming up with my next brave adventure!
Which business leader do you admire most and why?
I am impressed with Mark Wahlberg and his ability to constantly redefine himself despite people dismissing him. From model to rapper to songwriter to actor, producer and businessman, he seems to never listen to the naysayers and this is something that I have had to deal with my entire unorthodox career. I feel like he has perfected that skill.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
You will experience many defeats in your life but never let yourself be defeated! Success and failure are temporary so ride the wave and if you are pushing your limits, you will experience both!
Omar Nour is the first professional triathlete in Egypt's history. He will be speaking at The Marketing Society Braver Conference in Dubai, 14 November, 2018.