Shariful Islam is the Founder of Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF). Mr. Islam has an astounding body of work. In an interview with future startup published last year, Mr. Islam shared his lessons on life and work. below is an excerpt from the interview, you may read the full interview here.
Believing in yourself is important and empowering. Until you find yourself and find a reason for believing in your capacity, you perform below your potential and think that you could not do it. But when you start believing in yourself, things start to change. Life starts to change.
Good education should prepare a person for life and make a person aware of their own potential and worth and guide a person to pursue her passion and ambition.
I think the purpose of education should be to help me identify my potential so that I can pursue my potential and live a fulfilling life. Of course, money is important, there is no denying of that but is not the most important thing in life that we have made of it. Once you have managed to fulfill your basic needs money has a very little role to play.
Strategy and thinking, I think everyone can do that. If you need help with the strategy you can bring experts but the purpose is critical. You can’t hire a purpose. I think even the best minds make mistakes. You can learn from your mistakes and do better the next time but the purpose is different because it takes time. It is hard to build a purpose-driven organization.
I think the vision of the founders and to what extent the team has taken on that vision is critical. You have to have the vision and purpose and then have to inculcate it into your people. That’s I think is the most important part.
Ten years sound quite a long time but in comparison to our ambition, we have not done much in the last ten years. We did a lot of experiments and tried many things. Many of our experiments failed and a few succeeded but I think we are far behind from where we wanted to reach.
Our goal is to push the growth of Bangladesh. The past ten years gave us the confidence that we will be able to pursue work that will make a big difference in Bangladesh in the coming years. It was more like a preparation, we were just getting started.
It happens all the time. I take a long sleep. If I get a good night sleep I’m good by the morning. Challenges and failures often don’t get best of me.
This is probably because of the years of experience but what really affects me is the negative energy of people who try to pull you down. Other than that, the rest of the thing is about figuring things out.
No matter what you do, it is going to be a very tough journey. Very few of you will be lucky enough to make it. Those are the aberration. Facebook is not an example, it is an aberration.
It means you are going to fail, you are going to be disheartened, the only thing that will keep you alive is if you take failure as a natural outcome and despite that continue to love your work.
Learning skills is not that difficult as long as you invest time and energy but it takes real effort to be a human
I like to push people to be more and do more and achieve more and that’s sort of how I look at management. Enabling people to do their best. I don’t bother much about coming to the office and working from a certain place and at a certain time as long as work is done and goals are met.
What we do is we try to find structure in the chaos. And it is very much passion and love for the work. We are trying to find a balance between freedom and accountability where people work with ownership.
While I had a typical childhood in Khulna, Cadet college was a distinct experience. Everything about my Cadet college experience was different.
We started with a markedly different orientation and had very different grooming. We had to endure intense physical activities. Maintaining unwavering discipline was the norm.
Every year, after a nine months stint we used to enjoy a three-months-long holiday. The experience at the college was so different that many of us struggled to properly mingle with other people during the vacation.
Despite its intense nature, the upside was way higher. It trained us to be disciplined and develop traits like hard work and dedication. It prepared us for life not only by teaching us textbooks but also by giving us a true education. We learned self-reliance, the importance of courage and responsibility. We made lifelong friendships that continue these days. My Cadet College experience had been instrumental to who I became later.