Episode One: the Advice that People Never Forget: Niu Collaborative Community

Listen to Niu Collaborative Community's members most notable interactions and the advice they never forget.

Life & Business
 — 
7
 Min read
 — 
October 4, 2021
 — 
 Photo Credits: 
Niu Collaborative Community

Registering people's most notable interactions and extracting invaluable advice for life and career

People go through experiences and interactions that shape them and draw the path of their lives. These experiences teach life-lasting lessons. Some of these interactions become remarkable to the point where they stick on the back of people's heads. That is why we are launching this blog series: to register the most notable interactions the people we know and the strangers we do not know go through. It is a trial to extract invaluable advice that could teach us something about life or open our eyes to helpful approaches in life or career.

In our first episode, we visited Niu, one of the region's leading collaborative communities that host businesses, entrepreneurs, and creatives in Kuwait. We listened to several people who have shared with us their most notable interactions. We are now sharing with you parts of our conversation with Rakan, Mariam, Motlaq, Vaishnavi, and Elhousseiny in the same sequence it happened:


It puts me in an isolated hole, like in a black hole, as if my life revolves around that one specific problem. I block everything out; I block the fact that there is life after this.

Rakan Al Sabah

Rakan Al Sabah is a graduate from Bunker Hill Community College, Boston, who majored in political science and mass communications. However, he obtained a second degree in marketing from the American University of Middle East, Kuwait, because he did not find himself in that field. Instead, he prefers and works in the creative industry to "supply yourself," as he says.

Rakan grew up to a Kuwaiti father and a loving, friendly mom who comes from a humble place in Morroco. That taught him to respect people who come from different racial, social, or financial backgrounds. Also, to get rid of the "entitlement sense many people develop in such society," as he adds. As he continuously remembers his mom's words, "you are not better than others, and others are not better than you." A person's attitude, behavior, and intentions are what matter to Rakan. However, this is not the advice that sticks to the back of Rakan's head, the one that he never forgets. He remembers something else from the words of his mom.

Rakan's mom say, "You forget as you grow." Or as she said to him in Arabic, "يا حبيبي، تكبر وتنسى." He is forever grateful to his mom for this advice, as it got him over one of the most challenging times in life. Rakan was going through a situation earlier in his life that isolated him from other people. Unfortunately, none of the advice he received helped him get over the problem until he Skyped his mom for 3-hours and heard those few words.

"As a Gemini, I tend to constantly overthink something that has already happened and reimagine and replay it on my mind even after it is done," Rakan says. He adds, "It puts me in an isolated hole, like in a black hole, as if my life revolves around that one specific problem. I block everything out; I block the fact that there is life after this." He believes people forget as they grow and time passes. He tells you not to let the reality and roadblocks in life stop you. "You are already 29. By 39, people had forgotten what happened when you were 29. By 49 people do not even remember you. You forget as you grow. Time heals all wounds," Rakan believes.


I showed up every day even though I had no work and I had no clients. It affected my life a lot.


Mariam Al Hasan

Mariam Al Hasan is a designer specialized in logo and brand identity design who graduated from the American University of Kuwait. She started with Khaleejesque, a regional publishing house, and then moved into freelancing. On a personal level, Mariam is always positive. "No matter what life gives me, I am positive. Yes, sometimes I give up, but I never doubt myself, and I push back myself," she says. 

Mariam was on Instagram, where she follows a community of designers to get inspired and keep up to date with the industry. One day, James, a designer she follows, posts the single piece of advice that has changed her life ever since. It is " to show up," she says. "Show up mentally, show up to yourself, to people, to your community, show up no matter what are the consequences. Whether you have work or not, show up," she adds.

Mariam was not employed and was not freelancing at the time. She had no job or work to do. When she heard the advice, she came to Niu and started showing up. "I showed up every day even though I had no work and I had no clients. It affected my life a lot," she says. She remembers herself when she knew no one at Niu. She was shy, but she started interacting with people who come to the place. She mentally showed up, and that changed her life. She became more open to having conversations with people, and she had her first client before even meeting with him. It is all "because I showed up," Mariam believes.


We are provided things without earning them, but sometimes that misleads people and creates a fake sense of entitlement.

Mutlaq Al Mutairi

Motlaq Al Mutairi is an engineer who graduated from Portland State University with a focus on electrical engineering and currently works in a power plant in Kuwait. Motlaq has a passion for technology. He wants to automate the things people can automate. He also is passionate about politics. "It is natural for you to keep up with politics, especially if there is an urge to change from the inside. The change was always related to politics and technology," he says.

Motlaq once read a book in 2013 when he paused for a thoughtful moment to reflect on a very strong hemistich he read that day. The book was written by Al Barqouqi and was for interpreting a poetry Diwan for Al Mutanabi. Al Mutanabi's hemistich said, "لولا المشقة ساد الناس كلهم." That translates to "If not for the hardship, everyone would have prevailed." He "can relate," as he says.

Motlaq vividly remembers the moment when he read that hemistich. He was in his second year of school. At the time, he would not have spent an entire day in a lab, working on two electrical chips and a few sets of wires. But when he read those few words, his perspective has changed. He realized that he needs to put in the effort required to succeed in his studies and become successful in what he does.

As a Kuwaiti who lived in the United States, he recognized that he needed to do things differently. He needed to work hard to get things done and to achieve something. Life was different for him than the life he was used to in Kuwait. When we asked him whether to put in the effort or suffer, he remembered a few words for Madame de Steal he has heard: "One must choose in life between boredom and suffering." He believes there is a link between both. "You need to be okay with getting tired and suffer a bit. If you seek a good life, you need to earn it," he adds. "Thankfully, life is easy in Kuwait. We are provided things without earning them, but sometimes that misleads people and creates a fake sense of entitlement," Motlaq believes.

At every moment in time, there are so many people who have less than what you do. So whatever you have, it is perfectly good.

Elhousseiny Zaghloul

Elhousseiny Zaghloul is a developer of software who graduated from Kuwait University. Elhousseiny grew up as an Egyptian who lived parts of his childhood in the United States before moving to Kuwait. It was a significant switch for him, but "I believe it made me the person who I am today. I am more than happy about it: this is like the perfect life," he says.

Elhousseiny grew up with a habit of observing people, especially people in his society. He noticed people exaggerate their emotions; some were always depressed, and others were unrealistically optimistic for him. He sees that bad situations allow people to grow as good conditions do. He is convinced that all these experiences combined make a person who they are. He does not see people's gratitude towards what they have been through and what they have in life. "No one is ever content with what they have. It is very nice to be content," he believes. "At every moment in time, there are so many people who have less than what you do. So whatever you have, it is perfectly good," he adds.

Elhousseiny concluded his observations for people with the advice he shared with us. "It could always be worse," he believes. He has seen the impact of those few words on his life. He is a happy person because of practicing them. "I am very happy," Elhousseiny says.

I feel free now as I do not view it as steps towards failure. Instead, you have to go through the mistakes and disappointments because every time you put out a bad idea, you will find another reason to make it better.

Vaishnavi Kumar

Vaishnavi Kumar is a designer and artist with a bachelor's in visual communication from India and a master's in graphic design from Boston University. Vaishnavi was born and raised in Kuwait, so "this is my home," she says. However, Vaishnavi did not feel the distance away from her country. On the contrary, she was closely in touch with her culture, the Indian community in Kuwait.

Vaishnavi's multi-cultural upbringing gave her a unique experience and helped shape her way of looking at design and art. "The more I travel, the more I realize that Kuwait has shaped the way I look into design and art. This impact is definitely good because I think there is so much intricacy, especially in Islamic patterns and motives. We see that everywhere, even in the modern adaptations. I find myself drawn into creating intricate designs when I work," Vaishnavi says. However, as a designer, she struggles with creative blocks very often until recently. Vaishnavi discovered a piece of advice that "completely changed the way I think about my work," she believes.

Vaishnavi found the advice that changed her life and work when listening to Debbie Milman's Design Matter podcast. Debbie was having a conversation with Seth Godin, the entrepreneur and thinker. They were talking about creative blocks. Seth said, "Creative blocks are nothing but the fear of getting bad ideas out there." She reflected on Seth's words, and now she believes that you have to go through all the bad work to find the work you like. "I feel free now as I do not view it as steps towards failure. Instead, you have to go through the mistakes and disappointments because every time you put out a bad idea, you will find another reason to make it better," Vaishnavi says.

Share this post