Interview with Rabih El Khodr: Bader and StandUp partner for a 2nd successful year
For the 2nd year in a row, Bader Young Entrepreneurs Program is collaborating with STANDUP Communication Training on the Bader StartUp Cup Competition to help train the top 6 finalists for their final pitches. No one other than Rabih El Khodr could help enhance the public speaking skills of our finalists.
Founder of Standup and a communication professional, Rabih will assist the 6 startups in the last round of the competition, by training them to give a memorable and professional pitch, on which the judges will weigh their decision to select the 3 winning startups.
We spoke to Rabih to learn more about Standup’s mission, Rabih’s upcoming book, and his take on Lebanon’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.
* Tell us more about Standup and how it all started.
I’ve always been a communication enthusiast, interested in things like TV commercials and political speeches. That led me to work in advertising, marketing and PR for quite some time. But I had always felt that something was missing. I wasn’t really fulfilling myself. So it took a real low where I was unemployed to start my entrepreneurial journey and establish Standup. I guess it all started out of the necessity to be productive again, but also as the expression of a personal passion.
* Fear of Public Speaking is a common problem. How does Standup help individuals overcome communication difficulties?
Our mission at Standup is really simple: to bring out the best communicator in people, through an engaging and memorable training experience. We believe that anyone – and we mean anyone! – can be a great public speaker, and our down-to-earth approach to training makes for an enjoyable and memorable experience for individuals, corporate employees, high-level executives, and entrepreneurs who attend our public speaking and business pitching workshops.
* For entrepreneurs, pitching to investors can be the most dramatic part of the startup experience. How do good communication skills lead to better business pitches?
Let’s put it in practical terms: if you don’t have good listening skills, you might convey certain defensiveness in your attitude – which is a big turn off for audiences and competition jury members; if you don’t have a proper structure to your content, you might get into a rambling pattern where you’re no longer making sense. So we look at important things like these and much more, to help entrepreneurs develop appealing and engaging business pitching performances.
* You have been with us on Bader Startup Cup for the second year now. What do you think of the competition and the caliber of participating startups?
Startup Cup has become a household name on the Lebanese entrepreneurial scene, and I was pleasantly surprised with the level of participating startups last year. I look forward to meeting with the 2014 finalists to help them prepare for their business pitches, but they’re really all winners in the sense that they’ve begun their entrepreneurial adventure collaborating with the Bader Young Entrepreneurs Program. One couldn’t start things off with a better ally.
* You’re publishing your own book very soon. Can you tell us more about it?
Standup has been fortunate to be the speakers training partner for the last two editions of the TEDxLAU main event. Based on my maiden training experience with the speakers lineup of the 2013 event #TheCrossRoad, I decided to document it all in a book where each chapter provides a public speaking tip based on the actual performance of each of the speakers. This is how “Public Speaking X: Tips to Unleash the TED Speaker in You” was born.
* Are you satisfied with Standup’s accomplishments so far?
I’ve been truly blessed to have made it so far in my journey despite the immense difficulties that come with choosing to become an entrepreneur. And every person that comes out of a Standup training session feeling more empowered to speak in front of an audience makes me feel like a million bucks. But I would only be satisfied once Standup fulfills its vision: to unleash a movement empowering people throughout the wider Middle East, helping them conquer fear and embrace the public speaker within.
* What are your future plans for Standup?
“Public Speaking X” is currently in editing and I hope to be releasing it very soon both in paperback and on Kindle. The Standup blog will soon be unveiled as well with practical tips that are tailored for the MENA audience on topics like public speaking, communication and soft skills. Other than that, it’s all about making sure the Standup experience reaches the widest audience possible, starting from Dubai where I am currently based, and beyond – Beirut, Riyadh, Amman and why not… even San Francisco!