In this episode, Željko interviews one of the pillars of European coworking, Alex Ahom.
In this podcast, they chat about beginnings, endings, burnt out and the ‘business of work.’ Alex shares about moving to Germany seven years ago, he had to learn to connect and meet up with people. How he found people who had a problem and the solution turned out to be coworking.
How did he do this?
Alex says: “So I started to reach out to different entrepreneurs, different kinds of people, different people in the area, to speak about work had worked in recruitment.
Before Apple, I’ve worked in marketing and media. So I reached out to media types, recruiters, marketeers people in tech companies and startups.
And I would find that many of them weren’t happy with their job. They were unhappy with their career progression.
They weren’t satisfied with their boss with their life. So they didn’t have the right place to work. They weren’t part of a community. They didn’t feel fulfillment from what they did. And that struck me because I’ve always had those things. I’ve always had friends at work.
I’ve always had people around me that say, well, you should go into this or that, and if you ever did, we would support you.
Željko Crnjaković 0:03
Welcome to Coworking Values, the podcast of the European Coworking Assembly. Each week we deep dive into one of the values of accessibility, community, openness, collaboration and sustainability. This episode is brought to you by Cobot, a leading management software for coworking spaces, office hubs and flexible workspaces around the world. You know, one of the best things about Cobot is that it is produced by people who manage a coworking spaces and know the ins and outs of the main problems and issues bugging coworking managers. So, if you want more time for your co-workers and community, check out cobot @cobot.me and take your coworking management to the next level.
Željko Crnjaković 0:47
Hi guys and welcome to another episode of the Coworking Values podcast. My guest today is Alex Ahom. So, Alex is from London. You grew up in London and then moved to Germany, or you grew up in Germany?
Alex Ahom 1:13
I’m born and raised in London. I left London like seven years ago. So yeah, I’ve been in Germany for seven years.
Željko Crnjaković 1:20
Why? Why did you leave London?
Alex Ahom 1:23
So I think in my part of London, we’re quite ambitious, are quite open minded, and there’s a lot of diversity in London. My parents, my mom’s from Jamaica and my dad’s from Nigeria. We have a lot of Irish people, Ireland is not that far away, but we have a lot of different communities and cultures coming together in my part of London, so we’re open to change. We’re open to different opportunities in life. I’m also quite ambitious, and I know that the route to ambition, the route to success is not usually a straight line.
I felt that even though I had a good job and very good life, my friends and family in London, I did have the sense that what if my life that I love so much is also my comfort zone, and we all know about comfort zones. So, I was thinking to myself, what if I challenged myself and just go somewhere else for a few years, learn a new culture, bring maybe some knowledge from London to there and also learn some of that and maybe bring that back one day? It’s just a growth opportunity, a learning opportunity.
Željko Crnjaković 2:35
We entrepreneurs really know how to scrub our lives, we have a good life. We want to go out of our comfort zone. So, the reason that you’re on the podcast is that you’ve been a major important pillar in the coworking community, owning and operating a coworking space in Hamburg and doing a lot of talks about the Coworking Values, the community needs and all the stuff that us real co-workers, not corporate players want to still believe in and nurture. So, can you tell us, what is your coworking? So you went off from London from a good job to Hamburg. Did you still have a job? Or did you leave your job and then went off to Hamburg?
Alex Ahom 3:35
So, I was at Apple at the time, and I left the job at Apple. My wife was in a good position in quite a big pharmaceuticals company in London, and we kind of realized what she’s been pushing to say, what she really wants to get to see the O-level at one of these big FMCG companies like Unilever or something like that. And for her as well, if you’re only a manager or director in one place, it’s not really going to help. You need to have managed Serbia or the Balkans or Scandinavia or whatever.
So, she was kind of excited, interested to try another place. And I, as I said, was interested in trying something else as well. So, we both went to our companies instead of other opportunities in other places. So, long story short, we decided on Hamburg over New Jersey, Dubai, other places as well, for many reasons. We decided on Hamburg. I came across with the intention to start this new project, but it wasn’t coworking, so I came over with this promise, with this intention to start this new project. This undercover project with Apple in Hamburg didn’t work out. We realized that it just wasn’t going to happen during the move. It just couldn’t happen. So I had to leave and I left Apple.
I was out of apple, in a new country, no language, no network, no friends, no job in Hamburg. As I said, I’m entrepreneurial. I’m the people person, so I started to reach out to different entrepreneurs, different kinds of people, different people in the area, to speak about work. I’d worked in recruitment before Apple, I’ worked in marketing and media. So, I reached out to media types, recruiters, marketeers, people in tech companies and start-ups, and I would find that many of them weren’t happy with their job. They weren’t happy with their career progression. They weren’t happy with their boss, with their lives. They didn’t have the right place to work. They weren’t part of a community. They didn’t feel fulfillment from what they did, and that struck me because I’ve always had those things. I’ve always had friends at work. I’ve always had people around me that say, well, you should really go into this or that and if you ever did, we would support you.
I found people here in Germany that didn’t have that support network, and I’m someone who loves this community feeling, so I looked into what I could do to support and to provide a solution to these kinds of people. Yeah. I started organizing meetups and an organization that would bring these kinds of people together.
Željko Crnjaković 06:28
And how did that work without knowing the language? So being in different countries, you said everything new, even not knowing the language and trying to organize community?
Alex Ahom 06:37
I didn’t think about it, to be honest. I mean, you know, I think I didn’t let it bother me. I heard a lot that people were apprehensive. I could see that some people were standing off. I’ve had experiences going into shops and things where people would tell me knowing a kind of English, “not noise”, “no English, only German” and I’m trying to buy something. I think the second day I was in Germany, and I realized that I didn’t have a charger with a German plug, so I went to a phone shop.
I’m walking down the street, I’m thinking in English, thinking, this is not that different from England. Going to the shop, and hi, hello, can I have any? And he looked at me funny and I realized, Oh, yeah, I’m not an English anymore. They don’t speak English. I think maybe he understands a bit of English, so, yeah, do you have a charger and he’s looking at me like I’m an alien. I’m thinking, okay, it’s strange, because I’ve been on holiday to Spain and France and places and they always speak English. I’m a tourist, but I’ve never lived anywhere else. Yeah. So, you know, I’m from the most multicultural place in the world. So I’ve experienced other languages, but people are often open to try. You know, if I meet someone that’s speaking Russian, I don’t know any Russian so it’s different.
But typically, people from completely different ends of the world meet, they try to meet in the middle somewhere, and that’s my experience. What I found, when you live somewhere else is that there isn’t that compromise so much, especially in places where it’s a different culture. So, I felt in that moment that I could compromise my way through situations, and I could speak slowly and clearly and maybe he’d get me and if not, I could just point at the charger, and they pay for it but even pointing a charger he refused to get it unless I said it in German.
That didn’t dishearten me. I didn’t go home crying my eyes out. I took it for what it is and continued about my business. Yeah, if I could say it in German, I would have said it, but I couldn’t. Now I could. But at the time, I couldn’t so it didn’t bother me.
So I would meet more people and you asked how did I meet them? Well, really, I observed people. I didn’t see many people happy walking around doing their work in coffee shops. It just struck me as something was different, and I would actually go up to people when I felt it appropriate. I reached out to people online on digital forums like Facebook, Twitter, and Google plus at the time, and in person. And, certain meetups and groups, and reach out to people and just work very hard to get myself into groups. I would just say, okay, “Hi, I’m Alex. I’m from England. I don’t speak German”, and I’d lay my cards on the table.
What happens is, when you’re in the right group, and you can identify with people or they can identify with you, some of those barriers that people have up, come down a lot. What I found is it’s not a question of language barrier. I’m sure if I said can I have a charger? If he was more open minded he would have helped. If you work with electronics in a big branded shop, you probably know what charger is, you know. If he didn’t know, I would have said power, and it’s the same in German.
The thing is, that guy at that point was a bit close to what I represented to him. I found communities that were more open, and I was able to go in, and we had a common interest, and we built from there. So, that’s how I really got into these circles. I found people with common interests, with common problems, and coming from where I came from, I had a solution or an idea. And you know, some of the people who, for example, didn’t have people to encourage them, they had a business model. They had an idea. They had investment, but their friends and family were telling them it’s tricky. It’s risky. You shouldn’t do it. It doesn’t matter how good your plan is, it’s not going to work. Listen. Look at this data. Look at these statistics. Yeah, 90% of people fail, whatever it may be, and sometimes those people just need someone to say you can do it.
Željko Crnjaković 11:21
You said you went to a lot of meetups. How did it work? How were they organized? Did you organize them? So, at the time when you opened up space, the second space in Hamburg. It’s not a big booming coworking scene? Where did all of these cultures of meetups and getting together come from?
Alex Ahom 11:45
So, I do have to say on that part, German’s could be one of the leaders in these meetups. So it wasn’t a meetup in the sense of like, from meetup.com. Germans meet up for discussions all the time. There are many groups and associations for every activity. If you go past the town hall or some kind of space, just next to me where I live, there is a meeting room and it’s busy three times a week with three different running groups. So that people meet up to talk about their run.
So, of course in London, I wasn’t aware of that. People just go running in, but there’s a group that meets three times a week to discuss the latest technologies in running their techniques, how people are running. “Okay, Mateus you were running a bit slow this week”, whatever it may be, how can we help you to run faster next week? So it’s different.
So people do, in some circles, meet up and discuss things. I’ve met people in some of these halls in coffee shops, even in a train station sometimes. And again, to me, I could see a problem there in the train stations and coffee shops, it was very noisy. There were lots of distractions, and I would say to people, maybe this isn’t the best place to have the meeting, and they would say, well, it isn’t, but hey, there’s no other alternative.
This got me thinking, there should be another alternative. There should be a place we could get support. There should be a place where people are encouraged to collaborate and communicate better and more effectively. That kind of idea started to snowball from there for me, and I was building these relationships and being a part of certain communities.
I started to reach out to other ones, as I realized I was being part of certain groups. I reached out to tech groups and other groups to kind of say, I have a hunch that you guys might not be happy with the working conditions here or you don’t have a place to do this or place to meet up to do your tech talks. Do you think that it’d be good for you to be part of a group or community that could give you that space? So, it kind of snowballed into that.
Željko Crnjaković 14:01
Getting near to the decision to open up a coworking space. How did that decision form, coming from a place that you weren’t involved with any other coworking? What was the scene in London? So were you visiting coworking spaces, did you have any contact or friends with the ecosystem in that? And what made you think that the coworking space like, quote, unquote, is the right model for what you had in mind?
Alex Ahom 14:36
So I don’t think there was ever a silver bullet or a solution for everything. That part was organic. You know, I met people who I knew needed a solution to a common problem. For me, it was obvious there was a common problem here, but then they didn’t see it. It was just the way it is, and there’s nothing we can do, and I confronted that idea. I saw that we had to do something and I’m someone who wants to take action. I met people who said, “maybe there could be a solution like this or like that, but hopefully someone will do it at some time”. I had these thoughts again and again, that I am someone who wants to take action.
Željko Crnjaković 15:16
How did you come about to the coworking model? Because you are not from the coworking world.
Alex Ahom 15:26
So just from these conversations that I was having with people, it became clear to me that there should be a solution. I just thought to myself long and hard about what that solution would look like. And to me, it looked like an open, friendly atmosphere, not just not necessarily a place but an experience that would be welcoming to these kind of creative people, these kind of entrepreneurs, men and women, because it seemed to me a very masculine environment, and I felt that there were, of course, many women who would suffer from this problem. And you know, and my mom talks a lot about women in business, my sister was a woman in business, my Aunties as well.
So, the diversity and inclusion element came into play as well. So it just started to dawn on me that there may be an environment, and that idea changed into a physical space where we would be open to these kinds of people, and they would have the platform to turn their dreams into a successful professional or personal reality.
Željko Crnjaković 16:37
So how did the dream become a reality? For a lot of people, it doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes, finding a place and, just sorting everything out. So, was it a personal investment? Did you go out find investors? What did you do? Did the community help?
Alex Ahom 16:59
After the realization, that I should do something. It was first “ someone should do something” then it was like, okay, well look around and there’s no one else. I should do something. I spoke to some family and friends. And on these telephone calls long conversations on the phone, it happened, like we say in coworking where people work at home often, and they have their ideas and they’re at home. They’re alone with the ideas and it’s going nowhere fast. When you join a coworking space, of course, you can bounce ideas off people, and then you can really get to a conclusion quicker.
So that’s what happened to me. I was home with my idea thinking about it, and then when I did get the courage, I guess, or the idea to call some family and friends to tell them about this idea I’ve been having, some of them said, think of it in this way, or you should do it like this or you could do it like that. That made me realign and readjust my thoughts and it brought my vision that which was blurry into more focus.
I realized, okay, this is a physical space with open space for this, and closed space for that, and event space, and all this stuff and cafe and it became super focused.
I explained this to my cousin and he was like, okay, so when are you opening? I was like no, I’m going do it one day, but it’s not for now. I’m not ready to do it now. I’m just a solo guy in a new country, who doesn’t speak the language, and he said, but that hasn’t stopped the most adventurous people before. Not having the resources doesn’t stop the most adventurous people and you are an adventurous person. You are someone who takes risks and, and you have this passion.
You know, just do it. It’s not as easy as just doing it. And he was like, it’s late now, go to sleep. Sleep on it, but tomorrow, tell me a reason why you shouldn’t do it. Tell me a reason. Convince me why you shouldn’t do it. And if you can’t convince me, you should do it immediately.
So in the morning, of course, I couldn’t think of many reasons why I shouldn’t do it. Not having money. It was like what? find money! He said people with less privileged backgrounds – and we don’t have a privileged background- but people in poorer countries, in poorer continents, in the middle of nowhere have started businesses. If they can do it, so can you. And that’s true, so I couldn’t convince him for a reason why I shouldn’t do it. From that moment, I committed to it. In my mind, I committed to it and said to myself, I’m going to do it by any means necessary. Yeah, I’m going to do it. So, I started to write down the idea into the form of what became a business plan. That was the first step really. To commit to it was the first step. Second step was to do a business plan, and then I started thinking about, as you said, money, things like that, which was the next step.
Željko Crnjaković 20:02
Yeah. So basically kudos to cousin because your coworking space wouldn’t be there without him. And some say some good insight. Okay, so the space opened and it’s been running for five years. What did you notice in the sense of, you kind of went through the textbook; build the community, open up a space, fill the need for that community and then continue building into nurturing it. So when you open up a space, what are what were the main, I’m going to say differences between the vision and the reality for you? So what are the main difficulties that you came across and that you needed to overcome that you didn’t foresee?
Alex Ahom 20:52
This is a great question. There are many differences between what is fantasy and what is reality. I would say to any listener who’s starting or started thinking of starting, that it is never easy. It isn’t easy. Don’t be fooled. Don’t fool yourself thinking it will be easy. There’s a lot of fooling going around going on in the beginning, you have an idea! Once you’re convinced of it, you’re convinced. So you do your business plan, which tells you of course, if it’s going to be successful. Many people listening and who have started the business will put what they feel and what they think into their plan. It’s not necessarily always based on complete empirical data. There’s lots of feeling and emotion going into it, which is normal. You know, but you write your plan to suit your vision. Whatever the data is, whatever it is; 90% of start-ups fail or businesses fail it within seven years, whatever it may be. None of those 90% that fail, none of them in their plan said they were going to fail.
They’re also going to be successful. And there’s data in there to support, they’re going to be successful. They’re all wrong. So, what happens is, you do research that that supports your idea. I would say to answer the question, what is different in reality to the fantasy? it’s very deep. It’s very specific to my situation. But I could see there was a need, there was a market, there is a market.
I researched, how long on average it takes for new ideas to grow in a new market? So let’s say it was three years, because it will take me three years, you know, how long if a space is to be profitable in five years? How long does it take for them to first break even? And it was month 21 or whatever. So you say month 21 I’m going to break even. I did research into the start-up scene and how it would grow, and how many big players meeting were there. And it was similar to certain start-up cities. So then I would mirror what’s happened there onto my city.
These are all proven and intelligent things to do. You can’t predict the future. So the bottom line is that I predicted the market would grow a certain way, in a certain period of time, and based on what has happened in similar cities, but every city is different. So the main thing is that I predicted that the coworking market would grow a certain level based on some real things. But every city is different. So, Hamburg is a city with a start-up scene. It’s not comparable to Berlin, even though Berlin is maybe one and a half hours down the road. But because it’s so close, many start-ups go straight to Berlin and when you have some success in Hamburg you move to Berlin.
There are many companies in Hamburg or the region that want to grow to be big companies in Hamburg, but sometimes CEOs change or whatever and business plans change, and that doesn’t happen. So I had a number of 124 top companies that I researched were going to grow in Hamburg near where I found a space. And I calculated that this big start-up is going to hire 400 people, that’s going to have an impact on the start-up scene in my place. And that was in the news. That was research, I found that these top companies were going to grow in my area. What happened was, yeah, a couple of those plans didn’t come through, and therefore that impacted the growth of the markets in my industry, which I couldn’t have foreseen. So you have to be vigilant and you have to really look closely at what do you predict, because most of what you predict is not going to happen.
Željko Crnjaković 25:00
Yeah, exactly. Now, what about the small things? Were you able to predict the immediate entrance of your users?
Željko Crnjaković 25:41
What about the small things? So, were you able to predict the number of users that’s immediately going to enter the space, the interaction between those users and you know, the everyday office management and stuff like that? Were there any difficulties there from the model? And I’m asking you this because you’re the first one who had that vision completely. The process of the community building the vision, the decision of going to work in the coworking and opening up the space. Most people just open and see what happens, or came from a very bigger need or investment, and stuff like that.
Alex Ahom 26:26
So the vision was set, once it came into focus, the vision was super clear. And I don’t meet many people who have such a clear vision, the vision was clear. And that’s a good thing.
I would encourage everyone to be super clear on your own vision of how you want your business to be. We were able attract to more community, more customers, more users, because people knew exactly what they were getting into. And they could see it when they entered, and they could hear it in my voice. They could see the authenticity in what I was offering them. In terms of predicting the small things. I didn’t try to predict how many people would engage with one another. I did have an idea. Again, fantasy versus reality. I did know that the top spaces that I had visited during my research period, there was lots of collaboration and community going on.
So, I would visit some spaces, and people were working together, talking together, high fiving, hugging, all this stuff. So I could see that that was something that I felt was important. And I wanted to I predicted that I would be able to do that. That’s one thing I predicted that should happen. Yeah, in my space, it would be open and free and comfortable and people will be hugging and high fiving whatever. The reality was, that that personal connection between people, that physical hug and stuff that, for some regions in the world is not a done thing. Yeah, yeah, in California, in America and in England in Benelux people much more readily hug, and kiss, and high five and have contact, call each other by their first names, than in other countries. In some countries, there is a bit more of a distance in a professional setting.
I couldn’t predict how formal some people would be even for a start-up entrepreneurial ecosystem. People inherently, in my part of Germany, are a bit more formal than I am used to. So yes, I did put myself into it and say, well, if I see someone on the train every day, for a few days, I would give them a nod and then maybe start talking to them. There are other people who see people on the train for the same day, at the same time every morning for years and you never make eye contact. So there are differences and I did feel that it would be easier to motivate people to get that personal connection and maybe go for drinks and meet on the weekend away from my place. The reality is, you cannot always bring in those expectations into the real world.
Željko Crnjaković 29:07
What is the future of coworking? Today is 2019 in Coworking Europe? And we’ve been seeing a lot of very different models. So from rural, to corporate to, you know, multi places, like franchises, to individuals with four seats, and stuff like that. So where’s coworking going in your opinion?
Alex Ahom 29:33
So I must say I do a lot of thinking. I did a lot of research and thinking, before and during and I’ve closed my space recently, I’m still thinking I’m very much involved in the industry. I don’t think that what I believe has changed so much, to be honest. People still do need a place they feel comfortable working. They still need a place that they feel they can express themself and there are many more spaces today than there were five or seven years ago. Some of them are in major metropolitan central business districts, and those ultimately will be filled by companies that can afford them. Companies who see themselves there long term. There will be a growth in spaces, in and outside of the central business district.
My Space was outside of the central business district. It was up and coming and becoming the next cool place. The place that will be cool in five years. That the place that will be a tech hub in five years. I anticipated that would be in three or four years. It’s been five years now and the discussion is that in two or three years’ time it will be so. It’s taken longer than I thought, but I’m pretty sure that coworking will move out of the center of town. You know, independent, value driven people. Central oworking will move out of the center of town for many reasons. Of course, in the center, it’s very expensive.
The reason why I chose to be out of the center is because I know, data shows, that people don’t want to ultimately commute for so long. They want for their workplace to be a solution. Not a problem. Yeah, and it’s a problem if you have a kid, and kindergarten calls to say your kid’s had a bash on the nose, come and get your kid. If you have to leave work and it takes you an hour to get there, that’s a problem. And if it’s a nice day and you want to go for a run around the river or whatever, or go for a walk with your partner, if it takes you an hour to get home or more, and then it’s dark by that time, your quality of life is impacted by that. Yeah, so could what would happen if your job that you liked was closer to home, and when you have more options, more flexibility for where you can work, you can choose an office closer to your gym, closer to your facourite restaurant, closer to your university, closer to your kindergarten, closer to your home.
People, given the choice, tend not to want to spend two hours or three hours per day on the bus or the train or in the car. Yeah, you might want to read an article on the way to work- not a book- So, I think the future is definitely more flexibility in the industry. More spaces that are people centric, again, I think it’s a cycle. More diversity.
Željko Crnjaković 32:36
You closed your space recently. It was a decision made by, not yourself, but because of the lack of the growth as you said, so the prediction of growth? Where is Alex in the next five years, do you see yourself back in coworking in a different setting? Do you see yourself as a consultant, or are you going out of your comfort zone again and looking to something new?
Alex Ahom 33:07
Yeah, I’m not afraid of the future. I’m optimistic. As you said, I found a new place where I’ve been active in five years. So am I afraid to try something new? No. I do love what I do, what I’ve been doing for the last five years, and I’m happy. I’m able to share the stories and my learnings and experiences with other people. So I do that with newbies. I do that with people who are getting a three to five year problem patch. So I like to help others. It has come in also in the form of consulting I’ve consulted a couple of big brands, international companies, on whether it be getting into coworking, changing their office design, improving the working culture in their business, getting people to be more creative and openminded
So I’ve come into town to kind of create that conversation and give tips. I really do feel the world is my oyster at the moment, I’m not going to take a rest. And I’ve just written a blog about that. I do a blog for Adidas, and I’ve written a blog for them about and the community that reads about the importance of rest and recovery.
I think that there are lots of similarities between start-up entrepreneurial life and sports people. A lot of sports people will work really hard in the morning or at training, and then they go home and sleep or rest. And they work really hard for the full season physically, lots of running and working out. When it’s offseason, when it’s the summer, for example, you see them and they have the money, of course, but they go on a bunch of holidays. It’s not to show off to us and make us jealous, it’s because their mind is switched on to work at such a high level during the season and they’re conditioned to switch off completely and do the opposite in the offseason.
We don’t do that. We work so hard, overload 24/7, 365. If we have a holiday, we’re checking work emails, even if we don’t, we’re worried about what happens when we go back. My piece, everyone should read it. I posted on LinkedIn. So you could find it on my LinkedIn profile. The blog is called game plan. If you don’t find my LinkedIn profile, but Game Plan A, you’ll find it there on the blog.
My plan now is set to take a bit of a rest. I’ve been working 60,70, sometimes 80 hour weeks for years, and it’s important that I take a rest. Think about what I’ve done right, what I’ve done, what I could have done better. What I’ll do next. Add some job offers over the years, and I’ll go back to them to see if positions still open. Probably not anymore, but let’s see. I just want to take a rest maybe see the family a bit more than I’ve been doing. Help out around the house a bit more
Željko Crnjaković 36:13
I wanted to ask with 80 hour work weeks? Did your wife ever get to see level management?
Alex Ahom 36:25
So my wife is doing well in her career. She’s a Global Marketing Director for a really big company. To be honest again, you don’t want to sacrifice yourself and your family for success, because in the end, it isn’t. It’s not ultimately worth it. There is a bit of selfishness in it, even though I want to be successful. To me success is really about supporting other people. It’s about seeing other people thrive. You know, if I get rich myself, I won’t be happy. I’d really love to be able to sit back and say, I have made X amount of people rich through my support for their health for example, I’m talking not only about money, but we’re talking about money. Some people just want to be rich. I would love to see my community for example, rich, of course and happy. I would love to see other people get that. So that’s what would make me happy.
If I get that by forsaking my own family and not doing anything around the house, and not seeing my kids grow up, ultimately, I will probably regret that. So I would say to people, value your family. Value your own health. And again, maybe an exclusive as well, I’ve a health scare earlier in the year, that people don’t talk about enough. People don’t talk about their health, and people are embarrassed. I think people Don’t want to admit they’re mortal or human, and I have to tell people, and in my case, I think it’s quite relatable. I worked very hard, very long hours, put everything into it. I didn’t have any financial support, any partners. It was a one man band. So I was doing a lot. And I got comfortable in the comfort zone by doing a lot. It was normal for me to get in early, leave late, go home, eat something, and then go back to work on my laptop and fall asleep on my laptop at two or three in the morning. That was normal for me, because I’m working hard to make it one day. And I meet people who have burnouts and stress, and I don’t necessarily identify with them. Yeah, I feel that I could do whatever it takes. However long it takes them, wherever it physically takes, I can do it, and I wholeheartedly believe that. So what I mean by all of this is that I didn’t feel stressed. I didn’t feel that.
Maybe, by the time you listen to this, I’ve had a burnout. But I don’t feel I will have a burnout. I feel I deal with all this pressure really well. My wife is not into start-ups, she’s not supportive of this kind of stuff. She would love for me to have a steady job that brings in a certain amount of money, and I can get home at four or five and six, and do this in the house and, and that’s not what’s happens.
So there’s a bit of friction and tension at home, which also, people don’t talk about. My point is that I don’t feel stressed. I don’t feel that there’s pressure I can’t handle. I feel I can go on forever, and then something happened. I woke up in a hospital bed, thinking, where am I? Why am I here? and they said “you’ve had an episode. You blacked out” that was a shock, you know. I was with my kids in a public place. You know, they didn’t know what to do.
I woke up and didn’t have any recollection of who they are, I wasn’t aware of who I am or what I’m doing. Now, it took about an hour or so for me to regain my senses, and my point is to make it clear; someone who doesn’t feel stress, who feels fine at work, who’s at ease with going to bed really late, waking up early, who is moderately healthy. I didn’t have the emotional signs of being stressed or under pressure or burnouts, I didn’t. The day before I felt fine. Felt normal. The doctors feel that it might be stress related in the beginning. But in the end, they said it was just lack of sleep.
They feel that the tests of the stress were all clear, and it was just a matter of lack of sleep. But the point I’m making to everyone, is to look after yourself and your health, because even if you feel you’re doing well, feeling fine, that you never know what’s really happening inside. So Look after yourselves. Look after your family because your family and friends and your own health is really important
Željko Crnjaković 41:15
Alex, I feel like you just scared me, you know, I identified very much with this. Thank you so much for being on the podcast of the Coworking Values.
Alex Ahom 41:25
Thank you for having me.
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