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Alpha Hour

Alpha Hour with Ahmed Ben Chaibah

By February 20, 2023May 10th, 2023No Comments
vVv Alpha Hour | Ahmed Ben Chaibah

Ahmed Ben Chaibah: Overcoming Obstacles to Build a Business Empire

February 8, 2023

Ahmed Ben Chaibah is a name that has become synonymous with entrepreneurial success in the UAE. As the owner of 34 beachfront water parks, his journey to success has been marked by constant struggles and failures. In an exclusive podcast with vVv CEO Sean Marcel, Ahmed opened up about his challenges in the early stages of his career, including a string of failed businesses. However, he persevered and eventually succeeded with AquaFun, a venture that has taken the UAE and the world by storm. Ahmed’s story is about resilience, determination, and the importance of taking action in the face of great adversity.

Below are select questions from the podcast that have been lightly edited for clarity. The full interview can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

Sean: Ahmed, can you introduce yourself?

Ahmed: Hi, I’m Ahmed Ben Chaibah from the UAE, and I was born in Dubai. I’m 41 years old. I know I look AMAZING, thank you! And I’m in the business of creating happy memories :). 

Sean: Not only are you a successful business person, but you also have a very interesting story about your success in crypto. Can you share some insights on your initial capital investment, ROI, and which crypto cycles you have participated in?

Ahmed: I was always fascinated with crypto, and it was an interesting idea, but I had no idea what to do with it. At the time, I was about to go and buy a house and had $200,000 for a down payment. I contacted one of my older real estate guru friends for his recommendations. At the time, I held the common mindset of saving money, investing in one’s future, and all this other nonsense. He asked me, “Can you pay rent?”  Yes, of course. I could pay rent for the next few years, not a problem. His response was, “Well, then go into crypto.” I was like “like, come on, man…” And he told me, “ I sold 90% of my assets, and I’m all-in on crypto.” Oh, that’s crazy! He told me to call this guy, and I then purchased some random coins like Ethereum, Bitcoin, BNB, and Uniswap. Month to month, these coins were going up and down, up and down and then I had doubled and tripled my initial input, lost all the winnings, and then back to the original input. I was freaking out, so I found a smart friend of mine who would trade for me. However, he had not made a single trade after holding my funds for two months. He apologized, and although he did not give me any help, he added me to this Telegram group. I was like, “A Telegram group?” He said, “Trust me. This is gonna be a big deal which I’ve prepared.” This Telegram group was comprised of only 44 anonymous members. And once a day, every day, at the same time in the morning, they would post one target coin. This daily target finished 40 minutes to an hour later, and then everyone would post their ridiculous winnings. And all these winnings had so many zeros. I was like, “what’s this?” It was the same on the second day, third day,..etc. And so one day I woke up and literally like a cowboy – without even thinking – I placed my entire $200,000 on one bet with 20x leverage. And then I just watch as the number goes up and up. 40 minutes later, target met: $2.4 million. And I’m freaking out, and I can’t tell anybody because nobody will believe me. So I call the guy who put me in the Telegram group and told him. He said, “yeah, that’s normal. There’s more. Keep doing it.” Normal? I just 10x my money! So the next day again, I bet everything like a cowboy. But I’m not crazy because I understood what time and money meant to me. I was very detached from the emotional attachment to money. Because I make the money, the money doesn’t make me. If I go broke today, I will become a millionaire again by the end of the year. So it’s very easy for me. It’s not, “Oh my god! My money!” No, you need to spend the money, to come back again and I did that for sixteen months, and we ended up with a good eight digits. This was all in the previous cycle, three or four o’clock in the morning; I suddenly awoke to this noise in my head, “Sell!” My intuition is strong because I don’t drink, smoke, or party. And this noise, “SELL! SELL!” And I woke up and sold everything which was 256,000 Ethereum. And then in less than 40 hours, it was a bloodbath; the market crashed 95%. And I was like, “What just happened?”

Sean: What are your expectations of the weekly workload? How many hours should a founder work per week?

Ahmed: You rest, you rust. It happens. Some days I do less. You know, some days, I’ll do more. But on average, I don’t mind doing 100 hours

Sean: What would be your advice to those people in the crypto space chasing the money and thinking, getting X amount of dollars is going to be the end all be all and that they are going to be forever happy?

Ahmed: Money is not the goal. And this comes from a guy who was bankrupt twice, so I know how it feels. Money is an amazing tool and the tool for freedom. It’s because people never get that much money. After all, again, their goal is money. If you think you’re gonna get a million, you’re gonna get a million. You’re going to be limited there. You will not get more, and you’ll lose it so fast. If you know how to sustain, because getting the money is easy, you know keeping it’s hard, and investing it is even harder. So these things you’re not taught in school or university. Nobody teaches these things. These are specific skills and information that are saved for very specific people. So unless you have this network of people that can teach you, improve you, and grow with you, you’re not gonna go anywhere. So your circle is a very, very important circle.

Money is not the goal. Money is an amazing tool and the tool for freedom.

Sean: Before aiming for money, should you focus on yourself internally and make sure to first establish character?

Ahmed: 100%. I went through so much tragedy and devastation, but I would never go back and change it. Because all the hell that I went through has made me unfuckable. For me, It’s very important to go through the entire process. It’s the process and not the ending.

Sean: But that’s the difference, right? You can go through the process, break and give up, or get through.

Ahmed: The genius thing is that I never quit, no matter how hard it gets. And let me tell you a very important part. If you understand the power of your words, you won’t say anything. If you understand the power of your thoughts, you won’t say anything. If you understand the power of your presence, you won’t be anywhere. Thus, I’m very selective about the words I say. You ask me, “how are you?” I’m phenomenal! I never say, “I’m good.” Instead, I say, “I’m phenomenal.” “I’m tremendous.” You hypnotize yourself towards that, and your thoughts are a vibration. These vibrations go up into the universe and return to you.

Sean: How do you curate your reality? It’s not just your own thoughts and your words. Is it also the people around you?

Ahmed: You have a choice. And it’s the power of the word NO. I say this all the time. I don’t allow clowns in my life and complain that my life is a circus. You have the power to say NO. You’re the CEO of your own life. You can fire people whenever you want to fire them; it’s not a charity.

Sean: What advice would you have for people not surrounded by the right friends? Do you recommend going through a temporary lone-wolf phase?

Ahmed: I always say stop measuring first. Stop calling first and see how fast people disappear from your life. Literally, for two months, don’t call or message anybody and see how fast they disappear. That’s number one. Again, you choose to go out and do dumb stuff or work on that side hustle. Don’t complain to me. For results to happen you need to put in the work. For instance, I’m overweight, and I want to have a six-pack. You need to diet, eat properly, and do the cardio. It’s a process for this to happen. You can’t just expect this to happen from nothing.

Sean: Would you say that you need to create substance within yourself before attracting the right people in your life?

Ahmed: It’s very interesting. It needs to be by choice. We all lie to ourselves. That lie is either going to take us up in life or down in life. So the issue is we always lie to ourselves: I’m bad; I’m not good; I’m aware enough. And whatever you say, you’re right. Okay then, let’s create a new lie. And this lie is: I’m amazing! Don’t say it once. You need to emphasize it every single day 25-100 times. Then that new lie becomes a maybe which then becomes a possibility and then your new reality. Simple behaviors that you have to understand to have the right habits. Again, it’s about discipline.

We all lie to ourselves. That lie is either going to take us up in life or down in life….Okay then, let's create a new lie. And this lie is: I’m amazing! Don't say it once. You need to emphasize it every single day

Sean: What’s the most powerful habit you have?

Ahmed: Never quitting. I don’t understand limitations. I don’t understand “No” or “I can’t”. What do you mean you don’t understand? There’s YouTube. There’s Google. There’s ChatGPT now. You can ask for and receive information. Don’t say, “I can’t try”. At least fail. I’ve failed hundreds of times. The number of fails the first few years is mind-boggling. But now we’re here.

I don't understand limitations. I don't understand "No" or "I can't."

Sean: What was your biggest failure? Were you ever at a point where you were close to giving up?

Ahmed: The option of giving up is always there, but it’s never a choice. I have had situations where everything was against me. I was always in debt. I was in legal cases. I was not operating. Everybody told me to leave it and get a job. I was like, no. Did I come all the way here to quit now? Hell no! I’m going to stand up to the storm. What is going to happen? This will only change me into a better or worse person. 

Sean: That’s a really important takeaway because many people try once, and then they become resentful.

Ahmed: Yes, I had that conversation with someone this morning, “I tried it once, and it didn’t work.” And I was like, “yeah, and did you get what you want?” “No.” So you continue going! You don’t start to get what you want. Because by the time you get what you want, you will have a new goal. Personally, I need to have goals that terrify me so I can be excited. Because it excites me,  “Oh, now I’m going to learn this new process again, and I need to grow into a new Ahmed to become this person to achieve this new goal.”

Personally, I need to have goals that terrify me so I can be excited.

Sean: How important was it for you personally, to have already had success before you made the money in crypto? In contrast, someone who has never had success in their life and then gets rich randomly.

Ahmed: Oh, that’s the worst thing. That’s the worst thing. I’ve seen a lot of guys who just got money quickly and skipped that character-building stage. They’re awkward people, and you can’t communicate with them. They have no network knowledge in life. They have no experience in life. But you need to put yourself in situations where you can learn more about life. Read if you want. I’m dyslexic so reading for me is hell. But I do something else that gives me a lot of knowledge, and I do other stuff, I meet a lot of amazing people just like yourself.

Sean: At what age did you make substantial money in business?

Ahmed: I started a business when I was 30. Being very competitive and performance-oriented, I was always a high performer at my jobs. For example, my target KPI for the year is 300 sales. I will accomplish this in the first quarter and then ask for a promotion, but the system rejected this. And I don’t want systems or to be controlled. Ultimately, they gave me a golden check to leave the company. Then I had a slipped disc loss and couldn’t walk. As I mentioned before, the thousands of people I considered my friends suddenly left me, which started my lone wolf stage and when I started my business.

Doctors told me that I could not stand for six months and I refused to believe that. I was a professional athlete and events manager for so many years, so I was not going to allow this to be my new reality. I started doing therapy for two months, but instead of the recommended two weekly sessions, I went four times a week. And instead of one-hour sessions, I put in three hours. And it was all tears and sweat, but within two months, I was walking.

And when launching my first business AquaFun, I was rejected 617 times. I opened a UAE map and went to every beachfront owner in the whole country. And every person said no.

Sean: And why did you pick water parks out of all the different businesses? 

Ahmed: I knew it was going to work. I saw it. I felt it. I heard the kids playing. I smelled the siren. I smelled the soul. But nobody could see it as I saw it. So I just continued at it. I remember one project that stopped me because I had made too much money and they wanted to renegotiate our contract. So I knew I was on the right path. I just had to figure out the right way to do it. It came together when I brought on the right team and advisors. 

Sean: That’s incredible. What is your upbringing? Before we started, you said you were an exception in your family. Why do you think you have been born with something special?

Ahmed: When I was 10, I had an uncle that came to my family, “Ahmed is going to do great things in life.” He said that and everyone resented it. Also, I was in seven deadly accidents where every passenger except myself in the car died. Seven accidents and each time, I walked away without injuries. Thus, I knew I was left on this earth for a purpose. Being performance-oriented, I thought outside the box and never cared about people’s opinions. I pursued whatever I was passionate about. People will judge me regardless, so I will do it anyway, and that’s what I did.

Sean: Do you also use the negativity around you as fuel to prove others wrong?

Ahmed: I love saying, “I told you so.” I say what I do; I do want I say. Confidence is nothing but your reputation, which means that your confidence increases if you execute. And if you continue like that, you become your potential. You have to have that belief, that energy, that value, that charisma of the hardcore believer: I am that person.

You have to have that belief, that energy, that value, that charisma of the hardcore believer: I am that person.

Sean: Do you believe in the dynamic energy of the universe where positive energy output is reciprocated?

Ahmed: Absolutely. Because as I said, like, from the beginning, I said, like your thoughts, your words, your thoughts, emotion becomes who you are, like I’m always feeling in abundance. I always feel that it will happen to me, no matter how bad things get. I don’t worry about it because God shows me a different way. And I’m very NPC; I don’t react to things anymore, which is very interesting. Now I’m like, nonchalant. Now it’s just understanding the data. What has happened? What’s the leverage? How we can use this?

Let’s not react emotionally to every situation. There is a solution for everything; every door has a key. When you understand that, then things become easy. In my opinion, some people hold strong beliefs but have always been failures. My question is then, why do you hold on to those beliefs? And why don’t you listen to someone who holds beliefs and has achieved success? Why don’t you adopt the beliefs which made someone successful? I’m not everybody’s cup of tea. I’m a big force of nature. I know I’m a tsunami. And it’s not easy for people to swallow. But I understand I’m not supposed to be liked or understood by everybody. And that’s totally cool with me. 

Sean: What do you still keep going when you’ve made all the money and become a man of substance? Most people have the dream of retiring, laying on the beach, and doing nothing for the rest of their life. 

Ahmed: That’s a very sad life. That doesn’t make sense to me. At a specific level, your entire lifestyle is covered for the next 50 years for you, your family, and the next generation. The rest is for helping others because you cannot help people with love, likes, comments, and shares. No, you need money to help others. You need a lot of money to change lives. That’s what I’m doing now. I help people start businesses, help charities, and help grow the new generation by teaching them the skill set to become better humans and support their families. That’s more important to me now.

You cannot help people with love, likes, comments, and shares. No, you need money to help others. You need a lot of money to change lives.

Sean: What do you think about the phrase, “you have to help yourself first before you can help others?”

Ahmed: The problem is always, “I need to support my family.” No, you need to support yourself first. Because you first need the proper routine before you can start to help others. You can’t be drowning and help other people. 

Sean: Would you say that being selfish temporarily and getting your life in order first is the right thing to do?

Ahmed: You need to think macro and act micro, understand the ultimate goal, and go at that one. And then this is the whole thing about like, the family values. Yeah, I understand. But sometimes you need to go ghost for 6, 8,10 months, 12 months, a year, wherever it is, takes you. Because that’s all the time you need. In 6-12 months, you can do a lot. You can change your life drastically. I went from five figures to eight figures in less than 18 months. And it was due to that pure purposeful intent to focus on my goal. It’s that urgency to achieve now, not tomorrow, not later.

Sean: How big is your close circle of friends? 

Ahmed: A couple of people. But they’re also on my payroll. If we’re not growing, learning, or making money? Then what the hell are we doing? Yeah, I don’t gossip. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t party. Oh, what do you do for fun? I ENJOY what I do. I don’t do things I don’t enjoy. I work with people that I love. I do things I enjoy, and I travel a lot. So again, it’s choices, and it’s a lot of disciplines.

Sean: Should we set goals that are bigger than our desired result?

Ahmed: Exactly. Set a 3-5 year goal and try to accomplish it in 6 months. Yes, you might not achieve it. But guess what? You could complete it in 1.5 years and cut off 3.5 years. So go at it! Go heavy! Don’t say, “Oh, we’ll do it slowly.” Again, everybody has a different level of tolerance to pain and pressure.

Sean: But you can also learn to tolerate more pain? Most people try once, fail, and are then afraid to try again. 

Ahmed: That is the reason why you need to train your body. Engaging in sports and working out at the gym is very important. It helps you understand how to read mental pain and push yourself. It increases your mental capacity to handle stress and tension in actual life.

Sean: You mentioned your Louis Vuitton bag earlier. Tell us the story behind it and its significance.

Ahmed: It started as a joke and became my trademark. I always carry this blue LV bag with half a million. And why not? Cash is King. You throw money at something, and it opens up doors quickly. What am I going to purchase? Well, I never know. I might need to fly out right now to another country for which I need cash. It’s a statement. Because most people have never seen more than $100,000 in cash. And for me, that’s a very quick filter. Because money changes people very quickly. Some people will change so fast that they’ll burn your house for money. I observe how they react and know if they are grounded or not.

Sean: Where does your love for people originate from? 

Ahmed: My love for people is just being genuinely kind. I’m genuinely interested in people. I’m genuinely happy to talk to people and hear their stories. I genuinely love supporting others as much as possible because I know what it is like to have that and understand how it feels to not have support because I never had any. I’m here to give. Let me give. That’s purely because I know how it feels.

Sean: And can you talk a little bit about the positive impact you want on the world such as your philanthropic efforts?

Ahmed: I don’t want to be noticed. I want to be remembered. And you will be remembered not by the things you own but by the smiles and joy you put on people’s faces. How do I achieve that most positively? Well, usually food, water, education, and housing for orphans. I focus on supporting the most orphans. How do I educate orphans? How do I build wells? How do I build houses? For me, that’s the long-term goal; my legacy.  I don’t even show off anything on my social media. Yes, it’s nice to have, but it’s not the energy I want to attract. Also, I don’t want to share my charity work because I don’t want to be questioned by God if I’m showing off. However, I want to lead by example. I’m doing this, and perhaps you want to do this with me?

I want to be remembered. And you will be remembered not by the things you own but by the smiles and joy you put on people’s faces.

Sean: But respecting each other doesn’t mean that you tolerate everything?

Ahmed: Again, you don’t have to put your opinion on my life. If you want to do something, don’t pressure me into believing. You be you, and I’ll be me. You do not need to insist that there is only one way to do something. It’s a choice. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? 1+1 = 11. Okay, sure. I don’t agree with you but let it be. Because I’m not going argue with somebody inferior to me who doesn’t have the same life experience or enough failures to learn what is wrong.

Sean: How do you find and attract the right people?

Ahmed: You will find these men by putting yourself in the right places. Places where money is, where gyms are, and where the specific levels of people you want to be with congregate. If you want to know about money, you see where people with money meet and go meet them. You sit down, absorb, learn, grow, and become worthy so that you can add value to them and become part of their equation.

Sean: Many community members tell me they are waiting for the right moment until they have made X amount of money to quit their jobs. 

Ahmed: I understand that, but I don’t want to look back in 10 years and say, “I wish I pushed harder.” As a human, experiences shape us. Something good is wonderful; if it’s bad, it’s a lesson experience, and it only becomes a loss when you stop trying. You had the chance and never achieved it, and that regret will eat you; I wish I did. Guess what? It’s gone. Yeah, you missed it. When the opportunity comes, just do it. What’s the worst-case scenario? You fail. So what? You lose. So what? Keep going! Money? You make the money; money does not make you. And when you look at things this way, “Oh, maybe I will fail?” Well, maybe you will succeed. Wow, I never thought about that!

When the opportunity comes, just do it. What's the worst-case scenario? You fail. So what? You lose. So what? Keep going! Money? You make the money; money does not make you. And when you look at things this way, “Oh, maybe I will fail?” Well, maybe you will succeed.

Sean: And should you be willing to go through the mud?

Ahmed: Yes. I went through so much shit in my life. Metaphorically, all this fertilizer that covered the hell out of me, has made me a much bigger tree. And now I can stand tall, and we are standing tall. When I look back at my story, I will never change anything because it has made me who I am today. And I don’t want to be anything else but this. That’s why I don’t have these psychiatric problems of anxiety and depression. That’s a result of a lack of acceptance. I accept and understand what has happened and will happen to me. And that’s why I’m very free, relaxed, and anti-stressed. Depression is a luxury. I don’t have time to be depressed. I had to get shit done. I had to go through this and get it done. I didn’t have time to be sad. I had to pay bills, and I had to survive to continue going on.

Sean: But it also comes down to framing. It’s not what happens but rather how you perceive it that truly matters. For instance, some people may view a new opportunity as a negative.

Ahmed: It’s extremely important to look at things and understand what happened and that you cannot change them. Accept and understand what happened. Then learn from it and how you can be a better person. That’s it. 

Sean: I can tell you what you did for me. I always have a fire burning inside of me but you came and poured a lot of fuel on that fire.

Ahmed: When I see you, I want to see a volcano. I wanted to see you talking about all these things. I want to see you 10x stuff. Because what you’re doing is genius. Number one, you connect with people that can move things with you. You can call me, “bro, I got this. Can we do this together?” Guess what? Because we spoke for two hours, now I know you know me. We can do this. Secondly, you add this value to other people. So we added these two things together in the same process. You are learning so much as a person. The number of books you skipped reading because you are meeting people like myself is beautiful. I do the same thing daily at my house but without the cameras.

Sean: To be honest, my life changed and improved exponentially just by meeting people who inspire me. I’ve never met someone who was below me. All the people have some areas of expertise where they’re far ahead of me. I see them and feel that I have to catch up. I want to always be surrounded by people who intimidate me. That’s the only way.

Ahmed: Yes, that’s a very good space to be in. Because if you walk into a room and you’re the smartest person, it will be a very bad room. You need to be in a room where it’s, “How do I even bring value?” And that’s the challenge; that fire that keeps you going is beautiful. It’s the best thing ever. I can’t see life any other way. 

Sean: That’s an amazing closing statement. Thank you so much for coming today.

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