I have owned more than a dozen profitable businesses in the development of my career. I have even owned several that were not profitable. All required planning; at least I assumed that to be the case. And in every instance I worked very long hours during the birthing of a business; always, the first pieces of furniture in that office or in that retail store would be a screen (unless there was more than one room) and a cot. There I would sleep a few hours at night and use the other eighteen hours to carve out a workspace, type and mail press releases, arrange for advertising and to call upon every other business in the immediate community, personally inviting the management and their employees for the pre-planned grand opening. I’d do these things until prevented from doing so by the arrival of my first customer, client or curiosity seeker.
In 1977 I would learn of another approach to building a business relationship with my public.
I had met Kamal Amin early in this particular year and we rapidly became friends. We knew many of the same people, traveled in the same circles; he even leased an apartment near mine and we often had morning coffee together or afternoon tea. Kamal told me one day that he was ready to leave Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship and was prepared to greet the world as an self employed Architect, apparently oblivious of empty pockets, and prepared to do great things.
Kamal had bought an inexpensive automobile from the back lot of a new car dealership owned by a mutual friend. This particular back lot was where the unsalable trade-ins sat until they were sold to smaller dealers like Honest John’s Miracle Car Lot.(“ If it run’s it’s a miracle”) Honest John had apparently left this car to be the first of several miracles that would engage my new friend in the fruits of future labors.
What funds were left after leasing the apartment and buying this recently abandoned relic from the streets of Scottsdale, were used to rent a corner in a friend’s office furnished only with a chair, a desk and a phone. Every day Kamal Amin dressed himself in a conservative Washington DC suit. Every day Kamal Amin sat at his desk. Kamal Amin sat at this desk for two weeks, waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more.
Until today I had never known of anyone taking such an approach to business success. And on this very day I borrowed from The Scottsdale Civic Center Library, a book written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson called REWORK which details a rationale describing this very same approach to earning one’s daily bread, an approach which has for more than three decades been the secret of success to one of this world’s greatest designers of personal and corporate spaces, a man whose work is known in his profession worldwide, Kamal Amin, the mild-mannered Architect from Fountain Hills, from Scottsdale and from Cairo a man who on paper at least, can move mountains.
The evidence of the success of Kamal Amin’s attitude toward the manifestation of more than two decades of training bore fruit one morning as the phone rang with an invitation to bid on a job in the Texas Hill Country, The next day Kamal flew to Texas to meet with a member of the Hunt family. Mr. Amin has been busy developing his career ever since. Never to my knowledge has he planned a thing. Kamal Amin’s life appears to have been one glorious surprise after another. And though I have not learned as much from Kamal Amin as did he from Mr. Wright, I feel as though I have learned much more.
Today, two old men begin new careers. Each of us, Kamal Amin and Lee Broom spend most of our time writing. Kamal has three books published. I have two completes and five in progress, none of them published. Oddly enough my first business was a publishing company.
Kamal Amin’s life challenges are described in Reflections from the Shining Brow. His essays and musings are sprinkled throughout the pages of his second book entitled Excursions. Tomorrow I will publish a letter I wrote to Kamal expressing my reaction to his latest book, a work which uses the lives of three fictitious Egyptian women whose stories chronicle the history of their Country. I was captivated by these three WOMEN OF THE NILE. I learned more about Egyptian society in four hours than I have in a lifetime.