Social media entrepreneur Ahmad Imam shares his secrets on how to differentiate yourself.
They say branding is the art of differentiation, and in today’s digital and saturated landscape, it’s an absolute necessity for both business brands and personal brands.
Ahmad Imam started from humble beginnings, but the constant honing and sharpening of skills throughout his life helped him stand strong and be the enterprising man he is today.
Imam has a history of hardships – the family struggling after immigrating from Egypt to Australia, being bullied for looking different, debilitating self-esteem, and the struggle to balance 3 jobs at the same time, one of them being a dishwasher, while studying full time at university.
Any ordinary man would have lost hope and given up, but this was not the case with Ahmad Imam. His boss at one of his jobs was a serial entrepreneur and saw something in Imam that Imam did not see in himself. This belief and confidence given to Imam, not only surprised him but kept the young Imam motivated, inspired, and optimistic about the future.
Having a passion for presenting, speaking, and creativity from a very tender age, Imam channelled these once-buried talents and made his entrance into the overwhelming world of social media. With the help of a Tony Robbins CD set, as well as one of his favourite books ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho, Imam was empowered to begin his own journey to build his confidence and courage
A new era emerged for Imam as he stepped into the growing sales industry – where he found his true calling. The true calling was not sales, but sales certainly helped to facilitate the calling. It was the art of influence, inspiring others, communicating with confidence, and embracing his passion for presenting that were all expressed in the form of a salesman.
It was a swift climb up this ladder due to his natural vigour. From a call centre representative, to a sales executive, to a sales manager, Imam finally climbed his way up to becoming the director of one of Australia’s largest property consultancies. A 15-year journey of honing and mastering his craft.,
October of 2018, however, was the turning point in Ahmad Imam’s life when he finally created his now infamous LinkedIn account. With no aim of hitting it big, and definitely no intention of becoming a global influencer, but rather just to establish business connections like every other professional on the platform.
Seeing nothing but boring, repetitive, and corporate messaging on the platform, Imam quickly noticed there was a large gap and a clear way to differentiate himself. Rather than showing up on the platform with a professional work persona, Imam showed up as a relatable human being, sharing what he called ‘Edutainment’ which as Imam describes is a way to “educate people in an entertaining way.”
Imam experimented with different pieces of creative content to stand out in the cluttered feed, he shared personal and vulnerable stories, disruptive topics, entertaining rap videos, humorous and uplifting messages, and showed up daily as a human being as opposed to a stiff corporate character.
Within months, Imam went viral and started getting approached for interviews, appearances on podcasts, speaking arrangements, invitations as a special guest at various events, and his following began to grow exponentially. Thus, newfound confidence and courage was manifested, helping Imam overcome numerous self-limiting beliefs and obstacles.
This story may be inspiring to some and enough to give them a boost to do more in life; however, this talented young man provides more insight into his success and how one can down differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd:
- Embrace Your Gift
Ahmad Imam found his passion presenting, creativity, and speaking at a very young age which he honed through the years. It is essential not to follow the masses but rather stay true to yourself, and those that resonate with you will gravitate towards you. People often tend to force themselves into an activity because that is what is expected of them – instead follow your heart and intuition, take time to discover yourself, self-reflect, and most importantly, enjoy the journey.
- Done Is Better Than Perfect
“No one cares about what you look like, what you sound like, how you’re dressed. What they do care about is your message and how you deliver that message,” says Ahmad Imam. Just like all of us, Imam had his share of insecurities. Before putting out content, there was a vigorous recording and re-recording process to reach perfection due to his fear of how he might be perceived. He recalls his first piece of video content was a 47-second video that took him one hour to record, until he came to the realisation that done is better than perfect. One needs to overcome the crippling feelings of doubt and take a leap of faith. As Imam reinforces “we were born to be real, not perfect.”
- Stop Comparing Yourself to others
Every individual has their own unique talents and skillsets, and some have been working on those talents far longer than you have. Imam cleverly articulated “do not compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 50”. Your gifts help you stand out from others, you simply need to accept them, embrace them, and work each day on simply being better than you were yesterday. So stand proud, and polish your skills rather than wasting your time making comparisons.
- Be Committed
There will be times when you feel like giving up – you might not be getting the desired results or perhaps receive criticism because you dare to be different. But Ahmad Imam says to not let that falter your progress. Trolls are part of the internet culture and will always try to bring you down. Why? Because your success will trigger their insecurities and remind them of their own lack of progress. We all tend to focus on that one negative comment amongst the hundreds of positive ones. Focus on how people appreciate you, the empowering and encouraging feedback, and use that as fuel to keep going.
Imam has personally used this very advice to realise his potential. He has since been named the International Influencer of the year 2022, was appointed as the ambassador to the Royal Office of UAE; and is a renowned presenter, host, and content creator.
Imam used to be ashamed of the fact that he was different, in fact he attempted to fit in for many years in order not to be judged.
Until he came to the realisation that being different was what made him unique.
You shouldn’t be afraid of being different. You should be afraid of being the same as everyone else.
As Imam states “Embrace all that you are and protect it. Because being different is your greatest superpower.”