We all face some level of adversity at different points in our lives, but it’s what we do in those difficult situations that can change the direction of how our life turns out. Sam Mohamad Khalef’s journey involves coming from an underprivileged background with many hardships to building a multi-million dollar international company in such a short amount of time primarily by himself. How did he do it? Now at 32 years old, Khalef shares his journey to success and we’ll see what life lessons, inspiration and wisdom we can gain from his story.
Khalef is the founder and director of MYBOS: Powerfully Simple. MYBOS stands for MY Building Operating System. MYBOS is a powerful, extendable, scalable cloud-based building management platform for Managers, Owners and Tenants in Multi-Occupancy Buildings.
Born in Lebanon, and coming to Australia at the age of 5, Khalef entered the workforce at the age of 12 and under unfortunate circumstances, he left home in his teens. Khalef spent most of his time at a youth centre where he met a lifelong friend, Omar, with who a decade later together he developed the idea of a building management software.
Living in housing commission and paying rent in his teens, Khalef worked as a cleaner, labourer, security officer and courier for a number of years.
Khalef did not have the opportunity to attend university and instead got straight into work.
Working multiple jobs, without a stable and comfortable home environment, Khalef developed a sense of discipline and knew the value of hard work.
With 6 of his friends from the youth centre, Khalef got his first taste of business when he was a part of starting a manufacturing company that eventually failed.
“When I look back, I realised there were just too many people involved,” said Khalef.
It was this experience that taught Khalef that for a business to succeed, having too many voices up the top without solid vision, will divide the business. Which explains why Khalef tends to operate best on his own with a clear idea of what he wants to achieve long term.
At age 21, Khalef started a small security company whilst also working multiple other jobs.
Khalef’s childhood friend Omar offered him to take a temporary junior Building Manager role for a couple of weeks. Khalef received his first big break when the director of the company saw his work ethic and decided to bring him on as a Building Manager. This gave Khalef a taste of working within building management.
A year later in 2011, one night Omar showed Khalef a sketch of an idea he had thought about.
“Omar was the ideas guy,” said Khalef.
Working within several industries in cleaning, having a security company, as a courier, working in building management, and the manufacturing company – Khalef realised he needed to scale back and pick what he wanted to do.
He left the other jobs and focused on working as a building manager whilst developing the side business of MYBOS – which was still at the theoretical idea stage.
Khalef got to work, as a salesman – cold calling buildings and pitching and presenting an idea to see how it would fair to test the market.
He observed a gap and a pain point in the market and noticed that this idea would solve many problems building managers go through.
Khalef believed he could get himself out of his own difficult situation.
He developed a strong sense of independence, self-belief, passion and relentless ambition.
He says, “We all have a drive in us. That drive, that fire, when used right can set you ahead of the rest.”
Khalef harnessed his inner fire and directed it towards developing and building his business.
Although the idea was fantastic, turning it into a thriving business took a lot of rejection and failure. Still, Khalef didn’t let that stop him. If anything, he used the challenges he faced as opportunities to strive to something better.
“When I got rejected, I would think where I could be 5 or 10 years from today if this business becomes successful. I go back to the reason why I’m doing this, and the reason why I want to help. That was my goal, and I was persistent in achieving it,” said Khalef.
He had to make the decision to devote his focus to MYBOS. He left his building management job and dedicated himself to developing this business without receiving a salary, relying on savings. He mapped out the CBD, and day and night – would promote MYBOS by putting flyers in mailboxes and apartment complexes.
Working on his dream, Khalef received a lot of pushback – with hate calls, ugly emails and rejection.
“When I hear NO, I know it’s not a NO forever, it’s just for today,” said Khalef.
He knew persistence paid off when it comes to convincing people about his software. Khalef had the utmost belief that his product was necessary and it would work. Rejection didn’t affect him to the point where he questioned what he was doing or thought about giving up.
One night when distributing flyers in mailboxes in Pyrmont, he was grabbed and kicked out of the building in the rain by one of the building owners.
Khalef didn’t let his emotions paralyse him or give up, instead, he used that negative incident into working even harder. Where many would call it a night, he fuelled himself to keep going.
“After being kicked out, I spent another 3 hours that night distributing my flyers,” he said.
MYBOS as an idea was great, but it needed to be built. Having $20,000 in Khalef’s savings, he and Omar decided to go with a company to build the software. This company built a prototype, but the code just didn’t work. The company had spent all the money and were asking for more. Khalef and Omar saw it as part of the learning process, decided not to give up, and went looking for an alternative way to build a product they believed in.
Khalef admits, “The beginning is always difficult, there are a lot of sacrifices you need to put in.”
In choosing his career path, Khalef had to make some big decisions and sacrifices that challenged his personal ethics and faith. He trusted his intuition and was never distracted by money, despite being in a dire situation.
“Money isn’t enough. Experience and challenges in life are what creates a fundamental belief to do what we do,” he said.
With his experience in failure and severe financial loss of thousands of dollars, Khalef had the wisdom that financial opportunities come and go and not to be hung up on letting go this business idea. It’s quite an admirable principle for someone to live by: rejecting a tempting offer to pull you out of financial hardship because it is not in line with your values takes courage, wisdom and long term thinking.
“I was still living in a housing commission accommodation, I had a $1000 Mazda 323 I got from an auction,” said Khalef.
Living between paycheck to paycheck, Khalef had used whatever money he could save and outsourced the programming. His second big break was received, the software was created, a prototype was coded and it worked.
Khalef worked all hours convincing building managers and lot owners to allow him to demonstrate the benefits of the system.
Khalef received his third big break, and this was by far the biggest! His first client. The CEO of a reputable company liked his ambition and persistence and gave him the opportunity to use his software.
Without formal education, Khalef demonstrates the knowledge he has acquired from life that has led him to be well versed and articulate in expressing ideas and thoughts.
Going through many personal and professional challenges, Khalef doesn’t look back at his life experience as a life to be wary of.
He remembers, where he came from and adopted the values and principles along the way as a form of motivation.
“Remembering my roots gave me the fire to burn through when most people would give up,” said Khalef.
Being conscious of his past, acted as an accelerator to keep going, keep building and not to give up. Khalef knew precisely where he would be if the business were to fail or if he were to give up.
By having a positive outlook on past challenges and looking at them as an opportunity for growth, Khalef has generated his success at a faster rate compared to his contemporaries.
“You need challenges to grow. A lot of us, we look at our lives that might go through a difficult upbringing, and we think it’s a negative thing. It’s actually the best thing that could’ve ever happened to you,” said Khalef.
He appreciates that every hardship he went through had to happen in order to make him the man he is today.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said “Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him. If he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him. (Sahih Muslim)
If a person is tested with prosperity, he should remain grateful, and he will receive a reward. If he is tested with hardship, he should remain patient, and he will receive a reward.
Khalef operates on the wisdom that whatever circumstance he is in, is temporary.
He has a strong belief in the fluidity of life that he and his business is in constant flux or continuous change.
This change would be one of the core principles that has led to Khalef’s success.
By having the foresight to know that he is never a victim of his circumstance and never trapped in a dire situation.
Khalef knew that he either needs to weather the storm or enjoy in the warmth of success until the next challenge comes along.
This reminds me of one of my most favourite quotes, from the French novel, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas;
“Life is a storm, my young friend, you will bask in the sunlight one moment be shattered on the rocks the next what makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”
In the first three decades of his life, Khalef has been through trials that have tested his moral character and principles.
He has carried those principles through to how he runs his business now.
Khalef’s core values are commitment to his business, loyalty to his clients and family.
Long term Vision
By keeping his eye on the long term goal, Khalef doesn’t get caught up in obsessing on the current challenges he faces.
“I have never looked at life and thought, ‘this is how my life is going to be forever’. This is just a temporary phase, I’m going through. I have always looked at the result. The way I persisted was by always looking towards the future,” said Khalef.
Instead of getting bogged down within the challenges he has faced, Khalef lives his life and runs his business by looking at the big picture through a lens of purpose and long term success.
This purpose is what predicates his persistence, drive, sacrifice and motivation to build his business.
He says, “business is a very long term dedicated relationship that takes complete commitment. You need to be in it for the long haul. It takes time. Be ready for that.”
Having that type of long-term vision and real belief is what has led Khalef to motivate himself in times of struggles.
The life experience he has gone through has led him to hold particular core values that he lives and works by.
They formulate his priorities, and in essence, have become drivers to his success.
Khalef has three purposes, and each one hold’s a more profound core value.
His first purpose was to find a solution to a pain point in his industry – this is the value of contribution.
His second purpose was to help others by believing that his business would help residential and building management companies run a lot smoother – this is the value of service.
And the third purpose was to keep focused and persistent in his goals and not to let failure or rejection deter him – the value of perseverance.
Whist values lay the foundation; the structure of Khalef’s success is built with business wisdom that involves providing solutions, diagnostics and gaps in the industry.
“If you’re in an industry and you want to create a business, you need to find a pain point that people are willing to pay for. Your value has to outmatch the cost that they’re paying. You want to see more value in return against money,” said Khalef.
Khalef has an inspiring commitment and loyalty to his clients, ensuring that the relationship he has with them is built on trust, sincerity and transparency.
“Business is my passion. Seeing people’s success through our business and seeing the overall business growth has been a great passion of mine,” he said.
One of the examples of a solution-based client-centred approach is that during COVID-19, Khalef’s business developed a free COVID-19-Tracker software free of charge that was picked up by 300 buildings and featured in mainstream media.
Khalef believes that the success of his company is predicated on the success of his clients and helping others.
He has a growth mindset, and he continually is looking at his industry, observing current issues (pain points) and trying to find ways to solve them. As he achieves each goal, a new set of goals is determined – with bigger and more significant strides.
Khalef says, “I ask myself, is my company better than it was yesterday? If so, then we’re heading in the right direction. Moving forward, even if its incremental improvements, is important. As long as it progresses, that’s the main thing.”
Starting a business isn’t easy especially when it begins to develop some level of traction, where people start offering critique. Khalef, while considering any advice, did not let the criticism of others deter him from his end goal. He knew not to take criticism personally and to focus on remembering his vision and relying on his evaluative reasoning.
Uncertainty & Risk
Khalef received advice from friends and family as well as criticism that the business wouldn’t work and he should give up.
“They didn’t understand the software industry, but I had the conviction that I knew what I was doing. I believed in the software and knowing that people needed it gave me the confidence to pursue it.” he said. “People sometimes don’t know what they want, until you create something. Then they realise they need it.”
By always focusing on the user experience, he believed in the need and in the product.
Khalef isn’t afraid to take risks in business, he doesn’t let uncertainty and the fear of the unknown hold him back. Being willing to leap forward and make decisions to test out new ideas to identify what works and what doesn’t. Although Khalef is open to taking risks, they are well-thought-out, carefully considered and calculated risks.
“When it came to marketing and advertising, I wasn’t overly cautious about the financial cost, however, certain decisions that require a sense of long-term commitment, such as hiring staff, I took with a lot more consideration,” he said.
Bringing in Management
Khalef is currently navigating the pathway to develop the business he built with his blood, sweat and tears to a trusted management team.
MYBOS has grown from strength to strength. With this level of exponential growth, the number of employees is also increasing.
As a business owner, being willing to identify when to take a step back, when to lead requires foresight, calculated risk and wisdom – which add to the many strengths that Khalef has. He has the ambition and intention to make the change for the benefit of his company.
Be Your Own Mentor
Khalef’s life experience has led him to believe in himself, and he knew that if he were to succeed truly – he had no choice but to do it on his own. Over the years, he didn’t find himself relying on mentors or advisers, and used the experiences in his personal journey as lessons to learn in business.
“You can mentor yourself, through your own experiences and challenges,” said Khalef.
This autonomy and self-reliance are what has crafted Khalef into being an intelligent, wise and ambitious young man.
Khalef’s story is inspiring to everyone who gets the privilege to listen to his journey. He is a great role model for young entrepreneurs wishing to start their business as well as to current business owners across all industries.
Khalef’s MYBOS is now serving more than 490,000 residents across Australia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore. With rapid global expansion, the Asia, Europe and the Middle East and North Africa region is on the agenda.
I wish him all the best and I’m excited to watch him and his business grow.
If you’d like to know more about MYBOS Powerfully Simple, please visit at www.mybos.com.au.