My story began in Morocco, where I was born. I had a decent upbringing, with mum and dad, two younger brothers, and many house pets. We used to spend summer in our beach house; that’s where I have my warmest childhood memories. Building sand castles, chasing crabs, learning to fish with my dad, and later surfing and making bonfires
As a teenager, I got into sports and music. I played bass guitar in high school. We mostly played covers of classic rock. I taught myself how to play. Sports became a big part of my life. I was good at it and had my highest scores in basketball- where I played semi-professional. I also showed hight-performance in track and field. Our basketball coach influenced me a lot. He had robust health, discipline, and teamwork values. In fact, I learned a lot from him and the sporting journey that I was in. I was also into books. My father had an extensive library of books at home and asked me to pull a few of them, mostly about psychology, philosophy, and eastern wisdom. I read some passages that got me curious. He knew specifically which page I should open and which part I should be reading.
Surfing happened a little later; I got hooked, and everything evolved around that new passion. The lifestyle, the looks, everything! Back then, I had no idea how much surfing would influence my life.
These were some fantastic years; what I did and what I learned shaped most of my core values and beliefs.
Then came the time when I had to take a direction for college; a sporting career wasn’t an option. At least not in my belief and not in Morocco, so I had to stop playing basketball and switch focus to education. I graduated from high school with decent scores; I was in a science program that allowed me to choose from various options. Since I was into sports, I applied to join a sports science curriculum. I also loved the philosophy classes and applied to European psychology schools. I didn’t know there was something called sports psychology; I would have probably chosen that combination instead. I got accepted – of course; I chose schools that are by the ocean, in Bordeaux in France, to continue surfing.
Nevertheless, my father had different expectations of me. He wanted me to join university to study biology or economics. Being financially dependent on him, I couldn’t just go to Europe and start studying, so I fell back on my plan C, which was joining art school. The application was challenging and very competitive; on over 1000 applications, 15 of us were admitted! That was close. I found myself moving to a bigger city, with all the challenges and excitements that come with it, studying fine art. History of Art, painting, sculpture, analog photography, and interior design. I did that for one year before switching to a digital communication school where I studied marketing and advertising. Semiotics was my favorite class. I graduated valedictorian and joined one of the most prestigious multinational ad agencies even before graduation, where I landed an art director position.
That was my first job, with no internship, and my biggest disappointment. We didn’t use any creative process. Everything we learned in school was out of the window. In fact, there was a big gap between what we learned in school, which has an internationally high standard for creativity and communication, and the reality of the market and the workplace, which is using basic communication messages to reach a wider “average” audience. I wasn’t sure I wanted to pursue this career anymore, so I questioned my choices for the first time. But I pushed through; the money was good, and the title was fancy.
I thought that was what I was supposed to do, and that was the first time I fell out of my values.
Meanwhile, during the whole time, my passion for surfing grew tremendously. I spent all my 20s exploring and improving my surfing. With a small group of friends, we used to surf early lights before heading to the office. You will find us in the parking lots, wetsuits on, warming up, and waiting for the first light to jump in the water and squeeze in an early surf session. On the weekends, we will hit the road 6-7 hours down south to reach further, more pristine surf spots. We camped there and surfed the whole weekend before heading back to our homes.
I loved surfing and often wondered what I needed to do to keep surfing for a long, long time. I became more curious about longevity topics, healthy living, and physical and cognitive performance enhancement strategies. To this day, I’m still consistent with these practices, and I didn’t realize that these same performance-enhancing and energy-boosting protocols would elevate my game professionally, too; that was yet still something I will discover later in my journey.
Escaping The Rat Race
The 9 to 5, or rather 8 am to 11 pm, was, after all, unbearable, and no amount of cash was compensating for how it felt to work in such a toxic environment. Work was meaningless. I was making products look better than they are to sell them to people who don’t even need them. After a while, eventually, I ended my contract as an art director to start my own company with a friend, which was much more aligned with my core values!
We had a video production company where we directed, filmed, and produced a weekly 26 min documentary series about extreme sports in Morocco. Being both surfers, we loved discovering new surf spots, talking to locals, and exploring the country for other alternative sports! The stoke didn’t last long. We unfairly lost our contract with our client to another video production company.
I felt defeated and lost, having to return to employment, which was terrifying.
Pain is the Biggest Mover
I carried on with art director jobs in ad and communication agencies. I was pretty good at it, but it didn’t bring me much personal satisfaction. I kept the job for the lifestyle that it provided me. Like many people, I ticked all the boxes young adults would tick. I had a fancy job, a great salary, and a good looking car, and I lived well, but something was missing. I wasnät fulfilled; I felt miserable. After years on the rat race, and when I couldn’t take it anymore, I once more quit. This time I took a sabbatical and explored the world. I was craving bigger adventures, more surfing, and exploring the world. I was also done with the art director job; I wanted something different and was ready to go after it!
I backpacked around Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia. I took many photos and met friendly locals and travelers. 6 months later, and 25 countries after, I still wasn’t clear about my next life chapter. I was 28-29, had no clear career plan, and obviously didn’t put any work into figuring it out, but what I knew for sure was that I was pretty seduced by the Scandinavian standards and was tempted to give it a try over there. I could start fresh as an art director, become better at it, and perhaps even finally enjoy it, I told myself.
During that journey, and while traveling alone, I developed my social skills and improved my English. These two were pretty vital for my next move, which is settling in a new country with no connections whatsoever – Stockholm.
I was naive enough to think that I’ll say that I hold a master’s, that I worked in big agencies and for big Moroccan clients, and that I’ll have all the doors open to me for work. It wasn’t easy! I had to push many doors and deal with many rejections to finally get a school photographer job for three months. It didn’t take long before my employer noticed my “real” competencies and discovered that I could take on bigger responsibilities.
In no time, I became the art director of that company, leading my department, wearing art direction, innovation, and product development hats for all company’s products and services. The company was voted 3rd best workplace in Sweden for some consecutive years. I appreciated the flat hierarchy, leadership style, ownership, and respecting the working hours. I had great bosses, great colleagues, and much learning and growth. I worked hard, bought an apartment, threw parties, and invited many people. Once more, I had the accolades, the title, and the status, and I thought I was successful.
Nevertheless, something was always missing in my life. Sweden didn’t feel like home even after years of living there. I was far from the ocean and the surf, my relationships were shallow, and the winter darkness was heavy. I felt lonely and confused, but I kept putting on a facade because “I should be happy.” I became then depressed and burned out and experienced one of the biggest lows in my life.
It was only after reaching out for help and taking some time off back home in Morocco that I reconnected with myself. I realized that I lived literally and figuratively far from my core value. I wasn’t living in alignment with what truly mattered to me. I was pursuing things that were not mine but rather what was expected from me.
I learned the hard way that happiness doesn’t come from following what others want but rather from what I need.
I returned to surfing and was reminded how much I missed it. I also was reminded that I learned a lot from surfing.
I learned to fail over and over; I learned grit and resilience. Surf isn’t easy to learn; it takes months, if not years, to master. I learned to step out of my comfort zone, cultivate courage and stay calm under pressure when chaos is all over, and trust me; the ocean can be pretty mad!
Surfing taught me how to seize the opportunity when it presents itself and leverage it. Surfing is all about timing, being in the right place, and the right moment to take off and ride.
I learned to be patient, deal with frustration, and manage expectations. I learned to be flexible, adaptable, and creative. I knew that some days were better than others, and driving for hours to find no waves meant I just needed to keep showing up.
Surfing taught me to focus and to enter the flow. I learned to be present and mindful and to enjoy the moment. When surfing, you must give your full attention to what you are doing.
I learned to be tolerant and forgiving to myself and others in times when conflicts are easy to spark.
I learned to be curious, and I learned to explore cultures and traditions when visiting new oceans. I learned to stay humble in the presence of Mother Nature.
Surfing taught me a lot; riding ocean waves is similar to riding life waves.
I realized that these performance-enhancing strategies that I learned in my twenties, combined with what I learned through surfing, will set me up for a successful personal and professional life. I had the tools and the compass, and I was curious about how to use them for my next move.
I also went back to reading. One of the books that influenced me is called How to get moving and keep moving by Andre Taylor.
During that period, something clicked, and I returned to Sweden stronger and focused on bringing change into my life.
The Authentic Self
I became increasingly interested in human behavior and positive psychology. Thinking of my father’s books and teaching, this became my everyday subject. I studied and read many books. I was the guy who talked about growth mindset, values, behavior, stoicism, and so on at parties, group gatherings, at the office with colleagues, and in meetings with friends. I was totally passionate about the subject!
Surfing became my anchor. I often thought about parallels with life and used its analogies to build my confidence and change perspectives.
I took my first coaching training, which was eye-opening, empowering, and mind-blowing! I was, for the first time, ready for the big change. I had a clear vision of what I needed to do.
I invested thousands of dollars in world-class courses, seminars, and workshops. I interviewed entrepreneurs, athletes, and expert specialists on how they mastered their craft. I spent countless hours reading books, listening to podcasts, and studying the best of the best. I enrolled in 100s of online courses. I absorbed every piece of knowledge and experimented with things to broaden my knowledge and enhance my skills and experience.
Later that year, I took a trip to the US. Working remotely for my Swedish employer, traveling east to west, with a few stops in the middle. I used Lift, Uber, and Airbnb and met many interesting people. I loved that way of exploring the country. Once in California, I visited one of the iconic surf spots! I have had posters of California surf spots in my room since I was 14yo. I dreamt of these spots all my life, but I had no surfboard or wetsuit, and I wish there were an app that would show me who was around and ready to take me to surf. Luckily, two days later, one of my childhood best friends- the lead singer of our high school rock band, who had already lived in San Diego for a while, picked me up at a train station in Orange County. He was a surfer too. He had two surfboards and wetsuits ready for us, It was Christmas day, and we went straight to an epic, unforgettable surf session in the bay of Salt Creek!
Days later, we took a trip up north, camping quite wildly. Once in San Francisco, he dropped me off at my other childhood friend living over there. With a stiff back, I wished an app could introduce me to the locals who could invite me to a yoga class for a good stretch! And just like that, my new business idea was there! I was determined to start a company for surf and yoga lovers with the same business model as Airbnb and Uber. I found purpose.
Back in Sweden, I started looking for a tech team to build my start-up. I was already coaching privately and also developing my network. I was in marketing and advertising, so I knew what it takes to build a brand and get exposure; I just had to transfer these cumulated skills from my 10+ years of experience in Art direction, communication, and product development into what I was going to build. It was just a matter of time to break free from my old job and my old life.
I applied every tool and strategy I learned from surfing and my coaching training. I was meditating and visualizing. I was equipped with a growth mindset; I saw possibilities when others saw limitations.
I led a remote team of tech developers when remote work wasn’t a thing yet! I was operating at my best… yet, not at my fullest.
Putting All Together
A few years back, I took a trip to Indonesia; I surfed in the best waves in the world. Bali, the island of the gods, became my obsession. I wanted to live there but needed to figure out how and what to do back when I first visited in 2008. I let go of that idea and continued my life in Sweden.
Suddenly, it all made sense that my surf and yoga start-up and coaching business couldn’t find a better-blooming nest. Ocean and waves amplify my joy for life and give me more strength, and diverse people worldwide are the perfect place to get international exposure and test my products and services.
The Swedish chapter was over. I sold my things and moved to Indonesia, where I spent the best five years of my life. And no, that decision to sell and move wasn’t easy. It was frightening, but as they say, if it’s not scary, it is not worth doing.
Bali allowed me to deepen my practices. I improved my meditation and my knowledge of easter philosophy. I took more coaching training and learned from the best practitioners in the world. It was like being in an international school. I had a condensed, rich experience in a short period with a vast flow of clients from all over the world.
I had a very structured schedule; I woke up at 5 am and did my morning routines, including breath work, cold exposure, journaling, and reading; I surfed and joined a yoga class or a fitness session. I was eating clean and had an unwinding routine, often doing contrast therapy and meditation and watching sunsets. My social life was rich; I was busy, happy, and produced my best work.
I ended up selling my surf & yoga start-up a few years later and ultimately fell in love with the coaching I offered, which had grown tremendously since I started. I was coaching and helping founders, coaches, athletes and sports teams, and organizations worldwide while having a family and parenting.
Life as an Ongoing Challenge
Life changes and challenges came to me again. I experienced loss, grief, and extreme anxiety. But what kept me going throughout the years is a toolbox filled with what I have learned from years of working with world-class experts.
Every day, I showed up,
Visited my core values,
Reflected on my beliefs
And surfed, a lot.
I learned from the best what it takes to become the best.
I was fortunate to add to their life, be their coach, consultant, mentor, and teacher, and contribute to their growth. I started seeing clearly a pattern that all of them shared. I experienced that pattern firsthand, as I was also building, being challenged, and having to stay consistent and become my best.
These years of knowledge constitute the core of my coaching framework; I am now combining what I learned throughout surfing with coaching techniques to teach ambitious individuals how to create a more positive impact in our world.
Better Humans Make a Better World
And burnout people burn our world.
I believe better humans make a better world and that betterment starts by improving holistically. Enhancing your mindset, managing your emotions, and improving your fitness will ultimately impact your capacity to learn, develop your professional skills, and produce your best work.
I coach using a framework that combines traditional coaching techniques while drawing parallels from surfing. Surfing waves can teach us a lot about navigating life challenges. I use surf analogies to give examples, create anchors, and teach skills that one can use personally and professionally.
I support ambitious people so they can create more impact on their world. My uniqueness is that I use this combination of surfing and coaching; I can see systems and processes in a way you would appreciate, showing you possibilities where you can’t.