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Featured Work, Romania, Science and engineering, Sport, Travel, UK, USA - Nov 8, 2015 19:31 - 0 Comments

After They Were Famous: What Happened Next?

The Guardian/The Observer, Inner Life section, November 8 2015Col. Joseph Kittinger

Read this on The Guardian site here

One day Alan Bean decided it was time for a change of career. History, he knew, would always remember him as the fourth man to walk on the Moon, during the Apollo 12 mission in 1969; he’d served on Skylab, too. But he wanted to do something else with his life.

So he took to his life’s great passion, painting, and has done so with considerable success for the best part of 40 years. But in all that time, he’s only ever painted one thing: astronauts on the surface of the Moon.

Moving on from a defining moment can be challenging – and not just for Moonwalking astronauts. Many of us are aware of a moment when we think: well, that’s it, everything else is an afterthought now. For some, it is the kids leaving home; for others, the highest point they reach in a corporate career. For many, the pivotal moment of their life is about tragedy or loss. But it is all punctuated by the same urgent question: now what?

For sportspeople in particular, a life’s high point can come troublingly early. Nadia Comaneci was 14 when she scored the first perfect 10 in Olympic competition in 1976; achievement-wise, it was all downhill from there.

Being trapped in a moment, good or bad, is unhealthy, something acknowledged everywhere from academic psychology through to the self-help mainstream. As Henry Cloud puts it in Necessary Endings, “for there to be anything new, old things always have to end, and we have to let go of them.” Psychotherapist Amy Morin, the self-help guru of the moment, says the mentally strong “don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days.” It’s nothing new: the Old Testament acknowledges it. “There is a time to tear down and a time to build.”

Perhaps we can learn from the experiences of those who will always be known for a single event, no matter what else they do. The Apollo astronauts are a good place to start, as they illustrate that there’s no single answer to finding new direction: among other pursuits, they found post-Moon succour in religion, alcohol, academia, business, politics and a lifelong study of consciousness twined with a deep belief in extra-terrestrial visitation (that last one’s Edgar Mitchell: you should look him up).

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Banking, Big Interviews, Egypt - Aug 1, 2015 19:22 - 0 Comments

Hashim on CIB and a New Egypt: “The Worst is Very Much Behind Us”

Euromoney, August 2015 Hisham Ezz Al-Arab

Behind Hashim Ezz Al-Arab’s desk at the Commercial International Bank headquarters in Giza, among the usual paraphernalia of flags and family photos and portentous front pages of Time, is an unusual picture. It’s a man with his back to the lens holding an axe across his shoulders, beneath the title: PREPARATION. Beneath it is a message. “If you have a day to chop down a tree, spend half a day sharpening the axe.”

Al-Arab, chairman and managing director of Egypt’s biggest private sector bank since 2002, likes the image because it’s somewhat unegyptian. Lately, in particular, preparation hasn’t really been the watchword in Egypt, so much as action, sometimes without fully thinking through the consequences. Since uprisings began against President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011, the country has undergone two separate revolutions, the trials and imprisonment of two successive premiers – one with a death penalty – and waves of differing approaches to policy, reform and religion.

Yet Egypt today looks, with some reservations, to be pointing in the right direction, with rating agencies revising upwards rather than downwards, a government apparently committed to fiscal reform, and something approaching political stability. CIB, always very much a proxy for Egypt itself, has enjoyed a stellar 12 months as its own numbers have improved with the country’s.

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Big Interviews, Economics, Featured Work, Foreign Exchange, From the Vault, Malaysia, Politics - Oct 1, 2007 9:52 - 0 Comments

Mahathir Mohamad, Emerging Markets, October 2007

With MahathirEmerging Markets, October 2007

Putrajaya is a curious place. Though few outside of Malaysia have heard of it, it is the country’s federal administrative centre, founded in 1995 to take the government departments out of nearby Kuala Lumpur. It’s a place of resplendent architectural daring: mosques, palaces, convention centres, and five extraordinary bridges over a 650-hectare man-made lake. But the most striking thing about it is this: there’s no-one there.

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