What excites you most about the future?
I tend to consider infrastructure when I think about the future, i.e., the ‘building blocks’. When you think about the future of society, you think about things such as, how will education be delivered? What will transportation look like? How will energy be delivered and distributed? What will banking systems be like? In the same way, the infrastructure of entrepreneurship remains at the forefront of my mind. It’s no secret that the lion’s share of our global population will be coming online by 2020. Beyond consumer opportunities that exist, what fascinates me deeply remains the number of entrepreneurs and doers that will be coming online. What is the globally connected way for these new changemakers to go from ‘idea’ to company to scale to funding? What will be the future of entrepreneurship? This answers can be found in the execution of Rokk3r’s Massive Transformative Purpose of ‘Harnessing the global collective genius to cobuild companies that change the world’, which I am proud to be overseeing as Chairman and CEO.
What piece of advice do you generally provide to leaders of state and leaders in boardrooms?
Each scenario, each geography, each situation is different. However, there are underlying principles that remain consistent. First, is that increased access to the Internet is a fact that is ignored at the peril of economic and civil society advancement. Second, the intersection of exponential technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, blockchain and robotics are shifting the foundations of every single industry, and this must be considered as decisions are evaluated both at the state level and in the boardroom. Third, focus without execution is a recipe for disaster. From the smallest project in the workplace to the largest government implementation, it all relies on execution. In concert, these 3 principles can then be adapted to meet the needs of each situation accordingly.
How did growing up, learning and working in different countries influence you?
Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, I was surrounded by innovation both technically and otherwise. Whether it was seeing my dad endlessly tinkering with electronics and his uncanny ability to fix literally anything, to recognizing how everyone around me was making the most out of whatever limited means they had, to meeting some of the most brilliant minds in the Math program during my time at the University of Waterloo in Canada, to my role in executing multi-billion dollar technology projects across Europe, and everything in between. This entire spectrum offered me the understanding of a ‘world of innovation’, and has kept me grounded to the knowledge of ideas and execution that exist beyond my physical borders.
Can you shed some light on Nabyl Charania outside the boardroom? What do you enjoy doing in your down time? How did these passions of yours develop over time?
Do you have a few hours? This could take a while! Fitness, fashion and music are a few passions of mine. From a young age, I’ve always been drawn to playing sports and being active. Some of my favorite childhood memories in Nairobi centered on sports with the neighborhood kids. I remember vividly one particular game where everyone would be in a line and the aim would be to kick the soccer ball as hard as you could against the wall. And if you were up next you had to ensure you didn’t miss. I think that’s where my love for being a striker on the soccer field was born. See a ball coming, and smash it as hard as you can!
Fast forward to my High School days in Toronto, Canada where I had a lot of firsts, including learning how to throw a punch because my Nairobi accent was an automatic pass for the bullies to get violent. I took my first Hapkido class around that time and automatically took a liking to the mindset that martial arts introduced to my teenage life (and off-course Bolo Yeung’s iconic one-liner to Jean Claude Van Damme’s character, “Very good. But brick not hit back”, was quite the mantra and lesson!)
I was also first introduced to football at this time. I was a die hard Emmitt Smith fan! I ended up learning about what it meant to create spaces for plays to be made (a lesson that would serve me well beyond the last time I ran a football into the end zone). Playing on both the soccer and football teams in High School was a special experience I’ll never forget. I also held the record for number of goals scored both in my High School and for the Richmond Hill soccer club, which was a great motivator. I off-course don’t think about that at all anymore!
During my time earning a Math degree at the University of Waterloo, I continued playing varsity soccer and football until the inevitable end to a lot of sports dreams…injury. The ankle knocks, the shoulder tears, everything in total had finally caught up. The silver lining was that not being able to throw on the pads and lace up my cleats allowed me to focus more of my time in the weight room, and build a more scientific understanding of fitness to complement my raw energies. It’s really served me well and I can draw a connection between my maturity then, and my training now at DBC Fitness. Always learning. Always pushing, intelligently.
I can’t forget either about my love for music. My parents always had music playing in our home and in every car ride when I was growing up. From Cliff Richard, Elvis and Michael Jackson, to Safari Sound Band, Heera and everything in between. The soundtrack to my childhood was pretty amazing! Coming to Canada, I remember hearing NWA for the first time and this opening a gateway to early 90s hip hop, reggae, and even freestyle music (long live Stevie B!) Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Lost Boyz, Pharcyde, Lords of the Underground, LL Cool J, Warren G, MC Lyte, Naughty By Nature, A Tribe Called Quest, Run DMC, Eric B and Rakim, De La Soul…I could go on for hours!
Beyond the epic storytelling shared by these artists, I was really drawn to the production and music of it all. For example, as soon as the first few notes of Pharcyde’s “Passing me by” come on, that saxophone from “T.R.O.Y” first comes across the sound system, or even the distinctive breaks from “Chief Rocka”; all were a guaranteed audible trip and treat. I find myself even to this day still playing those tracks on car rides and in the gym. At a deeper level, when you look at hip hop, although artists like DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash are seen as the founders of this art form in its present day sense, they are building on a style that goes much further back in artists like the Golden Gate Quartet, Ella Fitzgerald, with a line being drawn back even further to the Griot culture of Mali. I think this sense of understanding where things come from and how they evolve are an important lens not just for music, but also life itself.
And finally, I’ll touch briefly on my interest in fashion. I’ve always had an interest in looks that ride a fine line between casual and formal. There are some amazing brands that do that. I love for example what Hugo Boss is able to do with these looks, letting me reflect my own personality but having a distinct sense of formal style. I’m a big fan of accessories as well, and enjoy some of the interesting collabs such as Hermes and Apple.