In Emirates Man March’s cover story, Personal Take, Emirati entrepreneur and #ABtalks host Anas Bukhash shares how he has built a brand and businesses dedicated to those pulling up around him.

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine – and are there non-negotiable practices?

I’m a very routine guy. For the first 30 minutes as I wake up, I really try not to touch my phone, at least for a few minutes, so that I don’t wake up with problems and complaints. Just a few minutes, and then I check my phone. My WhatsApp doesn’t stop. Then I drink green juice, which is supposed to be healthy, and then I work out straight away. Either with my trainer or I do cardio or sauna and an ice bath. Then I have lunch usually around 12pm and go to the office and do physical meetings. I also train six times a week.

When did you know you would build a platform to connect with others?

#ABtalks? I think I wrote the concept on paper in 2014 and it came to real life in 2018. It was everything I didn’t like in the media, and I chose to do the opposite. My experiences with different TV media were very short interviews, and so with #ABtalks, I wanted no limits on interview time. Guests have the freedom of expressing themselves whether crying, swearing, or just showing vulnerability. I didn’t like basic and superficial questions and I thought, let’s go real and raw, and more personal. I felt we didn’t have that in our region and that was so needed. That’s why the slogan is covering the human behind the title – who are you behind what you do for a living? Are there specific topics that are generally doing well for you and your guests? The topics I like to talk about literally apply to any person. So if I say, “How was your childhood? What were your best and worst moments? What was the hardest decision in your life? What do you think about love? Who are you when nobody’s around?”, I can apply the same questions to any person – and we can talk for hours because all of us go through all of this. So it has nothing to do with race, religion, culture, or nationality.

You have an entrepreneurial spirit, what is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? And did it pay off?

I think I am a calculated risk person – I’m not too reckless but I’m also not too careful. Skydiving is a good example. If we think of skydiving, before you go and book, you check the reviews, you check how good the company is and their safety precautions are good. Then you go and jump but there’s still a risk. So is it still a risk? Yes. So I think the same with business and entrepreneurship. I think leaving a corporate job after 12 years was a risk. It was a very promising corporate career. I was married at the time and had a child then so it’s not like I’m alone, and that if I don’t make it, I don’t make it. It’s just me. But no, I have a family. To leave all of that and reduce my salary to peanuts, but then get satisfied elsewhere, which is, you know, owning my time doing what I love, and then slowly, slowly, that becomes better than a corporate job.

“It’s a beautiful responsibility to be able to produce an environment for people to be working together. I thrive on responsibility”

What brings clarity to your life, both professionally and personally?

I think if you find or feel that you’re really doing what you were meant to do, it gives you clarity because you are in alignment. You do what you love, you don’t feel like it’s a job. You’re not only better benefiting yourself, but you’re benefiting humans and people around you. I find it very thrilling to know that so many people work with me and I’m taking care of them and their families. Bukhash Brothers (influencer marketing agency) has 40 employees and Chalk (hair salon) has 35… It’s a beautiful responsibility to be able to produce an environment for people to be working together. I thrive on responsibility.

What is the best tool for combating negativity and leading a life focused on positivity?

I wish people had that answer, it would be so easy. That’s a huge question and I don’t think there’s a magical answer. But I do think when you have conviction within yourself, it’s kind of like confidence. If you’re not confident, and I made fun of your clothes or your look, you’ll feel suddenly insecure. The more you build your skills, you become more confident.

With social media, people love to criticise, so if you’re reading too much of the comments and remarks, it might affect you even if you think it won’t. I try to filter that out and not get so exposed to negativity. Generally, just have a good balance and be with people who level you up and around family who love you. Exercise is also good for the mind and feeling good within yourself and feeling healthy – all of these things can contribute.

“…When you think of something and you multiply that by effort and maybe perseverance and consistency, suddenly it creates a company or a show. So I do believe in it, but not alone. You have to act, you have to move”

Do you believe in manifestation and the ability to create what you can visualise?

If you sit on your sofa and visualise for 100 years without action, nothing would happen. Visualising is just one part of the formula. I can visualise all I want but action is way more important. But it does start with a thought, absolutely. Everything you see in the studio, the team came from a thought. It’s beautiful – when you think of something and you multiply that by effort and maybe perseverance and consistency, suddenly it creates a company or a show. So I do believe in it, but not alone. You have to act, you have to move.

Have you had any mentors on your journey? And if so, what knowledge did they impart?

I never had a typical story where I say this person – celebrity, athlete, friend or family – is my role model or my mentor. I think I’ve learned and get inspired by different people and their values, but then you have to see what applies to your life. Of course, I think my foundation is my mother. She brought up a lot of us and she instilled in us a lot of values. My father had his influence, but I think more than my mother. I have enough character and she built enough confidence in us to also make our own decisions on what we think.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

You’re in for a surprise.

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Photography by Mark Mathew