365 days ago, we launched naveenofficial.com. As cliché as this sounds, it feels like yesterday when I took the plunge.
This post reveals why I wanted to create a public awareness production house—one where we could produce documentaries about Pakistan's impact-orientated initiatives and individuals. After a year of creating digital content for the website and our social media platforms, I had a few thoughts to share about the experience.
I started with an ever-evolving idea. Met the right people who could do what I could not. And I put the hours in alongside a full-time job and social life to sustain our audience's interest.
Altering the Starting Point
Starting with an idea is great. But to turn that into something tangible that people can interact with takes a great deal of work, time, and patience. The sheer workload and required self-motivation were not anticipated.
There are times where I enter a spiral of self-doubt and crumble when I explain my goals to strangers. But, in moments like these, I realise it's part of the process. With each setback, I've bounced back sooner than the last one—an accomplishment in hindsight.
Our first filming round dated back to August 2018, and I pitched my idea to a videography team who specialise in covering high-profile weddings. The idea was to create a fashion blog about Pakistani couture. I know – very different from what we are now. We did three weeks of filming, created hours of footage, and spent a considerable chunk of change.
After I reflected on the video footage, I realised that this wasn't what I wanted to do. I went back to Pakistan in October 2018 to start again.
The point here is that it's ok to toss out the first pancake. The experience told me something equally important – what I didn't want to do.
Meeting the right people.
I pitched my idea to several Paksitani videography companies from across the pond. This meant researching different companies and making decisions based on the content they had shared online. However, none of the research prepared me for those meetings.
One day over dinner, I ranted my frustrations to my family. My cousin's husband, Asim, recommend me to meet Shahrukh and Shahzeb Bhatti. I succumbed to my bad mood and dismissed the idea. Fortunately, Asim pushed me to a moment of clarity and convinced me.
I remember the first meeting with Shahrukh Bhai because it was the moment everything became real. I pitched my half-baked and fragile idea. He said 'yes' and we were doing a trial shoot in the next two days.
My cousin and Managing Partner Sahar Abbas sorted out the logistics, and before I knew it, I was standing in front of the camera. Without Sahar's constant support, each filming round wouldn't have been possible.
The take-away here is finding the right people to work with can make and break your goal. Shahrukh and Shahzeb Bhatti are open-minded, experts in what they do, time-efficient problem solvers and follow through with their commitments.
Jim Dethmer, the founder of The Conscious Leadership Group, said in a podcast with Shane Parish that "Most people in organisations keep between 40% - 60% of their agreements."
I didn't want to work with people who were unable to follow through. The age-old adage that
"a stitch in time saves nine." Meaning, if you sort out a problem immediately, it will save extra work later. Equally, I also wanted to work with people who would make me a better version of myself. As they say:
"You really are only as good as the company you keep." My team keep me on my toes throughout.
In turn, Shahrukh and Shahzeb continue to adapt to my feedback which meant we were able to change the initial idea. Shifting from creating a Pakistani Couture knowledge source to becoming a public awareness production house was the 180-degree turn nobody expected. And I'm pleased that this is the case because what we have created is better than what we imagined.
I gave a great deal of artistic license to Sophie Chittock, our Operations Director, who has a wealth of knowledge about digital marketing that I could only dream of having. Whatever idea or task Sophie works on, she produces a result which is above and beyond the limits of my imagination.
Sustaining self-motivation and self-discipline
When I started out, I thought that I would be 100% driven all day and every day. I was wrong. A new project is novel, but over time novelty runs out, and you must keep working when sometimes you don't want to. The desire not to work doesn't reflect that you aren't fully invested. It shows that you are human and that life sometimes gets in the way. We all have highs and lows that we pass through.
Sometimes, my full-time job means I have to work beyond the 9-5 schedule, and this means fewer hours are available to work on the blog.
Sometimes, personal struggles consume your headspace, and you aren't motivated.
Sometimes, the lack of support from people who you expected it from can make you doubt what you are doing.
But then there are those moments of success which outshine those dark ones, in quality and quantity. You have family members who celebrate each accomplishment as if it were their own. You have virtual strangers advising you in how you can do better. Your work gets recognised by newspapers that you dream of having your name in.
To close, my team and I stuck to our principles and created something that we believed in. I remember sharing dreams of being mentioned in Propergaanda and Dawn's Newspaper and waiting to reach 1000 followers organically. Now those dreams have become accomplishments.
But, each accomplishment means more when you are sharing it with a team of people. People who believe in you, and who you believe in too. I hope you feel inspired to take the plunge.