At BETT in London. I was asked “who inspires you?” I didn’t have a clear answer. Now I do.

This week I had the pleasure of being on a panel at BETT (@bett_show). The topic was “Using Social Media and Digital Marketing to Enhance Student Recruitment and Engagement”. It was a great panel discussion with very talented people. To put it simply, it was an AWESOME experience for me.

At the end of the panel discussion, the moderator, a nice man by the name of Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw), asked each one of us the same question: “Tell me the name of the person who inspires you the most?”. It was a very hard question for me to answer, I’m inspired by a lot of people; I’m inspired by Bill Gates for his charitable work and I’m inspired by Bill Clinton for doing the same. Both of these men can sit at home and do nothing for the rest of their lives, but chose to help others. I’m also inspired by Elon Musk, because he is fearless when it comes to innovating. I can also list musicians, authors, mothers, fathers and children who inspire me on a daily basis.

It’s been 3 days since, and I have found my answer. Here is how it came to me.

I’m sitting at our booth, it’s the last day at BETT, it’s pretty quiet. I decided to open my laptop and plan my next week. As I’m looking down at my notes, I hear my colleague starting her presentation of our product; I look up and see a couple of young teachers; they are in their late 20s, maybe early 30s. They are excited about our product, their eyes widen and get closer to the screen to see what 9Sharp can do for them, they had big smiles on their faces. I saw the name of one of the teachers, it’s George and he got me thinking and it gave me the answer that has eluded me all week.

I created 9Sharp to help professionals brand themselves and manage their digital profile; We came to BETT because we believe we can help students build their brand and provide them with a better CV/Resume. We knew it would be a challenge, it’s a new concept and most people resist change. But a large number of teachers stopped by our booth, most of them like George; they were pleased with our product and what it can do for their students. George took my card, promised to email me so we can do something together to help his students. He was excited (and so was I, it’s infectious).

Let me step back and put it all in context; Nowhere in George’s job description does it say he needs to do more than his course plan; Very likely, it doesn’t say that he has to come to a show on a Saturday to listen to sales people tell him that they are the best. Teachers, like George, are coming to our booth because they want MORE for their students. They want their students to Stand Out and succeed.

Doug, it took me 3 days and your question was “the name of someone who inspires me?” I don’t have a name of one person but I have their job title:


About the author: Safwan Hak, founder of 9sharp, is an entrepreneur and a software developer with a passion for personal branding. He has over 15 years of experience in project management, and has worked for major companies building scalable enterprise software. Now, as CEO of 9Sharp, he believes that today’s students and professionals need a new and creative way to stand out from the crowd, to create their own brand and be in control of their web presence.

About 9Sharp: 9Sharp provides students and professionals with the means to create, control and easily maintain their own brand in multiple languages. It combines their digital identity into one well-organised profile, helps them in their job search and gives them an advantage with recruiters and employers.