An interview with social entrepreneur Hady Wehbe

Hady Wehbe is a perfect example that any big dreams you have can come true thanks to a positive mind-set, right habits, choices and well-balanced personal life.

Hady Wehbe is known for being a successful social entrepreneur who founded two multi-million dollar businesses at just 31 years old. However, he chose to step down from his positions to balance his personal life and help people from underserved communities. He believes that success is possible for everyone and the richness comes from a correct mind-set. He believes that working on yourself and loving yourself first is the only and best way you can help others. Today we will be interviewing Hady Wehbe to help get some insights on how he got to the point where he is today.

What was life like as a young man?

Hady Wehbe: Before going into being a young man, I believe understanding your youth especially between the ages of 0 to 8 is very important for success, at this age is when your brain absorbs and learns all the beliefs and behaviours. It’s important to have the positive experiences but even more to understand the negative ones so you can change your beliefs to what you want so you can have that successful business or life you want.

When I go through hard times, I tend to have the habits to go to the library or look for books that speak to me and guide me. But I only realized this particular habit when an ex-girlfriend of mine spotted a pattern in my behaviour. One day I was feeling depressed and was at the library when she called. She said: “This is amazing, you’re street smart and have built impressive businesses, but you’re also a nerd, whenever you feel triggered, anxious, and sad you go to the library.” I had an aha moment.

I started my journey of being curious to understand why we do what we do, why we feel what we feel. It has nothing to do with the amount of money you make or success you believe you have. It has more to do with the experiences you’ve grown up with. That journey changed the way I thought, ate, loved, and moved. It challenged my thinking and my beliefs about myself. It gave me a sense of the power of purpose, and positioned me to help others on their path.

I am not going to list all the beliefs that were engrave in me when I was young, instead I’ll state one of the most important ones. I grew up in a family environment where reacting to circumstances was a daily habit at home and at work, which is really unhealthy, because it shows that you are at the mercy of your emotions (anger, anxiety, fear…). Obviously these beliefs and behaviours were transmitted to me from one generation to another.

We all know the saying that in business you can’t bring in your emotions, you have to act and choose rather than react. But the way you show up at home is the way you’ll show up anywhere else. If you read a book and don’t finish it, look at other things you do and not finish, such as starting a business maybe. The only way you can fix it is to be aware of it and acquire the right knowledge and awareness.

So moving forward after becoming aware about what triggered me and why it did, I choose not to react anymore. So when I get triggered, I stop, I chose what to do by asking myself “Does this serve me and is it align with my values”? For example: Does this business partnership serve me? Does this relationship serve me? Does eating the burger serve me? ect… I realized I actually have the choice to create my own beliefs, my own habits to be whoever I want to be. This is so important in business and life. If you’re good with yourself, you can than take care of your business. If you’re not good with yourself, it will reflect on and in your business no matter what you do. My advise is to learn more about yourself and make sure to take care of you so you can choose instead of reacting and having to decide between A or B. Because A or B is what you see, but might not be what you’re choosing to be.

How was 11 Players started?

Hady Wehbe: When I was 18 years old, I moved out to Canada to pursue my studies. Although many thought that it won’t be an easy step for such a young person, I was able to find my place in Canada. In Canada, I studied Business Management at the University of Ottawa, while I was running a coffee shop. During the time I was there, I founded an elite football magazine in 2010 that was completely free of charge for the community. The magazine was used for highlighting local talents. This was around the time when I created 11 players.

Every day on my way to work I noticed that I was subconsciously looking for a place for the Football complex I always dreamed of realizing.

One day I saw a bunch of kids playing barefoot football on a rocky beach. Who knew that I was driving around 11 Players headquarters for years?

At first, I didn’t believe that the authorities would just give this piece of land not far from the US embassy to a young entrepreneur in his 30’s. I had a vision, so I took the first step and had a 3D model of the complex created and hired key talents to finalize it. We presented the vision to the city and the city accepted it. You can check a brief video of the complex here:

Obviously we went through obstacles, pains like any other start-ups. Nothing is as easy as it sounds. Winning the trophy is nice, but look at all the trainings and efforts athletes have to commit to, to win every single game to reach the finals and win that trophy. It’s the same in business. The process and the journey is the fun part, you have to love what you do, and because that’s the only way you’ll hang on during tuff times. Stick to the mission and not to an external validation. Because a mission never disappears and its an internal force of motivation. If your motivation is driven by some external validation, the second that external validation disappears your motivation levels just goes to zero. My mission was to transform community through the power of sports facilities. No matter who stood in front of me, I was going for it. I wanted to impact 10,000 kids and give them a safe place to play football while running a sustainable business. If I did it, so can anyone else. I used a lot of visualization techniques, meditation.

How did your restaurant “Sharky’s” in Senegal come about?

Hady Wehbe: I would say that it was the most important event that made me become who I am today.  I founded a successful beachfront restaurant, Sharkys ( ), with my partner in Dakar.

Sharkys quickly became one of the most frequented restaurants in Dakar and my life started to change. The potential of the restaurant was huge and the growth was incremental.

I always made sure Sharkys offered a beachfront experience with burgers, sushi, pizzas, and healthy choices while watching the view on the beautiful ocean swarmed with surfers.

It was a huge success from the first day. It’s a unique location. Having employed 90% of the staff from the local community contributed to my achievement. However, because of how busy we were, many of the staff, including me, had to work long 15-hour shifts every day. With money coming in and opening doors to more opportunities, I implemented a new system to my business and hired a manager and a supervisor giving me much more space to grow personally and dream. All this hard work is really what helped me succeed in life, and I’m really glad that I was able to work with such amazing people in my life.