Omar Hagrass is an experienced launch and expansion manager with a proven track record of success.
He is the CEO and co-founder of Trella, a Cairo-based trucking marketplace.
Omar describes Trella as ‘uber for trucks.’
There couldn’t be a fitter description for his digital freight marketplace where shippers can connect with carriers who can book loads for both legs of any journey.
Trella prevents losses by ensuring that long-haul trucks have a load to carry both ways.
Omar’s company offers services and technology to empower drivers, improve efficiency, boost their earnings and utilization, and increase job opportunities.
We managed to catch up with Omar on the Fuse Show, and it was a great conversation.
Read on for some of the tidbits…
1. Lobby for fair regulations in your space
“Part of our existence is to lobby for good regulations and things that can set this industry up for success”
Founders should lobby for reasonable regulations and advocate for things that will set up their industries for success.
Some rules of operations were written hundreds of years ago and are not favorable to today’s startup.
Startups face several bottlenecks especially when it comes to rates and taxes.
Such outdated regulations can impede the success of your business, so it’s up to you to attempt to change them.
For Trella and like businesses, Omar knows that the main problem is that the charges are unregulated, so drivers may pay more or less at toll stations.
Such an unregulated payment system leads to losses that clients aren’t willing to bear.
Instead of complaining about poor regulations, you should try to have them changed for the better of your industry.
2. Lead from the front
“The best way to lead is, lead from the front, with all hands on deck as one of your core values.”
Omar speaks to this critical point with a story about how he participates to feel for the truck drivers’ experience on the ground!
It’s on one such occasion that he saw firsthand how corrupt the toll system could be!
The driver in front of them paid $20, but they were asked for $100 for the same load and weight…
That incident taught him it’s common for drivers to pay more than expected because of unfair practices and will understand if they report such incidents…
Putting yourself through a day in the shoes of your teams helps you become a more empathetic leader.
People are highly likely to work more effectively knowing that the management cares about their well-being.
Omar proudly shares that Trella has high team member retention, and I bet you know why.
According to Omar, this is only achievable if you remove all barriers and direct your teams in a preferred way.
CEOs must make sure their employees believe in the vision, mission, and YOU, their leader.
3.Hire people who’re smarter than you are
“The number one responsibility for a CEO is to make sure that the first line are people who are smarter than him, people who can basically lead the company if he’s absent for whatever reason.”
Make sure your first line is people who are more intelligent than you are
Founders should not feel threatened or focus on personal gains when hiring.
Decisions must be based primarily on the best thing for the team.
It’s during the early stages when startup founders can properly assess individuals and impart core values to match them to their culture.
These people can trickle these values, essentially being in a position to lead in case you’re away for whatever reason.
If possible, you should handpick your staff to make sure that your chosen leader has a clear understanding of the set processes for managing operations and communication.
If you do, Omar says you’ll see the culture cascading down to the newer members.
If you choose right, you’ll emerge with a leader who helps the company reinforce core values—one who believes in the; mission, vision and fits right into the company culture.
“What’s important is how they (executive coaches) help you manage stress, understand the magnitude of what you’re doing and understand how to manage people, your time, and yourself!”
No shame in seeking executive coaching
Choose coaches from unique backgrounds who can help with different parts of your life.
Especially as your company grows, you need to seek advice from people who have been there before.
Reaching out to people in your industry and those more brilliant than you is a good move.
While you do, remember, some will reply, and others won’t bother so don’t take it personally!
The founder of Trella, for example, shares how he still speaks with his water polo coach for advice...sometimes just to hear his voice.
Such interactions, he says, are an excellent way to manage stress and help with different aspects of self.
Omar also mentioned that he reads a lot, too, as part of self-improvement.
…not just business books, but interestingly, he goes to sportsbooks for lessons on self-management, which is an essential skill of team leaders.
An executive coach doesn’t have to be on the business side of things. A founder needs a listening ear, someone to talk to for personal development. They don’t have to be big business minds-just someone who can offer great advice.
5.Stress is inevitable but you can manage it!
“All of a sudden you have a team of 15, 20, 30, 40 people and these people are dependent on the product being successful, so yeah, if you’re a responsible person you’re going to feel the stress…”
Suddenly your team has grown exponentially, and it hits you! You’re responsible for several lives and are feeling the weight. Scary huh!
First-time founders may feel intimidated when they grow exponentially.
While it’s a good problem to have, growing too fast can become daunting to many founders, who feel the pressure to succeed for the sake of all the team members’ livelihoods.
Did It ever occur to you that your success was tied to so many lives? Omar advises us to manage that stress somehow;
- He works out daily to retain his sanity and encourages his team to do the same.
- The co-founder of Trella also emphasizes the importance of sleep, saying there’s no pride in getting little sleep. According to him, inadequate sleep makes you less productive.
- Have a proper schedule and block out ‘DON’T DISTURB’ hours to focus on projects, track emails, and so forth.
- Measuring achievements on a daily/weekly basis is not suitable for founders; he suggests measuring outcomes every quarter. If you look at it that way, chances are, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment. If you don’t, Omar suggests, “buy yourself a beer, and you’ll see.”
Find peace in the present and look at the bigger picture
6.Go Big on Feedback!
“The one thing on improving is to give constant feedback. It’s about finding a balance and reaching a place where you can comfortably give feedback”
Don’t hesitate to give feedback. Radical candor is important for founders whose main intent is to grow leaders from their teams. While it’s important, learning how to deliver feedback can be difficult for startup founders.
To wrap it up!
Omar Hagrass is a wealth of knowledge not just on trucking matters, but also on leadership.
He has so much good advice to offer startup founders (he’s been there before). If you’re interested in learning more from the founder of Trella, feel free to listen to the full podcast here.