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Case Study - Zeid Bataineh: "You will not believe where we're going to go in seven years!"

Zeid Bataineh from Dubai did the VysionQuest Bali Retreat in 2014. (At that time it was called Surf Life.)
 
Before VysionQuest:
- Worked in management consulting but didn't enjoy it.
- "I felt so stuck before."
 
During VysionQuest:
- Got clarity on his priorities.
- Let go of fear.
- Learned to follow his passions, trust life, and take it step by step.
 
After VysionQuest:
- Took a break from work and went to India to study yoga in an ashram for 1 month. He stayed for 6 months.
- Developed a deeper spiritual life.
- Created a sports podcast with his buddy about the NBA (Zeid's #1 passion).
- His podcast becomes the top sports podcast in the Arab world.
- Created a sports podcast company Al Jamhour Studio expanding to 6 different shows, holding the top 6 slots for sports podcasts in the Arab world.
- Left management consulting.
- Joined a crypto (Zeid's #2 passion) company as content creator.
 
Zeid shares a whole bunch of real life wisdom here that comes from reorienting your life around your purpose and passion. Check it out...
Rick: So I'm in Australia and Zeid did the VysionQuest about eight years ago or so?
 

Zeid: I think so. I think it was 2014. That's seven years ago.

Rick: Seven years ago. Time flies. And Zeid, where are you?

Zeid: I'm in Dubai.

Rick: All right. And where were you born and raised?

Zeid: Born and raised in Jordan. So I lived there until I was 18. Then went and studied in the states, I went to university there. And since then been working in the Gulf region, like Bahrain, Kuwait, and for the past nine years now I've been in Dubai.

Rick: And what is your work, or the few things you do for work?

Zeid: Well, a few things... that's changed a lot over the past few years.

Zeid: Before I was in management consulting for a long time. And I never really enjoyed that. It was very suited, very, you know, very stiff. Definitely nothing to do with who I was as a person, but I somehow fell into it and it was good income. So I felt, you know, I don't know, it was just, I was just stuck there because I couldn't leave it.

And I didn't know... I was always scared of... but how am I going to make the same amount of income and how am I going to keep up my standard of living, et cetera. So anyways, I'm sure we'll get to that story, but now I have two things. I have a podcast company, podcast network. It's a sports podcast network, an Arabic language sports podcast network.

And it's been two and a half years now. And it's going really well, thankfully. We're kicking ass. And recently I joined a, like just a month ago, I joined a cryptocurrency company based in the region. One of the first licensed exchanges to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. And I'm in charge of their content marketing.

So I'm making all kinds of content for them, written blogs, newsletters, podcasts, video scripts now that we're starting to work on. So super cool, exciting stuff.

Rick: That's great. And I did catch up with you and your wife before you guys had your daughter, right? In Bali. That would have been like five years ago or so?

Zeid: Yeah, it was 2016. So yeah, no, 17. I don't know. 17, 18, something like that. Yeah. But before we had our daughter. Yeah, our daughter is three now. So it must've been at least four years.

Rick: Yeah. Okay, cool. So, I'm curious why you signed up for VysionQuest. How did you find out about it and why did you sign up for it? What was going on in your life?

Zeid: At the time I just wanted to, uh... I had been practicing yoga for a while and I always wanted to learn how to surf. So I just Googled yoga and surf and there was this, there were so many websites and they all look super fancy. And, you know, and then I saw VysionQuest. Or Surf Life, which it was called then, and it had the worst designed website out of all of them.

Rick: I still go for that effect!

Zeid: Yeah. It was the most basic one, but like right on the top it had your story and how it started and I was drawn to it. And I was like, all right, this guy seems legit, you know, it would be weird for someone to lie about something like that. So I'm like, okay, this guy is trustworthy. Let's go and surf and do yoga with him. And I had no idea what the week was going to be. I just thought we're going to surf and do yoga to be honest, and just went by myself. I had started before... I don't remember... I think the year before I took my first trip, I went on a habitat for humanity trip where we'd go, like we built houses in Ethiopia. And I really enjoyed those solo trips, because it forces you to be out of your comfort zone and meet new people and experience new things. So I just went by myself. And went to Surf Life on Nusa Lembongan.

Rick: I've had a few people show up over the years that didn't really know what it was, that it was a deep journaling, life reflecting trip. And that there was a lot of writing in this retreat. And then by like day three or four, you know, they're getting so much from the writing. It's so much more than you could even expect to get from even a retreat where you already know that that's what you're going to be doing. So it usually usually works out for the best.

So you came mainly for the adventure of just going on a surf yoga retreat. Okay. And what happened for you there through the process? What did you find you got from the process? What was unique about the process?

Zeid: Um, everything. But starting off with the mornings, because the mornings really set the tone, the early morning wake ups, which in theory I always wanted to do. And I tried to do, but, you know, I would mostly stay up late. I used to party a lot too. So the idea of it was appealing and I always thought I will get there one day, but every time I travel or whatever, I would stay up late and you know, I'd want to enjoy the nightlife of wherever I'm going as well. So this one was different. We still enjoy the nightlife for a couple of nights, but yeah.

Rick: Oh, that was back when we used to still drink on the retreats, back then. That's phased out...

Zeid: We had some fun nights. We didn't drink a lot though. Like, I think we drank the last night, we celebrated, and there was one night maybe. The rest of the nights was smoothies and, you know, just healthy meals for the most part. But yeah, I think the mornings really set the tone and just waking up at sunrise, I liked the no talking for the initial parts, which was beautiful because it's just, there's no need to communicate. There's no need to say what you're thinking. Just feel and write, you know, and that way your thoughts come out much clearer, you know, so it's much easier to have a stream of consciousness when you're not having small talk with someone in the morning. So I really enjoyed that, those mornings, a lot.

Rick: Yeah, as I've done so many retreats over the years and just experimented with different things and tried things and gotten suggestions from my participants, that's one of the secret ingredients is the silent sunrise sessions. And whether people do it on the retreat or they do it at home, you don't engage with anyone before or during it, you're not answering messages. All the messages are off on your phone and it makes such a difference, especially when you do it first thing in the morning, and you're a little bit groggy and your personality hasn't kicked in. You haven't had to put on a smile and go, "Hey, how'd you sleep last night?" You know? Even though you might not feel like talking. So, that's cool to hear that, that that's something that you remember from it.

Zeid: Yeah, I like that because it's more honest, you know, the small talk is nice, you know, niceties and pleasantries are nice, but like, I think a lot of us are so an autopilot on that mode that we're not really genuinely, like, "How was your sleep really like?" And I don't really want to hear about your sleep. You know what I mean? It's just a thing that we're programmed to do. So it's nice too, that you set the tone. No, we're not doing that. Just stay silent, go into your own, you know, go inwards. And, and here's a question. Here's a piece of paper with a question. To help you get started. That's cool.

Rick: Yeah. Well, back then I would write the questions out the night before and then put it on the table on a piece of paper. We've advanced to a workbook now and it saves me a lot of energy. And then it's been refined and rearranged over the years.

So, okay you came seven years ago and did the VysionQuest...  So one of the cool things about talking to you, because that was my second year of running retreats, it was 2014, my first year was 2012. So maybe you came in the third year of running retreats. And I can't claim that VysionQuest is responsible for ALL the amazing changes that happen in people's lives after they do it, but it does play a part in some of the changes. In terms of your professional life, what are a couple of the most significant changes that you feel are related to the clarity and the connection and the work that you did at the VysionQuest?

Zeid: Yeah. And that's the thing. I think you just mentioned that word clarity. Because we all have so many scattered thoughts and ideas on what we want to do in life, et cetera. But somehow we get swept up with day-to-day life and we're working and responsibilities and bills and family and whatever. So you don't have the time to just... Okay, this is all the things I want to do. And now let's prioritize them. This is career-wise. This is personal-wise. This is health-wise, money-wise. And it was all just laid out for me like that.

And so my decision on what to do next became much easier. So for me, the priority for me, I'd always wanted to go deeper into yoga. So I believe, um, I went on the retreat in August or September. And then by December, I had left my job and went to India and lived in an ashram for six months. And for me, I would have never gotten to that step without the VysionQuest.

Because I saw how it fit in with everything else, You know what I mean? It wasn't just a... and it's very cliche. "Oh, I just left my job and everything and went to do yoga." It's like, yes, but it's part of the journey. It's part of my journey that I need to do. That I want to do. And it's okay That my professional life is going to put on hold for awhile. Even my personal life is put on hold for awhile, because this is something that I need to do now. Otherwise it will be more difficult, the more I wait.

So that was the first step, right after the VysionQuest. It was like four months after Surf Life/VysionQuest. And I went and did and did that. And that really started a lot of changes across my life. Like, that's a very transformative experience, going deeper into yoga and meditation and having a more spiritual base to anchor me in anything else I did. I'm very thankful for that experience. And it was an amazing experience for me. I mean, I always say that if I could gift everyone a gift, besides telling them to go do Surf Life for a week, if you have a month, just go spend it in an ashram or in some yoga retreat or somewhere. It's literally just this time to be with yourself and allow yourself to slow down.

Cause I think the clarity you get is so underrated. And a month... a lot can happen in a month. And I ended up staying six months there. So I think that would never have happened without the clarity I got from the retreat.

Rick: And is it that you saw that that tied into a greater purpose? Or was it like, you just felt a calling, like that's something you needed to do?

Zeid: I had felt the calling for sure. Because for me having a spiritual anchor, a spiritual cornerstone to my being, I think is very important because I do believe in something. I don't think it's all random happy coincidence, you know? It seems extremely unlikely that this is just completely random. You can either believe it's completely random, nothing matters. Or everything matters. And I believe everything matters. That for me is a more comforting thought and I want to live that way.

So yes, it was a calling, but also I think it was very important. Whenever I have to do next, whether it's my relationships or my work or whatever. So I think as a first step for me, after getting that clarity from Surf Life was to go and have that experience.

Rick: Yeah, that's so satisfying for me to hear because when my major change in my life happened, when I had leukemia, and I was seeing a psychologist at the time who became just one of the most significant mentors in my life. He was a psychologist, but he also called himself a spiritual broker because he helped people find their spiritual path. So there's seeds of that for sure within the process and the questions. So it's very satisfying for me to hear that it opened you up to be able to find your spiritual path. And it sounds like that was just the beginning. That just redirected your life and gave you so much.

Zeid: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Rick: And in terms of either professionally or personally, what other significant changes do you feel were related to the clarity that you got?

Zeid: I think the most important thing for me was professionally, because professionally was where I struggled the most in terms of what to do and how to align who I am as a person. How I make money as a person. And, I used to always, it was very separate, you know. Money is like for me, was putting on a suit and going in a completely different persona into this corporate environment.

Because I just fell into that and it was so not me, but it was the way I knew how to make money. And money is important, whether we like it or not. It's it's freedom, you know. It's much nicer to have that freedom and flexibility, than not, you know, obviously. But I also understood that it was a blessing that I'm making good money.

So I was conflicted. Like am I not being grateful? Am I just spoiled because this is not good enough? And I want something better?

But then Surf Life (VysionQuest) allowed me to not fear that change, you know, and accept that it's okay to want something more for yourself, to not settle for this, just because you've been doing it for 10 years, doesn't mean that you have to keep doing it for the next 30, 40 years.

And if you want change, you have to start with a leap of faith. You just have to start walking, walking the path. For me it eliminated the fear out of it a lot. Cause fear is the worst. It just holds you back from doing anything and you end up stuck and all of a sudden years have passed and you're still in the same spot.

So once I have that clarity that I got from Surf Life it became really much more methodical, in terms of practical-wise. Like, okay, this is where I am and I've done this step now and now let's move on to another step and now let's move on to the other stuff.

I'll jump to my second professional leap of faith, which is, well... one of the questions in Surf Life is, "What have you created?" And I had nothing. I've never created anything. You know? And I remember that it was like the only question that I had nothing. I'm like, whoa, how come? Am I not a creator? Do I not have the creativity? I started doubting myself. So that question lingered. I didn't address it right away, but years later my buddy and I started..  one of the sports I used to play was basketball when I was young, I used to follow the NBA. And we were at a wedding and we were talking and, you know, it's like, "Do you listen to podcasts?" And I'm like, "Yeah, I listen to like mostly podcasts about NBA or crypto." Those are the two topics that I listen about. And he said, "There's no podcast about the NBA." And I'm like, "Yeah, I know it sucks. There should be." And so like the next day we created our first podcast, we recorded it on a phone and sent it to our friends and they liked it.

They're like, "Oh, you guys really know your shit." And, "Yes, definitely go for it, this was very entertaining. Send us other episodes when you record them." So the next month we just went home and started recording, learned how to record and edit and do all that. How to host a podcast, et cetera. We created a podcast and now that felt so satisfying. Now I created something, you know? There's a product, it's a media product and it's cool. Even the art, everything. And then you start paying attention to every little detail, the artwork, the music, the sound effects we use, the segments that we come up with.

So like all of a sudden I'm SUPER creative. And creating all these segments, et cetera. And the podcast just went parabolic, you know, and it's been the number one sports podcast in the Arab world for two years. And it's a basketball podcast. Like there's 10 times more soccer/football fans in this region than basketball fans. It's not a popular. But all the comments... cause now it's like thousands of people listen a day. It's a huge community. And all the comments are like, "We just like hanging out with you guys." Cause it's a very casual talk between my friend and I, and sometimes we go veer into other topics. So it's like, "We just like listening to you guys." And some of them play episodes multiple times, while their working. And we get these pictures... like this guy who is a "showerma" guy and he always had us in the background or in his restaurants. He had us on the YouTube, like on a big screen in the middle of Saudi or in the middle of Baghdad, he just had us on this big ass screen.

So the podcast went well. And then covid hit, like, okay, what the hell is this? You know? So then that's when my job was compromised. I was still doing management consulting. We were doing month to month. We didn't know what to do. My partner's job, my co-host on the podcast, his job was in events, so he got wiped out completely.

So we looked at the podcast like, okay, If we wanted to make this into a business how would we do it? So we started a podcast network and we pick the sports that we wanted to cover. And it was like basically applying the same formula of our show to different sports. So we would find the hosts for that sport that we want. We would train them for how to record, what type of show it should be, just to bring out their personalities and how they cover the sports. Because sports is fun. It doesn't have to be boring or stiff or men in suits. So we did that during covid. And now we have six weekly shows covering a bunch of sports. And it's the number one sports broadcast network.

Like on the podcast charts we're number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. So we're competing with ourselves. There's no one... even our competitors are advertising on our networks. They're paying us to advertise.

Rick: Tony Robbins has contacted me and he's like, "Rick, can you give me a plug on your online program?"

Zeid: Exactly. Yeah. Because other competitors, the way they did it was they went out and raised money. So like all of them, you seen in the news, they raised $1,000,000, et cetera. And we didn't raise anything. We're funding it ourselves, monthly, me and my cohost, my partner, we're funding it ourselves. And the good people we're giving them shares in the company so that they can feel part of the journey. Yeah. So it's nice to see that these other companies who went and just raised a bunch of money first, they're coming to us and now they're advertising on our network. So it was very satisfying.

Rick: So how does it feel to have something to grow, something to create something, just out of your passion? And just something that you would pretty much do it for free? Like sit there and talk about basketball with your buddy. And it's grown into this thing where not only have you got listeners, you people listening to episodes more than once, but you're bringing other people along for this journey too. And teaching them how to do it and spreading the love and the wealth and everything. So how is that?

Zeid: It's incredible. It's so nice because you feel like you're part of like a conspiracy, you know, like you're co-conspirators in this thing. Because you're creating something out of nothing. And it's a vision that only we had. Me and one other guy. And it's happening and it's coming to life. But I think the first step of it was that we never thought of it as a business to make money. Like that was never... we didn't put that as our target. Our target was to do something we're passionate about. And that's one of the key things that I took from Surf Life. Like, just start doing something. Look at what your passions are and just start doing something there. And then opportunities will reveal themselves.

We never thought of creating a company. We never thought the podcast would make money. Cause very rarely do they make money. We're still not making great money, but it's something, there's something there. So I think that the first step was to just focus on your passions and get in touch with your passions and just do something, and then everyone can be creative. Everyone can create something if they focus on their passion. But if they're put in a box, you know, then it's difficult. But if you focus on the passion, then it definitely just comes. I don't know how.

Rick: Yeah. So when we were emailing about having this chat, you said you were, I think your words were, "I'm not a suit anymore." What does that mean to you.

Zeid: I don't wear a suit. I left the suit world a couple of months ago, I finally resigned from my management consulting job, and I took a job as  head of content marketing development for a cryptocurrency company. So it's a cryptocurrency startup. And I'm just creating content for them, written content.

Cause my other passion is cryptocurrency. I like the whole idea of decentralized... taking out the banks from the middlemen, et cetera. So that whole, the revolutionary aspect of it really appealed to me. So I I've been down the rabbit hole for four or five years and it was just something that also I was just passionate about, and super knowledgeable about, just by listening to podcasts and doing my own reading. And I never even considered working in the field. Cause I thought, you know, what could I do in the field?

And then I met a guy who was giving a talk about the company that I'm working for now. And he's a really charismatic guy. And he's been in the space for like four or five for seven years now. So I went to him and I told him, "You should sponsor on our podcast network. Our demographics match yours." So I went there to sell him on sponsoring for my podcast. And then I asked him how's things going and he was telling me, and I was like, "You know what you should do also, you need to create more content, create more content marketing, you need a newsletter, you need to create blogs, you need to create a podcast first and invite guests over. I mean, you're a very good speaker. So you should definitely capitalize on that. You create videos, blah, blah, blah."

So I was just rambling on and on about what you can do. And how that's how crypto grew anyways, because you know, Bitcoin started by a bunch of cypherpunks and hackers. Like there was never a company that had a marketing campaign to push Bitcoin, you know?

And like, this is how you grow it, you grow it through community and we grow through spreading the knowledge of what it is. And more importantly, fighting what it's not, you know? And then he's like nodding, nodding, nodding. He's like, "Alright, alright. So what are you doing? Are you doing anything now?"

I'm like, um. So I just stumbled into this, you know? And I'm like, yeah, I would love to do this. Absolutely. And all of a sudden for the next three days, I didn't sleep, you know, I'm so excited. I'm like, holy shit. I could actually be doing this. And then we connected again a week later. And then two weeks later I started working.

Rick: Yeah. It's so uplifting to hear that your two work paths right now are two things that you're just super passionate about, that you spend your free time studying and talking about anyway, and both opportunities have just fallen into your lap. And like you said, you just take the next action and the next action. And then it grows into jobs and income and a team and all these difficult things. It's fricken incredible.

Zeid: Yeah, it is. It is. Yeah. Incredible.

Rick: Yeah. If you could go back to the you before you came on the retreat, about a year before the retreat, that period of your life, you know, you're wearing a suit, you're going to work, you're feeling like you have split lives where there's this like work persona that's not really you, that's got to just show up and make money. And then there's the you that is the real you.. you feel that incongruency... What would you go back and tell yourself?

Zeid: What I would tell myself, like from here going back to the past?

Rick: Knowing what you know now.

Zeid: You will not believe where we're going to go in seven years! That's what I would tell him. Cause I could never even foresee this, you know? I could never foresee it. It's impossible to foresee. If we can foresee the future, then it would be very easy to... anyone would be able to do it.

But it's about just day-to-day things, you know, it's about these little small things, the habits and the interest. And just following up on your interest and doubling down and not thinking about, "How is going to become a career? How is this going to become my livelihood or whatever?" Just focusing on the passions, step-by-step. I think that's the key. I think that's the key, cause there's no way I could foresee this. No way.

Rick: Yeah. It's funny. When you came, it was called Surf Life. That's how the program started and the theme was how to help people align with... I call it, Co-Create with the Great Flow. How do you help people find their flow and align with life? And after a few years of doing the retreats, I saw that what we were really doing was a vision quest. It was bringing your vision up to the surface, you know? Helping you identify your purpose and your dreams and the goals that really are right for you and kind of getting this overall aim for your life.

And that helps you surrender to that Great Flow and takes you to places that you can't even see in your vision because you just don't know enough. We can't know everything of how our lives are going to unfold. It's just the vision of that next phase, the big things that are holding us back that we've got to move on from. And then just that general aim for your life that takes you in the right direction. And then from there it's like surfing, then you're starting to align with these waves that are carrying you further than... you know, it's totally unpredictable, there's no way you could have planned or predicted where you are.

Zeid: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Couldn't agree more.

Zeid: Remember I started slacklining on the retreat? Remember, like we were barely making it through to the tree? I have a slack line now in front of my house. And I'm like going all over the place with it now. I'm like almost jumping and stuff. You can check out... I posted a video recently on Instagram. So now I'm all over that. I love slack writing now. It's great. And I always remember, it always reminds me of the retreat, it was a really cool little thing.

Rick: Yeah, yeah. Set up between a post and a palm tree right on the beach. We'd go out there at sunset and...

Zeid: Yeah, that was awesome.

Rick: Is there anything else that you want to share? Like for anyone who's listening, who maybe could relate to your story? Anything you'd want to tell them or anyone who might be on the fence about doing the VysionQuest?

Zeid: Look, I think every one of us has their own journey. But... because I was there... and I can't believe that I'm, I guess, a success story. Or that my story might inspire someone else. Because I thought that would never happen, you know? I felt so stuck before, like,"Ooh, it's different for me." Everyone thinks that.

Everyone has a different set of circumstances. It's family, it's career, it's so many things. And we feel like our story is unique also, but also it's very common, you know? Like the blocks that we convince ourselves of are super common. And really, what VysionQuest does in one week? It's really incredible. Like, I love you, Rick. And we're going to be friends forever and we'll meet up, even if we don't meet up for 5, 10 years, when we see each other, it's like seeing a brother. Because what you created was an experience that is truly transformational. And that sounds... it's not hyperbole, you know, like it's just one week of focus, fun and very deliberate visioning, and thinking and intentioning. And it really very simply lays out: these are your priorities, this is what you want to do. And then you take it step by step and step by step. And then if you do that, then I promise you in 5, 7 years you'll be having your... whoever is listening will be talking to you in 5, 6 years and telling you where they've come, how far they've come in the past 4 or 5 years, you know?

It's not a straight line, you know, it's not like a straight line up. It's definitely a wiggly line, but it's trending up, you know? It trends up.

I mean, I can't say enough about the retreat. I love it. And I've already told a few friends... a few friends of mine have come to your retreat as well. It's a beautiful thing. It's a beautiful thing. Definitely. Yeah.

Rick: Yeah. Thank you so much, Zeid. That really means a lot. And the thing that's most satisfying is just seeing how lit up you are about your life and your projects that you're working on now. It's really exciting and satisfying.

And like I said, it's cool that there's been seven years since you've done the retreat. Everyone has their own pace of how quickly things change afterwards, but for the big changes, like career and new businesses, those things take time. You know, for most people, they can't just go, "I'm going to start this new business and it's going to be cranking in six months."

For most people it's a bit of taking steps into the unknown and it kind of grows at its own pace. But what's so exciting.... You know, I've been doing this for 11 years... that there's enough time for incredible stories to come out of it. And there's just going to be more and more of those stories.

So that's what the purpose of these interviews is - letting you guys tell your story and share your wisdom with us and help us see what's possible for our own lives.

Zeid: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm sure there'll be many more stories to come out from people who have attended the VysionQuest. Absolutely.

Rick: Yeah. I just set up an auto auto email thing to email you guys every six months and be like,  if you have something amazing happening or just happened, let me know. Let's share it with the world.

Cool, man. Thank you so much for being here. It was great to chat, Zeid.

Zeid: Same. Pleasure. Pleasure, Rick. Anytime.

Rick: All right, we'll do one of these again soon.

Zeid: Absolutely. Anytime. I'm ready.

Rick: Okay. Cheers. Bye.

If you know someone who could use some clarity and inspiration for their best life, use the links below to spread the love. Thanks!
Author:
Rick Cowley - Creator of VysionQuest
The VysionQuest is a spiritual adventure to help high achievers at a crossroads to wake up to their soul's purpose and surf life.
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