The Best Gift

Hussein Hallak
8 min readDec 14, 2023


We all need something.

As a startup founder, I need investment. When I’m on stage doing a presentation or delivering a workshop, I need the attention of the audience. I need the love of my family, and as a man, I need people to see me as handsome, good-looking, and someone with a good sense of style.

Love, respect, money, safety, connection, community… you name it, we need it.

But there is a problem!

The more you need something, the more you come off as needy. This causes people to want to avoid you!

But why?

Well, because people like to please and struggle with saying no, as they do not want to come off as mean. They avoid any situation in which they have to say no.

This is why when you announce that you are looking for a job, you will notice people will be reluctant to take meetings with you. They think you will ask them for help finding a job, and instead of telling you sorry and they can’t help, they prefer not to take the meeting.

It’s a catch-22. You need to ask to get, but if you ask you come off as needy and people avoid you!!

But there is a solution.

Need nothing. Duh, why didn’t you think of that!

No seriously, this is the best-kept secret of highly successful people. You must approach life as someone who is in need of nothing.

But how do you do that? It’s not like your needs will magically disappear!

Your startup bank account is still shrinking with the passing of every minute, you are getting lonelier every day, and the more self-conscious you are, the less confident you come off.

Here is how:

Transform Need Into Goals

You do not need a job to survive, you have a goal to get a great job where you can build your skills, add great value, and make a difference. You do not need love, you are looking for a partner to appreciate, to love, to care for, and to enjoy life with. You do not need connection, you are looking for new friends to have fun with, to take to the new event in town, to enjoy the city life together.

This is not a rephrasing, this is a mindset shift. This is a change in the way you think about things, and it requires work, not just in how you language things, not just in how you think about them, but in your actions as well.

You must sit and work on your goals, they need to be clear, simple, and direct. They also need to be very personal to you. So personal that when you share them with someone, you can feel every word, and you will exude passion, drive, confidence as you state them.

This is not something you can achieve in one day; it’s something you build up. You will naturally feel a little awkward stating them and sharing them at the beginning, but you will get better the more you do it.

And you do need to share them with everyone. Just do not make them the first words out of your mouth. Do not just say hello, I’m looking for a great job where I can add value. That will be a little strange as a conversation starter.

Adopt a Giver’s Mindset

The very best advice that allows me to enter any party, any event, any situation with unbelievable confidence is that I enter with a mindset that I’m here to give.

Give what, you might ask? Well, it depends. If I’m at a networking event, I arrive a little early, have a look around the event and whenever I meet someone, I make it my job to make them feel comfortable and welcomed. Yes, it’s not my event, but acting like a host is a great confidence builder for me, and a great way to break the ice.

I ask questions, like hey, how did you hear about this event? Would you like some food or drinks? They have some great selection right here. Or have you met so and so? They are really wonderful to talk to.

I go around introducing people, making them feel welcomed, and act as if I’m hosting the event. The guests like me, the hosts appreciate that, and I’m having a great time meeting almost everyone.

This is certainly better than sitting in a corner waiting for someone to approach me!

The same goes when looking for a job. When I meet someone, instead of talking about me and my need for a job, I try to learn about them, their company, and what their goals, vision, and current needs are.

They might have a job opening that doesn’t fit you; in fact, that might be the case most of the time. Instead of thinking about how you shoehorn yourself into that role, become curious and ask them if they are interested in an introduction to someone who might be a fit if you have them in your network, ask for permission to introduce them, and let them know what the process is.

Suddenly, you are not someone who needs a job; you are instead a connector and someone who is willing to help and give of their time and energy.

Obviously, you need to be careful to do this only when you can actually help and deliver value, and you need to be conscious of your time and ability. You still have to find a job ;)

As for love, well, that’s a longer conversation, but put simply, stop looking for love and start giving love, sharing your heart, opening yourself up to people. This will give you more joy, and you will become more and more someone people love to be around, and your chances of finding someone to love and someone to spend time with will grow astronomically. And you will gain more real friends.

You are made to give and love, so stop waiting to receive and become the giver that you were born to be.

Appreciate and Acknowledge Yourself

You do not appreciate or acknowledge yourself enough if at all. Yes, you are on a journey, there is so much for you to accomplish, achieve, live, and experience. You still got here somehow, that took effort, time, and overcoming a few challenges.

You must take a moment to acknowledge your growth, progress, advancements, achievements, no matter how small. After all, if you don’t acknowledge and appreciate who you are, and if you don’t believe deeply you have something of value to add, no matter how small, how will others believe it.

This is why the whole “fake it till you make it” is complete BS. What’s better is to look within and find the value in yourself, no matter how small. Acknowledge it, appreciate it, nurture it within yourself.

For unless you do, you will be incapable of seeing it in others, which means you can’t genuinely engage with others, unless they are the person who can give you something, you won’t be able to see any value that they can add.

If you are faking it, you will assume everyone else is, and this is a recipe for disastrous relationship building, because you are building on nothing, and you are just waiting for the time when it all falls apart.

Stop that. Everyone is intrinsically valuable, has something to give and add. There are exceptions, but they are edge cases, and you will immediately recognize them and avoid them.

Now What?

Well, it’s time for the hard work. Life is about growth, progress, and constant evolution. You must grow, progress, and constantly evolve as a person.

Every time people interact with you, they need to experience a new version of you, someone who is wiser, more read, informed, and far more evolved. People love to be around interesting people, and this is your job; you need to become more interesting, more engaging, more kind, more compassionate, more of whatever you want to be known for.

Sorry, watching more TikToks, scrolling through Instagram, or shitposting on Twitter will not cut it. Grab a book, drop in on a few lectures, spend time mastering a skill, visit a museum, start a passion project, attend a local gallery opening, talk to people, help and add value to everyone around you.

Warning, and Important Tip

Before you proceed, I must warn you. There will be a few opportunists who will abuse the new you. While they are few and far between, they are still there. They live among us, and you will most certainly cross paths with a few of them.

They are the reason many people avoid being helpful, guard their friend groups, and have their defenses up all the time.

They are usually pretty easy to spot; your bullshit barometer will almost always let you know something is off here. So there is one more strategy you must implement to protect yourself and this new life you are building.

I call it the rite of passage, some sort of ritual or challenge that people must fulfill in order for you to engage fully.

I call it the rite of passage, some sort of ritual or ask that people must fulfil in order for you to engage fully.

Here is how it works: You divide your sharing, giving, and engagement into two parts. General and focused.

Let’s say I’m at an event, I’m may helpful and giving self, hosting people, being kind, supporting, and giving. I have a general limit that I’m comfortable engaging through with anyone, good or bad.

I would guide everyone to where the food and drinks are, and I would share information about the event, and general information about me, my work, and things I care about with everyone.

But I would only share more and dive deeper with. those who show a genuine interest and ask non intrusive curious questions. That can look a little different for each one. Usually they open up and share on their end, they show genuine gratitude.

That is the rite of passage, the price to pay if you wish for me to give and add more. This not only helps safeguard me from malicious actors, it also helps me manage my energy, focus more on those who deserve more.

Depending on the value I want to add I may even divide my contribution further.

For example, I’m kind of known for being open to introducing people to each other. But I put a condition, the person who wants the introduction has to do the work they have to do the research, have to write the intro and be very specific in their ask.

You might think with someone as connected as me (at least in the Vancouver startup ecosystem) even those who want to abuse such an opportunity will do the work. Surprise, surprise, less than 5% of those who ask for help are willing to do the work.

The thing is those who are faking it, scammers, and malicious actors who want to get get get, and give nothing, know that there are many other people to talk to and that it’s easier for them to go to others and try to scam their way into their lives, they will quickly leave.

So, make sure as you step confidently into the new you that you safeguard your value, protect your growing friend groups, and guard your heart from those who don’t mean well, so that you have more of you to give to those who are impatiently waiting for you to enter into their life ;)

Have your feet firmly planted in your life, engage with all its glory, keep poking at it, and never ever stop reaching for the stars.

Life will have no option but to respond in kind.

Artwork: Leitura (Reading) (1892) by José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior. Source: Wikipedia