Half Lebanese, half Turkish and a nationalised Bahraini, Tarek Miknas was born into an advertising family. His parents established FP7 in Beirut in 1968, moving its head office to Bahrain in 1980. He studied in Los Angeles, and it is in the United states where he also began his advertising career before moving back to Dubai in 2003 to work for FP7, as an account manager; afterward he launched LOWE Middle East and North Africa, carving up out a unique, relevant space in the market winning nine Lynx Awards within the first 11 months of operation. Tarek was recently selected to head up the Fortune Promoseven Network as CEO for the Middle East and North Africa.
What kills you most?
Negativity and selfishness.
What gets you up in the morning?
The newspaper, in the most fundamental sense!
What happened to your childhood dreams?
I’m living them. As a kid, I grew up inside an agency. This Agency. My dream was to work in that environment. It was positive, creative, casual, fun and you could feel passion from just about everyone you met.
What distinguishes you from others?
I feel at home wherever I am. I can relate to different people and places. I grew up in a school with kids from every nationality. And that’s my comfort zone. In fact, I feel uncomfortable being in a monochromatic culture for an extended period of time. I love diversity in people, in my every day, in my approach to just about everything.
What do you need most?
Food. Shelter. Love. And self actualisation!
Do you think that anyone can become an artist?
I think anyone can do anything they are passionate about. And that there is a science and an art to everything we do. Some are better at perfecting the science, and some are better at re-interpreting it. But you can make an art out of anything – you don’t need to have a paintbrush and canvas or be able to mold clay to be an artist. You can do something with whatever your passion may be, in a unique new way.
Where are you from?
Born in Beirut to a Lebanese father and a Turkish mother. Raised in a multicultural environment in Bahrain, then I spent 10 years in America. I really don’t feel that any place is my permanent home, but rather that I am home wherever I am.
Do you feel your situation is enviable?
Absolutely. I have a dream job. I work with people I truly admire and care about. I’m living at a time when the world is changing faster than ever and I can be a part of influencing that change. I couldn’t ask for a better family or home life. I’ve traveled the world and have friends right the way across the planet. The people I befriend are genuine.
What have you given up on?
I don’t like the concept of giving up. I’m quite a persistent person and if there is something I want, I’m prepared to work hard for it and will make it happen.
What do you do with your money?
I spend it. I’m not a saver at all. I will buy art. I will buy special wines. I will travel comfortably and experience as much as I can. I will spend it on entertaining people I care about to share experiences together. It's not so much what you do with your money that counts, it’s what you do with your time. Experiences are more valuable than anything money can buy. “There are some things money can buy, for everything else, there’s Mastercard”
What moves you?
I’m excited about what I do. What moves me are the people I work with...Their passion for doing great work, their desire to make a difference, their creativity and perseverance, and their buy-in to a common dream. I love to be around positive people who have the energy to make things happen.
What are your favourite pleasures?
I love to travel. To explore new cultures, new foods, new people, see new places, try new things. I’m one of those strange people who have got Turkmenistan on the top of their travel list. I get an adrenaline boost whenever I wake up in a brand new place. I want to discover every inch of it and can’t wait to get on the road.
Name three living artists that you hate most?
Who can hate an artist? Perhaps I won’t appreciate their craft, perhaps I won’t appreciate their message, but I will always appreciate the courage an artist has to put his/ her self out there.
What or whom do you defend?
Those who don’t have the knowledge or means to defend themselves, but are prepared to do what it takes to make it. Currently, we are part of a CSR initiative called adoptalaborer.com in Dubai where we try to give laborers the tools to better their situation. It’s not a free ride. We teach them English, how to write a CV, how to conduct themselves when interviewing and the like. We also get them closer to people from other social segments to help bridge the gap.
What are you capable of refusing?
Politics. I hate the game. It’s a waste of time and counterproductive to progress.
What are you capable of doing in the name of love?
Love is the strongest emotion in the world, and has the power to get anyone to do just about anything. So, I guess my answer is just about anything.
What are you blamed for?
Different things by different people, but in 30 seconds, I really can’t think of anything, so probably nothing important.
What does art bring to you?
Happiness. I love art. And I love the raw, new stuff that you find walking into small galleries in NY. And because I’m in advertising, I find that a lot of the art I buy combines both word and image. I can spend hours looking at street art; people’s current expressions and social commentary that couldn’t be bottled up. I also love photography. It’s quite rare to find me without a camera at just about any time. And Jazz, particularly in New York. There is just something about that city that pushes jazz musicians to experiment with sound, mix genres and surprise you each time.
Who do you think you are?
I think if anyone’s actually read any of this, they’ll get a pretty good idea of who I am.
What drives you nuts?
Negativity and selfishness.
Write your own epitaph?
Go live. I’m with you always.
In what form would you like to come back as?
Water. Swim around oceans, rivers, get evaporated up into the sky, become rain, and do it all over again in different places. That could be fun.
What was the last book you read?
Might sound a little silly, but it was a book called, “Everything I learnt about management, I learnt from my dog”. I was waiting to receive my new puppy and found the book in a bookstore and had to read it. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
Do you like animals?
Clearly. Especially Blue French Bulldogs.
Why did you choose your field?
I grew up in this field, I’ve always loved it. I think the love for the business may have started when I was a kid and had to sit on a pretty Gulf Air stewardess’s lap for a print ad photo shoot, that must have done it.
Who is the woman of your dream?
The one I’m with.
What is your philosophy in life?
Truth and Dare.
What gift would you like to receive for your birthday?
What is the most important thing in your life?
The balance of all things in my life. The harmony of my work, my family, my friends, my ambitions and my experiences.
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