Imagine being a young teenager with dyslexia. You find yourself struggling in school. At the end of the semester, you are handed your report card. Under the section marked ‘notes’ your teacher writes that you “will never achieve much in life”. Shortly thereafter, you’re forced to drop out, leaving you aimless and shunned by peers, friends, mentors, and family. This is exactly what happened to Paul Evans.
“I told Dad that I thought there was something different about my brain, compared with the other kids in school,” said Evans in a 2019 interview with Entrepreneur magazine. Explaining his feelings of having dyslexia to his father, Evans felt more like it was a burden of mental illness, and his father suggested a young Evans take an IQ test. “I thought he was joking…I’d never passed a single academic test in my life…[but] my score, to my shock and amazement, was 143!”
It likely wasn’t only to Evans’s shock and amazement, either. Despite continuing his battle with dyslexia, Evans was now reassured that his mental faculties were not only fully intact – he possessed mental abilities that placed him into Mensa’s “genius” category.
Like many who find themselves struggling in early academia, Evans found early success as an entrepreneur. His first job, hawking appliances at a local market for a friend of his fathers, saw Evans taking in hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds in profit each week while his peers were washing cars or bagging groceries for what looked like pennies in comparison. Reaping the fruits of his labor in real-time, Evans’s early success was fuel on the kindling flame of entrepreneurship burning in his heart. The following year at school, he bagan a small enterprise selling pens to his fellow students.
Years after his early entrepreneurial success, Evans applied the lessons he learned from his youth into his early career. It wasn’t long before he was recognized as GE Capital’s “golden boy” of sales in the firm’s financial sector. Soon after a chance meeting with Egyptian club owner and fellow entrepreneur Freek Teusink, Evans moved to Egypt permanently to form the Solutions Leisure group. The group, of which Evans remains the CEO and has since won multiple awards for its work in the entertainment industry, was forced to relocate in 2011, to Dubai in the UAE, following the Arab Spring and Egyptian Revolution of the early 2000s.
Since this relocation, Evans’s group is “the most awarded leader in F&B to date” claiming over 70 awards company-wide. Evans himself has also won numerous personal awards for his contributions to his industry and his home, including the Outstanding Contribution 2018 Time Out Dubai Nightlife Award, No. 1 in the 2017 and 2018 Caterer ME Power 50, and 2015 Restaurateur of the Year in the Caterer Middle East Awards.
But Evans’s story wasn’t always one of success. In his award-winning memoir, “When I Woke Up”, Evans walks us through his journey to hell and back. Twice. After dying on the operating table and clinging to life in a coma, Evans returned to life only to be thrown into a Cairo jail for a crime committed by someone else. With his wrongful sentencing, the multi-million-dollar business he built vanished virtually overnight. Despite this, Evans persevered, rebuilding his business from the ground up upon his release.
Evans’s story isn’t only one of entrepreneurship, success, or leadership; it is one of survival. Evans refers to his memoir not simply as a guide to wealth or happiness, but a manual for navigating the downturns and pitfalls of life.
“[I] live today knowing and believing that YOU can survive anything,” says Evans. “If you want to know how to get through this thing called life – THIS is your manual.”
A key opinion leader, trendsetter and driver of the industry, Paul is, without question, a man of the moment to watch. Read more of Paul’s story and share yours with him today at: wheniwokeup.com/my-story/