I am humbled and honored by this great piece written about me by Syracuse University Sophomore Jessica Mastorides. After switching from being a newspaper and online journalism major to advertising, Jessica finds herself increasingly interested in the marketing world. Having interned with real estate agency Fisher Brothers, she has developed a passion for large scale corporate marketing and is seeking ways to learn more about the industry. Please read her profile on me below:
It had been yet another long night of working on projects in the studio for architecture student Zain Elwakil in February of his freshman year at Syracuse University. It was 3:00 a.m. and he felt drained, but it was in that moment when Elwakil was suddenly struck by an idea that would go on to create a movement. That idea became the Zulu Echo Lifestyle Initiative.
“Zulu Echo is not simply a brand, it’s a way of life,” said Elwakil, now 21 years old and the Founder and CEO of his company. “I’m not trying to sell a product, I’m trying to inspire people through the work I do and encourage them to pursue their dreams.”
Rooted in the concept of Zulu time in aviation, the name Zulu Echo was derived from Elwakil’s own initials in the phonetic alphabet. That, and as he put it, “It also sounded cool.”
Zulu Echo’s message is simple, but clear: Do what you’re passionate about and pursue your dreams. It’s meant to inspire a feeling of self-belief in others to take pride in their ambition and find happiness within it. And Elwakil is not only the messenger, but also an embodiment of these values.
“He lives by his message. Every day he’s posting about finding your passions and staying motivated even though he’s the busiest person I know, and it just shows how much he loves it,” Jaclyn Lash, a close friend of Elwakil’s, said.
Elwakil uses Zulu Echo as a platform to share his personal experiences and values with others through blog posts, videography, architecture designs and fashion. He uses all of these mediums not only to spread a message of positivity to his followers, but also exercise his own passions. With over 10,000 views on his blog and even more on social media, Zulu Echo has been successful in spreading its message so far.
However, simple numbers aren’t the way that Elwakil measures his success.
“I’m successful every day that I live what I preach,” said Elwakil. “At the end of the day what I really want is for people to hear that name and feel confident in their passions and their ability to follow their dreams.”
But his transformation into this mentality didn’t just begin with Zulu Echo.
It started when Elwakil fell in love with his ability to create, and this stemmed from what he was most passionate about: Architecture. “I saw in myself that I was doing what I loved and that I was doing everything it took to do it, despite the hard work and countless nights in the studio,” Elwakil said. “I wanted to share that with people.”
In short, Elwakil finds happiness and motivation in doing what he loves and sharing this mentality with others. But he doesn’t have all the answers.
“I would say I fail more than I succeed, which is an interesting relationship,” Elwakil said. “But I see failure as a form of success in the sense that whenever I fail, I learn something.”
Elwakil believes that failure is frequent and inevitable, but as long as a person loves what they’re doing, they can find inspiration within failure. While this mainly applies to his own experiences, Elwakil shares it with others because of his ability to understand people. This is an ability that, from his perspective, is the core of empowerment and inspiration.
Growing up in New York City, Elwakil was raised in a traditional Egyptian home by his parents Maissa Hamed and Mohamed Elwakil, who were both immigrants. This formed a distinction within Elwakil that lineated between his culture and the American nature of his schooling and social experiences.
“It created almost a conflict in me that’s always put me into a position where I’d have to correct misconceptions of both worlds, but it never bothered me because it helped me understand people,” said Elwakil.
When Elwakil was 14 years old, he moved to Qatar for four years to study at the American School of Doha where he would begin and end his high school career. These four years of Elwakil’s life were critical; he met lifelong friends, was put into a global context and connected to his heritage on an entirely new level. Elwakil gained wider cultural and interpersonal understandings that shaped him into the influencer he is today.
Jocelyn Mendez, a sophomore at Syracuse University and a good friend of Elwakil’s, said, “There was one point two months ago when I was having a very shitty time here, so he picked me up in his car and we just sat in a parking lot talking about positive and impactful things. He was so understanding and made me feel really at ease.”
Elwakil’s knowledge of people and belief in the power of following dreams led him into a lifestyle that focused on self-fulfillment. And because of that one late night, that 3:00 a.m. idea, he has been able to share it with others.
Elwakil is confident in what he loves to do, whether it be architecture, Zulu Echo, design or creativity in general. But even he doesn’t know what the future holds.
“I have these two life paths, architecture and Zulu Echo, and I know that somewhere down the line there’s a way to mesh the two,” said Elwakil. “I don’t know what it is yet, but that’s what I want to do in life.”
Thank you Jessica!
Believe in the power of your dream…#zuluechoinitiative