You started to work at the age of 14 as a telemarketer and achieved seven-figure number by the age of 27. What was the major driver behind all that motivation?
Not being poor. My mom was very poor because we had to escape many different regimes in Iran and then we came to France and lost it all again. By the time we ended up in Virginia, we were very broke. All of the struggle led me to realize that this is not the life I want for my family. At the age of 14 I was finding my ways to make money. When I turned 18 I decided to go into banking industry and I was applying for a Manager position. With no experience, with no formal training, formal degree, every 12 to 18 months I was giving a promotion, so I went from being the youngest bank manager at 18 to head of a division by the age of 23.
By the age of 25 I was fired and when that happened, I lost my purposes because I was really good at banking. It woke me up to the idea that I was only as good as the four walls I was leading in, but when I was out of the building, it did not matter as I was just a banker. So I quickly realized how insignificant I was no matter what car brand I drove. I realized that my biggest mistake in life was to believe I mattered in the world when in reality I was just making money, that’s it. I came to the idea that the only way I am going to matter, even though I lost my purpose, is to understand what I want my life to look like in the next 10-20 years. I wanted to be a banker since I was really good at it, but no one would hire me because I was overpaid, there were 6 positions in the U.S. like mine and they were taken by people who are at least 5 times my age and have a degree. Thus, I’ve decided to sell bank training materials that I’ve developed while in banking to other banks for a royalty. That’s another my company – Secret Consulting – leadership training provided in the area of banking. Secret Consulting now offers not only leadership training, but also focuses on IT and marketing for major companies. We build an IT platform, infrastructure businesses, give the business a credit without revealing ourselves, however, we remain an arm of the business in succeeding the initiative. This is why we called Secret consulting.
Every driven person has his own success habits, what are yours?
I try to not get into routine because it makes me less productive. I try not to force myself to do things. There are two things I’ve learnt in life that are huge to my success. First, always be true to your word. If you take yourself seriously and you understand that you if promise someone something, you need to do it. Be honest to yourself and do not overpromise. When you hire people to work for you and bring them on a team, you tell them that we are going to build something for 10 years together, you are selling them an idea that you are going to be the driver and the person who is never going to give up, so how critical would that be if you lie? Second, you can’t be afraid of how much work is involved into something if you really believe in it. If I know I need something to be done today, I will find my way. You can’t look back and say ‘I did not start it,’ you can only say ‘I have to finish, because I do not want to give up.’
I force people that work for me to stay committed. Great leadership is about bringing great people together and then creating an environment for them to be the best even if that environment is fake, false or misunderstood. As long as it brings out the best of them and helps them create cohesiveness as a team. And as long as at the end everybody benefits, then you are a good leader. If only you benefit, you are still a good businessman but not a good leader.
Do you have a mentor or the person who has significantly impacted your life?
I had my mom to inspire me to never give up. I had a man named Amad Momen who inspired me during my banking days, he showed me that having a job didn’t mean I had to be poor and how to balance my job with my side business. In my entrepreneurial journey I have not really had a mentor but I’ve watched lot of people that have shown me what is possible, and as a result pushed myself further.
I know you love cars and VIP Motoring was established as a result of this passion, what’s been your favorite car so far?
I have had every car you can think of, dozens of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches etc… But what I prefer more than anything else are Aston Martins and Porsches. I love every car I’ve owned for all different reasons, but if I had to choose what I’ve always ended up driving the most, that will always be an Aston Martin or Porsche.
Any closing thoughts?
The only way we make the impossible possible is to understand that there is no such thing as impossible. The idea is that if you see a giant wall in front of you then it’s the mind assuming it has to climb it to overcome it. It’s about the way you see it; if you change how much you analyzed, you would understand where it ends so perhaps you can walk around it or how you can break the weakest part of it. Instead of climbing the impossible wall, you have to find new ways to look at the same problems. So understanding that everything is not just what you see but there is more to life that what you are capable of seeing, so you need to expand how far you see and what you look for. This is the key. Problems are meant to be solved, solutions are meant to be simplified, and it’s the question of finding the way for YOU to specifically do it versus someone else. If you do not know what you are passionate about, at the very least be passionate about not being poor.