Northvolt's Emad Zand Part 1: Building Companies and Character

Emad Zand Part 1 - Cover Art.jpg

Emad Zand is the Chief Growth Officer at Northvolt, arguably Sweden's boldest startup in decades.

In this first part of the two part episode on Emad, we cover the backstory leading up to his present position, his time at McKinsey, how he helped sell the family business, scaled up the one remaining company that nobody wanted to buy and sold it for a couple of hundred million, made some kick ass investments and eventually was recruited to Northvolt.

An incredible story with a lot of learnings about both business and life. You don't want to miss it. You just don't.

Listen to the podcast on:

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Transcript

Note: This is an auto-generated transcript that will butcher words and names sometimes (Our favorite is when our guest Johannes Cullberg became “Your Hummus Cool Bye”). The format is not optimized for reading, but for searching for specific segments. Hence the timestamps etc. Happy searching!

00:00

we're back we're back

00:03

Emad Zand or how do you pronounce

00:07

it Walter I think it's sand Emad Zand

00:09

so Emad Zand is the chief growth

00:12

officer of North fault probably one of

00:14

the absolute coolest startups in Sweden

00:17

of all time and we started talking to

00:19

the guy and it turns out he has so much

00:22

interesting stuff going on in his

00:23

background that we didn't even get to

00:26

north bolt at all I think this is

00:28

hilariously funny because we have this

00:30

amazing business dude here who is the

00:33

chief growth officer of one of the

00:36

coolest startups or scale ups in Sweden

00:39

and we didn't even talk about that

00:41

business

00:42

hey mud sand is really driven

00:44

entrepreneur one of the most probably

00:46

one of the most driven people I've ever

00:47

met just hearing his story how he became

00:50

an entrepreneur and how he worked in

00:51

McKinsey and how he worked his way up

00:53

was so amazing that this hour is just

00:55

jam-packed with great stuff yeah I think

00:58

he went from having a career to being

01:01

part of family business to exiting the

01:05

business becoming an entrepreneur and

01:07

investor and now he's he's back again

01:09

with north Walt and I think you're gonna

01:12

enjoy this episode a lot and make sure

01:15

because we talked a lot about some very

01:18

interesting things in the beginning that

01:19

wasn't so much business but this is a

01:21

business business business business guy

01:23

so make sure you listen to the entire

01:26

episode because it's awesome yeah and

01:28

don't worry if you came here to listen

01:30

to Ahmad talk about North bolt that's

01:32

fine because we're gonna record a

01:34

separate episode with Ahmad the part 2

01:37

of this interview where he's gonna talk

01:39

or we are gonna talk about only North

01:41

bolt for the entire episode so don't

01:43

freak out it's gonna be here and it's

01:45

gonna be awesome

01:46

we welcome we welcome no kids

01:50

sing it sing it you know I can't sing

01:53

Walter well

01:54

that's not fair

01:57

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02:02

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02:04

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02:10

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02:11

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02:12

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02:14

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02:19

kudos to you guys who's trying to do an

02:21

English podcast on sweetener oh thank

02:23

you yeah we we did the discuss it a lot

02:26

actually because somebody told us that

02:28

well if you do it in Swedish you will be

02:30

big you know quickly yeah we had a lot

02:32

of people telling us not to do it in

02:33

English of course you're like ha ha ha

02:35

my ambitions are global yes

02:38

first they laugh then they laugh first

02:42

they laughed and they fight you exactly

02:44

envy you then you win exactly so but I

02:49

heard that you started your career at

02:51

McKinsey yes that's true so there's

02:54

there's actually a backstory even to

02:56

that my mother is a really famous and

02:59

you know well-established entrepreneur

03:01

in Sweden so I didn't really know what

03:02

to do when I was studying I started at

03:05

the stalking school economics and

03:06

everyone there was supposed to be to

03:07

become a banker or a management

03:09

consultant because those were the two

03:11

traits at the time yes now everybody

03:13

wants to be an entrepreneur yeah or a

03:15

launcher printer because they have no

03:16

idea what the hell it actually means to

03:18

build a company one two preneur I love

03:20

that yeah ignorant bliss sometimes he

03:23

owns with youth and lack of knowledge

03:24

but let's let's make sure that we also

03:28

kind of punch through some of those

03:30

myths throughout this podcast as well

03:31

but anyways yeah so yes I was at the at

03:34

the stock of school economics you know

03:35

trying to ponder what to do with life my

03:38

mom was building this very successful

03:39

company she was a health care

03:41

professional from from the start and she

03:43

had my brother and other people

03:44

supporting her but no one that really

03:47

knew finance or economics as such so I

03:50

was sitting during the evenings doing

03:52

Excel models and were trying to tender

03:54

for these public procurements and I

03:56

think we brought in while I was a

03:58

student around five to six hundred

03:59

million crowns while I was still

04:01

studying and it's gonna fuel this

04:03

enormous growth of the company and when

04:05

I was done I had a choice it was like

04:07

okay join this very successful family

04:09

business that your mom owns to a hundred

04:11

percent and reporting to you like big

04:15

brother and when you're like you're like

04:18

this young ambitious guy that has really

04:21

high thoughts about himself and you're

04:22

like yeah

04:24

I don't know should I start taking

04:26

orders from my mom I'm starting to

04:28

become like 25 years old so like yeah I

04:30

should try to do something else with

04:31

myself and and I applied for for Goldman

04:35

Sachs and then I applied for McKinsey

04:38

and BCG and it was like 2008 and

04:42

everyone that remembers your your recent

04:45

history 2008 was a very exciting year to

04:47

be a young student anyway so I got my

04:49

internship with McKinsey and went down

04:52

to Dubai and at that point in time was

04:55

you know mayham everyone was building

04:57

amazing things people want to build like

05:00

a seven star hospital I remember someone

05:03

pitched and we were like what the hell

05:06

is a seven star hospital back a hotel

05:08

that's five-star better than that yeah

05:10

but with the hospital inside and at that

05:15

point in time you're like okay like

05:17

young guy and we were like doing

05:18

feasibility studies and working on that

05:20

and I remember coming back to Sweden and

05:23

Lehman happens and I think the am like

05:27

the the complex that the the Middle East

05:30

office was a part of anecdotally they

05:33

wanted to bring in like 70 people they

05:35

brought in seven that year and I was so

05:38

lucky that my offer that when it was

05:40

sent out was sent out signed from the

05:43

partner already oh yeah so that's an

05:47

interesting

05:47

yeah and it's super you know unfair if

05:51

you think about there's like 300 some

05:53

people at the Stockholm School of

05:54

Economics that year X number of people

05:57

at kth its number of people at Harvard

06:00

everyone has worked their entire lives

06:02

up to that point you kind of get land

06:04

this amazing job and then you randomly

06:07

get your offer signed already that comes

06:09

to you and the rail so if they can't

06:12

really retract all right and I just got

06:15

out like I'm signing this really quickly

06:18

and just returned it with the mail it's

06:20

pretty good idea I mean as a eseni on a

06:23

signed offer like that it's kind of a

06:25

flattering thing to do we all know

06:26

flattery works yes very much

06:28

and it was very efficient on their end

06:31

as well because didn't you no need to

06:32

send the documents one more time right

06:33

but that really like saved my early

06:35

career yeah so

06:37

you were you like this super a plus

06:39

student or did you build your brand in

06:41

some other way great question and I'm

06:43

gonna be brutally honest I really didn't

06:46

I didn't really like the the academic

06:49

content of the Stockholm school

06:51

economics because I was very I was very

06:54

mathematics and nature science driven

06:56

and when you started doing economics and

06:59

in the earlier phases it's not that math

07:02

heavy and it wasn't that difficult so he

07:04

got really unmotivated really quickly

07:06

and there was so much other stuff bright

07:09

lights moving up to Stockholm there was

07:11

parties there was girls there was

07:14

interesting projects there was tons of

07:17

things that even kind of distracted me

07:19

so I was like okay if I want to the

07:22

marginal benefit of going from you know

07:25

70 to 80 percent to 98 the amount of

07:29

study that you need to put in there was

07:31

just not worth it compared to everything

07:33

else you lost so I was and I have been

07:36

always very thoughtful about where I

07:39

spent my time sounds like okay what are

07:42

the paths to success here and you kind

07:44

of try to map that out and building an

07:47

internal CV and building a CV externally

07:50

with other stakeholders was a shortcut

07:52

to getting a to getting like a job offer

07:55

so I got really really into you know

07:58

okay what are the projects the student

08:00

projects I need to go to what are the

08:02

student union activities what are the

08:04

positions I can get to kind of signal

08:06

out that I'm a very high-performing

08:08

student so that was like bucket number

08:09

one bucket number two was competitions

08:11

which kind of connects to one of the

08:13

companies that I was the chairman for

08:15

after which is called student

08:17

competitions and then became score yeah

08:19

so I I competed a lot so they were there

08:22

was an economics competition I would

08:23

compete if it was a business case

08:25

competition I would compete and I would

08:26

do really well so I want like everything

08:28

you could win like PwC blah blah blah

08:32

McKinsey leadership goldman sachs global

08:35

leaders so like I want accounting I want

08:37

economics I want business cases I want

08:40

you know you name it leadership I want

08:42

everything

08:42

so what is it hard work or was it yeah

08:45

but it's hard working Sprint's right so

08:47

it's very time efficient yeah okay so I

08:49

I

08:51

I knew when to work really really hard

08:53

and you also had to kind of balance that

08:55

out with other things as well so you

08:57

can't get away from this there's an

08:59

aspect of talent which is just honestly

09:04

stroke of luck I did not you know choose

09:07

my genetics I was lucky enough to have a

09:09

very you know quick time to understand

09:13

time to comprehend its goes quickly when

09:16

I read and quickly to learn so that's

09:18

one thing you get for free but if you

09:20

don't use that in any constructive way

09:22

nothing happens right so you need to

09:24

have some type of drive and the drive

09:25

aspect was really high really really

09:28

high while I was studying so yeah but I

09:31

did not go the traditional way I didn't

09:32

get straight A's so I could be like send

09:34

in my CV and wait in line

09:36

I want to understand how can I cut in

09:37

line and then you know make sure I got

09:40

there before everyone as symmetric value

09:42

yes as a student listening to this what

09:45

are the Student Union activities and

09:47

what are the things you should do so

09:49

anything that you can show that you are

09:51

so employers look for grit and they look

09:55

for leadership and they look for people

09:58

that can solve complex type of problems

10:01

so for me at Slocum school economics or

10:04

is this big student project called

10:05

project China which was a student

10:08

project you go towards China you

10:10

establish a lot of industry contacts and

10:12

the whole idea was that you can help

10:14

these companies recruit and it's a it's

10:16

a large budget there's a bunch of sales

10:19

there's tons of people that you lead

10:20

throughout that project and you can

10:21

really speak to that and it gives you a

10:23

lot of experience at a very young age so

10:26

that was one thing and then there was

10:28

you know sitting at the board which was

10:31

called course tutors and at home that's

10:33

which if you kind of look through

10:36

Swedish business life today a lot of

10:39

people that have gone to you know high

10:42

positions or sitting board so they have

10:44

some type of connection to this Student

10:46

Union Board at some time oh good I was

10:48

the chairman you were my student union

10:50

board well there you go five on that I

10:53

wasn't my my university studies are not

10:57

something to brag about but that also

10:59

showed right that you can you know you

11:01

can do your studies and you can do

11:02

something on top of that and your

11:04

respect

11:04

by your peers and you can take you know

11:06

decisions at a young age that that I

11:08

think is good as well I can tell I I did

11:11

my studying at Lynne's shopping

11:13

University I can tell from your accent

11:15

that you're from there of course of

11:17

course I've been up and down or gone

11:19

when I was a kid and I sometimes when I

11:21

go back I still go eat that hockey

11:23

appeal which is for anyone listening

11:25

that is not Swedish this doesn't mean

11:27

anything to you but it's a really nice

11:28

kebab place and just go there either

11:31

drunk or any time of the day it's just

11:34

it's just one of those guilty pleasures

11:36

yeah and you started at then at McKinsey

11:40

and but then you went your and worked

11:44

for your mother still or yeah so I was

11:48

at McKenzie life was great I did a lot

11:51

of interesting things after the

11:53

financial crisis Wow I mean it was one

11:57

of those environments that really shape

12:00

you because you would literally be in

12:03

the rooms where a lot of conspiracy

12:05

theorists are sitting like yeah the big

12:07

banks are doing blah blah blah blah blah

12:09

and you go in there and it's like oh

12:11

it's five guys in suits that with

12:14

imperfect information and a lot of

12:17

anxiety or trying to make really hard

12:18

decisions and it's not more complicated

12:20

than that so that kind of scares you

12:23

first when you're a young student and

12:25

becoming you know a young professional

12:27

but it also gives you a lot of hopes

12:29

that say okay but I can also sit in that

12:31

room and make these type of discussions

12:33

and and and decisions if they can do it

12:35

I can do it yes but because you also see

12:37

that there is this veil of complexity

12:40

that's kind of removed when you're

12:42

seeing a bank crater in the Middle East

12:44

and you're sent in as a young you know

12:46

McKinsey consultant right so you know

12:49

look at the balance sheet and do all

12:51

these financial modeling to kind of

12:52

support this decision making you see

12:55

that the product that you're creating is

12:56

actually driving a very important

12:58

decision which you know short-circuits a

13:01

lot of the complexity it makes it makes

13:04

the this shows your transparency between

13:07

what you do and what actually happens

13:08

and when you see that that distance is

13:10

pretty damn short this whole illusion

13:13

about this very complex machinery kind

13:15

of evaporates a little bit yeah so I

13:18

wasn't

13:18

Kinzie you know the financial crisis

13:21

banks were going down governments we're

13:24

having hard time making sure that their

13:26

their you know constituents were getting

13:29

what they needed and there was a lot of

13:31

stress a lot of hard work and I was just

13:34

growing growing professionally growing

13:36

as a person and just loving it and then

13:39

I moved to London and worked but

13:42

Mackenzie does well is very much ops as

13:44

well so it does strategy very well but

13:46

it does operations very well and then I

13:48

ended up doing a lot of hospital

13:49

operations so going on going on and just

13:51

like okay we need to find cost savings

13:54

here do we need to have the lights on

13:57

here all the time do we need to clean

13:58

this this hallway every day or every

14:02

three hours really really detailed

14:04

operational work and and so then I built

14:07

a strategic mindset and then I built a

14:09

very operational mindset and kind of

14:11

really was enjoying and then you know

14:14

life happens and you get one of those

14:16

calls and I remember it was like 2011 I

14:20

got a call from my mother and she very

14:22

seldom calls me just randomly out of the

14:25

blue to kind of we have our from before

14:28

we can call each other like hey how are

14:30

you how's the family but she colic in

14:31

the middle of the day of what's going on

14:33

she's like you need to come home

14:34

I'll live okay she was like yeah you

14:38

need to come home and how quickly can

14:40

you be home okay something's wrong and

14:43

in those situations some things are

14:46

always wrong I said to fly home she was

14:48

like okay I've decided to sell the

14:50

company and the reasons are for her to

14:53

kind of disclose she's like but I want

14:56

you to help out you know kind of carve

14:58

this out and and sell it and that kind

15:00

of was the story of me kind of coming

15:02

back to the family business and it was

15:05

you know six months of going from you

15:08

know being this high-flying consultant

15:11

going around and cheap H&M; suits but in

15:14

business class you know thinking that

15:15

you're the to kind of sleeping on

15:17

the floor at your mom and dad's house

15:20

again and being this young kid and just

15:23

running around just solving stuff

15:25

getting mom coffee doing financial

15:27

modeling working with bankers setting up

15:29

this entire process about stuff in the

15:31

family business and mom is always mom

15:32

mom is always mom I mean even today if I

15:36

go to my parents house and we have

15:39

guests and stuff I you know I helped out

15:41

with the tea and you know and I and I

15:43

have possible stuff because there is the

15:48

rolls are set already not only are the

15:50

rolls set but it's also a way of keeping

15:52

yourself grounded right I've been

15:55

extremely fortunate to be very lucky

15:58

professionally early right and and if

16:01

that gets into your head you kind of

16:05

lose what made you create from the

16:07

beginning and it's kind of gonna ruin or

16:10

a lot of your relationships and I've

16:13

seen that happen to a lot of people I

16:15

really don't want to go down there truth

16:16

because at the end of the day this sauce

16:19

is a game yeah it's it's a game and

16:22

you're keeping scores with money I love

16:24

that you're saying that it's not that

16:26

important at the end of the day have you

16:28

ever read a book called the one thing no

16:30

it's an amazing book and one of the

16:33

things when you're sharing this that I

16:35

want to comment because the author talks

16:40

about that everything in life is like

16:43

balls

16:44

not that kind of balls there's a rubber

16:48

ball or ass ball yeah exactly I've heard

16:50

about that my wife told me about this

16:52

during a training that she read but yes

16:54

yeah and I think it's really also

16:57

important that some things are glass and

17:00

some things so if you drop the business

17:03

ball it's gonna bounce because it's been

17:06

a rubber and if you drop the family or

17:10

the health Bowl it's Bowl

17:14

both it's better it's made of glass and

17:16

it's gonna break yeah yeah I can tell

17:19

you you're one of those guys that you

17:20

get it very fast and then you're a

17:22

little bit frustrated when you have to

17:24

tell the entire story because I get it

17:25

already move on yeah but then I forgot

17:28

we're on apologize yeah so we need to

17:30

explain the sample that have not

17:32

actually read the books yes I so I the

17:34

correct behavior I wasn't sharing it I

17:38

saw that you

17:41

that's a decibel type of person you know

17:45

I've seen that so many times in meetings

17:47

they're like did it in to do it's like a

17:48

move on yeah favorite phrase okay let's

17:52

get on it's like the meeting in itself

17:55

doesn't have value right yeah I don't

17:58

know where were we okay so coming back

18:00

so yes we set up a very complex

18:04

structure where we were selling the

18:06

family business to three private equity

18:07

players set up a family office making

18:11

sure that everyone that needs this to

18:13

get paid got paid and made sure that

18:15

there was a structure that took care of

18:17

the family so we went from an

18:19

operational family to a you know

18:21

investing owning company family with a

18:25

holding company and people in suits that

18:28

worked for us and managed our money and

18:30

I care about taxes and you know walk the

18:32

dog and all of that jealous that super

18:35

weird super weird and and we're very

18:38

grateful for for all those people that

18:40

cannot help us but it's like the it's

18:42

it's a kind of bizarre reality when you

18:45

started your business like my mom did in

18:48

a in a small apartment you know emptying

18:51

out some of our furniture from the house

18:52

from that to kind of walking around

18:55

studio plot and everyone wants to be a

18:56

friend but she came from Sweden from

18:59

Iran yes yes 86 86 yeah that's what it

19:03

was that I think she was 25 26 something

19:07

like that and were you born there I was

19:10

born in Iran yeah came here when I was

19:12

one and a half and why did she come to

19:14

Sweden no I mean you should have her on

19:18

the politest but yeah you know I

19:20

remember her speaking about I'm almost

19:23

like super one of those super inspiring

19:26

women right jumped to grades when she

19:29

was young and you know finished universe

19:31

when she was 18 or 19 when most people

19:34

start University and she did the large

19:37

she was leading a portion of the primary

19:40

health care and and and a portion of

19:42

Iran at a very young age and there was

19:45

this discussion about vaccinations and

19:49

after the Revolution they had changed

19:51

out all the healthcare staff to people

19:52

that had religious affiliations and she

19:55

was like okay we need to do X Y & Z with

19:57

the vaccinations and the guy that was in

20:00

charge ahead knew nothing said no we

20:02

should do this mass vaccination of

20:03

everyone and she was like oh wait a

20:05

minute but if you do this to people

20:06

they've already gotten these in these

20:08

shots these are the poor health effects

20:10

so we need to actually go down and do

20:12

this work and he was like no just do

20:14

what I say and she was like this guy's

20:15

an idiot

20:16

and then she was like why am I even here

20:19

working for this idiot and and he's

20:22

going to ruin not only in my career and

20:25

I have no respect here for my

20:28

professional knowledge because I'm a

20:31

woman and be because I have no

20:32

affiliation with this group so should I

20:34

screw this we're going to going to

20:36

Sweden

20:36

and she kind of just decided to go and

20:38

brought it my brother myself and my

20:40

father everyone with us so she was like

20:42

we're going broke and then everything

20:43

else kind of followed yeah and set up

20:45

shop here set up shop here and the rest

20:47

is history the rest is history

20:49

so anyways we'll have her on the podcast

20:51

well you should have her on the podcast

20:53

she's much more she's much more eloquent

20:56

than me and and and much has a much more

20:58

interesting story I would say see again

21:01

that roleplay thing the young son it

21:05

also comes through even this humility

21:06

though that I'd like kind of you know

21:08

it's very charming and you after you

21:13

sold obviously now you started or you

21:15

became an entrepreneur inside yes one of

21:19

the holdings that you yeah so so up

21:22

until then you know my family business

21:25

was essentially my mom she owned 100% of

21:28

everything and when we sold the family

21:30

business there was a company left that

21:31

no one wanted and it did the hearing aid

21:34

fittings and there's a and I say this

21:38

because there's a small semantic but a

21:39

big business rationale difference

21:41

between being a hearing aid fitting

21:44

company and being a hearing aid retail

21:46

company those are very different things

21:49

business-wise so those this company no

21:52

one wanted to buy it it was losing money

21:53

head over heels it was very small and we

21:58

were sitting around the table everything

21:59

was sold and my mom was you know looking

22:02

the holdings I was like what were we

22:05

supposed to do with this and there were

22:07

some backwards in force about the future

22:09

of this company and all the other family

22:11

members did not show any interest in it

22:13

and I said okay but I think I can build

22:15

this into something and you know kind of

22:20

carved that out of the family structure

22:21

and it became a start of what I would

22:26

say my entrepreneurial story and my mom

22:29

sat on the board family reinvested into

22:31

this entity I brought an external

22:33

capital so I went full-blown McKinsey

22:36

you know company building on it like

22:39

okay here's a business plan we're gonna

22:41

change the operating model I'm gonna

22:43

bring in external investors I don't want

22:45

family money at all into this I want to

22:48

show you guys that I can do it myself

22:49

blah blah blah blah blah of course and I

22:52

want to run this on my own

22:53

on my own merits and if I'm going to

22:56

leave a McKinsey career I want this to

22:58

kind of feel and be my own which is

23:00

which is hard and in an industry like

23:02

that but there is a lot of history right

23:04

and you walk into an entity and which

23:07

everyone was like oh my god sure is one

23:11

of the coolest entrepreneurs ever and

23:12

like who the is this guy and then I

23:15

walk in I'm like hello and you have the

23:18

whole son thing right here because this

23:20

hurts on ya like who the hell is this

23:23

guy and oh it's the guy that used to

23:24

bring coffee like yeah hi so I'm running

23:28

the the show hook I don't know and it

23:31

was really it was a really exciting time

23:33

I remembered like the first meeting with

23:36

everyone that was leaders in that

23:38

company and I sat down I was like hey

23:41

guys I know nothing about hearing aids

23:43

at all and I understand that you all

23:46

have been in this country for a long

23:47

time reporting in to my mom and but I'll

23:50

just say one thing I learned quickly and

23:53

I'm gonna be here and I'm gonna make

23:54

something really good about this and

23:56

then I remember remember moving removing

23:59

all of the offices and I set up in the

24:02

big conference room and I put all the

24:05

people that were key in each corner with

24:07

with a desk in the conference room and

24:09

with a big board in the middle and I sat

24:10

in the middle I was like okay what's

24:12

wrong with this company and then we kind

24:14

of ran that like a war room for

24:15

for six months and we're building the

24:17

company and at that point I think the

24:21

company was doing about a million

24:23

Swedish crowns and turnover a month and

24:25

losing two million Wow

24:27

per month per month and I had like three

24:30

months of runway of cash so it was

24:33

pretty pretty bad and we took it over

24:35

and then we sold it 30 months later was

24:39

doing a hundred and twenty something and

24:41

turn over and was making twenty four

24:43

million that's why you hire McKinsey

24:45

consultants and maybe and it was like

24:49

one of those things that and when you

24:52

kind of are into it you kind of don't

24:55

understand what you're actually doing

24:56

because the amount of III very often get

24:59

tunnel vision what I'm doing stuff and

25:01

my friends kind of hate me for it

25:03

because then I'm silent like two three

25:05

months nothing happens I just go into

25:07

this mode of just okay yeah this is my

25:10

task and I'm going to really really push

25:12

through here what was the major changes

25:15

that you did because it's kind of a

25:17

massive transformation enormous and and

25:20

the whole the whole idea was as I said

25:23

before there's a difference between

25:24

fitting and hearing aid and and selling

25:26

a hearing aid it's like an optician

25:29

think about if you go to an optician and

25:30

they just check your eyes and they say

25:32

okay now go somewhere else and buy the

25:33

glasses that's not really smart from Ana

25:38

business point of view from from a

25:40

service point if it makes sense because

25:41

you you divide up the person that gives

25:44

you advice from the person that's trying

25:45

to sell you something there's a

25:47

classical idea of if you go to notation

25:49

they will always recommend glasses

25:51

exactly exactly so here we were trying

25:54

to kind of find the balance where

25:55

someone was and one portion someone that

25:59

was a health care professional in the

26:00

second portion someone that was a sales

26:01

representative and and when I kind of

26:04

looked at this model is like okay why

26:06

are we referring these people to

26:08

somewhere else and we're buying a

26:10

hearing aid a very high premium we

26:13

should bring them in-house we should

26:14

sell the be hearing aid ourselves and

26:16

the massive scale of patients that we

26:19

have gives me a lot of leverage in

26:21

suppliers so it was pretty much a

26:23

business model change

26:25

so going from in a one portion of the

26:27

value chain to extending the value chain

26:29

so capturing more of the value in the in

26:31

the chain but it was also a pretty

26:33

significant supply chain optimization so

26:37

for instance the metaphor is like you

26:39

walk into a grocery store and people

26:41

want to buy I don't know bread there are

26:46

six types of bread but no one knows the

26:49

brands of the bread and why are they six

26:51

types of bread or because there's six

26:52

suppliers of bread but they're all the

26:54

same more or less why if I can say that

26:58

I own all of the shelves in all of stock

27:01

oh I take in one supplier of bread I

27:04

take out everyone else and I make sure

27:06

that that bread has really high quality

27:08

that's the metaphor in practice what we

27:10

did was that we went to all the hearing

27:12

aid retailers and say hey you don't know

27:15

who I am

27:16

you will now I I am the largest

27:19

healthcare supply of hearing aid

27:22

fittings in Stockholm and we're gonna

27:25

choose one supplier and the rules of the

27:28

game ER is gonna be this you will not

27:29

have seven different products which one

27:31

costs 1000 crowns from the other ones

27:33

17,000 because I read your P&L; and you

27:37

know what your marginal cost for the

27:39

17,000 hearing aid is the same as the

27:41

one thousand different is the software

27:44

so you can't me here so we're

27:47

not gonna go down this route we're gonna

27:49

go down the iPhone route one model

27:51

really good better than everything else

27:54

and your average selling price is going

27:56

to be higher so instead of driving a mix

27:58

of different products where you're

28:00

trying to optimize for average price and

28:03

we're gonna find one product that is

28:04

really really good that the customers

28:06

will love and we're gonna price that

28:08

higher than your average price today

28:10

which makes sure that the average

28:12

customer gets a really really great

28:14

product

28:15

so either you opt in and you get a great

28:16

product or you opt out and you don't get

28:18

a great product but there's a point

28:19

there in Sweden and I think I'm not sure

28:22

about this but you can validate this or

28:24

not but where the government will pay

28:27

for the hearing aid so there is the

28:31

system and is different between the

28:33

municipalities so in Stockholm we have a

28:35

check so you get a check that says you

28:38

can buy a hearing aid for X amount of

28:40

crowns right and in other municipalities

28:43

you're not allowed to buy that okay so

28:45

the my point was that this Scheck should

28:47

cover a really great hearing aid right

28:49

and that's the optimal price point yes

28:51

Sweden yes yeah so that's that was the

28:53

whole point of the of the gig and this

28:55

has what happens then is you know a a

28:58

lot of your income increases because you

29:01

have a large portion of the village and

29:03

you also have products so that blows up

29:04

your income side but because you've

29:07

optimized your supply chain your bottom

29:09

line also goes up because the margin on

29:11

those products are pretty okay and then

29:14

magic happens you can start investing

29:16

into your staff you can give them great

29:18

education so we brought down the working

29:20

outs from by 40 hours to 38 we increase

29:23

their salaries we invested in their

29:25

education we improve their shops so at

29:28

the end of this trip which was amazing

29:31

you had a company that went from I think

29:34

we had 20% staff turnover in the

29:37

beginning down to - yes Wow or 48 hours

29:40

of work we've down to 38 if you looked

29:43

at the quality you know reviews that the

29:47

municipality did on you I think it was

29:50

like we had 12 or 13 clinics and it's a

29:53

matrix by 17 or something and variables

29:56

it was 100% all the way through yeah so

29:58

all the quality indications was a

30:00

hundred percent never happen no no

30:02

that's so the patients were super happy

30:04

the super happy we were making money

30:06

hand over fist everything was you know

30:08

it was just one of those textbook

30:10

Harvard review kind of turnaround cases

30:12

that you read when it while at business

30:14

school I think we need a separate

30:16

episode for this that story but but

30:19

there's something here that is gonna

30:22

happen pretty soon that's interesting

30:24

you haven't ended up selling that yeah

30:26

company and if you do that with the

30:28

company where the staff is super super

30:31

happy yeah with the status quo or where

30:33

they are how do you communicate that

30:36

that's one of the first times I cried in

30:38

public honestly yeah yeah so I remember

30:42

I gathered the entire staff and I put

30:44

them in a big circle everyone around and

30:47

and there's reasons for selling and for

30:51

me I'm a economist by training sizes all

30:54

like okay we're hitting a transition

30:56

point where

30:57

we're growing due to positive underlying

31:00

economics the next round and round after

31:02

that other people are gonna catch up so

31:04

my the amount of money I'm making now is

31:07

disproportionate because I know it's

31:09

good it's been lower before it's going

31:11

to be lower in the future I'm hitting a

31:13

local optimization point so if I want to

31:15

sell this now and and the supplier we

31:20

were working with showed a big interest

31:21

in buying the company so we got one of

31:23

those offers you can't receive refuse

31:25

kind of situations anymore so I sat down

31:28

one down and I was like okay guys I'm

31:34

gonna tell you something and it's going

31:35

to be really painful and then I

31:37

explained to them like okay the supplier

31:39

we've been working with has given an

31:40

offer on the company they have also

31:42

invested in three of our competitors and

31:44

their competitor has invested in two

31:47

other of our competitors so right now

31:49

our tiny market is going to be flooded

31:51

with billions of Swedish crowns from

31:53

abroad challenging from market share

31:55

over all over time I don't think we're

31:58

gonna be able to be the same company in

32:00

3 years from now so we as a family have

32:02

decided to kind of sell and I remember

32:05

wanted to say that by myself and not

32:08

having one else they're just you know

32:09

myself and all the and people started

32:12

crying and I cried and I apologized and

32:15

I was like I'm sorry because I said

32:17

we're gonna do this stuff all together

32:18

which we did and we delivered on

32:20

everything that we said we would but I

32:22

think that this is the best decision

32:24

long term for for myself but also for

32:27

you long term because then you're with

32:30

the party with a strong balance sheet

32:31

make sure that you have you have

32:34

somewhere to be

32:34

yeah over time super painful and then

32:39

there was all of these agreements

32:41

lock-ins that they wanted me to stay in

32:43

for X number of months afterwards and

32:45

then they brought in this new CEO no I

32:48

swear on this vodka oh as much as one

32:50

feels like she came in and said oh ma

32:53

this is so amazing you've built this

32:54

amazing company that I and I said

32:57

tonight that our onboarding with her and

32:58

then like the first meeting that we had

33:00

she spoke and she was like I think we

33:02

should do this and then the entire room

33:04

just turned over and looked at me and

33:05

she just looked at me she's like what

33:08

the fuck's going on here

33:10

and I told her afterwards like what do

33:12

you expect I mean I've done this in the

33:15

company right so they will be looking at

33:17

me for approval and she was like yeah

33:21

about you staying for six months nah get

33:24

the over B a good thing it was a

33:29

great thing but it was super painful as

33:32

well right so you had to like go home

33:33

and sit at home and and and and not to

33:36

work and have nothing to do it was and

33:38

zero people feel sorry for you like oh

33:40

yeah yeah big baby why are you calling

33:46

it 11:00 on a Wednesday I'm working god

33:48

damn it yeah but your company was

33:50

successful not because you were striving

33:53

to make a ton of money but because you

33:55

loved the company right or at least

33:57

loved the challenge

33:58

yes and studied suddenly you have a

34:00

bunch of money but you don't have the

34:01

challenge that's that is I can see how

34:03

that be painful yeah and I think it's a

34:05

common behavior that people like when it

34:07

goes good for other people I need to

34:09

until a point yes and it shows

34:17

also who who actually it's super weird

34:21

people get really weird around you when

34:23

they read about you in the paper it's

34:24

like a hard sound so else's business for

34:26

blah blah blah Millions yeah everyone's

34:28

like ooh yeah hey how are you and and

34:33

it's like listen guys we notice right no

34:37

it's not like we're oblivious to the

34:39

fact you notice what's going on and you

34:42

kind of feel who's being I genuinely

34:43

happen happy for you yeah and you feel

34:46

all these like hang around I just want

34:48

to hang out with you as well right and

34:49

then you have the type of person that is

34:51

maybe not close enough to you know call

34:53

you and be super happy yeah but they're

34:55

also not the people that kind of want to

34:56

hang around you because now you're rich

34:58

they're the ones that really like you

35:00

but now they're kind of drawing back a

35:01

little bit because they don't want to be

35:03

like they they just want to be around

35:05

you that's true that's true as well

35:07

those are the ones you kind of want to

35:08

have around you yeah and it's like I

35:10

mean I I grew up with a small group of

35:12

guys everywhere all of us were born in

35:15

Iran grew up in Indian shipping it's

35:17

like this is Mike like core crew of guys

35:19

they make fun of me because some of my

35:22

weird ears

35:23

garlis if I'm now almost 35 and have a

35:27

daughter and and we shoot the and

35:29

we have fun together like I think it's

35:31

important to have your core group of

35:32

people that you're very comfortable with

35:34

it and then you build up with great

35:36

people on top of that but yes afterwards

35:39

was super weird I mean I was I wasn't

35:41

working and and spending my days you

35:46

know doing philanthropy so I spent like

35:48

the first year just giving money away

35:49

it's important for me to become wealthy

35:53

because I think money gives you

35:55

influence and power to change things

35:57

that you think needs to be changed but

35:59

in itself it's not a it's not a goal in

36:01

itself right it's all into something

36:03

else it's different wanting to have

36:05

money to be able to affect change and

36:07

and consuming expensive yeah

36:10

but I went through that phase as well I

36:12

remember we had like a couple of friends

36:15

yeah we should go out often that had a

36:17

big party and I did and I remember I

36:20

bought like a dumping on part of like

36:22

40,000 flowers or something and then

36:25

it's just like it took like 20 minutes

36:27

and any any girl at the club that had

36:30

too much high heels and and and and

36:32

these sophisticated party girls is just

36:35

like hey I came to the table like that

36:38

I just looked at like okay that was

36:40

thirty thousand gone in like 30 minutes

36:42

the hell just happened and I came home

36:44

and I felt like you know that scene from

36:46

Ace Ventura these kids don't know this

36:49

but there was like the Pet Detective

36:50

when he sits in the bathroom and just

36:53

like leans himself so I remember working

36:57

up the date I looked at my bank account

36:59

and I just sent the exact same amount to

37:01

to like the kids Cancer Fund or

37:05

something right I kind of make karma in

37:07

the world and balance it you know like

37:08

what the hell did I do last night yeah

37:09

but that's uh I'm glad you did that

37:12

that's a character yeah I think that

37:16

when people understand that the coffee

37:18

tastes the same yeah and that nothing

37:21

actually changes it's it's a big thing

37:26

and I think that money is a great

37:28

magnifier so money shows you become more

37:34

of what you are when you have

37:36

more money yeah and you also notice when

37:38

you have more money that there's always

37:39

someone more with more money yes which

37:42

is also you go through the phases first

37:43

like oh my god I have tons of money oh

37:46

my god why the hell did I spend it on

37:48

that that was stupid

37:49

yeah and they're like oh he has a lot of

37:52

money holy he has a lot more money

37:54

and then you said but that person he was

37:56

like yeah then I was in Brazil and I was

37:58

at this guy's house who's you know

38:02

living room was the size of my entire

38:04

house I was like oh so he also knows

38:06

someone that has much more money than

38:08

him so it's like okay this is a dead end

38:10

it's always a bigger fish is it then

38:13

you're like okay better we're okay and

38:14

what is the level of wealth that I'm

38:17

kind of happy with and what's the

38:19

overshooting portion and what should I

38:23

do with it right and then you start you

38:25

know planning to kind of because then

38:27

the game continues yeah what am I

38:29

supposed to do now all right and and

38:31

then what what can I enable what good

38:36

can I do with with the capital that I

38:38

have knowing that I have much more than

38:40

other people but I have much less than

38:42

other people as well so it becomes a

38:44

balance between accumulating more so you

38:46

can have more positive influence and

38:48

giving away and sustaining a lifestyle

38:52

so I want to comment on the comparing

38:56

phase because I have I've done it so

38:59

many times during my growing up and

39:04

comparing myself with people that has

39:07

extra extra extra ordinary results has

39:12

always made me feel like crap yeah yeah

39:15

and what shifted for me was I stopped

39:18

comparing myself with others and started

39:20

comparing myself with myself that's good

39:23

and and comparing the the progress that

39:27

I have compared to the goals and the

39:31

purpose that I have set out and all of a

39:33

sudden it becomes much more fun rather

39:36

than just seeing okay this person has

39:39

done this this and this but why does it

39:42

really matter

39:43

so can I challenge you or something yeah

39:45

absolutely can piss sometimes when you

39:47

see an asshole really get successful

39:49

you're like

39:50

that guy I'm gonna still gonna beat him

39:51

do you still have that drive in you yeah

39:54

but I try I still have to do I want them

39:59

plating lying for two seconds yeah then

40:01

decided not no very good I'm proud of

40:03

you so the interesting part of this is

40:07

and it's still when I do it I oh now I'm

40:11

comparing myself and what happens is

40:14

always the same then that I that I start

40:17

feeling bad emotions where I should do

40:21

if this person has done this why haven't

40:25

I done this and then my brain works now

40:28

in a way that it just pushes a drive but

40:32

then I let it go I guess you're a bigger

40:35

person that because I listen I've

40:38

meditated then like you know yoga and

40:41

had a man bonnet like kumbaya and

40:44

everything inside of me there's still

40:47

like this really competitive angry you

40:51

know the guy that you win just wants to

40:54

win and not only win if you try to screw

40:57

me over I'm gonna break you and win like

40:59

there is this really hard drive inside

41:01

of me that's like the turbo engine and

41:03

I've tried to kind of hone it and make

41:05

it socially acceptable but yes my goal

41:09

is to be that person that you're talking

41:11

about and generally when I speak

41:13

publicly so now I'm outing this like

41:16

yeah I'm like yes you know I went from

41:19

you know having this vision of success

41:22

that was handed down to me by my parents

41:24

and the Persian way of you know you need

41:26

to be hard-working successful which was

41:28

a very negative try to more positive

41:30

Drive of self-actualization it's frickin

41:35

sometimes because sometimes you

41:37

just wanna you know you just want to win

41:39

it's like a soccer game like that

41:41

guy I'm gonna win and I think a lot of

41:44

successful people that I work with they

41:45

have the balance between the two yeah

41:47

because that space is not a fun space to

41:49

be in all the time right so you need to

41:52

be to be able to switch between them but

41:53

if you are a bit too kumbaya people will

41:56

screw you over

41:57

yeah it can be your builder that's

41:59

trying to screw you over I can lose my

42:01

on like stuff like that if so

42:03

trying to hustle me III totally can lose

42:07

it but I can be generous I can give

42:08

someone you know if someone is doing

42:10

something great I can you get an extra

42:12

thirty thousand crowns or something if

42:14

someone strikes just you know buy

42:15

something for two thousand and tries to

42:17

sell their to me for three thousand

42:19

yeah I'm hustling with the accounts or

42:20

something I will totally lose it so so

42:23

yes I think it's important to kind of

42:25

balance out those things but if you go

42:27

to kumbaya people will just take your

42:29

money take your company take your role

42:31

take they'll take stuff from you I think

42:34

Emma is probably possibly the most

42:36

honest guest we've had on the show it's

42:39

like it's very hard as the count so I I

42:41

try to be very honest it's one of my

42:43

signals and it's it's sometimes it works

42:45

out well and sometimes it does not but I

42:47

hope it makes for an interesting comment

42:49

it's great I love it but yes I mean

42:51

finding that balance is important right

42:54

I am genuinely a person that wants other

42:56

people to do well around me I I spend a

42:59

lot of time helping people I try to be

43:02

extremely available for people for help

43:04

but I have a I have a total disdain for

43:09

bullying you know I've total disdain for

43:12

dishonesty and I have total disdain for

43:15

people you know you know just doing

43:17

mischievous right now and and that

43:20

that awakens a dragon inside of me and

43:24

that kind of this this real anger and I

43:27

and I and I channel that but it's just

43:29

good that's a really important factor

43:31

you should have a big heart but a tough

43:34

bite yeah something something something

43:36

like that and this podcast will be great

43:39

because before you start doing business

43:41

with anyone you'll just send them this

43:43

episode the preframe of your ongoing

43:48

relationship it's like a previous guest

43:50

that sued Paul Allen really at the time

43:54

the fourth richest man in the world and

43:56

one is like after that nobody

43:59

with him but yes I think so and then you

44:04

know and honestly I know that there are

44:07

and sometimes I just let the small stuff

44:09

go because there's a greater picture

44:10

involved and then most often I think

44:13

it's important I think I read this

44:15

article around you know what makes

44:17

some people very successful and you know

44:20

grit is one of those things that you

44:21

need to be hard-working etc etc you need

44:23

to have some talents but they don't tell

44:25

you is that you need to have a little

44:26

bit of luck yeah because there's a lot

44:28

of smart talented people out there that

44:30

you know just the the cough they're all

44:33

for not signed right yeah it's just some

44:35

of these things you can't control but

44:36

then also you need to be able to take

44:38

some type of conflict sometimes as well

44:40

and being able to stand up for yourself

44:42

and stand up for other people

44:44

the whole idea of me trying to be

44:46

successful because I wanted to be

44:48

successful from a very young age was

44:50

when I was I was in school I think we're

44:53

done around 10 or 11 and there was this

44:55

young Iraqi kid and there was this girl

44:57

that was you know babysitting they would

45:01

like she would call to his house in the

45:02

middle of the night and wake his parents

45:04

up and he was at school and he was like

45:07

his parents started screaming at him he

45:10

was really sad he came to school and he

45:11

grabbed this girl and he'll physically

45:14

grabbed her but just like stood in front

45:15

of her and she's like you shouldn't do

45:17

this blah blah blah my parents are

45:18

screaming at me and she started crying

45:20

and I saw this thing I was like okay

45:22

that's weird and then like three minutes

45:23

later these two older teachers came out

45:28

and he started chastising the out

45:30

of this kid and he was looking up to

45:32

them and he couldn't he was so scared

45:35

that he couldn't formulate what was

45:37

happening and they were just breaking

45:39

this kid down and I just walked over and

45:41

when I was 12 of like what's going on

45:43

here they're like this is none of your

45:44

business I like listen this girl did X Y

45:46

& Z he told her off and you're saying

45:49

that he shouldn't be you know telling

45:52

this girl not to do XYZ because she's a

45:54

small girl here two grown-ass people

45:56

yelling at a small child what the

46:00

is going on and they just looked at each

46:02

other and backed off this guy and I was

46:04

like holy and that's probably a

46:07

defining moment yeah as well yes I want

46:10

to be a lawyer when I was young I was

46:11

like okay there's something here that

46:14

made him freeze and me not freeze and

46:16

there's something here that there was a

46:19

power of persuasion here that made them

46:21

back back off and his life is better and

46:24

they just learned a lesson as well yeah

46:26

and I was a really small kid at that for

46:28

the time that I really liked holy

46:30

there's something here but you

46:31

a strong you have very strong emotions

46:33

around fairness then ethos is very

46:36

important yeah yeah I mean you know I

46:38

came from a family that did well in Iran

46:42

like many Ronnie's did here you come to

46:43

Sweden you have nothing and you go to

46:46

school and people beat the out of

46:48

you and call you whose farts got it like

46:49

a you know blackhead which is the Duvall

46:52

great term you use pockys I guess and in

46:54

the in the UK in other words in the US

46:57

and it shapes you right you're like why

47:00

why are people being rude or behaving

47:04

poorly towards me because I'm an

47:05

immigrant yeah and then you see your

47:07

parents my mom is a super smart person

47:10

my father as well they're going to

47:11

they're going to work and they're only

47:13

getting temp jobs no one is actually

47:16

giving them a fixed job why and and

47:18

they're getting you know mistreated and

47:20

in the workplace and you see these very

47:22

strong individuals that can't in the

47:25

beginning formulate themselves so

47:27

they're perceived as being dumb I

47:28

remember my dad struggling to kind of

47:31

argue with this guy when we were young

47:32

and then when he came home was like yeah

47:34

I wanted these were the words I wanted

47:36

to say I know them in my language but

47:38

nothing there's and just seeing that

47:40

frustration I think it shapes you a lot

47:41

so yes I get pissed so if I go on the

47:44

bus I stand up so the old lady can sit

47:47

and if there's another person sitting in

47:49

her seat they'll be like dig dig dig sir

47:51

stand up and I'll pull that guy out of

47:53

his chair and have her sit there yeah

47:55

it's just like common decency god dammit

47:58

and and here again it's it's the whole

48:01

you know life isn't fair and and and

48:04

again this might sound weird by saying

48:07

but I knew from an early age that I had

48:09

a really quick feet intellectually I

48:12

just knew that and then I was like okay

48:15

so why what are you do with this it's a

48:17

gift

48:18

it's like someone being really great at

48:19

soccer and not playing soccer or someone

48:22

being really tall and not pursuing

48:23

basketball even though they love it

48:25

right for me I had I mean I wasn't the

48:28

most charming guy I wasn't the most

48:30

funny guy I wasn't the most athletic guy

48:32

I had didn't have there was a lot of

48:34

things that did not go well for me I

48:36

wasn't particularly popular I had my

48:39

small group of friends but I was quick

48:40

on my feet intellectually and I was like

48:42

this is my gift so this is

48:45

my this is my guitar yeah and the my

48:48

life is going to be defined by how well

48:50

I play this guitar and either I'm going

48:52

to be a rock star

48:54

or I'm gonna have this guitar in a in a

48:57

box somewhere and do nothing with it

48:58

yeah you hear all the times that people

49:01

are becoming entrepreneurs or bank

49:04

robbers right yeah is this something to

49:06

that and and and a lot of smart people

49:10

that grew up in these not-so-good

49:11

environments did become bank robbers and

49:15

and or other things there's a lot of

49:17

kids there that did not have again I was

49:20

lucky that was born with these traits

49:21

but I was also lucky that I grew up in

49:23

the family that I did wasn't as parents

49:24

that I did there is a debate between you

49:26

know what is the the big driving forces

49:28

I'm from my point of view and I was

49:31

lucky with nature in one aspect the rest

49:34

is not less I mean I I remember working

49:38

out with my big brother he was like you

49:40

need to eat right and he was like alpha

49:42

meal prep for you and everything you're

49:44

gonna become buff and I was like okay

49:46

and I remember we had like I would wake

49:48

up and I would eat this shake and then

49:50

I'll eat like rice and chicken and then

49:52

we worked out together and he was like

49:53

growing his biceps were growing so

49:55

quickly his skin was bursting I just

49:58

went to the toilet alone and like

50:01

nothing else happened so like I have one

50:03

thing that was good yeah and which was

50:06

that and then I just worked hard at

50:07

everything else but the one thing that I

50:09

was good at is premiered in both in

50:11

school but awesome business later right

50:13

it's that one thing that he it's it's

50:15

easy for you to capitalize on so nature

50:18

was I was lucky in that aspect

50:20

unlucky in the rest yeah nurture the

50:23

environment I grew up in outside of the

50:25

family not great you know there was a

50:27

lot of distractions violence drugs other

50:32

types of bad behavior an environment

50:35

that naturally looked at you and and

50:38

said you know you're don't belong here

50:39

and then you had a family culture that

50:42

was a bedrock right Mike my grandmother

50:44

was a was a teacher her husband died

50:48

when she was young so she raised kids by

50:50

herself and she kind of had these strong

50:54

morals that she gave to my mother and my

50:56

mother gave them to me so I come from a

50:57

long line of really strong women

50:59

and I had a family consultation that was

51:01

very very you know tough in the way that

51:04

behavior is important you sit straight

51:07

you look people in the eye you treat

51:09

them well you don't take doesn't

51:12

matter if we don't have any money

51:13

you're still worthy you still are an

51:16

important person you're still loved and

51:18

wonderful values yeah and and these

51:20

things imbue you both with a sense of

51:23

pride but also a sense of responsibility

51:25

right these my parents came here to this

51:27

country and they sacrificed so much for

51:29

us to have a great life and I repaid

51:32

that death through my hard work I will

51:34

never forget what they did for me right

51:35

so and that kind of shapes you a lot as

51:39

a person so so yes there is a balance

51:41

between those those those different

51:43

aspects and you know seeing where I am

51:47

today you know speaking about these

51:49

these different topics hopefully people

51:51

that listen to these type of podcasts

51:52

can also get some type of perspective

51:54

because at some point in time you will

51:56

meet a young person that is you know a

51:59

diamond in the rough and your

52:02

perceptions and how you actually treat

52:03

that person really affects how their

52:06

lives progress in the future I remember

52:08

my parents were like okay you need to go

52:10

to a good school they bust me to this

52:12

school which is 45 minutes away in in

52:14

shopping and I remember and their if you

52:18

can go and check the school food at the

52:20

school for school photos Jesus school

52:22

photos for me and the first year I have

52:25

this like really nice shirt and water

52:27

combed hair and you know the nice

52:29

Persian boy second year my head is

52:32

shaved and I have a t-shirt as as Iran

52:35

on it third year of that school I'm just

52:41

sitting with a cigarette in my hand just

52:43

a Pathak just looking into the screen

52:45

and it's like what happened there right

52:47

what happened to this young ambitious

52:49

and I remember I gone and went into that

52:52

school on the first day opened the door

52:53

and this vice-principal came up and he

52:56

was like oh you are a new kid right yeah

52:58

yeah he was like is this your brother

53:00

because my brother study like yeah yeah

53:02

okay listen if you keep holding up the

53:06

doors for all of your students I will

53:08

make sure you get the lowest pass grade

53:10

on all of your courses so you can go on

53:12

and with

53:12

school and I just looked at I was like

53:15

really I should be here opening doors

53:19

for other students what am i freaking

53:22

servant here and and then when I

53:25

finished school I went up to and I

53:27

showed him my grades and I had like top

53:28

grades and he was like wow I didn't

53:31

expect that I was like but why did you

53:33

expect something else I remember I went

53:36

back ten years afterwards as well and

53:38

kind of confronted I was like stole this

53:40

was his no I'm outing you unfold here

53:43

stole this and I heard a and I and I

53:46

kind of I looked at I was like dude you

53:49

were responsible for kids developing

53:52

kids why the hell would you say

53:55

something like that to me and then he

53:57

was like I'm sorry I didn't mean to have

53:59

a sense of humor that's nah and he gives

54:01

you kind of some perspective that you

54:03

have as an adult and responsibility of

54:05

how you act around kids because you know

54:08

weird comments can really offset them a

54:10

bit on the flip side in that school

54:13

there was a lot of people that really

54:14

believed in me and those were the people

54:15

that kind of helped out so finding your

54:18

mettle as you as well when he said did

54:22

it drive kind of I'll show you behavior

54:25

no it's not it was no like yeah I have

54:28

the tiger moment after that I was just

54:29

sad I was a kid asshole and and

54:33

and I went home and it was my parents

54:35

and then they kind of built up that

54:36

confidence and these other students so

54:37

the whole flipside of the of the it

54:41

doesn't happen that often

54:43

then I someone as someone is a that poor

54:46

towards you when you're a kid and that

54:48

that results in a positive outcome it's

54:50

it's in movies right usually when we're

54:52

near a douche towards a kid kid feels

54:55

that yeah and that's the end of it yeah

54:57

it's not more complicated than that so

55:00

don't be a douche towards kids right

55:02

that's a good don't be some it don't be

55:04

a douche at all don't be a douche in

55:06

general right I was investing in a

55:10

company called transfer galaxy with two

55:13

amazing female entrepreneurs that run a

55:17

farm called Becky mines I remember these

55:20

guys reached out to me after I was in a

55:23

article and they're like a we

55:26

where these young guys were from viva la

55:28

another brew and funny stories my wife

55:32

is from viva la and and i was like honey

55:35

what's this and she was like well there

55:38

aren't that many tech entrepreneurs in

55:40

Nevada and and I was going to go and

55:43

visit my father-in-law I was like okay

55:46

I'll meet you guys at you know on my way

55:50

there and they're like okay we work here

55:51

let's go have a lunch and then we sat

55:54

and had this lunch with these guys and I

55:55

looked at them I was like wow these are

55:57

these guys are like me but in a much

56:00

poorer neighborhood and much less

56:02

connections with with with capital so I

56:06

haven't told them this but that lunch

56:08

I already then decided I would invest in

56:10

the company so okay these guys there

56:13

they need my help and I came back to

56:16

Stockholm I stayed in touch with them

56:19

and then I mean Susana know each other

56:21

so many years back we're close friends

56:23

and we started discussing this company

56:26

and they're like yeah everyone thinks

56:28

it's a bad idea and they were setting up

56:30

their fund at the time so I'll and I and

56:33

the back story here is one of the

56:35

McKenzie gigs I did in the Middle East

56:38

had a portfolio company that did

56:41

something very similar to what transfer

56:42

guys wanted to do so I knew the

56:44

economics of it all the way through so I

56:46

knew how this would scale and become

56:48

really successful so I was like it

56:50

I'm gonna I'm gonna take a bet here so

56:52

before there was anything I was like

56:54

okay when do you guys need money they're

56:56

like like in five days or something so

56:59

without any paper working anything else

57:00

I okay here we go boom and then we kind

57:03

of put together everything else after

57:04

the fact so a couple of months or

57:07

something afterwards the final financing

57:11

round was done so I went then I gave him

57:13

some credits I gave him some money some

57:14

help and then we kind of transferred

57:18

yeah as a brand back in minds all of

57:20

that kind of took off and it became a

57:22

huge success and the guys are very you

57:24

know I think they're like the American

57:28

Dream in Sweden currently I hate they're

57:30

doing really well but they're really

57:32

role models in that area right they are

57:34

they are and Susannah Sarah are as well

57:36

and it's it's a great it's a it's a

57:39

great story

57:40

but it's also a great content right

57:41

because Suzanne and Sarah are extremely

57:44

competent very hard-working people that

57:46

so is Youssef in them and I am a guy in

57:48

the background right and I spent a lot

57:52

of time with the company and its early

57:53

inception making sure it's scaled and

57:55

and Susannah Sarah I've really taken

57:57

that along and now Alvin dietrichson

57:59

which is a very sophisticated tech

58:02

investor in Sweden have also joined and

58:04

they are pushing the company with with

58:06

them to the next stage

58:07

I sold a portion of my stake when other

58:10

India came in because I was going into

58:12

North hold and I think that's probably

58:15

the best investment I have ever done

58:18

transfer galaxies both emotionally but

58:21

also financially yeah and hopefully

58:24

North will supersede that I think there

58:26

is a need for role models there is also

58:28

a very strong pole from media to create

58:31

these individuals not always sure the

58:34

best people are actually getting the

58:36

media attention we had to be honest

58:38

there's a lot of people out there in the

58:40

media there are really awesome marketers

58:42

right they're like oh I am a serial

58:45

entrepreneur blah blah blah blah blah

58:47

and then you know like dude you had one

58:49

company went bankrupt and then you have

58:51

four consulting companies which I got

58:53

50,000 and turnover what the right

58:57

and and and you can't say that because

58:59

you'll be perceived as a dick but you

59:02

just did I just did somebody but I think

59:06

it's also important for there are so

59:09

many good role models out there that

59:10

just build great businesses and just

59:13

never talk about it right I am also from

59:15

this like old school that you're not

59:17

supposed to talk about things and I'm

59:19

kind of being forced into like and my

59:21

friends are like Ahmad it's not the

59:23

1970s you should do podcast you should

59:25

be in papers because it opens up

59:27

opportunities for about us so I'm trying

59:29

to kind of get out of my shell and my

59:31

other friends that know me really well

59:32

is like you're too honest to be out in

59:34

the media you should be in a close it's

59:36

homicide but but yes I mean so it's it's

59:40

hard for me to sometimes to kind of this

59:42

is also a game there's a money game and

59:44

there's a media game I have a hard time

59:46

playing the media game because you're

59:48

sitting there around the table and

59:49

you're like but you've done nothing

59:51

you've done nothing you've done nothing

59:53

and that guy that's

59:54

number 98 on the list that you're number

59:56

one he's done amazing stuff for that

60:00

girl

60:01

that's number 74 on the list as you're

60:03

number three she's built the company

60:06

changing millions of people's lives yeah

60:08

those lists are very arbitrary yes and

60:11

I've talked some of those lists as well

60:12

like what the hell how the hell did I

60:14

end up there and there was one very

60:15

prestigious list that you know they sent

60:17

me a note they're like hey you are all

60:21

you know we we want to add you to your

60:23

list and I was like cool what do you

60:27

know that I've done and they're like

60:28

this I was like really I worked at

60:31

McKinsey and this was after I sold my

60:33

company then all the in all the

60:34

investments that are like okay I worked

60:37

at McKinsey that's your entire CV on me

60:39

I was like yeah did you know I did this

60:40

this this this this this this it she was

60:42

like no I had no idea I was like okay I

60:45

really don't want to be on your list

60:47

right but that's uh that's social proof

60:50

they just you know as people do they

60:52

they leave somebody else that said that

60:53

this is a cool person I have to admit if

60:56

I am guilty of that as well because I

60:58

didn't you know you came kind of late to

61:00

this podcast we didn't know that much

61:01

and but we got a super good reference

61:04

yeah which turned out to be great

61:06

so sometimes references work yes yeah

61:09

sometimes it works but yes so so my

61:10

point is that I I sometimes people ask

61:14

me you know what keeps you up at night

61:15

you're working we haven't even talked

61:17

about northfield at all but you know

61:19

we're building this ginormous startup

61:21

right now right and but does that keep

61:23

you up at night no it does not keeping

61:24

me up and I things that keep up with me

61:26

at night is like okay the trust between

61:29

the public in the media that keeps me up

61:32

at night the Trump keeps me up at night

61:34

integration and Sweden keeps me up at

61:36

night how is Europe going to hang on as

61:38

a continent those are the things that

61:40

keep me up at night and this thing

61:42

around you know having free independent

61:45

media that actually does its job is

61:47

super super important so shout-out to

61:50

everyone that does that well and and to

61:52

everyone else get a new job and sorry

61:55

you're saying something I think I think

61:57

there is a third reason for you to be in

62:00

the media and it is to actually be a

62:02

role model yeah maybe so and and I and I

62:06

agree with you that there's a

62:07

responsibility

62:07

we were at charity dinner the other day

62:11

and I think Catherine Sandstrom said

62:13

something really nice she is the wife of

62:15

Nicholas angstrom and does a lot of

62:16

philanthropy si those who have the

62:19

privilege to know have a duty to act and

62:22

it also comes with with role modeling

62:24

good and bad behavior but honestly

62:26

there's a huge risk of being a media

62:28

person as well because you expose

62:31

yourself to criticism you expose

62:32

yourself to scrutiny you your views are

62:36

being you know construed or misconstrued

62:39

in a way that can come and bite you in

62:41

the butt later so I think unfortunately

62:44

there's a lot of very intelligent and

62:47

highly valuable

62:49

you know thinkers out there that are

62:52

just silent and it's you know some of

62:56

the smartest people I know I studied at

62:58

the Stockholm School of Economics

62:59

they're doing banking they're doing

63:00

finance but they also have an interest

63:02

in art and literature and politics and

63:04

other things and we're all told to stay

63:06

silent

63:07

so we yield the public space to people

63:11

that are bold but not informed yeah and

63:14

then you have like YouTube stars like a

63:17

you know the angry foreigner what the

63:20

hell he calls himself Ari blotter yeah

63:23

clearly I'm calling this guy out and

63:24

podcaster I don't even know his work but

63:28

you know just listening to him for like

63:29

5-10 minutes on a podcast I'm like why

63:32

is this guy having this much yield in a

63:33

forum because there is not another

63:35

person that stands up there and

63:37

challenges and punches him and then in

63:38

the face intellectually yeah and that's

63:40

that's so important what you say now I

63:42

think we had it well actually one guess

63:44

that was I'm not gonna say who that was

63:46

but she was fantastically smart and

63:50

gifted and successful and it was kind of

63:52

this attitude that you're talking about

63:54

that you know I want to achieve and

63:56

produce things I'm not out to talk to

63:58

the media that's not who I am and I said

64:01

exactly that do you know that

64:02

then we're yielding the space to others

64:04

and we need people like you to inspire

64:07

you know the Sweden inspire people and

64:09

she was like I have never thought of it

64:11

in that way no there is a respond but

64:13

there is a responsibility and a lot of

64:15

people don't take it either because of

64:17

time but also because of fear right yeah

64:19

so I

64:21

know what's gonna happen to this

64:22

politics right maybe there's gonna be a

64:23

headline Ahmad swears on podcast and

64:25

that's the only thing that people are

64:27

going to read and then you google me and

64:29

I want to sit on the board somewhere in

64:30

the future it's like a moth sole company

64:32

and most where some podcast and that's

64:34

the only two things that you see and

64:36

they're like yeah we shouldn't have

64:37

someone that swears on podcast on this

64:39

board and then that perception becomes

64:42

some reality that bites you on the bus

64:43

but at the end of the day I think one

64:48

shouldn't be fear driven so here we are

64:50

if we are shooting the what would

64:53

be three to five things that you would

64:56

say okay this I learned during my

64:58

entrepreneurial journey that were so

65:02

valuable and that I want to give to

65:06

others so that they can become even

65:08

better I'm gonna be brutally honest yeah

65:10

because I think there's no time to dick

65:13

around and I'm gonna go beyond just just

65:17

building companies even though I know

65:19

there's a lot of entrepreneurs and

65:21

future entrepreneurs and other people

65:23

that want to listen to this I think the

65:25

number one most important thing that I

65:29

learned is that the person and the

65:32

persons that you choose to have in your

65:34

life is the most important decision you

65:37

will ever take like who are your friends

65:39

who will you marry

65:40

and you know who are the people that you

65:43

keep around you and especially who you

65:45

marry is a super important decision that

65:48

people don't go into actually thinking

65:50

about it like if you're especially if

65:53

you're a young guy you have very low

65:55

knowledge of what is important for you

65:57

you don't talk you don't think about

65:58

your feelings you don't think about what

66:00

is important for you in terms of your

66:01

morals in terms of your values and then

66:04

you just meet someone and then you

66:05

things happen and then before you know

66:07

what you're going down this lane but the

66:09

amount of time that you spend with the

66:10

person that you marry or is your you

66:14

know significant other and the fact that

66:17

that person has on your life choices

66:19

should be or should not have kids should

66:21

we or should we not move abroad can we

66:22

or can we not start a company can I work

66:25

late this weekend or work this weekend

66:28

the amount of small decisions actually

66:30

affect the trajectory of your life that

66:32

is based on the interplay between

66:34

you and your part life partner is

66:36

enormous enormous yeah

66:39

and saying that you want the life

66:42

partner or else you can just divorce and

66:44

just do your own thing but I think

66:45

that's the absolutely the most important

66:47

decision I ever took at the age of 25

66:50

yeah who I married so that's you know

66:53

yet the bedrock you ready

66:55

number one number two is smart people

66:59

working really hard that's the basis of

67:03

any good company smart people working

67:06

really hard and there's a trend towards

67:09

no higher work/life balance and all of

67:11

that stuff and that's good but it's not

67:14

for everyone

67:15

there is always going to be one or two

67:17

people at the top that need to shoulder

67:20

the burden of command and you need to be

67:24

that person you need to be that person

67:26

that other people can call six seven

67:28

eight nine ten o'clock at night you need

67:30

to be that person that someone can call

67:32

on the weekend you don't need to be at

67:35

the job all the time but you need to be

67:36

that person that is on a call that what

67:39

you're doing is the most important thing

67:40

you can't optimize around that all the

67:43

time

67:44

so working hard is something that is

67:46

going to be a necessity and then number

67:49

three is self-improvement what I say do

67:53

not underestimate the ratin upon which

67:56

you need to improve yourself the most

67:58

intelligent people I know that that fail

68:01

are people that have very low

68:04

introspection that don't understand when

68:06

they say dumb stuff or treat other

68:10

people poorly or make poor decisions

68:13

these are the people that you meet

68:15

they're like I made X decision but then

68:18

this happened that was out of my control

68:20

so it was not successful right a

68:22

successful person in my view is like I

68:25

made all the right analysis and then

68:28

this thing came out of left field and

68:30

blindsided me I was such an idiot I

68:32

should have seen this coming out of left

68:34

field responsibility the responsibility

68:35

right it's I think there's this book

68:39

jakka willing that's also I've done a

68:41

lot of podcasts we're reading all the

68:43

same stuff we're reading all the same

68:44

stuff so this guy talks about extreme

68:46

ownership right yeah

68:48

everything is mine so I say this to my

68:49

teams as well everything great that you

68:51

do is your benefit everything that goes

68:54

bad is my fault right in the chain of

68:58

command it's my fault having that type

69:00

of mindset it allows you to kind of look

69:03

for areas of improvement so that's

69:07

number three number four have some guts

69:10

god damn it believe in something and

69:13

fight for something right and this can

69:17

be you know your values your morals your

69:20

idea you have to be bold you can't be a

69:23

chicken and try to be successful and you

69:27

need to stand up for something

69:28

regardless of what you think about these

69:31

I'm gonna go into politics again which

69:33

is flows backwards and forward but

69:35

regardless of what you think about these

69:37

people on the right wing there are now

69:41

you know winning ground in Europe even

69:44

though they have an ideology that's

69:46

really they are brave and actually

69:48

going off with that ideology and the

69:50

normal person is a coward that does not

69:52

stand up to these these type of ideals

69:55

so just by you know them being bold and

69:59

putting their ideas out there winning

70:00

over ground and the complacency of the

70:04

normal person the that allows the space

70:08

for other people this is the same thing

70:10

in business as well this is the same

70:11

thing in your personal life as well

70:12

having the guts and having things that

70:15

are actually important for you drives

70:18

drives you forward in life how are we on

70:21

time now it's just gonna say it's it's

70:23

been it I think we should probably start

70:25

rounding up we didn't even go into what

70:27

am i doing now what are you doing I know

70:30

you're at North fault but you know what

70:32

we talked about that before we will need

70:34

to have a part two with you at some

70:36

point because there's so much we need to

70:38

talk about and that we haven't talked

70:39

about one thing being what you do now

70:41

yeah and also I really want to have as

70:43

an episode all about North bolt yeah and

70:46

we need to bring like the right people

70:47

here maybe it's you and you know maybe

70:50

there's other people as well yeah yeah

70:51

the head of communications and orful is

70:54

gonna be sitting to listening to this

70:55

and What did he say

70:57

what a stupid did he say this time

71:00

but there's so much I mean I can just

71:02

tell from just the the tempo and the

71:04

energy in this conversation that there's

71:06

so much more to talk about there's tons

71:08

of stuff to talk about you should have a

71:10

three hour podcast instead oh I know you

71:11

know what you know you're a fan of Joe

71:13

Rogan's podcast

71:14

oh my and I think when we have a

71:16

gazillion listeners like he does we can

71:18

have the longer for me to but I think we

71:21

definitely need to have you back for a

71:23

part two here because there's just so

71:24

much to talk about yeah anyways nice

71:26

nice of you guys having hopefully the

71:29

people listening find this helpful

71:30

thanks for coming

71:35

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