‘Leverage the value that you have/the personal experience that you have.’
Omar Zenhom is the co-founder and CEO of WebinarNinja, an online Webinar platform named as one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in 2018. He also hosts the top business podcast The $100 MBA Show.
‘How am I going to be something uniquely valuable?’
Omar shares his unique business journey as an Egyptian-American entrepreneur coming from a family of immigrants. His story starts with stepping out of the box of what was expected of him and pivoting from his career in education to business.
Listen for lessons on overcoming mistakes as an entrepreneur and finding your pillars on becoming an entrepreneur.
Connect with Omar online:
The $100 MBA Show: https://100mba.net/show/
John: Thanks for listening to local SEO today. Don’t forget to subscribe and share this episode. Joining me today is Omar Zenhom who co-founded Webinar Ninja an online webinar platform. Omar also hosts his own podcast The $100 MBA show. Thanks for joining me today, Omar.
Omar: It’s great to be here, John. Thanks for having me.
John: I’m excited because I know you’re all the way from Sydney, Australia joining us. So, how’s the weather over there?
Omar: Today’s a rainy day. We’re going into summer so it’s warm during Christmas, which is interesting but it’s all right. It’s a bit rainy today but the temperature is getting higher and higher. You guys are using…You guys use Celsius in Canada? So, it’s like 23 today, which is pretty…
Omar: Yeah, mild.
John: Because you’re originally from New York so you’re used to the climate that we’re used to here in Toronto.
Omar: Yes, very harsh, harsh weather. I mean, you gotta be tough to just survive the weather. Forget about the people. But yeah, I mean, in New York, that’s the one thing that doesn’t have a going with it. It’s like humid and muggy and the summers are tough. And the winters are brutally cold and the buildings are old so the heating doesn’t work and it’s just like…
John: I feel your pain. So, today was minus 10, walking my son to school and I’m driving to pick them up afterwards. But I have to do it.
Omar: Yeah, I went to Ottawa on a short trip one time and it was like, it was literally a minus 30. And I felt like once it’s like past, like minus 10, there’s no difference. Like it doesn’t really make…There’s no difference minus 10 and minus 20. It’s like it’s the same. Actually, I feel like it’s actually better than being like one or something like that. I think like when there’s a little bit too much humidity in the air, it feels colder.
John: So, it’s funny, because a couple years ago here in Toronto, we hosted the NBA kind of All -Star game and that weekend was minus 40. And that was the reason why no superstar player will want to want to be in Toronto, right? I’m surprised Kawhi actually did it because he’s from San Diego. But yeah, I mean, outside of that, I mean nobody really wants to locate…Relocate to Canada because they think it’s bitterly cold, which is because it’s relative, right to…
Omar: So yeah, but I hear they like they on Toronto, they adore their players and they’re super, super awesome. I think Kawhi didn’t pay for a meal the whole time he was there. You know, like, I’m a big DeMar DeRozan fan. I feel like it’s a shame you guys lost him. He was the heart and soul of Toronto. A huge, great player, love his game.
John: Okay, so thanks a lot, because I’ve already enjoying this. But I know we have a short limited time and I want to hear…I want you to share your journey. A little bit about your back history before you move to Sydney and we’ll get in on that. But even before you started your company, like how did you…What did you go to school for? What did you want to do? And how did you end up in this space?
Omar: Totally. So, I’m an Egyptian American, my parents moved from Egypt to the US in the late 60’s. I was born and raised in the US in New York and being someone who has immigrant parents, it’s a different experience. Because your parents sacrificed a lot to move to a new country and to learn a new language. You know, my parents had to redo their degrees, they had to do odd jobs. My mom was like an elevator operator and she’s like a, you know, registered dietitian. She’s like a professional. So, when you live in that environment, there’s a high pressure for you to succeed, for you to not take anything for granted and not to take advantage of every opportunity because they’re like, “We sacrificed a lot so you don’t have to suffer.” You know, so you should…You don’t really waste any opportunities. When you grow up in that environment. I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about you, your parents coming from Vietnam. So, totally shaped who I am. My mother had a huge influence on my life because my mom is a very resourceful, very bright woman, very hard working person, always kind of taught me that, you know, nothing’s gonna be handed to you. You’re gonna have to work hard for it. And the reality is, is that as a minority, you’re gonna work harder. I know that sounds a little bit politically incorrect but the truth of the matter is I grew up. I’ve never seen a successful entrepreneur that looks like me. I never…It’s hard to do that when you don’t have an example, you know, everybody looks like Tony Robbins, you know, and I don’t look like Tony Robbins, right? Maybe I have the height, but that’s pretty much it. But I thought along the journey, maybe I can be the person, maybe I can be the example, why not? You know, there’s always a first time for something. And obviously now we, you know, in 2020 there’s a lot of diversity now and all that kind of stuff but it wasn’t like that growing up. So, it’s a little bit…I understand that makes it a bit of a challenge for a lot of people that don’t have examples in front of them. I actually went to college to become an educator, a teacher. I was an English teacher for over 13 years. I was actually a teacher for half of it and then the other half I was an administrator with like, head of department at the University. So, I was in education, that was my job, full time for 13 years. I was teaching and helping students. My specialty was English as a Second Language so to help people learn English so they can be able to take the other courses in English. Immigrants or people that are, you know, English is not their first language. So, while I was doing that, I actually was building businesses on the side. I was building eBay stores, I was basically making a lot of mistakes. I was building blogs and websites and doing consulting services. I was trying to figure out what kind of entrepreneur I wanted to be. I didn’t see myself as a business person. I just saw these as experiments as can you make money online? Is this something? I was interested in technology as well as the online world. It’ s very early days, we’re talking like 2030, 2002, right? So, it’s like, very, very early days. There was no you know, PayPal or eBay and all that. There was no, even WordPress, you know, I was coding things in HTML, Dreamweaver, remember that? But so, after, at a certain point in my career, I kind of just got frustrated with my choices in education. I actually was doing a job. I was the head of department and then the chair of the department left and that position was open. So, I had to be the acting chair. I did that job for about a year and a half and I was like, “Well, when are they gonna make this job official? When am I going to get that job and get paid and all that kind of stuff? So, I went to my supervisor, the dean at the time. I said, “Hey, what’s going on? Like, why am I not getting a promotion, what’s going on.” And she just kind of saw it in my face. And she was like…She just couldn’t lie to me in my face. She just said, “You know, I know that the director wants to make an outside hire for this position.” And at that moment, I just felt crushed because like, I’m busting my ass here, day in and day out. I’m doing somebody else’s job for free basically and I’m crushing it. I’m doing a great job. I did a way better job than the other person and I have no control over my destiny. And I thought, you know, at that point, my frustration outgrew my fear and I said, “You know, I’m gonna just change things up.” And I thought, if I put the same dedication and time and energy into my own thing, my own business, I’d probably be a whole lot more successful. At least I can do it on my terms. And that kind of started things out. And from there, I started a small business…Consulting business, that help people like build their websites and their logos and all that kind of stuff and that kind of morphed and I learned a lot of lessons that people have struggled starting a business. They don’t know the fundamentals, they don’t know how to market, they don’t how to sell, they don’t know their finances, all that kind of stuff. So, I started a little program called the $100 MBA, which is exactly what it sounds like $100, MBA education. I started a podcast with the same name. That grew very quickly and now we’ve have over 140 million downloads on my podcast, over 125,000 downloads a day. So, it’s been a very, very good tool for me to grow my audience. Off the back of that in 2014, I launched a software company called Webinar Ninja purely out of frustration because I hated running webinars with other software. So, I created something for myself. We piloted it, we launched it to some beta users. Today that has over 15,000 users, over a million people have used webinar ninja. So, that’s in a nutshell how I got to here today but obviously, there’s a lot of…I’m covering up all the mistakes and the bruises and the bumps and the falls and all the embarrassing stuff. But that’s that’s the fast word version.
John: That’s awesome. So, I’m gonna take a step back and I know because growing up, you probably had parents like myself, right? Where they’re very strict but again, I didn’t see any professionals that were Asian, just like yourself. And I was like, “Where do I see myself? Am I gonna to be a cook? Am I going to own a Chinese restaurant?” Because that’s discrimination, but that’s reality, right? And that’s what everyone expected you to do, right? So again, standing outside and looking back, actually, what would you tell people that are in this situation? Like, say they’re raised in a very, you know, challenged environment? How can you step out to the box because it’s not easy to do what you did, because it’s not norm. Your parents probably, you know, wanted you to pursue, you know, education forever.
Omar: Yeah, and that was like actually not their first choice, you know, like they would rather me be an engineer or a doctor but at least it’s stable. Everybody needs education, you know, it’s like the military. But I would say that the best way I could convince somebody to do that is, when you’re young, when you’re in high school, university, you just graduated, you are in the best position you’ll ever be in to take risks, right? This is the time to take big risks because you have very low liabilities, you don’t have responsibilities, you don’t have any family or kids or you’re probably not married or have any, you know, responsibilities in that area. You have nothing to lose, you know, especially if you’re from, you know, a traditional background. Worst case scenario, move back to your parents, you know, like it’s okay, like there’s very little to lose. So, this is not the time to go save, and get a job, and nine to five and you know, that you could do that later if you want to but now, when you have nothing to lose and you’re in a very low risk situation, this is the time to try to start something, do something fail, fall on your face, be, you know, like one of the best things you can do in your entrepreneurial journey is have a failed business. You’ll learn so much about what not to do you’ll, you know, we have to saying in Egypt. It sounds funny but we have a saying in Egypt that says, Those who burn their mouth from hot soup will blow on their yogurt. So like, once you’ve been burned by something, you are super cautious about what to do next. So, good time to take risks, not the time to be conservative.
John: That’s the only way to learn, right? And as an entrepreneur yourself and myself, it’s more like, every time we fail, we learn what not to do again, right? That’s the only way you evolve, right? But as someone young to then take that action to do something, it’s hard, especially when you’re sheltered, your parents are guiding you to do certain things and maybe your friends and your peers, your group are also in that same kind of mindset, right? For you to be unique, different. It’s gonna, but right now you have access to information and communities are much more accessible, right? So much easier.
Omar: Very, very good point, John. I mean, one of the things I say is that, “If you can’t sell your family on what you’re gonna do, then you’re not gonna sell to strangers.” So, it’s a good exercise for you to, you know, sit down with them over dinner. It’s like, “Hey, I’m gonna to try something here. I know, it’s not what you guys are but, you know, give me six months. I’m gonna, you know, give it all I can, you know, and then maybe we’ll go rediscuss later.” You know, it’s a negotiation, you know, and if you can’t sell the people that love you and care about you, that know you more than anybody else, you’re not going to sell a stranger on your, you know, $200 course.
John: Yeah, I totally agree and you have to take risks, right? And a side hustle, bootstrap, you do whatever it takes because if you don’t know how to sell, it’s gonna be very difficult for you to grow your business or run a business. So, turning away, turning back to that career path of an educator to then dabbling into these businesses, how did you pivot away from those businesses to then that SaaS company that you run today?
Omar: You know, when I was a teacher, I ran maybe, I would say, five or six side hustles, side businesses that did some did really well, some did not well but the best thing I got out of those is, I discovered…I learned what kind of entrepreneur I wanted to be. I learned I don’t like retail. I had a clothing line, my own clothing line. Custom tailor clothing for men, it actually was…It grew pretty quickly. It was really good but I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t enjoy retail. I wasn’t as passionate as I was, as my customers were. My customers are more passionate about the product than I was. That’s a bad sign, right? So, I think you learn through these experiences because in the beginning and you’re naive, you just see opportunities like, “Oh, this is a good opportunity. Let me go ahead and try and make some money.” But it’s more than just money. it’s about value because you can make money quickly but can you have sustainable value in that marketplace? Can you add something significant to that audience that you’re serving in the long term? And I think, for me, I really believe that you have to leverage the value that you personally have, the experience, a special experience that you have. We all have different experiences in life. We have different journeys in life and if you can find a business that can allow you to leverage that, that gives you a competitive advantage and that’s why I was gravitated to my SaaS business, Webinar Ninja because webinars is basically teaching and I’m able to not deny my past I can say, “Oh, I’m not a teacher anymore.” No. That history, those 13 years helped me big time when it comes to running webinars, showing people how to run webinars, showing people how to, you know, get the most and give value to their audience when they’re teaching and selling and all that kind of stuff because in today’s Information Age teaching is the new selling. So, I love to encourage people to find a product, find a business that really marries a lot of different experiences and special skills that only you have or honestly only…We’re not unique snowflakes, but is unique to you. So, for me that was webinars, it combined technology. I was always into tech, it combines creativity and creating new things, creating new webinars, design, it combines teaching and learning ad that’s something that you won’t really know until you kind of try a few things out and realize, “Okay, I need something that really helps my area of expertise.” A good example of this is that, you know, I love to travel. If one day, I want to start a travel blog, right? If I wanted to create, write a book on like a travel guide, right? I love Japan, I’m so passionate. Japan is great but I’ve only even been to Japan once. It was 10 days, right? I can’t add incredible value to Japan as my first book, maybe if I have more time to research and live there for six months or whatever. I can be able to give you all these insights. I’m not as passionate about this but a better first book would be A Guidebook to Egypt because my parents are Egyptian. I went to Egypt over a dozen times, I speak Arabic, I can haggle, I can tell you what the basis is to go. This is where I can add the most value because this is my unique experience that most people don’t have, where it’s just like, “Hey, I understand what it means to be like a Westerner but in Egypt that doesn’t fly.” So, you gotta do, you know, so leverage your unique experience really can build a great product or service.
John: And that’s great that you’re saying that because everyone’s unique, everyone could storytell, personalizing through their journey, life experience. From everyone’s work experience, life experience, social experience, upbringing experience, whatever it is, it’s customized to you and hearing it from you, Omar, it makes more of an impact than hearing it from me saying it all the time, right? Like everyone has their story but people aren’t utilizing it to the most extent and you mentioning like someone that has real experience, what I mean by that is not 10 days, not one or two months. I’m talking about six months, years that you only know because you were in it and no one else can really know it as well as you, right? So, what can you bring to the table that’s different, that will bring more value, like you mentioned, right? To the audience member. Understand who you want to target because everyone is different and unique. Understanding that person, you know, persona, avatar, understanding who you want to provide that product and service to, makes a big difference in running a good industry or business, right? For your industry. Growing up…Dream job, what was it?
Omar: Oh, I always want to play professional basketball. My second dream job was…I used to love to draw as a kid, I wanted to be a cartoonist, maybe an animator for like Disney or something like that I used to watch, you know, Saturday morning cartoons and draw like Darkwing Duck and Duck Tails and Ninja Turtles and things like that in my sketch pad that was…Those are the two things I was really into. But really what I realized, looking back at it, I just love the idea of creating something out of nothing like that’s what drawing is. You have an idea in your mind and then you manifest it on the paper. And that’s what entrepreneurship is. That’s what business is. I was fascinated when I started learning about business, you know, 15,16 years ago about these people called entrepreneurs that have an idea in their head and then fast forward X amount of months or years later, that thing is in the world. I’m like, what, who are these magicians? These are crazy, you know, like where they just manifest things out of their head and that’s really something that I’m addicted to as an entrepreneur is creating great things, putting it into a world. I have this idea to improve Webinar Ninja or this feature or this thing and we work together as a team. I get the best experts to work on it, and it’s out there. It’s a reality and it was just in my head a few months ago. That’s crazy to me, like that sounds like that’s pure magic to me and that’s what gets me excited.
John: Well, it sounds like you’re super passionate. And, you know, and that’s what every entrepreneur needs, right? That drive, that will to want to do better, right? Adding value to your customers. I mean, you know, you wake up and I’m sure you’re excited waking up because you enjoy what you do, right? You love, you own it, you’re like motivated to have that goal that, you know, what you….Value you bring to the market. So, it’s awesome. In terms of that journey of moving away from side hustle to starting, did you have coaches, mentors, people that kind of got you closer to where you are today or did you kind of learn it on your own?
Omar: I would say a little bit of both, I think I did a lot of…In the beginning I didn’t know many people, I didn’t have the money to hire anybody. So, I did a lot of reading of blog posts, of joining forums and groups, you know, before Facebook groups there were like these little forums, you can join and participate and read. So, I was very resourceful, I was really hungry to learn business and understand how to start, you know, smaller online businesses, things like that, niche businesses. Later on, as I grew, as I got to know people more I realized, “Okay, man, who you know really matters, you need to kind of…I really encourage people to join online conferences, in person conferences when those are back because this is the network that’s gonna to help you grow, no one builds a business alone, you need to have people around you to help you to promote you, to support your initiatives. You know, when I started to do that, that was back in 2012 and all the people that I kind of came up with, we were like kind of part of a group. We’re still kind of part of a slack community, where we started our businesses around the same time. We support each other, you know, we were able to kind of promote each other, help each other, cross ideas with each other. Some of these people like our, you know, big time, you know, like, you know, we have Nathan Berry from ConvertKit in that group or Chris Savage from Wistia, the founder of Wistia, or Noah Kagan. Noah Kagan from AppSumo and Sumo group. So, these people really helped me along the way to kind of understand what it actually takes and one of the things I advise people to do is find somebody in your kind of market that’s maybe a few years ahead of you, is where you want to be in three years and, you know, ask if you can have a monthly call, even pay them if you have or send them a coffee or send them, you know, an Amazon gift card or whatever it is, whatever you got to do to get on that call. I did this. Luckily, you know, it was Noah Kagan and Noah Kagan was super gracious about it. We just like, just jump on a Skype call and he actually helped me before I started Webinar Ninja because I know he had a SaaS business with Sumo and he kind of gave me some advice about like, you know, what to look out for, what are some things that you have to change in your mindset. One of the things was that in SaaS, there is no finish line. It’s not like a product. We’re like a course where you launch it and yes, it’s done. Here we go sell it. No, it’s…There’s always something to improve, there’s things to change, there’s bugs, there’s things…All that kind of stuff you have to, you know, constantly update and that really helped me along the way. So, my advice is definitely try to build a network of friends that will understand what you’re going through and that you can support each other and to give back without worrying about what you’re getting in return and then find somebody that’s a few years ahead of you and pick their brain, find out, you know, how did they get there? Because it’s not that long ago for them to remember and it’s also not that far ahead where they just like, I’m so out of touch and the market is a little different now and all that kind of stuff.
John: And you’ll find that a lot of entrepreneurs are willing to support people that are hungry and are seeking advice because they understood what you’re going through, right? And that’s why I found like, not just in the SEO community but like business entrepreneurship community, right? Like, these people are so gracious to help and wanna to, you know, see opportunity like people that are hungry and want to make a difference in the world, right? And we want to help each other become better people, right? To produce the best quality product or service or whatever it is because if we all do, you know, work together in our kind of building better communities we’re going to support another one another, right? And bring more value for everyone, elevate everyone else. So, I love that. Mistakes…Can you share some of the biggest mistakes that you’ve made? I know you made…Probably dozens over the years same as myself. What can you share and how did you overcome them?
Omar: One of the biggest mistakes I made was my first podcast. So, Nicole, my wife and business partner, we started a podcast back in 2013, before the $100 MBA, called People Who Know their Shit and it was an interview podcast, different entrepreneurs. We had some really good interviews. I’ve got Gary Vaynerchuk on that show. It was great. A lot of fun. We did 46 episodes but it just didn’t move the needle. On a great day we had like maybe 400 downloads which was less than how much traffic we were getting on a blog post, which was not really what we’re looking for, we really wanna move the needle in a major way on our podcast and we were just struggling with trying to understand why is this podcast failing? Why is it not working? And we actually went on a road trip at that time to do a consulting job and we went from…And we decided to drive from San Diego to New York to do this job just to get some time to think and to discuss and when it’s just you in the open road, you’re just faced with the reality of the situation. And I realized, you know what, let’s just get real here. Let’s look at the top business podcasts in iTunes. You have, you know, for example, Tim Ferriss. Tim Ferriss has got four New York Times best selling…Four times New York Times bestselling author like this guy, all he does is win. How am I going to compete with this guy? How am I going to compete with Pat Flynn, who everybody adores and loves and has been podcasting since 2009? How am I going to compete with a Jordan Harbinger, who has been podcasting before the iPhone? You know, like, you have to get real with yourself? How am I going to differentiate? How am I going to be something uniquely valuable? If I’m just another me too podcast, which is a podcast interviewing other, you know, entrepreneurs. If it doesn’t have any kind of angle or twist or any kind of unique value. And I realized that we’re not leveraging our strengths, again, using our unique experience. I’m not the best interviewer but I’m a great teacher. I can confidently say, “I’m a better teacher than everybody that I just mentioned.” You know, with all due respect because I had that experience, I had that training, I have a master’s in education, I know how to teach, I know how to take complex ideas, break them down to simple ideas and to bite sized chunks so that we can get to a result. I know this, because my job depended on it. I had to get kids to pass an exam at the end of the semester and I had to take a lot of information and break it down to small lessons throughout the semester. So, I realized, “Okay, I should be teaching on this podcast.” Another thing that Nicole mentioned was, “Hey…” You know, she’s an avid listener of podcasts. She loves languages. There’s a great podcast called Coffee Break French, and Coffee Break Spanish, which is like daily lessons in language, how to learn language and we thought, nobody’s doing this in business like teaching you something every day to get better like a language lesson and we said, “What if we do this in business and just teach?” And I can just build out a curriculum and be able to teach a lesson every day on business, so you can grow and grow your business and that’s the genesis of the $100MBA podcast. And six months later, we won Best of iTunes, which was great to kind of experience that because it’s like winning an Oscar in podcasting. But, you know, Apple told us the reason why we won is because we added unique value to the genre, you know, no one was doing lessons, no one was teaching on business. Either it was interview or is discussion or banter or whatever it was. But again, I mean, we failed miserably on that podcast but we learned, “What are we doing wrong here?” Well, we’re not leveraging our strengths, we’re not leveraging our unique experience. Let’s double down on that because this is how we can be competitive.
John: Yeah, I think that road trip allowed you to really take a step back and that’s a thing a lot of people are like, so in it, they’re spending so many hours, sleepless nights, don’t know where the next paycheck gonna be, they’re stressing over these things and when you actually take a step back and this is why I think coaches and mentors actually are worth it near the beginning because they’re looking from the outside. And when you’re in it, you’re blinded by what is really going on, right? If, you know, I mean, like for myself, I feel like the last I’ve been bootstrapping for many, many years and you know, I enjoy what I do and I’m learning and I’m getting coaches and whatnot but for me, it’s like every weekend, I need to sit back and like reflect. I need to go on these week long cruises or vacations to really reflect, to see where are the gaps and opportunities, the wins, the strengths, weaknesses, where can I get better, add more value, learn from mistakes but if you don’t do that, you’re so in it.
Omar: Yeah, the best ideas come when you’re not working, when you’re on a walk, when you’re on vacation, when you’re just laying on the beach that’s when your mind gets a chance to just get creative and, you know, things come out of the subconscious. But you’re right sometimes we don’t get a chance to step back and reflect and also we…On another note, we don’t spend enough time as entrepreneurs looking back at the accomplishments we’ve had, the winds. We always look at our shortcomings and realize, “Wow, you know, I’ve done a lot of great things. I’ve done a lot. I’ve impacted a lot of people. I’ve helped a lot of people.” And that’s really important because it gives you momentum, that gives you confidence that gives you this feeling of, you know, this is worth it, this is significant, I’m actually making a difference and if you don’t make that time to look back and pat yourself on the back on the accomplishments you’ve had. It can get real rough on you.
John: Yeah, and just being grateful, right? Like, where you came to where you’re now at and as much as like, you know, people don’t understand when you’re an entrepreneur like people think, “Wow, you’re the boss or whatever. You own a company, you’re making X amount.” They don’t see what you did for the last 30 years to get to where you are, right? So, they think, “Wow!” They see the social posts and they’re like, “Oh, make X amount in a month?” Everyone’s gonna make it. If it was that easy. Everyone would be doing it, right?
Omar: It’s a massive amount of risk that you took in the beginning and your time and your effort, all that kind of stuff. Yeah.
John: Exactly. So, what drives you today?
Omar: What drives me? That’s a great question. There’s always different levels to entrepreneurship, there’s always different stages. To use a metaphor, it’s like climbing Mount Everest, you know, in the beginning in Mount Everest, it’s really just the hikers going for a walk, right? And anybody can start a business, right? The challenge is staying in business and continually to grow and to be sustainable. As you go up the mountain, it gets harder, your thigh starts burning, you get tired, you know, you have to start to have different strategy, you have to start climbing vertically, that means you need different tools, you might need a Sherpa. Somebody else to guide you through this treacherous mountain, the air is thin, you might need an oxygen tank, it’s getting cold, you need different clothes. A lot of people don’t realize and I realized this the hard way, is what what drives me my business is that it forces you to become a better person, it forces you to change and improve, it forces you to overcome challenges and that makes you stronger but it also teaches you that, you know, every stage, you have to evolve, you have to do different things, you have to change your habits, you have to attack and approach your business in a different way because, you know, mid mountain, the peak of the mountain it’s a different environment than just the valley where you’re just walking. So, to me that’s what really draws me. This is why I love reading biographies. I love reading, you know, the stories of past, you know, entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, his biography by Walter Isaacson or Shoe Dog by Phil Knight or Ashley Vance is Elon Musk. The reason why it’s great to read that because it defines who you have to become to be a success of that level. Like, if you have aspirations to be at any level of success, you have to change who you are, you got to change your habits because if you read their story, they’re not the same person as they are, you know, 20 years later, they’ve changed, they evolved, who they work with is different, their goals, their ambition, what they believe in their mindset, all that kinds of stuff changes along the way and if you continue to think, “Oh, this is who I am. I’m not changing.” You’re not going to move and that’s what drives me the most is that personal…I have always said that entrepreneurship is the ultimate personal development program because it challenges you mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, in every way and if you could survive it and come out the other end, I guarantee that’s a strong, strong person.
John: Yeah, and I love how you’re always reading, because that’s the only thing right? Like, you can get in as much information as possible, like watching videos, listening to podcasts are great. But I love reading books, too and I read like 50 to 100 a year just to consume good content, right? And see where the gaps, how I can improve and maybe it’s the entrepreneurial side of like us but it’s always trying to challenge, push you a little bit further, right? Becoming more curious, because where are the gaps? Where are the opportunities? What am I lacking? How can I improve? What can I do better? There’s always things and questions. I’m always asking myself, “Am I doing everything right? Is it okay? Can I do things better? How can I be more efficient and productive.” Like all these things go in my mind all the time, right?
Omar: The crazy value of a book is crazy. The amount of value you get out of a $10, $15 book is insane. The lessons that you learned, the mind shifts, the aha moments, the entertainment value that you get from a story. It’s incredible how much I think it’s like it’s…I feel guilty. It’s like a highway robbery of what you get out of a book and I’m a big believer, like you said, like what you do is that your environment, the things you put in your head will affect the ideas that come out of it. Like you can’t…If I watched, you know, I don’t know, some trashy shows, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, no offense to the Kardashians, they’re, you know, successful entrepreneurs but if I watch it 24/7 and then I go ahead and let me start a business like, you’re not going to have a diverse set of ideas or influences. You can’t be friends maybe with Phil Knight but maybe you can read a story and understand and get inside his head and be as close as possible and that’s gold to me. So, if you’re not in the habit of reading, I understand. I wasn’t always a reader growing up as a kid. Start with something…I love this quote, I forgot who said it, but whoever it is, thanks for it, “Start by reading what you love and then you’ll start to love what you read.” And like, Oh, no. Sorry. “Start reading what you love.” So like, you might like read magazines or you might want to read novels or maybe you like to read nonfiction or, you know, maybe something about fixing cars or something like that. And then once you get into the habit of reading, then you can start picking up other books that are a little heavier, philosophy and business and self help. And that builds that muscle. Audiobooks are another option that allow you to listen while you’re working out, while you’re driving, while you’re commuting, all that kind of stuff.
John: Exactly. So, last couple questions. I wanted to ask you business aside, what are some of the other pillars that really drive you and mold you to become who you are?
Omar: Yeah, I think that’s a good question. I think one of the things is that give…Taking time to question what you’re doing, question your decisions. As entrepreneurs by default we’re very confident people, we’re bold, we’re trying to do things. Yeah, I believe in myself, right? But sometimes you have to question like, do I really want that? Do I really want to build this type of business? Do I really want to have these types of customers? Do I really want every step of the way, every decision you make? If I price my products low, I’m gonna attract a certain customer. Do I want to deal with these customers? Do I want to have this type of customer, right? It’s okay to question your decision sometimes, it’s okay to understand that you’re not perfect and not every decision you make. In the beginning in entrepreneurship, you know, you’re like a bull in a china shop. You’re just kind of like, trying things and breaking things but eventually you have to start refining yourself and start looking around and…Okay, I’m not saying to be hesitant or to be, you know, have analysis paralysis but question your decisions, question what you’re doing question if this is what you want and if the answer is yes, move forward. You know, a lot of us, we might build a business and we find ourselves in this like, trap. “Oh, my gosh, I built this trap of business where it’s like, I don’t enjoy what I do every day. I’m kind of an indentured servant to my own creation. I created this own Frankenstein.” You know, so question along the way, reevaluate and but one of the things that Nicole and I do is that we do like an end of year evaluation and this is just you step out of the office for a couple days, you go somewhere and you just, are you happy? Is this what you want? Where do you want to go a year from now? What do we have to change? What are some things that are bothering me? That is really important to do because like you said, sometimes just go, go go. The other thing I would say is, one of the things I picked up recently, I say recently, maybe the last four or five years, is that you have to take care of your body, you have to take care of your health. If you are not healthy, if you are not in shape, everything will be affected. If you’re in the hospital, your business is gonna be affected, your family, your life, your whole livelihood. What is the point of building this whole business, is that if you’re 60 and you retire, and you don’t have the physical ability to enjoy, travel, or enjoy life or walk up a flight of stairs and that’s the reality, a lot of us we will neglect our health and we think that, “Oh, there’s no time for that hassle to your brain, you know, bleed or stuff like that?” No, there’s no reason for that, you’ll actually be more efficient if you do take that 30 minutes for that walk or go to the gym and come back refreshed and get enough sleep and get in, eat right and all that kind of stuff. So, that is one investment that you can make because you as the captain of the ship need to be in the best shape possible so you can make the right decisions. If somebody is gonna buy your business or invest in your business the first thing they want to find out is that are you a good decision maker? Are you somebody that understands how to take the right risks? And if you are in bed, in horrible shape and you’re going to be affected, you’re going to be…your decision making abilities will be affected.
John: I love that because you mold your destiny and you gotta figure out what really ultimately brings happiness. During this pandemic, people realize what’s ultimately very important to them, right? Is it family? Is it health? Is it relationships? Is it business? Or is it like just the social environment of getting out there, right? Meeting people that they now can’t, right? So, it’s like understanding what really brings you true happiness, right? I love that. Well, thanks a lot, Omar. How can some of the audience members reach you, get a hold of you, check you out? Can you leave, you know, some of the contacts?
Omar: Sure, so if you wanna to learn more about what we do, you can check out the $100MBA at 100mba.net. You can check out the podcast there as well. If you want to learn more about running your own webinars with Webinar Ninja or how to run a webinar just go to webinar ninja.com. We got a lot of free resources, free courses, all that kind of stuff. I’m mostly active on twitter @TheOmarZenhom is my handle on twitter. That’s kind of the best way to kind of reach out to me. Trying to kind of limit my social activity.
John: That’s true. I’ve been disconnected. I’m super present with my side because honestly what’s more important than family, right? Yeah, so thanks a lot Omar that was great. Thank you.
Omar: Thank you, John.