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The Turnaround Artist: Create Great Workplace Culture for Growth & Impact

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On this episode of Establishing Your Empire I host Ahad Ghadimi. Over his career, Ahad has led the turnaround and transition of multiple companies. In several instances, he knew little of the industry or the product before ever taking over. He rocketed his career when he created a swimwear line that, faster than any other company in history, went from conception to a feature in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition. The question he is always asked: how do you do it? So, Ahad decided to capture it all in a book titled ‘Turnaround Artists’ that has been endorsed by over 100 Global CEOs.

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Turnaround Artists: A True-Story about Creating Great Workplace Culture in 11 Steps book: https://amzn.to/3co5vDO

Core Work Capital: https://www.coreworkcapital.com

Ahad Ghadimi: I turned around businesses that are essentially good for dead or unfixable or transitioning family businesses out of succession. This really hard stuff and involves a lot of people and emotions and it’s gave me something I just never really had. It was patience… patience, and understanding, and compassion and just people feel those things, man, and if you can guide people through difficult processes and be the calmest person in the room when you don’t know if you’re going to make payroll for like a hundred factory workers the next day and 60% of them are ex-cons, some of them for murder. If you’re the calmest person, everybody calm’s down. It’s like being this anchor in a storm.

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Daran Herrman: All right. I got a Ahad here on the establishing your empire podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m real excited to talk to you. We got introduced by a good buddy public and solace. That was Al also on this on this podcast, a really good episode. So why don’t we just start and why don’t you give us a little background of who you are and what you do.

Ahad Ghadimi: Thanks for having me. This is this is a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to really getting to know you and in our exchange. So, so who am I where, where do you even start? You know, I could, I’m 39 years old. I live in park city. You tie ski every day. I ski trees. I got a little bump on my head, actually from a little accident on Friday, that’d be kind of recovering from kinda a little mild concussion.

So hopefully I’ll be coherent in this conversation. Yeah. When you were talking about your, your podcasts and you know, and entrepreneur-ism or once per watch preneurs, am I strange? I had like a flashback that I hadn’t thought about in a very. I don’t know, like the longest time I it was like the first time I sold something and I think I was like 12 or 11.

And this was like, these are dos. I don’t know if you

Daran Herrman: remember that. Oh yeah. I learned on dos. Yeah, no, I, I was pretty good and dust.

Ahad Ghadimi: Yeah, and I was, I don’t know, maybe more of a salesperson, but I lived in this condominium, the security guard, I guess he had, he had to redo his setup as DAS. And so I made them a copy and I sold them for 10 bucks.

And I just remember getting that first 10 bucks and. Being stoked. I don’t know. There was this kind of a, it was a feeling that was far beyond you know, the the bill in my hand. And yeah. And since then, I, you know, I started a I mean some years later, you know, I went from pedaling, my family’s my family owns a French restaurant cafes across Toronto and well known ones.

And so my parents have being a home. They like the leftover bread or pastries. And I hock them at, you know, in school I cashier that was even, even earlier would be great. Two or three but anyways, since then, you know, I, after, after biz school, I started a actually during biscuit magazine it’s kinda like John F.

Kennedy Jr. Had this magazine called George. That was his whole goal was to make business sorry, politics, sexy, put Sydney Crawford on the cover with, you know, looking like George Washington. And so I did something similar. I actually wasn’t aware of George until after, but I did something similar called up and coming business journal and it was like, You know, as like a finance CEO in 2006, five.

So, you know, context setting, writing about why Canada should legalize marijuana, you know, and this magazine, like, you know, Nash or, or, or how technology is driven by the port, just like stuff that people just didn’t talk about. And you know, our market was young professionals and business school students.

So we, you know, we had about 10,000 circulation on our first Ron and super exciting and dead led to meeting Kind of like a Caribbean salted, you know, this kind of this super wealthy guy from Jamaica and married to this former ex France. And do you want to invest in my magazine? I said, ah, I dunno if print is such a good idea right now.

And so long story short, we started a, a swimsuit company. We started a bikini line, you know, he used retiring to Costa Rica. We started this line called veto soul. We put really sexy. Icons, you know, imagine like a Rose or like a snake on the inside of your bikini bottom. That was a whole sort of this concept that I came up, you know, after, you know, probably too much champagne and you know, too much indulgence one night, you know?

And it’s like Chateau in Toronto after a trip to cat, like, you know, I was 21 years old. I’m like, I got it. We’re going to put. Sexy things inside the bikini bottom. And he’s like, I love it. You know? And so he threw $2 million at it. We hit sports illustrate on our first issue and I just graduated this school and I thought, Hmm, this is easy.

Daran Herrman: So, so let’s, let’s let me jump in real quick. So I want to first ask about the magazine. So I think one of the things that people have trouble with is, Oh, I’ve got an idea. What do I do first? Or what do I do next? Or how do I get started? Right. What got you from idea to creation? Right.

Ahad Ghadimi: You know, it’s interesting cause you and I were just talking about this before we went on, on air about like, I was just respect, admiring you for having such great stuff and doing things so professionally and yeah.

I don’t know if I, you know, I just, I just start with something, you know, I just kind of start with an article or start with something and, and you know, it kind of snowballs, this thing started with like a 14 page newsletter. That’s what I was going to be. And. And, you know, and I had another idea, another idea.

So I think it was just starting and I’m there. The specialist sort of, I don’t know. I think if you could get like a release of energy or something sure. Push once you just do something, you know, and, and you get some feedback, you know, you put it, you have to put out in the world, but you show someone, they give you some feedback, at least for I do.

And so. That snowball just avalanched. And it was just going to be, you know, I went to the Richard Davis school of business in London, Ontario. And so that’s where we kind of, we’re going to do it on my wall. Why just our school, why not Ontario? And so it just, it’s a star bar, you know, and I think it starts with just.

Doing

Daran Herrman: anything, frankly. Yeah. And I would recommend when that happens, when you have the idea and you you’re starting or just that energy, like you have to use it right then and there. So don’t go watch TV or jump on the, your computer and browse the internet because it’s very fleeting. It will be gone very, very, very, very soon.

But when you, when that itch happens, You know, definitely jump on it. So, so then let’s talk about the swimsuit, similar stories, snowball fact, you know, it sounds like, or was there something else?

Ahad Ghadimi: No, you know, I A bunch of things. I mean, I think like, you know, I had the, I had the stroke of inspiration, the idea, and I jumped up and I was actually hanging, you know you know, with my buddy who would be my co-founder and partner and financier.

And he said he said, I love it. And he goes, let’s tell Veronica that was this, you know, beauty queen wife. And of course she loved it and it was just, so it was just like doing. And I think the one thing we all had in common coming back to your point, whereas we were all just doers. Like we just, we could help ourselves with just to do the next thing, because maybe it was that energy, that excitement that you get, and it’s like following a little thread and you just, you pull it on more and you pull it on more.

And and I don’t know, I think the world, I think, so the universe conspires to help you, when you do that, I think things just kind of. Happened, you know synchronistically, you know, we found that a spectacular designer, they married Teresa and Costa Rica. She had her own students utilize. She was an architect.

So we just said, I don’t know, we’re going to buy you out. You’re going to design for us from now on. And so, you know, it was just like, Things just kind of happened, but I think because there was momentum to your point.

Daran Herrman: Yeah. So I got to stay on the swimsuit thread a little bit, cause my wife is into sewing and we actually made some prototypes and some stuff, a lot of fun.

We just had a lot happening at that time to be kind of positive, but it’s actually not just kind of on pause. So how did you, how did you get into sports illustrated? Like how did that happen?

Ahad Ghadimi: Well, so, so, so we had a, I mean, this is self-serving because it was like my plan, but we had a, we had a really great PR strategy.

So we were in we were in Costa Rica. This is 2005 six. And we we had like a whole press thing set up for the next day. Oh fuck. In a couple of days in New York. And so what we did, so, you know, we hired a PR agency, a PR agent, and they were kind of making this introduction. So. We’ve got meetings.

Right. But before we went, we called the national Costa Rican news and newspaper. We said, look, we’re doing all these things. We have folk, if all these people sort of lined up, but we’ll give you the exclusive, if you do it tomorrow, you know? And so we had a press release. We’re like, it has to hit before we get there, you know?

And so we kind of give them a deadline. And of course I wrote, we were at the press release. We, we w we presented it that way. We controlled the narrative, you know? And so they did it. And so when we landed. It’s like, you know, it’s funny. Cause in Costa Rica, they’re looking at both like, wow. And boom, they’re like, cool.

These guys already hit the national newspaper, you know? And so there are some like cyclical you know, validation there. And so we, you know, we arrived with like, you know, we’re, we’re like the hottest thing in Costa Rica right now. And so this thing kind of just snowballs and. It’s interesting. You know, people just kind of follow the leader once they see something as exciting, they want to be a part of it.

And I think that’s what happened. We got at I remember the sports illustrated came around to our booth in at the Miami swim show that, that, that summer, and I think we got like two pages and just to put it into context, like, I dunno, there’s like lines like. Shannon, I think, yeah, we’d heard they take them eight years.

You should like real life, nine years to get the sports illustrated. Because what happens is when you get the sports illustrated, you can get the sacks. Oh wow. You get the big orders. I mean, this is like 2005. Like, I don’t know what it’s like today, but back then, it’s a, because everyone reads the sports illustrated shoe, the husbands do you know the girlfriends, they want that swimsuit.

Cause they want, you know, be like the model. So. It’s huge.

Daran Herrman: And then what happened? So tell us the moral of the story. Like, so, so I’m guessing us in big orders. Do you know where where’s the line and also where’s the line at now, but maybe you could give us a little bit more of the journey.

Ahad Ghadimi: Yeah. Yeah. We got big orders when you, like, we were just on a tear and, you know, I think, I think what was interesting about that we did really well with was.

We had this, like you really interesting balance between like, you know what, like Richard Baskerville called virgins, like people who have no idea, like no clue, but then also people who are like, man, like so experienced, they were kind of cynical. And that was, that was by design. So we brought on people who had been there for 30 years and George was like, they were just like veterans, you know?

And so everything we did, it was some between some tension of Yeah. Things that just didn’t make sense. Like we were, we, we were selling swimsuits like back there. Cause I remember we were doing our designs, our, our, our, our sizing. We said, I remember just asking like, well, how do you, like, I don’t know, like a B cup and like what size bottle?

And be like this size. I’m like, how do you know? I mean, people are like uniform. Like, let’s just how you sell me. But how can it fit? So these are dumb questions, you know, because you just did it this way, but it’s the

best,

Daran Herrman: it’s the best question, because that is completely true.

Ahad Ghadimi: Right, right. And just set a time where people didn’t really sell separate, you know, you just because why, so you follow the thread a little more and it’s because the boutique owner, the person, you know, at the end of the year has what, like two of this size, one or this size, what do they do with it?

They don’t wanna be stuck with it.

Daran Herrman: Right. And inventory costs are just higher, but you know, that’s thinking in the wrong direction, that’s not thinking about your consumer. That’s thinking about your, you as the business owner, right? I think there’s something to that that, you know, the dumb questions being sometimes the best ones, but I don’t know.

That’s interesting.

Ahad Ghadimi: I mean, I’ll tell you later on my story, like, I mean, I know I’m just going to, I just, I circle back, but like, you know, a lot of what I’ve done the last eight, nine years is buyout or turnaround bankrupt businesses or businesses in succession. And they’ve been like, like industrial water filters for like the Atlanta aquarium, like big shit.

I know nothing about. Yeah, high end guitars. Like you have a product guitars, boutiques, and like, just like things I just like. And so a lot of my career, you know, this thing, like the imposter syndrome where you, like, you feel like you don’t belong. Like I kinda wasn’t imposter syndrome. Like I had no business in a lot of these industries and businesses.

I was a part of. And I think it’s, and I, and I think the first thing I did, I was just acknowledged. I just had no idea, you know, and that’s, that’s pretty disarming because when you just say that upfront. But, you know, you my whole thing was, I just, I know how to get people to like really do amazing things together that I can do everything else.

You know, I I’m a quick study, but, but so anyway, my whole career has been asking these questions and I get it. I get, I get why that would make people that generally makes most people really uncomfortable. Cause you’re exposing, you know, you, you don’t know and. But but I think once you get over that, there’s, there’s, there’s such a unique value to becoming at something fresh.

And and what the courage to. To consider doing it in a way it hasn’t been done before. Yeah, I

Daran Herrman: love it. I also think the imposter syndrome is sometimes a good thing because if you’re not trying to strive, you know, a level or two up, you’re probably being stagnant. Right. And that’s also why a lot of times I a high.

Achieving people have it because they’re always striving upwards and like, realize that they’re in over their head a little bit, but yet we’re going to figure it out. So continue on your story. So just, I think this is great. Just keep on going wherever you want to go. After the swimsuit where, what

Ahad Ghadimi: happened next?

Yeah. W one thing I’ll just add to that, your imposter thing. I just went with me. I heard on an NPR podcast once was they say, you know, the, the the president of the United States had no training to be president of the United States. I mean, so think about like the arguably the most important job in the world, you know, the toughest job in the world.

And there’s no school for it. I mean, the person was just a businessman before a Senator before whatever, you know, talk about like imposter syndrome. Talk about learning curve.

Daran Herrman: Yeah. Usually the two people up up for presidential nominees are usually people that have never had been present before. So it’s always going to happen.

Right.

Ahad Ghadimi: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, so veto, so took off, you know, I ended up moving to the South of France. So one of the mistakes we made was we just, we were like US-focused and we realized our swimsuits were good for New York, Miami Southern California. That’s about it. Like we were not. I don’t know, middle America was just not going to like the stuff that we had, but we were at our show soon, the Miami some show that was our first show.

We have people from like Europe and South America, they were just losing their minds over what we had in. Okay. Ms. France, you know, Costa Rican designer, John and I Jamaica. Yeah. Okay. That makes like, okay, duh. Right. And so we Elizabeth Hurley, she has got a swim suit line and she she pulled out of a show in a, I think it was Harrogate UK, a big really well-known luxury show.

And as we, we snapped her spot and I think within, I don’t know, 24 36 hours. I was on a plane to, to London and with a whole bunch of samples and set up our booth and we sold to you know, I made a sale to haircuts. So now we had like meet, this is w we haven’t even really produced. We produce samples, you know?

So so anyway, the longest, it was just a crazy ramp up. And I ended up in the South of France, sort of focusing on the European market because I spoke French and and the rest of the team worked on on North America. And it was great, you know, we, we, we, we, we really took off. I ended up exiting a couple of years in it’s like, I dunno, I guess I lucked it was my first gig out of college, you know, I hadn’t really thought.

Beyond. And there’s a lot of things I would have done differently how I started structured a partnership, you know, and it just, it really wasn’t working with the three of us. So that just kinda made it seem like it’d be better if it was just the husband and the wife, you know, and this was the hut.

This was the wife’s thing, frankly. You know, I think I just, I, I think I created her like dream. Job posts, you know, being a beauty queen. And so so I exited to them, I think I was like 24 at the time. Now. I was like, I don’t know, in the South of France and new style, I think in the, you know, burning through my cash too fast.

It’s easy to do that in that area. And so I didn’t know what to do really. And so I just I got some advice. I was gonna get my MBA. I want to, I want to stay in France. And long story short, I went to Paris. I met some big school alumni and somebody offered me a job at Dannon yogurts of all places.

And I was like, I don’t know, first thing to yogurt. Like I eat it, but what on earth would I do here? And I don’t know, I just took it. I liked the woman a lot who was who was hiring me. And so I ended up doing two years. I had like at a global role for like Dannon group Dan and second biggest company in France and Europe, no France.

And you know, we, what we did was like culture and organizational development and post-merger integration and like but, you know, with cross a hundred thousand people and like 111 countries and, you know, I, I had to like get a haircut and like, not wear purple shirts anymore. Like this wasn’t fashion, you know, like it was like a metamorphosis isn’t the opera neighborhood and Paris and And that was hard because it was, I, it was kind of like, what is it?

The Chinese, they have these like wooden shoes and you put your feet in these wooden shoes that forms your foot, you know, by force that’s what kind of shot, like, you know, cause I just wasn’t, I had never thought I’d worked for a large corporation, but so

Daran Herrman: real quick, I want to ask you about, you said you would wish you would’ve done your partnership differently for the swimsuit company.

Yeah. W w it, you know, as much as you can or want to share, like, what did you learn there? Because I think a lot of people are doing startups and a lot of people that listen to podcasts are wanting to do startups. And I actually have, I mean, I actually want to know that better. Cause you know, probably my next gig we’ll probably have a technical co-founder.

Right. So it’s very interesting. Right. And we I’ve read a lot of things, listed a lot of things, but at the end of day, I just really don’t know. Right.

Ahad Ghadimi: Man, it’s such a happy to share it. It’s such a balancing act between like they can dial in everything. When you just have an idea and a name and you’re just kind of starting out, but you do have to plan for success and get clear and acknowledge that it can be a challenging conversation and there’s compromise, but guess what?

It’s the first good opportunity to start compromising and coming to agreement. And you have to do that a lot. And if you think, if you skip out on that one you’ll skip out on other tough. See me, you know, challenging, they’re tough. They can be tough conversations. And, and and I think that’s what I didn’t do.

I didn’t do that. You know, I was like, I was like, I just, as guys writing this school 21 or 22, and those are super exciting, especially with whatever. And I remember reaching out to a biblical professor and ask him about that. And I remember him saying like, you know, like, it’s your first deal, you know, don’t don’t like, It was like, don’t, don’t, don’t like ask for the moon or anything, just get it done, have a success.

And I did it. I, frankly, I just, I did it. And it’s all, it just wasn’t really clear. And I mean, it’s what happened was when we got really successful things, change my partner. He didn’t really care about, I mean, he threw money out of your checks. He kind of checked in, but whatever he was doing, he had other things going on, you know?

But now we’re like, we’re every magazine, you know, we’re making custom made suits for like, like Ricky Martin calls us up too bad. It’s only for women, you know, we’re just like, we’re, we’re a bosses, you know, all of a sudden out of nowhere. And so he just started leaning in and getting more involved and like, they want this, they want the change.

So the S like, Our whole thing was pitting beautiful swimwear on the inside. Bikini’s and it was like your personal secret. It was like an intimate secret, you know, that’s what made us special. And this was like 2005 and like, dove was just coming out with beautiful women. And like, we were like way ahead right there with that movement, you know?

And that’s our whole thing. Like making people feel beautiful from the inside out. And so, you know, we had like creative differences. Like they wanted to, like, I think it was SAS. They were like, okay, well, can you make them reversible? And they’re like, sure. You know, like, no, no, no. What do you mean? Our whole ethos is not that, you know, and I get it.

You know, he, I don’t know. I it’s sometimes you know, people is, look, this is a reality. And I’m going to sort of share this with you and shows you owners. I think the reason why contracts and agreements are really important is to protect both people because you just don’t know how you’re going to react.

If someone comes and gives you, shows you a big check. Can’t know, you know, and so contracts are there and agreements are there to protect everyone and to sort of keep us on track or to It’s for those situations. It’s like a helmet. You never really want it. But,

Daran Herrman: well, Gary, Gary Keller, Keller, Keller Williams calls them disagreements instead of agreements, because really you’re all going to pull it out when you disagree.

And I think that’s a great way to look at it because I would write it differently if I want to talk about what I’m going to disagree on. Right. So it is interesting. And I do think, yeah, when things change, you know, where do I, where do you stand? Right. And that can be tough. But you know, there’s also some, something powerful about jumping in.

So, you know, I think it’s kind of similar what we were talking about earlier about like, having all this gear and doing everything, but like, Is that going to slow you down too much? It’s great. If you can balance it, you know where you’re going to be motivated, but also I don’t know, check all the boxes you need to check.

So it’s that balance? Yeah. Yeah. Corporate stuff. So corporate America. Like, I assume that was something though that gave you some things you would have never learned in anything you want to share about a stint in corporate America, because there’s kind of, it kind of gets a bad rap nowadays, but I, and I didn’t love my Senate, a big company, but I also learned a ton.

Right. Yeah.

Ahad Ghadimi: Yeah. So, so, so, so this is, this is corporate France. And so this was very, it was like the opposite of what I’d learned in business school. Look, I’ll give you one fundamental difference between Europe and especially France and North America in Europe. If you’re hired for a job you’re hired at a company you’ve got a lifetime gig.

It’s very difficult to fire you. Whereas I remember, you know, in my factory in South Carolina, I can fire someone because, because so it’s like a world of a difference. And so what that does is the way the culture and the way sort of the mentality at Dannon. When I was there worked was that they wanted to like make, you want to be there.

They make it, they were appealing. They’re appealing to your emotions. They were appealing and they cared and they were interested. That was like the goal. And that ran through the company. Like it wasn’t a top-down company. Like my, my role was global training manager of like global training. So I had like, People who like ran training budgets and training programs for the company all over the world, 46 of them.

And I was at the head office of Paris. I couldn’t tell them what to do. I had to like convince them, I think, influence them, you know, ads engage them. It’s a things like that. And a whole bunch of other things. I think that’s one of the biggest things I learned was like, how do you get people to care? How do you get people to like really want to be there?

How do you appeal to like someone’s emotional desire. To like lean in and care and look, I mean, I, I wish you could see me at the time. I was just not fit for a corporate, especially in France. I mean, France is a structured, structured place and you know, you basically have to go to HCC. Like they grew up on a French Harvard to get into some of these companies.

And so it was, but. I dunno, they won me over and I’m still one of, I still buy Danna potlucks. And I think, I think that’s sort of the biggest thing. And I, and frankly, I, for the large part, I know corporate corporate North America, maybe doesn’t do that, including Canada, you know, immediate Mexico. I just, I know that.

I just know that people don’t people are adopting it a lot more now, but that’s, that’s the biggest thing that I learned is how to get people to care from like, A way they they’ve maybe rarely cared about something other than their, like themselves in their family.

Daran Herrman: I mean, and just, you know, being an American born here and always lived here is like, And I get that.

And as a business owner, I would want my employees to do that, but it is interesting just to even hear that, that, like, that was so ingrained into the culture. Cause that’s just not the way it is here. Right.

Ahad Ghadimi: Because you could fire someone, people are disposable in general, you know, they’re, you, it’s a marriage you’re stuck with them or, or it’s a, it’s a pretty, it’s pretty expensive to get rid of people, especially if you’ve got a hundred.

And I think so those are like the rational, practical reasons, but I know like, Funky bull was the CEO when I was there. And then, so his father, I can’t remember his name, but he, he was, he wrote this book called like in the seventies, like society a company’s role in society the translation and like, In the seventies.

I mean, this guy was like, thinking about this. Like it was who he was. So there’s that element too. There’s like, you know, the practical, rational reasons, but also because shit, you just care. And I think that was a big thing for that to like go across a hundred thousand people. If you know, that was part of my job to like instill this, we buy a company, we bought this Dutch company, 25,000 employees.

Boom. How do you get them on the same track? How do you merge them with this sort of culture? So that was a big, that was probably the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to, how do I create that and instill that with people.

Daran Herrman: So then my guess is your story goes into something on your own after the, after you left Dan.

And is that, is that the case and, you know, walk us through how you left and, and what you did.

Ahad Ghadimi: Yeah. I mean Tuesdays is like, you know, in a way I had a various sort of Kush life, you know, I lived in the center of Paris. I had like, you know a girlfriend I really liked and travel the world and all that.

Then I don’t know. I just felt, I felt like I was on this sort of linear trajectory and, and yeah. And I guess I missed, like, I think I just missed like, kind of. Not being on a linear trajectory and just sort of carving out something that was unpredictable. Because in large part, I was really sad and I was set for like a fairly exceptional life, especially in the context of like Europe and France, you know But anyway but here’s the other thing is gets, frankly, I also knew that I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t, and it wasn’t just a job because I worked with great people every time, a great company, I traveled the world.

Like it wasn’t hard, you know, and but I wasn’t happy and I knew it just had to do with something like inside and And I was really, I was at a weird place because I was like, I live in Paris, I’ve got all these things going on. I’ve done the entrepreneurial thing. I’ve done the corporate thing. I don’t think I’m going to find a better corporate scenario.

This was pretty unique. And I’m not happy, so I need to like figure this out because you know, I’ve, I’m only like 27, 26 now. And like, I need to, like, I don’t know. I need to like, kind of get that right. And so. It wasn’t a direct path, but the longer, I mean, I ended up in Boulder, Colorado of all places, you know?

And like, it’s, it’s almost cliched. Right. But like, I ended up there after, like I eventually left Dan, I moved to Borno Cyrus. I like, you know, I, so these are like the stuff in between. Like I learned to play polo. Like I just thought I’d just like all this like kind of fun stuff. I try to kind of mask with fun stuff, kinda like doing really fun stuff.

And I dunno, I just wasn’t really, nothing was really getting there. And yeah, I, I spoke with a clairvoyant, you know, someone, someone put me onto this clairvoyant and this blew my mind. The stuff you talked about, like stuff you would say was just like, it was shocking. Like how, like, like acutely specific, he was like insecurities of my girlfriend and like specific ones.

And so, anyway, he’s just suggested I should probably go and do like a personal, deep dive. And that’s what I did and ended up in Boulder. I did everything, man. I did like Zen. I went to a psychic school. I did like the passionate. So you know what? Those are the 10 day silent meditation retreat.

Daran Herrman: Oh yeah.

Actually I do. I w I had somebody else in the podcast that that was a major life changing thing for him, where he was an engineer engineer. That totally went a right turn, a whole right angle.

Ahad Ghadimi: That’s what, yeah, that’s, that’s what it was like for me. And so I did that for about a year and it was hard, man, because I was like, so ambitious and so like cared about 28 or 29.

I should, I should always be further, whatever I’ve done. I should always be further like that kind of thing. Again, it’s just to not do anything at the kind of become like a little bolder hippie for a year or so. So that was like, I was like, w like so, so weird. But so wonderful and so helpful. And eventually I don’t know.

I, like, I kind of decided I wanted to kind of reenter the. That the business world and just kind of. I don’t know, I feel like I’ve gotten what I wanted. I just kind of like a sense of just, just, I dunno, clarity. I used to have a really hard time concentrating. I speak super add and France, I worked at like PA, like Dan and I think Ritalin just to like, stay on track, you know, and like, And you can’t find that shit in France, you know, for them, it’s like, it’s like the worst, like here you get, it’s like, tic-tacs, you know, but their culture does not really endorsed these things.

And so, and so these are the things that led to that then coming out of that I ended up getting, I ended up hooking up with a CEO that I knew from Canada. He was doing a turnaround of Boston market, you know, the rotisserie chicken companies. Oh yeah. This is like 2010. Maybe a minute. No, maybe it’s like 11, 12 now.

And I dunno, we had coffee, we’re talking about culture and this, I talked with Dan and he really liked what I had to say. And he asked me if I’d help him with the turnaround of this company, you know, and. And so yeah, I’m just like laughing. Cause I was still like, this is like semi hippie ties has to hike a long hair, run a ponytail.

I can booze out, roll into these corporate offices. And but we did amazing things, man. We did a meet like this, so like maybe I dunno, maybe like two, a third or two thirds of the company had been laid off. And so people were in shell shock and they’d gone to a bankruptcy and all this crazy shit. So like people were like, he wanted people to go from surviving to thriving as a mentality.

And so a lot of what I did was a lot of stuff I’d learned at Dan and frankly, like those kinds of workshops, I started running a dam in and how to kind of create that breakthrough thinking and how to create like sense of trust, psychological safety, to just share ideas and make the most like free flowing open way, you know?

And crazy things happen, man. Like, like we had like people internally. We had these, like, they were like, they’re called breakthrough sessions. So we do these things to like, try to like induce an epiphany in that half-day workshop. Like a breakthrough idea. We came up with things like food, like home food delivery.

It was like 2012. Right. And so one woman, the regional manager went back to like Florida and she invested like her own cash. This is like regional managers and like a Boston market chain, you know, a company to try the idea. So she was acting like an entrepreneur within the company. And that was like a real aha moment for me.

I’m like, wow, we’re getting like employees to think like entrepreneurs here. And so I kept kind of doing those, those gigs. And what I soon found out was that the I started kind of finding myself, working with like older business owners, retiring age, business owners. And, and I kinda felt like man, like they’re, so they’re always complaining about their employees.

They’re kind of the problem actually, you know, like the culture is there, the issue, the leadership. And I, I, I eventually found out that if I could just like replace them. Cause I was having success and traction with these companies. I’m like, man, if I could just get rid of that guy, I could just do what I need to do.

We could probably get there way faster. And and so I kind of went downstream and start looking for like, like, like Boston, market’s a $500 million company, you know, that’s a private equity deal. So I kind of went down to like smaller little businesses, retiring business owners, who I can take over and and run there and participate somehow from an equity standpoint.

Daran Herrman: So you have, so you have a little more leverage though, because you wanted, you wanted to be able to make stronger changes, perhaps it sounds like.

Ahad Ghadimi: Yeah. Like I didn’t, the title CEO didn’t matter for me, but the authority of a CEO matter to me because, because I just knew it worked. And I knew like what, what that could look like if I didn’t have to spend 50% of my time trying to politically maneuver the old guy, you know It’s funny because actually as gonna say old guy and girl, but it’s actually typically the old guys in situation where as a husband or wife, the wives, are you typically more reasonable actually, but yeah, I dunno.

I just started looking for deals and I just, I took anything, you know, and I just, and it’s weird. So this is like maybe another thing that could be resonate with your bro. I just kind of decided I was going to be a CEO. It’s kind of the president of United States. I just decided I’m just going to go and become a CEO of this company.

And you can decide that this not going to happen the next day. But there is this thing about like believing in it and gains the point where I believed in it to the point where it was ingrained, that took a year and a half or two years, almost like while I was searching. And every time I tell someone, Oh, like a broker or someone, like, here’s what I’m looking for.

Here’s what I want to do it, ingrains it a little more. It ingrains a little more. And.

Daran Herrman: Putting it out in the universe, you know, you put it out there and it, it just hap it does happen. Now you still got to walk the walk when you get there, but if you never believed in doing it or also like, really wanted to do it, it might happen.

But most likely probably won’t.

Ahad Ghadimi: Yeah. And the thing is, and I didn’t believe it. Like, I just say it today and believe it tomorrow. Like, I’d say a lot. Felt like fragile that had been there didn’t feel real, but I did kept saying, yeah, I did kept saying yet until like one time they go there, I’m looking for deals.

I’m doing consulting gigs to make cash and. There was one bankrupt company and and I told the owner that he wanted to shut it down. And I said, no, no, I want to invest in this and take this over. And I’ll to the company, you know, the, you don’t have to put any more money in it. Here’s, you know, we kind of structured a deal.

I’ll take like 40% of the upside if it sells, if it doesn’t, whatever, I don’t want to salary. And he goes, what’s, what’s your role going to be. You know, there’s like a 78 year old, like steel tycoon. And this is like one of his like little manufacturing companies. And so at that point I had to believe in I to say, I’ll be CEO and a co-owner with you.

It like own that then silence

Daran Herrman: and not say anything. Yeah. Just put it, let it, let it sit in there. And my wife and I do this a lot. We, we will role play a little bit, especially when she was going through some job interviews and stuff. And even just with big meetings. Cause if you sit there and you’re prepared for that.

Tough. That crazy question that comes at you and you want to give the right answer. And I help a lot of friends when they’re like going through some jobs when, when negotiating money. And I tell them a number which they first ask them how much they want to make. I’m like, okay, let’s like double that or something, right.

50% more or whatever. And just keep saying that over and over and over and over. So when it just falls out of your mouth, it’s the right number that falls out of your mouth or the right position. Or right thing as opposed to a downgraded yourself, because I think we all downgrade ourself. If we haven’t been prepared for that.

Anyway,

Ahad Ghadimi: listen, man, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re a hundred percent. Right. And it’s yeah, I think that the role playing and getting into the feeling of it, I mean, that’s why. It’s actually a lot more about convincing yourself. That’s like the irony of it, because once you believe it, then others will believe you.

But if you don’t believe it, then you haven’t even really, can we take the really the first step?

Daran Herrman: And I think the easiest place to understand it is usually your compensation, your money and stuff like that. And your position, your title, those are easy ones. There’s so many other places we could take this, you know, you can take this in sports, you can take it to a lot of different places, relationships dating, all that stuff.

But you know, that’s one thing is, you know, if you’re doing a role and you think you’re under compensated, it’s probably yeah. Your fault because you just haven’t believed in a hundred percent.

Ahad Ghadimi: You’re right. And that that’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s the best pill to swallow because once you’ve swallowed it and you let that now, now the power is back in your hands.

It’s better. If it was in some ways, it’s better than if it wasn’t somebody else’s, you know?

Daran Herrman: Well, and that’s why people complained because they believe it’s not their fault. Right. And you know, you don’t hear somebody complaining when they know it’s their fault and they’re trying to do something about it, right.

But ownership

Ahad Ghadimi: is a tough thing, man, owning, owning, like taking responsibility and just owning like your decisions and where you’re at that it’s it’s kinda, you know, that’s why I liked the vipashyana too, because you, when you go there, you sit there and silence 10 days, 10 hours a day for 10 days and shit comes up, man.

And you can’t, you can’t go put on Netflix. You can’t have a drink. You can go skiing and get your mind off of it. You D you just, you have to face it there. It doesn’t really get easier, but you get better at it, I guess.

Daran Herrman: And, and I think you also understand how to process your thoughts, quiet your brain when you need it to all this, because you you’ve.

It’s a muscle that you’re working on. And I think, yeah, that whole thing let’s just grab our phone or Netflix, when a thought comes up, you’re just weakening that muscle of under, you know, or laying in bed and getting on your phone or something as opposed to okay. How should I download my thoughts of the day?

Or how do I quiet my brain so I can actually get some good rest. I bet you did do that for like a month though, right?

Ahad Ghadimi: No. So it’s sort of a 10 day silent retreat. So you go, so you did you’re there. Kind of 11 days in total from the first, when you arrive in, you will leave. But yeah, your phones, you, you give away, you hand over your phone, you should it’s actually not as good to keep it.

Cause temptation’s too, too strong to, to take a look. You you don’t have anything to write. You don’t have any region. You don’t, you don’t make eye contact with anybody. You just, you know, actually they’re not talking is actually not the hardest part, frankly. That’s what everybody freaks out about.

But. It’s sitting there in something you know, something comes up in your mind, a memory, a thought, a decision you may have made and you just have to like stare at it. And like, until I just kind of you know, they teach you a process and you, what you learn, what you look, the, the essence of what you learn is not the crave and not to come out of craving and aversion craving is like I really want that motorcycle.

Oh, I need to have that motorcycle. Well, if I don’t have it on VB give so upset if I don’t have it replace motorcycle with anything, you know, or or a version, you know, I, I remember once I was telling this story to talking about a patch like this at a cafe in Toronto with a buddy in the summer, and I said, I can’t make this up.

This became it’s sat on my hand and stung me. I was like, ah like for example, like I just got started. I’m like in the conversation talking about this, I’m like in here, I’m like, I feel like a sharp feeling. I should feel sharp here, but I might, I’m not resisting it. It’s just, it’s just there. I’m accessed.

It’s there. I might like, I don’t wish it didn’t happen. I don’t. And it’s an interesting thing because when you do that, you don’t, you get your head out of the game. You’re not amplifying and yet you’re not making things worse, so you’re not, so you’re not craving universally to suffering. That’s what you learn.

And the things that, the fact that everything’s always changing. So you spend 10 hours a day, 10 days there. Like scanning your body and your mind becomes so quiet that you can feel the cellular movements under your skin. It’s crazy. It’s like the it’s it’s so wild man. And like, you see it, it’s quiet and you, like, you become like hypersonic and everything.

You know, you walk in the woods, you get to go on walks and you can like hear chipmunk bunker, like way over there. Like you just, you develop these senses. Yeah. And But you just, you start untangling your mind and things just become really clear, but you’re also happier. You’re just not resisting or reacting to things.

Daran Herrman: Is it similar to like when you’re camping and like, it takes about a day or hiking, you know, and camping, like a more difficult process. Yeah. And then about a day and a half, you kind of start settling in, right. You start understanding, okay, this is the new life for whatever, but you’re fighting it.

You’re pushing and pulling all over the place. And not really, you know, it’s that I think after you get over that hump, then you start really liking it and then you miss the world, the other world, but then you’d go back to it. You’re like, wait a second. I kind of enjoyed what I was just doing there in the, you know, in the middle of nowhere, but.

Ahad Ghadimi: A hundred percent. I mean, that’s why I actually people, because I tell my friends, I’m a big promoter of this of this passion. I know I tell people about it and they say, I can’t just do for two days, three days. I’m like, man, it takes about four days just to get to the doorway. Yeah. You know, just to be able to step inside four days is like really, when it starts with you, just like you’re quiet enough to just start feeling how it w the thing is you’re, you’re, you’re scanning your body.

You’re, you’re seeing all the. And there’s a lot going on in there. And when you can become aware of it, it’s pretty wild. Like all the cellular movements and everything, and you realize that your body is impermanent and it’s, it’s constantly changing and it’s like, So you see the world that way. It’s like, it’s really something.

Yeah, I’ve done it 10 times

Daran Herrman: in time. So I was going to, I was going to be, my next question is, you know, is that something that you continue to do or are still going to do? It sounds like, yeah. That’s 10 times. Wow.

Ahad Ghadimi: And I’ve done it every year. Since that first year, I just kind of, I just committed to myself that I’m going to do that.

Then COVID this year. I obviously, you know, we, we tried to go to two, three different centers. We’re going to drive across the country. I do it. They all shut down. So I went and locked myself up in a hotel room. I did a three day. Hmm, sorry. I’m about to do another one now, actually, maybe I’d do this weekend.

You have a

Daran Herrman: goal in mind before you go, do you like say, okay, I want a new business idea or like a relationship advice or does it just, I’m just going to go and let it go. It happened,

Ahad Ghadimi: you know, you would think so. Right. And I think maybe some of those things are in the subconscious, but they what’s interesting is that would almost diminish what’s possible.

It’s it’s, you know, it’s like they use this example. I have a passion, like you don’t make a, a sugar factory just to make molasses. You don’t make on molasses factory, you make a sugar factory. And one of the things is molasses. So that’s kind of the breadth of, of, you know, what you get out of this. But but yeah, I mean, I got super clarity.

Like, you know, I, I was working on a deal, a roll up. We’re like rolling up all these real estate companies and kind of fell apart right before I went in. So, you know, my mind was in a spin man and like, and I’d also just ran a book. And I released it and I developed like this with this course based on it.

And it was like getting amazing feedback, but I had doing nothing with it cause I was kind of focused. I was like doing maybe too many things. I just wasn’t really kind of in one of the things that got from the departure was I just like, fuck put my mind on this for 90 days and just like give it everything I’ve got.

And that’s a little bit hard for me, frankly, just to kind of focus on. On one thing. It’s it’s hard a little bit for me to do that, but but anyway, so that was one of the, the outcomes of this, this, this last time. I

Daran Herrman: absolutely love those side conversations because, you know, we could talk about, and I’ve already been wanting to get back to the business end of it.

But it’s just interesting of how I think the older we get, the more we realized, at least for me, that. There’s life. Isn’t just one track. Right? We got to go a lot of different ways. We’ve got to increase what we’re doing here and there and be able to S I don’t know, let me, let me actually come at a different way.

I think, especially with all the social media stuff that we just had with this last presidential campaign, there was a lot of people having a lot of in, in COVID had a lot of anger and anguish and all this, and didn’t know how to express those feelings or get rid of them or quiet them or work through them.

And. I just think stuff like that, being able to be good at that things can make you have, you would never have a super, super happy life if that pillar of your life isn’t at least somewhat worked on or have some attention.

A

Ahad Ghadimi: hundred percent, man. I mean that, I mean, you just said the word it’s happiness, right?

I mean, that’s, that’s the goal and that’s what I think about a lot. All the time is like the goal is to feel good. No, that’s a bottom line. It’s a feel good. And there’s different conduits of that. It’s a relationship can make you feel really good or really bad, you know? Health does make you feel good.

Relationships don’t make you feel good. Money makes you well, the money you can buy things with makes you feel good, but

Daran Herrman: the lack of money makes me feel bad, but

Ahad Ghadimi: used you feel bad because of all the things of that sort of you know, other things that That introduces. So, but the thing is, is like, what’s the balance, you know, because you, you lean into hard and just dollars, and then you’re just not doing things you like anymore.

You’re not, you know, and, and one of the sources that happiness and that’s mental clarity helps you realize those things because it’s very easy to get lost and to go down a road and just think that It’s it’s, it’s more zeros,

Daran Herrman: you know? And, and let me ask a specific question on it, you know, going into these retreats and kind of understanding more about yourself and all that.

How has that Helped you business wise besides just ideas. I think ideas is definitely something that could probably comes out of it, but any other items where it just really has helped and you’ve

Ahad Ghadimi: noticed it. Yeah. I mean, look I’d say probably the largest part of my success has been able to turn around.

I turned around businesses that are essentially. Good for dead or unfixable, you know, and, or transitioning family businesses out of succession, like this really hard stuff and involves a lot of people and like emotions and it’s given me something, I just never really had this patience. Patience and understanding and compassion and just people feel those things, man, you know, and if you, if you can guide people through difficult processes and be the calmest person in the room, if you, when you don’t know if you’re going to make payroll for like a hundred factory workers, the next day 60% of them are ex cards, some of them from murders.

So like, you’re just like, I don’t know. You just like, if you’re the calmest person. Everybody comes down and you can you could really steer. And and, and frankly, I get off of that, actually, I get off of, of like being the calmest person in like a complete shit show and not being reactive. It’s like, I dunno, it’s like being this, like.

It’s like being this a, an anchor, you know, and like in a, in a storm, you know? And so, so that’s one of the biggest things I got, so that patience and that like grounded-ness, cause that was just not me before. Very reactive. Very, you know, as you go driven and I don’t know, you can, I was easily offendable before very easily offended on.

And the other thing is concentration and discipline. You know, I can like focus. I can like zoom in and man, I just, I just really didn’t have that faculty before. And it was terrible. Just not to be able to like, keep your mind on one thing, to kind of focus on something, you know,

Daran Herrman: Yeah. And I think this might somewhat be re related.

You said earlier that you, you know, ski or snowboard just about every day, how, how, how, you know, walk us through kind of a normal day in the life and, you know, and does that skiing and all that, like, how can you manage that time? Right. And, and what’s it X I’m guessing there’s some benefits to that too, as well.

Ahad Ghadimi: Yeah, it’s interesting. So I’ve You know, we talked about like feeling good and being happy and that’s like the goal and you, and I both know that the more you feel good, then, you know, then the more great things you can create. And if you’re, if you’re like stressed and all tensed up or whatever, you can’t really produce good things.

She’s not going to have very inspiring meetings to people. You’re not going to have big, great ideas. And Obviously at different stages, you can do that in different ways. Like, you know, when I sold my business is three years ago and and I just decided I wanted to work remotely at that point. And I just didn’t want to sort of, I, I was a little burnt out from turnarounds.

I just had done two really, really tough ones at the same time. And so and so I started traveling and working and so I, I created this like I started working on like a process on how to scale culture change, because what I wanted to do was raise a fund to, to buy out retiring business owners and transform their businesses into employee owned businesses.

And I’m super passionate about like Aesop’s and employee ownership and all of that. And I want to scale that in a big part of that is culture change and doing all that. So it’s been the last two, three years doing that. And I was doing that. I was like going to a different country every month. Yeah. So I was in Barcelona with Moffitt Paris one month, but I was working, you know, and, and when you’re Barcelona, you could work from three to like nine that’s basically like, you know, the USA or the new York’s like working hours more or less.

And so, and it’s just fine because you have dinner at 11 anyway, if you’d go out

Daran Herrman: like. I love that w hotel on the beach there in Barcelona. That that is, that’s a good time, man. Sunday nights, when you get you get there at like two in the morning or whatever is when you start the night.

Ahad Ghadimi: So good. Yeah. I just, it’s interesting because as I just realized I was operating on a much higher level, like my ideas and my feeling.

And I remember like walking into like the Gothic neighborhood back to my apartment from like the hood. So house vice, like. One or two spin classes a day, you know, I was like hardcore at it and it just like endorphins and all that, you know? And I was just thinking like, what’s the price of like this?

Like, what would I like versus like having to walk in, like, what would I, what’s this worth to me really? This kind of like being able to be in where I want to be in and this feeling of how, how, how inspired and happy I felt in all of that. So I think feeling great leads to more feeling great.

You know, I’ve, I’ve got one of my buddies from my my YPO chapter and he he goes, he goes to Necker Island a fair bit, you know, Richard, Richard Branson’s Island. And he, like, he was just telling me once he’s like, man, the guy just plays all the time and yeah, he’s a billionaire now, but because he’s working, but he’s playing volleyball, but he’s like, Talking to his associates and he’s like doing things.

And I understand that’s a very extreme example, but it was just very validating for me to hear that because all I want to do is live in a ski resort, you know, at least half a year and just ski every day. And I’m like, look, I go for a walk. I go work out for an hour and a half every day. I just try to go skiing because that’s the best way.

That’s when I feel my best. Like I just, you know, it’s probably an addiction at this point.

Daran Herrman: What’s your favorite mountain?

Ahad Ghadimi: Man. So I know Vail is like my home mountain. Like I just, I know veil inside out. Like I could just, I could go there two weeks after a snow storm and still find like needy powder. And so I really, really, really liked fail.

I’m partial to that. So we just. Moved to park city from Vail in November. So I’m really liking canyons a lot, man. I’m partial to DL. What can I tell you, man? Oh,

Daran Herrman: right. I’ve got the best. I mean I just, over the summer, I mountain biked down Vail, haven’t done that before. That was killer. I’m partial of the boat because there’s a music Fest that happens every January.

It didn’t happen this year. And that’s, that’s just like my favorite week of the years that you got all these concerts. And I I have this it’s called steam boat late night, and I get invited these parties super late. And if you look it up on YouTube, they all have like hundreds of thousands of views.

Cause it’s like these Texas country musicians that are. Famous in Texas, but not really anywhere else. And they’re just sitting on the guitar or they’re just passing the guitar around. And then you, you know, you go to bed at four or five and you wake up at like eight to go hit the slopes and you’re just, your body can only take so many days, like you’re just done, but I seen boats.

Great. And I think there’s, you know, we tie emotions to stuff like it hasn’t been always my best skiing, probably not, but actually probably some of my worst skiing because the legs aren’t there, but I’m a skier. Yeah. Ski always ski. I always have never boarded. So and I’m not gonna, I’m not going to change because I like the skiing and I don’t want to waste a trip.

I go at least once a year. I’d like to go more often. My brother-in-law’s in Denver and they go about 70 times. So yeah, he lives. Yeah. So he’s always many times from Denver. Yeah. It’s to the different places. Right. So they just, wherever gets snow, they just hit it. Right. And they have all the passes and but he’s the only one I know that is like faster than me on my skis.

Right. He’s in, through the trees and everything. He’s. He’s unreal. But anyway, I, I, I’ve always, there’s always something about being on the mountain that’s for sure.

Ahad Ghadimi: I mean, look how it makes a uni like, like, you know, there’s kind of this, this energy or this there’s that spark that gives us and, you know, it took me a while to really accept and realize this, but like it’s okay to feel good and it’s okay to feel happy.

And it’s up to you to feel energized and inspired, even if you’re still. Working on your next goal. You don’t have to suffer through it really big, like all the whole time, because there’s always a next go on and you spend all your time in between goals always.

Daran Herrman: So think, and this is what I’m working on believing.

And I do think it’s true is we only need one or two good ideas a year. Like if you have that, that’s, you don’t need 4,000 of them. You don’t need one every week, every day. Cause you, you know, You know, and we’re talking about big art, bigger ideas. And if you don’t give yourself a moment to come up with those, cause we get so bogged down with our tasks, right.

That you’ll never, you’ll never come up with those, you know, those ideas that are outside of what you’re, what you’re seeing every day. Right. But. And I think sometimes going wherever, whether it’s going skiing, going to a retreat or it’s laying on a beach for some people or whatever it is, and or playing a sport.

A lot of times I, you know, I get, you know ideas happen after I completely exhausted, you know So and presence a time. I do want to go a little bit more, so I do want to ask, okay, CEO, first time, that big Mongol guy that you know, that you’ve said, Hey, CEO, it sounds like that happened. How did that, how did that company go?

How how’d everything go?

Ahad Ghadimi: So that was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I think it was hubris that sort of led me to it because I just at this point I figured I’d do something. I could, nothing I couldn’t do. And we, there was a combination of really great work and, and luck, frankly, we it was a fiberglass company that had been around for like, The company had been around for 70 years.

It actually brought the tip of the CN tower out of fiberglass. But but anyway, at this point it was creating for the last 30 years, industrial water filters. It had moved from Toronto, from outside of Toronto to South Carolina. They botched a move, so they couldn’t make product on time, run budget fight the last four years.

And so there were from the Cadillac to just like the dumpster of the industry. And and so you know, I was able to Create the right workforce that does combination of recruiting, but then also the right culture and instill an ownership mentality where people just cared and thought about this.

And we’re all kind of all in this together of turning this company around. So we were able to just We were losing about $2 million a year. So we got back to like break even, you know, in about six months and right around that same time we did a trade show. Believe it or not as a world water. What do you call it?

For like waterpark association. There’s a world water park association. Does that does a conference for that in new Orleans. And so we were there. And there was an industry player who was like buying up everybody. And and so we were, we were in contention again, so we got acquired.

Daran Herrman: Wow.

That’s fantastic. And then, so, and, and, and you’ve kind of gone through a couple of things you’ve done. What, one question I always love to ask is, you know, what’s, what’s the next five years for you? What what’s upcoming for you? Hmm.

Ahad Ghadimi: I think it’s Look for me, what I’ve enjoyed the most was Creating just extraordinary businesses.

True. Tapping into people’s desire to just give of themselves fully and just to sort of pour themselves into it and going from opposite often, like actively disengaged or just thinking about the business day and night. I’ve been able to do that as a CEO. And so my next step is to be able to scale that and do that as a fund.

And so that’s my next step. And in order to do that, you know, what I’ve done is kind of, I’ve sort of thought a lot about the issue I’ve had five years ago with raising a fund was people would say to me, you can do it. But I find there’s like 10 companies, 15 companies, you know, how do you do that at scale?

And so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years now actually is building a tool that can scale culture change like predictably. And consistently, and, and create that type of environment that, where people leave work more energized than when they first arrived, because they just they gave it, you know, and you and I, and I know that you do that for businesses, especially small to mid-sized businesses and you’re, you’re going to crush it

Daran Herrman: all.

Sorry. I mean, it’s, it’s massively important. What about COVID the curve ball of COVID. How has that changed your approach if it has at all?

Ahad Ghadimi: You know, it hasn’t, I mean what I’ve like, what I’ve been sort of focused on is like this, this tool that I was telling you about like a tool to be able to create a culture changes.

So what I’ve done is right now, I’m just, I’m. Refining that tool. So it’s a book it’s like an online platform. It creates just your highest level of voluntary employee turn retention. So how much of your employees leave voluntarily every year? And if that number changes dramatically, the tool works.

So right now, I’m just, I’ve been focused on doing that. And to your point, just Riding out COVID a little bit just so it’s a little more predictable of what’s going to happen. So I’m ensuring my tools sharp and you know, I’ve got the the sort of partners and investors. I want to raise this first fund.

And basically what we would do is we’d buy out business owners and toured their companies. So finance, their companies becoming employee owned the company money. So it can be so it can buy out its owner and become fully owned by its employees.

Daran Herrman: Wow. That’s, that’s, that’s amazing approach. And I’m guessing probably these more medium sized companies, you know, $10 million, $50 million companies.

Is that kinda what you’re looking at? That’s that fun and yeah. And it also sounds to me that, well, I think there’s a massive shift anywhere anyway, in this environment where a lot of some companies, and we’ve seen this in the tech world, which typically trickles down to other worlds where if you don’t keep your employees happy or make them happy, they they’ll just they’ll leave so quickly and go someplace else.

And it costs so much. I’ve owned a couple of companies and I own one now, and it’s just like the cost so much. Money to hire somebody, train somebody, get them up to speed. And then if they leave a year or two later, it’s like painful,

Ahad Ghadimi: bro, brother, like I told you, my family is in the French restaurant cafe business.

And you know, that industry, the average turnover is a hundred percent, a hundred, 110%. That’s like, you’re replacing everybody every year. I mean, if he keeps them for a couple of years, you’re, you’re, you’re, you know, you’re crushing it, but so it’s, it’s like, it’s a big thing everywhere and you’re right.

It’s a lot of people don’t realize the cost, but once it’s, it’s almost like a hidden line item on, on the PNL, but it’s, it’s, it’s huge between the. Yeah, effort the time the recruiting fees. If you go sit that or whatever that you go through to find that right person, the mistakes they’re going to make, because they’re new and the impact on your customers.

And then. Do that again, X amount of times.

Daran Herrman: And I don’t know how this might be a difficult question, but like, what’s something that, you know, somebody who has smaller, medium sized company or even is higher level in those companies, what’s something that they can do, right. To just, I don’t know, better the company in this kind of way to where employees are more, their morale is beggar.

They, they think that they have a bigger piece of the pie that they’re supposed to, what they do matters.

Ahad Ghadimi: Look, I think that’s the number one thing you can do is to create a sense of psychological trust, to create an environment where people just feel comfortable saying what they actually think, because if you can’t even do it I mean, you can’t even, you don’t even know what’s going on, you know if, if you, if you can’t, if you don’t create, so the thing that people can do is they can create, you know, what I did in my company is we had these, we had what we called forum meetings once a week for an hour.

How people get together, speaking full confidentiality and share experiences and talked about bit like leadership and growth, but like start building trust that you can save and see each other and they’re going to protect it and they’re going to respect it. And if you can start creating that, you know, like for example, the fiberglass company, what, one of the biggest issues is my predecessor there, the guy who was running it before you, you couldn’t say like, if there was a late shipment or something was going to be late or we missed them, you couldn’t say it cause he’d freak out.

So imagine like, you know, no one’s even telling the truth anymore to each other, so well,

Daran Herrman: and that’s the thing and I, I I’m blanking on the company name. I think of it as a seventh generation, I was just listening to a podcast and they used to give awards for somebody who messed up the most. Like it was kind of a fun award, funny award because you didn’t want people hiding their mistakes.

Right. Cause if they make a mistake in, nobody knows about it, then that mistakes would keep happening. Over and over again. What about go back, like any advice you’d give your 16 year old self.

Ahad Ghadimi: That’s a great question

to keep the journals

Daran Herrman: and, and why?

Ahad Ghadimi: Two reasons, one. When your journal, it’s like you get the ideas out of your head out on paper and so creates room for more, you know, and then to when you look back, you’re going to learn about yourself in a way that you can’t by just trying to look back on your memories.

It sets a transcript of your thoughts and what you’re going through. And what could be more important than really understanding yourself? I mean, that’s, that’s what the whole game’s about is just getting who you are and and sort of steering yourself to sort of where you want to get to.

Daran Herrman: And this is my last question I end every podcast with this question is how would you like to be remembered?

Ahad Ghadimi: For making other people’s lives better than it was before they had met me. You know, I think if, if someone by meeting me, if they are better off then, then, then that’s how they remember me because they’re better off after me and me then. You know that that would do. I

Daran Herrman: love it. That’s definitely something we should all aspire to be.

So I thought it was, it was a big pleasure to have you on the establishing your empire podcast, a lot of fun and really, really enjoyed this conversation. So I really appreciate your time.

Ahad Ghadimi: You too. No, this has been great. I think you know, and that sort of last note is, you know, conversations like this help you even Learned or maybe remember things about yourself and it’s done that.

So, yeah. Thank you for thank you for the conversation. You’re welcome.

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