You can’t always count on college to get you the success you seek. Sometimes, even moving to a different continent and pursuing an undergraduate degree in a coveted professional field doesn’t work. For Ismael Sidi, college in America was a chance to surpass the success he could have found at home in Niger, West Africa – one of the poorest countries in the world. He always considered himself to have an entrepreneurial mind, even back when he was just six years old. Little did he know then that that mindset would serve him well into his young adulthood.
In order to complete a degree in Petroleum Engineering at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV, he left behind his family in 2010, from whom he learned all that he now values about success.
While in school, he put in the effort to secure his success in the field, even working part time for NASA. While working with NASA, he worked specifically at the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium. One would think that Sidi was doing everything he could in his position to prepare for what would come in the post-graduate world. However, he was ultimately faced with a common situation soon after – unemployment.
But this wasn’t enough to stop Ismael. He credits his determination and entrepreneurial skills to his upbringing. He owes his values and core beliefs to what his father taught him. And he owes his compassion and determination to his mother. And in his career, it is his strong connection to and love for his family that ultimately drove him to be successful enough to give back to them. He even went on to give back to his home community in Niger.
Faced with this unemployment after graduating college, Ismael chose to thrust himself into a career of entrepreneurial e-commerce, where he would ultimately surpass hundreds of thousands of dollars, to get to millions, by his second year in the business! He eventually had enough money and success built up in this field to give back in a way he chose fit.
In 2018, Ismael founded an NGO that is now called TAGAZ and is based in NIger. With this NGO, Ismael set out to sponsor other entrepreneurs in Niger who held dreams similar to his own. He was also able to utilize his new-found wealth to support his younger brother in pursuing a college degree in Canada. With his efforts, perhaps one day his brother will be able to follow in his footsteps
As you can see, Ismael took a struggling situation and found a means to succeed despite it. He claims that his ability to not give up comes from the fact that he recognizes his opportunities in America and what they mean for him and his family. He also recognizes that it’s his priority to give back to his family and community at home. And equally important to him, Ismael credits his success to his wife, who supported the two of them when Ismael couldn’t pitch in. His family is one of his most valuable resources in business.
Setting an amazing example for anyone who wants to pursue big dreams with minimal resources, Ismael says,
“I haven’t really had my worst time yet, but I’m comfortable with failures and challenges in business. When life gets in the way, I pray and talk to my father. I am very self-aware. Self-awareness is one of the most important traits of successful entrepreneurs, so I’m mentally prepared for the worst times and whatever I have to do, I do. Whoever I have to outwork, I do.
If you wake up excited every day to live the day, then you’re successful. Success is not a universal metric; however, it is directly correlated with happiness. You can’t be successful if you’re unhappy.”
Sam Bakhtiar On His Way To A Quarter Billion
Dr. Saman Bakhtiar, who prefers being referred as Sam, lives in an 8200 square foot $5.2 million house, Sam is a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, the co-founder of The camp Transformation Center, a fitness franchising business and the CEO of One Percent Nutrition – a supplement and nutrition company.
Last year 2018 he made over 54 million in revenue. Being a car enthusiast, his car collection includes the 2017 Ferrari 488, Porsche 911 GT3 RS, the 2018 Dodge Demon, the 2018 Lamborghini Performonte just to name a few and he is looking into acquiring the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista very soon. This clout, glamor, and affluence was however not handed to Sam on a silver platter. He rose from the ashes to achieve the success he has today. This is the story of how a poor refugee child from the war-stricken country Iran, came to America, making millions and is living the ultimate American dream.
Coming To America
At the age of 11 in 1985, Sam Bakhtiar and his mother packed a sack bag with $500 to their name and left their home country Iran to come to the US as refugees. This was after having to endure living under the conditions of constantly fired missiles, air strikes and bombs from the age of 3. With only one piece of luggage, a measly 500 dollars in their name and no father, the mother-son duo came to the US in search of a better life. Settling in Pennsylvania Sam was safe and no longer feared for his life.
But the hardships were yet to come to an end by a long shot. Sam began working early in his pre-teen years earning as little as 200 dollars after putting in over 128 hours a month. He went from one odd job to another with the hope of saving up enough to buy his childhood dream car which was a Volkswagen GTI.
The Turning Point
Sam Bakhtiar’s passion for fitness did not start as a business venture. It all began in school when he wanted to join the basketball team but his scrawny physique did not make the cut. His mother, however, told him not to give up, suggested he join the local boys’ club, start training and try out again the next year. But it was at the gym where he gained an interest in bodybuilding.
At the age of 14, he decided he would become a champion bodybuilder. And this he did, winning first place in every weight class and earning 23 major bodybuilding titles today. In 2008, the US markets were hit by the recession and Sam Bakhtiar was hit hard. At the time, he was a personal trainer running his own gym having started it with a capital of 40,000 dollars, half of which was a loan from his mother.
The success and returns he had enjoyed since 2000 came to a shocking halt with his revenue dropping from 2.4 million dollars in 2007 to about 400,000 dollars in 2009. His house was on foreclosure, his ex-wife was then pregnant with their 1st child, and at that verge of brokenness, the idea of Camp Transformation Center was born with his business partners, Alejandra Font and Luis Font.
Currently, the Camp Transformation Center is a multi-million franchise with close to 110 branches all over the US. This was born from an investment of 11,000 dollars only and an idea to develop a fitness model that would be flexible and relevant in changing times. At Camp Transformation center, the focus is not only on physical fitness but mental fitness as well, with the goal being to assist every client to rise above.
Sam and his partners have watched their fitness concept take their business from their first small crappy location with limited equipment to having world-class fitness facilities. Sam Bakhtiar is also the CEO of One Percent Nutrition supplement company that is quickly gaining traction as the premier supplement company. He is developing his brand by ensuring only the best ingredients are used to manufacture the products, educating his consumers and working with ambassadors who believe in the company’s mission and vision.
Sam Bakhtiar says he is nowhere close to the top of his success. With the growth both the Fitness Franchise and Supplement Company are experiencing, he hopes to develop them into household names in the next few years. Until then, he will keep dedicating himself to transforming lives the best way he can. Lives just like yours.
Leaders Can Cry Too!
It was instant devastation the day I cried at work in front of one of my employees! I was very new to a management role and it had been a very long week of dealing with an emotionally exhausting scenario. I was obviously wearing it, because this employee asked me if I was okay and I completely lost it. I had kept it together all week, and that one simple question led me to my breaking point. In my haze of devastation and sobs, I profusely apologized to this staff member, and I will never forget her response….”Leaders can cry too”. GASP!!! I had never been faced with this before! I have always encouraged open communication with my employees and have always viewed crying at work to be a sign of passion and trust…. but not by the leader of the organization! This was a first for me and it left me questioning whether showing my emotional side was right or wrong!
So I did what any new leader would do….I asked more seasoned leaders the question “is it okay for a leader to cry at work” and I received feedback from both sides of the debate:
Leaders should NEVER cry at work:
Many believe that being in control of your emotions at work communicates to your team that you are a strong leader and gives you more power and control over any situation. A few of the people that I spoke with communicated that they were often in fear that their emotions may undermine their professional authority and would be perceived as incapable of handling their high-pressure job. I have found this fear is especially real for women who feel an increased pressure to prove themselves as being confident, professional role models. A colleague suggested that when a leader cries, they give away power, and women do not have the extra power to give. She admitted to sneaking out of meetings for a good cry in the bathroom or closing her office door when she starts to feel emotional, but never to be witnessed by anyone.
Another woman I spoke to suggested that crying at work, especially in front of male counterparts, is the most humiliating professional mistake that can ever be made. She explained that a female leader could easily lose their executive presence and credibility in the workplace by simply crying once. For this reason, she told me several stories of how she let her emotions fester at work, which lead to several unhealthy relationships, both personally and professionally.
In general, the leaders on this side of the debate believe that a leader should never let their emotions get the best of them at work. It should always be about business, never personal feelings, even if it means your loved ones pay the price when you get home from work.
It’s okay for Leaders to cry at work:
A few of the people I spoke to on this side of the debate were very much in support of the belief that a good cry at work can be healthy. One leader suggested that in a “safe” and healthy workplace, crying is seen as a powerful and strong emotion and only creates and sustains a close-knit team who will always have each other’s backs. A colleague who in her own organization has created an extremely healthy culture, talked about the importance of open and honest communication, and that means the occasional happy and/or sad cry at staff meetings.
I also had extensive discussions with leaders around the importance of a good self-care plan that includes the need to not let your emotions get the best of you, but also not allowing them to fester within. It’s not a leaders job to make sure everyone around them feels comfortable all the time. A good leader will make their own health and well-being a priority and in turn will create and sustain a team who is accepting of a good cry once in awhile.
Even though it can be stressful to show your emotions at work, it can also have positive upsides- including professional growth opportunities and the chance to “get it off your chest” and improve your mind-set at work. Many of the people I spoke to suggested that when a leader lets their guard down and shows a bit of their human side, the workplace becomes stronger and more compassionate…and I couldn’t agree more!
I used to think that crying at work (especially as a leader) was by far the biggest professional mistake ever…until the day that I did it, and I have to tell you how pleasantly surprised I was to actually feel so much better! To be clear, I’m not saying that it’s okay to cry every time you are frustrated, challenged and don’t get your own way. What I am saying is that you’re only human and leaders can cry too!
Latino Wealth Movement
Anthony Delgado sits down with Darwin Roman, Founder of the Latino Wealth Movement to talk about diversity in tech, how we can overcome our limiting beliefs, leadership in the latino community and how we can rebuild the Puerto Rican economy after hurricane maria. The Latino Wealth Movement Podcast, a part of New Theory, features interviews from the world’s leading latino and latina entrepreneurs in business, politics and technology. The Latino Wealth Movement is on a mission to connect hispanic executives from around the world to collaborate, innovative and do business together, all while uplifting our communities and leaving a legacy for our future generation.
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