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Entrepreneurship

What Chess Has Taught Me About Business And Life

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I discovered the game of chess back when I was in middle school. As I played my very first match, I knew I would fall in love with this game. It just resonated with me deeply on a personal level. I always loved problem solving and critical thinking – skills that were essential for chess. I always preferred games that involved intellect, strategy and heavy utilization of the mind, over physical sports like football. The latter just didn’t interest me.

My strength has always been the mind. Back in high school, I went through a phase where chess became an obsession. I remember playing chess for 15 hours a day, every day, for months on end. It was not just about improving. It was way more than that. It was an addiction. I was in love with the immense mental stimulation that resulted from each match. I was addicted to competing with players who had a way higher rating than me, just so I could test my intellectual limits. I was obsessed with pushing the boundaries, and seeing what was possible for me. Chess had become my drug.

Years down the line, I am no longer an active chess player. However, as I look back at my chess games, I realize the invaluable lessons that chess taught me about business and life. Thousands of games later, I can now visualize chess as an imitation of life itself. Here are the key principles I have learned, which are as important off the board, as they were on the chess board.

Have a plan – hold long term goals.

In chess, if you focus solely on short term tactics, and do not have a long-term plan to defeat your opponent, you risk losing. It’s important to have a vision in mind, a long-term plan, which you want to realize, and you must make short-term moves which will assist you in reaching that long-term goal. This principle applies to life and business as well. In order to attain the highest amount of success, you must always have a clear long-term plan in your mind, and you must act daily in order to bring yourself closer to the materialization of your long-term vision.

Sacrifice – sometimes you need to sacrifice in order to get ahead.

In my games, I remember sacrificing crucial pieces, in order to checkmate my opponents. I became so skilled at sacrifices, that I could easily sacrifice valuable pieces like the Bishop or Rook, in order to get a better position, and checkmate my opponent in the long run. Many years later, I realize this same principle applies to life as well. In fact, this principle is absolutely crucial if you want to achieve a big dream in your life. In order to achieve something big, you have to sacrifice along the way. Sacrifice can be in terms of taking risks, or giving up luxuries and pleasure so you can work harder for your goals. The people who achieve the most in life are the ones who are able to sacrifice in the short-term to win big in the long-term.

Value your key pieces – know the worth of your best employees.

In chess, some pieces have a higher value than others. The value of a queen is way more than a pawn. What a queen can do to help you win the game is something a pawn can simply never do. Similarly, a pawn can never have the same worth as that of a Rook. In order to win at chess, it’s essential to realize the value of your pieces, and leverage them in the most effective way possible, while keeping the long-term plan in mind. If you don’t value your queen, and expect some pawn to help you win the game, you will lose. If you don’t protect your queen or rook, you risk losing them and getting checkmated. I find this principle replicable in the world of business as well. Initially, when I started playing the game of business, I struggled with hiring and finding the right team. I preferred hiring people with less value, and this led to significant losses for me. After many failures, I now understand the importance of realizing who your best players are, and utilizing their skills in the most effective way possible to help you win at business. It’s always worth it to spend more money to hire people who are more skilled. And it’s essential to value your most important employees, because if they are happy, they will do their best to help you win.

Timing is everything – don’t let opportunities slip by.

Missed opportunities rarely return. Simply acting is not enough. Timing your action is the most important thing. In chess, if you miss a chance to checkmate your opponent, then you might not get another chance to defeat them. Similarly, in business, timing is everything. Would Facebook have been so big if Mark Zuckerberg had launched it in 2019 instead of 2004? You cannot launch a Facebook-like website in 2019, and expect it to become the #1 social networking website in the world. You are too late to the game. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t let the opportunity slip by, and he acted at the right time. Therefore, acting at the right time is crucial to business success. The same decision made too late, might as well be a wrong decision. Timely action also means acting fast, instead of sitting around and waiting for the right moment.

Mistakes are inevitable – don’t let failure stop you, you can still win the game.

During a game of chess, we often make mistakes. If you are able to spot your mistake in time, and act quickly to fix it, you can still hope to win the game. However, if you start to believe that you can no longer win the game, majority of the times, you will lose, even if a possibility of winning had existed. In life as well, we often encounter failures and temporary defeats. It’s important to quickly realize your mistakes, understand what you did wrong, and continue believing and working towards your dream. If you learn from your mistakes, and continue believing, eventually you will win the game.

Have fun – what’s the use of playing, if you’re not going to have fun with it.

I didn’t play chess because I had to, or someone was forcing me to play it. I played because it was fun. It was thrilling. I loved the thought process that went into every move I made. I loved the look on my opponents face as I used well-thought-out strategies to trap them into an inevitable checkmate. I loved the game itself as much as I loved the final victory. The same principle should apply to whatever you do in life. Having fun, being curious, and always trying to learn and improve should be the cornerstone of every endeavour. Too many people are stuck doing jobs they hate. Too many people are spending their life doing things they don’t like. That’s a really sad way to live life. Life is too short to do things that you don’t enjoy. The end goal should always be to have happy, and have fun. If you’re doing something that is not bringing you happiness, or if it’s something that you don’t enjoy, then don’t do it.

After years of playing chess, I realized that we can learn to treat life itself as a giant chess board. We’re the ones in control of this game. We move the pieces. We can attack when we want. We can sacrifice what we want. We can strategise, and set long-term goals. In the end, there is a dream to be realized, hurdles to be overcome, and sacrifices that need to be made along the way.

You have two choices in this game: take strategic action to achieve your goal, or sit around and wait for your timer to run out.

I made my decision a long time ago, and I don’t intend to turn back. I love the process as much as I love the final checkmate, so I’ll just keep playing this game till the very end.

Nabeel Ahmad is the founder and CEO of Vertabyte, a full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to drive their growth and achieve all their business goals. At Vertabyte, his special focus is on leveraging the power of social media to boost businesses exponentially. A marketing expert, Nabeel has a deep understanding of what it takes for a business to completely crush it on the social media landscape. His expertise in marketing has allowed him to help a number of businesses increase their revenue by tremendous amounts. Apart from that, due to his PR expertise, he has been able to get many companies and public figures featured on top news publications like Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Inc Magazine, and more.

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Entrepreneurship

Interview with 17-Year-Old Entrepreneur Sebastian “Sebas” Moftakhar

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The Vault Melrose Co-Founders Sebastian Moftakhar, 17, (left), and Rami Eadeh, 31, (right). Courtesy of Ben Norouzi.

Although most other 17-year-olds are satisfied with just focusing on school, Sebastian Moftakhar has already founded a retail storefront in one of the most prime locations in Los Angeles with his partner Rami Eadeh. The Vault Melrose is a sneaker store and recording studio located on Melrose Avenue, frequented by celebrity names like Swae Lee, Jake Paul, Madeintyo, SOB X RBE, YBN Cordae, Lil Mosey, and others. Moftakhar also throws parties and events in Los Angeles each generating 5-figure revenues with live performers under his brand “310.” I had the chance to interview him to learn his story and to share the strategies behind his success.

 

When did your entrepreneurial journey start?

I had always liked sneakers, but it was an expensive hobby to have. In the sixth grade, my parents told me that they wouldn’t fund my sneaker obsession any longer. The only route I had was to pay for my own sneakers. I figured out that every weekend high demand sneakers were selling out and reselling for more on the resale market. I saw that I could take advantage of this opportunity to make money to afford my own sneakers. I would buy three sneakers, then sell two of them and that profit would pay for me to keep the 3rd. I decided to scale this model and made a business out of it. I called it Snkrs Supply. I started selling rare sneakers and clothing to the other students at my school and in the area as well as celebrities and athletes. I became known as the “sneaker plug” and had every “hypebeast” coming to me for every release. I also sold on Facebook Groups and my website.

 

What businesses are you involved in today?

My time is split between running two businesses, the first being an event company called “310.” I host events and parties in Los Angeles bringing music artists to perform, and charging approximately $20 a ticket. We provide unforgettable and enjoyable experiences. I have a whole team of people helping with these events from a DJ to a professional security team to multiple different photographers.

Next, my partner Rami Eadeh and I created a sneaker reselling store within a music recording studio located at 7372 Melrose Ave and combined the popular cultures of both hip-hop and fashion into one community space located in the mecca of “The Culture.” We frequently network with artists and celebrities providing them with studio time and sneakers. It’s great that we found a way to combine these two worlds and I hope to create more joint experiences like this in the future.

What other activities are you involved in?

I had a big passion for basketball. I’m on the Varsity team at my school, and I dedicate a large portion of my life to it. I’m also News Editor and Business Manager of The Student Voice, my school’s newspaper, and President of both Entrepreneurship and UNICEF Clubs. I’m able to manage getting good grades in school, participating in extracurriculars, and running my businesses by having really good time-management skills and a lot of passion.

 

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

People are often stuck in the trap of believing their goals are impossible or require too much work to achieve. They have a mindset where they think they will either succeed or fail. You have to have a growth mindset, where instead of worrying about failure, think about it as an opportunity to learn and grow. With this mindset, you take each failure you’ve had, examine and learn from it, then try again. Most entrepreneurs fail several times before they get it right. So take a chance and chase that seemingly impossible goal, the worst thing that can happen is you’ll learn something.

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Entrepreneurship

From Broken Relationships To Whole Relationships

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I had a quick chat with Stefanos Sifandos who merges the best of eastern and western methodologies and philosophies to promote balance, sacredness and joy in life. Using integrative techniques and methods, Stefanos has created programs, models and systems to enhance the quality of your life, your intimate relationships and in essence bring you closer to your potential. He transforms you to become the better you. I asked him a few questions about success and here is what he had to say.

When was the first time you tasted success Stefanos?

I first tasted success when I chose to ‘do the work’. When I chose to get real with myself and realise that my life wasn’t where I wanted it to be. When I became willing to explore my painful past and committed to growth and to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. That commitment was my first taste of success.

Many individuals fail to “do the work” or even start so congrats! What is your end goal with this?

I feel successful in my service and business now. I simply want to continue to expand this. I want to continue to expand because I believe in my message, my service and that people want to be more connected, intimate and bonded in union. We are searching for deeper connection in relationship to self, to others and to ideas and purpose. I believe in the tools I offer people and truly believe it is my path to serve others in this way. My ‘end goal’ is to serve humanity and Earth at the highest possible levels – creating global systems that transform the way we govern ourselves and bring us greater evolutionary peace.

Thank you for taking the time to chat Stefanos! Do you have any words of wisdom for readers at home?

Whatever you do in life, be willing. Be willing to look at the tough stuff, be willing to venture in to the unknown, be willing to celebrate your wins, be willing to share, to be ‘wrong’ and be willing to believe in your dreams.

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Entrepreneurship

Social Media Mogul in the Making: Julian Reeves

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I had the opportunity to talk to Julian Reeves who is a creative executive that transitioned from being a freelance video director to a software company Co-Founder. Growth X is built on the premise that content conglomerates like Google, YouTube, & Instagram can provide entrepreneurs with significant incomes – even more than mainstream corporate jobs. I asked him when he really tasted success for the first time and here is what he had to say:

When was the first time you tasted success Julian?

The first time I tasted success was when I started dropshipping in early 2018 right before it became super mainstream. After running a massively successful influencer campaign, I generated $10K in 48 hours from a women’s clothing store I had built a week prior. This was my first time making a dollar online and I’ve been hooked since. In terms of a way to make money with the least startup costs – ecommerce was in a world of its own. I knew from there I would become a millionaire from the internet.

That is amazing! Not many people have that drive like you do. So, why do you want to be successful and what’s your ultimate vision of success for yourself?

I want to be successful so that I can make my imprint on the world. If you look at all the major pieces of culture: Adidas, Gucci, Dell, Audi, Forbes, Bacardi, Fendi, Ferrari – all of these companies are someone’s last name. At this point in time I’m one of the only entrepreneurs with ambition in my family. My family has never seen massive entrepreneurial success before, and being that i’m living in one of the most progressive technological eras EVER – I want to be the one that leads the charge. My ultimate vision of success is financial freedom and time freedom. Not being a slave to the company i’m running, but consistently traveling and impacting different parts of the world. Creating a massive influencer network with the top athletes, musicians, politicians and business leaders and curating partnerships between uncommon entities.

Now what is your end goal Julian?  

My end goal is to own a venture capital (vc) firm that invests millions into numerous startups that are making changes in society. Beyond money, I know that children are the future. After I’ve reached my financial goals I want to buy my own island – similar to Tony Robbins and Kanye West and really create a new society. Natural foods, fresh water, removing the super toxic parts of American society and attempting to build my own utopia. I feel like that’s what legacy is in its truest sense. If I can leave an impact in the form of a new way of living and a new generation of people I’ll feel like my job is done.

Thank you so much for sharing your story Julian! I know this will motivate and inspire others. Do you have any last words of advice for others?

For anybody who wants to be the best at what they do, you have to be uncommon amongst uncommon people. You have to find who works the hardest and work even harder. The world is good for rewarding mediocrity and that’s why I constantly urge people to get uncomfortable. Do something everyday you hate doing. Wake up earlier, eat that salad, don’t look at social media for 12-24 hours. If you take anything from this, take risks. Get used to being uncomfortable and finding peace within that. Become obsessed with being the best and don’t compare your path to anyone else’s.

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The Disrupt Podcast tells the stories of the world top entrepreneurs, developers, creators, and digital marketers and help empower them to teach others the skills they used to grow their careers, chase their passions and create financial freedom for themselves, their families, and their lives, all while living out their true purpose. We recognize the fact that most young people are opting to skip college in exchange for entrepreneurship and real life experience. This Podcast is designed to give them a taste of that.

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