I'm Shahzil, Shaz for short. I'm the founder of Blue Track Media and Plugged Inc., two companies on different sides of the spectrum. But enough about that boring stuff. I want to change and inspire the world with the biggest smile on mine and other peoples' faces. Won't you join me?
You know what feels good? Making a New Years Resolution of reading AT LEAST 5 books this year and being 20% there within the first few days of January. Boom! I thank my new Kindle Paperwhite for helping me achieve this.
The first book I finished this year is The Alchemist and wow, I loved it. I was recommended this book by a very dear friend who knows the type of person I am and what I value, and he pinned the nail on the donkey with this book. I connected extremely well with this book. It reinforced many of my beliefs and made me see things in a different light.
While reading I highlighted some key quotes that I want to remember for years to come. They’re the points that I connected with the most. If you haven’t read the book yet, read a few of the things that resonated with me below and quickly grab the book if you think this book is the type of book you can also connect to.
PS> This was a b%^&* to type out. Sorry for typos.
My Favorite Quotes from The Alchemist:
"The boy knew a lot of people in the city. That was what made traveling appeal to him - he always made new friends, and he didn’t need to spend all of his time with them. when someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own."
"What’s the world’s greatest lie?" the boy asked, completely surprised.
"It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie."
The boy didn’t know what a person’s “destiny” was.
"It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish.
Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is.
At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their destiny.”
"The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never forget the drops of oil on the spoon."
But the sheep had taught him something even more important: that there was a language in the world that everyone understood, a language in the world that everyone understood, a language the boy had used throughout time that he was trying to improve things at the shop.
It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, as a part of a search for something believed in and desired. Tangier was no longer a strange city, and he felt that, just as he had conquered this place, he could conquer the world.
"When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it."
The closer one gets to realizing his destiny, the more that destiny becomes his true reason for being.
"That’s the principle that governs all things," he said. "In alchemy, it’s called Soul of the World. When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are the closest to the Soul of the World. It’s always a positive force."
"Because I don’t live in either my past of my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen fight because they are part of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now."
It was the pure language of the world. It required no explanation, just as the universe needs none as it travels through endless time. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. He was more certain of it than of anything in the world. He had been told by his parents and grandparents that he must fall in love and really know a person before being committed. But maybe people who felt that way had never learned the universal language. Because, when you know that language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.
"When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream."
"It is not what enters men’s mouths that’s evil," said the alchemist. "It’s what comes out of their mouths that is."
"You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love… the love that speaks the Language of the World"
"There is only one way to learn," the alchemist answered. "It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey."
"Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World, and one day it will return there."
"My heart is a traitor," the boy said to the alchemist. "It doesn’t want me to go on."
"That makes sense," the alchemist answered. "Naturally it’s afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won."
"Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?"
"Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world."
"You’ll never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow."
People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them. We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or moments that could have been good but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were forever hidden in sands. Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly.
"Tell you’re heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity."
But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them - the path to their destinies, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.”
"What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies to thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’
"Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested."
"Usually the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives."
"This is what we call love. When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you, and even men can turn themselves into the wind."
"That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too."
Had an obvious idea this year for my New Years resolutions. I thought to myself, “Hey, why not write down my New Years resolutions in my blog so I can actually be held accountable for them?”
Great idea Shahzil! I’m going to write them all down here and check back every month to see if I’m making progress. I tend to stick to goals a lot better when they’re written down and I can easily self reflect on them.
Here are my goals for 2014 (keeps growing):
1. Read ATLEAST 5 books.
PROBLEM: I started noticing a huge trend with all the successful and insightful people I have met in 2013. That trend is, they read, a lot. I can talk to these people for hours with the amount of knowledge they have and are willing to share.
SOLUTION: Putting my foot down and forcing myself to read. Bought my Kindle Paperwhite, loaded a few books in it already, and off to the races I go. No more using self-diagnosed ADD as an excuse for my lack of reading actual books. I read articles all day long, but books are just as important, if not more. All it takes is a few pages every night to reach my goal, I know I can do it. I will acquire all this knowledge, and then I will pass it on to as many people as I can. Never. Stop. Learning.
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren(Buffett) reads — at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out”.”
“The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.”
“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up.”
― Charles T. Munger
2. Become a better at showing my better side, and make my better side better.
PROBLEM: It’s funny, I started to realize that my, what some people might think of as egotistical statuses, often get misinterpreted. They’re usually rap lines from songs that I sometimes think people mistaken for my own since I get too lazy to put the quotation marks or give the rappers name. Generally people take these as me being an asshole or egotistical, which I guess is fair, but I generally have my own interpretation to these lyrics than what it seems.
For example, I posted this lyric on my Facebook recently:
“This year I’m eating your food and my table has [fewer] plates on it.” - Drake from Versace Versace Versace Versace Versace
General Interpretation: He’s an asshole and he’s going to make money and not share it with anyone, including me.
My Interpretation: I’m going to work my ass off even more this year to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself. I’ve removed all the people from my life who hold me down, so even though I have fewer plates on my table, these are the plates that I want to share my life and successes with.
As you can imagine, I had a few people say “your status was mean.” Of course it’s mean if you don’t ask me what my interpretation of it is and why I posted it. I don’t usually care what people think of me, but I do care if people think that they can’t come to me for advice or issues they may have of which I can help with because they assume I’m some raging egotistical asshole based off a status update. Last year I had many people approach me for help and I gladly and willingly helped them, but I don’t want even one person to think they aren’t able to approach me unwarranted and not expect a kind and helpful response. That’s not me, and that will never be me.
SOLUTION: I plan to do a better job of showing my friends and family that they can come to me for advice or help. I’ll reach out to them randomly and ask them point blank, “how can I help you?” I’m here for you guys, I genuinely mean that. There is a side to me that most of you probably have not gotten enough of, and I promise to give you much more of that side this year. I also plan to make the better side of me even better. I will keep removing negative thoughts from my mind, I will keep trying to see the best in people, I will keep lending out a helping hand as much as I can.
“I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I cant change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.”
― Charles de Lint
3. Write real letters to those I care about (and send via snail mail).
PROBLEM: God dammit I am thankful for so many people in my life, yet they just don’t know how thankful I am of them.
SOLUTION: I will write a few letters every month to people I care about. These letters will be filled with things they have probably never heard me say or things I don’t say enough. It’s sometimes hard to say certain things to certain people, so I plan to write it down and mail them. I’ll also take a picture of my note and hopefully recite it to them over the phone or in person one day.
“If you admire somebody you should go ahead and tell em. People never get the flowers while they can still smell em." - Kanye West
The rest of my goals are pretty cliche or boring, they don’t really need a meaningful explanation with them. However they are still very important to me! Here are the rest:
4. Watch movies alone
5. Head to Central Park once a month to read
6. Take my family on a nice vacation
8. Become a better public speaker and story teller
9. Eat much healthier (duh)
10. Get a real massage twice a month
And these ladies and gents are my 2014 goals. I’ll follow back mid year to see how much I’ve progressed, that seems like a good idea.
As I write this, I’m looking out of a window of a friend’s Pent House located in Manhattan. In front of me is the Empire, to the left of me are massive residential buildings, and below me are ordinary people, just like myself, going on about their life. It’s always fun people watching, not in a creepy way, but in a way where for 10-20 seconds I imagine myself as another person with different problems and motivations. A small escape from my current life to experience the joy and challenges of another life is quite a thrilling event for me.
Recently I’ve been traveling around a lot, so naturally people have been asking me how I’ve been as they haven’t seen me around in a while. In the past I usually have a generic response for this question which revolves around being busy at work or something. However that’s changed now. When people now ask me how I am, for the first time in my life I’m blessed that I can say that, “at this moment in life, I am very happy.”
You might read that and assume, “oh now doing whatever he wants, he’s exploring the world, work is going well, etc.” Well no, it has nothing to do with any of those materialistic things. Regardless of them, a lot of the reason I’m happy is because of the physical and mental changes I have made in the last year that have propelled me to move forward in life. You would think that the same level of happiness would occur if I took everything that’s happening in my life right now and make it happen a year earlier, but you’d be severely wrong. Last year I was chasing happiness without making any changes, but that wasn’t getting me anywhere. This year I made big changes which resulted in happiness finding me, and now it’s getting me everywhere.
Here are some of the changes I made this year:
There were people in my life that weren’t a positive influence. They had a negative aura about them that affected me in ways I couldn’t pin point, so I kept them around thinking it was unjust to end the friendship. But finally I had enough, so on November 1st, 2012 I woke up and bid them farewell. I said emphatically to myself and the world:
FAREWELL to those who claim friendship with their masks off, yet wish ill with their masks on.
FAREWELL to those who have find it simple to judge others but difficult to judge themselves.
FAREWELL to those who gain a sense of happiness in my defeats, yet a sense of envy in my victories.
FAREWELL to those who have no compassion for others and only care about their selfish wants.
FAREWELL to those who made me feel that this is luck and not hard work.
FAREWELL to those who belittle my high ambitions because they fear to dream big for themselves.
Farewell to them and welcome to all those that I choose to speak to and associate myself with today. I thank you for the happiness and positivity you have brought into my life, I truly mean that.
I learned to stop stressing over things that don’t matter as much in the long run. Stress is the silent assassin that we don’t take seriously enough. I pause when I’m presented with any situation that might increase the amount of stress I have and ask myself a few questions:
Is this situation a matter of life or death for anyone?
Do I have the ability myself to control the outcome of this situation?
What is an effective and quick way to mitigate this situation?
Is the Earth still spinning, the Sun still shining, and are the children still playing?
99% of the time assessing the situation with these simple questions has helped my stress levels decrease tremendously. Why stress over something I cant control? I’ll figure out a plan to fix the issue and move on. Stressing about the issue will change the outcome of it, it’ll only change the amount of hair left on my head.
3. Social Media
I stopped following people on Twitter and “friending” people on Facebook that I’m not fond of. This goes the same for LinkedIN and any other social network that pops up tomorrow. This summer I literally removed 500 connections from LinkedIN that I do not personally know or want to associate myself with. Why should we be connected just for the sake of being connected?
I would do the same with Facebook, but that doesn’t affect my professional life as much and it’s easy to limit people or remove them from showing up on my news feed. I have no desire to know what goes on in their life or their mind. Usually these are the people I said farewell to, so what good does it do me to keep seeing their name across my social media feeds? It might sound harsh, but it’s working for me.
Stop gossiping. Say peace to those who gossip about others. Those who gossip about others to you, usually gossip about you to others. And if you yourself have the time to gossip about others, then you need to reassess your priorities.
Worry about yourself.
This is my life. I will choose to live it the way I want. Your rules and standards of how my life should be lived mean nothing to me. I can sit here and tell you that these negative things you say about me make me stronger and make me work harder. But they don’t. What you say means nothing. It has zero affect on me. I don’t even hear you. I don’t even notice you. You are nothing to me. What I say about me makes me stronger and makes me work harder.
"…I rather be hated for what I am than [be loved] for what I’m not. I’m like a machine, a robot. YOU CANNOT OFFEND A ROBOT." - Kanye West
The people I surround myself with have judged me for themselves, not off what others have said. I am very aware of the type of person I am and what I do. I’m not going to change myself to satisfy your needs. I’m doing me.
I stopped caring about what you thought about me a long time ago.
I’m not saying I’ve found eternal happiness, there will always be ups and downs. However I believe these are just a few steps I’ve taken to lead a happier life.
I’m happy :
This post is a continuation of my prior post of Why I Love New York City.
1. “Come here, I’m about to take you higher." - Jermaine Cole
In producing everything from at-home-mushroom kits to foldable-ballet slippers, these young companies are making plenty of waves in startup land. Here is…
This post is obviously going to have some bias as I’m one of the biggest Dallas Mavericks fans alive, aka MFFL. But I hope the message I’m trying to convey gets across clearly.
I post a lot of business related articles on my twitter, facebook, etc that I believe teach good lessons and are things that people should know about if they’re on the entrepreneurship path, aka hell. As much as these business related articles shape my views and shape the person I’m becoming this very instant, it’s non-business related things like the Dirk Nowitzki documentary (or even Jordan To The Max documentary) that have always taught me the most valuable lesson in life:
Nothing worth having comes easy. You will encounter many hurdles that others will deem impossible for you to overcome, but you have to find it within yourself to silence their negativity in order for you to keep moving forward. A time may come when the world will doubt you, but don’t disregard the one person that should never doubt you. Yourself. Walk around with a big chip on your shoulder. Dammit walk around like you got something to prove. Not to them, but to biggest critic you have. Yourself.
I’ve talked many times about how sports has shaped the type of person I am today and how everything I’ve learned directly correlates in my everyday life. (ahem Basketball (Sports) spared this)
Here is a link to the documentary for those who have 40 minutes to kill and are true MFFLs. It really shows how much Dirk went through to get to the top of the NBA. I dare any person or any other NBA player to ever call him soft again:
Of course, coming right up. Droppin the ball recently oops.
Failure is bad, I don’t think it’s good. But if something is important enough, you do it even though the risk of failure is high
I ran across this very interesting post on Quora:
It talks about the lessons you learn while playing any type of sport, regardless of the level you’re playing at.
This post hit home for me in many ways. One being it validates what I say almost everyday to anyone who thinks it takes intelligence to succeed:
“I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.” - Aaron Swartz
But more importantly, how it talks about what was learned early on because of sports:
Full disclosure: I had a personal motive with this question. I played baseball in college, but not professionally. So I wanted to know, “What did I miss?”
Davenport’s first response was to talk about how she had to grow up fast. She mentioned the power of the media and learning to live her life in front of a crowd.
But then she shifted gears and talked about improving at her craft and the lessons of competition, hard work, and perseverance. Those things, she said, were learned long before she became a professional.
I always credit the drive, motivation, and perseverance I have in my daily life to what I had to go through to become a competitive basketball player.
Not many people remember the days where I used to shoot a ball with two hands and when dribbling a ball was my biggest fear in life. I wasn’t lucky enough to start playing sports at a young age like my peers, during those days I was wrestling outside with my friends pretending to be The Rock. The first time I ever touched a basketball was around 7th grade, and after that I fell in love.
I fell in love with it to a point where I was oblivious of how awful I really was. I thought I was good enough to try out for the 7th grade basketball team, which consisted of an A, B, and C team, with C being the worst. A close friend of mine also tried out for the basketball team with me. He was a bit nerdy and didn’t really care too much about the sport, but he tried out regardless. After a grueling 1-2 days of tryouts, where again I convinced myself I performed better than I had, the first round of cuts was here. Yeah I got cut, and my friend advanced. That sucked.
There are a few instances in my life that have occurred which I’ll never forget, in terms of the level of pain I felt while experiencing them. This is one of those instances. I can still to this day look back and channel the same anger and pain I felt locking myself in the bathroom so no one could see or hear me crying. “Real men don’t cry,” as my dad would always say. I wanted to be a real man, but this was the first big defeat I had faced in my life, and being a child I couldn’t hold back the river of tears.
The tears eventually dried up and I was left to face the harsh reality. I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought I was. No let me rephrase that, I sucked. That left me with two choices. Either quit and let this failure always haunt me, or pick myself up from the ground and refuse to feel this type of pain ever again.
I picked myself up from the ground and refused to feel this type of pain ever again. I eventually went on to make the 8th grade B team, 9th grade A team, Junior Varsity team, and then finally Varsity team. I’m still confident I could have played at least at a D3 level in college as well if I wanted.
It didn’t come easy though, it was the hours and hours of practice I put in to drastically improve my skills in such a short amount of time that allowed me to achieve this. It was all that hard work, patience, and perseverance you hear about over and over again. That shit actually works believe it or not.
I had dreams of NBA, as did every child. Obviously that didn’t happen, but something better happened instead. I learned very important lessons through basketball that have set the stepping stones for me to succeed in life. If you ever watch me play basketball, or any sport, I’m always hustling, my heart is bleeding of passion, and I refuse to accept defeat.
The hustle, passion, and refusal to be defeated translate to my daily life, including my career. I wholeheartedly believe, because of my basketball history, there is nothing out there that I can’t achieve if I give it my all. I will go on to do big things, I will change peoples lives, I will change the world. The crazy thing I think about is how different I would if I gave up instead of willing myself to become better. One thing I’m confident about is that I wouldn’t be where I am today if that had happened.
To this day I don’t let my friend, who will become a doctor soon, forget that he advanced in try outs further than I did in 7th grade. It’s my constant reminder that “impossible is nothing.”
Find your spark, and run with it forever.
“Wait what? Shahzil is really going back to school? Bullshit. He doesn’t believe in the whole college thing like those other know-it-all assholes.”
Yes, you’re right. I am an asshole.
No, you’re wrong. I don’t not believe in the whole college thing. But before I get into that let me first touch base on how I’m going back to school… kinda.
I hate to admit it, but I have a weakness. That weakness is trying to figure out if my developer is speaking English or Klingon. I just sometimes don’t understand what the hell he’s telling me! All I know is if something works or if it’s broken. But that’s not good enough for me. This is MY company and I’m nosy as hell when it comes to my company. I want to know how exactly things work, but what good is knowing if I don’t understand? I want to be able to effectively communicate with my developers so I know how to plan ahead for the growth of my company. I can’t tell you how many times our servers have gone down and I have no idea why. It’s a huge deal if my servers are down for even a second, that’s a lot of money being lost for our company and our clients. And that’s just the start of problems I encounter. How am I suppose to get it these problems fixed for good if I don’t understand them?
I also love to dive deep into code and try to figure out how to improve it or fix it by myself. I mean look, I know the basics of HTML, it’s not hard so don’t you dare sit here and link me to the w3c HTML tutorial website. I might seriously hurt you. When you’re running a fairly big adtech company, you really need to know more than the lines <b>, a href=, <font color=000000>, etc. My company generates millions of dollars in revenue on a proprietary platform that we built from the ground up, yet my knowledge of our back end processes is zero to none.
You might say that I’m wasting my time learning these things when I can just hire employees or a CTO to take care of them, but people highly underestimate how important it is to have a working knowledge of your own product. I need to understand it’s limitations and strengths so I can be prepared for any software or hardware issues I face in the future as the company grows. I also believe that developers respect the CEO much more when he is able to understand their language. Developers aren’t always the best at communicating what’s exactly happening, they live in a world of their own.
Here are the things that I hope to get out of this class:
- Ability to wire frame projects correctly
- Effectively tinker with front-end code by myself without breaking shit.
I’ll be sacrificing my Tuesday and Thursday nights to learn. That’s right, to learn. You’re being left behind If you’re not constantly learning. Learning doesn’t end with college, it’s forever. I’ve always had a passion for learning, I just never had a passion for the subjects I was forced to learn.
Now to quickly touch base on this whole college misconception so it can finally be laid to rest.
My problem with college has always been that they made me take classes that I was never really interested in and never prepared me for the “real world.” I was already living in the real world at that time, and nothing I learned in college helped me with it. Looking back, all the experiences I faced with running my company better prepared me for the real world.
I barely went to class because I was too busy working (and they were mostly boring with teachers who think real life is textbooks). And when I did attend class for the review sessions right before the exam, I was on my laptop zoned in on work. I never understood why I had to take Biology or Oceanography. I went into Oceanography thinking it would be like the Discovery Channel or the Planet Earth series that I’m obsessed with. GOD DAMMIT THIS CLASS DEDICATED TO OCEANS WAS THE HARDEST CLASS I’VE TAKEN IN MY LIFE AND I HAD TO TAKE IT TWICE BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT A C-. OH AND IT WAS WHAT, $1500? SERIOUSLY WTF!?
That basically summarize why I’m so against college for certain degrees like Business. I got a finance degree, and it was complete bullshit. The only professions college makes sense for is law, medical, accounting, and engineering. If you go to school for business, you’re wasting your money. Use Google or Khan Academy to learn about business. Put that money towards these types of classes at education companies like General Assembly because you’ll probably get a job much quicker with less debt.
I’m very excited to take this class, and I hope that this is just the start. I hope to take other classes that will help me grow my companies. I can’t explain how excited I am for it, I’ll finally be taking a class that will show me direct results, which I’ll happily post about after it’s finished.
I’m happily going back to school… kinda.