Shahzil Shaz Amin

Hey there, I'm Shahzil Amin, Shaz for short. I really like to play and watch many types of sports, namely basketball (Mavs Fan For Life) and football (Cowboys). I'm also a big sucker for buffalo wings and midnight movie premiers. Oh and the way to my heart is through warm chocolate chip cookies, just in case you were wondering.

I'm the Founder and CEO of Blue Track Media, which I started out of high school because I was really fascinated by online ads. I'm also the Founder and COO of Plugged Inc., which was founded in my senior year of college because I have a huge passion for music. Early 2014 my first company, Blue Track Media, was acquired by Karlani Capital. I talk a little about that here if you're interested. I'm currently a Managing Partner at Karlani and blessed to be surrounded by an all-star caliber of cast who share the same dreams as I do. We invest in passionate entrepreneurs.

But enough about that boring stuff. What really interests is finding ways I can inspire the world. I'm still on my journey to figure out my place in the universe and impact it in a meaningful way. Won't you join me?

psst... I spend 60% of my time reading. Check out my epic newsletter to see what I read to increase my knowledge and motivation.

Shahzil Amin - Graduating From The School of Hard Knocks (Video)

On May 2014 I was very honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to speak to a group of amazing teenagers about my story in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was called RE:Ignite 2014 and the topic was about diversity. After struggling to figure out how I could tie my story to this topic, I finally decided to speak about all the diverse experiences I faced early on in my life that have defined me and my journey. I can honestly say that this event was one of the highlights of my year and I had an incredible time taking multiple “selfies” with my all of my new friends.

Below is the YouTube link for the video and the SlideShare link for the slideshow that was in the background. The first 1:32 of the video is blurred out of respect for the privacy of the students. Feedback is highly appreciated so I can continue improving my public speaking skills. I am my biggest critic and have already broken down all my mistakes and miscues; however I’d love to hear from a different point of view. Thank you.

(Click Settings icon and choose 1080p for HD video)

SlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/ShahzilShazAmin/shahzil-shaz-amin-graduating-from-the-school-of-hard-knocks

p.s. Special thanks to Imran Virani for video editing assistance.

Entrepreneur Turned Investor but Always Entrepreneur – First 2 Months

Well damn, I have been on quite the journey since the sale of Blue Track Media

I can confidently say that I’ve learned more about business in these last two months than I would have in any MBA school in 2 years. I’m sure that’ll ruffle some feathers, but the truth is the truth. Experience is the best graduate degree, not group projects that center around giving outdated information about a made up company rather than starting one.

Now I must also admit that at times I feel like I’m failing at my job(s) with the current load I’ve taken on. It’s obviously difficult to manage so many things at once, but my ego doesn’t let me understand that for some reason. This is my life right now:

Figuring and capitalizing on the growth opportunities for Blue Track Media

The BTM team surrounding me has been helping tons



Planning and executing on the next steps for Plugged Inc. as it’s going to be one of the most badass audio tech companies in the world very soon

This is SO exciting!



Brainstorming with our portfolio companies about the current road blocks they face and how we can help

Imagine working on 5+ different startups at once, that’s a mind f**k



Hatching new ideas and companies with my team of entrepreneurs at Karlani

Put yourself in a room with 5 of the smartest people you know and take notes



Correctly assessing the market opportunity from the decks of the startups that are looking for funding from Karlani

Please don’t send me a deck full of words and over 20 slides, I have self-diagnosed ADD. Seriously.



Taking important meetings with big name investors and crazy entrepreneurs who want to do amazing things like cure cancer, solve carbon emission issues, solve energy issues, solve food shortages, etc

How did I get in the room with these people? Am I lost?



Mentoring and meeting different people every week in different cities

I just miss sleeping on my own bed



This is my life summed up in the last two months since selling my soul. And as exhausting and mentally draining it is, I’m having the thrill of my life trying to keep up with all the knowledge and wisdom that’s being hammered in my brain right now. It’s heavy information overload, but it’s allowing me to grow as a leader and as a man every day.

Every night I go to sleep knowing that I’m the luckiest man in the world to be given such an opportunity. I spend priceless hours with my mentor/best friend Rudy Karsan learning not only about business, but life itself, as they both go hand in hand. How many other people can say that they spent an hour last night on the couch asking random questions to someone who has taken a company public and sold it for over $1B dollars? Not many.

But I’m about to let you in on a little secret that still haunts me every night as I sit here feeling lucky.

I’m scared of failure.

That time I was depressed…

Today is my 25th birthday, and just like always it’s just another day to me. I’m very thankful for all my friends and family who have wished me as well as have celebrated with me this week. It’s pretty interesting how different my inner circle of confidants is today from whom it was a year and a half ago. This is the first time I actually had a celebration, but I wasn’t really celebrating my birthday this weekend in Miami with most of my confidants. I was more so celebrating the fact that all the sacrifices and hard work had finally paid off.

On Friday night (04/18/2014) we were celebrating at Liv, a place I never thought I’d have the guts to buy a table at because of how damn expensive it is. But it’s a celebration, and when all your confidants are around just for you, you freakin’ celebrate at Liv because that’s what they deserve for sticking with you through the good and the bad. We were enjoying the night when my bffl Aamir asked me a startling question.

 “Do you remember how depressed you were right before you moved?”

There was a slight pause; I thought that no one really knew about the horrible state of mind I was in right before I decided to get the hell out of it. I had completely forgotten about the time where I broke down and had leaned on him for support. It was so out of character for me to do so that I made myself forget it happened.

“I still have the exact texts you sent me during that time,” he continued.

I immediately took his phone and looked through the texts, taking screenshots of them. I started remembering how miserable and defeated I was by the people and environment around me; all those feelings were coming back as if it was yesterday. For the last 18 months he’s the only person who has had exact proof of the lowest point in my life.

So today on my 25th birthday I decided that I’m going to show some of these texts to the world.

Why?

Because I know that there are people out there who are just as scared and embarrassed as I was to admit that they are trapped, or depressed, or stuck in a bubble. We put on a smile for the rest of the world, but we don’t let them see inside what eats away at our heart and soul.  We’re scared of what they might think of us if we slip up and show weakness so we keep it in. We feel like that there is no solution, that we can’t pull ourselves out of this shit hole that we’re in.

I’m here to tell you that you can. I’m here to tell you that I have. I’m showing you all this to prove to you that you too can pull yourself out as I did.

Here is the hell I was going through (I’m the white bubble):

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There it is. The point in my life where I was truly depressed has been exposed for the world to see. Remember this was after Blue Track Media and after it was successful, so I can safely say that money/success isn’t what makes me happy. It was everything that I had experienced in my life + was experiencing that was keeping me down. The question now remains, how did I pull myself out?

Well, take a look around this blog. Take a look at my ramblings and rants. They show exactly how I got out of this mess. Time and time I keep telling people that you need to let go of anyone or anything in life that’s holding you down. All those negative vibes you get from people you think are your “friends,” let them go. You don’t need their bullshit in your life. Deactivate facebook and unfollow people in twitter who you don’t add any type of value to your life. You are tired of your city and want to run away? Do it. Move away. The world is waiting for you with a list of interesting places and people. Change your life. Change your habits. Work out every single day. Eat right. Surround yourself with motivators and people who have actual dreams and goals. You are exactly who you surround yourself with.

That’s seriously how I got myself out depression. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m completely healed. But what I can confidently say is that right now at this point in my life I’m happy (cue over played Pharrell song). I’m doing what I love. I’m helping people as much as I can. I’m spending a lot more time with family and friends.

I don’t know how many people this post will help, but I hope that it helps at least one person. I’m perfectly okay putting all this out there because this it the type of shit that most people don’t talk about. This is the type of shit that all types of people go through, not just entrepreneurs. However it will always serve as a reminder to me about the state of mind I was in and how I chose to pull myself out of it. I didn’t rely on anyone or anything. This was my problem and I was the only one that could solve it. You too can solve it if you choose to. It just takes some courage to make these tough decisions in your life at first, but they somehow seem to pay off ten folds in the end.

I hope all of you have an Aamir (or many Aamirs) in your life that will always listen and support you in every moment of your life. If you don’t, contact me. I’ll be your Aamir.

Thank you Aamir.

I sold out. Blue Track Media acquired by Karlani Capital

Yeah, I know. This is a true WTF moment. I’m as shocked as you are. Never would I have expected to sit here and tell you that I sold my baby; that I made what people like to call an “exit”.  On April 4th 2014, Blue Track Media was officially acquired by Karlani Capital, where I am now a managing partner. This was a long time in the making with the constant back and forth battle in my mind over the question “are you sure you want to do this?” I built Blue Track Media from the ground up. There were countless nights during my 4 years at University of Texas at Dallas where I would stay up and work until the sun came up. Why then would I sell my baby when all that hard work is finally paying off? I’m sure there are going to be a lot of questions asked about this acquisition so I made a list of the most common ones along with my answers.

However before I do, I want to thank first and foremost my mother and my sister for the tremendous amount of support and inspiration they continue to give me. I don’t think I would ever be here today without both of you, thank you.  I also want to thank the rest of my family, friends, mentors and anyone who has helped me along the way. It means a lot to me that all of you believed in me, even when the world was against me.

Why did you sell Blue Track Media?

That’s an easy one. I sold it because online advertising wasn’t going to be the end of my dreams and goals - it was merely a beginning. The end goal has and always will be to impact the world in a meaningful way. With Karlani, I’m convinced that’s where we are headed. It’s not every day that you come across a group of such a highly talented and intellectual group of individuals that believe in your abilities and are there at a drop of a hat to supplement your growth. Five months (unofficially) of being a key part of Karlani has already paid out ten-fold with the amount of knowledge and experience I’ve acquired. Imagining where I’ll be in a year from now, it’s unbelievable. This is the type of stuff they don’t teach you in college. This is the type of stuff you can’t just learn on your own. This is the type of stuff you learn when you are surrounded by people who share your vision and passion as well as push you everyday to reach new heights.

As much as this acquisition is about personal growth and goals, it’s just as equal if not more about the growth of Blue Track Media. With the backing of Karlani Capital, Blue Tack Media will continue accelerating its growth at a fast rate and take on new avenues that weren’t possible before.

Who is Karlani?

If you look at the website, you’ll see that Karlani is a Venture Capital firm that “builds, buys, and invests in fast-growing, technology-enabled companies that serve and enrich humanity.” Put another way, Karlani is a operating firm that invests in passionate entrepreneurs with exciting ideas.

If you look at the team, it’s full of what I like to call an “all-star” cast:

- We got the “Grand Poobah" Rudy Karsan, who is the Founder and CEO of Kenexa, which he took public in 2005 and then sold to IBM for $1.3 Billion dollars. That’s “billion”, with a “B”.

- Up next we got the “Silent Assassin" Donald Volk who is one of the best financial minds in the country. He’s the one that makes sure you’ve got enough money in the bank to support that high-growth phase of your company. Oh and he’s pretty funny too.

- Then we have the “The Closer," Nyla Koncurat who we have the up most confidence in getting the deal closed. She has vast experience ranging from her time at JP Morgan to her time starting her own restaurant and private event facility in Argentina. She’s hella good with numbers and executing deals. I like to call her my side-kick.

- Going forward we have “The Alchemist" Bob Aglira who is one of the best strategic minds in the country. He’s the guy that effectively figures out how to get you to the next level. 

- Lastly we have “Shaaazam!" I’ll let you make your own judgment about him and his credentials.

With the amount of capital available today, worthy entrepreneurs will find people or VC firms to invest in their ideas. Karlani can do that as well but we offer something more unique. We offer this all-star cast of individuals who are expert operators. While everyone else will throw money your way, we’re the guys that will help you build your company from 0 to 1000 employees.  We’re the ones that will help you out of a rough patch and “go into the bat cave” with you to brainstorm (as one of our entrepreneurs says). We’re the ones who will help you take your company public or plan out your billion dollar exit strategy.

That’s who Karlani is.

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What is your new role?

I thought “Shaaazam!” was a role? Well technically I’m a Managing Partner at Karlani. But I like to think I’m just the guy who “Shaaazam!” Gets shit done.

As managing partner I’m responsible for:

- Sourcing deals (finding new companies to invest in)
- Accurately assessing deal flow (doing research on all the companies that want funding)
- Casting my vote (yay or nay) on new investments
- Using my expertise to help our current portfolio companies achieve success

This is all in addition to my CEO role at Blue Track Media as well as my Founder role at Plugged Inc.

What happens to Blue Track Media?

Nothing really changes. Blue Track Media will still have the best technology, team, and support in the industry. I’m still the CEO and now we have strong backing. With that backing we can continue to grow as we dabble into new areas of digital marketing, such as mobile. You can find more information about it on the BTM blog. The future is pretty exciting!

What about Plugged Inc.?

As of today Plugged Inc. is not a part of Karlani. I am as much a part of Plugged Inc. as I ever have been and it’s still a huge focus and passion of mine. We will do big things and I’ll be right in the trenches every step of the way. This is another company of mine where I can confidently say that I’ve surrounded myself with a badass team that’s capable of immense success.

How do you find the time to juggle 3 roles?

Well I can’t say I’m as amazing as my idol Elon Musk at juggling so many roles. But I like to think I’m doing an okay job so far. As Rudy says, we look for the types of people that get shit done regardless of what obstacles come in their way. If they have to they’ll pull all-nighters to get it finished.

I consider myself one of those people.

How did you get to this point?

If you look at my life, at my blog posts, at my sayings, etc., you’ll see how I got to this point. To put it blunt, I worked my ass off. I chose a lifetime of happiness instead of 4 years of enjoying college. I made big sacrifices which secluded me from the world for what at the time seemed like a very long time. I dropped the people in my life that brought negative energy, envy, and doubt. I traveled far away from my bubble in Dallas, TX. I made sure to meet as many people as I could and help them out as much as possible (pay it forward). I surrounded myself with people I look up to and who push me to be the best possible version of myself. I hustled every single day of my life. And last, I refused to fail as this was never really about me, it was about my family.

And though I phrase all that as the past, it’s still how I am presently. That’s how I got here.

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What’s next?

Great question. Is “change the world” a good response? No? Okay.

I was told by a very wise man to imagine myself as a running back playing on a team without any blockers. Even without them, I was able to score touchdowns. Now imagine the amount of touchdowns I’ll score with a legit group of blockers. The possibilities are endless.

People in the startup world would consider this an “exit,” but as I said, I’m not taking it as one. This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I haven’t even relished in this moment yet. I haven’t had time to breathe and really articulate this monumental point in my life. I never thought that I’d reach this point in my career so fast. I was always planning on getting here when I was around 40 years old. It came very fast, but I’m very excited and ready for this challenge. I believe I have a lot to offer the world, and if I can’t find an idea to change the world myself, I’ll be more than willing to help and invest in a company that does.

One thing I do know is that nothing has changed. I’m still the guy I used to be. This DOES NOT mean fancy cars and “money to blow” type of mentality. I’ll still wear socks and sandals as well as the same t-shirt multiple days in a row. I’ll still answer your texts, pick up your phone calls, and answer your emails. I just might do all those things very slowly. I promise that I’ll always be there to support and help as my time and energy permits. I’m more than happy to have a conversation and give advice where needed. I just ask that you value my time as I will value yours and do any research necessary before our conversation.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m my biggest critic so I’m not going to bust out with the Drake remix to “We Made It” because with the goals I’ve set for myself I’m far from that. But I’m getting there. However I will bust out with the song below which is what I think our team at Karlani will do.

Que my man Kanye West.

The Alchemist - The Most Memorable Quotes IMO

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. 

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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."

Amazing book.