Omar Zenhom is a teacher at heart. I never really understood that until we had this interview. Omar has a daily business podcast. It’s one of the top business podcasts. It’s called the $100 MBA.
It ‘s great. I’ve listened to it several times. I was always just so amazed at just the lift of having a daily podcast and doing it for years and years. He’s been podcasting longer than I have.
I’ve been podcasting for seven or eight years, and I just can’t imagine podcasting every single day. But once we dug into some of Omar’s story, we got into his background as a teacher, the work of preparing lessons every day for teaching, and how that trained him. It got him into the space where he could, without as much of a heavy lift, make podcasts every day. His experience put all of his work into context for me.
I had a great conversation with Omar. We talked about everything from his childhood, growing up as a child of immigrants to the many entrepreneur pursuits that he has had along the way. It’s just a really fun conversation. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Let’s get into it.
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In this episode you’ll learn:
- How Omar ended up becoming a teacher
- The reason why Omar left his successful career
- How Omar got started in entrepreneurship
- How accepting that things in life are going to be hard sometimes
- How your perspective can influence your career path.
- Building resilience through hard work and hardships
- Omar’s approach to being an entrepreneur
- Omar’s sense of fulfillment in his chosen pursuits
- Burning out, fulfillment, and the importance of rest and breaks
- How going through hardships is beneficial for improvement
- Omar’s advice to people who are currently looking for their niche
- How Failure is part of the process
- Understanding where you add value
- Synergizing interests and expertise
- Gaining momentum through success
- Omar’s advice for people stepping into entrepreneurship
- How Omar took the leap to be a full-time entrepreneur
- The value of reading
- How your environment affects you a& Omar’s chose to move to New York
- Omar’s early experience as a full-time entrepreneur
- Omar’s realizations when he took up MBA
- How the $100 MBA started
- How Omar’s multiple enterprises are interconnected (podcast, software, online courses, webinars, keynote speaking )
- How Omar started WebinarNinja
- Omar’s thoughts about software
- Omar’s ideas that are contrary to popular belief
Software Generated Transcription:
Dan: Omar, thank you so much for joining me. Welcome to The Meaning Movement Podcast.
Omar: it’s great to be here, Dan. Thanks for having me.
Dan: I, uh, like to always start with the same question, which is how do you begin to talk about the work that you do?
Omar: Uh, the best way I could describe the work I do is all my adult life I’ve been teaching and I just, it’s just been in different forms. Uh, eh, right now I, I, I teach people on a podcast. I teach people through webinars. Um, sales is a form of education and teaching, so I do a bit of that as. Uh, yeah, I, I, that’s how I describe myself.
A lot of people, you know, I would probably describe myself as a teacher first than an entrepreneur. Second.
Dan: I love that. I love, I, I love the, um, yeah, the, the prioritization or hierarchy, maybe that’s a better word. Um, teacher, teacher than, than podcaster. Or not pod, Well podcaster, but you said entrepreneur. just wanna kind of rewind here and, and, but for, I think the way to, to get into it, I wanna just ask about your relationship with the word teacher and when did that energy first kind of emerge in your life?
Omar: Yeah. Um, it was probably just university. I was a little bit, um, confused about what I wanted to do for a living. Uh, I knew I, uh, had to, uh, do something significant or do something that’s important. You know, my parents are, uh, immigrants to America. You know, they’re Egyptian, they migrated to America in the late sixties, and I was born in the US and, uh, and, um, growing up in, I.
In an immigrant household, uh, you, you don’t squander opportunities. You don’t just take your time to figure things out. Um, I’m not pointing any figures here, It’s just that’s, that was my reality. Like they sacrificed so much to change their life, changed their world, new country, new language, knew everything.
Uh, you know, my mom had to redo her degree because they didn’t recognize her degree from Egypt. And so the expectations were like, you know, get it together and, and don’t, don’t waste our time with, uh, with what you wanna do. So, um, I knew I didn’t wanna be a doctor or an engineer, which is like the typical kind of like son of an immigrant, uh, path down the road.
Uh, just because it just didn’t appeal to me. Uh, I didn’t wanna go into military. Um, but I thought teaching was interesting because I, I, I, I grew up in a household where my dad was in sales. My dad was a car salesman, actually, you know, he. A car dealership. And um, one of the things that you learn if you’re a child, uh, of a parent that’s in sales is it’s very up and down.
You know, one summer you’re having a summer holiday at Disney World, the next summer’s in the backyard. So you really learn really quickly that, you know, that’s not, um, that’s not really something I really gravitated to. Uh, it’s funny cuz some of the stuff that I was around seeped in later on, but I wanted a stable job basically.
So I went into Educat. And I became a teacher. I got my bachelor’s and then my master’s in education. Uh, I taught English as a second language. That was my, uh, forte and that was my career for 13 years. I was, uh, a high school and university teacher. Uh, I was really good at it. Um, at the age of 25, I was the head of department at the school I was teaching at, where I was managing 30 teachers twice my age.
Um, and I, I, I don’t say I’m good at a debate on my chest. I, I say, was hard to leave that job. It’s really hard to leave something you’re good at cuz you, you finally discover something that you have some momentum and you’re good and, and you’re getting praised and it, it, I don’t wanna say it comes easy, but it, it kind of, it feels natural.
So, um, but, uh, at some point, uh, towards the end of that run, um, I really didn’t like the lack of autonomy in education in, in, in institutions like schools. Uh, where basically as a teacher, you show up to the building, they give you a schedule, they give you a curriculum, they tell you where to be, they tell you which classroom to be in, what to teach, how to teach it.
It’s very prescriptive, um, and doesn’t really leave a lot of room for creativity. And there’s a lot of pressure because, you know, you got these 30. Students in your class where you have to make sure they pass by the end of the semester and you have a deadline and, and all that. So, um, at some point, um, along the way, I just decided, um, I wanna do something else.
I wanna, I wanna maybe see what I could do if I dedicate this energy to my, my own thing. Um, while I was in teaching, I built some side businesses on the side and discovered the internet and all that kind of stuff. This is. 20 2002. So it was pretty early days
is like bef
Omar: Yeah. You know, this is before WordPress.
This is before you know PayPal. It’s pretty, it’s pretty, it was pretty, uh, you know, we were rubbing two six together. That’s how we were getting things
Omar: But, um, yeah, and, and I just learned while I had a job, you know, I, I tell a lot of people, you know, I, I side hustled for over a decade before I became a full-time entrepreneur.
But, uh, at some point I, um, I would say my frustration with my current career outgrew my fear of leaving my job and, um, took the plunge and became a full-time entrepreneur in 2012.
Dan: Wow. Wow. I love it. Thank you for that. Yeah. Just overview of, of the, the whole process. I’m curious by the time you, um, I, and can you tell me, this is too personal of a question, but, but it’s something I’m, I’m just really curious about for someone. Like, you know, with, with your, your background, your parents, you know, experience and all the sacrifice just about like that, the weight of like carrying that expectation I guess my question is like, where did that.
Where have you learned to, to, how have you learned to carry that expectation or, you know, and how has that shifted? I, I think is the question from when you were, you know, thinking about what to do with your life and, and, you know, thinking about like a noble um, career to, to where, to where you are now. Uh, yeah.
I think that, I think there’s a question in there,
Omar: Yeah, I mean, to, to, to kind of talk a little bit about that. When you’re a kid, you don’t really know something is off until you’re out of the situation. Like when I grew up, I thought that was normal. I thought that, you know, uh, that’s how all parents acted. And I, I never kind of like traded notes with my friends in school.
Um, and I, I didn’t realize. One of the things I’ve learned in that experience, cuz I don’t wanna make it sound like there’s so much pressure, and my parents were like, Nazis, No, of course not. They were, they just really, uh, wanted the best for us because they really, uh, sacrificed a lot to, to, to, to, to be here.
And I would say it was kind of, you felt this sense of, um, you know, you don’t let opportunities squander, you know, if something is, is, is in front of you, uh, even if it’s something. A driver’s course, you know, to be a better driver, you know, and it’s included in your insurance, go ahead and take it. You know, like whatever, Like this is an opportunity, you know?
So this is kind of the, the school of thought that I, I grew up in. Um, so the other thing is just that. Everything. My parents did everything. Us growing up, it, it, nothing came easy. It’s super hard. Like everything was done through hard work. Like people don’t realize how hard it is for immigrants to come to a new country.
Like it’s a long process. Once they get here, it’s like they don’t know anybody. Imagine going somewhere. Imagine it dropped in like, you know, South Korea and you, you don’t know anybody. You don’t know the language. You don’t know how to get a. You don’t know how to do anything. You know, they had to learn everything step by step.
Everything is hard. Like the default is hard. So, uh, growing up in that environment and, and understanding, you know, that life is supposed to be hard, like that’s the
default, that really builds a lot of resilience. I think that you’re not, you know, I’m. A mental health expert, but I, I think it’s helped my mental health a lot in terms of understanding that things that in life are gonna be hard sometimes.
And you’re, and if you want something, you’re gonna have to fight for it. You’re gonna have to work for it. It’s just not gonna fall on your lap. And at the same time, uh, it may not happen at all. Like, that’s an option. Like that could happen. Like, you know, So, uh, that’s the stuff I kind of took from my c.
Dan: Yeah. I love that. And thank you, thank you for, for that. Um, and I think so much of it resonates, you know, with, with me and I know many folks in the audience because whether or not, um, you know, regardless of of the specifics of family situations, I know we, you know, we are always asking these questions when it comes to what are we gonna do with our lives, What are we gonna do next of like what we want?
And then also, like in part like. Like honoring and respecting, like everything that’s come before us and what’s, what’s brought us here. And it’s like this tension that you have to hold and, and so I just really appreciate you Yeah. Sharing your perspective on that. Do you have kids?
Dan: Yeah, I, I’m cur I was just one, just curious, as we think about, you know, how to parent, I have kids, so I’m always like asking, you know, folks, that’s why, that’s why I asked that.
Like, how do you, how do you do that better? You know? Um, but like, not bad. Like, and I think that’s what I love about what you said is like, that things are gonna be hard. You build that expectation that things are gonna be hard, and as a result, you, you build resilience. And that’s, I think, a really important characteristic to build.
Omar: You touched on something, Dan, that was, that was interesting. You just said that, you know, um, going after what you want and respecting the past and all that. Kind of, one of the things I, I grew up with a perspective that’s very different than a lot of other people because of my parents being immigrants, is there’s less stress about what you want and what you should.
Like, I never grew up feeling like, what do I wanna do? Right. You know, like I never had that kind of thought of like,
Dan: That’s so
Omar: my passion? What I wanna feel like, what’s gonna make me happy? Like that, That stuff is not in our dna. Like what’s in our DNA is like, Hey, where could you add the most value? Where, where, where’s your expertise?
What did you do good in? Like, what did you do well in school? How could you take those skills and turn that into a career so that you could help society? So you could help yourself, help your family? It’s more of a communal, uh, you know, sense of like, you have a sense of responsibility to the world rather than.
Hey. Like, you know, and I think that’s a really good cause I, I study a lot of entrepreneurs. Yeah. It’s healthy. And I see a lot of entrepreneurs and I, and the entrepreneurs I feel like that are the most stable. And the ones that have the most success are the ones that recognize that, hey, like, It’s not about like what you’re most passionate about, it’s about where can you add the most value?
Where are your skills, your experience, your, your, uh, abilities, best put to use. Um, and I think that a lot of times I talk to people that wanna start businesses or build a business, they get kinda lost in this fog of like, Well, you know, I tried this but I didn’t really love it. It. Most of the things you’re gonna do in life, you’re not gonna love a hundred percent.
Like even the things you love, like I
right? But there’s times when I’m doing so, oh, my feet are killing me and I don’t really love it. I should take a break now I’m gonna push myself a little bit, like, you know, and build those feet muscles. You know, like there’s just, that’s just the reality of getting better.
Dan: Mm-hmm. . I love that. That is so, so good. And like, in some ways, like kind of the opposite of of my experience. Like I’ve spent a lot of time really feeling lost in like, what am I, what am I gonna do? And I feel like I needed someone to say the things that you’re saying of like, it’s not just about that, but I, I’m curious for you, and I wanna just take it to kind of that next layer of like, how do you then, in that context, um, think.
Fulfillment and purpose and like, cuz like, those are different words and passion, but they’re very strongly correlated. Um, but I’m curious just for you, like how, when, when do you feel like you’re most fulfilled in your work and how does that relate to how you view your work in that bigger picture?
Omar: Uh, I feel like I’m fulfilled when I make an impact in some way. Um, if it’s at like helping a new entrepreneur have a breakthrough, or maybe it’s something I said in an interview like this or, you know, just these little things where I feel like, you know, um, one of my. My, my price possessions, it’s not really the possessions, cuz it’s not mine, but it is, is the podcast that I run the hundred, the hundred dollar NBA show because I feel like if I get hit by a bus, I have a legacy.
I have something that people can listen to for years upon years to be able to improve their ability to, to, to navigate a very. Confusing world of business, you know, that keeps changing, that, that evolves and it’s different for every single person. What works for me is not necessarily gonna work for everybody and all that kind of stuff.
So for me, I, I. I, I wanna be clear, like I, I do have a lot of fulfillment in that, but I do get burnt out. I do feel a sense of like, I need a break. This is too much. Um, you know, there’s days where like, if I’ll, I’ll notice that I, I haven’t really taken a good break, like a good two week break in a while where it’s just, it’s hard to get up and, and keep doing what you have to do.
And, and this is where you have to. Self aware and try to make time to, to rest your body and your mind and step away from things. Uh, but I, I, I, the reason why I bring that up is just because I, I, fulfillment and, and, and, and, um, burnout and being tired and not feeling like doing it does go hand in hand.
Like it. Some people I feel like sometimes feel like, Well, maybe this is not something that lights me up if I feel burnt out. Like, well, that’s just the, the work that’s involved sometimes.
Dan: Totally, totally agree. Yeah. A parallel for me, I’m a, I’m a runner and you know, I, The further you, the deeper you get into, I mean, really it’s true with anything but like in, into running, like the more you are in tune with like where your body needs recovery and like, it’s like, I kind of, you know, years ago when I, I, I started really taking, running seriously probably about five, five or six years ago.
And like at that point it’s just like every run was just a run, you know? But like, no, it’s like my performance is like drastically different when. Rested, or based on how many, how many miles I put in the previous week, how many, you know, tempo, like faster runs at hard runs I did, versus just like slow long runs.
Um, and I think the same is true of, of, of work and hopefully listeners who aren’t runners can, can relate to that. Like no matter what it is, like you have to pace yourself and you have to give yourself that recovery time. And that’s, that’s what I take from, you know, from, from what you said, like even if you love running right, you still gotta get those rest days in.
Omar: Yeah, and I love that you brought that analogy running. I, I ran track in, in high school in spring cuz I used to play basketball to just do, to stay in shape. And it was, it wasn’t something I loved, but I did it. You know, my mom was not coming back from work until a certain time, so I had to do something after school.
So, uh, the thing I remember the most about track is during track practice, during, I used to do long distances, do the mile two mile. And while I’m doing it, I’m, I’m like, I hate it. I’m like, This is horrible. What am I doing? I wanna quit. What am I right? And then on the bus ride home after practice, I’m looking out the window, practice is over.
Now I’m going home. Now I’m gonna do my homework, have dinner and I’m. I can’t quit. This is amazing. I feel great. Like, you know, like I, it is just a, it’s a mind game. It’s crazy.
Dan: It totally is. It totally is. And just like when you’re out there, like you’re running the, like I’ve been doing a lot of like speed training and speed work is hard and you’re like, Okay, I’ve gotta run as hard as I can for two minutes. Two minutes is a long time. When you’re going all out, you think like, Oh, that’s not that bad.
But then like 10 seconds in you’re like, Oh wow, this is hard. And you’re like just counting down those seconds to till you finish. But then you. That was awesome. And like, you see your, you see yourself improving and like all these things, this feedback loops happen. It’s like, Oh wow. I can’t, I, I hate it when I’m in it sometimes, but also I love it and like it’s, it’s so, you know, meaningful.
I think it’s just such a good parallel to. You know, to work and to, like our, our pa passions not the right word. Our, our chosen, our chosen, uh, pursuits. Maybe that’s a better, a better word for it. So I’m, I’m curious just to kind of go, keep, keep going on this, um, for folks who might be in a space where they’re like a.
I don’t know what I want to do. And I’m, I know you, you, I think you gave a really interesting recipe of like, you know, looking at what, where you can add the most value, but I’m, I’m just curious to have you go just a little bit deeper on that of like, what are questions that they can ask to, like, like just even to speak straight to straight, to people who are listening right now who might be in that kind of a space.
Like what, what would you advise? What, what, where should they be looking?
Omar: Yeah, so I was in that space for a very long time. Um, and. This is a, this is a time for experimentation. This is a time for trying things, seeing things through, uh, seeing how things feel. Sometimes in that experience, you’re going to learn what kind of business you wanna run. I, I started businesses. I had a clothing line business for a very long time.
It was custom tailored to clothing for men. It was a huge business and we did really well, but I hated. Because what I realized is my customers were more passionate about the product than I was. And, and I realized sometimes just a business opportunity, like seeing a need in the market is not enough for you to have a successful business.
To me, success is something that you enjoy doing and it fulfills, you know, your personal needs, but also, uh, fuels the lifestyle you want. Um, so in that process of trying different things, you’re gonna learn things. And that starts with just accepting the. This is with a huge hurdle that a lot of people go through is, I will fail failure.
I have to fail. Failure is a rite of passage. I have to get through this. I’m gonna stumble, I’m gonna fall. Um, just like how a baby learns how to walk, we don’t just like say, Okay, pack it up, baby. You fell down three times, it’s over. No more walking
Omar: You know, , right? We say, No, you’re gonna keep trying until you walk.
Right? That’s how we do it. Um, but that, that’s the first thing I would say. The second thing I would say is in terms. Understanding your value and, and looking into how you can utilize that value. And I like the idea of synergizing things you’re interested in, things that you love and things that you can add value to.
So a good example of this is like, let’s say I wanna become a travel blogger, right? I love travel, I love cultures and countries and cuisine and all that kind of stuff, right? Uh, and I wanna start nicheing down, or may wanna start with a country where I wanna become a travel blog, right? My favorite country is Japan, and I would love to do start and do, you know, um, a great, uh, you know, blog post or maybe a video series on Japan.
Uh, but the reality is, is that as much as I love Japan and Japanese culture and food, and I’m so passionate about it, I don’t speak Japanese. I’ve never lived in Japan, only visited once. You know, um, I probably can’t tell you where not to get ripped off or where’s the best deals or where are like the little outskirt hotels that are actually, uh, you know, half price versus going into the city.
I don’t know all these details because I’m basically a tourist when it comes to Japan and I’m just fascinated by it. I love it though, right. Instead, I should ask the question, Well, if, if I don’t, if I can’t add a lot of value there, where can I add a lot of value? And I look at my own personal experience, it’s like, well, I probably could start with Egypt.
I’m, If I had to choose like a free trip anywhere in the world, probably Egypt would be like number 19 on the list, right? Because I’ve been there a dozen times. Every, every summer break, my parents would go back to Egypt and we would go and see relatives and, and, and spend time there. Um, It’s not something I’m so passionate about.
It’s not something I love. You know, it’s probably, again, I wouldn’t holiday there, but it’s where I can add the most value. Why I speak Arabic, I know exactly where to go and where not to get ripped off. I know exactly where you get a good deal. I know how exactly where you should exchange your money. I know you know all the great spots for the best diving and all, you know, cuz I’ve been there a million times and I understand, you know, what it’s all about.
And you know, which taxis by the airport are shady. Which ones are the right ones? Like I can add a lot of value. Even though
Dan: Love it.
Omar: I don’t love it that much. Right. So the reason why I’m going, I’m giving this analogy, is just be because. It’s a star. You’re just getting started. It’s the first country I’m gonna do in my travel blog business, right?
But the point here is, is that people don’t realize how fun success is. That’s fun, right? When you have momentum and things start rolling and people are like, Wow, that was
super useful. I’m gonna buy your ebook on, you know, the survival Guide off Egypt, right? And then with, with that momentum, with that business, with that revenue, you can then explore other places you can add value to.
Or maybe you can in the mean. Get some experience somewhere that you love, but that’s the example I would love to give,
Dan: I love it. It’s a fantastic example. And I think even just to like, even just keep playing with that, right? Like, to start with not like your, your, I think this is so true of like all entrepreneurial and, uh, endeavors. You have this vision of this beautiful thing that you, that you wanna create in the world, and it’s gonna be, you know, Epic and awesome, but like to actually create that would take years and, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars and like all of these things that like add up to it not being a good idea to create that thing until you have income, until you have users, until you have like all these, you know, all these, so to, to be able to like reduce your, your vision into something more practical.
Like to go back to this example, instead of going to. Do it on Egypt, something, you know, and et cetera, then can give you that starting place to, to um, to get some momentum, to taste, feel what it’s like to actually do it and make sure that’s actually something that you enjoy before you invest, you know, your whole life into starting your Japan blog or whatever, whatever might be.
Dan: great, great example.
Omar: kind of relate that to like a lot of, I speak to a lot of new entrepreneurs and the, the most common representation, or the most common version of this is, um, I was, you know, a senior developer at a company and now wanna be a life coach, Right? And I’m like, Cool. You could be a life coach, first of all, um, you’ve never coached before, like you’ve never actually ran a coaching business.
Okay? So maybe as. Step before that. Why don’t you become like an engineering coach where you could show junior engineers how they can move up their career and improve. You have a lot of experience here. You’re just throwing that away, you know, like, this is great value you can add. Uh, and then from there you can build, first of all, it also you have credibility.
Here. You have people will, will sign up for your services because you have proven that you are a solid engineer and you moved up to the corporate ladder with life coaching. You don’t have any clients, no one knows, like you, you just, you just change your life, you know? So like, it’s really hard for you to have momentum.
Dan: Yes. Well, and, and with that example too, what’s cra what’s crazy about is like, I actually feel like an engineer coach could make a lot more money, a lot more easily than a life coach. Right? Like, cuz that’s like a, there’s a hard, there’s a hard outcome to like, moving up your career out, out your, your career ladder.
And if you can deliver that for people Yeah. Which just, that’s a, that’s a killer,
Omar: And I say that like, you know, business is as hard as it is, like it’s hard to run a successful business as it is. Don’t make it harder on yourself, right? Don’t make it hard on yourself by like creating these circumstances that don’t give you any advantages.
Dan: Yes. Oh, that’s so good. That’s so good. Yeah. I love it. I love it. Thank you for that. Well, I wanna just kind of double click on like your transition into entrepreneurship and like, you know, I, I’ve hear, you know, you had your, the clothing brand, you had, you know, bunch of side hustles. Like, maybe just unpack that a little bit.
Maybe especially like the leaving, leaving the job to, to go into the, the full-time entre. Whatever, whatever recipe of of, of you know, work that looked like for you. Just really curious about, Cause that’s, that’s where a lot of people are. You know, they’re often like, ah, I could never take that leap. How did you take that leap?
Omar: So the first. Like business, I don’t even call it a business. More like an experiment I had was, I had an eBay store where I did arbitrage, which basically means I would find a buyer for a product that they wanted and I would find that product and sell it to them before I actually buy the product. So basically I would, my, my niche was rare.
Air Jordans, which are, you know, sneakers, uh, this is before like this became popular in, this is back in 2002. So I would actually put up photos on my EBA store of a pair of, of Jordans that people would want in, in a few sizes, and I would put a price. And there are people that are willing to buy it because if I can secure that shoe for them, Once I had a buyer, I would then go and find somebody who had it and it would buy it for less price and make a difference.
It’s a very simple business model. It’s like tails old, oldest time, right? But it was the first time I ever made money outside my paycheck and it was weird. It was like, it was only, My first thing was I only made like 30 bucks, but it was weird to have $30 on my account that didn’t come from, you know, payroll And it just made me curious about the internet and it was just something small.
I didn’t have a company, I didn’t have an lc, any of that stuff. I just, it was just I, I was a sole proprietor. I was just trying to like, What is this internet thing? What is this business thing? I read a book called Any, Anyone Can Do It, by Bobby and Sarah Hashmi, which is a book. It’s not very popular, but it, it’s quite popular in the uk.
It’s a book, uh, by the founders of Coffee Republic, which was like the first barista style coffee before Starbucks came and took over in the uk. Um, and it basically just catalogs their story. And I read that book on a flight just because it covered a cover cuz it was just so, um, powerful to me for people just sharing their journey.
And it was just people that had no business experience and I thought, Oh, maybe, maybe I could do this. And for me from that point on, books became like my biggest teacher. I would, um, buy as many books as I can. You know, I, I ran through all the books that most people do in the beginning, like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiosaki, You know, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie, all these books that kind of build the foundation.
I’m still a big believer that, you know, a $10 book is incredible value for the education and perspective and mind shift you can get. It just
requires somebody to have the patience to read it. Um, and then, uh, I started experimenting in other businesses. I had, you know, the clothing line I talked about, um, some businesses I would build and then I have no customers.
They would flop and I would just have to close down and that’s okay. I, I was still working my job. So I had that kind of safety net, when I transitioned out of teaching that, that, that moment. I was actually, uh, I was the head of department and then I was trying to get the position of chair in the university I was working for, and in fact, the chair of the department left our, the university and I was appointed.
Acting chair. So I was doing the job, uh, for this person for a year and a half, but I never actually got like a salary increase or actual official change of title. But I was killing it and I was doing an incredible job and my department was the best department in the whole university. Um, and I was just like, Why am I not getting this promotion?
Uh, so I went to my supervisor, the dean of the university at the time, and I asked her, I said, Hey, you. Just wondering, you know, I’ve been doing this for over a year and a half, which is long. It’s three semesters, you know, um, why have I not gotten this job? And I kind of just saw her, her face kind of fell and, and she couldn’t like lie to my face.
She basically just said to me, you know, the, I know that the director wants to make an outside hire for this position. Um, and basically they’ve been stringing me. they find this higher. And in that moment, like I said, my frustration grew, my fear, I just felt so powerless. I just felt like I am doing everything for this university.
I’m building all these great, uh, pieces of curriculum. I’m creating great initiatives, outreach, community, all this stuff. Um, and I’m, I’m, I, I, I walk into the university, it’s dark. I leave when it’s dark. You know, I’m putting everything I can. And I can’t take anything with me. I can’t take anything with me when it’s all gone.
You know, all the stuff I did, it’s their property. So at that moment I was just like, Okay, anything is better than this feeling. I need to move on. And, and, and that’s when I decided to resign. And, and in teaching you have to give six months notice cause you can’t just leave in the middle of the semester.
So I, uh, I gave six months notice and at that moment, you know, I didn’t really know what I was gonna do other than I wanted to. Uh, maybe help other people start businesses just because, uh, a lot of my friends and family would call me, email me and say, Hey, how do you start a website? Like, what is, I know that you built some things in the past and, um, so I was kinda like the business person in my family.
So I started a bus like this is, and I recommend this to anybody who’s getting started. It’s just like I started a, a service, a service based agency where I basically was a business consulting firm. If you had a business idea, um, you would come to me and I would help establish your assets. Like I would build your website, I would, you know, create your branding and at the time was just like creating your assets for social media.
But it was like, this is 2012, so it. It was just Twitter and Facebook and that’s it really. . Um, maybe Pinterest, I don’t know. But, and it was just kind of a package deal. Um, and, uh, I did that for about six months to a year, uh, just so I can be able to survive. Um, I moved to New York City, uh, because it was always a dream of mine.
I moved to New York at the time. I moved with Nicole, who’s now my wife, and we basically wanted to be in an environment that Encourag. Us to work hard and to go after our dreams. Um, and a lot of people don’t realize how much your environment can affect you. Uh, no one lives in New York to have a cushy life or to just, uh, do the status quo.
Everybody in New York is chasing their dreams. Everybody is going at whether they wanna be an actor, whether do they wanna be a musician, whether they’re trying to break out and be like this whiz kid in Wall Street, whatever, everybody is running. And you’re in that environment, it pushes you to really focus on what’s important, which is, uh, you know, your, your improvement, your own progress.
So I had no car. Basically my biggest expense was just rent and that’s it. And we just ate faf for dinner every day or something. , you know,
it was, it was, it was one of those, you know, um, those ramen days, you know, So, which was hard because I’m coming off a back of a career, which I was very successful in making very good money.
And now I’m going back to college days. I’m 32. By this time, like most people are buying houses and starting their life and going on fancy vacations and I’m, you know, scraping things together so I can be able. Pay my rent. Um, so I did the business consult for a bit. Uh, and from there I started the podcast, the a hundred dollars MBA show because I was getting a lot of questions about people saying, Hey, I wanna start our mba, you know, I wanna start our education.
I wanna, I’m sorry, I wanna start a business and I don’t have the business education for it. Should I get my mba? And I, I, I myself, went to business school after that transition for a semester and realized, Oh, I don’t need to be here like this. This is for people that wanna get a job at Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley at the.
This is not for somebody like institutions have a monopoly on the information. I can learn this from books and experience and go to a few conferences and network and, um, for far less money I can, I can do this on my own. Um, and that’s kind of where the a hundred dollars ba. Started and I started, I created a little course called the a hundred dollars mba, and from there we had a, a daily podcast called the a hundred MBA Show, which is Daily Business Lessons, which is our podcast.
Um, and that’s kind of where we started to get a lot of traction. Um, and I always say to people like, This isn’t ha like I’m giving you the Fast Forward version, but I had a podcast before that that was a total flop and failed. Um, and the big differentiator was, I wasn’t leveraging my strengths. The other podcast was, uh, an interview podcast.
I’m horrible at interviewing. Um, and The Hunter Ratio Podcast is a teaching podcast where I teach a lesson every day. Um, That’s me using my experience, my expertise. I have a teaching degree, I have multiple certificates in like teaching and assessment. I taught five classes every single day, five days a week.
Uh, it was my livelihood. Why am I not teaching? So like to me was this became obvious, Is this is what I had to do.
Dan: Mm. And who, who helped point that out? Or was it just like a realization? Or did someone say, like, in my, see, the story I’m telling myself is like, one day your wife was like, I don’t know, I don’t know your relationship with your wife, but like someone was like, Omar, why aren’t you just doing that thing that you know how to do so well?
Like, was there, was there a conversation or like a kind of a light bulb moment?
Omar: It was Mr. Failure. Failure is, is it will wake you up. You know, we had a podcast that didn’t do well. Um, we worked really hard on it, had 46 episodes, um, and we had some decent guests and it was really good. And, and we had, um, Nicole went to New York Film Academy and she was doing a lot of, uh, she was a videographer and she, uh, would do a lot of gigs and we had a gig in, in, uh, New York, and we were living in San Diego at the time, and we did a road trip.
We basically said, Let’s take some time to just think about what’s going right, what’s going wrong, why is this flopping? It’s really cuz you’re working so hard on this thing and. And, uh, in that trip we just hadn’t, it was just us in the open road. Um, when, when you’re driving or on the road, you really can’t look your phone too much, so you’re just kind of in your thoughts and you’re just talking aloud.
And we just realized, you know, you know, we, we, we looked at all the top business podcasts at the moment. You know, I looked at people like Tim Ferris who has like, what, Five New York Times bestsellers, All the guy that does, all he does is win this guy, right? So like, how am I gonna compete with
Omar: Yeah, no, but like, let’s be like, I was trying to getting honest with myself, like how am I gonna compete with Tim Ferris with this huge audience?
How am I gonna compete with Jordan Harbinger, who started podcasting before the iPhone? Right? How am I gonna compete with Pat Flynn who loves. You know, who’s beloved by so many people and has built this incredible brand, or John Lee Dumas, or all these people that were on the top of the top list of business podcasts.
And I, and it just dawned on me like, what can I do that’s better than them? Like, these guys are doing things that are better than me. What can I do that is better than them? And I thought, I’m pretty sure I could teach the pants off all of ’em because, They, they just didn’t have the experience. I do. They don’t have the education I had, you know, they, they, and it just has to do with my experience, you know?
Um, and I thought I gotta find a way to leverage my teaching. And, um, then Nicole mentioned, One of our favorite podcasts are, um, Coffee Break French and Coffee Break, Spanish, which are language lesson podcasts, where just every day you learn a little bit of that language. And I thought, Well, no one’s really doing that with business.
No one’s really giving people little nuggets, a little lesson, something to implement right away so they can, uh, see improvement and come back the next day and build upon it. And that’s kind of how the a hundred dollar show got born. Um, and it is interesting because it just came out of frustration and just getting honest with ourselves.
And sometimes you just gotta stop and say, Okay, this is not working. What can I do to fix this problem? Um, and in fact, um, when we launched in 2014, that, that, that December, uh, we won best of iTunes, which was an incredible shock, but great honor for us to be one of the, you know, dozen podcasts mentioned by Apple is the best podcast of the year.
And, And I reached out and I find, ask them why. Why did we get chosen? This is great and all, but why? And the reason they gave us is just you added something to the business genre that we haven’t seen before. And I
thought, Oh, okay, cool. So that really helped kind of, uh, propel us and grow the show a little bit more and, and, um, and, and just also just make us feel like we’re on the right path.
Dan: I love it. What a great, Yeah. Thank you for all of, all of that. And, um, I feel like I’ve been, I’ve very much been in the, those spaces. Like you said, you know, failure is a failure, failure’s a good teacher. Um, but sometimes it just takes a lot to actually sit down and listen to, to that, you know. Um, I feel like my story is, um, without this becoming like the end self-help hour, like I’ve, I’ve, I’ve had a lot of like base hits, you know?
But never, never a home run. And I feel like that’s like the story of my entrepreneurship where it’s like, yeah, I want that to be like, I wanted to go one way or the other. Like, it’d be so much easier if it was like, Oh, that didn’t work and totally flopped, or that was a smash, hit home run and here’s my, here’s my thing.
And so, um, yeah, just as I’m thinking about I’ve, I’ve, I’ve been in those co those conversations, you know, with my wife and, and on those, those drives. But I haven’t quite landed on the, uh, you know, the, the place where we’ve really landed traction. Um, maybe in the same way that, that you did, which is just, it’s fun, fun to hear your story.
So thank you for. tell me a little bit, you know, just fast forwarding, you know, from that moment a little bit further ahead. So I know you, you have the podcast and the course that’s related and, and, um, you know, I’m sure there’s a handful of assets underneath the, the a hundred dollars, um, MBA brand. Um, and then you also have, you know, a, a software.
Where did that emerge from? Like, tell me a little bit how, how they connected, how are they not connected? Like what’s, what’s that story.
Omar: Again, it just comes back to teaching. Um, when I was launching the a hundred mba, I was trying to sell. Memberships to it, and I was running webinars to do that because for me it was like, this is like a miracle, a modern miracle, being able to teach to millions of people, or not millions, but hundreds of people at the same time, from the comfort of their computer, you know, this is 2012, 2013, so it was very like early days, and I was just like, I, I, I love the idea of it, but unfortunately it took like two to three hours to put everything together.
You know, to, to put the webinar together because it’s not, it was not just the, the video streaming part, but it was also like the marketing part, the registration part, the follow up later on with email sequences, the recording of the actual, uh, session, giving the recording to people that missed it or, or, or, or attended, uh, you know, making sure that.
The chat is, is engaging and make sure that there’s a way to ask questions and filtering that all out. So putting all like the technical aspect, putting it all together would take me like two to three hours every single week. And I was just like, there’s gotta be a better way than this. Um, so. Again, a failure was a big teacher.
I actually, the launched a product called the DIY Webinar Guide, which was a book and uh, uh, course that taught people how to put together what I did. I thought, Oh, I could just show people my, you know, procedure
and help them now, and hopefully, you know, other people are gonna be interested. I spent four months, me, me, Nicole, working on this thing and the sales pages and the videos and all that kind of stuff, and putting it all together, make it all polished.
And we launched it. We’re so excited about it. And we got two sales. And um, one of them was a chargeback, so one of ’em was actually just like fraud, right? And the other one was just a, a sympathy sale by a, a friend of ours, Johnny Dooms, uh, who just wanted check out what we’re doing. Um, And it was a huge wake up call cuz there’s like, I just spent four months on this and it just flopped royally.
And I realized that, okay, people don’t wanna do the work, they want it done for them. Right. And that’s when I. Started, um, scrapping together, uh, some software and try to build something for myself. I started running some webinars with something I put together. I’m a very amateur php, html kind of developer.
Uh, I put together like the beta version just so I can use it. Um, it wasn’t ready for commercial use, but it was just enough for me to see it happen. And, uh, the people on the webinar are asking me, What is this thing you’re using for this webinar? I was like, Oh, it’s just something I put together. And they said, Can we buy it?
And at that moment I was like, Okay, maybe we have something here. So, uh, and the reason I think why people were attracted in the first place is because we’ve never been like the webinar software for marketers or salesy kind of. Swarming kind of tactics. We were more focused on making a better learning and teaching environment and making sure that your content shines and that you can just focus on the content and not worry about the tech.
Um, this means that you’re not gonna have every bell and whistle, but also means that it’s easy to use and you can jump in and jump out and, and, and you’re not, um, overwhelmed by all the different things you have to do. So our audience really like that because they’re just, I just wanna just do my slides and be able to make an offer and then that’s it.
And then have everything take care for me. Like emails go out and, and people get the replay, and I don’t wanna have to sit there and create some sort of automation or something that they’re probably never gonna use. So, um, we, we pre-sold webinar in Ninja back in 2014. Um, it kind of, uh, sold out like in 48 hours.
And this is just purely on, I had a very small email list. I only had. It was like 500 people on email list. And um, it was mainly just people I met at conferences and I didn’t ask them to buy, I just asked them, Hey, if you think this is something cool, would you share it with your audience? So they could just share on email and their newsletter or on social or whatever.
Um, this is 2014, so it wasn’t as crowded back then. You know, you put something on Twitter, people saw it, , you know, so
it was, it was a different, Um, and then from there we iterated and improved and we, we heard from our beta users and try to improve the software. It was very rough in the beginning in 2014.
Um, but, um, today, eight years later, uh, very proud of what we’ve built and, um, we’ve had over 2 million people attend a webinar on Webinar Ninja.
yeah. And we’re really proud of the growth that we’ve had and all the users that have used us. One of the things that we love about the pro, the product itself is just, it empowers people to spread their message.
It empowers people to, um, connect with their audience and empowers people to, um, uh, retain their audience and stay connected with them. So, um, yeah, that’s a, it was interesting cuz it kind of happened in parallel with, with the a hundred dollars BHA of the podcast. But, uh, again, it was just me trying to, uh, teach better and be able to offer something that’s easy to.
Dan: I love it. That’s so great. Thank you for Yeah, for sharing that story and, um, it’s, yeah, really inspiring to me. I’m, I’m kind of at a similar, similar point and I’ll, I’ll share some more about this with you, you know, later on offline. But just launching a software that’s just kind of scratching my own itch, you know, as far as, you know, the podcast is concerned and everything, so it’s just, it’s fun to hear.
Omar: software is a beast. Software is a different type of business. It’s not easy. Um, I would say that it’s probably the most challenging. Thing I’ve ever done in my life. , you
Omar: yeah, it is super challenging
yeah, I mean, a friend of mine, Noah Kagan, who wrote Rap Sumo, uh, you know, he was, he became my friend through an introduction because I was starting Webinar Ninja and a friend of mine was like, Hey, you should meet this guy.
He’s in software. He’s, you know, he was number 30 on Facebook. You know, he, he could give you some advice cuz he’s a few steps ahead of you, like a lot of steps ahead of me. Um, but the thing he told. On a Skype call was the one thing I gotta tell you, man, is that software, there’s no finish line. As soon as you release a new feature, the customers will be like, Oh, that’s great and all, but, uh, can I have
Can I have this, can I have this? Can I have this? So,
yeah, watch out for that. And, and it’s very different from, from products or content or eCommerce where it’s like you ship something and it’s out there in the world
and you have the sense of satisfaction. Yeah.
Dan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. That’s great. Uh, feedback. Um, good, good, good wisdom. Hard, hard earned wisdom. Right. That’s great. Well, you know, for folks, um, that, you know, are listening along, we’re coming up on time here and you want to connect further with you and, um, Well, and I guess before I even get to that, I just wanna say, you know, thank you.
This has just been such a, such a fun conversation and, you know, just hit on so many, like those, uh, you know, just ideas that. I don’t, I don’t know. I feel like they’re, they’re contrary. They go contrary to to popular belief in some ways and, and, you know, follow your passions and like these kinds of ideas.
And, and so I just really appreciate you just kind of sharing so much, you know, wisdom with us, um, along the way. So, so thank you for that. And for folks that wanna follow along and, you know, connect deeper with you, do you have anything you’d like to invite people to?
Omar: Yeah. I always tell people if you are at any point in your journey in business and you’re looking to improve or star, or get some traction, uh, the best gift I can give the world is my podcast, the a hundred dollars MBA show. So whatever app you’re on right now, go ahead and subscribe. Uh, it’s a daily, uh, five days a week podcast, about 10 to 15 minutes long.
Talk about topics that most people don’t talk about with like, like how do you fire an employee or how do you deal with a crisis when you’re on holiday or you know, uh, what about, who should you hire first? Things like that. So, um, and I, I purposely like to talk about these topics because I experienced these things and can’t find anything on it.
It’s like you’re reminded of me. Exactly. You’re reminding me of my teaching days. I remember my first day teaching. No one teaches you in, in university anything about classroom management. What are you doing when a student talks back at you or throws up? Like what, what, Like, what’s a protocol?
Right? So that, that’s business every day and no one talks about these things. So I,
Dan: there’s gotta be like 75% of being a teacher, I guess, depending on what, you know, what level. But like I think of, you know, my, my son’s just finished kindergarten going into first grade and just like that, that’s gotta be like a 90% classroom management kind of job, you know, like . But yes, to your point, like we don’t, we don’t learn these things.
There’s no place to go. And so I love it. I love
Omar: Yeah, so the podcast is my, my Baby, and I’d love for people to join. Um, if you wanna, the only kind of social media I’m really, really active at is Twitter and my handle is the Omar Zen Home. Um, I, this is my weakness. I’m not really good at social. Uh, and it’s just because, uh, it’s hard. I’m, I’m a. I’m the kind of person that likes to focus on one thing and for me, my craft and what I’m trying to get better at is the podcast and be better on the mic and be a better teacher and conversationalist and all that kind of stuff.
And it’s hard for me to spread my energy. Uh, I always kind of look at it like martial arts, like if I. Uh, and if I’m like trying to be a judo master, right? I gotta go and hit that mat every day and get better. If I say, Okay, Monday I’m gonna do Judo Tuesday, I’m gonna do tennis Wednesday, I’m gonna do, you know, uh, crochet.
It, it’s gonna take me a whole lot longer, or I may never get there. Um, and I, I can have flawed, this could be a flawed, uh, you know, way of thinking, but I just, it’s, I feel like social media. Keeps me from becoming better in some ways. So I, I just choose Twitter to be the,
the, the medium I’m on.
Dan: Well, I think it’s just wise in, in, in many regards. One is just, you know, recognizing your limitations, that you can’t do everything well. And then by saying no to some things, you’re, you know, allowing yourself to, to go deep, you know, and gain mastery and, um, and other things, which is the podcast, which is teaching.
And so, um, Yeah, I’m all, I’m all for it. I’m all for it. So, um, we’ll make sure to link up to, you know, to to the podcast, to webinar Ninja, to your Twitter in, in the show notes so people can, um, just click right on and follow along. Omar, thank you so much. This has just been so fun. Really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Omar: Have a lot of fun, Dan. Thanks.