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What I Learned Interviewing 200 Successful Entrepreneurs

Pejman Ghadimi
Pejman Ghadimi

I’m often told how lucky I am to be able to converse with the 200+ successful entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed in the Secret Entourage Academy. As a successful Serial Entrepreneur myself, I find it quite easy to relate on a uniform level to many of those incredible people I interact with every day. Part of what makes our interviews so compelling, powerful, and exciting is that I’ve shared many of the same struggles and successes, so I know the right questions to ask each person in order to really understand their processes for success.

However, throughout this journey, I have been exposed to many different aspects of entrepreneurship and business that I was previously blinded to. You could say that I learn just as much as you do when I conduct an interview, and so I often get asked what have I really learned after interviewing the first 200 successful entrepreneurs. Here are my top 5 most important lessons.

It's more than vision - it's about perspective

In many cases, people will complain that they simply do not have the vision necessary to know where they are heading. However, many of today’s most successful entrepreneurs didn’t start with a vision – they started with a unique perspective on a product, service or venture, which eventually created a vision based on their initial efforts.

Vision typically comes from the ability to see further in the future in regards to your life, and this typically means that your perspective on life plays a very strong role. The perspective was usually what helped launch the business, while the vision is what guided it to the long term success it had, and allowed it to survive any turbulence. Nine out of ten people I interview didn’t know that they would enjoy such success, but what they did know was that they were on to something, so they chose to do something because they believed they were identifying an opportunity based on their perspective.

Scale multiple verticals at once, but not businesses

I always get asked personally if I think you should have multiple businesses at once or simply focus on one. While I am a believer that commitment to one business is key until it gains traction, my guests have now validated that those who succeeded the most were not the ones who diversified their business portfolio from the very beginning, but rather those who diversified their revenue streams from within the business.

All the focus is on the growth of one business, but the business is not solely dependent on one revenue stream to survive, which allows it to grow further despite changes in consumer behavior, market demand or economic changes.

A good example of this would be the world famous McDonald's; while it may just look like a restaurant franchise with many locations and incredible pricing, in reality, it is a clever real estate play, as it is one of the largest real estate retail location holders in the United States. The business’s goal is to be a profitable restaurant, but their revenue is complimented with a real estate play that can survive regardless of good or bad years in sales.

Can’t suppress your fears– they evolve and take new form

We all have fears, and as I mention in Third Circle Theory, those who learn to master their fears and their ability to control their reactions to those fears tend to get further in life and business. As I’ve interviewed all these people, one of the biggest surprises was that those fears never actually disappeared but rather get suppressed deeper within, just enough to not obstruct the actions that would make a person successful.

In other words – the same fears continue to exist within us but evolve to simply take new shape and form. As more than 90 percent of my guests have shared – learning to control emotional reaction has proven to be a very successful trait. While I believe that some people conquered their fears once they succeeded, the majority simply learned to mask them enough so that they did not interfere with their ability to succeed.

Those who embrace leadership get the furthest

Many in my academy have succeeded on their own, without partners, without funding, and without employees. Leveraging the power of outsourcing or task delegation to other agencies can be beneficial. However, those who have truly made the biggest impact as entrepreneurs and have reached higher levels of growth, all share in common their ability to leverage a team. A team they have built, coached and grown to adapt to the long-term vision and skills required to bring the project to life.

Typically, those who showcased skills of leadership and management as a priority in their business reached much higher levels of success. Everyone knows six hands and three minds are better than two hands and one, but imagine the power of all those hands and minds if synchronized and working towards a common cause. The ability to build and grow team cohesion is one of the biggest differences in 90% of the people I interview – especially between those who build 7 and 9 figure companies. A great and awesome example is to look at Secret Academy teacher Andy Frisella, who shares his incredible experience starting an eight-figure company alone and growing a nine-figure team in 14 years.

Self-awareness trumps skill-set

Most people assume that success is often directly correlated to the specific skills an individual has. However, I am the complete opposite myself – I bring no skills to the table, and certainly did not study or understand business when I first started. But I understood people instead – a businesses greatest asset.

Many of my guests in the academy do not actually have skills in the specific fields they have succeeded in. Instead, they had enough awareness to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, and in doing so found alternative ways to get the job done. Self-awareness and honesty are one of the greatest lacking skills in humanity, as we are often by-products of our environments and the observations we make early on. There is also a lot of media clutter that shifts our perspectives constantly. Those who know themselves enough no longer allow their environment to shift their perspective but instead understand how to influence such environments for other’s perspectives to shift. Across 200+ people, I have seen that such an ability is much more important than acquiring all the skills needed to bring a business to life. Skills you can learn – being honest with yourself and practicing self-awareness is something you choose.

After six years of leading Secret Entourage and the Secret Academy as the CEO and host, I have learned that success comes in all shapes and forms. I’ve also learned that money is the simplest and most common commodity we hold. While we cherish money early on in our life and in this never-ending quest to leverage it so we can get the things we need and want, those who are the most successful typically learned to disconnect their emotions from money early on. Doing so allowed them the real mental freedom to proceed to their very own intended destination.


Photo credit: marvent/Shutterstock

Pejman Ghadimi
Pejman Ghadimi,
business.com Writer
See Pejman Ghadimi's Profile
Pejman Ghadimi is a self-made entrepreneur and best selling book author born in 1982 in the middle of a revolution in Iran, raised in France for the majority of his childhood, and eventually migrating to the United States in 1997. Raised by a single mother his entire life with very limited resources, Pejman quickly adapted to the idea of being resourceful. Due to lack of finances, Pejman chose to start working from a young age and focused his efforts on banking where he built a name for himself very quickly, climbing the ladder all the way to the VP level in a short 4 years span all without any type of formal education. Fast forward 3 more years and Pejman left banking with a significant amount of experience which was later applied to founding three major businesses: VIP Motoring, Secret Consulting, and Secret Entourage (which collectively have grossed over $40M in revenue annually). Pejman shares a very unique perspective on success and entrepreneurship; one that involves the birth of innovation through the impact made on others as well as the human connections we create daily backed by years of effective and practical leadership skills. Pejman has authored 9 books to date; his most recent best seller Third Circle Theory focusing on a unique roadmap to achieving a higher level of self-awareness leveraging the power of entrepreneurship. While currently being financially independent, Pejman focuses his efforts on teaching others the importance of self awareness, belief, and the power of defining your role and purpose.