In the words of Saarim Asady, what is Influence Digest?
An online platform where we find successful entrepreneurs, creatives, and like-minded individuals who provide value by publishing their areas of expertise into articles to share with the world.
Why did you start Influence Digest?
To boil it down simply:
I value personal development and wanted to create a platform where I can learn from others and share it with the world.
Where were you born?
Run us through your adolescent years.
I moved to Mississauga in 2004 and attended Mentor College from grades 5 – 11.
I was far from a stellar student. My marks were subpar (73% average) and I was known to have behavioral problems. My main sports were basketball and mixed martial arts.
For my final year of high school, I made the decision to leave Mentor College and attend Blyth Academy.
That single decision probably changed the entire trajectory of my life for the better. I finally began to thrive academically; my marks and confidence went up.
I was accepted to Queen’s University, and now I’m here talking to you.
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No, not at all actually.
I used to just follow my brother’s lead. So when he wanted to be a lawyer, I wanted to be a lawyer. I was pretty set on the idea actually. I took Politics in undergrad (standard precursor for law school) and even went so far to join the pre-law society.
After taking a look at my brother’s class work, I quickly realized that law was not for me. On that day, I decided that Saarim Asady was no longer going to pursue law, haha.
What was the first business that you started?
When I was 19, my friend Sam and I decided to start an apparel business around campus. We made charity an interactive and fashionable experience by pairing the purchase of each premium quality tank top, a local child was supported through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
For each item sold, the consumer was given the name of the speciﬁc child they are helping and exactly how their purchase has helped that child’s life.
Is One Tank still running?
At the time, Sam got an internship at Procter and Gamble while I worked an internship at Brain Station so we stopped the business.
It’s funny though – Sam and I joke about stopping One Tank all the time. We call it our “biggest regret ever.”
All jokes aside, we are very happy where we are now in life and are thankful for the experience One Tank brought us.
You’ve started two businesses with your friend Sam, tell us more about that
Sam was on my floor in first-year undergrad. I didn’t really get to know him then, I just thought he was another one of those arrogant Queen’s Commerce kids.
It wasn’t until second-year undergrad when we started hanging out and began to realize that we were motivated by the same things in life.
What are you motivated by in life?
- Providing enormous value to the world
- Being free to live life on my own terms
Where does this ambition come from?
Probably a deep-rooted insecurity that I am not consciously aware of.
People say don’t start a business with your friend but that’s what you’ve done twice –
I agree – you shouldn’t work with your friends just because.
Sam was an exception – although we were friends when we started One Tank, the reason I wanted to partner with him is because I knew that his work ethic matched mine.
You’ve gone from being a one-man-show to the leader of a team of four. How is that?
It’s gratifying because I really worked for it.
I spent so many hours working alone trying to build Influence Digest to a certain level. To finally be able to bring on a team and work towards a common goal means so much to me.
Did you grow up around entrepreneurs?
I have some extended family that are successful entrepreneurs but I didn’t see them often enough to say that I grew up around them.
If you asked 12-year-old Saarim Asady about what he thought about entrepreneurship, what would he say?
Absolutely no idea.
I don’t think I even knew what entrepreneurship was at that point, I just thought everyone had a job.
You are a notorious bookworm, what was the last book that you read?
Principles – Ray Dalio
What was the last song you played on Spotify?
What is the biggest realization you’ve made in the last 6 months?
I have the ability to train myself to accomplish anything I want.
I value myself on developed skill, not natural talent.
Did your Master’s in Entrepreneurship Prepare you for Influence Digest?
The connections & support I was able to get from the school far exceeded any amount of classroom learning.
What does Toronto mean to you?
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many cities across the globe. I can confidently say that there is no place like Toronto.
This is the environment that I want to keep growing Influence Digest from. Unless some crazy opportunity pops up somewhere, I can’t see myself leaving anytime soon.
I’d rather be “Saarim Asady, a product of Toronto” rather than any other city in the world.
If you could have one quote on a billboard for the world to see, what would it say?
“You Can Too”
Is there anything that you want to leave us off with?
Do not take this as my “congratulations” interview. I am at the very beginning of my career and I have a long way to go. I have many milestones to hit and many more setbacks to fight through.
Thanks for this interview, now I have to get back to work.
– Saarim Asady