Ziad Abdelnour – Balls, Brains, & Heart — Transcript
Intro: [00:00:00] Who wants coffee? Who wants a pot of coffee? I just made coffee. You want a cup of coffee? Sure, here you go! Who wants coffee? Anybody else want coffee? And now it’s time for the man with the caffeine, the new tropics for the brain. It’s @CoffeeWithMike, hang in, hang tight, grab your cup and let’s get this thing started.
[00:00:28] Mike: [00:00:28] Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Java Chat. This is @CoffeeWithMike, and today I get to interview a special guest—someone who I just recently found online and loved his story and really wanted a chance to bring him on here to share that story because he’s definitely one of those success stories that people like hearing.
[00:00:48]He’s also proof of the pudding that putting in the right kind of work, not just hard work, really gets you to where you want to get to. There’s a lot of dedication, persistency consistency, and this man is a clear example. His name is Ziad Abdelnour. Did I say that correctly.
[00:01:02] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:01:02] Yup.
[00:01:03] Mike: [00:01:03] Okay. He is the founder, president and CEO of Blackhawk Partners, a private family office, in the business of originating, structuring and acting as equity investors in strategic corporate investments.
[00:01:14] And he’s a cofounder of Blackhawk Development Group trading platform, focusing on the financing of real estate, infrastructure and project finance properties throughout the U.S. He’s kind of a big deal. He’s the chairman of the advisory board of Blackhawk Storm Global. It’s a business specializing in providing a wide array of elite services ranging from emergency response and asset protection to security consulting and risk assessment.
[00:01:39] The list of guys that he’s got there. It’s a big deal. If you guys want to learn more about them, please stop off blackhawkpartners.com and just look for his profile under the “About Us.” There’s a lot to read here, but I really want him to share his story. So yeah, thank you for joining us today. We really appreciate you coming in.
[00:01:57] Awesome. Let’s start with this question. I start this with everybody, but what would be, because you’re in the business realm, what would be the biggest piece of advice you can give to somebody who’s thinking about starting a company, as an entrepreneur or as somebody who just wants to start a brick and mortar?
[00:02:19] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:02:19] Business for me is war. It’s not a walk in the park. It’s not a hobby.
[00:02:28] Mike: [00:02:28] That’s true.
[00:02:29] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:02:29] It’s not for people who say “TGIF, now the weekend is here.”
[00:02:35] Mike: [00:02:35] Agreed.
[00:02:37] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:02:37] And to win wars, there’s one key ingredient you need. It’s not how smart you are. There’s lots of smart people out there. It’s not how big your balance sheet is. There’s lots of people with money. It is one thing only you have to gather intelligence—second to none on your market, on your competition, on everything. And most people don’t do that. They’re too lazy to do that, or their ego is too big, or they think they’re too smart. Like the classic example, I have no competition.
[00:03:25] Who’s the moron who says, “I have no competition.” This already is a loser, this guy. So, you know, don’t underestimate the competition. Don’t underestimate the terrain, do your homework. That’s how you win. A lot of people don’t do that.
[00:03:49] Mike: [00:03:49] Yeah.
[00:03:49] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:03:49] Do you want an example? We went to war in Iraq. Yeah. We didn’t have the right intel.
[00:03:56] We spent $6 trillion and lost I don’t know how many thousands of lives.
[00:04:02] Mike: [00:04:02] Quite a bit.
[00:04:03] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:04:03] Same thing applies in business. People are too cocky, too confident. They don’t do their homework, and they crash and burn. This is why 90% of the startups fail.
[00:04:22] Mike: [00:04:22] That’s true. it’s interesting. You remind me of the book, The Art of War by Sun Tzu. And he expressly says the general that wins is the one who’s got the most intel.
[00:04:31] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:04:31] Yep. And that’s why, by the way, I’ve written a similar book, Economic Warfare back in 2012, which should be the modern version of The Art of War. Yeah, it’s on Amazon, Mike. It’s called Economic Warfare.
[00:04:50] Mike: [00:04:50] We’ll make sure that’s down in the comments so everybody can grab a copy of that.
[00:04:54] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:04:54] Yeah. So it discusses this in detail applied to today’s business world. You know, Art of War was written like 500 years ago.
[00:05:03] Mike: Yeah, by a guy who ended up disappearing. Once he finally figured out he raised a small army, that was just too good for his own good.
[00:05:11] Ziad Abdelnour: Yeah. I really think that’s the key ingredient in business.
[00:05:18] Mike: [00:05:18] That makes a lot of sense. And your whole thing, you—you’re an immigrant, right?
[00:05:25] ] Ziad Abdelnour: Yeah. Legal immigrant.
[00:05:29] Mike: So what’s your story? Where’d you come from? How’d you get here?
[00:05:34]Ziad Abdelnour: [00:05:34] I come from Lebanon. I came from a very big political and business family in Lebanon. My uncle, my dad, basically, has been in politics in Lebanon, in the government, in the Senate and the Congress for 40 consecutive years. Yeah. Then they got tired of it, and they expected me to take over.
[00:06:04] I said, no. Lebanon is too small for me, but that’s not the reason. The reason I left is because of the situation there. You know, I’m a Christian, I’m a Catholic I was in an environment where there was increasing hatred. There is a terrorist organization called Hezbollah who took over the country, still empowered—proxies of Iran.
[00:06:33] My family wanted to basically sign a peace treaty with Israel. This was back in the early 80s. [They wanted] to have Lebanon as the second country in the Middle East, after Egypt, to sign it, to be sweet with Israel. You know, but Islam is in power, as well. I mean, I didn’t like it, long story. I said, this country is not for me because I am very opinionated.
[00:07:04] I don’t give a rat’s ass about people’s feelings, opinions. I said, “If I stay here, I’m going to be killed.” Literally. A lot of my friends got killed, assassinated in collarbones because they stated their opinions. So I said, let me go and let me go to the United States and build a fortune—I’m talking about “fuck you” money—and say whatever I want and be an activist for Lebanon, for the United States, meaning promote capitalism, promote opportunities, wealth creation, et cetera.
[00:07:48] You know, in my high school, high school years, you know, when you graduate, you have the high school yearbook. You know, where people, you know, there’s just little statements under each person.
[00:08:02] Mike: Yeah.
[00:08:02] Ziad Abdelnour: So, you know, this was in Lebanon and the students basically put the small quote under each photo. I never thought I was going to be in the United States. Then there was no war in Lebanon, civil war, then. And the quote under my name was, which they chose for me, “I’d rather be on Fifth Avenue.”
[00:08:32] Mike: [00:08:32] That’s awesome.
[00:08:33] Ziad Abdelnour: It’s unbelievable. I mean, it’s something I could—then, I would say, “What’s Fifth Avenue? No idea.” Funny how sometimes, you know, people see you like this.
[00:08:46] I was very pro-American, pro-Western from the start. I come from a political family, as I told you, we’re all capitalists. A lot of people said, in Lebanon, although we don’t have the same views, we were like the Kennedys of Lebanon.
[00:09:06] My brothers got to all Ivy League degrees. I got degrees. My dad went to Oxford. My mother’s name is Rose, like Rose Kennedy. So there were a lot of similarities, you know, in the way we think. So, you know, what my father, unlike many others, raised us to think very much, to have our role models be American people, not local or regional people from beliefs.
[00:09:35] So why did I come to the United States. There’s a lot of reasons. You know, all of these reasons together, the civil war, my upbringing, Lebanon being too small for what I wanted to do made me come here.
[00:09:52] Mike: [00:09:52] When you got here, what’d you find?
[00:09:56] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:09:56] Shock, especially in New York city. But I was lucky also because I came in the early 80s when Reagan was in power. It was the start of the bull market. So, I came in an era, in a time where there was prosperity. If I came today, I would have been like, “What the hell is that?” given what’s happening today. So, I was very lucky. It was the start of the bull market in ’82, Reagan was in power, all capitalism. So, I was not chewed out in this environment, but I was shocked because, you know, New York, the way Americans think, it’s very different.
[00:10:44]Mike: [00:10:44] I was going to say, decidedly different, huh? From the rest of the world.
[00:10:50] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:10:50] Yep. You know, and I wasn’t too sure of things, but I adapted very quickly. A lot of my peers who come here, they stay within their community, the Lebanese community, which is big. I don’t, I didn’t, I melted very quickly within the system, to get the system.
[00:11:15] I said, if I want to get somewhere, I have to assimilate. I didn’t change my name to Abdnor, like I have a couple of relatives, senators who came who changed the last name from Abdelnour to Abdnour. And I didn’t change my name, neither my first name, but I said, if I work on Wall Street, how many Ziads are there?
[00:11:40] Mike: [00:11:40] There can’t be any, besides you.
[00:11:42] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:11:42] Exactly. So, this is what—I mean, stay true to yourself. You know, I assimilated, but kept some of the basics from Lebanon. So, it was a shock, but, you know, I realized that New York is very tough, very competitive, very capitalistic. And I’m going to have to be much tougher.
[00:12:14] So I adapted right quickly. I’ve developed an incredible network, hard work, relentlessness. I am relentless. I mean, I am truly relentless. I think this is one of the traits for a successful entrepreneur or a corporate guy. You’ve gotta be absolutely relentless. You have to know your goal. You have to equip yourself with the proper intel. You have to surround yourself with people at least as smart as you, because you become the average of the five people closest to you. If you surround yourself with idiots, you’re going to be an idiot. If you surround yourself with people who are smart, competitive, wealthy networking, you’re going to rise to their standards. Your network is your net worth.
[00:13:18]I worked the first job I had, and the only job I ever had, so it was in my 20s. I worked for Drexel Burnham. I worked for Michael Milken for 6 years at Drexel Burnham, both in Beverly Hills and New York City, selling. This was the best job I ever had and the only job, selling and trading junk bonds leveraged by our corporate takeovers, hostile takeovers.
[00:13:49] I mean, this was the essence of the 80s.
[00:13:53] Mike: [00:13:53] Yeah, it was. I remember that.
[00:13:54] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:13:54] It was the 80s, basically, I’m sure you lived it. So I was at the heart of it for 6 years and that’s where I don’t finish. I really consider in the last century, the two biggest financiers of the last century, we were at JP Morgan at the turn of the century and Mike Milken at the end of the century, I was lucky enough to work for one of them. For six years, which really, I really learned finance there, from the best.
[00:14:26] Mike: [00:14:26] I bet it was
[00:14:26] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:14:26] really eye opening. It was really eye opening, like, I was so lucky. I was so lucky because you know, on that desk, I was the only immigrant, number one, very lucky. But I got to know how they think this is why they took me. You know, I pretty much adapted and I got, you know, I became very successful.
[00:14:52] And after the demise of Drexel Burnham, I decided never to work anymore for any company ever because if the U.S. government could put the most capitalistic company in the world, Drexel Burnham, out of business, they could put anyone out of business and I want to control my fate.
[00:15:15] I don’t want to work for anyone. This is why I started my first investment bank, sold it in ’97. I started an internet incubator in ’97, cashed out in 2000, and started Blackhawk. So, I became a serial entrepreneur, financing companies. At the end of the day, the cement of everything is finance—is money, especially today. Everybody needs money.
[00:15:41] So when people tell you, “How is your business?” My business is booming because everybody needs money. So, I pick and choose. So at the end of the day, and you know, I back the smartest people who have a track record and who have skin in the game. I have zero respect for people who have no skin in the game.
[00:16:05] I never listen to economists, professionals, lawyers; they pontificate. They have zero skills in the game. Again, no respect. They can pontificate as much as they can. They take no risks. They have no skin in the game. I don’t listen to these people. I listened to people with skin in the game with a track record, and these are the people I back. So, over my career, I backed over 125 companies, and invested and raised over $20 billion in these companies—from startups to early stage companies to really big leveraged buyouts in the billions. So I got to see the whole spectrum, and I also got to understand better human nature.
[00:17:01] At the end of the day, when people ask me, “What companies do you invest into? What companies do back, as well?” I don’t invest in things, in companies. I invest in people. When I vet people, my friends, my partners tell me, “it’s like you’re on steroids. You’re so good at that.” Seriously—
[00:17:26] Mike: [00:17:26] No, that’s cool. I like that. I like the way you describe it.
[00:17:29] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:17:29] I can vet somebody within five minutes and tell you who he is. I’ll give you an example. So, when I hire people at Blackhawk. What kind of people do I have? You know, because it’s the hiring and the same thing with clients when I look at them. So, you know, everybody looks good on paper.
[00:17:53] Yeah. I went to Harvard Business School. I worked here, I worked there—doesn’t mean squat. I ask them one question before they meet my other partners, et cetera. And, by the way they answer the question. I decide if I wanna move forward with that individual or not. What is the question?
[00:18:16] Mike: [00:18:16] Well before you, before you say what that question is, we’re gonna take a quick break. I’m going to have a message from our sponsor. We’ll come right back, leave them hanging. Let’s keep them engaged. I wonder what that question is because I was with an angel investment group, and I had to do those kinds of interviews too, so I would find this extremely valuable. We’ll be right back. Quick message. And we’ll, we’ll continue this.
[00:18:38] All right. And we’re back. We’re here at Java Chat, @CoffeeWithMike, here with Ziad Abdelnour, CEO and founder of Blackhawk Partners. He’s been talking to us about his experiences and was relating how he is able to vet somebody very quickly using one question, and then I asked him to hold off so you guys wouldn’t leave. You guys don’t take off before this question. I’m betting it is extremely insightful. So if you would, what is that question?
[00:19:05] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:19:05] That question sounds stupid for a lot of people, but it’s intended to be like that. My question is: what pisses you off?
[00:19:16] Either those people answer that question of what pisses them off, or They are automatically out because they want to conform. They want to please the boss, they want to be politically correct, and answer the question. All those people who tell me, “what is this question?” or better “what the hell is this question?”
[00:19:45] Those are the people I listen to. These are the rebels, these, are the Maverick. These are the people who challenge their boss. These are the people, when you show them something stupid, they react; they don’t conform. These are the people who do not conform. These are the people I want. I want the killers, the Mavericks, the sharks, the rebels, the nonconformance.
[00:20:19] This is it. When you are a Blackhawk, you’re a killer. I can have a junior guy deal with a CEO. I don’t have to be there. I mean, he’s going to stand up to him and not take his shit and be impressed by his title or his name.
[00:20:36] Mike: [00:20:36] I think a lot of people miss that too, Ziad. When you get into that level of business, you can’t— it’s not just like walking. It’s not like this. We’re sitting down having just a conversation over coffee. It’s not like this. Yeah. It’s like, you’re going into an absolute battle with me.
[00:20:54] Ziad Abdelnour: [00:20:54] Like I said business is war, Mike. You remember, Mike? So, I mean, you know, this is the quality of people. I’m the same thing with the entrepreneurs. I I want killers.
[00:21:05] I don’t want people where if there is a problem, they come back to me crying. I want killers to take over—whether they’re people are back, whether they’re people I hire, whether they’re people I deal with. Look at the end of the day, there are three things that matter. And I learned this from my dad a long time ago. Before I came to the States, my dad was a very successful entrepreneur, and my uncle built an amazing legacy.
[00:21:38] So he told me I’m going to give you one piece of advice. He told me there are three things that really matter when you deal with people.
[00:21:55] All the rest is bullshit. Where they went to college doesn’t matter. Education they have doesn’t matter. Color, gender, sexual orientation doesn’t matter. These are all masks. You want to go to their core. What are the three things that matter?
[00:22:23] I’ll tell you what they are and they’re all equally important. The number one: guts, balls. You don’t want to deal with people who don’t have guts and who don’t have big balls. They’re going to put you down in tough times. I don’t want people who tell me, “Oh, it’s okay, Ziad. You have to understand that it’s your faith, it’s your destiny.”
[00:22:48] This is bullshit. I don’t want to hear this shit. I don’t want it to be okay. I want to people tell me, “wake the fuck up. Go and do it.” Two: brains. If you have the balls and no brains, you are a loose cannon.
[00:23:15] Mike: How many people have you and I met that are like that, though?
[00:23:20] Ziad Abdelnour: Exactly. If you have the brains and no balls, you’re a bureaucrat who’s having a nice cushy job pushing numbers. He’s going nowhere in life, right?
[00:23:42] No balls, no nothing. So, these are all tools that you have to have them both and three, which is as important for me, which a lot of people, unfortunately, too, have lost their heart compassion. We’re not robots. We are human beings. You know, people with compassion, bones, brains on heart go are unstoppable.
[00:24:12] They’re all lethal. These are the people who succeed the most because people trust what they say because people believe that they care. It’s not just a transaction. This is why I get those things done away from the big void—because it’s a personal relationship, because I push them to do things. The big boys will not push them to everything.
[00:24:40] They want to control them. They want puppets. I don’t want puppets. I want killers. Success is about empowering people. It is not about controlling people or flipping their wings, which a lot of people do on wall street?
[00:25:04] Mike: Yeah, very much. It happens at the angel level, too. We used to see the same thing. A lot of times, if we saw holes in potential projects that were just going through a proof of concept, we tell them you need to have certain things and we have the people we’re going to put in place. And I didn’t always understand that.
[00:25:20] I mean, my thoughts were okay. We can put people in place, but now we’re controlling. The concept. It’s not really our dream. It’s someone else’s, are we supposed to be doing this? And I never got over that.
[00:25:31] Ziad Abdelnour: No, you have to find the right people.
[00:25:38] Mike: Yeah. And that was, that was, that was my thought too. There were a lot of concepts that I ended up telling the group to pass on because of expediency and they’re lazy.
[00:25:45] So after all of that, you ended up creating Blackhawk Partners. And that was just— was that born out of necessity or was that born out of heart and passion or what was that born out of?
[00:26:03] Ziad Abdelnour: I always was ahead of the game. I’ll give you an example. In 1984, I went with Drexel selling and trading junk bonds when nobody was doing it right. People started doing it right by the year 1990, and they changed the name from junk bonds to high yield bonds. This is when Drexel was out of business. When I got out, I got big offers to go on the run at bond departments at Merrill Lynch and others. I said no. So, I went to basically deleverage the balance sheet of companies.
[00:26:49] I got in at the right time, and I got out at the right time. In 1997, I went into that incubator, did the reverse module, the public shell, took the stock to the stratosphere, and got out in time when everybody got in, in 2000. I made a lot of money because I came in at the right time and I got out at the right time.
[00:27:24] In 2007, I realized that I wanted to be in the old business, huge business. Most of the people in the old business, they have one of the three things. They either know the old business. They either know finance or they either speak Arabic. I had all three. I’m fluent in Arabic. I know the old, I want them to learn the old business inside out.
[00:27:47] And I’m an expert on Wall Street, and I did that. Physical commodity trading business is the most profitable business in the world. Just to give you to what extent physical commodities trading, half of us do around $1.5 trillion in revenue—top ten only.
[00:28:09] These guys around the world, they feed the world. They move commodities. They move everything. I wanted to be that business, which is how Blackhawk started. Then, I moved to the private equity business. Then I moved to the funding business. So, this is what we do right now—all three.
[00:28:38] And, you know, it evolves. First, I decided to be in business. Then, I find the right people in that business and go do it.
[00:28:46] Mike: That goes back to intel again, just making sure you got the right people that have the experience that can give you the right information. I think a lot of people still miss that and I’ll, I’ll put back on it again because in business, intel has always been very important even in marketing, you know, no matter what you do, if you don’t know your market, you’re going to throw out the wrong message. My partners and I, we chuckle every once in a while, because we watched the gurus put out all their stuff and it’s kind of a one size fits all for a lot of them.
[00:29:21] A few of them got the right idea. They make a lot of money, you know, they fell information and some coaching. The only thing I ever see coming out of that is just dollar signs. I don’t ever see anything more than they’re just making money. What difference are they making? It sounds like at the level that you’re at, you’re making a difference. You’re not just creating income. Yeah, you’re doing a lot more looking.
[00:29:42] Ziad Abdelnour: I don’t think about making money. I never thought about making money, always thinking, thinking about doing stuff, writing stuff, that’s very controversial. And that nobody’s taught me about because it’s not politically correct.
[00:30:03] I don’t want to. You know, rock the boat. I want to break the fucking boat and build a new one. That’s my philosophy in everything I do. When I go into a room, I don’t want to just be nice, so people say, “Oh, Ziad is a nice guy.” I want to rock the room and shock them all.
[00:30:27] I like to shock people in a good way. I’m not here to make them feel good. I’m here to make them think differently, have a different perspective to empower them, not to control them, dominate them or to empower them. Have you thought about it this way? Have you thought about why you don’t do it that way?
[00:31:01] Because at the end of the day, this is why we own this planet. What mark did you leave? What did you do? Make money? There are people who sell falafel on the street, they make money, you know, and they make good money. It’s not about making money. I’ve learned about money.
[00:31:23] I mean, make no mistake about it. Money for me, it’s not about acquiring things or flaunting it. Oh, I have a Lamborghini. I have a G6. No, no, no, no, no. Money is about freedom. It is to have enough money to tell anyone who’s challenging you or who’s controlling you, “Fuck you. I don’t need you, your boss, your Senator, your accomplishment, your whatever you’re in control of your life.” It’s your destiny. That’s the difference between the rich and wealthy. The wealthy you go and tell your wife or your girlfriend, let’s go and plan for an amazing trip in Bali. That’s what the wealthy are.
[00:32:25] Let’s go abroad in two weeks, three weeks, whatever. The wealthy is, “Let’s drop everything. Let’s leave in an hour to Bali.” That’s freedom. That’s freedom to say whatever you want, whatever you want to whoever you want and to influence people in the right way, to shape their minds, to change the way they think.
[00:32:50] So empower them to become true, freedom loving patriots with capitalism. That’s what it is. It’s all about freedom. I came to this country for freedom. People fight freedom every day. All these countries want to come in for freedom. Freedom is invaluable. Money is a tool to have enough money to say, “fuck you.”
[00:33:19] I’ll do whatever I want. If you don’t like it, sue me. I have more money than God; I can bury you with it. Try me t;ry to Sue me. So, this is it. I follow Ayn Rand, individualism. There’s nothing wrong in it. Capitalism is good. It’s not greed. Capitalism is good for lots of charities, lots of jobs, lots of everything.
[00:33:51] Mike: I think a lot of people have a misunderstanding.
[00:33:52] Ziad Abdelnour: You don’t pull down the capitalist to your stupid pathetic standard because you’re jealous of them. Try to emulate them. Why not reach their level instead of saying, “Oh, it’s not fair.” Well, life is not fair, moron. Get used to it. And this equality shit—we’re not born equal.
[00:34:17] We don’t live equal. We don’t die equal. There are always some people smarter than others, more gifted than others, more handsome than others. More sophisticated others. We can’t all be equal so we can’t all live in Beverly Hills or 5th Avenue.
[00:34:39] There’s a limited number. We can’t all live this way. I’m not jealous of Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, on the contrary. Why be jealous? Why do I need to screw them? Just to feel better? Because it’s fair? No, start working smart, gather the intel around these other people and become one.
[00:35:05] Maybe not that level, but a respectable one. Well, you can respect your share and your family will be proud of you. All this entitlement bullshit, I’m sick and I’m tired of it. Let me tell you another thing. When I back people in ventures, if I had to back somebody who went to an Ivy League college and worked like 15 years in corporate America, we think he’s God’s gift to earth, and we’ll think he’s entitled to a salary of half a million bottles.
[00:35:36] Show me his face versus somebody who went bankrupt. Three times. I would always back the one who went bankrupt three times and crush the other one. Why? Because the one who went bankrupt three times has learned his lesson on being humble. You only learn from your failures.
[00:35:59] You don’t learn from your successes. He has been humbled. He’s hungry. He’s in his 50s or 60s. This is the last round for him. He either makes it or doesn’t finish. So, he has a burning desire to succeed. And by the way, all these entrepreneurs in their 20s, they know shit. I would rather back somebody in his 50s or 60s who has gone through life, who has taken all this shit rather than a young, obnoxious Stanford graduate who thinks he knows it all because his family always fed him that he was so special that he was so different. Then, he started believing that he actually is special or so different.
[00:36:43] Whereby there is nothing special in this world. These millennial morons who think they know it all, and they’re so smart and better than the previous generation, et cetera. They are absolute idiots for the vast majority. I know them and I met a lot of them, et cetera. I hope they wake up one day before it’s too late, and they’ve been by the social liberal stupid agenda.
[00:37:11] It’s like the government is gonna help them. Hello? Nobody’s going to help you. Nobody gives a damn a rat’s ass about if you live or die. If you want the honest truth, everybody is for himself. So, you better take care of yourself because you’re always going to take care of you. I want you to take care of yourself, then you can have any ideology you want.
[00:37:38] You have to bootstrap yourself. Nobody’s going to give you shit. Nobody’s going to give you money. Nobody’s going to give you power. You go and grab it by force, by sheer force, diplomacy, seduction, brute force, whatever it takes, as long as you do it legally. Everybody has a different style.
[00:38:02] You know what my style is? I’m a warrior. For example, I’ll tell you all my last birthday, so I had around like 50 friends gathered. One of them told me, you know what, let’s play a game here. Let’s give one word, a connotation of Ziad in one word. Ziad is this or that.
[00:38:34] I mean, it’s a fun game. One of them said if I lived in the Roman age, Roman empire, Ziad would be a gladiator. Not an emperor, not a Prince. He’s not diplomatic enough for that. He chops your head. He’s a gladiator; he’s a warrior. And you know, that’s what the majority of my friends said.
[00:39:03] I must be that even though I deny it. Ask your friends, “define Mike in one word.” What would the one word be? What would they say? If you really want to know what people think of you and who you really are, ask them. You have to know that. You have to know your identity. People don’t want to face that.
[00:39:28] All they want is to talk about something stupid. Talking about what they ate yesterday or how the weather is. Who gives a shit? Like all the social media, they show you what they ate or what they’re dressed in, et cetera. For me, social media is to gather intelligence about this or that. It’s not about what you ate and what you wear. I don’t give a rat’s ass about stuff.
[00:39:49] It doesn’t impress me. Nobody impresses me. I’m going to tell you something very important. This is for future generations. Be very arrogant with the mighty and the powerful, and be very nice with everybody else.
[00:40:16] Most people are the reverse. They suck up to the mighty and the powerful because they think, “Oh, I don’t want to upset them because they won’t do business with me,” or “I don’t want to upset them because they’re too important.” This is all bullshit.
[00:40:40] That’s wrong. You know why? I know how the mighty, the powerful, the wealthy think. I’m one of them. I know how they think, and I resent them. I’m going against that. I’m going to empower people. I resent the elite, the shit, you know, I resent it.
[00:41:07] These people respect people who stand up to them, who stand up to them rather than be their doormat. You know, if you’re a doormat, you’re like another number, but when you stand up to them, you’ll really make the difference.
[00:41:29] It’s better for the world because you control them now. You write the narrative with them This is how you bridge the gap of inequality by challenging people like that
[00:41:53] These are all subtleties you have to understand. And finance, you know what it’s not about just knowing finance. It’s about knowing people. It’s psychology. I clinched some of the biggest deans because I knew how to approach those people in power. I know how to play the right hearts, the right game. They don’t teach you this stuff anywhere.
[00:42:17] They would never teach this because all these people basically want you to conform to them. You’re born, you have to conform and listen to what your parents say. You have to conform to the principal. You go to college, and you have to conform because your peers are going to think this way.
[00:42:44] If I drive the score, what are they going to think about me? I’m going to feel bad. You go get married; you have to conform to your spouse. Now you’re 50 or 60 years old. You have conformed all your life, and your life is over. Then, you’re like now I have to start doing something.
[00:43:05] No, look at the people who really rebelled Zuckerberg, Gates, Jobs. Screw Harvard, what’s Harvard? There’s this whole now vaccine, and everything has to conform with it. You have to wear your mask at all times.
[00:43:28] You have to stay at home. You have to conform. I’m not saying you shouldn’t stay safe, et cetera, obviously, but there are limits. You give them a hand. They want a norm. You give them a norm. They want a leg. You give it. The more you give, the more they’re going to take because they see what they can get away with it.
[00:43:50] And the same thing in business, the more you give, you have to give different things. You have to be very subtle with this secret. So reading books like Economic Warfare, Art of War, all these books are very important because at the end of the day, it’s all about people it’s not about, “Oh, I invested in this ambition.” Unless you’re investing in Bitcoin and on gold and the price goes up and you’re trading, well fine, but it’s all transactional.
[00:44:22] Mike: I was going to say, that’s still depends on the human condition. Doesn’t it? I mean, even the gold price. It depends on who’s buying and who’s not buying and why, and it’s still human.
[00:44:35] Ziad Abdelnour: Absolutely, you know, this factor is so important, and a lot of people don’t pay attention to that. It’s extremely important. Everything is done, shaped and conditioned by people. Everybody has an agenda, and once you understand the agenda, it all follows.
[00:45:01] Mike: I learned something too with what you were saying some time ago that the people who are in higher positions, like C level, you know, they have a tendency to carry themselves a little heavy and for years, I didn’t understand what you just explained when it comes to, they’re not really the boss. The bosses are the shareholders. And the shareholders are the ones that challenged them.
[00:45:24] And that’s why they respect the shareholders. And when somebody who’s a subordinate or whatever you want to call it comes to them. And does that, you know, it says, well, how can I do this? What can I do, blah, blah, blah, and they want to appease the C levels, end up feeling like, okay, you’re not my equal versus somebody like yourself or myself.
[00:45:39] We’ll walk in and go, dude, come on, here’s the reality, this is what’s going wrong. You know it, I know it. How are you going to fix it? You don’t know. I have a solution or have you tried this? Like a lot of my guests, I share things in the post podcasts, just to give them some stuff here, use this tool.
[00:45:58] It’s great to use. It’s free. You might as well use it while you can. I don’t care that I get watermarks on some of the stuff that I use to promote. It’s free. Who gives a shit, you know, use it for now. You know, if we ever get into an enterprise, hell, I might even end up leveraging enough to buy one, one day.
[00:46:13] That’d be cool. But it comes back to how are you serving and who are you serving? Are you trying to serve somebody that’s above you or are you challenging them to be better? There’s nothing wrong with challenging people. If you’re doing it with compassion. Empathy, like you said, and realizing that the human condition is what it is.
[00:46:36] We’re all human. The thing that I liked that you talked about: not a single person’s equal. You’re right. The reason that I have partners is because they have things that they’re completely smarter than I am on. And I wouldn’t dream of trying to try to take it on. I depend on them for the intel on how it works and why it works. It’s not that I need to know it.
[00:46:54] Ziad Abdelnour: Yeah. This is how the world works. If two people agree on everything, one of them is not needed.
[00:46:54] Mike: I’ve never thought of that. That is absolutely true.
[00:47:14] Ziad Abdelnour: Are you serious, Mike? Why, why do I need you for that? You review everything. So, this is it. They all want to agree on everything, to be equal and they fight and kill because of that. It’s ridiculous. It’s not going to change from now to 3000 years. There’s always going to be rebels. You cannot control everybody.
[00:47:39] There are always some killer rebels out there who will disrupt everything. Thank God. I mean, the biggest rebel of all was Jesus Christ. The biggest rebel of all challenged the Roman Empire, challenge the Jewish establishment 2000 years ago. And he did it without throwing a single punch, without an army.
[00:48:08] Mike: Yup. Without anything just, it’s just his words in his mind.
[00:48:08] Ziad Abdelnour: Exactly. So, I mean, that’s power. It’s not about killing and blowing and controlling. Sometimes it can be very sublt. You know, iron fist in a velvet glove and you can do a lot. I mean, all this stuff, these kids have to learn these.
[00:48:35] Mike: For the most part, a lot of them will not get it until they’ve lived a little bit. And you and I both had that same experience when we were in our 20s, we didn’t know Jack. I mean, you know, and at our age we’re watching them and we’re like, Oh my gosh, I wish I could just dump into you everything that I know, so you don’t do the same things I did when I was young. And, it’s hard to watch. So guys like us, we sit here. Not only do we shake our heads, but we’re just like, Oh my gosh, please just listen, just please listen.
[00:49:12] Here’s what we’re trying to stop you from. Here’s what we’re trying to help you to do. The road signs are there and you’re not looking at them. You know, it’s like, there’s blatant banners hanging out over their heads and they’re like willfully doing this in some cases. That’s not all of them.
[00:49:27] I actually know a couple of millennials that are hard workers. They don’t think TGIF. They’ll bust their butts, you know, day in, day out. In fact, one of my friend just recently went out on a rant on social media, literally ranting about his generation. He says, I have tried to share business with so many of you and you guys are lazy.
[00:49:53] You guys all think this stuff comes overnight. Y’all think that this happens in a week in a month. Yeah. Yeah. He used that. He used that term. Yeah, because everybody’s after instant gratification, he goes, I’m sorry that we got saddled with this, but dammit, you guys are living it. And I hate to say it. I did too. When I was young, I was like, I was a musician.
[00:50:10] You know, I was like, if I can’t go play music, I was bummed. You know, when I finally started learning business, it was like, Holy shit, this takes some real work. Yeah, it takes some real commitment. So it’s yeah. So the amount of wisdom you’ve dumped on this morning] I can’t imagine that anybody wouldn’t just be sitting there like you like it in shock, but hopefully challenged to think a little differently.
[00:50:30] I want to talk about your book because we’re getting close to the end of time here. So, the first one that you wrote and you released was called Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation, correct? Talk to us about that book. What does that book entail?
[00:50:47] Ziad Abdelnour: That book basically tells you how to make money in good times or in bad times. This was during the Obama administration, in the age of welfare politics.
[00:51:11] So how do you make money in good times or bad times? How to position yourself? It was a very broad picture of micro economics, geopolitics, everything. There’s another book I just finished called Startup Saboteurs: How ego, incompetence and small thinking prevents wealth creation.
[00:51:42] Here, we go into the minor details unlike the other book Economic Warfare. This is about how you build the company, how you scale it, how do you negotiate a deal? How you exit the deal, how you really truly make it well, how do you pitch your deal with venture capitalists with money people?
[00:52:07] How you are, how you, when you don’t, it’s very detailed from 30 years experience in the business. I talk about specific companies I invested in, in some instances how I made a killing in other instances. Why did I make a killing? Why did I lose my shirt? What paths did I take? What did I learn from that?
[00:52:29] So it’s very detailed. It’s not about coaching and no, no, no. I’m a 30 year Wall Street deal maker in the trenches for my experiences. It’s entertaining. I don’t talk about numbers and charges. It’s very empowering. I mean, you know, there’s a friend of mine; I’ll tell you the story. When I finished the book, I asked for some reviews, so I got really great reviews, but then especially a guy, you know, he’s a big, big guy on Wall Street. I’ve known him for 20 years. I told him, you know, I would appreciate your review.
[00:53:12] He told me, okay, let me see. But then I realized, you know, he’s a wussy. Here’s what happened. So I gave him the book on Sunday. He came back to me on a Wednesday. I told him, John, what do you think? He told me, “What have you done already? I read it twice already. I couldn’t stop this.”
[00:53:31] So I told him, so what do you think? Do you like it? He told me truly, he told me this is a nucleus, but I cannot try to review. I said, why? He said, if I write to review, nobody will ever hire me because what you say there is pretty dangerous. He told me it’s like, it’s like, you’re breaking the code of silence of the mafia.
[00:53:56] You know what? They don’t like that. You’re basically telling people how to read VCs, how Silicon Valley works, how all this kind of stuff works. And another guy told me it’s like 200 episodes of Shark Tank in your book. I swear to God, this is what they told me. So, you know, it’s pretty earth shattering.
[00:54:29] Mike: That’s gotta be one of the highest compliments that you’ve ever gotten because when somebody can say something like that—You’ve played there. I’ve played there. Yeah. There is a lot of stuff that I still don’t talk about to this day, but it’s only because I’m no longer involved, and I don’t care. I care more about marketing these days, but it’s true.
[00:54:56] There is a code of silence out there. I know in the world of finance, it’s, it’s been described as probably one of the not so greatest.
[00:55:20] Ziad Abdelnour: Absolutely. This cannot go unnoticed. I need people to know people. This is, this is about the heart part, the compassion part and the fuck your money part. You know what? I’m going to write it whether you like it or not, I’m going to write them. You know, this is only data. This has to be translated to future generations for a better world. If you get offended, I don’t care. I really don’t if Mr. VC private equity guy gets offended. I mean, I am pretty much dismantling Silicon Valley.
[00:55:48] Mike: So it’s a long term thing with me that Silicon Valley has had unprecedented control over VC funding. Honestly, when I’ve talked to some of them, they don’t, they don’t deserve it. I’m sorry
[00:56:09] Ziad Abdelnour: Mike, you hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I talk about the unicorn mentality. I talk about very controversial subjects that people, if they whine about this, they’re fired. It’s sacred.
[00:56:09] Mike: Even as a partner, they get, they get thrashed and kicked out. I’ve, I know what would happen. It’s unfortunate.
[00:56:35] Ziad Abdelnour: I name what kind of companies they back and how they will count all of them. I named them. In other words, you don’t want all this. You know what, I hate the cult of the personality, all these people who build those names, like, you know what? Nobody can touch them. No, you know what? I’m going to touch you.
[00:56:54] I’m going to break you. I will remove the mystique because you’re a human being. And I want people to understand this part of me. The 1% of those in power want to empower people to become, to lift them up, not control them, clip their wings and all that crap in the name of democracy.
[00:57:23] At least stop fooling us whether in politics or in business or anywhere. And I call the Silicon Valley thing. There was a financial Schwab out there, the same thing, Washington political swamp. There is a financial swarm example, 30 million private businesses in the United States. In fact, the numbers, they told him the book.
[00:57:47] It’s only a fraction, 2%, 1% that gets funded by VC or private equity. What does this mean? This means that none of the parties are doing their job near entrepreneurship, picturing money. No, the VC’s in providing the capital. This is unsustainable change. We have to bridge that gap. We have changed.
[00:58:08] This is what this book talks about. How do you bridge that gap? How do you access the money? The key is to have egotistical people part with their money. If you have them part with their money, you have one. So how do you do it? That’s exactly it. I would explain in the book, you know, all these entrepreneurs, et cetera, they get no one because you don’t know how to talk to you.
[00:58:56] You know, I tell you what the secret is. This is what I reveal in the book, how you pitch it, the, the intonation, the voice, the body language. The pitch, the everything. So it’s very easy to make you feel good.
[00:59:20] Mike: So, I do enjoy controversial books. I know I’m getting a copy. I may ask for an autographed copy. And, definitely guys that link will be in there. So you have one more thing that you’ve actually been promoting as of late. It’s kind of the reason that I found you and it happens to be a course that you just recently designed. Talk a little bit about that real quick, and then we’ll wrap this up.
[00:59:33] Ziad Abdelnour: Yep. Thank you. I called it the Z Shark course. It’s a four-hour video. It’s like I’m sitting in front of you like this and telling you exactly, stuff that I don’t talk about in the book, because there are some things you cannot see in a book. It’s better to see them grow, but you know, it has six modules.
[01:00:00] So you can go and watch it all at once. Or you can check one module, which is a different topic. Each one has different topics. It’s really very, very, empowering. I’ll give you an example. A friend of mine, who has an organization that’s a nonprofit, he has a lot of kids out there and he wanted them to, he wanted to empower them.
[01:00:27] I told him to invite them to a theater, give them lollipops and popcorn and have them watch that course, which looks like a movie. I don’t talk about PowerPoint presentations. This is like a frank talk, like I’m sitting there in my suit and talking to you.
[01:00:53] You want to make money? You want to be a big shot? This is what it takes. Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about six different modules. He called me the next day, told me this is unbelievable. This is unbelievable. What you were saying there, and the impact you have, and you cannot imagine. So the guys who buy the course get a free copy of the book.
[01:01:16] Plus get access to a private social group. I created it on Facebook. Facebook has 2 billion views only for the post subscribers. So far, there were 50 people in that group starting like a couple of weeks ago, ranging in age from 26 to 67, the same mindset, the same culture. They want to make money. You build a fraternity.
[01:01:40] This is your tribe. This is your brain trust. This is your sounding board. This is your family. My goal is to take this group from the 50 we have now to 100, and I will by July 4, 2021. I made the big bet with one of my friends from that 1000. So, my real goal, all of them, of course would have, would be a disciples in that course and students.
[01:02:13] I want every one of those 1000 to be a millionaire. I want to create 1000 millionaires in that private group, through the different tools, courses, books, et cetera, that I am promoting. This is my goal. This is for me, success. I will have made it in America once I have created 1000 millionaires in one group, there’s nobody anywhere on social media who has a group of 1000 millionaires.
[01:02:51] It doesn’t exist. This is my goal. Once you’ve created this and I called it the Z Shark Academy. This is my goal. I’m still young. We have time, you know, this is my goal. This is really what drives me honestly. Having made it, now it’s time to give back to others, to give them the tools to empower them, to create this new generation of people who think like this and you know what they’re going to benefit them from being together in that course.
[01:03:40] You know, whether it’s sales, whether advice, whether mentoring, whether relationships, you know, you remember your network is your net worth, all that kind of stuff. Because as an entrepreneur, you know that, and I know that you cannot succeed on your own. I did not make it on my own. I made it because there were a bunch of great people around me who helped me make this. It’s a two-way street. So, this is the goal here to create this culture. So, it’s the Z Shark Academy, online, powerful, inspiring, and this is what the master post is all about, which leads to that and the book.
[01:04:22] Mike: Wonderful. So they, how do they find that? Is there a, well, we’ll have the link, but I mean like where do people find you, blackhawkpartners.com?
[01:04:30] Ziad Abdelnour: I think I sent you it yesterday, the links
[01:04:43] Yes, you actually, you did. So I’ll, I’ll go ahead and use those. We’ll definitely do that. We’ll put that in the comments. I don’t think we’re done talking. I think we have a lot more to talk about, to share with the world and to share with people, to help them to understand how this human condition is supposed to be working rather than how it’s being forced to work right now.
[01:04:58] Ziad Abdelnour: You know, what makes me happy when I came to this country 30 years ago, people couldn’t even pronounce my name. Now they read my book. That’s awesome. That is the best revenge. The best revenge is obscene wealth and a lot of information and to basically step up to the plate. Nobody told me to do that because this is what I wanted to do. This is what, so I know this from the beginning. So whatever you can conceive, you can do. Stop putting blocks. Stop putting obstacles in your mind.
[01:06:09] Awesome. So my friend, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much. We’ll get all that information guys in the links below. Guys, you know how we like to end this. Stay up, stay safe, stay healthy and live from both of us to all of you. Ciao for now.
[01:07:40] Outro: Information on Java chat visit www.java chat, podcast.com. You’ve been listening to @CoffeeWithMike on Java Chat. Tune in weekly to this podcast. For the next episode, you can also download or subscribe today on your favorite podcast platform. A production of Oasis media group, LLC. Located in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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