Darius Mirshahzadeh: The Core Value Equation | E177

Darius Mirshahzadeh: The Core Value Equation | E177

Darius Mirshahzadeh: The Core Value Equation | E177

How do you make the best decisions, maintain company culture as your business grows, and attract and retain incredible talent? Serial entrepreneur and best-selling author, Darius Mirshahzadeh believes the answer lies in core values. By properly leveraging and implementing core values at your company, your teams will be speaking the same language, making good decisions, building an awesome culture, and scaling to incredible success. In this episode, Hala and Darius talk about Darius’s unique come-up story, how to build a core value-driven organization, Darius’s six core values, good core values vs bad core values, and the Scale M.A.P. Method.

Topics Include:

– Darius’s come-up story 

– The entrepreneurial lessons he learned from his father 

– How his dad’s passing shaped his purpose 

– Experience working at the White House 

– What triggered him to want to work for himself 

– Launching Twin Capital Brokerage

– Overcoming failure and pivoting

– Building and growing business through partnerships 

– Why he decided to step down as CEO of Money Source

– On starting his brand, writing his book, and hosting a podcast 

– Core values and what they mean 

– How to build a core value-driven organization

– Darius’s six core values 

– Why use viral, sticky language?

– A core value-driven organization vs one that has no core values 

– Good vs bad core values 

– Advice to begin to develop core values

– The Scale M.A.P. Method

– The Scale M.A.P Bootcamp 

– Darius’s actionable advice 

– Darius’s secret to profiting in life 

– And other topics…

Darius Mirshahzadeh is a high-growth CEO, serial entrepreneur, and culture-building mad scientist who was ranked #9 on Glassdoor’s list of Top CEOs of Small and Medium Companies in the US. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Core Value Equation, and the host of The Greatness Machine Podcast. 

Darius has led organizations that have won numerous Stevie awards, been named “#3 Best Place to Work” by San Francisco Business Times, and have landed at #40 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies. 

Sponsored By:

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Zapier – Try Zapier for free today at zapier.com/YAP

First Person – Go to getfirstperson.com and use code YAP to get 15% off your first order

Resources Mentioned:

Darius’s Book: https://www.amazon.com/Darius-Mirshahzadeh/e/B08BX5N3TD/ 

Darius’s Podcast, The Greatness Machine:


Darius’s Website: https://therealdarius.com/

Darius’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dariusmirshahzadeh/

Darius’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/kingdarius

Darius’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whoompdarius/

Connect with Young and Profiting:

Hala’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/htaha/    

Hala’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yapwithhala/    

Hala’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/yapwithhala 

Clubhouse: https://www.clubhouse.com/@halataha  

Website: https://www.youngandprofiting.com/ 

Text Hala: https://youngandprofiting.co/TextHala or text “YAP” to 28046

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#177: The Core Value Equation with Darius Mirshahzadeh

[00:00:00] Hala Taha: YAP fam registration for my February LinkedIn Secrets Masterclass is now live. Don't miss a chance to catch our live in-person masterclass taught by me February 22nd to the 23rd. Get thousands of new followers on LinkedIn a month 10 to a hundred X your engagement and convert your following into paying customers.

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[00:01:28] The session is filling up and I'm capping it at 100 seats. I'll see you in class. 

[00:01:36] You are listening to YAP, Young and Profiting Podcast, a place where you can listen, learn and profit. Welcome to the show. I'm your host, Hala Taha, and on Young and Profiting podcast. We investigate a new topic each week, an interview some of the brightest minds in the world.

[00:01:55] My goal is to turn their wisdom into actionable advice that you can use in [00:02:00] your everyday life, no matter your. Profession or industry. There's no fluff on this podcast, and that's on purpose. I'm here to uncover value from my guests by doing the proper research and asking the right questions. If you're new to the show, we've chatted with the likes of ex-FBI agents, real estate moguls, self-made billionaires, CEOs, and bestselling authors.

[00:02:23] Our subject matter ranges from enhancing productivity, how to gain influence, the art of entrepreneurship and more. If you're smart and like to continually improve yourself. Hit the subscribe button because you'll love it here at Young and Profiting podcast. This week on YAP, we're chatting with Darius Mirshahzadeh.

[00:02:43] Darius is the bestselling author of The Core Value Equation and the host of The Greatness Machine Podcast podcast. He's also a high growth CEO and serial entrepreneur, who is ranked number nine on Glassdoor’s list of top CEOs of small and medium companies in the US. [00:03:00] Darius has successfully grown companies from zero to 1000 employees and nine figures in annual revenue. 

[00:03:06] He's led organizations that have landed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies and that have won numerous Stevie Awards. Darius has been recognized by the New York Times and Inc. Magazine and his business insights have been published in the Huffington Post, entrepreneur.com Fast Company and Forbes to name a few.

[00:03:25] In this episode, Darius and I YAP about his fun and chock full of lessons come up, story and the troubles. He got himself into interning at the White House and as a young entrepreneur. We hear all about his core value equation framework, including what a good versus bad core value is and how to make value sticky or viral within our own companies.

[00:03:46] We then dive deep into Darius's scale map methodology, and we learn his tips for efficiency and productivity, like the rule of one org chart. If you're an entrepreneur, employee, or just someone looking to level up in life, Darius drops [00:04:00] some serious business advice in this episode that you've got to hear.

[00:04:03] So turn up that volume and let's get started. 

[00:04:08] Hey Darius, welcome to Young and Profiting Podcast. 

[00:04:11] Darius Mirshahzadeh: Hi Hala. 

[00:04:11] Hala Taha: Super hyped to be here. You're my good friend. Always happy to have my friends on this show. You are a serious serial entrepreneur. You have so much to say about the peaks and pitfalls of entrepreneurship. And I can't wait to get your core value insights and more information about your scale map methodology.

[00:04:29] So from my research, I found out that you've had an entrepreneurial spirit from the very beginning. Your dad was an immigrant from Iran, literally the epitome of the American dream. He was an entrepreneur, he had many gas stations, real estate businesses. Did you always know you were gonna follow in his footsteps and become an entrepreneur?

[00:04:47] Darius Mirshahzadeh: Like half of me wanted to do that and the other half of me wanted to become an actor and a comedian on Saturday Night Live. If you had asked me when I was 18, I was like, actually I wanted to be Howard Stern. So Which is not ironic that now I love [00:05:00] podcasting, but no, I was like, business and enter and like enjoying experiences with people were like my two things.

[00:05:07] So yeah, no, I always felt like an affinity towards, I love making money and I love selling. I was always like the kid that would win the candy selling competitions. I mean crush those competitions. So for me, like starting a business, there was not like this far out idea that was a natural next step for sure.

[00:05:26] Hala Taha: And I think that's a lot different from a lot of the immigrants that grew up in America. A lot of their parents, had regular jobs or were doctors or engineers or, and were told to follow in that traditional path. And so your father, he taught you that you don't make the money selling the gas. You make the money selling the gas station.

[00:05:45] So talk to us about some of the entrepreneurial lessons that your father taught you. 

[00:05:49] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So my dad was old school, born in 1939 in Iran. His father was a business person, was a really successful business person. He was like A.D business [00:06:00] guy. Some of it was a victim of circumstances. There was a revolution in Iran.

[00:06:03] He moved here. He had to support his family. Didn't have a great speaking of the language, although he did get his MBA in the United States. He came here late in life. So for him, like that's how he had to support his family. And again, he grew up around entrepreneurs. So for him to start gas stations and do real estate and stuff like that was not unusual.

[00:06:21] My mom was a social worker. Which is the other end of the spectrum who worked for like the county. Smart lady, social worker father that's getting up and building his own businesses every day. When you see that, you're like, that's an option. Going to college. Both my parents had their master's degree, so going to college was not, that was definitely an expectation as well.

[00:06:40] But I remember my dad would always say I'm building these for you guys. And now I had to go to work in the gas station at a young age too. He was like, Hey, you're 10, great, you're going to work. So my summer vacations and I grew up in upper middle class Southern California, so all my friends were like going to summer camp and having [00:07:00] fun and going to the water parks and the Magic Mountain and Six Flags and stuff like that.

[00:07:04] And I'm like legitimately putting on a Texaco t-shirt, getting up and going to work at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, cuz my dad's gas stations were outside of LA. And in a hundred degree heat cleaning gas station bathrooms. When I was 10, so it wasn't a very glamorous entrance in the world of business.

[00:07:21] It was like, this is what running your own business is. But it did teach us work ethic and I think that's such a big part of being an entrepreneur is not being afraid to go work your ass off. And we d we weren't and we didn't. 

[00:07:34] Hala Taha: So your dad clearly was a workaholic and you say that it led to his early death, right?

[00:07:41] So when you were 22, he ended up passing away, he had cancer. And that must have been super difficult for you at such a young age, but it also guided and shaped the way that you thought about the rest of your life and your purpose. Can you talk to us about that? 

[00:07:55] Darius Mirshahzadeh: My dad was like, like my there was a huge cultural difference between [00:08:00] me and I have a twin brother, so it was me and my twin brother and my dad, and I have a younger sister as well.

[00:08:04] But in Persian culture, like it's very patriarchal. And although my mom was American, like my dad was straight up Persian. He was like, the boys come with me, I toughen him up. The mom raises the daughter. That's just how it is. And that's how it was in our family. And so I was either working at the gas station or I was working around the house and so it wasn't like this, like me and my dad throwing baseball in the backyard.

[00:08:25] I don't think I threw one ball with my dad. It was always business, but he did not take care of himself. And when I was 18, he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and by the time I was 20-21, his MS had gotten really bad. It turned into dementia. He loved cigarettes. My dad was like an avid smoker.

[00:08:45] He ended up getting diagnosed with lung cancer in my senior year of college. And so I saw this person who was a workaholic. Who was all about business, who basically, by the time I was old enough to maybe have a relationship. Cuz in, again, in that old school culture, [00:09:00] you start to have a relationship with your dad, like when you're a man.

[00:09:02] He was downward trending really quickly then. And it was my 22nd birthday. My dad got diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and we didn't even tell him he had it because he had such bad dementia at that point, and he passed away in August of that same year. So it was hard, and there was mixed emotions.

[00:09:20] It was, I had a pretty complicated relationship with my dad because of what, how I was describing our background together. And some people were saying my dad was my best friend. And I was like, not me. And my dad. I respected him, but he was a hard guy and he was hardcore. And so to lose your dad at that young of an age is hard for anybody.

[00:09:38] But it just gave me an insight into life's short. And I had lost my grandmother when I was 14. She was 62, my dad was 60 when he passed away. My mom was 48 when my dad passed away. She got diagnosed with cancer right after that. By the time I was 22, I had lost my grandmother, my dad and my mom like was a survivor of cancer.

[00:09:57] And so I had set a really different perspective, which was, [00:10:00] I don't wanna live a life that's. I just go work my ass off. And then, 20 years, 30, 40 years from now, I'm done. And it was, how can I live a much more engaged life? And I didn't really understand that then. It wasn't until much later that I realized, that's why I got into some of the things that we're gonna talk about around values and purpose and how do you be live an engaged life.

[00:10:20] But for me, that was a lesson taught at a young age. Which is life's short and you need to go and make it happen and really make the most of your time because you're gonna blink and it's gonna be over with. 

[00:10:30] Hala Taha: And we'll definitely get more into your purpose, and all of your core values and things later on to learn more about your philosophy on life basically.

[00:10:38] Your later years in college, you ended up working at the White House. You worked as an intern for the Bill Clinton administration, and so you've got some amazing stories. With this internship, it was right up your alley considering you were involved in student government. It should have been your dream job.

[00:10:54] I think I could have imagined you taken that path all the way, but it turns out it taught you that you [00:11:00] weren't cut out for typical employment, and it solidified for you that you would never again have a regular job. So I'd love to hear more about that experience. 

[00:11:07] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So when I was in college I had to work a lot.

[00:11:10] So again, my dad being a hard ass was like, I'm not paying for your college. You gotta pay for your own college. And so I was always working and I was always, again ambitious. So I always had internships and I had a really good friend from student government in high school. Her name is Preta Shaw, and she ended up her sophomore year working for the Clinton administration.

[00:11:28] And kind of like you, I'm like a networker. So I'm like, I wanna work at the White House. I literally there was a conversation she and I had, and she said all right, let's do it. And so she had a friend that came into town in LA. We were on the Sunset Strip. And what happens at the White House that I didn't know at the time is a lot of the people that end up working there. They go and intern there and then they actually take a pause from college and stay at the White House and become staff.

[00:11:52] And so this gentleman, I don't wanna name his name cuz about what I'm about to say, but he basically did that and he comes to LA, and we go to [00:12:00] this place on the Sunset Strip. Which I'm blanking on the name right now, but Dublins, which it's this famous Irish bar on the Sunset Strip. And we're in LA and it's a summer going into my senior year of college.

[00:12:09] And basically we're there drinking and all these girls come in from, where I go to school that were these like really pretty girls. And I'm like, and I wave them over and I basically hook him up with these girls. And so I said, I'm talking him up. I say, give Tim, give him your card. And so anyway, he's loves me.

[00:12:27] He's this guy's the best. And so at the end of the night I said you gotta get me a job at the White House. And so he said, listen, you get your application, send it directly to me and I'll get you in. So I had good credentials beyond that, but I worked every angle I could get. I send it directly to him.

[00:12:41] I get the acceptance letter from the White House, and I got accepted to be a intern in the office of Presidential Scheduling at the White House Summer 2000. So it was quite an honor, and it was interesting to get to be. You're in basically the business of running the world. Now, what [00:13:00] I realized really quickly was, as an intern, total hierarchy exists in this thing.

[00:13:05] If your mom is the head of the DNC for the state of Washington, you get to work in the West Wing. I had never met so many people from Arkansas in my whole life, because President Clinton's from Arkansas. So there's all these people who are friends of the family working there. I've been, it was insane.

[00:13:19] It was like everyone out of every two people. So there's all these people from Arkansas. Their parents are connected in politics, and then there's me who has none of that, and I'm not getting any special treatment, and I got some really crappy job. It's actually hilarious. Basically what people do is they send letters to the president of the United States to invite him or her to all their events.

[00:13:39] So like we get letters from like little Methodist church in Podunk, nowhere is inviting the president to come to their annual barbecue. Every single one of those requests gets a response. So the, I was in the office of presidential scheduling, so we had to respond to every single one of those letters. So we read 'em all, we gotta, and then you gotta write 'em.

[00:13:56] And this is also, this is 22 years ago, so we're in some doss based [00:14:00] system. Like filling out these like fillable forms and then triple proofreading it, cuz you can't have a typo in a letter from the White House. And then it goes up to this machine that signs with his name, with the pen essentially, and goes out.

[00:14:11] And every now and again, you'll get invites to like from like a prince in Africa. And those get escalated. So I'm in this department doing total admin work and I was like, there's gotta be a better way than this. So my like business self, like, all right, how do I get out of this work? And I figured out that the interns have a president of the interns.

[00:14:32] And so I run for president of the interns . 

[00:14:36] Hala Taha: This is so like me, like I feel like we're so similar, but go ahead. 

[00:14:40] Darius Mirshahzadeh: And so the it's me verse, and by the way, there's two groups of people in these internship program. A ton of kids from Ivy Leagues, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and a ton of people from Arkansas. And then me and I go to uc and they're like, I'm a smart guy.

[00:14:54] I probably go to an Ivy League if I applied myself, but I didn't. I went to UC, Santa Barbara, which is like a party school. [00:15:00] And I'm there and it's me versus this nerd. And by the way, I'm graduating college, a lot of the people are younger than me, so I'm 22. Most of the people that are probably 20, so I'm 22.

[00:15:10] I'm definitely way cooler than the kid I'm running against. Who's this kid from Harvard. And I just crush him and win. And I become president of the intern. And this was something I had realized when I was in high school. Cause when I became president of my class and vice president of my school. I got to get out of everything.

[00:15:23] Cause I was the liaison for the teachers and I'm like, this is the way you do it. You go become, it's like student leadership, but for the interns. And I ended up spending the whole summer putting on throwing parties for interns, and social events and organizing them. And it was, it made a really boring job, a really fun job.

[00:15:40] The part though, to answer your question though is I realized, I was doing this admin work, this is my third internship that I had. And I called my mom up and I go, mom, I had a realization. She said, what's that? I said, I am never gonna have a job as long as I live. And I said, the only way I will ever have a job where I'm not the boss, and let's use the [00:16:00] White House, for example, is if I was president of the United States.

[00:16:02] So it was this epiphany that I have to be the boss. And literally in this job in the White House, I said I would never work for the White House again unless I was president of the United States. Now I'm 22. Maybe I would, maybe I'd take an advisor role now if they wanted me. But it was a really eye-opening experience to be at this like top of the game best internship, that you could have in the whole world and just say, I don't wanna do this, I wanna work for myself.

[00:16:23] But yeah, it was a cool experience.

[00:16:25] Hala Taha: But there was something else that kind of triggered you to wanna work for yourself. It was something that you did, you almost got fired, Darius. So don't skip out on that part of the story. 

[00:16:34] Darius Mirshahzadeh: All right, look, while this is going on, my dad's sick at home. It was a complicated situation.

[00:16:39] I had chosen to do this. My dad's sick at home. My family was not stoked that I was at this thing. By the way, they don't pay. Maybe they change now, but back then they don't pay you. So I'm using like my money I'd saved to go to Europe for graduating college, and I'm using that to go live in DC and work for free for the White House.

[00:16:57] So I was already a little pissed off about that. And the one thing [00:17:00] you get when you work at the White House as an intern is you get a picture with the president of the United States in front of the White House on the south, on the steps of the South Lawn. So it's like a picture that commemorates that you worked at the White House and it's gotta be in front of the White House.

[00:17:12] They had some sort of staff picnic and they're like, you're not doing the picture in front of the White House. What most people don't know is next to the White House is a building called the Old Executive Office building. Which is actually where almost everyone that works for the White House works inside of this like office building.

[00:17:25] So like we're gonna do the picture in front of the steps of the OEOB, the old executive office building. I was like, fuck that. So I was pissed and I pulled a straight Jerry Maguire. I wrote this really long email that said this is unfair. The White House is lucky to have us. They're not, we're not lucky to have them.

[00:17:44] I demand that we either cancel the picture or they reschedule us in front of the White House . And I click send and I send it across to all the interns and it goes viral inside the White House to all senior staff and everything. So I get pulled aside and now they had heard that my [00:18:00] dad was sick and I think they were cutting me some slack.

[00:18:02] And this guy sits me down, he's like a senior White House like staff member. This guy's like head of something. I think he was head of my department actually. It was the only time I ever met him. So he's head of presidential scheduling for the president or the United States, scheduled for the whole world.

[00:18:15] And he's listen man, you don't know me. I heard what you did. Don't rock the boat. This is the president of the United States. What are you doing? And I held my ground for a second and then I was like, look, I'm sorry, I apologized. And they basically let me off. And they did. They did not fire me. And I think honestly, the only reason I didn't get fired was cause my father was so sick, but I was like, this is such bureaucratic bullshit,

[00:18:35] And I ended up leaving a few days later. But it was really eye-opening. I was like, wow, this is like weird that you would give this big thing to go work for free, and not get the one thing you want and have no control over it. And do all this admin work, and I was at this great opportunity, and yet all I saw that it wasn't a good fit for me.

[00:18:54] And at that moment I sat down and I said, I am 100% unemployable. Like I can never have a job. [00:19:00] And it was this thing where I was like, if I ever take a job, it'll be to figure out what they do to go do it for myself. And I was 100% convinced of it, and it never changed after that, ever. 

[00:19:10] Hala Taha: I love this story so much, and I know I keep saying it.

[00:19:13] I'm like relating so much to your story because when I was 22, I was also like president of the interns at a radio station and also I got fired. You didn't get fired, but I got fired for putting like a text message and sending a text message to my coworker, that got went viral across the station and I got fired.

[00:19:30] You did it. But we did the same thing when we were 22. Because when you're 22 and you're feeling unfair and you're ambitious and driven like us, you just. Go haywire sometimes and make mistakes, but hey, it taught you that you didn't belong in that kind of environment. And that you wanted to actually work for yourself and not work for free and be treated unfairly.

[00:19:50] So there was some good lessons I think that you got outta that. 

[00:19:53] Darius Mirshahzadeh: Also like this is 2000, so being 22 and being like, I'm gonna go be an entrepreneur in the year 2000 was not [00:20:00] normal. That was really rare. And so it was a great lesson to learn, but it was very rare and it was a gift that led me to be able to then go and build.

[00:20:09] Hala Taha: And so speaking of that, you built your first business with your twin brother called Twin Capital Brokerage, and by the time you're 25 years old. You built an Inc. 500 company and you were the 40th, fastest growing company in the US. So that's crazy. Tell us about how you started that business with your brother.

[00:20:26] Darius Mirshahzadeh: I moved back home after my father passed away. We had this event promotion business. It tanked. It was the first business I ever had that lost a hundred thousand dollars. Which is that's a lot of money to lose when you're 22. But I lost that business. My brother was in the mortgage business, so I have a twin brother.

[00:20:41] I was always like the student leader jock, and he was like the troublemaker, but we're twins. And when we were in senior in high school, he got a job at a mortgage company and he realized he was like a savant at sales. He was like unbelievable. And so when I was in college, he was in college, but he was really in [00:21:00] sales and he was selling mortgages.

[00:21:02] And by the time I was graduating college at 22, my brother was making six figures. He was like killing it. And so I was like I could go get a job. I had a degree in economics and accounting and go do that while I figure out my business stuff. Or I could just go sell loans. And so I got a job in mortgage.

[00:21:17] Long story short, that didn't work out. I moved to San Francisco. He was down in LA and I pivoted a lot for 23 and 24, but I got back into mortgage and I started doing really well. And at 25 I decided to start my own company. I dunno if you remember, there's a supplement company called Twin Labs.

[00:21:35] Have you ever heard of that before? 

[00:21:36] Hala Taha: It rings us a bell slightly. 

[00:21:38] Darius Mirshahzadeh: It's a really popular supplement company. And I found out the guy named it after his twin children. So I was like, I'm gonna name my company after us being twins. So I named as Twin Capital Mortgage. Now, funny enough, as I tried to get my brother to come join me, but he was making like three times as much money as I was.

[00:21:52] So she said, why would I leave my job? I'm making like 30 grand a month and you're making 10. And I said hey, listen, I hate your fiance, [00:22:00] number one, and number two, I'm gonna make more money than you are. So if I, the month I make more money than you do in a month. You have to break up with your fiance and move to San Francisco and be my business partner.

[00:22:11] And he's We're on. And that was in July or June or July of 2003. And by September I made, I had a month that was way bigger than his. And so literally within one week he broke up with his fiance. 

[00:22:21] Hala Taha: She hates you. 

[00:22:23] Darius Mirshahzadeh: She knew I hated her. I was transparent, within a week he quit his job, broke up with his fiance, moved to San Francisco and became my business partner.

[00:22:30] It was amazing cuz my brother and I are yin and yang. We're both are good at sales, but he's unbelievable at sales. And I'm good enough, I like to operate and build and be a visionary. But when he came, I mean our business, that first year he came in November. It's when he got there that year, I think the business gross $300,000.

[00:22:48] The next year we grow grossed almost 2 million the year after that. Five, the year after that, almost 10. And so this business grew 2500% in three years. It was the 40th, fastest growing company in the Inc. 500 in [00:23:00] 2007. So it was an amazing run and I learned a couple things. I learned find a partner that's gonna compliment your skills and really go lean into scaling a business.

[00:23:09] And for us it was, the business has its own horror story cuz it was a subprime mortgage lender and it blew up in seven. So I joked that when I went to the INC. 500 conference, it was in Chicago that year. I'm wearing a black tie and I joked that we were the status people in that conference, cuz I literally was probably the 40th, fastest shrinking company in the United States. When I was at the 500 conference.

[00:23:30] It sucked. The business ended up imploding because of sub prime meltdown. We went from 150 employees. I grew that thing for myself to 150 employees in three years, and then within 90 days I was back to 10 employees. 

[00:23:42] Hala Taha: Let's hold that thought and take a quick break with our sponsor. 

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[00:29:52] That was a failure. How did you overcome that failure? Because you went on to start a couple more businesses after that. 

[00:29:57] Darius Mirshahzadeh: Honestly, I spent five years in, I [00:30:00] called it entrepreneurial purgatory. So seven was early, like the economy didn't falter till oh eight, but my business, the mortgage business got crushed.

[00:30:08] The number of people in the mortgage business that worked in the mortgage business in oh six was 400,000. It shrunk to 100,000 by 2011.

[00:30:16] Hala Taha: Wow. 

[00:30:16] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So three quarters of the industry went away. I always said it was, it would be most people don't know this, but I said it would be like if I said, Uber, Twitter, Meta, Google, they all go out of business. 

[00:30:27] That's what happened to that industry all at once. So it was brutal. I pivoted, like I pivoted for almost five years. I literally showed up to work for five years straight, 07, 08, 09, 010, 011, and literally did not get a paycheck. I just cut checks and went to work.

[00:30:43] Now I'd made a lot of money in the previous year. So I just, we used that to survive, but most of it, we spent a lot of it and like just trying to rebuild and it just took a long time. And I was young mind you, I started the business in three when I was 25, so by oh seven I was 27, [00:31:00] 28.

[00:31:00] So this all happened before I was 30 years old. And then I spent my late twenties, early thirties rebuilding, like figuring out what was next. And I have a friend, Ryan Levesque, who owns a company called The ASK Method. He called me Tenacious D. He said, you just don't have any quitting you. And I was like, man, I wish I did because that it was probably the most painful five years, I've ever lived in business.

[00:31:21] And I wouldn't do it over again, if I had to do it. I wouldn't.

[00:31:24] Hala Taha: You're saying that you wished that you shut down that company earlier. That you just were beating a dead horse basically for five years. 

[00:31:32] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So Naval Lara says you need to pick the right space to be in, and that space was a dead space and it was broken and I just couldn't win in it.

[00:31:39] But I just didn't have any quit, so I just kept fighting for it. I was standing on a broken foundation, so knowing what I know now. It was, there was a lot of time and anguish spent and there was opportunities, all around me. That I was living in San Francisco, so what was happening in 09, 10, and 11 in San Francisco. Airbnb, Uber, like you go down the list of all these amazing companies [00:32:00] that were born then, and I'm over here like getting my teeth kicked in this space that has, that's just demolished.

[00:32:06] And so was it the right thing to do? I don't know. Hindsight's always 2020, but like the pain suck. Like it just wasn't worth it. I had some amazing things happened to me during that time. I had my first child and I got married and I did live in a great city, but professionally I struggled so badly for so long that it just, it wasn't fun.

[00:32:25] And it, I think that there's an element of grit to win. Like in order to win it doesn't always come easy. And you have to have some thick skin and you have to be willing to overcome obstacles. But to a point, I was very depressed during that timeframe, and I just couldn't get outta my own way. And I learned a lot about how do you reengage to activate yourself if you get stuck?

[00:32:43] So I learned a lot then about that. And the big thing is you have to win a little bit. You can't just lose constantly. And for us, because the foundation of that industry was broken. It was a ton of false starts. It was like five false starts. I probably started seven different companies then, and I just couldn't get any traction.[00:33:00] 

[00:33:00] But eventually, Tenacious D worked. We had a really big win in 2011, and then our biggest win was after that in 2013. Which is the business I just exited a year and a half ago. 

[00:33:11] Hala Taha: So tell us about the money source. I wanna understand how you ended up creating that business. How you grew it to a thousand employees, how you exited.

[00:33:19] I'd love to learn more about that. 

[00:33:20] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So because I didn't have ca enough capital and mortgage, you need to have capital to build your platforms, cuz it's not like vc. VC used capital to burn your runway to then get to your next round of Capital Mortgage. You need to capitalize the platform to go lend against it.

[00:33:34] And so I didn't have enough to really do it competitively. So what I ended up doing was doing partnerships. So I did a partnership with this company called Pacific Union Financial in 2011. and we grew it from essentially nothing to about 75 million in revenue overnight. We had a, not a perfect exit from it.

[00:33:51] We had a disagreement with some of the our partner there and we ended up basically getting bought out. Had a very short non-compete, took all that [00:34:00] capital and went out to go buy a platform, raised 40 million bucks and we couldn't find the platform we wanted. One of the platforms we were talking to to buy was this company called the Money Source, which was this really small little company in Long Island, New York, 30 employees, a couple million dollars net worth.

[00:34:14] There was a small little regional lender and he said no to selling to us. This guy named Stavos, who ended up being my business partner, but he said what if you wanna do a partnership? I said, hell no. I just did a partnership and I'm not doing another one. But after a while, we couldn't find what we wanted.

[00:34:29] We'd go back to and I said, Hey, listen, I threw the 40 million bucks. We raised it. I didn't call capital on it, I just went and did a partnership, but I made it this like bulletproof partnership agreement. So that what had happened in the previous deal wouldn't happen in this deal. And it was off to the races this business grew from.

[00:34:45] It was like a J curve. Like we went 30 to a thousand employees in three years. And it's a complicated story, but essentially we crushed it. The business now is one of the largest lenders in the United States. It manages a hundred billion of mortgages. It's a game [00:35:00] changer in the mortgage industry.

[00:35:01] And we built that from the ground up. There was something there when we got there. They had their licensing and they were a small company, but then it was a company that had grown from nothing to call it 30 employees in 17 years. And then in three years it went from 30 employees to a thousand. So that kind of shows you the difference of what happened when we all got together.

[00:35:19] Hala Taha: So question for you, you've had many different entrepreneurial experiences. Would you say that you would've been as successful at the money source had you not had those other failures previously? 

[00:35:30] Darius Mirshahzadeh: I don't know. It's hard to say. Obviously like you failed till you win, right? And you learn in the process and winning is a failure mitigation game, right? 

[00:35:38] It's how do I reduce the failure, to get to the win or reduce the speed or speed from fail to win, right? We learned a lot. What I learned at the win before that. I took that blueprint from there and I brought it over to this next place, and there was a lot of pain to figure that out there.

[00:35:54] Had I just gone straight there I wouldn't have known what I knew, but look, you either grow or die, right? It's like [00:36:00] there's no real middle. You either give up or you keep fighting. And for us, I, I have no end of fighting me. For me, it's like if I'm not getting what I want, I will obsess about it.

[00:36:09] So I either figure it out or I figure out I don't want it, right? I'm like, that's what it's gonna take for that to win. I'm not doing that, but I'll make that decision, but I won't make the decision of, I didn't do well. I'm, I guess I suck. Like that thought never crosses my mind.

[00:36:23] It's like, all right, I just don't know enough yet to win, so I gotta go figure it out. We figured it out. And like I said, like you don't build a hundred billion mortgage platform, without literally from startup not startup, but from very small. And by the way, we did it bootstrapped, we didn't raise capital.

[00:36:39] So like we would go, once we got it big, I'd be on Wall Street, I'd be meeting with JP Morgan and Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and all these investment bankers on Wall Street. And they're like so tell us about how how did you guys raise the capital to do this? I'm like we made money.

[00:36:54] And they're like, how did you do that? I'm like, magic. What we did is, I cannot give you one example [00:37:00] of any mortgage company and the whole country, that did it the way we did it. It was a cool ride. And one of the biggest tools I used was building a world-class culture, and I leaned into. In that industry was lacking because of what had happened in 07 and 08.

[00:37:13] It was like a graveyard for culture and I was all in on culture. So it was, that was one of our secret weapons was how do you leverage culture and scale systems and do those, these best practices that are maybe in other industries are not in this industry? And we brought 'em in and really leverage that.

[00:37:29] Hala Taha: And that's, this is a great segue to get into core values and scale map, but before we do that. I was pretty surprised to learn that you stepped down as CEO of this company, especially given all of your leadership background and student government, and all these other ventures that you had. It really surprised me that you decided to step down as CEO.

[00:37:48] What happened? What kind of impacted you to make that decision? 

[00:37:51] Darius Mirshahzadeh: I told my partners once, I said, you'll never have to fire me. I'll quit way before the minute. I'm not happy I'll quit. And we grew this [00:38:00] business to this like massive business. The business won all these Stevie Awards for ABA awards.

[00:38:04] I was ranked the number nine highest rate CEO in America on gloucester.com in this business, right? So we had a like list of accolades. Business was a private equity business. We ended up buying a bunch of companies. I had checked all these boxes on my list of things I wanted to accomplish as an entrepreneur.

[00:38:18] My first was I wanna build a hundred million dollar company. And Hala, do you want to know what, how big my company was when I made that goal?

[00:38:24] Hala Taha: How big?

[00:38:25] Darius Mirshahzadeh: It was 2 million in revenue . And I was like, I'm gonna build a hundred million dollar company. And that was in 2010 when I was like failing in my previous company and I'm like, I'm gonna build a hundred million dollar company.

[00:38:35] And it took me five years till that happened. So I had checked all these boxes, that I thought were these, like I climbed this mountain that I was like, I'm gonna go build a seven, nine figure company and I'm gonna win all these awards, and I'm gonna get written up an Entrepreneur, and all these things. I thought that mattered and then I did it all.

[00:38:50] And I'm like, this doesn't feel any different. And something happened in that we ended up selling one of the businesses, cuz 2017 and 18 were really hard years for the mortgage industry. 2022 is, this is a [00:39:00] hard year for the industry right now too. And I ended up selling a business and it was in December that year, I ended up basically moving 300 employees to a new company and laying off another 150.

[00:39:13] And it was the seventh time I had done layoffs, cuz that industry's super cyclical. It's really cyclical. You have interest rates will drop 2%. And that's why we stacked up so much. And what I didn't tell you is I went to a thousand and then in 2017, when Donald Trump got elected, rates went up and we ended up laying off 400 of those people.

[00:39:31] And then I ended up over three rounds of layoffs. And I had done some layoffs before that because the industry's so volatile, that we're always having to layoff, grow layoff. That's totally normal on mortgage. And I had this epiphany and I was like, I don't think my core values are aligned with this industry.

[00:39:46] I'm a person that pours into people and pours into leaders and goes outta my way. I'll recruit someone for three years to get 'em to leave, to come join me. And here I am like two years later saying, it didn't work out. And I was sitting in my car and I had just done this [00:40:00] massive layoff sale thing.

[00:40:02] It was not like a sale where you make a lot of money. It's like you sell it cuz you're trying to get people a soft landing. And I'm sitting in my car, it's January 9th, this just happened on January 8th. I ruined my yet another Christmas dealing with bullshit. And my family is like in some art store and I'm in my car and I'm just sitting there and all of a sudden. I'm telling you there was no cognitive thing that happened.

[00:40:22] This was a came from my body, I'm a somatic intuitive, like my body talks to me. And I literally threw up the words, I'm gonna quit. And I was 40, I had just turned 40. And I was like first I said that and then I was like, what the fuck did I just say? And I was like in shock. And my wife came back into the car and I was like, I think I might quit.

[00:40:41] She's, you serious? And I'm like, look, I'm gonna give it a year. I'm like, I'm not gonna be impulsive about this. I'm like, I can't even believe I just said this. I'm gonna give it a year. And it was like, God just grabbed me and threw me off the cliff. God was like, you don't get a year buddy.

[00:40:55] And by November it was, that was 11 months later. 

[00:40:58] Hala Taha: And what year was this? [00:41:00] 

[00:41:00] Darius Mirshahzadeh: 2019. By November I was like, I can't do it anymore. I was like, I was a wreck. I hated it. Every moment. It had nothing to do with even the company at that point. It was just like me being in the space I don't know. It was like out of body experience.

[00:41:13] And I just went, flew to New York, met one, my business partner, and I said, I called my other business partners, one of them, my brother. And I told him I'm done. I flew to New York and told my business partner and like my company had a funeral for me. Like I did not stay. I left and I was done.

[00:41:26] Hala Taha: Wow. 

[00:41:27] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So I stayed on the board. This is a big company. So I was on the board. I was a board of directors for 78 months before I figured out my exit. 

[00:41:33] Hala Taha: And you had no plan, right? Like you quit with zero plan. How did you then decide to pick up the pieces, start your own personal brand, start a podcast, launch a book, all those things.

[00:41:45] What made you decide to go that path? 

[00:41:47] Darius Mirshahzadeh: During 2019? Like my one respite from obsessing about whether I wanted to stay or leave, whether I wrote my book. So I was writing the book for fun. So I wrote my book, The Core Value Equation, which is all about how do you build a core value driven organization.[00:42:00] 

[00:42:00] But I was like this project, I was like pouring myself into kind of side project. It was just for fun. I'd wanted to start a podcast. These were all things that, like I'm a super creative person, so for me like, but I was not being able to be creative cuz I was doing, I was running my companies. There was no plan for any of that stuff.

[00:42:14] November 13th, 2019, I resigned. I went to Asia with a CEO forum of mine for Christmas and New Year's and I was buzzed on Belgium beers in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Vietnam. And I told my wife, I'm like, let's go travel the world for a year. And that was like January 7th, 2020. And I was like, let's go move to Spain.

[00:42:37] Fuck it. Let's take a year off. Like we've always wanted to do that. I wanted, my goal was always like, sell my first company by 30 and go travel the world. And that clearly didn't happen. That's what happened to my previous business at that point. It was like a six and a 10 year old. I'm like let's go travel.

[00:42:50] Let's go have fun. I'll go figure out what's next. And so March of 2020, I had a trip planned to go to Barcelona to go look at schools and houses and [00:43:00] then COVID hit.

[00:43:01] Hala Taha: And the world ended. 

[00:43:02] Darius Mirshahzadeh: That my take, sabbatical trip around the world, trip blew up it went away. And so there I was stuck in my house like everybody else sheltering in place, trying to figure out what the hell I wanna do with myself.

[00:43:16] And I was like I wrote this book. My book was done. At this point I'm like, I wrote this book, maybe I should go do something with it. I just took that. Entrepreneurial hustle and I poured it into the book and then started the podcast, and that's where I spent all, most of 2020 was doing that.

[00:43:31] And the personal brand was just by accident. 

[00:43:33] Hala Taha: I love that. I love this story and kind of the lead up to everything. So let's talk about the core value equation. You helped companies determine their core values. First of all, how did you first get introduced to core values and what did they mean?

[00:43:46] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So in 06 when I was running my first company, I was getting my teeth kicked in. I had about 40, 50 employees. I was really young. And back then, by the way, if you're an entrepreneur, like there was way less [00:44:00] resources for entrepreneurs. Way less like now, like everyone's an entrepreneur.

[00:44:03] You know how people buy email, what do you do? I'm an entrepreneur. I'm like, no, okay. Do you make money? They're like, not yet. And I'm like, okay. So back then it was like nobody was an entrepreneur. There was no resources, especially a young entrepreneur. There was very minimal resources. This is pre Twitter and Facebook was barely being used at this point.

[00:44:18] This is like my space times. So just to put it into context. And so I found this program called Birthing a Giants at MIT, which was put on by a guy named Verne Harnish who has this business called Scaling Up. And I got it in the program and I was introduced to Core Values. And I don't know what it was, maybe going back to this thing with my dad, but like how do you live an engaged life values is a big part of that.

[00:44:42] And it just resonated with me. And you're three, at graduation we did this exercise. Where these two founders who had this really successful company in Vancouver called Nurse Next Door. They said, please stand up if your company has core values. Which graduation night of Birthing and Giants at MIT and everyone stands up and [00:45:00] they say, please stay standing if you know your company core values and come same off the top of your head.

[00:45:03] Everyone sits down. I'm sorry, excuse me. Half the room sits down. Then they say, please stay standing. If your employees know your core values, half the room sits down. They say, please stay standing if your customers know your core values. Everyone sits down and I'm looking in this room of 60 entrepreneurs.

[00:45:16] Some of them, like Kendra Scott graduated from this program. I don't know if you know she is, but she's a famous entrepreneur. So there's a lot of entrepreneur, like the guys that did 100 flowers and Rackspace. There's tons of amazing entrepreneurs that go through this program and they're all sitting down and I'm like we're all the CEOs.

[00:45:31] What do you mean? We're all sitting down? That doesn't make any sense. And that was the pivotal moment for me. I realized that like they say you have to have mission, vision, values for your business, but nobody really knows how to do that. And I spent the next few years obsessing and the, what I realized was that building a core value or core purpose-driven organization, most people just think it's like a box you check.

[00:45:51] Like it's when you get your, like a thing you do through your MBA program. And my take is yes, you have to figure out what's meaningful for you and you gotta check that box, but you have to design it to be [00:46:00] viral and sticking in your organization. During those five years of me getting my ass kicked in business, I spent a lot of time experimenting and I figured out how do you design values and purpose and mission?

[00:46:11] How do you have to design it so people can actually use it? And the book is really a step-by-step manual, on how do you build a core value-driven organization. Cuz my belief is that core values of the opportunity to be the language of accountability for your organization. And when it does that, it starts to attract people of like mind and like belief.

[00:46:26] And again, values are the fundamental beliefs of an organization, the personality of the organization. So if I could get a bunch of people to show up who believe what I believe, who talk the way I talk about these beliefs. I have a much higher likeliness of them doing things like working the way I work and caring the way I care.

[00:46:42] All these like soft skills that are so meaningful to execute properly, but people don't know how to do it. So the book is really a step-by-step process in how I learn to do it and how I teach people to do it. 

[00:46:52] Hala Taha: Let's hold that thought and take a quick break with our sponsors. 

[00:46:58] I find it super, super [00:47:00] interesting.

[00:47:00] So for me, when I had a company of 10 people, it was super easy to run. Everybody, you get to hand train them. But now we're a company of 60 employees at YAP Media, and we need things like this designing a mission, designing core values, because I don't even know everybody, who works at my company anymore.

[00:47:16] And that's why you need like that structure. So I find this super valuable. So one of the quotes in your book that you say is that companies do not have core values. People have core values. Can you explain what you mean by that? 

[00:47:28] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So core values of the opportunity, again, to become the personality or the language of accountability for the organization.

[00:47:34] It's not it's like this thing, like until it becomes a thing, it's not a thing. So what ends up happening is a company like YAP Media, you have 60 people and they all have their own individual values. And if you don't define what YAP Media stands for and then hold people accountable to it and create a system. Where that can scale, what ends up happening is you end up getting this like hodgepodge of values.

[00:47:53] And their values will show up in their actions consistently. And so once we pay homage to the fact that look, if the [00:48:00] company doesn't have 'em, you're gonna get what's there just by default. Because individuals have their own values. My belief is like they still have them, even if you define what you are and screen for them and make them come to life.

[00:48:10] But what they do instead is they attach their values to your values. So in core value equation, we say core values for, you need to discover what's authentic to you, discovering your values. You need to design them to be viral and sticky. Then you need to roll them out. So you need to teach people what they are, indoctrinate them into 'em, and then you need to implement them ongoing.

[00:48:28] And then you need to me measure for efficacy and do that consistently. And so the process, the book really teaches how do you do that, so that when I get that individual that shows up, that has their individual values. That they figure out how do they leverage their individual values? And we do that as part of the rollout.

[00:48:43] How do you leverage your individual values to make the company values become more alive and well? And the answer is this, it has to happen organically, but you have to have a process to create that organic interaction. Which is essentially what I figured out is you're gonna make it easy, you gotta make it organic.

[00:48:56] It's got, it takes time. Cause it's again, like you don't learn a language [00:49:00] overnight. So it takes time. But you have to create those opportunities and it has to be easy. And so really the book Core Value Equation walks you through how do you do that step by step. 

[00:49:08] Hala Taha: And so you have your own core values, you have six of them.

[00:49:11] Can you talk about what each of them are and what they represent? 

[00:49:15] Darius Mirshahzadeh: I ended up in 2019, I ended up getting into this program called Stagen, which is Conscious Leadership Program. They have a program called Integral Leadership, and it, like in my class was the CEO of Whole Foods Jason and I were in the same class and the CEO Doug, who was a former CEO of Creighton Barrel.

[00:49:31] And so there's some, big shots and it, there's only 20 of us in the class. It's a one year long program and we're in the program, and this happened, by the way, this is February of 19. A month after I had said, I'm gonna quit my job and we're doing our personal values. And I realized I'm like the core value king, right?

[00:49:47] I'm literally, let's say month writing my book on Core Values. And I realized I had not done my personal values, which is super weird. I wrote very quickly cuz I, it was easy for me cuz I had experience with it. But my values, I have six values. I always tell people, you get out [00:50:00] five, I couldn't just land on five.

[00:50:01] I gave myself six. And so number one's happiness called heart. So I like to think of sticky viral language to describe a value. And there's a description of what that looks like for me and for my family. Love is my second one, and that is besos, which is kisses in Spanish. I the tiger is passion.

[00:50:18] That's my third one. My fourth one is curiosity. I call it cinco, which stands for what, where, who, when, and create creativity is number five. And I call that boom. And my sixth one is balance. And I call that movie night. It's just, I always measure myself against them again. When you're going against your values because that's when friction starts to get created, whether in your organization or in your life.

[00:50:39] And for me, I always have my eye out what am I not living right now that I know I wanna live? And I always tell people core values have can be slightly aspirational for me. My values that are aspirational are as balanced. That's hard and happiness. Like I fight to be happy. I fight for balance.

[00:50:53] The other ones are a little bit easier. Like I'm naturally curious. I'm a pretty passionate person. Curiosity again, natural [00:51:00] creativity, natural, but happiness and balance. I fight for those a lot. 

[00:51:03] Hala Taha: I like that you give everything a catchy secondary name, so that it's super memorable. And I think this is super important for organizations because when it comes to building a community. Having a common language and things that you guys only know about is really important for bonding.

[00:51:18] So tell us about why you say that you need that like sticky version of the core value as well. 

[00:51:24] Darius Mirshahzadeh: Again, if you believe that core values is the language of accountability, then the language matters. Words matter. Like literally, like empires have grown and fallen because of words. I'm reading a book with my son and we're reading actually about it's about the history of the world and we're on the chapter about Islam right now.

[00:51:37] And you realize that Muhammad basically built an entire empire, the Islamic Empire, off of just words. He went out and talked the about Allah. And that created this entire empire that got all the different tribes to come together. So words are so powerful. That's just one example. There's been empires built on words like you look at the United States of America built on the words of our founding fathers, [00:52:00] right?

[00:52:00] So why would you not pick viral sticky language that stands for what you stand for? Or you could be like everyone else and pick boring words like integrity. It's yeah, everyone has integrity in their core values or driven or excellence. It's what's the difference between YAP's excellence and the guy down the street?

[00:52:16] And I'm like, how about, just say it a different way. It makes it where it sticks in people's minds. There's a reason people do it in branding, and there's a reason I think you should do it in core values. Which is if it's gonna be the language of accountability, let's give 'em some language to work with.

[00:52:27] And I love viral sticky language. 

[00:52:29] Hala Taha: I love that tip. So talk to us about what a core value driven organization, looks like versus one that has no core values. 

[00:52:36] Darius Mirshahzadeh: Again, going back to what your question before is like people have core values. Companies don't unless you create them in your company. So what ends up happening is if you don't have a core value driven organization. All that is, is me defining what I stand for and holding the organization accountable to it consistently, and making it drip throughout the organization.

[00:52:53] So what does that mean? Does that mean that you're always living those values? No, it means you're always trying to live those values and when you fall off, you [00:53:00] fix, so you get back to center the core. A non-core value driven organization is someone that just shows up and does what I call BAU business as usual.

[00:53:07] You get what you get. Johnny over there has shitty work ethic, but Sally over here has great work ethic. There's a value misalignment, by the way you think that doesn't create friction. Your team will manage themselves to the low's common denominator. So if you let losers hang out in your company, no offense losers, but everyone else is gonna be like, I guess Hala let's losers hang out here so I don't have to try as hard.

[00:53:26] Like they put up with bullshit. And so my belief is if you have a, let's say your values around work ethic or excellence, but you let mediocrity hang out. Do you think you're gonna really have excellence happen? The answer is absolutely not. You're gonna have mediocrity. You'll have pockets of excellence that happen accidentally, or you could do it my way and be super intentional, and hold everyone accountable in the organization accountable to this idea of excellence.

[00:53:49] And when someone shows up and they can't measure up to that, they get to leave. And what happens then is you have accountability around those values and the people that love those values. They'll be like, [00:54:00] Hells yeah, I'm in the right place? And the people that don't are gonna be like, Hells no, I wanna get outta here cuz I'm gonna, they're gonna find out that I don't like this.

[00:54:08] And it's not to say they're bad people. It's just not the right environment for them so that's how I characterize it at least. 

[00:54:14] Hala Taha: I think those are great tips. So there's some mistakes and some common mistakes that people make when it comes to their core values. First of all, they make them too wordy.

[00:54:22] They're not simple enough, they're too complex, and sometimes they're too nice. So I'd love to get your feedback in terms of what good core values sound like versus bad ones. 

[00:54:31] Darius Mirshahzadeh: Your organization has a way you guys speak. There's tough, gritty organizations and there's really buttoned up pretty organizations.

[00:54:38] And then there's like a middle ground hippie organizations, like your values are the personality of the organization. So there's different personalities, just like there's different personalities with people. So a bad value is one that's not authentic. IE you say, I value showing up for the team and yet you don't and you're the ceo.

[00:54:55] That's the problem. And in my book I say that the minute the CEO doesn't live the values. You just put a bullet [00:55:00] in the head of the values. So bad values are ones that aren't true. They're ones that are not authentic. Cuz again, there's five steps to creating core value driven organization. Discover, design, rollout, implement measure for efficacy.

[00:55:11] If you discover and you are trying to please an imaginary people, clients, team members, that probably aren't gonna be there in the future anyway, cuz you're out of alignment with your values. Then you may pick values that are not authentic to who you are. So I see people do that all the time where they'll pick really like warm and fuzzy values, but they're not a warm and fuzzy organization.

[00:55:29] That's a bad value. Just say that. You don't put up a bullshit . The people like Travis Kalanick. I'm watch, I just finished watching the show. Super pumped. Dude, that guy, one of their core values was called toe stepping. That was core value number seven for uber toe stepping. Does that connotate like niceness?

[00:55:47] Hell no. That connotates fucking people up if they don't live your value toe. Stepping on someone's toes. Have you had someone step on your toes? Hala? 

[00:55:54] Hala Taha: Yeah! 

[00:55:55] Darius Mirshahzadeh: It hurts a lot. Toe stepping is their number seven value. He ended up creating a [00:56:00] toxic culture because of it, but he created something amazing too.

[00:56:03] It scaled till it didn't there. So that's a bad value from a design standpoint. And that's actually a perfect example. That core values don't need to be nice. Hey man, if you're a toe stepping organization, say what you are. Here's what happens if you don't. Sally, the flower loving hippie shows up and she sees Travis toe stepping on Johnny and she's where do I work?

[00:56:22] And that's a misalignment. Whereas Bobby, who's a badass, likes to tow step, he's cool, we toe step here no friction. And what I say is, and I do a lot of coaching now and advising with companies, as I say, for scale specifically, I say, look, scale is a friction removal process.

[00:56:38] You wanna scale fast, remove friction from your business. The way you move friction is by eliminating problems before they become problems. And what we're talking about right now, core valueless alignment is one of the worst problems you can have in your business. That's where you get in-fighting and politics and drama and all that bullshit.

[00:56:53] And I don't want any of that stuff that's just slowing you down from winning. And so scales of friction removal process, and it starts with values being aligned [00:57:00] properly. 

[00:57:00] Hala Taha: Okay, so here is some advice that I'd love you to give. So let's say you're a company like mine. My company like blew up so fast.

[00:57:09] What advice would you give in terms of the executives at my organization or any new startup to begin to develop their core values? What are the first things that we should do to brainstorm and hit the drawing board for our core values? 

[00:57:21] Darius Mirshahzadeh: I go step by step through my book. So you need to do the discovery process. Which is, there's so many different values you can stand for.

[00:57:27] So you need to really pick what are the three to six. I say four is the good. I like four to five. This is a good sweet spot. And there's a book called Built To Last by Jerry Porras and Jim Collins. And in that book they, they went and studied visionary companies and they found out one thing, visionary companies stand for no more than seven and no less than three values.

[00:57:46] And this is studying some of the most iconic companies of the last century. So for me it's, let's pick out of that a hundred. And in my book we give a list of 105 words that you can in the book. If you pick up the book.

[00:57:55] It'll, it's in there.

[00:57:56] Hala Taha: And I highly recommend it. And we'll put it in the show notes.

[00:57:58] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So it's in there, there's a guide for [00:58:00] this. So we have a guide that we give when you buy the book. And so you just eliminate those 105 words and you pick your top 15 and you rank 'em in order. Cuz values have a hierarchy. So you wanna put 'em in order, that now you've discovered what are your top five values. What matters most to you?

[00:58:13] From there you have to go through a design process. Which making them viral, sticky and making them, I have some tests I put 'em through. Do they stand the test of time? Is there any negativity in there? Do you have product, remove product? So I have a laundry list of like checks and balances, but they have to be designed to be able to scale as you scale.

[00:58:32] In order to do that, they need to be designed so that they can become viral and sticky. So you go through that process and then you gotta bring them to the team, and teach the team so that they learn what they are and create systems for that in the business. And we and in the book I talk through step by step, how do you do all those things.

[00:58:46] Hala Taha: And I can't wait to take my team through this exercise. I'm super excited about it. So you're known for two things, core values, which we just covered in a lot of detail as well as scaling businesses. So you have this methodology, the scale map method. MAP [00:59:00] stands for mission, accountability, and performance.

[00:59:03] So could you go over MAP and your scale map method and what each section is, and I can just ask you a few questions about each area. 

[00:59:11] Darius Mirshahzadeh: There's a word in Japanese called shibui have you heard of this word before? 

[00:59:15] Hala Taha: No. 

[00:59:16] Darius Mirshahzadeh: Okay. So shibui it means that there is complexity and simplicity. There's complexity and simplicity.

[00:59:22] So even this with the core value equation. It's around creating something that's simple. I make chronic com person that makes things complex, so I have to simplify it or else I'll never do anything. And the core value equations all around, how do you simplify the process to make it work? When I left my business and Covid hit, I, was sitting on the sidelines and did my book launch.

[00:59:43] And then when I came out of that, I got asked to advise some entrepreneurs on scale, because I was always the scale guy. Like, how do you grow your company fast? And having grown a company that quick from my crew. The first leg of that growth was 30 to 300 employees in 18 months, the next leg, which is crazy, it's a 10 x, right?

[00:59:58] And by the way, when I did that, [01:00:00] we had re off the chart record engagement scores and like zero growing pains. And then we went from 300 to a thousand. And so this is all around scale methodology. So the other thing I learned and got to play with during this time was these different scale systems.

[01:00:14] And I learned something really simple is that you need to have scale systems to compliment your cultural systems. And I always tell people scales about three things. You need to have execution systems, strategic systems and cultural systems. And they need to talk to each other and they need to be simple.

[01:00:28] And so scale map was really born outta me, starting to help other CEOs grow their companies. And right now we have scale map method. We coach right now, almost 30 different companies. And we teach them the process and really comes down to three things. And scale map itself is the execution side of this.

[01:00:43] What is the execution asset that I've built in the business? And there's three parts mission, which is where are you trying to go? And we wanna look at that in three different increments. 10 year, three year, one year. And when I always say what's gonna happen in the next 12 months, month by month, what's gonna happen in the next three years?

[01:00:57] And where, then I just want you to lean into the [01:01:00] future and have some faith and where do you think you could take the thing in 10 years? For some people they say I wanna sell before them. I go, fine. Five years. Once I define where I'm trying to go and I wanna look at that in a few areas, revenue, income, staff size, ethics.

[01:01:11] Am I building a business that's sustainable? Revenue and income will tell me that. How many people do I need to get them there? And I wanna look at that again, ten three in one year. And then ethics, am I creating any future liabilities for myself? Subprime mortgage lending. I created future liabilities for myself, my first business.

[01:01:26] So I learned you have to be cognizant of that. Then what we do is we create accountability systems around that. And that comes in meeting structure. So we teach admission, we teach how do you build quarterly plans? And so this is what I teach CEOs, how do you have simple systems to do this consistent.

[01:01:40] A is accountability. If I build a quarterly plan and I have my mission of where I'm trying to take the business to, and again, what do I do with that? My team knows what they need to work on. They understand the priorities. I understand it. It's mapped out. I have a plan to work with a plan is as good as the paper it's written on if you don't have accountability around that plan.

[01:01:57] And so A stands for accountability. [01:02:00] And we do that in two different ways. Number one is what we call ruler one org chart, which is who owns what? Defining who owns what in the business. I don't want overlap overlapping responsibilities. I want people to understand who owns what in the business. I want to spell that out and document it. And I want that to be a strategic tool for growth.

[01:02:16] IE, if I map out your entire organization, what are the top two hires you wanna make in the next 12 months? Strategic hires. What are the top two hires you wanna make in the next three years? Strategic hires. The people you bring into your organization in the next year and three years leadership-wise, are going to define where you go in that time period.

[01:02:33] But I wanna map that up so there's clarity. The next thing I want to do is I wanna build a meeting cadence. And what I tell people is accountability comes through cadence. Cadence comes through rhythm, and it's the heartbeat of execution in your company. And we do that through a meeting structure. We call 1590 meeting rule.

[01:02:48] And 30, every 30, which is your team meetings and your one-on-ones. All right? You got mission, you got accountability. What's gonna happen is, Hala, you're gonna start to get performance metrics. Data's gonna come out of the business. What do [01:03:00] you do with that data? And so P stands for performance, and that's looking at the data that comes out of the business.

[01:03:05] And we do that in three areas. One's a call to five question poll survey, which is me understanding my customer experience and my team experience. The second is we call three by three kpi. , which is how do you build KPIs that, again, going back to what I said 15 minutes ago, scale is a friction removal process.

[01:03:20] I want data to tell me what's breaking before it's gonna break. So we have a whole system around that. And the last but not least, it's called CP3L, which is how do you look at financials? So they tell a story of growth. And so it's so really simplistic, going back to this idea of shibui is their complexity and simplicity.

[01:03:34] I want to really focus on the 20% that's gonna move the needle and I want to get everyone aligned around that and then sit that on top of a cultural asset known as my values. And when you do that and you grow like crazy. 

[01:03:47] Hala Taha: I love some of these ideas, I've never heard before and I love them so much.

[01:03:50] Like rule of one org charts. The fact that everybody knows exactly what they're supposed to do, one person is assigned to one specific task, there's no confusion. That [01:04:00] is so important when you're trying to scale a team. And I love building the org charts for the future cuz that really helps you understand like how to budget. What hires you need to make, who's gonna come into your company and really help scale things. 

[01:04:10] And then your rules around meetings are super cool. So I'd love to get a little bit more detail about that. So you have the 1590 meeting rule, and you also have 30 every 30 rules. So let's hear about those two rules regarding meetings. 

[01:04:23] Darius Mirshahzadeh: First of all, most people think meetings suck and they usually do.

[01:04:26] And so if you have bad meetings, then that means you have bad execution. So if you have ineffective meetings in your business, and we use a tool that we teach in Scale M.A.P called the meeting autopsy. Which is you just like take, do an autopsy of what your meetings look like and how good are they.

[01:04:39] And usually people have one or two issues. They have too many meetings or not enough meetings. And so for me, I'm like, let's just keep it simple. Like the daily huddle is the 15 minute meeting and it needs to be done a certain way to maximize daily accountability. So the 1590 meeting rolls around the huddle, and then the 90 minute meeting is your weekly execution of your quarterly plan.

[01:04:57] Like I wanna build a plan for the corner, and then I wanna [01:05:00] hold people accountable to it week in and week out. And what I do is I look at the business in 13 week sprints. You have four 13 week sprints that come out to 52 weeks a year. I want every week, every five business days, your team has to show up and say that they're either on track or off track on their goals.

[01:05:14] And if they're off track, we're gonna have a discussion about it. And in my businesses, there is no being off track like someone has to have died for you to be off track . So scale is a friction removal process. And what I want, what I teach CEOs and my entrepreneurs that I work with, I say, Hey, look like we want to get really clear on creating a culture of accountability, but you gotta make it simple.

[01:05:34] Or stra team is gonna, they'll vote with their feet. They'll be like, Hala has us doing all these things. This sucks. I hate it here. And my perspective is no, let's make it really simple. And then they'll get ROI out of it. You will create an organization where nobody can hide and when nobody can hide, like there will be people that like to hide who will leave.

[01:05:50] And I say, great! And the people that don't, but there, then there's the other side, which people that like accountability and they'll be like, Hala's got a great business. I love our meetings cuz we get so much stuff done and [01:06:00] everyone's always hitting their goals and the business is growing and we're getting more organized, not less organized.

[01:06:04] So that happens because you have good meeting cadence around your quarterly plans and around your daily accountability. The 30 every 30, it's the 30 minutes you need to spend with each team member every 30 days. And I built this framework around how do you do one-on-ones? And so I teach that in our bootcamp.

[01:06:21] And then also we have a mastermind. I teach that to that and I also teach them to my one-on-one clients. But it's really focusing on the one thing that matters most to your team. And you know what that is? Hala? 

[01:06:30] Hala Taha: What?

[01:06:31] Darius Mirshahzadeh: Them themselves?

[01:06:33] Hala Taha: Aint that the truth? 

[01:06:34] Darius Mirshahzadeh: You gotta make it about them, and you gotta pour into them and you gotta, and if you do it the right way. You can figure out what's slowing them down and then once you pour into them through a really nice framework. You can then hold them accountable to what you want them to be held accountable to.

[01:06:49] But what a lot of managers do is the only time they meet with their team is when it's bad news, or to give them a shit about not hitting their numbers. And I'm like you're just the dad. That's over critical. Nobody wants to hear that. So my question is what are you doing to make [01:07:00] them successful?

[01:07:00] And are you creating an opportunity? A nice consistency around one-on-ones and one-on-ones is the biggest area. I, some of my clients that I have 500,000 employees and they have 33% of their managers doing one-on-ones. And I'm like, you're telling me that two out of every three people don't do one-on-ones in your business?

[01:07:16] You can't tell me that's not affecting your ability to win. I know it is. So for us, we create a nice system around that and then what's cool is if you do it one way. Then you can hold all your managers accountable to that same way. So you have what's called consistency. And with consistency you remove friction from the business.

[01:07:33] And scale is a friction removal process. So that's what you do. 

[01:07:36] Hala Taha: Amazing. Oh my God, Darius, all this information was super valuable. I feel like there's a lot of things that people can take away, but I feel like there's so much knowledge, that we haven't uncovered yet that is in your bootcamp. That is in your mastermind.

[01:07:50] So tell us about how we can find out about those resources. 

[01:07:53] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So you could go to do dariusscale.com, so that's where you can learn more about the bootcamp and about the coaching. That's my [01:08:00] give back right now. I love pouring into to CEOs and entrepreneurs. So dariusscale.com a good place to do that.

[01:08:05] You can go to therealdarius.com for all things Darius. And that kinda has the book and podcasts and stuff like that. But a lot of this also is on podcasts, so that's the Greatness Machine. And on that one, we're interviewing a lot of these experts. That have built these amazing businesses and there's a lot of learning there too.

[01:08:19] So those are the three places. But all things therealdarius.com, that's all things Dar. 

[01:08:24] Hala Taha: And I'll put all those links in the show notes. But selfishly, I wanna understand what can people expect in the bootcamp? What is that?

[01:08:29] Darius Mirshahzadeh: That's like drinking from a fire hose for three days. So it's really three days you come in, we teach you, we do, we build your rise targets.

[01:08:37] So we build your 10, three and one year plan. We teach you how to build quarterly plans so you could start to do quarterlys, the right way in your business. And so many entrepreneurs do those wrong and they build these crappy plans that don't do anything. So for us it's how do you build like these rock solid accountability plans?

[01:08:52] And then we really take you through teaching. How do we do the meetings, showing you how to roll it out, teaching you how to build KPIs, showing you how to roll that out. [01:09:00] So it's a three day boot camp where people leave and they're like, all right, it's a lot, but I have a lot to work with now that I can then, and we'd show you, how do you bring it back into your business.

[01:09:09] Hala Taha: And is it typically like a CEO e an entrepreneur or is it like you bring your exec team and you do this? Is it virtual, is it with a group? 

[01:09:16] Darius Mirshahzadeh: It's a group. We do small group. I run it. So it's, you get to spend three days with myself, which is always fun. And we do a lot of open coaching. So I'll do stuff where I just like, you could bring me any problem and mastermind.

[01:09:27] We do that too. But like it's you and I let people bring their number two. So it's you and your number two. It's small group. It's a lot of one-on-one time. I have coaches that will meet with you before and after enduring, and we do a lot of breakouts. It's a workshop. So it's interactive. There's like you're working to like, there's a lot of interactivity, and the idea is that you're building. You're really building these things for your business that you need, to get yourself organized and learning the framework so that you can then come, go back and apply it to your business.

[01:09:56] Cuz so many people are just guessing. And the problem I find with a lot of these other scale [01:10:00] systems is they're, by the way, like I didn't make all this stuff up. I did the other scale systems. They're hard. I quit them. I'm a creator. I'm like, this is a better way of doing it. I'm gonna do it this way.

[01:10:09] And I kept retweaking other systems and also creating my own stuff. So this is all born on the back of other systems that, God bless them they're great systems, but this is a better technology from my perspective. 

[01:10:21] Hala Taha: I'm super excited about it. I'm gonna pitch it to my team for us to do the Scale M.A.P Bootcamp with you Darius, and hopefully we get to do that.

[01:10:28] So the way that we close our episodes here on Young and Profiting podcast is we ask the same questions to every guest at the end of the show. The first question is, what is one actionable thing our Young and Profiteers can do today to be more profiting tomorrow? 

[01:10:43] Darius Mirshahzadeh: So here's something I tell everybody and I called my fulfillment formula. Which is if you do these three things, I think that this is at least what I've learned over my life.

[01:10:53] I'm 44, so I'm young, but I'm also old, right? Like I'm on the fence. 

[01:10:57] Hala Taha: You're medium . 

[01:10:58] Darius Mirshahzadeh: I'm medium. I'm experienced, [01:11:00] right? Are you living in your values? So get clear on what your values are, because the minute you ever feel icky or like friction in your life. It's you're rubbing up against your values.

[01:11:09] So get clear on what your values are and start to look at them on a regular basis. And so I always say, are you living in your values? Are you working in your strengths? Are you doing work where you are working within your talents? And I like StrengthFinder. That's my tool that I use and that I teach. So go pull your strength finders.

[01:11:27] Go look at your strengths and say, ask yourself the honest question, am I actually living in these strengths? And then start to measure yourself against it if you want. But am I living in my strengths? You're working in my strengths, living in my values. Am I doing it with a high level of awareness? And I have a buddy who his name is Marko Gargenta.

[01:11:43] He's the CEO of a company called PlusPlus. He says, fulfillment comes through again, living in my values, working in my strengths, and dealing with a high level of awareness. And awareness comes through three, four areas. Number one, am I being mindful? Do I have a mindfulness practice? Am I [01:12:00] exercising? Am I dieting consistently, eating a good diet?

[01:12:03] Am I sleeping well? So are you getting rest? Are you practicing mindfulness? Are you treating your body like a temple? Doing the right things for my body. Am I working in my talents and living in my values? And so my answer to your YAP crowd is if you're doing those things and start to pay attention to those things, the good things just happen.

[01:12:19] Hala Taha: Okay. And our last question is, what is your secret to profiting in life? 

[01:12:24] Darius Mirshahzadeh: I think it's, it goes back to what I just said. I really think it's finding that, that cross-section between what you love to do, there's a word in Japanese called Iki guy. And so it's really finding that cross-section between what do you love to do and what people will pay you.

[01:12:37] And really going all in on that. And so for me it's like, how can I do more of that? 

[01:12:42] Hala Taha: I love that. Thank you so much, Darius, for sharing your wisdom and sharing your story. It was super valuable. 

[01:12:48] Darius Mirshahzadeh: Thanks Hala. I love being here. 

[01:12:49] Hala Taha: Now I have to say the energy that Darius brings into everything that he does is so infectious.

[01:12:55] I felt this conversation feeling very empowered and ready to nail down [01:13:00] YAP Media's core values and get our team aligned to that Scale M.A.P methodology. In fact, I'm gonna have Darius speak to my leadership team, and when you open up Darius's website. It says in really huge, bright font that every problem we encounter begins and ends with core values.

[01:13:16] It's the first thing you see when you log onto his website. And right there is our number one takeaway from this episode because remember, core values help you make the best decisions. It helps you keep a strong culture as your business scales. It helps you attract and retain talent who are aligned with your culture.

[01:13:34] And you want employees, that align with your core values. And as individuals working for companies, you also want to align with that company's core values. And when both of these things mesh, when the people of the company are aligned with the goals of the company. That's where you get that frictionless scaling that Darius was talking about.

[01:13:55] So let's wrap up with some of Darius's tips on how to create core values that actually [01:14:00] work. First of all, you've gotta use viral sticky language. Don't use boring vanilla terms, and you want your core value to be something that your team remembers and embodies, not something that's easy to forget and ignore.

[01:14:10] So viral, sticky terms are super important. So for example, turn fun into wahoo or persistence into. All in something that's super catchy. You wanna have a marketing feel to it and you wanna keep it simple. Shoot for one or two words, no full convoluted sentences. And also you wanna stick to three to six core values.

[01:14:32] Too many or too few values. They don't have the same pull. And most importantly, you've gotta keep these core values authentic to your company. Remember that not every company is warm and fuzzy, and so if it doesn't actually align to your current culture, then people won't buy into it. You gotta make sure that you align to the actual culture, that is happening organically within your company, and that usually stems from the founders.

[01:14:57] And their energy and the founding team's energy. [01:15:00] And remember, this is the basis of how you work and who you work with, and it also sets the stage for future success or failure of your business. So you do wanna think about your core values. So I wanna know what your thoughts are on this. If you've been thinking about core values, if this inspired you, shoot me a DM on Instagram @yapwithhal.

[01:15:18] You can also find me on LinkedIn by searching my name. It's Hala Taha. And also the best way to thank our YAP team for all their hard work is to drop us a five star review on your favorite podcast platform. I hope you guys take some time to do that. As always, thank you for listening to another incredible episode with Young and Profiting podcast.

[01:15:36] And thanks to my amazing YAP team, this is your host, Hala Taha, signing off.

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