Kim Ades: [00:00:05]
Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, where we welcome leaders from all over the world to come onto the podcast and get coached live and in-person.
Today it's my pleasure to introduce to you a young, dynamic, vivacious, super driven young man. His name is Asad Jalib. But let me tell you how we met. He sent me a friend request on LinkedIn and when I saw his profile, I said, "this is a guy I need to talk to".
So what I saw in his profile was that he was the President of his university Student Union, and we are working on a very interesting project specifically aimed at a younger demographic, young professionals, and I wanted to talk to him. And when we got on the phone, honestly, he just completely and utterly wowed me. But when I asked him today, how should I introduce him? He said, "introduce me as the President of Dirt Technologies, Inc".
Asad Jalib: [00:01:08]
Thank you so much for having me, Kim. It's such a pleasure talking to you every time we do. You've got this very bright personality, which gets me really excited. So I'm thrilled to be here.
Kim Ades: [00:01:18]
Amazing. So... first of all, what'd you take in university? What was your degree in?
Asad Jalib: [00:01:24]
Yeah. So I went to university and I took the Business Administration program at Brock University and I just graduated last year.
Kim Ades: [00:01:33]
Congratulations! But then you became president of your Student Union. How did you get involved in politics?
Asad Jalib: [00:01:38]
Yeah. Student politics has been a lot of fun. I wouldn't even call it that much politics, I mean, we're all trying to work towards the same goal. I started off as a volunteer in my second year at university, and then I got a job as a security guard, actually, at the Student Union, as the student union runs a restaurant and a bar. So I worked there for a bit.
But I thought, "you know what? Let's give this a try". I ran for vice president and then I served as the president the year after. So, it's been very, very rewarding as an experience. We've been able to do a lot of really great things together. So eternally grateful for that.
Kim Ades: [00:02:12]
Well, you told me when we spoke that, you know, you think about a Student Union as something that's like not such a major thing, but it turns out, like, you're working with an enormous budget, right? Like, can you just describe that for a minute? Because really what you're sharing is how very experienced you are in running a business. So what is that size? The size of that budget.
Asad Jalib: [00:02:37]
So the student union that we have at Brock University, it's called Brock University Students' Union. It was actually founded over 50-- exactly 50 years ago, and we have an annual budget of 13 and a half million dollars, various departments, a lot of various priorities that we tackle throughout the year.
And that's the case across Ontario. We have-- Student Unions across Ontario are actually quite large and I did not know what they did or how they worked, but they are definitely businesses of their own. They have values, they have customers and they have targets to achieve.
Kim Ades: [00:03:11]
And now that you're out and you're graduated and you've handed along your throne, right? Someone else's sitting in your chair, you have a startup that you're working on called Dirt Technologies. So what is that? What are you doing now?
Asad Jalib: [00:03:26]
Absolutely. So, Dirt Technology started off with actually a challenge that my father faced. My father is a developer in Toronto and somebody dumped soil onto his property illegally. He ended up having to pay about $90,000 to have that soil removed. Thankfully insurance cover the cost, but it really got me thinking why this was happening in the first place and what we could do about it.
Turns out that there's over 25 million metric tons of soil excavated out of Toronto-- out of Ontario every single year. And there's only 122 million metric tons of landfill space available. So, you know, there's too much supply and not enough area to put it. So the cost to dump has gone up incredibly-- quite a bit over the past few years.
So we thought, okay, what can we do? Well, while somebody has asphalt to get rid of there's all. So people that need soil for grading or landscaping for foundations. And so we thought, okay, could we build something to connect to them?
Today, dirt market has over-- dirt market, which is one of our products has over 450 members in the province utilizing it. We have about 2 million-- more than 2 million yards of soil either required or needed on the platform, and we're growing every day. We were about to hit a thousand connections that we've made between different businesses to be able to connect on soil.
And a couple of the highlights are, you know, there's people that have saved $30,000 upwards on the platform because, well, they didn't have to have a landfill to dump that soil with, which takes a fee. They just found the person that needed that directly.
Kim Ades: [00:05:05]
That's incredible. That's so creative, so innovative. I love it. But-- so you've been running this business for about six months. Is that accurate?
Asad Jalib: [00:05:16]
Yeah, myself and my partner, we started building the product about six months ago and we officially launched in January, 2021.
Kim Ades: [00:05:23]
Wow. Amazing. And so the thing is that you just graduated and you're getting ready to go start a real job. A real job, right? How are you planning on doing everything?
Asad Jalib: [00:05:38]
Yeah, well, I mean, that's actually probably what would be of the most value for coaching right now is Kim, how do I do that? Because I actually don't know. I mean, I have some strategies of how we're going to be able to manage time and things like that.
This is definitely not the first time that I've had to handle a couple of things at the same time, but this is definitely the most mountainous time for managing a couple of things at the same time.
Kim Ades: [00:06:07]
So let's go back. You're starting a new job in a week from now, and it's a big job. Like, you're joining Amazon. It's not, you know, a corner store job, right? It's a big job. And you're going into the operations department. Do you have any sense for what that's going to take in terms of your time and attention?
Asad Jalib: [00:06:29]
Yeah. So, Amazon's really great with setting expectations and what things are going to be like. I have my schedule set out and it'll be about 40 to 60 hours a week. Depending on the workload.
I mean, Amazon's a big company with a big mission. So, sometimes you have to probably put in more hours than a typical job. But I think that's how we're delivering an immense amount of value to our customers. So there's that piece. Yeah.
Kim Ades: [00:06:58]
So you're prepared to put in 60 hours a week.
Asad Jalib: [00:07:01]
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'm so young. What am I going to do with the rest of my time? There's a lockdown and we're in a pandemic. There's not much else to do.
Kim Ades: [00:07:11]
So, for those of you who are listening, I want you to hear the attitude and the mindset of a young, driven entrepreneur. Someone who says "this is my time to really push. To really put in the hours to put in the time".
But so you still have a bit of a challenge, right? If you're putting in 60 hours at Amazon, how do you run your business?
Asad Jalib: [00:07:33]
Yeah, well, okay. So, if I need seven hours of sleep, there's seven days in a week. I need 49 hours of sleep. So if I put 60 towards Amazon, 49 towards sleep, I still got like half the week left.
Kim Ades: [00:07:47]
Asad Jalib: [00:07:50]
Which I know it's going to be very tough. I'm not going to say that's going to be easy, but I think now is really the time for me to put the work in and that's what I have to do.
Kim Ades: [00:08:02]
Okay. So, let's describe the challenge exactly. So is it a time challenge? You know, when I say, "what is your greatest challenge?" Is it a challenge of running this business, leading this business while you're at Amazon?
Because I think what I'm hearing is when you're at Amazon, you're fully focused, you're fully dedicated to Amazon, and that's not really the challenge for you. It sounds like the challenge is "how do I keep this flame going? That I started with my company, with my business".
Asad Jalib: [00:08:31]
Yeah, it's definitely in that space. With a startup there's so many areas and we have a limited amount of resources and we recognize that. So it's very important to decide what we have to prioritize and what should take up most of our time.
We have been able to come up with a few strategies to decide and... but that's really where we probably need the most coaching on. Absolutely.
Kim Ades: [00:08:55]
Okay, great. So let's start with this and I want to kind of back up for a minute. When we look at extraordinary leaders in the world, they've achieved massive things. People like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, et cetera. But guess what? They have the same number of hours in a day as you and me.
So the question is, so what's different about them? Did they start things off with a ton a money? Not necessarily, right? You know, look at Steve Jobs. He started in his garage, in his basement. And so the question is what was truly different? And I will tell you what it is and I want to kind of put this into your brain so that you can start thinking a little bit differently about this.
When somebody says "I have a limited amount of time and I have a limitation in the resources that I have", what I say to them is actually what you have is a thinking problem. You don't have a resource problem. You have a thinking problem. And what I mean by that is these extraordinary leaders have a very different sense of resources.
For them, there's no limit in resource. There's no limit in help. There's no limit of time. There's no limit in financial availability. Like, there's just no limit. And they have the attitude that they have access to these resources.
In other words, they have the permission, they are allowed to access these resources. They're entitled to have them, not in an entitlement kind of way, but they have the ability to access them. And so what that means is that they think about their needs very differently.
So they say, "okay, so if here's the situation, what would I need to put in place to really ease my load? What would I need to put in place to really move the needle forward?" And they don't let resources be a limit. They stretch that, they become creative around it.
So in your case, a lot of times we think, "well, we only have-- you know, here's the budget, here's what we're working with and that's it, that's the limit". But the truth is that your project is incredible. Do you know how many organizations would be willing to sponsor that? To pay you to get that job done? Right. So we're now thinking about it differently.
How many partners could you team up with that could help ease your load? How many, even human resources that are easily accessible and affordable that you could bring on your team?
So when I first started my... I've had many companies in my day. But when I started my last company, I brought on co-op students. You know, how much they charge? Nothing. Right? And they were really helping, they were making a massive difference.
And so, there are many, many ways that you can access resources. But you cannot access them if you think that there is a limitation.
Asad Jalib: [00:11:40]
Kim Ades: [00:11:40]
If you think that there's an unlimited range of resources and they're really right at your fingertips, now you start thinking in creative ways. You think "who could help me? Who would be interested in this project? Is there media attention that we can garner that would push this project over faster? But what can we do? Now you're thinking about it differently.
Asad Jalib: [00:12:04]
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Absolutely. Because you're right. Even with, I mean, you were able to give me concrete examples of some of our options already. And if time becomes a challenge or prioritization becomes a challenge, with that new thinking, I guess there's a reality that hey, we can outsource. There's a world out there where we can outsource things and we can find other ways. So the light bulbs are just clicking in my head right now.
Kim Ades: [00:12:32]
Yeah! I mean, outsources is one way. I'll give you another example. Again, when I ran my last business, I was interested in working with young people. And, like, this was many, many years ago, I lived in an apartment, I was pregnant with my first child. And I thought to myself, "you know what? I'm going to get co-op students".
And my husband at the time said, "are you nuts? They're not going to let you bring them to the house, to the apartment. Like, that's not going to work. There's no teacher in the world. That's going to send their kids to your apartment". And I thought, "you know, he's right. That's a big problem. How am I going to solve this problem?"
And so I went to the... there was a mall, not far from my house. I walked through the mall and I noticed that there was an empty store in the mall. It was just sitting there, empty. So I contacted the mall office. I said, "I'm working on this project. Can I use this space every day from one o'clock to five o'clock in the afternoon?" They said, "sure". Suddenly I had a place to bring the co-op students.
Asad Jalib: [00:13:30]
Kim Ades: [00:13:31]
I was in public and safe, right? And so did I have to pay for that? I didn't have to pay for it.
Asad Jalib: [00:13:38]
Kim Ades: [00:13:40]
There's so much you can do that you don't realize. You know, again, when I was first starting my business, I had a mentor who ran actually a financial website. Right? And she gave us access to her space, her office, you know, her network, all of that stuff. You're exactly at that age where you're enthusiastic and you're excited and people want to help you.
And it's a great project! It's environmentally friendly, it's leading edge, it's interesting. There's a lineup of people who want to get behind you and you're not tapping into them because you're so busy putting your head down.
Asad Jalib: [00:14:18]
Kim Ades: [00:14:18]
"I got to do the work. It's gotta be me. I only have so many hours in a day. You know, if I never sleep or if I sleep for only seven hours a night, then I'm good to go". So, you know, do you have a life too? Maybe a girlfriend, maybe some friends, maybe a family. You're not factoring those things in, are you?
Asad Jalib: [00:14:38]
Yeah, you're absolutely right. And not factoring them in has been, unfortunately, easier with the pandemic, but the reality is the pandemic isn't going to be here forever. So there are-- I guess the change of thinking is going to be more and more of a need going forward either way.
Kim Ades: [00:14:55]
Yeah. You got to get creative. So whenever someone says there's a limitation of resources, I'm like, "no, there isn't". There was a limitation in creativity. There's a limitation of imagination. There's a limitation in risk-taking. There is a limitation in asking for help, but there is no limitation in resources.
Asad Jalib: [00:15:18]
Absolutely. Okay. And yeah, I mean, I can already think of some ways that we can figure out to improve things and make things faster by tapping into resources that we have not already tapped into.
I mean, even if you look at grants and funding, there's lots of opportunities which we've started to explore, but I definitely think putting more effort into those is an option, for sure.
Kim Ades: [00:15:42]
Also, you're tapped into the university world. You know how many people want internships so that they can get experience? Unreal. You know how many professors want projects for their students?
Asad Jalib: [00:15:54]
Kim Ades: [00:15:56]
You got all kinds of cool things going on.
Asad Jalib: [00:16:00]
Yeah, you're absolutely right. Okay.
Kim Ades: [00:16:03]
I hope that was helpful.
Asad Jalib: [00:16:05]
That was really helpful. Okay. So, Kim that's with figuring out what to do with the resource piece. I wonder if you have any advice and coaching on what to actually focus on while we're in a startup. So, I'm giving you some context right now.
Our main priority is pretty much everything we do is either talking to people... We try to categorize it in two things: either we're talking to people or customers or potential partners, or we're improving our product and our software.
Kim Ades: [00:16:36]
Asad Jalib: [00:16:36]
Right? Of course, when we're talking to people, we're ensuring that we provide value and create an incredible experience. And we're improving our product with the feedback that we're receiving from talking to those people. This is what we've learned from Y Combinator, and that's kind of what we've been applying.
How is that system? And is there a better system to be able to focus on what we're trying to do? What we need to do?
Kim Ades: [00:16:58]
Yeah. So I don't know if you have this concept called quarterly meetings, 'cause what we do in our organization is on a yearly basis, our year starts in September, so at the beginning or at the end of August we create our goals for the year. "Here are our goals".
And maybe they're revenue goals, maybe they're, you know, number of podcasts, maybe-- like, we have very specific goals that we have. But then we break them down into quarterly goals, right? And what we do is we create what's called OKRs. Objectives and Key Results.
So in the quarter, these are the results we're trying to achieve, and then we say, "and here's how we're going to achieve them". So for example, if my goal is to reach X number of people, that means I need X number of podcasts. That means I need to find X number of guests. And it trickles down, right? In terms of the actions I need to take. And it becomes very tangible, very numerical.
So what we do is we set our goals for the quarter. Six weeks into the quarter we review how are we doing, but what that does is it keeps us focused on very tangible, specific, numerical goals. Like how many presentations do I need to do in order to reach a certain audience?
Right? So I know what I'm supposed to do, and I'm never off task because I have to reach my OKRs.
Asad Jalib: [00:18:20]
Kim Ades: [00:18:21]
What you want to do is you want to set those specific goals and create numbers around them, measurements, right? So you have a dashboard that you're using that says "this quarter, here's the target, here's the goal, and here are the actions, the activities that need to get done in order to reach that goal".
So, you know, every week I need to talk to six people and when I've crossed that off my list, now I could do this other thing. And I'm giving you an example that that becomes manageable. Right? You know what the numbers look like.
Asad Jalib: [00:18:58]
Yes, absolutely. Because the other option is that it seems like drinking out of a...
Kim Ades: [00:19:03]
Asad Jalib: [00:19:05]
Fire hose! Because there's a never ending list. 'Cause you can always make more calls and talk to more people. But if you haven't quantified that this is how much we need to achieve... one, there's a lower limit on and two there's an upper limit on it too, so you can focus on other things. Okay.
Kim Ades: [00:19:19]
Asad Jalib: [00:19:20]
I see that now.
Kim Ades: [00:19:22]
And also there comes a point at which, you know, you're always going to get feedback on how to improve your product, but there's a point at which you go, "you know what? We're going to take that feedback and implement things every half a year instead of every day". Right? So there's a point at which you've spoken to enough people, enough people are using it.
Of course our product improves all the time, but it's not a daily activity. You know, it's a quarterly or a biannual activity. And that allows you to grow your business.
Asad Jalib: [00:19:54]
Yeah, that's something we're not doing right now. Right now, when we get feedback, we validate it and we identify if it's realistic and if it's going to add value, and then we started implementing it. So we're definitely not in a, I guess, cycle of that update and develop...
Kim Ades: [00:20:11]
Well, that's another piece that you probably want to think about. And maybe at this point, it's not every six months, maybe it's every month. You know, "what are the improvements we're focusing on this month? Let's create a list". Because otherwise you're scattered, you're running around, someone says "jump", and you say "how high?" Right? And you don't want, that's not a good way to run your business.
Asad Jalib: [00:20:31]
Yeah, absolutely. I'm seeing that now.
Kim Ades: [00:20:34]
Asad Jalib: [00:20:37]
Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome, Kim. Thank you!
Kim Ades: [00:20:40]
I want to say thank you for coming onto the podcast. You know you say, when you talk with me, you get energized. When I talk with you, I get energized. So it was fun. I look forward to doing something with you in the future. As I mentioned before, we have this project we're working on focused on young people. I definitely want you involved. I just hope you carve out a couple of hours for me. I don't know how, we'll figure it out.
Asad Jalib: [00:21:03]
Well, I got you now, Kim. So, I'm confident we'll figure it out.
Kim Ades: [00:21:07]
We'll figure it out. For those of you who are listening, I definitely hope that you took something of value from this particular podcast. If you have a challenge that you want to share with me on the podcast, please reach out to me.
My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com
If you have a challenge that you don't want to talk about on the podcast, but you do want to discuss, please reach out to me as well.
My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com
In the meantime, if you love this episode, like it, share it, tell all your friends, and give us a review. We need all the support. We can get!
Asad, thank you so much for joining me today.
Asad Jalib: [00:21:46]
Thank you, Kim, for the opportunity. And I will definitely echo what you said in your last comments. I think this was incredibly valuable and I'm sure that other people will too. So make sure you spread the word, everybody.
Kim Ades: [00:22:02]