Monday, December 29, 2014

A Different Philosophy...

Today we have a guest blogger joining us.

Siyamak has a somewhat different perspective... a perspective that I thought that our regular readers would enjoy as the last blog of this year.

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My name is Siyamak Khorrami and I want to share with you some life changing experiences, hoping it might benefit you as much as it has helped me over the last few months.

I was born in Iran just after the revolution deposing the Shah.  As a young man, who was interested more in business than politics, I decided that the future was limited for me in Iran.  So in 1999, I had the opportunity to move from Iran to Mexico while I awaited a student visa to study in the United States.

After two years of waiting, the opportunity finally came as I was able to enroll at USC and after four years of study, I graduated with a degree in international business.

After graduation and at the relatively young age of 23, I was presented with an opportunity to go to China where I headed a large department within a 300 person company.  While in China, I often found myself in meetings with high-level Chinese government officials and key business leaders from Europe and America. 

In addition, to meeting with key customers, I also had the opportunity to preside over dinners and receptions for regulatory agencies such as the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) as well as other members of the biotech community.

Before my 25th birthday, I had lived in four countries, learned four languages fluently, and successfully assimilated into the diverse business cultures of the Middle East, Latin America, China and America.

After my experiences in China, it became apparent to me that the America was indeed the land of opportunity so I left China and landed in California which the intention of starting up a new business venture within the high-tech industry. 

The timing couldn’t have been worse.  The year was 2009, and the United States was embroiled in the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression.  In addition, most of my direct experiences came from the chemical and biotech industries.  The new venture was in the field of computers and telecommunications.

But despite all of the hurdles before us, now five years later, we have now become a regional leader in our field and are looking to expand onto a national platform within the next few years.

From the perspective of a person looking at me from the outside, it appeared as though I have achieved a great deal of success especially for someone as young as myself.   I was a successful entrepreneur, had extensively traveled the world, spoke several languages, and had a rolodex of high-level friends encompassing many different industries.  

However, from inside I was dying a quick death.  Success has a way of enslaving a person with the fear that everything that has been already achieved could be lost as quickly as it came. 

My work days became endless and my nights sleepless as I worked harder and harder to juggle more and more balls.  I regularly worked through the nights and weekends trying my best to overcome the fear of failure while moving my company though a minefield of competitive forces.

When I was in China, I was a high-ranking officer within the company. The people who directly reported to me were at my beckon call and did whatever I ordered them to do at any given time. My concern was not for their welfare but rather whether or not the job was being done. My subordinates didn’t necessarily like me and I didn’t really care. 

The environment was very toxic on several levels.

I love the people of China, but there is inherently little or no trust between management and labor, within different departments, and even within departments.

Loyalties of most people within the company were tested often and due to incumbent politics, it was hard to find a trusting team of people to work with.  I found it increasingly hard to trust members of my own team and often found them working against the best interests of the team.

Dealing with government officials was another great challenge to overcome.

Every day, I met with people who appeared to be a helpful friend when in reality; they were actually working against you.  It seemed that everyone only cared about working in their own interest and honesty was non-existent.

When I started my company, I made it my mission to create a different type of culture.   I wanted to build a team who worked together to achieve common goals.  I wanted a company that was transparent and transformative.

Unfortunately, I also wanted to quickly find success for me and my new company. 

My business goals soon became incongruent and my relationships with my employees, friends and family began to suffer in my quest for success. 

From the outside everything looked good but on the inside I felt empty.

In a quest to change my path, I thought about a book that a college friend had given to me some 10 years ago.  The book is called Zhuan Falun and introduces the reader to a spiritual practice called Falum Gong. 

For years, the book remained on my bookshelf unread.  My friend had told me a little about the basic principles of the book but I didn’t see any need to incorporate those principles into my own life.  At the time, my interests were based solely on material success, not any spiritual awakenings.

But after achieving a certain level of material success, I felt empty, alone, and a general feeling of unhappiness.

One day, I remembered this book and sat down to finally read it.

Inside the book, I found some profound principles that touched my heart and made me rethink of many of my past behaviors.

It was as if I have been searching for this my whole life and now have found it. Soon I began ingraining these principles into my daily life and business practices.

The book mentions that the universe is built on three main characteristics:
  • Truthfulness 
  • Compassion
  • Tolerance
The followers of Falum Gong believe that we need to always try to incorporate these three basic tenets into our daily lives and in doing so, we begin to live our lives by helping and understanding others.

These principles are on a spectrum and that every day we need to reflect on our thoughts and our actions and continue to improve them.

The way that I have found to incorporate these principles is to continually try to look through the eyes of the people I encounter throughout my life. 

No longer am I concerned with what is best for me but rather I am now solely concerned with what is best for others knowing that if I am able to help others, my own rewards will come back to me in the end.

Before applying these principles, I was under the guise that in everything there was a winner and a loser...and I always wanted to be that winner. 

Since my introduction to Falum Gong, I now know that there can be multiple winners in every situation...that life is more of a win-win than a winner-take-all.

Instead of always thinking about winning and losing, I have been focused more on creating win-win relationships and opportunities in everything I do and with all the people I meet along the way.

I have replaced selfishness, fear and competitiveness with truthfulness, compassion, tolerance and in doing so; I have reintroduced a sense of happiness back into my life.

I still have kept the same drive for my career and our company but now I pay great attention to others as well. I have focused on building an environment that not only will lead to financial success for our team and our investors, but also will help our team members have happy and healthy lifestyle.

As a result, I have been so relaxed over the last few months. Our company environment has changed significantly. I can feel that the team members care about the success of our organization.  

The sleepless nights, anxiety, and fear are all gone.  Finally I have been feeling relaxed and happy inside. My friends and family members can see the results as well.

I am so glad that I came across this ancient spiritual practice and I wanted to share my experience with you today. 

Somehow we get lost in winning and losing while we focus on our own success but there is another way to achieve success without sacrificing our personal fulfillment.

Thank you for letting me tell my story and may the future bring you much success and great joy.

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