One thing about life is that it’s unpredictable. If it wants to throw multiple curveballs at you, you have no other choice except to face them. Aziz Alhamdan not only took life’s challenges head-on, he thrived. In this episode, he joins Juliet Clark to take us across his journey as a Ukrainian refugee who lost everything twice towards building an online business and working from anywhere, even against harsh circumstances. He talks about how he focused on building relationships online with his podcast, treating the Internet as another country we’re all citizens of. From there, he saw his show and business rise. What strategies did Aziz use to grow his business from 12 listeners? What is the truth about podcasting? What is his unique spin to personal branding? He answers these questions and more! Don’t miss out on this conversation.
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A Ukrainian Refugee And The Value Of Working From Anywhere With Aziz Alhamdan
My guest is a really interesting guy. You are probably like, “We’re having a guy.” Yes, we have a guy on the show. I know most of my clientele is women, but occasionally we talk to men too. Before we get started, I want to remind you to go over to www.BreakthroughAuthorMagazine.com. Get your free subscription. If you’re reading this, you’re more than likely someone who is looking to build an author brand around your book to help with your business. The magazine has great tips, tricks, platform building, marketing, publicity, publishing a book and development. Everything you want is right over there. Plus, we highlight some of our authors there as well.
Also, if you’re more visual, check us out over on YouTube. You can subscribe at Super Brand Publishing and you can watch all these episodes over there. A little background here about our guest, why I asked him on. When we do our platform building with our clients, a lot of times, they don’t understand that this is not an overnight thing that’s happening. Much of it is online marketing and that is used for audience building and then there’s relationship building.
Back in 2013, I was actually sitting in a networking meeting where I was the president of a networking group that year. We were maybe five months in and I was really frustrated because none of these people were growing. It was the same breakfast every month. It was I’ll scratch my back, you scratch yours. How many leads have you given me and how many do I need to give you?
It didn’t feel good to me anymore. It didn’t feel like what I wanted to do. I left the meeting that day and I planned a mastermind for the next meeting. In the next meeting’s mastermind, my question was, “What can you guys tell me about building a global audience? I’ve been seeing a lot about it. It’s something I want to do. My clients are mostly local now.”
They all gave me blank stares. You would swear that I had 3 or 4 heads looking back at them. I left the networking meeting that day and I called an old friend of mine who I knew was in the coaching space. He used to be a real estate coach, a very successful one when I was back in real estate. I had been watching what he was doing online and I knew that this was where I was going to begin.
I hired him, started getting that online and I’m telling you, talk about intention. I went in and quit the networking group the following week, which wasn’t well-received, considering I was president of it. Within a month and a half, six weeks, I had a global clientele. I was learning how to reach out to those people, build that audience, and go to the next step.
I was so grateful for that in 2016 when my mother passed away because I had to relocate suddenly and I had a business that I could pick up and take with me and work from my hometown where I grew up. I wasn’t happy to be there, I do have to say that, but I was grateful that I had spent three years building this tremendous online business.
That brings me to our guest because, in the worst of times, his business has thrived. My guest is Aziz Alhamdan. From being a poor boy born to a single mother in North Africa with no opportunities, except just the ability to love sheer hard work, he failed multiple startups and yet he learned a whole lot along the way. I think that’s true of all of us as we’re in this marketing and entrepreneurial experiment.
He barely escaped alive in the war in Ukraine. He was living there as an illegal immigrant and he’s lost everything twice. I believe he’ll share in his story that he was actually a Syrian refugee as well. Now he’s building his life one more time, one day at a time and sharing the wisdom from the luminaries he has interviewed on his podcast and helping podcasters grow their audience and be able to accentuate their personal brand and tell better stories. I think what you’re going to find interesting is he is much like me, only in much harsher circumstances. He built an online business and no matter where he’s at, it continues to thrive.
Welcome, Aziz. I’m excited for you to tell your story.
Thank you. Story is what bonds us as human beings. It was important for me to know that, to feel that because I grew up as a little boy to a single mother in North Africa. In a hard place where my father left before I was born when my mother was pregnant. She needed to work. I was living with my grandparents and I needed to be a good student.
I got a scholarship to Europe, to the Netherlands, and I studied there, but there was something missing for me that I wanted to find my people. I didn’t feel I belonged anywhere. There was something either wrong with me. I don’t know. I’m a 94% introvert or whatever, where I felt I needed to find my own community. I wanted to work and start a business online as soon as I knew such a thing was possible.
He left Tunisia, not Syria. To me, ignorant American, it’s all the same to me. It’s all in the same area. I apologize for that. You left Tunisia to go to college.
Yes. I lived in the Netherlands and then I was living the digital nomad life and Brazil, Barcelona, Philippines, Japan, Middle East, whatever it is, but in the last few years, I have been on and off to Kyiv, where the tech industry was booming. It was affordable. It was colder than I’m used to, but that was refreshing to me. I even started the podcast to make friends. I interviewed over 100 people in Ukraine. I was well connected.You don't fail. You learn. You've got the skills that make the next one better. Click To Tweet
I’m sorry to hear that, but you’ve been a digital nomad through all of this. When this happened, your life changed dramatically, but your business didn’t change. You still were podcasting and personal branding. Talk a little bit about that if you could.
Even when there were bombs outside, I used noise cancellation to do my podcast and all that. I want to remind people that there is momentum and everything that when you start something, especially online, there is a huge period when you see nothing and you are questioning what you are doing, and then suddenly there is the uptake.
With enough experience, I started five different businesses online, and some of them failed or whatever, but you don’t fail. You learn. You’ve got the skills that make the next one better and every single time, there is a delay between your effort and the results you get. No. My business was not affected by that.
Even better, when I had this tragedy, which everybody knows about, I wouldn’t expect it would happen to me. I was offered three job offers and startups. People wanted to support me by sending me money by offering me their homes. It was incredible because what I did was I focused on building relationships through the online business and seeing the world as if there is another country, which is the internet. We are all citizens of it, and therefore we can build the relationships so that although I can be here in Romania right now as a refugee, and you are there in the US, but we are together in a virtual world where we are building relationships that would not have been possible in a business that is not online.
I want to go back to something you said because this is something that so many people don’t understand. An online business is not instant gratification. Right when COVID hit, our business took off, but we had so many people that called and said, “I need to be online and I want to be building the same type of revenue in three months.”
The online building is trial and error. There’s no one way that someone can teach you that will work every time. Would you agree with that? It’s finding that balance between how much online marketing and how much personal relationship? How can I take them from that online into a personal relationship where they become a buyer? What are your thoughts on that?
I will take it even one step further, which is this and I will say two parts. One, I’m supposedly one of the best podcasters in the world. I’m grateful to people say that, but it took me nine months of constant podcasting to break through more than ten listeners. I remember I was using Buzzsprout. I don’t use them anymore because I’m much more prolific than what they offer.
One time, I had a technical issue. I emailed them and when they sent me back the email, at the bottom were information about my show. I remember the line clearly. It was estimated number of listeners, twelve. I thought, “Nine months of my life for twelve listeners. What’s going on?” It’s all part of the process. The second thing, what I believe is what works for me, will it work for you? What will work for the listener or the viewer will be totally unique to them.
You have a chemistry catalyst experience where life will tell you what works for you, which for someone else might not work. Therefore, you have to pay attention to what works in your own situation and grow that, keep that, manage that, make sure you keep on doing it and test what isn’t working. Other people can be an inspiration for you to test ideas rather than giving you the plan because their journey and your journey are always unique.
We have a course going on right now called I Love Content, and we have added weekly one-on-ones to it because you can’t say, “This is the way I’m going to deliver content,” because it depends on your personality, consistency, or your message. There’s so much in there that we decided we had to work with each one of our participants one-on-one throughout the month that they take it. What’s funny is you said you are an introvert. I’m an introvert, but I love podcasting because I get to meet new people all the time.Consistency is so rare. People just do something, give up, and run away. Click To Tweet
One small point, which is a comment on what you said. Nowadays, consistency is so rare. People do something, give up and run away. For those with that imposter syndrome, just you being consistent is a sign. It’s all the competency you need. You don’t need to be some genius or whatever. Most people cannot have a weekly or a monthly thing, whatever it is that they do for a long period of time.
If you manage to be consistent, even if you consider your content average, that is impressive by itself. To me, all this, you spoke about podcasting in the beginning. I’m an introvert. It was a challenge for myself. After each episode, I will need a long nap because I am totally depleted. I remember there is a thing that you can rewire your brain and change your personality through action, and therefore, right now I challenged myself.
I remember I did at 1 month, 90 episodes, 3 episodes a day, editing and everything. I remember one day, Apple emailed me and said, “Are you sure you are a person? Is this spam? Robots are producing so much content nowadays.” It was something that drained me, but it also made me able to handle a lot more. I’m using content creation for personal growth, self-development and for changing myself, strengthening my character in many ways.
That’s what we are doing as well. We started breakthrough out a magazine and I had no idea how much work it was going to be to put a magazine together. Before I say this, I love all my contributors, but sometimes I feel like I’m herding cats. It is. Consistency is the key. Ninety, that’s a lot. Let me ask you this. I had Toni on and she’s an online broadcaster out of Australia. She was saying, and I totally agree that probably my first 25 episodes are embarrassingly bad, but you get better the more you do it.
For me, the story is interesting. My very first podcast, when I was editing it and I mastered it, the voice that happened came out like Darth Vader, which was absolutely horrible. I had the choice between two things, either to delete it and do it again, but I thought, “I will publish that as the first episode.” Even weirdly, it only wants to be the second episode.
My first episode is placed as the second, no matter how much I tried to make it the first. I thought, “I will never be worth who wants to do whatever I want to create freely.” Never worry about being bad because if someone says, “You are getting worse.” I will be like, “Check my first episode.” It will be that this is wonderful no matter what it is because I sounded like an alien breathing into the mic and it wasn’t even the original recording. Something happened within the laptop that, for some reason, it was haunted or whatever it is and that episode is horrible.
Maybe that’s why you had twelve listeners for the first year.
This is a truth about podcasts that I had to learn, podcasting is for deepening relationships with people that you already have some type of relationship with. It’s not a medium that is made for discovery and I assumed it is. Podcasting is not the way for you to grow your audience. You need some other place to grow your audience and bring them into your podcast to deepen that relationship more as a one-on-one.
I remember they did some studies to find out. Twitter is not a good place for discovery specifically because the biggest accounts are people who are famous in real life and on Instagram as well. It’s a distribution for famous people while YouTube, and there are other ones, medium or whatever it is, are places that are made for you to get discovered. Podcasting can be a way for you to deepen and strengthen the relationship.
I met Aziz on LinkedIn. I don’t even remember how we started talking, but it’s like that. Most of the people, I see somebody interesting on LinkedIn and I’m like, “Let’s talk. This isn’t a sales call. What are you doing? I see you have this or that.” Tell me about that.Your brain was made to learn from other people's experiences. Click To Tweet
I encourage everyone to knock on all doors. There is a concept called The Invisible Doors that you are here. You are here right now. In the future, there will be a door that will change your life. If you think back years ago, you are not the same person. Some new things happened that made you be here now that were unpredictable.
You never know because this is what I believe. A lot of people believe, “You have to do this in order to be likable. You have to know how to sell and to know the method for all that.” I tried all that and I find that it’s not true. There are some people that you have chemistry with instantly and those will be part of your life beyond any techniques, storytelling, or personal branding. No matter what you do, there are people who, even if you are like the perfect person in every sales, social skills will not jive with you. Therefore, I find that say hello, because you don’t need to do anything. You need to take the opportunity to find your people, and that’s it.
You have a unique spin on personal branding. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
I remember during our other podcast episode. I have four podcasts. I interviewed almost 600 people since the pandemic. It’s absolutely fantastic. Where in the beginning, when growing up, I was very introverted. I didn’t know how to communicate well with people and I explained that. I began thinking, “What is personal branding?” People try to complicate things in order for them to create a brand for themselves and I thought deeply about it.
We grew up in a tribal environment. What’s the difference between the people in our tribe who we knew and people who we don’t know? There are two differences that are clear. One, we know the past of every person in our tribe. We know their present, like where they are located right now and we understand like where they are going, the future that they have. Therefore, to create your personal brand.
In many ways, I specialize in the storytelling that relates to personal branding, which is different from any other kind of storytelling. It’s storytelling that shares your values with the world. Part of it is you have to speak stories from your past that make you become a known part of the tribe. You are present right now and your vision or goals for the future or purpose. If you have those three elements, you become an error.
As well as an archetype, and I use the Carl Jung archetypes as a summary for it where in a tribe, you had the hunter, the shaman, the cobbler, or the carpenter. People had the general category that you need both to have some archetype by category. It could be a trickster, magician, wizard, a funny person, or whatever it is that represents your true personality through this lens and constantly sharing about your past, present and future. When you combine both as a constant process of a lighthouse where you are shining your light into the world, the people who you have chemistry with, like a sonar, will be attracted and will come to you. They will be a needle in a haystack, but they will change your life.
Trying to pretend you are anything is not going to work for you because when I first went into business, I was a little bit of a rebel, but I also was hiding behind my company brand. When I came out from behind there and said, “I work with action people. If you don’t like me, leave.” You’d be amazed how much business picked up because that was me.
If you are not ready to take action, I don’t want to have you sitting in my program doing nothing. That’s not how I roll. I think that personal branding is important and being authentic in it. I know that’s so overused, but they will buy when people feel like they love your energy and you are genuine. When they feel you are like, “I’m great at marketing, but not good at delivering that I can sell you.” It feels like you are being sold. It doesn’t feel real.
I have a like an opinion about this that I will rent a little bit. I will say we live in a world where idiots are very confident and therefore, they share their personalities. They say whatever they want while good people, smart people realize their limitations, and they are too shy, too reserved, and they are for people who don’t know them or trust them.We don't need to revolutionize and invent something that was never heard before as long as you're speaking your truth. Click To Tweet
They see some idiot who speaks in big words, standing tall, being so magnificent and grandiose and think, “That person must know what they are doing,” but all they are good at is looking like the alpha person or the leader. While good people, “I will tell you this. I discovered it and it’s very important, and trust me on this.” Your brain was made to learn from other people’s experiences. What does this give you the opportunity to do? By definition, you share in your thoughts, and trust me and other things.
Your brain is like your own fingerprint. Your thoughts are very unique to you. Last, you didn’t take time to discover your authentic self and are regurgitating other people’s thoughts. The thing that resonates with your inner self, there is this resonance. I don’t know how to explain it. This energy that, “I agree with this. I believe this.”
When you share that, the combination of those things is unique to you and when you share them, people their brains will tune in to listen to another person’s experience, and therefore what you say is valuable because it is authentic to you. You don’t need to be amazing. You don’t need to revolutionize and invent something that was never heard before as long as you are speaking your truth. The brain is made in order to listen in and peek into other people’s lives and understand their thoughts and experiences.
Where can we find you if we want to find out more about what you do?
You can check my podcast. It’s called NoCodeWealth.com, and to me, wealth is not even about money. I want to redefine it. Wealth is about freedom. It’s about being around people you love, doing work you love and, waking up excited for the day, challenging yourself in the right way, then you are wealthy.
Even in my experience, I almost died in Ukraine. I was in a shelter for many days. I almost couldn’t escape in a train because the priority was for women and men at the time. No men were allowed to leave anywhere, and I’m like, “I’m a foreigner,” but no. It didn’t matter. On that journey, I had cash in Ukrainian money, which I still have because even here, the banks don’t want to take it. They are like, “This is war money. We don’t accept.”
People helped me out of the kindness of their own hearts. Money made no difference; therefore, when you think about it, there are too many valuable things. In this life, your time, the people that make you feel whole and happy that a billion times worth more than $1 billion. Anybody can message me on LinkedIn on Twitter. Same @NoCode Wealth or my full name. I’m happy to help anybody and answer any questions.
Thank you for sharing all this.
You are welcome. It was an honor and privilege to me, and I wish you all a good day.
- YouTube – Super Brand Publishing
- Aziz Alhamdan
- @NoCode Wealth – Twitter
About Aziz Alhamdan
My guest today is Aziz, And from being a poor boy, Born to a single mother in North Africa, With no opportunities, just sheer hard work, To failing multiple startups, Yet learning a whole lot, To barely escaping alive the war in Ukraine, Even living as an Illegal Immigrant, He has lost everything twice. And now, he is rebuilding his life one more time. 1% a day. Sharing the wisdom of luminaries I’ve interviewed on this Podcast, And helping Podcasters grow their audiences, tell better stories, and clarify their personal brand.