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Azeem Khan, Head of partnership at Aglet

Learning Inspiration 🌈 #49

Azeem Khan, Head of partnership at Aglet and founder of the podcast The Azeem Khan show. He shared with us in this interview his major inspiration and challenges he faced last year.

Azeem Khan, Head of partnership at Aglet

Who is your biggest inspiration? 

It’s cliché but my parents are definitely an inspiration to me. They both moved to the United States as immigrants with nothing, barely knowing the language, and were able to be successful here in ways that I couldn’t dream of replicating were I to move to a different country myself at this age.

Because of the work that they put in and the sacrifices that they made I was put in a place to really excel here in ways that wouldn’t have been possible without them. A lot of times when I think about my successes, I think about how much more difficult they had it to accomplish even the smallest of things compared to me with the luxuries I’ve been afforded.

Outside of my parents, my favorite rappers have always been a major inspiration to me. Jay Z in particular was a huge one growing up. Listening to his lyrics felt like a form of self-hypnosis. Having seen him accomplish the things that he did, knowing where he came from, and then seeing him talk about it all throughout the years of his musical career has always been something that I held dear to me.

Similar to looking at my parents who came out of living in poor villages in Pakistan to what they accomplished here, I’d often think about the circumstances that Jay Z overcame to become what he had, even then when I was younger, points at which he was a much smaller artist than the monolith he is today.

These days I’ve been pretty obsessed with learning more about Muhammad Ali. I’d always been a fan but didn’t know his story in detail. I’ve read a few books on him in the past few months and watched some documentaries. I’d always have a yearning to better understand him growing up because both of my parents were big fans of his, and as I’m learning more I fully understood why he was such an icon.

How do you keep learning on a daily basis? What are your learning routines?  

I’m a very naturally curious person to begin with. Things that are new ideas or things that don’t make sense to me appeal to me. In school I majored in Biology and later earned a master’s degree in it. Looking at the world through the scope of a scientist really lends itself to treating every little thing like an experiment, which makes learning fun.

At any given time, I’m always reading a few different books. In the past few weeks, I finished a biography on Muhammad Ali, another book on a method of running called 80/20, a New York Times Best Selling book called Grit by Angela Duckworth, and have been reading random things each day in the form of articles that I get from a variety of places. That’s aside from the audio and video ways that I learn too. Whether it’s good podcasts, YouTube, or Master Class, I always enjoy learning something new.

One of the things that I’ve incorporated over the past few years that’s helped me a lot is that each morning I read before I do anything else. Instead of waking up and looking at my phone, I give myself at least an hour before I do that. In that time, I’ll read 30-50 pages of whatever book I’m in the mood for that morning. It’s made a tremendous difference for me. It’s something I’d suggest to anyone. Really sets the pace for the day in a way that helps.

What are your favorite books and why? 📚

At the beginning of every year, I like to read two particular books, so I’d have to say those are my favorite ones. Those two are Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

Both are books that touch close to my heart. Siddhartha is about the spiritual journey towards self-discovery of a man named Siddhartha and the path that it takes him to get there.

Then there’s The Alchemist and I wouldn’t honestly even be able to summarize why it’s such a beautiful book in only a few words. I simply couldn’t do it justice, but it’s also a book about a young man on a journey of sorts.

What pushed you to create your own podcast?

Honestly, I simply enjoy making content. I’d been asked to come on a few people’s podcasts over the years and my brother was doing it as well at the time. I hate everything but the recording part. Editing and scheduling posts are the bane of my existence, but they are things that come with it.

Also, it was something that people recommended to me a lot over the years. Because of my really random experiences doing so many things in my career I’ve developed quite an eclectic network of people who are very successful from disparate places. That in itself lent itself to the idea of a fun show because I wouldn’t be focused on any particular things.

I’m really looking forward to taking the lessons I learned from these initial months of podcasting into ramping things up in 2021. There were a lot of things I simply couldn’t have known, and feel more ready to do well with the show next year, along with some other shows I’m doing too.

Apart yours, what is your favorite podcast and why?

That’s a tough question because I listen to so many podcasts. While I’d have to first posit that I understand he’s become somewhat of a controversial figure of late, Joe Rogan’s podcast is brilliant, if not simply for the fact that he makes content from the strangest of guests into things I watch three hours of. There are episodes of Joe Rogan’s show where I’ve listened to three hours from breathing experts. Never in my life did I imagine that I’d be open to listening to three hours of content from someone telling me how to breathe, especially considering I have a lifetime of practice in breathing, but yet, that’s an episode I listened to.

Currently, I’ve been making my way through some excellent episodes regarding exercise from some of the most knowledgeable and successful people in their niches. That’s been a great way for me to switch up my exercise routines in a way that’s been super helpful during quarantine.

If you were to stay alone on an island and only be allowed to bring one item, what would it be? 🏝

My kindle for sure. Honestly, I’ve been dreaming about covid ending so that I can do just that. There are so many small island towns in places like Panama that I’d love to visit with nothing more than just my kindle stored with all the books I could ever want to read. In between reading, I could either sunbathe or go into the water.

I actually applied to something this month where Hawaii is trying to get 50 remote workers to go live there for at least a month. They’re offering free flights and significantly discounted hotels for people to be able to stay on Honolulu, so I’m hoping that I end up winning that because I could really use some time on an island.

What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome this year, and how did you do that?

This year I paid off $50,000 in credit card debt. Without getting too far into it, both my parents have been quite sick for years now. Their sickness came suddenly and meant that I had to take on a lot of financial responsibilities I simply wasn’t ready for. That entailed being in a place where I had to take on far more debt than I had cash coming in to support, but I wasn’t in a place I could avoid it because they were all necessary costs.

Thankfully, this year, I was blessed enough to be able to find ways to get enough work to not only pay off the entirety of that credit card debt, but I’ve also started putting together a savings account as well.

There are quite massive amounts of some other forms of debt that I need to start tackling next, but I’m going to take the same approach that I did to paying off the credit card debt, which was to simply blast away with payments for as large as I could afford, while minimizing any unnecessary expenditures on my end as well.

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Romain from Clind

Romain is currently in Master 2 at Sup de Pub Paris. He is an organiser of electronic music events also passionate about human relationships, sports, UX/UI design and digital brand strategy.

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