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News Icon: Heart to Heart Talk with Syed Sarim

Syed Sarim with Newsinstore.pk
Syed Sarim, widely known for ‘Digital Growth Hacking’ and ‘Lean Startup Mentoring’ in the industry but very few know what exactly are Sarim’s daily struggles! His accidental health concerns shook many in the industry; therefore, News In Store team approached to know him a little more closely. Here’s our heart to heart talk with the ‘guru’.

NIS: Who is Syed Sarim to the World?

SS: That’s an interesting question! By profession, I’m a marketer and widely known for my marketing campaigns across the globe. There are a lot of nicknames that people call me with, some call me ‘demon’ marketer, for a few I’m a ‘psychotic’ marketer, some say I’m a ‘clever’ marketer. There are certain stigmas attached to my name because of the viral and morality campaigns I’ve done. I take these names as a token of appreciation because my campaigns have always been a hit.

I don’t know why but I personally adore and love being called a ‘Psychotic Marketer’. For the world, I’m an entrepreneur, marketer, startup philanthropist and offer in-depth knowledge for free. My inbox remains flooded with messages for mentoring, business solutions and so on.

NIS: Briefly tell us about your entrepreneurial journey?

SS: I’ve been into the business industry for over 7 years. My first company was a software house, which was initiated with only 2k, yet I scaled it to global projects with a team of over 40 members in 14 months and was close to the IPO.

Unfortunately, for some reasons, it went down like a house of cards and I was back to square one. Later, I met a crunch where I had to work at a petrol pump from 10 PM to 4 AM to get some petty cash to run my company expenses, while I kept on working for the company in the morning so it was often 4 to 5 hours sleep a day.

In fact, those were the toughest days where my company wasn’t able to make 15k, my partner left and I was alone to look after it.

Today, I’m doing great with my Growth Hacking Company – Growth Hopper, my new comic series and other investment activities.

NIS: Why entrepreneurship and not any other avenue?

SS:. Can’t say why, but I’m the only person in my entire family who took this pledge. There wasn’t any concept of business earlier because everyone around me was service based.

Having studied Data Sciences & Big Data Analytics from the University of California, Irvine – I had offers from Facebook and Uber but I didn’t take them because I was resilient enough to work my ways out. I never quit or regret the decisions I take. Later, I shut my first company and started a new one but never thought of working for the corporate world.

NIS: What makes you happy?

SS: I feel really happy when I build people and their skills. When they mark their places and comeback to say, “We’re here because of you”, that’s what makes me really happy.

NIS: What are your hobbies apart from digital stuff?

SS: My hobby is reading and I repeat, I read a lot. I’m not into sports or gaming. I’ve quit listening to music and I’m not socially active. Belieiving in the fact that there’s always a cost of being an entrepreneur, I’ve paid that due cost well in terms of social, psychological and physical measures, and now I’m all into reading, gaining knowledge and practical implementation.

I fear of dying like an average person and that thought drives me to more learning more and knowledge seeking. I would say, I’m a victim of imposter syndrome – People say, I have great knowledge and knows my stuff well but I don’t think I know enough, so I keep learning more and more…

NIS: What genre do you like to read?

SS:  Marketing, Business and Entrepreneurship. I’m not into fiction at all. For guidance, I do read The Holy Quran with translation. Whenever I feel, I’m doing something wrong in life, I just get back to the Quran for guidance and self-correction. I’m learning to be as good as possible.

NIS: Your Health Condition came as a shock to your followers, many of us still don’t know what exactly is it. Can you explain?

SS: I’ve been diagnosed with a partial ‘Conversion disorder’ and ‘Amnestic disorder’ But its dominantly conversion disorder, which attacks my central nervous system and when it happens, it blinds me. At times, I get paralyzed, sometimes the lower limb gets paralyzed, or the upper limb gets numb. Rarely, it causes complete paralysis or I’m completely deaf or immovable. Since it’s very unpredictable, I have arranged all kinds of equipment like crutches, wheelchair, hearing aid etc. to counter each situation effectively.

It’s a combination of diseases and interestingly, comes as a mixed package, I never know what’s gonna happen next in the morning. This keeps me excited, “key pata nahi kal subha mujhey kya hoga Instead of being depressed, I keep myself motivated, prepared and excited for anything and everything!

haha that’s so interesting – Allah ney aap ko masla bhi woh diya jiss mein aap motivated rehtey hain – Team News In Store

That’s so true! I believe, we all celebrate the good part of Allah’s blessings but none celebrates the hard part, I try doing that. God has his own way of blessing people, we look for big houses, we pray for the latest cars and we sometimes say, mujhe himmat wala bana, taqat wala bana. I think we must seek this very carefully because once it’s there, Allah put you in trials and that’s where people often fail to cope up! I used to pray for strength and power, and see – here I am. It’s God’s way of testing and making me stronger.

NIS: How did you initially react and thought of it?

SS: Damn! I have a new story to share with the people Hahaha – It’s an addition to my life! That’s what I thought initially 🙂

Apart from that, I believe I’ve found the missing puzzle! From then onwards, I’ve followed a different phenomenon. People generally try overcoming their diseases by fighting against it, whereas I try the other way! I have become friends with this disease, as it has nothing to do with physical illness, it’s a neurological problem and I don’t let it overcome my brain or body. I act and manage accordingly. I feel fulfilled, sleep happily and wait for the next surprise.

I have nerves of steel. In the past, I had chosen to fail a lot of times and that was the biggest mistake. Now I choose to deal with my battles.

NIS: What do you think of the Startup Ecosystem in Pakistan?

SS: Unfortunately, some serious overhauling is required. Pakistan’s startup ecosystem is dominated by the working wolves. With that I mean, people who have been doing 9 to 5 all their lives, had their salaries debited in the account by the start of every month have taken over the ecosystem and remain in the headlines.

Photo Courtesy: Syed Sarim Facebook Official

Some of them have retired being an employee all their lives, and they still believe they can guide a startup, irrespective of the ground realities that young startups face. They tell you not to quit, which is harder doing than saying.

I would suggest all the startup owners to do a little background check about who’s advising them. Where is it coming from.

We need to decentralize the power of our startup ecosystem. Much of the power lies in a few top tiers, which is alarming.

Not to sound negative, but I believe we need ‘Bane’ from the Dark Knight Rises to get power back to the people!

Adding to the above, he shared – I don’t go the conferences because they are packed with sponsors. I personally believe it has to be – For the startups by the Startups! It is mostly by the conglomerates and corporations who are far from the startup realities. Why would I pay to listen to someone who has never been into the situation and blabbing about the conglomerate he is working in? Just because they have sponsored the event?

Startup eco-system has become a darling to many and they sponsor to remain in the limelight but that doesn’t fulfil the purpose.

NIS: Share top 3 things you turn to if you look for tech updates, skills or ideas.

SS: Unfortunately, I don’t have many mentors and I generally turn to books for the best learning. My three recommendations for books are:

  • The Hard Things about the hard things by Ben Horowitz.
  • The Bite in the Apple – a biography on Steve Jobs.
  • The Elon Musk – a biography on Elon Musk

Elon Musk is my hero, I must say – *laughs*

NIS: Why Vlogs? Are you inspired by Gary? Or Is it a part of your self-branding strategy?

SS: Hahaha, nice question! Well, I’m not inspired by Gary. I feel he runs in me *laughs*. There’s a difference between being inspired and being injected. I shamelessly hustle that I look forward to him and I kinda pick great tips. A lot of people disagree with his advice but I follow him.

Jokes apart, As you know I was too much into written content and social media statuses, People love my content, I have written two books, and the third one is in progress so I’m done with the text content. I’m moving towards videos now and I’m hoping I get the same response as I got on my written content.

NIS: Is there any regret in life? Something or someone you missed because conditions weren’t favourable?

SS: Frankly, I don’t have any regrets in life. But if I can remember any one thing, but I would say, my aim was to develop jobs for 1000 people and I wasn’t able to do that. This is the only regret I have in my entire life.

NIS: How do you judge a person or what do you see in a person if you wish to work with him/her?

SS:  Firstly, I don’t judge people at all. They are humans and are made to make mistakes. I have built this office a judgment-free place. People come and say anything they like!

But when it comes to understanding a person in a particular aspect, I look for how hungry that person is to work with us or over the goals we have. Asil, my partner was hired as an intern three years back and now we are partners. I promised that if he’s going to perform well, he’s going to be my partner and he proved that.

I don’t judge people with what they wear or look like, that’s secondary to me!

NIS: Some of us already understand, whereas some will definitely realise that life is unpredictable – What would be your best advice to your fans, especially the young followers?

SS: Spend your day like it’s your last day and spend your night as if you are not going to wake up. There has to be one good virtue or deed that you can cherish when you’re off to bed. Sleep without regrets and without hurting anyone!

-Read About Another News Icon: Roshaan Syed

Off the track with Syed Sarim…

NIS: Koi Aur Hai Aapki Zindagi mein, kaam key ilawa?

SS: Hahaha, it’s a hard truth but my first love is my work! The rest comes second. However, I have a family, a wife and a 10 months old daughter and I do give them their due time.

NIS: What’s your worst habit that you are unable to get rid off?

SS: I don’t value health, that’s the worst habit. Even after experiencing the health crises, I’m unable to maintain routine sleep.

NIS: You have thousands of followers, what about friends?

SS: I have some immediate friends but I don’t go out much but fortunately, they are always there. I would confess, I don’t go out much, whoever wants to meet, they are always welcome 🙂

NIS: Your 3 biggest strengths and 3 biggest weaknesses.

SS: Strengths:

  • My biggest strength is that I’m aware of my roots and grounds.
  • My second strength is my daughter.
  • Regardless of all the crap, I’m taken very seriously by my family and friends.

Weaknesses:

  • I don’t take care of my health.
  • I never feel satisfied with my achievements.
  • I miss my prayers.

NIS: Have you ever been ditched? If so, how did you handle?

SS: I have never been ditched. Because I don’t expect from people. It’s human nature they change.

NIS: What is the best thing that has happened to you?

SS: My wife for sure followed by laughter!

NIS: What’s next? Where do you see yourself in the next 2 years?

SS: My serious goal is to position the e-commerce landscape in Pakistan. We have been working with Souq, Zaras and many others and feel proud to be called first growth hacking agency in Pakistan, specialised to deliver e-commerce growth hacking and software solutions. There is a lot to be put in place to call Pakistan, a professional, reliable e-commerce space.

NIS: Any retirement plan?

SS: I don’t have any retirement plans but I may get into philanthropy and one thing i would like to do is to get into Senate after clearing out the eligibility exam and raise societal issues!

Masla yeah hai key loogoo ney Politics ko Bitcoin ki tarah samajh liya hai – If you have millions, only then you can enter – No! One can get into the Senate easily and do the purpose.

NIS: If you had a magic stick, which are the three things you would change in the world?

Ans. There would be four things:

  • The first thing I would change is the belief of women dependency on men.
  • The second thing I would eradicate religious extremity from the country.
  • The third thing, I would go back in time to erase the mistakes I had done.
  • The fourth thing I would is to get the power to look into the future so I know whatever I’m opting to is fruitful or not.

We were blown away with Sarim’s patience and unwavering support in conducting the interview! Here we would love to add a little more detail, apart from running a successful digital marketing agency and publishing books, Sarim is also a visiting faculty at Hamdard University and has recently acquired a startup ‘YOFIT’. He’s also working on a comic series and was the man behind one of the famous arcade games. Thus, he’s an asset to the industry hence, it was great meeting him!

If you want to reach Syed Sarim, here you go! And if you want to connect to us, please write at share@newsinstore.pk

Madiha Ahmed
Madiha Ahmed
Madiha (Yusuf) Ahmed is an Independent Journalist, ideally reports technology updates, social happenings and covers features. Professionally, she is serving as a Manager Content in a Digital Agency and specialises in Content Curation, Strategy and Marketing.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/madiha-yusuf-73387153/

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