Have confidence in yourself and your abilities, and never allow anyone to make you question that.
You might be surprised to learn that roughly 2% of all waste in America’s landfills are from electronics, but account for roughly 70% of overall toxic waste. As the Founder and CEO of SAMR Inc., Albert Boufarah is ensuring that electronics are recycled responsibly and efficiently. Learning the ropes of entrepreneurship early, Albert Boufarah owned a waste management and tree removal company when he was young. These experiences introduced him to the precious metals found in electronics, and how to properly recover memory and hard drives. Realizing the immense impact that recycling electronics could have on the planet, Albert Boufarah started SAMR. Inc over twenty years ago. With an NJ Class D license and work with various towns, businesses, and schools to provide electronics recycling, data destruction and pick up services, Albert Boufarah is on a mission to make the world a cleaner, more sustainable place. Despite having over twenty years as the CEO of SAMR Inc., Albert Boufarah feels like he is only getting started.
Where did the idea for SAMR Inc. come from?
The idea for SAMR Inc. was borne out of my experience, which instilled sustainability and environmental responsibility into my mind from a young age. Having been introduced to waste management, I became familiar with how much people throw away, but also what people are throwing away. Not every item takes the same amount of resources to recycle, and this was the case for electronics. As one of the most complex items to dismantle and recycle, most people don’t even know where to begin. I wanted to try and build a business that solved a serious problem, and SAMR Inc. does just that.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I oversee all the daily operations at SAMR Inc. and work very closely with my employees to ensure we keep our standards as high as possible. Every day is different, with new opportunities and struggles. The only typical thing about my day is that I keep an open mind, dealing with everything that comes my way with a calm and collected mind.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have always been entrepreneurial and bringing ideas to life is all about formulating a well-thought out plan. As was the case with SAMR Inc., I had the broader idea, and soon after broke down the steps, tasks, and processes necessary to reach my final goal. Every great idea is brought into being through this process.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One of the trends that excites me is the global recognition of the scarcity of resources, and the push by governmental agencies to recycle electronic waste. From a broader perspective, I believe that we all must do our part in ensuring the future of this planet as well as a fully optimized recycling program for some of our most-loved products. There is a lot of awareness around this issue compared to twenty years ago, and that excites me.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
While it may seem counterintuitive, I take a lot of small breaks. These small breaks don’t mean sitting on my phone, watching Netflix, or catching up on the news: they mean sitting in silence, journaling, or meditating. As a CEO and entrepreneur, I need my brain, memory, and ideas to be as fresh as possible in order to lead with coherence and clarity.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would encourage myself to have greater self-confidence. A lot of young people lack confidence in themselves and their ability to make a lasting change in our society, and unfortunately, there are many instances where this fear is reinforced. When you are young, you take it upon yourself to build your confidence off of the opinions of other people; the only way to stand in your own right and become a confident leader is to trust your own self-opinion.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
In order to make an impact in the recycling of e-waste, we need to get companies on board. Of course, in our consumption-driven economy, many manufacturers view this model as threatening their overall net sales.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I keep a book of notes. Ideas and inspiration do not strike at a scheduled time – they strike on my commute, in the elevator at work, or in a meeting with a partner. The key is to always be prepared to write down your ideas in a notebook that you always keep with you. Human beings are expected to retain so much more information today than at any point in history, and that means that many of the good ideas we have are lost in the shuffle. Inspiration strikes at the strangest of moments, so have a notebook ready for when they do.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
As an entrepreneur, I have a passion for knowledge, and this passion has gotten me to where I am today. As technology changes and new ideas, processes, and systems are introduced, I need to ensure I am informed to make good decisions for SAMR Inc. As a CEO, you need to always be learning.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure that I have had as an entrepreneur is overwhelming my schedule. Burnout is a real thing, and it can stop you from being productive in the long run. Providing yourself with the space to take a break is crucial in maximizing your overall productivity.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think it would be fantastic if an electronics company were to build service into their business model, as opposed to predetermined obsolescence. Thinking about products from a modular perspective would not only build brand loyalty but would go a long way in reducing the unnecessary waste produced by the constant need to sell the ‘latest model’ of a product.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I spent recently was on a football game. Despite being a CEO and entrepreneur, a part of what makes me so successful is allowing myself to enjoy the little things in life. From spending time with my family to indulging my love for sports, I am a better leader because of the space I allow myself to enjoy life.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
An amazing application that helps me be productive is called Blinkist. Summarizing some of the most popular non-fiction books, Blinkist allows you to absorb every piece of information you need to know, without investing hours in reading a book. The best part is that if a book on Blinkist captures my attention, I almost always buy the whole book; it serves as a preview for what is to come.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would suggest reading David Goggins’ book Can’t Hurt Me. This book is about resilience, strength in the face of adversity, and never giving up. No matter what industry or field you work in, this book will resonate with you. The mindset that David Goggins adopts to be able to take on any challenge can help you on your journey.
What is your favorite quote?
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” – Elon Musk
- Have confidence in yourself and your abilities, and never allow anyone to make you question that
- Allow yourself to have several small breaks to avoid burnout
- Always carry around a notebook with you, as inspiration can strike from anywhere
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.