Ali Ghani is an investor and entrepreneur from Calgary, Canada. His portfolio includes investments in real estate and startup companies. A graduate of SAIT Polytechnic, Ali received his electrical engineering diploma and went on to obtain his bachelor’s degree in Applied Systems Technology.
He began his career in the information technology sector, where he worked successfully for several large corporations as a network specialist. In 2000, Ali heeded his growing passion for real estate and sought a formal career. He founded a successful, Calgary-based commercial property development company.
Outside of his professional responsibilities, Ali Ghani enjoys staying fit and healthy. He is an avid runner and also enjoys traveling, especially to California to get a reprieve from the Canadian winters.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Real estate was booming in Alberta in the early 2000s. I always knew I wanted to be part of the wave but never knew how. Lucky for me, my dad made some investments in some joint venture land projects. I was able to convince him to build a small mini strip mall on a small 2-acre piece of that land holding. That gave birth to my passion for construction and real-estate development.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day is managing multiple real estate development ventures , dealing with contractors, and subtrades. A huge part of the job is also dealing with our lenders and financial creditors to assure them that our projects are on budget and on time. Last but not least, it is providing updates to our valued investors.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I would love to take credit for this, but a lot of ideas and creativity stems from the amazing team of architects, engineers and consultants we work with who tirelessly travel the world looking for great, creative, functional, and cutting edge real estate ideas to bring back to Alberta.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The whole concept of live work play. The world is moving at an exceptionally fast pace and the most important factor is time. When communities/buildings are built where a person can live and work together, it creates such a winning combination.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
There are actually two. One would be my attention to detail. I am highly and extremely OCD and everything has to be done right (the first time if possible). Secondly, it would have to be my passion to create a balance between the mind, body and soul. To that effect, I go to the gym daily and actively pursue various spiritual growth avenues.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Always watch the patterns of actions, words or ideas. They don’t change much as you grow older. They change or develop or deviate slightly, but not considerably enough to make a difference.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Buying a house is not an investment. Buying residential real estate is the worst investment that you will ever make. If you want to buy a house, go ahead and do so but please do not call it an investment (unless you are in the booming market of Toronto or Vancouver).
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Learn and grow. Always be ready to learn and engage in new ideas and join peer groups that motivate you. At the end of the day, you are an average of the five people you spend the most time with.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Do not ever buy and hold on to real estate. Always buy real estate and change its “use”. Always change the use of a land to its highest and best value, not what the developer or city intended it to be.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Doubt, the fact that I was too young to be successful. I have been doubted more times than I can remember or count. The only way to overcome it is by pushing harder and harder and proving others wrong time and time again. It takes a lot of perseverance and commitment to be laser-focused on a goal.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I had the idea of a short term room-sharing rental app, but Airbnb has taken that idea already.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Feeding a homeless person on Christmas Eve and buying him a bus ticket to Kelowna to surprise his family for Christmas Day. It was only $100 to me, but it meant the world to him and to this day, that memory is the most fondest memory of mine.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I would have to say Dropbox. Everything we do at the office is placed in Dropbox and shared via Dropbox. It has been sharing data and ideas so easy
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
What is your favorite quote?
You are either growing or dying.
- Always learn and grow. Always be open to engage in new ideas.
- Do not have doubt in yourself or ability
- Constantly work to have a balance between mind, body and soul
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.