Hootan Melamed is an entrepreneur and medical professional based out of Los Angeles, California.
Despite a highly successful career in Pharmaceuticals, Hootan also enjoys developing innovative lifestyle products and is the creator of brands such as Happy Tush. He is currently working on a new set of products and looks forward to taking on new professional opportunities. When he is not working, he is volunteering and spending time with his family.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
After I got my pharmacy degree, I began working in my mother’s pharmacy. She had already been in business for years and it was like new school meeting old school when I started. My parents bought another pharmacy and let me take control. I got a crash course in business management very fast. I was on my own and had to stay on top of things like paying vendors and accounting, things I had never learned in pharmacy school and hadn’t even thought about until then. Running your own business is very much a “they eat first, I eat last” situation. You have to make sure the bills are paid and the employees are paid before you pay yourself. And I failed very bad at first. It was my dad that sat me down and though me the basics and teaching me how to be a businessman first and pharmacist second. A great valuable lesson that it wasn’t thought in schools.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
When you start a new business, it’s like starting with a new baby. You have to feed and water it for it to grow. I worked ten to fifteen hours a day, and that is not including all the marketing and development I had to work on. I was on the road a lot. Again, as the kids got older, I was able to involve them more, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on so much.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I look at what’s out there and ask myself how I can make it better. How can I enhance a product or idea? Depending on what the product is, I will even ask my kids and their friends for their opinions. They will be honest with me, they will absolutely let me know if I am heading in the wrong direction. I appreciate that honesty.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Kindness is so much more mainstream than it used to be and that really excites me. Even in business, having empathy and being open-minded are more accepted these days. Any time I can be a part of that by creating or enhancing a product or app, I am joyful. I love to see us move in that direction as a society.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I hate to lose and I hate when people tell me I can’t do something. I have used that as a motivator in the past to make me work harder to accomplish a goal. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned the importance of tempering that tenacity and being more focused on what really works. I am learning to work “smarter” than harder.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Work smarter, not harder. It seems like such a simple concept, but when I was first starting out, it wasn’t. When starting a business, you need to surround yourself with the right people, people who have the same vision and work ethic as yourself. Building a strong team and dispersing the work effectively is how you become successful and having boundaries
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that children should learn young that their voice matters. Because I would bring them to work and let them join in on meetings, they learned the importance of speaking up for themselves, while still being empathetic to others. My children are comfortable enough to let me know when I am being a source of stress and I am so appreciative of their openness and honesty. I think kids should learn early on that they can make a difference and they shouldn’t be afraid to talk.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Whatever ideas you have, write them down. Make it a goal and learn everything you can about it. Work for it, but also, don’t be afraid to fail. Everything is a learning opportunity. Even if something doesn’t work out as you expect it to, you are learning from the experience.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My focus has been on the pharmaceutical industry, so my best strategy was getting out there and talking to people. I needed to learn what products could be better and what people were looking for. What made me different was that I didn’t use third-party marketers. If you are looking at my products, it is my face that you see. I want you to know you are dealing with someone with just as much stake in the product as you, so you know I stand behind it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Actually, I think something that I continue to work on to this day is having a decent sense of self-worth. I tend to feel like I need to rely on others’ opinions of me when that is not the case. Putting my best into the product and into how I treat others is what matters.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The healthcare system as it is now is very pharmaceutical and insurance-driven, as opposed to an individual-driven system. Doctors tend to treat symptoms instead of treating the cause of the symptom. Finding a way to bring the focus back to the patient would be an excellent business idea if someone could figure that out.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought some new books. Education is so important to me. Learning something every day is like investing in myself.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The notepad in my phone is where I write any ideas I have down. It has become an indispensable tool for me on a daily basis.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I highly recommend everyone read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. All the books in that series are really worth reading, in my opinion, because I do believe visioning what you want will bring it to you. I believe in focusing on what you are grateful for and draw on that gratitude during your daily life.
What is your favorite quote?
“The best way to predict the future is to create it” by Stephen kay
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.