Be the best at building your network and try to have as many new experiences as possible.
Latif Jamani grew up in London, England, before moving to Canada as a teenager. The 17 years that he spent overseas provided him with a multinational perspective that he applies to all aspects of his life and career. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Globalization from the University of Alberta, he then joined the family business – Calgary Lighting Products – in 2006. Latif’s passion for lighting comes from his appreciation for the ever-changing nature of the industry, as well as its rapidly evolving innovations and technologies. For Latif, the ultimate highlight of being president of Calgary Lighting Products is having the opportunity to interact with different properties, customers, and new people. When Latif isn’t leading the team over at Calgary Lighting Products, he can be found skiing, salsa dancing, or volunteering with Big Brothers and Sisters Calgary.
Where did the idea for Calgary Lighting Products come from?
Calgary Lighting Products was a pre-existing company that my father purchased in 2001. At the time, it was a place where customers could purchase replacement lightbulbs. I joined the company and took over in 2006, at which point we decided that we wanted to focus on the commercial lamp replacement market; hospitality, commercial and residential properties. As we learned more about the products and interacted with different customers, we realized that the demand for what we provide is quite strong, and that lighting can solve many of the challenges that different spaces encounter – from safety to aesthetic beauty. Lighting has the ability to make a space feel awesome.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
About 50% of my day is focused on interacting with customers and working on projects, and the other 50% is focused on running the business. The business side of things includes operations, purchasing, marketing, and staff training, and ensuring that my team has the knowledge and support that they need to provide solutions to our customers.
To stay productive and manage deadlines I like to make to-do lists – back-to-basics, pen-and-paper to-do lists. I find a lot of satisfaction in crossing items off of my to-do lists and watching those lists shrink as items are completed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Ideas generally take shape at our company sales meetings. We’ll table an idea, go around the room and get everyone’s thoughts and feedback, and figure out a way to bring that idea to life. During these brainstorming sessions we usually break into teams of two people and each team will put together a first draft, which we’ll circulate and refine. We then test the winning idea or ideas with a few customers and other people within the company to see what works best.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The trend that excites me the most at the moment is the value that people see in having good quality lighting in their spaces. Lighting used to be more of a necessity, but now people also appreciate lighting for its aesthetic qualities. People recognize the benefit of higher and crisper light levels and how this relates to their business and customer experience
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Seeking mentorship has made me more productive as an entrepreneur. Asking people in similar or different positions about their experiences and perspectives on running a business and leading a team has provided me with many nuggets of wisdom that I have applied to my own business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be the best at building your network and try to have as many new experiences as possible. Go down the rabbit hole!
Tells us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Lighting is responsible for 28% of global electricity use, next to cell phones and mini fridges!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Taking some time and space away, and not getting stuck in the business, is a key part of my strategy as an entrepreneur.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Whatever I’m thinking about I’ll separate into three areas – I call it “the power of three” approach. If I’m thinking about customers, I’ll figure out the top three things that are meaningful to them, then I’ll look at products to determine which are relevant to each of those three categories. I also try to think of the business in three “buckets”: sales, logistics, and admin. This provides me with the clarity to really analyze things.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In my early days, I would have liked to learn more about hiring and retaining staff. This is something I’m still working on through mentorship, reading, and admitting that it’s an area that needs improvement.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A business concept that interests me right now is daycare. Daycare workers are transferring knowledge and having a lasting impact on society. There’s also an increasing need for the industry, so it has a good, sustainable social return, especially when managed properly.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently purchased something called a Key Smart. It’s a Swiss army knife-style key holder that keeps all of my keys neat and organized. I can keep it in my pocket and my keys don’t jangle around like they would on a key ring.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Google: Search, Chrome, Drive, and Mail. Google is very clean, organized, and simple to use.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I just finished reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. It’s a good one to read every now and then – it never hurts to go back to basics. Another one is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius – a little more leadership-focused.
What is your favorite quote?
“Wisdom begins in wonder” – Socrates. One of my high level goals is to become a better leader, and to do that I need to listen and be curious. But in order to be a good leader you have to be wise, and wisdom comes from being strong and looking outside yourself.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.