I love to ask questions and listen to people respond. Those are two very basic skills, but I think they’re difficult to master.
Meghdad Abbaszadegan is an adviser with Coplex, a startup studio active in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle, and Silicon Valley. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, tennis, travel, and fostering connections between people. Follow Meghdad and Coplex on Twitter.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
I wake up at 6 a.m. and listen to an audiobook while I drive to a meditation center. I absolutely love listening to audiobooks. I’d say I average about three or four books a month, often focused on business or personal growth.
I participate in group meditation three times a week from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. The rest of my day usually involves a lot of phone calls and meetings. When I’m not busy attending angel meetings or other events in the evening, I love to spend time with my fiancee and play tennis. My goal is to create a balance in all areas: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional.
To stay organized, I have a master task list that I call my “backlog.” I add anything I need to get done to this backlog. My master backlog includes everything from bucket list items to immediate tasks I need to tackle. My weekly backlog is filled with tasks I want to wrap up that given week. As soon as I think about an actionable task, I put it on paper so I don’t need to waste energy trying to remember it.
To maintain balance in my life, I started an accountability group. We email one another every Sunday and include a list of three to five challenges we hope to tackle that week. One of my goals this week has been to not consume any added refined sugar. I had a lot of work on my plate a few weeks ago and was not paying much attention to my state of mind, so I set a goal of meditating three times for 20 minutes each time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Persistence, openness, and believing in myself as well as the vision.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’m passionate about technology and startups.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I spend as much time as I can in nature, planning at least one activity every week that gets me outdoors. Those activities include everything from kayaking to camping and hiking. I also try to travel as often as possible.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would be cautious about who I chose to work with and surround myself with a group of mentors and advisers. When it comes to startups, we spend countless hours with our co-founders and team. It’s three to five years of your life — who are you choosing to be around?
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I love to ask questions and listen to people respond. Those are two very basic skills, but I think they’re difficult to master. Asking your customers the right questions and then listening to exactly what they need can save your business a lot of money. I also suggest entrepreneurs be patient when it comes to building their teams.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I try to detach myself from ideas and instead pay attention to customers and results. It’s easy to spend hours thinking, strategizing, and talking about a business idea. What’s more difficult — and also more rewarding — is looking at your business like a scientist.
Assume you don’t know anything about anything and focus on spending time with customers or potential customers. You might consider designing tests and social experiments to listen to what people have to say without any agenda, aiming for tangible results by building the business around their problems and needs. Another strategy is to talk with customers of your potential competitors to see what they have to say about their products.
What is one failure you’ve had as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome it?
I had some issues with co-founder conflict. I was able to overcome this hardship by surrounding myself with a group of advisers and mentors who were able to support me. This also helped me bond with several of those mentors and opened up new career opportunities.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I actually have two business ideas I’m excited about. One involves building some sort of technology that could turn any vehicle into a self-driving car. The second is creating artificial intelligence that’s capable of turning an analytic dashboard for a website into a more conversational user interface. I would be willing to pay $10 a month for a service that allows me to listen to my chosen articles instead of reading them.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
There are a number of tools I use on a regular basis. I find Unbounce to be incredibly useful for A/B testing and validating assumptions. Typeform is a great way to quickly and effectively gather information from just about anyone through user-friendly forms. I used Weebly to make my personal website in about five minutes. Finally, I love x.ai as a resource for scheduling phone calls and meetings.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Illusions” by Richard Bach. It only takes about an hour to read the book. Once you’ve experienced it for yourself, you’ll understand why.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
The first name that comes to mind is British philosopher and writer Alan Watts. There are a number of others who have influenced me, including Paul Graham, Derek Sivers, Deepak Chopra, Thomas Willhite, Charles Haanel, Napoleon Hill, Dan Millman, Andre Agassi, and Neale Donald Walsch.