The more you give, the more you get in return
Saeed Torbati was born and raised in Iran, and at the age of 18 moved to Canada in search of a career. He enrolled at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology for Electromechanical Engineering Robotics, graduating from the program in 2012 with honours. He then immediately began working in the sales industry specifically the green energy sector as a sales representative, and from there, he got into the green technology industry and finance where he formed his own corporation. Torbati then chose to further his education and earned an associate’s degree in Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneurial Studies from Harvard Business School.
Torbati splits most of his time between Ottawa and Toronto. One of the companies that he manages, Ontario Green Savings, The Canada’s Top New Growth Companies for 2019 was ranked 20th by Canadian Business Journal. In his free time, Saeed Torbati enjoys a wide array of sports, but is particularly into boxing and trains at least once a day.
Where did the idea for Ontario Green Savings come from?
The idea came from realizing that there was a massive gap between the green technology equipment, high-efficiency equipment, and their affordability. We realized that medium to low-income families are not able to afford high-efficiency products. Therefore, they end up losing a lot of money by keeping old, inefficient equipment in their homes. We decided to find a way of giving people the option to enroll in lease to own programs and install this type of product without having to pay a lot up front. So we found a way of bridging that gap, and that has allowed us to become one of the fastest growing startups in Canada.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up around 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. – I head to the gym to get in a good workout, including boxing for about an hour. Then I come home, shower, and start getting ready. I take 10 to 15 minutes for priming, which I consider to be almost like an advanced version of meditation.
Once I get to the office, I build my task list for the day and start looking at the reports from the multiple businesses that I run. In addition to Ontario Green Savings, I own a property management business and a couple of online lending businesses as well. My first meeting is usually at 10 a.m. and lasts around an hour to an hour and a half, and it’s with managers from my businesses. In the afternoon, I continue with meetings with third-party and outside companies and businesses trying to find a fit for additional business ventures.
Around four or five, my day at the office ends, and I head home. I take an hour to unwind a bit, and I start working at home on my online businesses until around nine or ten at night. After that, I’ll read a few chapters of my books, watch and read the news, and then head to bed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s not about the idea, it’s about the execution. From the courses I’ve taken at Harvard Business School, I’ve learned how to put together a very good, capable, and competent team for any ideas that I have. This allows me to be able to execute those ideas based on a really good plan. So it’s all about the execution, not just the idea itself.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The FinTech industry. The financial industry has been around for a long time, but it’s the fusion of finance and technology, and the online platforms that allow for financing to happen a lot more robust and a lot quicker and faster that excite me. I think that’s going to be the future of finance.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My work ethic. I was raised in a family where my dad was working extremely hard. He was always at work from six in the morning, all the way till nine or ten at night. So developing that work ethic at a younger age and carrying that through my professional life is definitely one of the traits that I have that has helped me get ahead.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell a younger Saeed Torbati to play the infinite game. Play the long term game in any business and learn to be flexible with your ideas but always play to win in the long run.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Every time in my professional life, when I tell people, the more you give, the more you receive back, it’s like almost no one agrees with me. Yes, logically it doesn’t make sense, to give more and also get more in return. It’s one of those laws of the universe that does actually work. It’s the law of giving, but a lot of people logically can’t connect the dots of how giving is going to start the process of receiving. So the majority of people I say that appear to look at me like I’m crazy.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Having a good morning routine is important, and I suggest that every entrepreneur do the same thing. Have a very good morning routine because that helps set the mood for the entire day, and the tone for the entire day. That’s the one thing that I do over and over every single day, and I’ve been doing it for the past five or six years now.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One of my best traits and abilities that I would also look at as a strategy is my ability to put teams together, getting these smart people with strong work ethics to work together, while also creating momentum and building more teams. One of the biggest upsides that’s helped me grow in my career is that ability to build teams with really good people.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had my fair share of professional ups and downs. However, I can’t call them failures because we always learn from them. We’ve always had the ability and the resourcefulness to turn things around and make it a positive for us. Failures are just challenges that make us grow, but mismanaging cash flow and running into financial issues has happened in the past in my professional career. We were able to overcome that by, again, building relationships and influencing finance companies to believe in us and our vision.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there should be an app, just like Airbnb for houses, but for offices. It would be a short-term rental for office spaces. There might be an app out there, but it’s not big enough for me to know about it. If not, I think somebody should create that app.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Business-wise, I would say the best hundred dollars we’ve spent recently was on marketing. The reason why it’s the best is that it brings back a huge ROI for us that turns that one hundred dollars into thousands of dollars.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We use G-Suite, the Google suite. Everything that Google offers is something that we use across all of our organizations as well. It has helped us to be a lot more productive because it connects all of the applications that we need, including calendars, emails, task lists, all of that together. So instead of patching everything together, Ontario Green Savings has a Google hub that takes care of everything.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. The reason why is because it allows you to understand how thinking big and building divisions and building your dreams are going to help you move forward in your career. It just opens up a lot of the horizons for you, it helps you to see division a lot clearer, and it allows you to step into that and turn it into a reality. It’s one of the best books I’ve read.
What is your favorite quote?
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard” – Tim Notke
- The more you give, the more you get in return
- Surround yourself with a great team
- Learn and grow from challenges that you face
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.