Sameer Somal is the CEO & Co-Founder of Blue Ocean Global Technology. He is a frequent speaker at conferences on digital transformation, online reputation management, search engine optimization, relationship capital and ethics. Fundamental to his work at Blue Ocean Global Technology, Sameer leads collaboration with an exclusive group of PR, Law, Digital Marketing, and Web-Development agency partners. He helps clients build, monitor and repair their digital presence. Sameer is a published writer and Internet Defamation subject matter expert witness. In collaboration with the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, he authors continuing legal education (CLE) programs and is a member of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) 2030 Task Force. Sameer proudly serves on the board of the CFA Institute Seminar for Global Investors, College Possible and Girl Power Talk. Sameer was named an Iconic Leader Creating a Better World for All by the All Ladies League & Women Economic Forum and is an active member of the of the Society of International Business Fellows.
Where did the idea for Blue Ocean Global Technology come from?
The way we now communicate with friends, family, colleagues and clients has been revolutionized. Technology pervades every aspect of an organization. To realize success, technology must be applied thoughtfully and integrated strategically. The right technology decisions and partners improve performance; the wrong technology decisions exacerbate challenges.
In 2011, when CEO, Marguerita Cheng, and I planned for the launch of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, we realized how difficult it was to find a trustworthy technology partner. Through her experience on boards and helping friends in business, Rita joked that it takes longer to find reliable digital marketing and tech partners than it did to bring one of her three children onto this earth. This conversation was a defining moment, and it catalyzed our global search for technology resources. As entrepreneurs, we realized the compelling opportunity to share these resources: Blue Ocean Global Technology was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The joys of entrepreneurship that there is no typical day. The beauty of the future is that it comes one day at time.
Below are some principles that I stick to every day:
• Early mornings: Up between 4am and 5am as much as possible.
• Healthy eating: We are what we eat. I try to consume as many vegetables, fruit and fish as possible.
• Having a priority list: List out the important tasks for the day to ensure I stay on track.
• Reading: Being well read is a reminder of how little we know.
• Spending time with myself: Meditation, thinking, and silence are keys for inner peace and clarity.
• Working out: Usually between 7am and 8am.
• Proactive calls and relationship building: Pick up the phone as much as possible.
• Brainstorm with smarter people: We are an average of the 10 people we spend the most time with. Who are your 10 people?
• Write in my journal: Reflect on the day and review the past.
How do you bring ideas to life?
You fail over and over again to only succeed once. It is easier to come up with ideas, but more difficult to follow them and implement. My dad taught me that empty cans make most noise. When you surround yourselves with smart and diverse people, you are able to move ideas to reality.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Reputation Management – your opportunity set depends on your digital reputation. Individuals and companies must ensure that their online reputation is representative of their actual reputation within their community of clients, partners and stakeholders. A digital presence and online communication strategy are not just part of a company’s reputation, they form the firm’s foundation. Businesses grow and succeed through their reputations.
Brands accounted for more than 30% of the S&P 500 stock market value, according to The Economist. That is the consensus among corporate CEOs. Sixty percent of chief executives surveyed by the World Economic Forum and public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard said they believed corporate brand and reputation represented more than 40% of their company’s market capitalization.
Better reputations do not guarantee growth, but they certainly expand the opportunities to achieve it. Your reputation and that of your firm are your most valuable assets. Make sure you’re safeguarding them online and everywhere.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Mark Twain: The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. I read as much as possible on a diverse group of subjects. This helps me make more informed decisions as entrepreneur through a latticework of knowledge and mental models. Strive harder to go to bed a little bit smarter each day. I call that the miracle of compound interest applied to knowledge.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust is very precious. When you trust too many people without them earning your trust, some of those same people will let you down. If you don’t extend trust, you may miss out on connecting with people that will become life-long friends. It is important to approach everyone with the same open mind and build trust progressively. As outlined in one of my favorite books, The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey: ‘Trust will enable you to move the fulcrum over and create incredible leverage, so that you get things done with greater speed and lower cost.’
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
As a resource for executives and entrepreneurs, I often hear similar disappointments about their team members and hired human capital. Rather than hiring credentials and experience, I agree with my business partner Marguerita Cheng’s philosophy: It’s better to build people from scratch than having to correct bad habits. The opportunity cost of the wrong hiring decisions is hard to quantify. We believe that it’s better to be patient with young people and hire for potential rather than check the box on qualifications and experience. Some people have had the same year of experience twenty years in a row.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
People do business with people. A client of mine recently told me that he hired an Ivy League grad and the young man refused to use the telephone, saying he is much better via text and email. Technology is great and wonderful, but it doesn’t replace the opportunity to connect with others. Be present when meeting new people. You have one precious first impression..
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The foundation of our company is education. With the abundance mentality, our team is relentless in our pursuit of going to bed a little bit smarter every day. This is the miracle of compound interest applied to knowledge. By authoring CLE programs and staying ahead of trends as global educators, speakers, and expert witnesses, we offer perspective and help our clients make the most informed decisions.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
While studying at Georgetown University, I co-founded a student services business entitled SmarterCampus. We offered student services solutions: providing laundry delivery, offering futons at a discount, and travel agency packages online to serve students finding a new home in DC. On the first day of operations, I was hauling laundry bags all over campus and found my business partner (let’s call him Brad) leisurely walking behind several of our student interns. Much to my dismay, Brad had flown his girlfriend in from out of town and was showing her all of his ‘success’. I made the mistake of abruptly confronting him to let him know this was not going to work. He shrewdly went to the back the next day and withdrew much of our unearned revenue. It felt like I had run full speed into a tree. When you want it as bad as you can breathe, that’s when you find a way. I persevered and overcame the adversity. The lesson was a priceless lesson in trust. I was fortunate to have that experience at such young age.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Today, we interact with friends, family, and colleagues largely through text messages, email, and social media. Many of the opportunities presented to us come based on our reputations. Reputations involve impressions, emotions, and perceptions encompassing the estimation in which a business, person, or thing is held by a specific group or the public at large. Businesses grow and succeed through their reputations. A digital presence and online communication strategy are not just part of a company’s reputation, they form the firm’s foundation — the most critical component to its survival and growth.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
When speaking at a conference in California last year and delivering our “The New Networking: Building Relationship Capital” program, I made a new friend in for life with an attendee named John. We connected because of our shared foundation of integrity and stewardship, including our passion for empowering today’s students with the confidence and knowledge to make the most informed decisions. John then persevered to have a number of other regional organizations in Texas engage me to speak to their members. Four of them accepted after evaluating me on merit. I also volunteered my time to speak at regional investment research challenge competition for college students. Relationships and networking are about giving, not getting. To thank John, I wrote him a thoughtful note and several small signs of appreciation, including one for each of his three kids. I gifted from the heart and it didn’t matter if I spent $10 or $1,000.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I realized the power of LinkedIn several years ago when at an event people from four different continents mentioned recent articles or presentations I had given from LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn to stay atop of mind with friends, partners, clients and prospects. Furthermore, when reaching out to new people or reading about someone I want to build a relationship with, I connect with them on LinkedIn in tandem with a phone call or email so they can review my profile. I have earned many friendships and clients by meeting people online, and then scheduling time to video call and ultimately meet in person.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger, Expanded Third Edition”. `Most people know the name Warren Buffet, but less know of the brilliant Mr. Munger, affectionately referred to as Charlie. He is vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett often describes Charlie as his business partner. Buffet is said, “A partner who is not subservient, who is himself extremely logical, is one of the best mechanisms you can have.” Together, they combined their synergistic abilities to recognize and seize opportunities other businessmen consistently overlook. Poor Charlie’s Almanack is a treasure trove of wisdom, anecdotes, aphorism and life advice. Charlie places a premium on life decisions over investment decisions.
Below are my favorite excerpts:
Preparation: Develop into a life-long self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day. Work harder than you think you can and while the competition is resting.
Focus – keeps things simple and remember what you set out to do, remember that reputation and integrity are your most valuable assets – and can be lost in a heartbeat, guard against the effects of hubris and boredom, don’t overlook the obvious by drowning in minutiae, be careful to exclude unneeded information or slop: ‘a small leak can sink a great ship’, face your big troubles; don’t sweep them under the rug.
What is your favorite quote?
“Those who say they can and those who say they can’t are both usually right”. –Henry Ford
• The Digital Revolution explains the transformation from electronic, mechanical, and analog (technology) to digital technology. Every day people are empowered with unfiltered information and global communication access from a device that fits comfortably in the palm of our hands. Businesses, both large and small require agility in order to stay relevant.
• Social media is a transformational platform for cultivating trust, increasing engagement, and expanding reach across both demographic and geographic boundaries. Social media is not about selling, it’s about developing connections and communicating effectively. Great content drives engagement and marketing.
• Trust is very precious. In order to win friends and influence people, we need to earn the trust and respect of others. Networking is about giving not getting. When meeting new people, try giving without remembering and receiving without forgetting.
• Strive to be a person of value by connecting people you meet with others who can help and support them. Be an inclusive person and intentional at the same time.