Whatever your passion, just do it. The world will reciprocate. Money will follow. Dreams will become realities. Take the first step — today.
When Shabbir Evershine was seven years old, he started a comic library outside his house on the sidewalk, loaning out Archie and other superhero comics for a small fee. That later expanded to books and other periodicals.
Since then, Shabbir Evershine has been an entrepreneur, working on initiatives and startups from an advertising design firm, to stamp trading, to an online business directory before he turned 18. After doing his A levels from Karachi, Pakistan, he immigrated to the United States and completed his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Management Information Systems (MIS) and Marketing from the University of Houston.
Shabbir Evershine then immigrated to Toronto, Canada where he worked for three Fortune 500 companies as the Global Director of Project Management Office (PMO) before starting his own boutique consulting company, RocketPMO.com.
As the founder and CEO of RocketPMO, Shabbir Evershine consults with companies of all sizes in helping them evolve from a tactical, reactive, disjointed group to a strategic, proactive, cohesive powerhouse. He teaches senior executives how to manage projects with agility and raise the competency level of their people to accomplish amazing results.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
We usually tend to marinate our ideas for years before we actually work on them – if at all. In addition, most of society is wired to be complacent. Status quo trumps growth or ideation. In all my professional years to date, the best leaders are those who have been bold and willing to take the less-travelled road. At RocketPMO, we celebrate, work with, and build bold leaders. The idea of RocketPMO was a natural extension of the 15+ years I spent working with Fortune 500 companies in leading their Project Management Office (PMO) efforts. “Rocket” seemed to encapsulate what we offer our clients – a way to supercharge their efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to managing projects and leading people.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day begins with a 15-minute exercise routine. I then read the daily news while sipping on an herbal tea with ginger, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, and honey. This routine refreshes my mind, body, and soul. I then proceed to check my Google calendar for appointments, tasks, and other social engagements so I can plan my day. I am a foodie so I spend an extraordinary time planning my meals – I believe that a good, nutritious meal is key to feeling good and functioning great. I typically connect with my team throughout the day and consciously try to meet at least one person every day that I can learn and be inspired by. My day ends with an assessment of whether I had become a better person than the day before. If the answer is no, I pivot my tomorrow accordingly.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am a disciple of the Lean Startup and am a true believer of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). MVP in a nutshell means a product (or service) with enough basic features to validate an idea and gain early adopters or customers. If our team is tinkering with an idea that has been sufficient consensus amongst ourselves and shows early promise via research, we will create a prototype and launch with clients who are willing to test it. Our company is always evolving – we typically will work with 10-15 new ideas and concepts a month. That’s what keeps the work exciting and helps our clients enjoy cutting-edge products and services.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Mobility, both in terms of mobile phones and applications as well as the global movement of people. Millions of people now have smartphones that connect to the global web village. Our ancestors may have spent a good part of their lives (or all their lives) in one place, but affordable transportation allows people to move, travel, and explore the world, connecting them both online and offline. The companies of the future will be those that connect their customers in an effective and efficient way to the products and services they desire, regardless of whether they are in Houston, Chicago, Toronto, or Karachi.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
An almost insane level of scheduling! Google Calendar is my go-to app for personal and work life. Meticulous scheduling does not mean filling the calendar with endless tasks but rather taking a holistic approach to planning your day, week, month and year. It means having a diverse set of activities involving work, play, meditation, exploration, and insight. I color-code my time blocks between different categories to give me clues about what’s important in my life. If something looks astray, I course-correct next day/week/month. In addition, shared calendars ensure that I am in sync with my wife, so we are not over-committing ourselves on the social side. The other habit is delegation. I would not be as productive as I am if I did not have great people to rely on. Hire great people, coach/mentor them, and learn/listen from them. Your business, clients, and mind will thank you.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The advice that I would give the younger Shabbir Evershine is to focus on the quality of my network, not the quantity. Don’t be confused by the jumbled opinion of others. What other people think of you is none of your business. I have witnessed that 99% of the people around you will self-project their constraints, limitations, and insecurities on you. Only the 1% will truly be interested in your welfare, well-being, and growth. Learn to identify those gems and hold on to them.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I am more concerned with someone’s character than their reputation, because their character is who they really are, while their reputation is merely what others think of them. Your reputation is in the hands of others. That’s what the reputation is. It’s outside your control. The only thing you can control is your character. The other thing is that hummus and pita chips is better than salsa and chips any day.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read books. Every day. Lots of them. Different genres, old and new, mainstream and offbeat. If someone can give you a lifetime of learnings in a book for $20 or so, jump on it. You are learning and stretching your mind. Absorb the old and new texts. Read history, religion, politics, arts, business, and more. Avoid gimmicky and instant-gratification books. “The 48 Laws of Power”, “Animal Farm”, “Rework”, and countless others are permanently on my bookshelf. You are getting tips to advance rapidly vs. learning and stumbling on your own. You will become a better story-teller and a better citizen when you understand all perspectives. If you don’t dig books, look to YouTube, Udemy, Khan Academy, TED Talks, and more.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being extremely client-focused. Not in a textbook way, but really understanding to the core as to what our clients want and why. We are problem-solvers. We genuinely focus on the client’s needs, issues, challenges and problems – and create a strategic + tactical plan that works within the time, budget and scope the client has. No upselling, no downselling – genuine problem solving. We start with a pragmatic assessment of where our client is, and where they want to be – and chart a plan that is on target to success. Responsiveness is also a key element of our business. Acknowledging an email, text message to convey a quick note, or using various other platforms for effective communication (Slack, WhatsApp, etc) are key for the client to know someone has their back – and working on solving their problems.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Doing everything myself. I would get into petty details and focus on perfectionism versus learning from each iteration. This kept me in the trenches for a long time. Hiring our first employee was the best decision for our company. It has since grown rapidly – and continues to grow. Hire great people and get out of their way. Simple, but timeless advice. Trusting takes courage, patience, and letting go of control. If you are stuck doing everything yourself, think what you can automate, eliminate or delegate.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Using the smartphone as an “access card” in hotels, and work places. All of us have a smartphone these days. Why not just use a smartphone that can be programmed via an app? Everyone keeps their smartphones with them – and if the smartphone is lost, the access can be deactivated remotely. It will save millions in plastic card production costs as well as save the environment. The plastic cards can still be used for a (hopefully) minority of users who still prefer the old-fashioned way.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A blue yoga-mat for $30. It’s great for exercise, mediation, and deep thinking.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google Calendar is a go-to app on my Google Pixel phone. It powers my day, and keeps my eco-system informed. I use the app to do all my daily scheduling. The color coding of different timeblocks/meetings/appointments help me understand where and how I am spending my time. The other app that I use regularly is Trello (a phenomenal Kanban app). It is a great tool for planning and managing my work.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Being a bibliophile, this one is a tough one to answer. If I had to choose today, I would say “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. The author has distilled three thousand years of the history of power into 48 essential laws by drawing from the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz and also from the lives of figures ranging from Henry Kissinger to P.T. Barnum.
What is your favorite quote?
“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
• Whatever your passion, just do it. The world will reciprocate. Money will follow. Dreams will become realities. Take the first step — today
• You don’t need to be better than anyone else; you just need to be better than you used to be. Repair your wounds, face your demons, conquer yourself.
• Remember: you are the average of the 5 people you connect with the most. Choose your network wisely.