Shaahin Cheyene always searched for a better way. He is the brilliant mind behind the legendary smart drug known as herbal ecstasy. He’s earned over a billion dollars in revenue because of it. But what if you were to discover that Shaahin’s family had to escape to survive and ended up finally migrating to Los Angeles, California? At 15 years old, Shaahin left home with nothing but the clothes on his back! Join the conversation as host Dr. Gary Sanchez uncovers Shaahin’s powerful “why” of wanting to contribute better processes and systems to the world. It pushed him from a place of desperation to a place of prosperity. Tune in and find a better way!
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Herbal Ecstasy: The Search For A Better Way To Party With Shaahin Cheyene
Welcome to the show, where we go beyond just talking about your why and actually helping you discover and live your why. If you’re a regular reader, you know that every week, we talk about one of the nine whys and then we bring on somebody with that why so we can see how their why has played out in their life. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the why of better way. If your why is better way, then you are the ultimate innovator. You are constantly seeking better ways to do everything. You find yourself wanting to improve virtually anything by finding a way to make it better.
You also desire to share your improvement with the world. You constantly ask yourself questions like, “What if we tried this differently? What if we did this another way? How can we make this better?” You contribute to the world with better processes and systems while operating under the motto, “I’m often pleased, but never satisfied.” You are excellent at associating, which means that you are adept at taking ideas or systems from one industry or discipline and applying them to another, always with the ultimate goal of improving something.
I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Shaahin Cheyene. During the Iranian revolution of 1978, Shaahin’s family had to escape to survive and ended up finally migrating to Los Angeles, California. At fifteen years old, Shaahin left home with nothing, but the clothes on his back and created over $1 billion in revenue by inventing the legendary smart drug known as Herbal Ecstacy. These childhood experiences had a major impact on his perspective of freedom, hard work, and entrepreneurship.
Shaahin went on to invent Digital Vaporization, the forerunner to this day’s vapes and a start a number of successful businesses with a couple of notable failures. He is the Founder and CEO of Accelerated Intelligence, Inc., a major Amazon FBA seller with millions in sales and the Lead Coach at Amazon Mastery, where he teaches the entrepreneurs how to crush it on the Amazon platform. He is an active YouTube creator.
Shaahin is considered one of the leading global minds on what’s next in eCommerce, Amazon and the internet. He is described as the Willy Wonka of Generation X by The London Observer and Newsweek and is one of the most forward thinkers in business. With his Amazon Mastery course, he acutely recognizes trends and patterns early on the Amazon platform to help others understand how these shifts impact markets and consumer behavior. Shaahin, welcome to the show.
Gary, it’s my honor to be on. Thank you for having me.
Take us back through your life. Let’s go back and give us your story, how you got started and how you got to where you are because it sounds like it was a struggle at the beginning for sure.
We came to the United States in the late 1970s, early 1980s as immigrants. We immigrated here through Germany to the United States. Iran was on top of the heap, we came here and all of a sudden, we learned that we were third-class citizens in a country that didn’t appreciate Iranians during the whole Iran-Contra thing. We had Ronald Reagan trickle-down economics and Oliver North. Iran-Contra was not a friendly environment.Make a path for your success. Click To Tweet
I grew up with a big chip on my shoulder because I was constantly getting my ass handed to me in school. I would go to school and get beat up every day. We grew up in a neighborhood that was up and coming, the little enclave of Los Angeles called Pacific Palisades. In the early ‘80s, it was much more hippie than it was well-to-do and gentrified. My folks managed to get a house there. It was fairly inexpensive. It was a totally beat-down house. They bought the house and we started fixing it up. As we started fixing up this old house, the neighborhoods started booming.
More and more people started moving to LA. LA was in a building boom. All this wealth started cropping up, literally all around us. We’re in this old house. My dad worked at a pizza shop and then at dry cleaners. We were solidly poor and there was all this wealth around us. I remember grown up there. We didn’t eat out at restaurants. We didn’t buy new clothes and all that stuff. When my brother and I got clothes, we would wait for somebody to walk into my dad’s dry cleaner and pray that person was like cool that they would not pay their bill, so we could get the clothes when they defaulted on their bill or just left the clothes there. We’d always be 2 or 3 seasons behind on whatever the fashion was.
I remember a friend of mine whose dad was a wealthy doctor, invited me over to eat. I was like, “Cool. What’s your mom cooking?” He’s like, “No, she’s not cooking. We’re going to a restaurant.” I was like, “Okay.” We went in there and he gave me a menu. I looked at him and I said, “How the heck does this work?” I can order a pizza and a hamburger and that man’s going to bring it to me. Explain to me how this works again. This is incredible. That’s how it was. I didn’t have any of this wealth, but around me was tons of wealth.
By the time I reached fifteen, I remember thinking to myself, “I want that stuff. I want the Porsche. I want the Ferrari. I want the beautiful blonde sitting in the car next to me in the big house on the hill.” All that great stuff, great vacations and all that stuff. What’s the path? I went and I talked to my parents and I said, “How do I get that?” They thought about it. As any immigrant family will let you know, the pinnacle of success is becoming a doctor.
My parents told me, “You become a doctor. You go to a school.” I was like, “Great. Sign me up for that. I’ll be a doctor.” They’re like, “Okay.” I’m like, “How long does that take 2, 3 years?” They’re like, “No, it takes 8, 10, 12 years. Specialty, 14, 15 years.” “What happens then?” “You got to get a loan. You’ll be in debt for another ten years. You’ll be fat, old and bald like the dude next door. Maybe by the time you’re 50, you’ll have a mortgage, a wife and eight kids.”
You won’t have time because you’ll be selling your hours. You’ll have to wake up at 5:00 AM and come back at 8:00 PM. Maybe by then, you’ll have the house in the car, which by the way, the bank will own, you will not. Very quickly, I discovered that it was not going to be a path that worked for me. Very unceremoniously, I packed up my stuff in a single backpack and I left. I left the keys on the counter. I didn’t come back. I burned my ships. I decided I was going to go out and find my fame and fortune in the world. As a kid, I was fifteen with no friends and no money. This was pre-internet, pre all those times.
Take us into that decision. What was going on for you when you decided at fifteen, I’m going to walk out and do this on my own? What was going on for you?
Growing up again in Los Angeles, at school, I never fit in. I never belonged. There was never a group that I belonged in. As an adolescent, I got involved in multiple criminal activities that adolescents would get involved in. We went to liquor stores and we had this little Greek kid and he was very small. He would walk into the store. He would fit just right under the sensors. He’d wear baggy clothes.
We would create some kind of distraction on it. We’d open up a Coke, spill it and something would happen. The store owner or manager, whoever’s monitoring the store will get busy. He would stuff his pockets with nude magazines, with those little tiny bottles of liquor, cigarettes, glue or whatever we could get. He would rush out under the sensors and we would just pay for the Coke or whatever and get out. We would sell that stuff in school.
We always get busted. We were terrible at crime. We had no business being in the crime business. They would put us in detention. Here we are, these little juvenile criminals in detention. Who’s in detention? More juvenile criminals. It was the best business we had ever done. We would get caught again. They didn’t even have second detention to send us to. We’d be going back and forth through that. By the time I was fifteen, I realized, “Crime was not good for me. I am not good at crime. I’m a failure at crime. I will not be doing a crime. I need to go out there and figure out something to do.”
My why was I wanted the wealth. I wanted success. I wanted to climb the ladder. There was not a path for me to do that in those days. I was going to forge a path. I was going to make a path. I was going to go out there with machetes and cut the entire forest down until there was a path for me. That’s what I did. I started sleeping in abandoned buildings, which was much more glorious than it sounds, and on the beach as well. Sometimes abandoned buildings near the beach, because LA was in a building boat.
I quickly learned that if you could watch realtors, when they opened up the buildings, there was a code to these boxes where the keys were held to these mega buildings that they were building. You could put that code in, get the key, sneak in at night, sleep and leave in the morning. By the way, I don’t espouse anybody to do this. It’s highly illegal, but I would do that. I would sleep in this luxurious building, maybe the plumbing didn’t work or the electricity wasn’t on. I wake up in the morning and get out.
Eventually, I got into the electronic music scene. I learned that I could sleep at clubs behind the speakers, which was another great thing for me, in front of the speakers is very loud but behind the speakers is super quiet. I started hanging out there thinking, “I got to learn something about making money.” I had the books. I had the fortitude to read Think and Grow Rich. Og Mandino, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer. I read every self-help, personal development, old-timey, new timey, all of those books.
I knew that there was a possibility for me to break the mold, to break out of what one of my mentors called TikTok. To get out of that world and get into a new reality for myself. I didn’t quite know what the path was in those days. Hanging out in the clubs, I realized that there was money being made. I thought to myself, “It’s got to be the promoters.” I tried throwing a couple of parties. I started looking at the promoters. I was like, “These guys are broke as hell. Everywhere where they’re going, they don’t have money.”
They’re bailing before the party’s over, so they don’t have to pay people. They’re not driving fancy cars. These are not wealthy individuals. I thought, “It’s got to be the musicians because musicians make money.” Nobody in those days appreciated DJs. People who played other people’s music. Which led me to how did these things happen? Week after week, night after night. I looked around and I was like, “It’s got to be the property owners’ real estate.”
Nope. These were all break-ins. All these warehouses were borrowed from some big corporation that owns 50 warehouses and whatever. We’d figure out a way to get in then some guy would climb the power pole and steal power. Another guy would turn on the water main and there’d be plumbing. The party would go on until the morning in these warehouses. I thought to myself, “There are these guys that hang out at the door all the time.” They’re well-dressed and have several beautiful women with them. They sometimes have bodyguards. They had nice cars, nice apartments. What are they doing? What do you think they did?
They were the doorman. They were the gatekeeper.
They were the drug dealers. They were the ones that were dealing the illicit substances and subsidizing the failure of everybody else to keep these parties going because it was highly profitable for them. Drugs are a very lucrative business. I thought to myself, “Let me do that.” I realized I was bad at crime. I looked back to my adolescents, my younger self talking to my older self, “You sir, should not be doing crime. You get caught every time.”
I pictured myself in multiple prisons around the world and thought, “No, I can’t do that.” It hit me. What if I could create a legal drug? What if I could create a version of the most popular drug at the time that there was no supply of because it had just been made illegal called ecstasy. I didn’t get the memo that it was impossible. I went out there and I did it. I managed to get myself a girlfriend with no money and nowhere to live.
I figured out how to get a girlfriend. I managed to convince her to let me cook up prototypes in her kitchen while her dad was out at work. I think he was like the principal or the superintendent of some school district or somewhere. The guy would leave. I would sneak in through the back, a window or door or something. I’d come in and cooking it up in the kitchen. Finally, we got a formula that worked. I didn’t have enough money to buy a capsule machine. She and I would be rolling them up into little balls, and all kinds of people would be coming over. We’d be giving them, “Try this, try this, try this.”
Finally, we got a formula that worked. I called everybody I knew and I said, “This is amazing.” I called authors, writers and all types of people. I found them in the yellow pages, in the phone books in those days. I would call people up and ask them for advice, ask them to come try it. When we had a formula that worked, I knew this was my second reason why I was going to be successful. I had to burn my ships again. I did it once when I left home and I had to find a way to sell the stuff, distribution.
It led me back to the clubs. I had a backpack full of these little baggies filled with these little balls that we hand-rolled to look like pills. I had a little insert card in them with a butterfly in those days. I didn’t know what I was going to call it. I walked up to the biggest drug dealer in the club. These days, if you have tattoos on your face, they call you Post Malone and you are a platinum record star, girls love you, you are harmless. You’re probably a TikTok star or YouTube star. You remember in the ‘80s and ‘90s, should you have tattoos on your neck leading to your face, you are most certainly a criminal, a freak or both.
Straight out of prison.You must have a solid vetting process because there's a big buzz around you when you're super successful. But when trouble pops up, there are only a few who will stick by you. Click To Tweet
Nobody had tattoos on their faces. Tattoos were not visible in the ‘80s unless you were a sailor or a part of a gang or something. This guy had tattoos on his face and on his neck. He had those three little tear things, which I think meant he killed somebody in prison or killed three people or some crazy thing like that. He had the gold teeth. He had the bodyguards. He had the girls around him. It was straight out of the movies. Here I am, this teenage kid with this baggie full of herbal goop, walking up to this man who sells bonafide drugs from a criminal enterprise.
I walked up to him and he’s like, “What do you need kid? I got nothing. We’re all out. We’d been out for days.” I said, “No. I’m not a consumer. I want you to sell my stuff.” He said, “What the heck is wrong with you? Are you a cop?” He’s like looking at me. The guards are patting me down looking for a wire. I said, “No. I’m definitely not a cop, but I want you to sell this stuff.” He’s like, “What is it?” I’m like, “It’s just like ecstasy. It’s fantastic, but it’s legal. It’s herbal. It’s natural. You’re not going to go to jail, sir.”
In that moment, he looked like he was about to kill me. There was no happiness in this man’s face. Although, I don’t think I ever saw happiness in his face. By the way, I write about this in my book, Billion How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult, which was just released. In that moment, I remember thinking to myself, “You are not leaving that spot until this man buys whatever it is that you’re selling. You are either going to die tonight or get him to sell what you’re selling. You are going to make a sale.” I didn’t move. I’m sure he said other things to me.
At that moment, two people walked up to him, two party goers. I remember them asking him and there was a negotiation that went on. He motioned to me, the bodyguards moved aside. I thought, “What’s he pointing at?” He’s pointing at the bag of pills. I handed him the bag of pills. He grabbed the bag. He grabbed my backpack, which was filled with pills and said, “Come back in two hours.” He handed it to them and had an exchange. He said, “By the way, kid, you better not be messing with me. Don’t leave the club.”
I’m having a little bit of a freakout and pretty certain that my young life was going to end there and then in that club. I came back a couple of hours later and I didn’t know what to make of it. The bodyguard motioned me to come forward. The girls moved aside. I moved forward. I’m standing there, sweat and bullets looking at this guy directly in the eyes. I can’t tell what’s going on. I do notice in the background, people are partying, happy and having a good time. I see the empty baggies everywhere. This guy probably emptied out 30 of them himself.
I’m looking at the guy going okay and he looks at me straight in the eyes, the silence for about 30 seconds. He says, “Kid, how soon can you get me more?” All the tension was released at that moment. That was it. It went from 1 drug dealer to 10 to 1,000, to 10,000. We were all over the world. I had all the buildings in Venice beach. We were renting them all. We had telephone operations, telesales operations.
I was making this stuff for $0.25 a unit. We were selling it for $20 retail. Mostly cash business, mostly direct to consumer in those days, completely legal. We got calls from Urban Outfitters, Tower Records, GNC. We were selling in any store you could possibly imagine. Larry Flynt from the Hustler Enterprise, the famed pornographer bought our product to sell to all the sex shops around the world. We were being sold in 32 countries. We were in over 30,000 doors.
What was it called? I’m trying to think about it back then.
The drug dealer looked at me at that moment too. As he was handing it to his first customer said, “What do you call this stuff?” I had a moment where I was like, “Holy crap.” I looked at him and I said, “Herbal Ecstacy,” and the name stuck. It was called Herbal Ecstacy. I remember one day, I was in my teens. We’d been in business for some time and the news broke that we had broken the billion-dollar mark. This was pre-internet, pre-Facebook, pre-mobile phones, pre-access to free data, pre-access to any of that stuff. We had broken $1 billion.
Sam Donaldson was in a limo outside of my office waiting to get me on Nightline. He drove over, the great Sam Donaldson. Montel Williams had sent me tickets to be on his show in New York. CNN wanted to have me on, Wall Street Journal has a reporter outside. We were the hottest thing. Everybody wanted to know how this long-haired teenage kid had broken $1 billion in revenue. We were on the cover of Detail’s magazine. We had two Newsweek covers, LA times, New York Times. You name it, we were there.
The London Observer did a feature piece on the cover. They called me the Willy Wonka of Generation X. I stepped into my office. I would normally sleep 2, 3 hours on those days. I would usually fall asleep on the factory floor, on the floor one my offices, or the call center, anywhere just because I was intent on making this company successful. I remember having a panic attack when the news broke because I did not know what $1 billion meant. Not theoretically or hypothetically, I literally didn’t know how much money $ 1 billion was. I barely knew what $1 million was. That was my panic in those days.
I figured out what it was. I started doing all the publicity. We did all the shows. I write about it in my book, Billion How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult. It was absolutely a wild ride. I wrote about how the mob tried to take over the company at some point. The Japanese mafia, the Yakuza tried to get involved. We had government intervention in the company and it was a wild rollercoaster ride leading to an interesting several years, to say the least.
Why couldn’t somebody just copy it?
A few people tried. We had the formula patented in those days. We had trademarks, but we were first to market. You could copy my product, but you couldn’t copy me. I was the long-haired, rebellious kid doing the TV, doing the media. It’s like Coca-Cola. Can you make brown sugar water and sell it to the masses? Probably. Can you compete with them? Not really. They’ve got first to market and distribution. We had that cinched up.
What’s the best part of building a $1 billion company and the worst part of building a $1 billion company?
The best part is the $1 billion, which has fantastic. Money is great. I tell people often that the greatest injustice you can do to yourself in America is to be poor. The poor pay more for everything. The poor are penalized for being poor. The rich very rarely pay for anything that the poor pay for and are incentivized to be rich. If you believe have a choice, please try to be rich. I’ve been broke and I’ve been extremely wealthy. It is far more fun to be extremely wealthy.
A good friend of mine talks about the root of all evil, where they say money is the root of all evil. He used to like to say that, “The guy that said money is the root of all evil didn’t have any.” The guy that said, “Money can’t buy you happiness didn’t know where to shop.” It’s true. It’s a blast and super fun. You’re hearing it from somebody who’s done it and who does it.
The worst part of it was trying to figure out who likes you for you, who genuinely wants to be your friend and who wants to be around the fame and fortune. I can only imagine what somebody like Jeff Bezos, the Founder of Amazon or Elon Musk has to go through because it must be very difficult to forge long-term meaningful relationships with people. You must have a solid vetting process because, in those days where you are super happy, super successful, there’s a big buzz around you, everybody wants to be around you.
When trouble pops up, there are only a few that will stick by you. Those are your real friends. That’s the most difficult part is realizing that there are people in the world that are not interested in you, but only in self-enrichment. Having your BS detectors refined to a point where when you reach those levels of success, being able to fair it out, the people that are the fakers is absolutely essential. I, unfortunately, didn’t have that in my teens. As I got older, I’ve developed it and my BS detector has gotten a lot stronger in the years to come after Herbal Ecstacy.
What happened to Herbal Ecstacy? You’re on top of the world and then what?
The government doesn’t seem to like very much when a young Iranian kid, in his teens develops a drug that is unregulated. They don’t like the idea of not being in control. What they did, along with some big pharma companies is they lobbied against us. Laws were passed. Our ingredients were banned. It slowly fizzled out. We had a bunch of different products in those days.
From there, I went on to solve a different problem. I went on to solve the problem with smoking. I figured, “People have been smoking for hundreds of years. Smoking creates smoke char and carbon monoxide. There’s got to be a better way.” It turns out that you can heat any plant substance, tobacco, cannabis, whatever and get the active elements, what you need, the cannabinoids, the THC, the nicotine without burning it, without heating it to 1200 degrees but you had to have the system for regulating the temperature, I patented that.
We developed the first world’s first vape. Digital vaporization was invented by me in those days. I patented it. I wrote the first book on it. That is the forerunner for all the technology that you see in vapes. We invented that industry. It didn’t exist before us. I created those patents. I wrote a book. That company went public. I decided, “I want to get back into the pill business.” At this point, we were having our first kid. I thought I got to figure out a way to make my brain sharper.
I want to be limitless. I want to function optimally, even as I’m aging, because aging is BS. I want to beat it. Maybe I won’t beat it. One day, I’m going to die. It’s all our destiny. Until then, I want to die with my boots on and sword drawn and be a badass. I came up with this pill called Excelerol. We’ve got two versions. One called Excelerol, one called FOCUS+, which was a nootropic, a brain supplement. It’s still available on Amazon. It works great but, in those days, it’s very expensive to produce. We use real ingredients. It was like $120 a box of this stuff.
I was looking for distribution thinking, “How am I going to sell this?” We sold some to GNC. We sold some to the different avenues. This was in the early days where this guy named Jeff Bezos was getting somewhere with his company. You could email Jeff, Jeff@Amazon.com and he would respond. We heard through the grapevine that Jeff Bezos was opening up his platform, the bookstore, Amazon.com to third-party sellers. People like you and me to sell whatever we wanted to on those platforms.
I thought, “That’s cool. That’s timely. Let me try putting this stuff up.” It took me fifteen minutes. The whole process of opening a seller account, listing the product, the whole thing. I put the product up, Excelerol and I went to sleep. I didn’t think much. I thought maybe I’ll get a couple of orders in the next few weeks. I’ll work on this. I woke up the next day we had thousands of orders. “This is interesting. Who is this Bezos guy?” I read up on Jeff Bezos. I learned that he’s not this nerdy Silicon Valley guy that we see that we think he is.
This guy is a beast. This guy’s a leader in the industry. This guy comes from Wall Street. This guy comes from one of the biggest Wall Street firms with expertise in acquiring top talent and bringing cheap money from Wall Street, billions from Wall Street into Silicon Valley. He’s building this platform. This is no joke. This was never a bookstore. This is a key to world domination in global commerce. When I realized that, I decided I was going to devote the next several years of my life to mastering the Amazon platform. That’s what I did. I learned everything there was.
I spend most of my days impacting other people to sell on the Amazon platform. I teach a course where I train people, how to do everything from how do you find the perfect product? How do you sell it on Amazon? Why do you sell it on Amazon? How do you create a business that creates these predictable recurring revenue streams? Which is what I do and I love it.
As I listened to your story, you’re always in search of a better way. You find a better way and then you share it. You did that with the Herbal Ecstacy. You’ve done that every step along the way. Take us into your mind or do you just see a problem? Do you have a problem and you want to solve it, and then that’s what leads you to it? What got you in those different directions?
For me, sometimes that’s the case. My superpower is that I am a predictor of trends and a very accurate one particularly when it comes to consumer products. I know what’s going to be hot five years from now. I know what’s going to be hot ten years from now.
How do you do that?
I don’t know how I do it. I think it’s my obsessive nature. I am an obsessive human being. When I get interested in something, I dive deep. Back in the days, where people read books, I would be at the bookstore. I would be spending thousands of dollars on books. I would not come home any night without having a stack of books on topics that I was interested in. I still do it to this day. I order on Amazon. I will watch videos. I will read books. I will get audible. I will watch the TED Talks. I will dig deep. I will go into my new detail about a topic that I’m interested in.There is no hack to hard work. You have to get out there and put in the sleepless nights. Click To Tweet
I will look to where the opportunity is. My friend, Jay Samit, who wrote the book, Disrupt You! and his new book, Future-Proofing You. He is a former executive at Sony. He talks about solving the bigger problem. For me, it came naturally the solving the bigger problem because I start with curiosity. I’m not looking for a why. I’m not looking for a reason to do what I’m doing. I’m following what my fascination is. I follow that fascination and see where it takes me. This brings me to what we teach at Amazon Mastery. My FBA seller course, which is FBASellerCourse.com for anyone who’s interested.
I’ve got a free one-hour course that I’m happy to share with any of your audience. What we teach is to find the distribution first, find what the market is hungry for. Find the competitors, find their vulnerabilities, then it’s easy for you to put a product out on the market. It’s low hanging fruit. That’s how you win. If you come out with a product and then you’re like, “How am I going to sell this thing?” That’s the long road.
You’ve got to educate people. Education is the kiss of death when it comes to product launches because you’ve got this thing. You’ve got a mousetrap. It’s better than every other mousetrap out there. I don’t know that as your consumer. You have to spend all your money educating me. What happens while you’re spending money educating me?
Somebody else comes along.
The competitors are selling and selling. People’s attention span is short in the days of TikTok, Instagram and the internet. What most entrepreneurs don’t understand, probably the single most important thing, comes from us being taught. This whole generation is being taught that you matter, that everybody cares about what you’re interested in. Nobody cares about you. People care about one thing. I, they care about themselves. That’s it?
Nobody cares about you, your story, your brands. All that stuff is BS. All they care about is what you’re going to do for them. When you go on Amazon and you buy a product, that person, if it’s one of my students will be an expert at crafting that story in a way whereby the time you get to that listing, you’re already clicking buy it now. The way that product is presented has pre-suaded you to believe that it’s your decision to buy it.
We are decision architects. That’s what we do. The old models of selling are dead. The old models of disruption selling and knocking on people’s doors and shoving stuff down their throats are dead. We’re in the Amazon era where we believe as Robert Cialdini in his book, Pre-Suasion talks about pre-suading people and becoming decision architects.
Give us an example of a product that you did this with so that we can see it in action. Somebody took a product and took it to Amazon after they found their market and it took off.
Excelerol would be a good example of that. FOCUS+ is one of the supplements that we talked about. Another example might be matcha tea. We’re one of the largest producers of matcha tea in the country. We make a specific matcha tea called Matcha DNA. Matcha is a green tea. It’s high in antioxidants. It’s got all these benefits. You can just Google it and learn about all these doctors and celebrities. The Kardashians are drinking it. Gwyneth Paltrow is drinking it. We started off by I’m a big matcha drinker. I thought, “I’d like to buy some matcha. Can I get some on Amazon?”
I looked on Amazon and there wasn’t any. There was a couple of brands that were expensive and they were just the big bulk market ones from Japan. I thought, “Fukushima just happened. I don’t want to buy anything from Japan. There’s radiation out there, allegedly.” I’m going to go with Chinese tea. The Chinese are good at teas. That’s the one thing I am going to buy from China.
I went out there and I found a supplier that produces it for us. We started selling matcha tea on Amazon. Went gangbusters. We sold tons of it. I did my research. We researched that there’s a huge market of people looking to buy matcha tea. There was no supply on Amazon. Now there are a million sellers selling it. We’re still the leader, but there are $ 1 million sellers selling macho.
I thought, “That’s a market that we can feed.” We went out there and we started introducing matcha. This is another thing that I teach my students is that you want to capture all areas of the market. We’ve got multiple brands that we sell in multiple categories. We sell the most expensive one. We sell the cheapest one. We sell the mid-level one. We knock ourselves off.
We sell knockoffs of our own product. We do all kinds of things to make sure that we dominate in that field. That’s what you have to do. If you want to win, you have to find a niche. You have to exploit the weaknesses of your competitors. You have to come in and dominate that niche and maintain, and hold on to that dominance.
When you talk about dominating the niche, how do you do that? What I think I’m hearing you say is, you found something that you were passionate about, went on Amazon and researched it and found that nobody’s dominating this market. “We’re going to go dominate it.” You created a better product, took that product to the market. You found ways to keep competing with yourself to be both sides of the coin almost, to push your brand up. Is that what you did?
That amongst other things. I remember I had at this point been selling on Amazon for a little while and there are certain hacks, and tips and tricks that we teach on how you get your product to rank, how you get your product reviewed within their terms of service. How you can successfully get that product visible and selling on the Amazon platform, that’s what we did.
It’s very interesting because Amazon is a very effective place to sell products. The one thing that I would say to you that maybe I would push back a little bit on in your description is the passionate part. I was interested in the tea. I was a fan of the tea. Maybe you could argue that I was passionate about it or maybe not. I’m thinking, “I’m passionate about hanging out with my family and my kids.” I’m passionate about all kinds of stuff that doesn’t make me money. It’s one of the most common myths that people tell you.
Scott Adams talks about it in his book, How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Scott Adams is the writer of Dilbert, which is probably one of the most famous comic books in the world. Passion is something that they pitch people because they don’t want to tell them that they’re a little bit smarter than that. When they ask these big entrepreneurs, they say, “What’s your secret?” I go, “It was just passion.”
They don’t want to tell you that, “You know what? I’m an aggressive cutthroat. I cut three guys below me and I’m just a little bit smarter than you. I got access to a trust fund. You’re never going to make the billions that I make.” No one’s going to tell you that. It doesn’t look good for Mark Zuckerberg to tell you those things or Bill Gates to tell you those things. Instead, what they’re going to tell you is, “You just got to have a lot of passion and drive in life.” I know people all the time that have become billionaires, multi-millionaires from products that they do not give a care about.
The passion part of the component, it’s nice to have. I’m passionate about a nice steak meal, a nice rare fillet mignon grass-fed steak. It’s not going to make any money. I’m passionate about tea. I’m passionate about doing this stuff. I’m passionate about talking with you on this show. This is fun. This is a great show. I’m excited to be here. You have to separate that from the activities that make you money. Making money as a system, it’s a formula. It has very little to do with what you are passionate about. If you’re interested in something, your interest, your fascination in something opens up a pathway, a journey to things that could make you money, but it’s not a precursor for success or wealth.
You’ve separated passion out from your business because you can be passionate about so many different things, but interest is definitely necessary or is it interest necessary?
Not really. I know lots of people who make money doing things that they have very little interest in. I know a guy who runs a very high-end fashion brand of women’s clothing. He doesn’t wear that. Every time I see him, I’m like, “Where’d you get your clothes?” He’s like, “H&M, Ross.” I’m like, “You run this like multi-million-dollar clothing company.” He’s like, “I don’t like that. I like to wear sweats.” He’s like, “I get good sweats at Ross and they’re 50% off.”
What do you see then as the key ingredient to making money?
I don’t think there’s any key ingredient. I don’t think there’s anyone thing. You got to have grit. You got to have resilience. The one thing I would say that’s key is you got to be able to go out there and take some punches. You got to be able to be knocked down. The people I see coming through my Amazon FBA Seller course, the people that come through my Amazon Mastery course, the ones that come in with the attitude of, “I’m going to throw my chips on the table. I’m going to see where that little roulette ball lands and maybe it’ll land on one of my numbers.” Those are the ones that fail.
The ones that come in and are like, “You see that nail, I’m going to drive that thing through that piece of wood.” Maybe I’ll use a hammer, if that doesn’t work, I’ll use a sledgehammer. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to shoot that nail. I’m going to hit it with a rock. I’m going to drill through it and then put it in. It doesn’t matter. That nail is going in. If you go to business with that attitude, you are going to succeed. You are not there to try. There is no participation trophy in business. There are people out there who will eat your lunch.
One of my favorite quotes is that “While you are sleeping, your enemies are planning your demise.” I write that quote in my book, which is one of my absolute favorite ones. It keeps you on your toes. You got to always be on your toes. The world is predatory. There’s no sleeping in the Savannah. You’ve got to be always on your toes, but more so than that, there’s no hack to hard work. There’s no hack to getting out there and doing the work.
There are all kinds of people on social media, preaching things. They want to sell you a course. They don’t want you to get rich. Even a lot of the people out there who sell their Amazon courses, mine, by the way, which is free and I will give it to you if you reach out to me. They don’t tell you what they’re doing to make money. They tell you what they want to tell you for you to think you’re going to make money, but them make money off you by selling you whatever it is they’re selling.
It’s like the stock market guys. I was a highly leveraged commodities trader. I did extremely well. I traded hundreds of millions of dollars in commodities, gold, oil, pork bellies, all that stuff, coffee futures for years. I tried all the different courses. I realized at a certain point that the guy selling the courses are making more money, selling the courses than they are in the markets. I was making more money than them in the markets. It’s like that. There is no hack to hard work. You got to get out there. You got to put in the sleepless nights. I paid my dues. I’ve slept on the factory floor.
I’ve gone from millions to a billion to broke to millions again. I’m continually on that path of learning of self-discovery of figuring out what I need to do to take myself to the next level. I have no illusions to think that I don’t have to wake up tomorrow and work hard at something. The fact is I’ve put myself in a place where I can relax and do the stuff that I love to do. It’s only because I spent all those years doing all that stuff that I didn’t want to do.
I love what you’re saying because you’re not sugarcoating it. Here’s what I have been thinking about as I’ve been listening to you. You said this at least twice. You said, “I burned the ships.” How critical was that to you having the motivation, the grit and the desire to get up every day and go do it when things didn’t look good?
As my friend says, “You got to go all in.” I don’t believe in half-assing things. I love watching these historical shows where you see these historical battles. You see these guys. These were guys who most people don’t know. The Vikings controlled England for nearly a thousand years, maybe longer. They ruled England. England was ruled by Vikings for 1,000 or more years. You look at that and you’re like, “What did they do?” This is before even naval navigation. These guys went on these wooden boats that they carved out from trees, left everything behind. They went out. Their swords were drawn for glory. That was it.
They burned all their ships. They were there to win. They would colonize places where they landed. That’s what you got to do. I think people have to be intelligent about the decisions that they make. If you’ve got a family, if you’ve got to feed the kids or whatever, you can’t leave everything and go off on some crazy venture. You need to have stability but it’s that stability that’s going to allow you to have the bandwidth to succeed.You need to have stability that'll allow you to have the bandwidth to succeed. Click To Tweet
We talk about foundational thinking in my course. I tell people, you got to have four pillars, a four-legged table much more secure. Three-legged table, not so good. Two-legged table, not good at all. One-legged table, you’re a tripod. The first leg should be a career, a job, a trust fund, whatever it is money where you don’t have to worry about eating. You don’t have to worry about your family being taken care of. You don’t have to worry about if you want to take the wife out for a nice dinner, that it’s going to give you problems or the girlfriend or the husband or whatever.
The second pillar, you should have some money and cashflow-positive real estate. I tell people this all the time, “You got to buy at the right time when the market conditions are right. You got to find great deals, but you can do this with little or no money. I’ve bought houses on credit cards. I bought houses on eBay. There are all kinds of things you can do, but leaning towards cashflow positive real estate.” If you can’t get into it for whatever your restrictions are, you can at least start learning about it.
The third one is compounded interest. Why is Warren Buffett one of the wealthiest men in the world? Berkshire Hathaway is one of the most successful funds out there. It’s because of compounded interest. He’s been investing since he was a kid. If you leave money in and you compound interest over time, that’s going to add up to something. The fourth pillar, the fourth foundation, is an e-commerce business. I recommend Amazon. Amazon’s what I do. It’s one of the best, but it’s not the only one. We teach people how to sell on Etsy, Walmart, eBay, Poshmark, all these different marketplaces that are popping up. If you have these four pillars, these four foundations, nothing could ever shake your world.
You wake up in the morning, “The real estate market tanked. No problem, you’re cashflow anyway. It’s okay. It’ll get back up. We wait for a cycle.” “The boss fired me. No problem. You got your compounding interest money. You got your real estate.” “All those stuff failed. You got your e-commerce business,” and vice versa.
If you have those foundations, you might be unsettled for a little bit in life, but you’ll never be knocked out. If you look at these guys, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, look at what they do best, it’s diversification. It’s building those foundations. Those guys have hundreds of pillars. Do you think if Amazon went down tomorrow that Jeff Bezos would be crying? He’s got so much money. He’s got so many things he’s going. These guys are good. There is no one thing that’s going to shake their world. That’s what you have to do. You’ve got to build your life in a way where you can never have a day that’s that bad.
What is the chain that keeps you going? You’ve already done this multiple times. You’ve got the money. You’ve got the stuff. You’ve got the family. What’s keeping you motivated? I can feel your energy. I can feel you’re fired up. Ready to go fight, create something and go do something. What is it that’s keeping you going?
That’s a good question. I spend most of my time traveling with my family. We go to all great places. I’m a family man. We collect cars. I collect exotic cars, Porsches. Me and my son, my seven-year-old like to go out into the garage and fix these cars. We don’t know what we’re doing, but it’s fun to look under the hood and take a look at that. Spending time with my family is what fires me up. It’s what excites me. Outside of that, at work, I get excited about two things. One is when somebody buys a product that I’ve built, designed or developed.
The second is when somebody calls me up and says, “Shaahin, I made an extra 60,000 this month on Amazon. Thanks to you. I can quit my job. I can walk in tomorrow and tell my boss to beat it.” That excites me, when I can inspire somebody to stop selling their hours and let their money work for them intelligently. I’ve got students that have 3, 4 Vas, virtual assistants in Nicaragua, Venezuela, in South and Central America, in South Asia, Southeast Asia, working for them, running their business and they’re on the beach. They’re traveling. Those VAs are running that business. While they’re sleeping, they’re making money.
If I can empower people to have that freedom, I always say, “Freedom is the ultimate luxury. The new luxury is time.” If you have all that money and you can’t take a break, have a nice lunch with your significant other, take your kid to the park, do whatever you want, when you want with who you want, you’re not really wealthy. That’s why the cost of a private jet somewhere is exponentially more than a first-class ticket on any airline because it offers you the ultimate freedom.
In my world, what I would say is your energy comes from when you find something better and then you share it. People love it because they appreciate that you shared that better way with them and it’s brought them results. It worked. It was better. I feel the same way when I can share something that’s better and people love it. Even a better restaurant, even a better anything. “Have you been to this place?” They love it. It brings me a lot of joy. I can see you doing that same thing on a bigger scale. The last question for you. What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever given or the best piece of advice that you’ve ever gotten?
As far as advice goes, the best advice I’ve ever gotten is topical and it’s time-sensitive. The advice that I got as a young person might not apply now. With that said, in very general terms, I could say, don’t work in a vacuum. Build a mastermind or join a mastermind. Like with my Amazon Mastery course, we have a mastermind where people sign up with us. They’re immediately with a hundred other people that are selling on Amazon. Find a mentor. Getting somebody who is where you want to be and incentivizing them to conspire for your success could be the ultimate hack to getting there a lot faster.
If people are reading and they want to get in touch with you, how is the best way for them to do that?
You can email me directly. We have the one-hour Amazon Mastery course. I’ll offer that to all your audience for free. It’s normally $200. We’ll give it to them for free. Just use the code WHY and email me at DarkZess@Gmail.com. That’s my direct Gmail address. I get emails to zero every day. I will answer all emails directly. You can also check us out at www.FBASellerCourse.com or ShaahinCheyene.com. My book Billion How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult just dropped. You can get that on Amazon and check that out. We also do a show. We’ve got a podcast called Hack and Grow Rich.
If you want to check out Hack and Grow Rich, make sure to like, and subscribe to us, dislike us, whatever you want to do. Give us some love, give us some attention. You can get us on Stitcher, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, wherever podcasts are heard. Gary, if someone’s reading this on our channel, how can they get ahold of you and subscribe to the content you’re producing?
Have them come to WHYInstitute.com. The best thing for them to do would be to go Discover Their Why. They can use the code Podcast50 and Discover Their Why for half price. It’s only $47. You’ll see all that you need there. You can connect with me there as well.
Thanks for having me on.
Thanks for being here. I love the path that you’ve been on, the ups, the downs, the stories, the realness to it. You’re not trying to sell something that requires no work because that doesn’t exist. If you were to have told me, “I’ll do everything for you. It’s not going to be any work for you. Give me your $1,000, and you’ll be rich.” Not a real story. You’re like, “You’re going to have to go work your butt off. You’re going to have to put the hours in. There’s no substitute for burning the ships and jumping in with both feet, going all in and getting it done.” Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it. I’ll look forward to reading your book.
It has been fun. Thank you so much.
It’s time for our Guess Their Why segment. I want to think about Walt Disney. What do you think Walt Disney’s why is? He imagined a place where people were happy. He imagined Disneyland, Disney World and he built it when people told him he shouldn’t. He wanted to contribute to the youth. He wanted to contribute to people’s imagination. He wanted them to have a great experience and to have a great time. I believe that Walt Disney’s why is to contribute. To contribute to a greater cause, add value and have an impact on people’s lives.
When I think about him, he was able to surround himself with other people that he brought with him. His brother, Roy, who was the how guy, but lifted them up. He lifted up the people around them to be creative, to be fun and to be funny. That’s what somebody with the why of contribute would be. What do you think Walt Disney’s why is?
If you love this episode, if you love this show, make sure to go to the platform that you’re reading on and rate us, give us a review because it’ll help us to bring the why to the rest of the world, so that we can impact and help one billion people discover, make decisions and live based on their why. Thank you for reading, and we will see you next week.
- Accelerated Intelligence, Inc.
- Think and Grow Rich
- Billion How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult
- Disrupt You!
- Future-Proofing You
- How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
- Hack and Grow Rich
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About Shaahin Cheyene
Born in Iran Tehran in 1975, Shaahin Cheyene is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and a prosperous businessman who is committed to share his enthusiasm to accelerate intelligence through his most recent company and products. Cheyene is the CEO and Chairman of brain nutrition start-up Accelerated Intelligence.
As a teenager in the 1990’s, Cheyene jump initiated his career by inciting and leading the “Smart Drug Movement” with his invention of Herbal Ecstacy, a refreshing, herbal supplement made to energize the body. He realized early in his career about guerilla branding and he still makes use of it to sell his products today. Shaahin Cheyene has developed over 200 award-winning products, selling millions of units globally. After pioneering the breakthrough components for Herbal Ecstacy, he extended his company’s offerings with Ecstacy Cigarettes, an herbal substitute for tobacco that many have put to use to quit smoking. It went on to become the most effective herbal cigarette on the earth.
In the early 2000’s, Cheyene’s career naturally progressed and matured. He started to work with several major pharmaceutical organizations to broadcast the technologies and great things about herbal medicines to the mainstream. In this process, Cheyene was accountable for the proliferation of several plant medicines now applied to popular naturopathic health regimens.
In 2000, Cheyene invented, branded and developed a revolutionary new medicine delivery system called the Vapir Vaporizer. His creation quickly spearheaded the burgeoning vaporization industry. He also published the definitive book on the science of Vaporization, Vapor: The Art and Science of Inhaling Pure Plant Essences. Shaahin Cheyene credits the production of his top-selling health supplement Excelerol to his career-long love of naturopathic herbal solutions. He remains true to his objectives to nurture and assist in improving the health of everyone with herbal alternatives to harsh chemicals.