Musthafa Ebadi
by Musthafa Ebadi on October 21st, 2014

Over the last few days I noticed few of my team members were growing beards. In one of our team meetings they actually had it on the agenda as something for the entire team participate in to get comradery going because we have four new teammates.

It started to gain steam quickly, and by the end of the discussion everyone was onboard including yours truly.

For those who know me they can attest that every day that I go to work I am clean shaven. I simply hate growing facial hair. And when they were discussing the idea and seeing who is in or who isn’t I was one of the people that put his hand up without any hesitation.

Why did I do it?

There are two reasons:

First, I have always been a team guy. Whenever there is an idea that people on my team or my peers want to participate I am always in – I am just wired that way.  Some of the hobbies that I have right now has been a product of me joining teams as part of team building/activity.

I started watching hockey because my team members at work watched it and it was our past time as a team. I am playing poker because I put up my hand for a poker tournament at work. And recently I started playing ball hockey because few members of my team were playing.

Second, as a leader you are never above the team. If you approve of a team building activity then you should try your best to take part in it. We live in a world where the best form of leadership is servant leadership and the least you can do is make your team feel that you are one of them and not above them.

Of course servant leadership shouldn’t get confused with setting goals, deadlines, deliverables, and enforcing accountability. Part of your responsibility as a leader is to avoid chaos, un-organization, and inefficiency however making your team feel that you are one of them and at their service is the best thing you could do a leader.

We all have a responsibility to serve our people!

I am going to do a photo before and after of this challenge and will post it after the challenge!

And for the next two weeks I am not shaving because I am part of a team!

Feel free to agree, disagree, or share your perspective using the comment section of this post.
Thanks for reading!

by Musthafa Ebadi on August 28th, 2014

I have an online to do list and often times it brings a smile to my face at the end of the day when I look at it and its clean (or almost clean on some days).

Does that make me a productive person? Maybe or maybe not.  I always want to be productive, and I am not too big on sitting and doing nothing. I cringe at the thought of sitting around for an hour or two and nothing anything – unless its afterhours or weekends and I am spending time with family.
Over the years I have been able to put together a list of 10 Habits of Highly Productive People that I want  to share them with you:
1. Productive people can differentiate “fake” productivity from “real” productivity
Sometimes, we put off doing real work in favor of other non-essential tasks. These tasks might somehow resemble “real” work, and thus give us a false sense of productivity. For example, in lieu of doing important tasks, people might attend useless meetings, sort out emails, and chat with coworkers.
Productive people know that these things do not really constitute work and know how to avoid them.
2. Productive people know when to let go of the non-essentials
Sometimes, we do non-essential tasks by dint of habit. We need to learn how to let them go. It’s either we get rid of them or allocate them to others. Such as proof reading an email over 5 times.
3. Productive people do not multitask
This should be a shocker however I believe that productive people don’t multi task.
The brain is just not wired to juggle multiple things all at the same.  Productive people know that tasks are meant to be completed one at a time for maximum efficiency.
4. Productive people know how to schedule their work “blocks.”
Most of us are early-risers, with most of our productive time scheduled during the daytime, while some are night owls.
Productive people know how to sync their work blocks around these times of productivity.
5. Productive people power through boredom
Persistence pays off in the long run. This is what separates productive people from the unproductive ones.  Persistence, not procrastination, is the reason why things get done.
6. Productive people know when to unplug
Yes, too much technology is bad for you. Being connected 24/7 has its perks, but its really not good for a person’s overall mental health and well-being.
Meditate, commune with nature, or just take a little bit of time off from your computer- all of these can really help you increase productivity and jumpstart your way to success.
7. Productive people have regular sleeping habits
Lack of sleep does not equate to productivity. Your eyebags is not a sign that you’re a hardworking person, it just means that you have poor sleeping habits.
Regular sleep (six to eight hours per day, on a constant schedule) has long been scientifically proven to increase productivity.
8. Productive people workout
Going to the gym or exercising is always a win-win situation for all.
Not only does physical activity release endorphins (“feel good” hormones that can alleviate stress and keeps us happy throughout the day) it also helps us stay in tiptop shape, and contributes to good sleeping habits.
9. Productive people reward themselves
“All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy” as the famous saying goes. Reward serves as incentives for productive work. It pushes us, and drives us to finish tasks. You don’t have to go on a vacation or go shopping for an extravagant gift for yourself but rewards such as eating a meal out, going to a movie, ordering food in and enjoying a TV show would rewire your brain to go and conquer the next challenge.
10. Productive people know how to allocate breaks
Breaks are essential for a productive lifestyle. Our bodies and brains are just not meant to work non-stop, so breaks are there to keep us refreshed. Some people need longish breaks after long work blocks, while some can make do with short breaks interspersed throughout the day.
Feel free to agree, disagree, or share your perspective using the comment section of this post.

Thanks for reading!

by Musthafa Ebadi on August 26th, 2014

If you believe that you are a leader then you believe that the best ideas always don’t come from you but rather from your people. As a leader your job is to help those ideas come to fruition.

One of the things that sets today’s leaders apart from the old school management is that we always encourage our people to think different and come up with creative ideas. Infact I have heard “think different” & “creative” from managers many times in the last few years that at times I have to pause to reflect if its real or just a cliché.

You also know that when you encourage people to come up with ideas you will get dozens of them in a week and sometime from the same person. Do you implement it all?

Realistically you couldn’t since every idea isn’t a good idea.  In fact in my experience for every 10 ideas pitched 3 – 4 are implemented. That means as leaders we say no 60 – 70 percent of the time.

What happens if you keep saying no to ideas? Your people will get dejected, perhaps demotivated. Heck if 60 – 70% of YOUR ideas were rejected do you think you will continue to come up with new ideas?   

The key to ensure your people’s ability to come up with ideas aren’t inhibited is to show respect.

When someone comes up with an idea and its not a good one you can brush them, tell them its not a good idea, or worse laugh at the idea – thus at them. Or you could take time to listen to what they are proposing, ask few questions, and get yourself engaged. By doing so you are showing them respect, dignity, and emphasizing that you appreciate them and their ability to think outside the box.

Now explain to them why the idea cannot be implemented, ensure they understand, and you get agreement. If they push back don’t use your “power” to say no but rather continue to take time and reason with them. Once you have agreement commend them for the idea and thinking differently.

Finally challenge them (very carefully) to refine the idea (or their thinking) to come up with a better one.

Remember that your job as a leader to ensure that your people consistently feel engaged, valued, and respected. And if they do they while they might get dejected their idea wasn’t implemented they will go and try to come up with a better idea!

It’s a delicate act of balancing what is a good idea to implement with keeping your team motivated to think creative. Make sure you handle it with care.

Feel free to agree, disagree, or share your perspective using the comment section of this post.
Thanks for reading

by Musthafa Ebadi on August 21st, 2014

I recently came across few blog posts that listed habits of highly successful people. I decided to pick and choose few of them and share them with you!  Here my favorites: 

1. Don’t define success with a dollar amount, but in relation to your happiness.

The habit of defining success with a dollar amount will lead you to constantly chasing a higher price point. It’s a chase that will never end, and a view of success that will never be attained. Get in the habit of seeing your success and your happiness in the same light.

2. Read before you write or work.

Reading a good book will get the creative juices flowing, the brain learning, and your knowledge base growing. Try reading for 30 minutes to start your day.

3. Wake up at the same time everyday.

Having a good sleep routine will help you have more energy to do more work during the day.

4. Always finish your to do list.

Get in the habit of never leaving anything that you wanted to finish at the beginning of the day, incomplete at the end. If you simply do what you set out to do, it will be hard for success to elude you.

5. Keep your to do list small and scaled.

Have 1 or 2 things that are important to finish, and make sure you finish them first. The rest of your tasks should be tended to only after your most important ones have been completed.

6. Keep two journals; one for your planning, scheduling, and work.

The other for your big ideas, thoughts, and goals. Writing stuff down makes it real and tangible. A to do list, a goal, or a dream, that isn’t written down isn’t yet real.

7. Measure everything.

Every goal you set needs to be measured. Every sales page you create, needs to be measured. If you measure everything you’ll have a blueprint for exactly what does work, and what doesn’t.

8. Stick to 90-minute work sessions.

Few people actually work as much as they say they work. Their time is usually made up of distractions. They Facebook, Tweet, and surf the interwebz. Time your work sessions. Keep a stopwatch. Focus for 90-minutes, take an active break, then get back to the beautiful grind.

9. Take active breaks.

A work break should enhance your working experience. It can’t – at all costs – take away from it. So do something active that will get your blood pumping and your mind working as effectively as it was when you first started working in the wee hours of the morning.

10. Wake up early.

The list of successful people who wake up before the rest of the world is far too long to list. This isn’t a coincidence. Get up before 6 am, 7 days a week and get a head start on your day and your dream.

11. Put your family first.

Success can’t exist without family – even if that “family” is simply loved ones and friends. You need to be working for a greater purpose than your own monitory gain if you’re going to accomplish true success.

12. Work harder than your competition.

If you work harder than everyone else, success can’t hide from you. You will find it. And you will enjoy it.

13. Use a board.

Use a big white board to keep your goals visible and close.

14. Share your dream.

Get in the habit of talking to others who have a similar dream, even if the similarity is the enormity of your goals, and the audaciousness of your plans. Napoleon Hill coined this relationship “a mastermind”, and it’s one of the most important factors in your eventual success.

15. Only surround yourself with successful people.

That is, don’t have “suckers” in your midst – people who will tear you away from your work, and destroy your dream. If you have friends that do this, stop hanging out with them. Are they worth you living a mediocre life when greatness can be in your future?

16. Keep a healthy body.

Without a healthy body it becomes evermore difficult to maintain a healthy mind.

17. Spend your money only on things that will propel your dream.

Cars, “things”, are only good for boosting your image in an effort to impress people who you really don’t want to impress. Spend money, instead, on your own development and your business to fuel your growth.

18. Make a sacrifice.

Get in the habit of sacrificing things that you may like in your life, for things that will help you become a success. The road to greatness isn’t one of excess spending and easy living. Hustle. Focus. Sacrifice. Succeed.

19. Review your journals every month.

A journal can bring you clarity when you write in it, but it’s far more powerful when you get in the habit of reviewing it.

20. Write down 3 things you’re thankful for every day.

What you’ll find is that success is often in your midst if you look at it from the right perspective. And study after study has shown that happy people achieve far greater things than pessimistic, unhappy individuals. This habit, combined with hard work, is as simple a recipe for success as you can create. It’s also an effective one.

Feel free to agree, disagree, or share your perspective using the comment section of this post.

And Always Thanks for Reading!

by Musthafa Ebadi on August 19th, 2014

I was having a quick conversation with someone the other day about leadership and they asked me what I consider the top 5 important attributes of a leader. I told her that over the years I have jotted down 7 attributes that I believe makes a person a wise and special leader.

She agreed with all the 7 so I thought to share the below with you:
Vision - The wise leader understands the value of a big picture, and therefore keeps an eye on something worth attaining. He is able to articulate that vision very clearly and concisely to his/her team.
People - The wise leader knows that people are the key to any organizational or team success and works to develop and empower them.
 Strategy - The wise leader realizes that no dream becomes reality without proper planning, execution, and always having a plan B.
Timing – The wise leader using sound judgment and is patient, knowing there is a right time to act and there are times to wait.
Morality - The wise leader places a high value in character and integrity, knowing that ultimately everything rises and falls on these qualities.
Initiative - The wise leader is risk-taking and intentionally encourages innovation, change and forward progress.
Diligence - The wise leader continues in spite of adversity, knowing that reaching a goal is worth the struggles to get there.
Feel free to agree, disagree, or share your perspective using the comment section of this post.

Thanks for reading!

by Musthafa Ebadi on August 14th, 2014

I was in process of hiring someone few months ago when I came across a very impressive resume.

Few days later I brought the candidate for in person interview,  and while she was very impressive candidate few minutes into an interview I noticed something that started to raise a red flag for me.

There wasn’t a single answer for which she needed time to think about before her answer.

Initially I thought she was asked those questions before so she might have thought about them in advance. However I started to notice a trend; as soon as I would finish the question she would have the answer for me within a micro second. 

Now I am a type of person that believe in hiring someone smart and more importantly someone right for my team and the culture of I have built.  As soon as I get a red flag I start exploring it further to evaluate if it really is something to be concerned about or with few follow up scenarios and questions my reservations are put to rest. I call it “peeling the onion” phenomena.

As I started to ask more questions the trend of divulging an answer right away continued. It got worse when I started to purposefully ask long winded questions. I even tried to hint that always knowing or projecting to know everything can be detrimental to any conversation especially an interview.

I  liked her qualifications and experience but wasn’t sure she would be the right fit for my team so I continued to come from different angles hoping my reservations would be put to rest but it went from bad to worse.  It got to a point that some answers were coming out without the questions being finished – a very rude gesture.

I took the last 5 to 7 minutes to articulate to her that while she is very qualified and would do wonders in her career lack of proper listening skills could impede her growth and progress. She countered that she believes the more she learns and knows the more chances of progressing, and hence her belief that if she has answers for everything it will prove her intelligence.  

I begged to differ but as a courtesy to finish the interview cordially I left it at that.

As I went back to my office and start to reflect (like I do after every interview) I realized that in process of trying to come across smart we may come across unfit or even rude. When you take time to think about a question, not just in interview but in your day to day conversations, your answers come across more genuine, credible, and you command more respect.

So are you really smart if you try to show that you know everything? Maybe not if you ask my opinion.

Feel free to agree, disagree, or share your perspective using the comment section of this post.

Thanks for reading!

by Musthafa Ebadi on August 12th, 2014

When I look back on my career so far, leading and mentoring teams for the best results has been the most fulfilling among all my experiences. While a lot has been written on what examples leaders can set for their teams, not much focus is there on what leaders can learn from their teams.

Leaders and their teams are part of one ecosystem – to succeed and grow, BOTH leaders and their teams need to keep the channels of learning open.  This week, I took the opportunity to list down a few of the valuable lessons that I have learnt over the years from my team:


Lesson #1: It is OK to pass on your leadership hat to the team sometimes – There are times when you have to lead from the front, but there are also times when you need to sit back and let your team lead. Not only do you get a break from the “always on” mode, you also get to see a fresh perspective in action. Empowerment benefits the leader the most.


Lesson #2: Sharing Bad news is as important as sharing Good news – As a leader, my first instinct was always to “protect” the team, to not let anything demotivate them.  I have learnt now that transparency is extremely critical, you have to trust your teams enough to process all information – good or bad – for them to feel valued and empowered to deal with all situations.


Lesson #3: Learning happens best when experienced and not “taught” - We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves. A leader has to be patient and wait for the right time to transfer wisdom – and the right time is when the team is ready to learn. You have to allow people to make their own mistakes, it’s tough but it is only then that the lesson is most valuable.


Lesson #4: No matter how big the challenge is, a tightly knit team can overcome it – Everyone has unique skills and strengths that can be leveraged to face difficult situations – much like a herd of buffalos facing lions and hyenas, the strongest circle around the herd protecting the one ones who have not grown strong horns yet – all moving together in the same direction.


Lesson #5: Influence is longer lasting than Authority – Today’s organizations are complex and most often have matrix structures. We can gain credibility and make a larger impact in business, without the positional authority of a job title by persuasion, motivation and engagement. The satisfaction and results that I get through these relationships go on longer than titles and reporting structures generally last.


I have learnt so much from my teams – possibly more than they have learnt from me – I end with a big THANK YOU to all my teams, present and past for being my companions on this journey of growth and discovery.

by Musthafa Ebadi on August 5th, 2014

Being in a client relationship industry practically all my life  one of the things that concerns me the most is deteriorating client relationships with each passing year.

For every good and heart touching stories that we hear (WestJet’s 2013 Christmas campaign ) we hear about 3 – 4 stories that are heart wrenching.

What is hard to comprehend for me is the inability of businesses and business owners to understand the good customer service means repeat business. Pick any major company in North America and they are currently investing millions of dollars in R&D specific to competitive analysis to set them apart from their competition. They call it brand difference. Yet majority of them ignore the highest guaranteed form of recurring revenue – superior customer relationship management.

The purpose of this blog is not to elaborate on the pros and cons of providing good customer service. It rather is about Gemma Riley Laurin who as a mortgage specialist is serving clients all over Canada.
I fell in love with her business nearly 18 months ago when I sought her help with two mortgages at the same time. Gemma was a referral from someone who themselves have very high standards for client relationships so with very high expectations I placed a call and left Gemma a voicemail.

I still vividly remember her calling me at around 7:30PM on a cold Wednesday night. I pulled over into a parking lot and spoke with her for about 20 minutes. As soon as I hung up I knew she was different. I knew there was something about her which differentiated her from her competition in an extremely competitive industry.  

Later that night Gemma  sent me some forms to fill and I sent them back to her at around mid-night. By late Thursday night she had an approval for me which blew my socks off. It was a very complicated situation with 2 mortgages, debts, a house to refinance, a new house to close in less than 30 days, and not a lot of room with my down payments.

Over the next 30 days we communicated through more than 40 calls and 50 – 60 emails going back and forth and with every passing day my loyalty to her increased simply because of her client relationship management. 

She was very prompt, responsive, patient, showed a lot of empathy, let me vent few times, put me at ease, was very genuine, followed up consistently, and most importantly made me feel that she owns and is accountable for this relationship.

Over the last 18 months I have never been in a property/mortgage conversation that I haven’t mentioned Gemma as the best there is in her industry. I go above and beyond to refer clients to her even though I don’t work for her. A friend of mine once joked that I should be her office’s spokesman but I am sure Gemma has 100s if not 1000s of spokespeople like me (her clients).

And recently I needed another mortgage and guess who without any hesitation got the call. Although this mortgage wasn’t as complicated as the last one the level of service I got from her was identical twin of last time. 

And what prompted me to write this blog was the below email I received from her on August 1st. Usually when I wake up (at 5:00AM) I am not in a good mood but reading her email on my way to gym absolutely brightened my day.

Here is some excerpts of her email:

"Thanks for letting me represent you. I hope you're happy for years to come...

Once I've got a client, I want to have them for LIFE! I want to be the person you'll always think of when you think of Mortgage needs. So whenever you think you might be ready to buy an investment property, do a home renovation or go on that much needed vacation, just call or email me and I'd be happy to help.

My promise to you is that when I can help, I'll show you all the options, and if I can't, I'll explain why and work with you to accomplish the goal or connect you to someone who can.  

Thanks again for your support, and I hope the years ahead reinforce the confidence in the decisions you've made."

Its emails like this that makes Gemma who Gemma is.  And here is my message to her through this post:

" You don’t have to Thank me for my support and loyalty. You have earned them fair and square – supporting you is the least I can.

I have never met you in person - not even once, and over the last 3 mortgages we have communicated over 100 times only through phone or email, which is makes it harder for you to cultivate and sustain good client relationships, and yet you have got yourself a client for LIFE!

I wonder where my level of loyalty would have been had we met in person!

You are the champion of your industry and an example of superior client relationship.  If you ask me your Sidney Crosby of this competitive business. And its my privilege and honor to be your client!

Thank you,

Your client for LIFE!!!" 

This is an example of recurring business for Gemma and her firm that she doesnt need to spend millions of dollars on but rather few extra minutes to reap same benefits! If you need any help related to mortgages go ahead and click the link below. I have no doubts you will be blown away with her level of service like I was!

Thank you for reading! 
Type your new text here.

by Musthafa Ebadi on August 3rd, 2014

Growing up one thing I liked doing more than anything in life was sleeping.

When I was in high school I remember sleeping past noon every weekend, and during summer vacations waking up past 1:00PM was a daily ritual with some exceptions (forcefully)

During University I remember dreading the 8:30AM classes, and my first full time job had a 3PM start time which was a dream come true.

It wasn’t till as late as 2008 that I realized the benefit and value of waking up early. I will not bore you with how I came to this realization but I noticed one common habit with people that I follow, look up, or desire to imitate their success in life including my idol Bill Clinton. They all wake up at 5:00AM.

Over the last 5+ years every weekday I am up anytime between 4:45AM to 5:20AM (except few months last year)  and its unbelievably amazing how much energized,  accomplished, and happy I feel by end of the day.

They say the first 2 – 3 hours after you wake up your brain is very fresh, is firing on all cylinders, and has better thinking and decision making power than any other time of the day. After meditation and quick exercise I start my day by thinking about my day ahead, plans of my current week, goals for weeks and months to come, and my vision of what I want to achieve in life. I make a point to learn something before 8:00AM as well as define a specific do to list for the next 24- 48 hours.

Then the next 90 minutes are spent on most important, difficult, and convoluted to dos of my day. Why? Majority of people don’t start their day till 9:00AM and spend their 1st 30 minutes “catching up” which means you have a relaxed, uninterrupted, and quite time to do the above without any distraction.

Now if you think about it by 9:30AM you are 6 – 8 steps ahead of everyone and their schedule. Because you have your exercise, plans and goals defined, difficult and convoluted tasks out of the way, and few cups of coffee along the way you naturally feel happier, more energized, focussed, and in possession of the most valuable element of life….time.

Your schedule for rest of the day in envy of over 85% of souls living in North America.  And it is because of one simple factor; waking up at 5:00AM!

Believe me you when I say that its not easy. I am still a person that sleep past 11:00AM on most weekends for the love of my sleep, so waking up at 5:00AM isn’t very easy for me. However I push myself by simply thinking about the difference it will make in my day and my goals. As a goal and achievement oriented person that’s the biggest kick I get to jump out of the bed.

Go ahead and give it a try. Try it for 90 days doesn’t matter how hard it gets, and on 91st day it becomes a routine.

In the next few weeks I will document a list of things you could do to make it easier to join the 5:00AM club but to begin with you should be on your bed no later than 9:30PM and not awake past 10:00PM.

Maybe in few months we can collaborate on how much your life has changed - for better -  by simply tweaking your sleep schedule!

Feel free to agree, disagree, or share your perspective using the comment section of this post.

Thanks for reading!

by Musthafa Ebadi on June 17th, 2014

I read the title of this blog some 15 years ago and back then I thought it was very true.

As I grew up and started my journey in leadership roles I realized that its not entirely through. 

While I believe that a win or success has thousand fathers – thousand different people trying to take credit – a failure has one parent; the leader.

Recently the Province of Ontario in Canada had an election for its parliament and even though I am not a fan of politics I do follow election campaigns because it’s an incredible learning tool for leaders. The Ontario elections were no different. To give you a bit of context when the elections were called on May 2nd 2014 the incumbent Liberal party marred with massive corruption allegations, irregularities, and being in power for more 11 years were in a downward spiral of support among residents of Ontario.

The Progressive Conservatives (PC) on the other hand were riding a wave of desire for change and coupled with its charismatic leader Tim Hudak the worst case predictions were a minority PC government with indirect support from New Democratic Party (NDP) &  Liberals. That was the worst case scenario. A lot of pundits predicted a PC majority government, with NDP as official opposition, and Liberals a distant 3rd to replicate the government structure at the Federal level.

On the night of June 12 2014 when the results were announced there were many astounded political experts after learning that Liberals had not only won the election but had won the majority of seats.

As the days have gone by there have been enormous praise for leader of the Liberal party Kathleen Wynne from many circles including former First Lady and former Secretary of the State of United States Hillary Clinton. And as a leader who pulled off an unexpected majority she deserves all the praise and accolades.

Tim Hudak on the other hand has taken responsibility for the results for his party (which every political leader publicly does) however I am not sure if his supporters put the whole responsibility on his shoulders. If they don’t then they should. Why?

As a leader Mr. Hudak did not resonate with general population when the campaign started even though off all the 3 leaders he was the most charismatic. He started to appeal more to his core base of supporters and scared off many of the people who were thirsty for change. He failed to grab the attention and support of undecided voters who simply needed a leader to guide them through the tough times our province was going through. 

Mr. Hudak lost further credibility when he proposed a job plan that did not add up. I have said many times that once you lose credibility as a leader its extremely difficult and complicated process to gain it back. He failed to capitalize on the economic track record of Conservative Party of Canada at federal level and instead focused all his energy trying to speak to his dedicated base that were supporting him through thick and thin.  

When you put all the above together it’s a reciepe for disaster for any leader and Mr. Hudak was no exception.

So as a leader he is the father of this failure publicly and privately.

And over the years I have coined my own phrase that You Win As a Team & You Fail As A Leader!
Feel free to agree, disagree, or share your perspective using the comment section of this post.

Thanks for reading!