You are, my friend, the first millennial entrepreneur I’ve ever interviewed, so I’m excited to talk to you.
Naresh Vissa: Well that’s an honor, David, I’m glad. Hopefully we can bridge some of that generational gap in this interview today.
David Brower: I know, right? You’re a millennial, and I’m a baby boomer, so it should be fun.
Naresh Vissa: Yeah, looking forward to it. Thanks for having me on this show.
David Brower: You’re very welcome. So, you gave up a job in the corporate world to live a nomadic life of minimalism while trying to grow your online marketing projects. Tell me how that all transpired, what were you doing in the corporate world and what gave you the goal to move this other direction.
Naresh Vissa: Well, my corporate experience wasn’t as long as a lot of these stories that you hear people working for decades upon decades, David. I got started in the corporate world actually on Wall Street. I was a financial analyst for one of the largest banks out there. In fact, you might even have an account with them. That was in New York City. Man, it was just a very corporate, bureaucratic experience. Of course, it pays well. I think it’s great to get that experience, especially if you’re younger in life. I got that experience. I also worked at a value fund as a equity’s analyst who analyzed publicly traded companies and look for good value stocks.
My entrepreneurial career, it kind of just fell into my lap. I was working part time as a student from my dorm room in undergraduate college and university. That continued throughout grad school, I was actually helping produce radio shows. This was pre-podcasting. This was when AM/FM radio was still pretty big. That led to all sorts of opportunities, even though it was a side job or a side gig, it led too all sorts of entrepreneurial opportunities.
I was hired by one of the largest financial publishing companies in the world. Again, it was a corporate type of job, but it was not like a Wall Street white collar, go in wearing the suit everyday type of job, this was more of a … They tried to nurture a start up environment.
Long story short, I got some amazing experience there to learn about an industry, to learn about the big players within the industry, and to learn about online and digital business, e-commerce and marketing. I took that with me, started my own company, and four years later, we’re now a full-service online and digital business agency. That’s really what we are. We offer anything online, whether it’s something as simple as web design, more complex things like online project management, affiliate marketing, online public relations, et cetera, we offer all that.
David Brower: Wow.
Naresh Vissa: During this process, I had to work from home. So I was working from home, and that’s a completely new lifestyle to most people. Took me about a month to get used to it, and I developed kind of a practice. I was alone in Baltimore at the time, single, just working on growing my business. That’s when I grew intellectually, it’s when I grew … Really, the greatest learning that I had was really growing my business during those first few years.
I got more of an education doing that than going to school, getting my degrees, undergrad and graduate school from pretty top-notch schools. I learned more on my own just being alone and starting a business and going through the ups and downs of trials and tribulations, the rejections, the triumphs, the big checks, the little checks. It was really a transformational process and the results are what you described earlier.
I kind of realized that less is more. I sold all my stuff at the time I lived in Baltimore, Maryland, sold everything, TVs, nice couches, furniture, electronics, and just packed up my car, moved down to Tampa, Florida. Didn’t know a single soul down here in Tampa, but that was okay to me because I was very comfortable with myself, or being by myself. Just have a completely … It did really change my view on looking at life in general.
You brought up minimalism, for example.
David Brower: Yeah.
Naresh Vissa: That’s one thing. I do need my iPhone, I do need my iPad, I do need my laptop, but outside of that, I don’t even own a table, I don’t have a proper TV where I live, I don’t watch much TV, I’m not into TVs, I’m not into cars or anything like that as long as I can get from one place to another. It changed my outlook in that sense. It also changed my outlook on money as well because I saw what it’s like to make five figures a month, but I also saw what it’s like to make three figures in a month. When you go through that process. The way you look at money … The way I look at it is as a byproduct of just doing what you love and doing good work. That’s really what it is at the end of the day.
We mentioned earlier that I’m a millennial, and if there’s one piece of advice I have for millennials, especially when they’re out of school in their mid 20s getting their careers started it’s save. Save, save, save. I could not go out on my own and do what I did and continue to do what I’m doing if I didn’t save during those years when I was making money in the corporate world. If I had less than, let’s say, a couple of thousand dollars in my bank account, it would have been too risky for me to go out, but I built top reserves so that I could live.
Some people say you should be able to live for six months. I think it should be way longer than that. I saved up enough to where I could live the lifestyle I was living for at least two years, and that way I knew, okay, let’s just give it a try for two years, and if things don’t work out, I can always go back and get corporate job and I won’t be on the streets.
That’s really probably the most important piece of advice that I have, and that is be healthy because if you’re not working full time, why do you have to worry about health insurance on top of that. So be healthy, and that’s why I added daily workouts to my routine. Getting a lot of sleep was so important to my routine. Eating healthy, buying healthy stuff’s so important to my routine. I personally am a strict vegetarian, almost vegan. Don’t eat eggs, either. That just cuts out a lot of the fat, so to say, from my diet.
On top of that, it’s staying emotionally and mentally healthy as well. A lot of my friends and colleagues, they’re almost kind of muffled at how I rarely get angry, and it’s largely because I just kind of conditioned my mind to make sure that emotionally … There’s no need to get angry at little things.
David Brower: Absolutely.
Naresh Vissa: Once in awhile, yeah, you might get angry but I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve gotten angry over the past three months or probably even the last year, on one hand.
David Brower: Well and probably, and not to second guess you, but my sense is that anger is probably more frustration than literal anger. Would that be fair?
Naresh Vissa: Yeah. There’s small things that I got angry about just the other day. It was just one thing. It was really frustration because of people, and that’s why I say emotionally, it’s important to cut out, I said before, cutting out the fat from your diet, but cutting out the fat in the people who you interact with on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s a bad client, a bad friend, a bad acquaintance, a bad organization that you’re apart of. It’s important to cut those out because it’ll make you emotionally healthier and it’ll make you happier at the end of the day.
I mentioned earlier where there were months where I was making peanuts compared to what I was making at a full time job. Yes. But the happiness level … Whether I was making a few hundred dollars a month or tens of thousands of dollars a month, I think my happiness levels stayed the same throughout the process, and other people who were in contact with me had said the same thing. It’s almost like I have no idea how your business is going but you’re kind of the same person throughout.
David Brower: Well, they can see that aura, for a lack of better term, that what you give off, what you share with people when you’re at peace with yourself and what’s going on with your life, people sense and feel that. The other thing that you’re talking about, I believe is, being able to cut out the fat in relationships and by that I mean surrounding yourself with people who are like-minded so that they become more like you, you become more like them, because that’s where you want to be. That’s where you want to lead.
Naresh Vissa: Absolutely, and David, you bring up a good point because when I got started, I was 24 years old when I went out full time on my own, and there weren’t a lot of like-minded people around me. There were maybe one or two people around the world who I was in contact with because we had something in common.
But, we live in a different time today, David, and I found people who may not have necessarily been my friends and they may not have even known me, but I found them online through podcast, through their books that I found on Amazon, and that was a way to connect with like-minded people without even meeting them, without even being friends with them. Listening to their podcast and listening to like-minded ideas and reading such books or articles or blogs, they have really helped me connect with other people like me. I’ve made friends through doing things like this. They’ve also helped me internally just kind of be a happier person.
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