When thrown by life’s curveballs, you can either let them stop you or motivate you to get out of those circumstances. Host Steve Sims’ guest for this episode, Sam Bakhtiar, is someone who has the latter’s mindset, who, instead of turning his back on life’s challenges, was willing to push through, put in the work, and continue to grow himself. Together they talk about Sam’s amazing journey of moving out of Iran to the United States and later on becoming a doctor, an author, a world-class bodybuilder with a fitness franchise, a multimillionaire, and an entrepreneur. With all the many titles under his belt, having the right growth mindset is definitely a must. Sam inspires us to experience the transformative experience in his life by changing our mentality and understanding that we can become whatever we want to be by being willing to put in the work. Take a deep dive into this great conversation to learn how we can change our lives physically and mentally, especially in uncertain times like now with the pandemic.
Listen to the podcast here:
Put In The Work: The Growth Mentality That Can Transform Your Life With Sam Bakhtiar
I’m going to be introducing you to a doctor, an author and a world-class bodybuilder who ran away from Iran during the bombings. This guy has an incredible mindset. I shared the story about when Jay Abraham said, “I had a great ‘I can’ than an IQ.” I very rarely met people that had a great I can than me. This guy said he does, Sam Bakhtiar. It’s an interesting story, interesting life and more interesting mentality. I’ve got to tell you, this guy has my endorsement. Read on, grow from it and share it. Get more people to know who Sam is and try and live with his mentality. He’s certainly got a mindset that would help us all, and definitely in the times of Coronavirus would get a lot of people off the couch and off of binge-watching. Sam, welcome.
We’ve known each other not in-depth, not close and sadly, we never met because you’ve got a kickass garage of toys there. I remember being on your show a few months ago. I hadn’t heard of you before then. I was on your show for my benefit. You were talking about different stuff going on in my life. I remember coming off and going, “I’ve got to check this guy out. He had cool glasses on and you had a McLaren sitting in the background. As everyone knows, I love two wheels, but I’m not blind. I love it when they are four. I started learning up on you and you grew up poor. You grew up without the silver spoon and you’re not in that position now. The more I got to read, the more I got to understand. Before anyone realizes or we start laboring on the pretty toys and the beautiful lifestyle you’ve got now, tell us about your past. I was born in a third world country called Iran and when I was three years old, two devastating things happened. One, my father and my mom separated. My father left and went to Canada and I never saw him again after that. The second thing was we started getting bombed on and attacked by Iraq. We were in an eight-year war with Saddam Hussein. When I was eleven years old, my mom said, “I don’t want my son to go to military and die. We’re going to move to the United States.” We packed up with $500, one luggage and we came to the United States as refugees.
You had a mentality of never quitting. Do you think it came from that past?
It came from a couple of things. One, coming from a country where there were real shortages. With the Coronavirus, there’s shortage of toilet paper and everybody’s complaining. We had real shortages and things weren’t available. Things were being sold at black market. Coming to America and seeing that there’s an opportunity and the fact that my mom always told me, “Sam, you can be anything you want as long as you are willing to put in the work.” That helped me say, “I’m not going to give up. I’m going to work. I don’t care what it’s going to take.” I’m the guy who’s willing to work around the clock to get what I need to get and to get out of the circumstances that I was. I never want to be poor. I never want my kids to experience what I experienced. I don’t want to grow up having a car that breaks down everywhere. I’m a guy who’s ready to do whatever it takes. That’s why.You can be anything you want as long as you are willing to put in the work. Click To Tweet
We’ve established clearly that you didn’t come from money. In fact, I came from a rough area of London, but I wasn’t being bombed on. The bottom line is you did come from a very aggressive and hostile environment. To fast forward, not only were you a champion bodybuilder. You didn’t just compete, you were top of the tree many times, many locations, many titles on that. You went on to become a doctor, an author, world-class bodybuilder, multimillionaire, entrepreneur and a fitness franchise in business. You didn’t stop. You used the mentality of that growth. Why did you get into bodybuilding as your first? When I read about your bio, that was one of the first things that you went, “This is what I need to do.” Why was that important to you?
Nothing in my life came from design. It was forced upon me. It came upon me. When I moved to the United States, I was eleven years old. I can barely speak the language. We came to a very homogeneous town in the middle of nowhere called Sharon, Pennsylvania. I was the only minority in school and I wanted to play soccer. In all my eleven years of life, as soon as I remember walking, I was playing soccer. In 1985 in Sharon, Pennsylvania, nobody knew what soccer was. They knew football, baseball and basketball. When I was a kid, I wanted to become a professional soccer player. My hero was Diego Maradona from Argentina. I wanted to become that. When I came to Sharon, Pennsylvania, nobody knew what a soccer ball was. Everybody was like, “What’s going on?” In school, they said they have American football, baseball and basketball. I didn’t know anything about American football. I didn’t know anything about baseball.
To this day, I know nothing about baseball. I never played basketball, but I knew at least that you have to put the ball in the hoop. I tried out for the basketball team and I got cut. I was the only person that didn’t make the team. Everybody made the team except me. I walked home. At that moment, being 11, 12 years old and everybody’s making fun of you and laughing at you, and you’re from a different country. You’re not black. You’re not white. You’re the only minority in school. I walked home three miles in the snow crying. My mom said, “What’s going on?” I said, “Mom, I want to go back to the old country. Nobody likes me here. People are making fun of me. People are beating me up.” My mom said, “We don’t have an option. We came here as refugees of war. I suggest you go to the boys’ club after school until I get off work. You practice basketball and you try out next year.” That was the game plan. For me, first play soccer. If I couldn’t play soccer, I’m going to get good at basketball. I went to the boy’s club to get better at basketball.
After a month going there, I saw these guys go into this room and all were jacked. They all look like Arnold and Sylvester Stallone. That was when the Arnold movie and the Sylvester Stallone movie were out. I was like, “I want to look like that.” That’s when I got initiated to weightlifting. The rest was history. I fell in love with what weightlifting did to me. Not only on the outside, but what it helped me on the inside, my self-esteem, and my self-worth. For me to be able to push past obstacles and push past heavy weights and seeing my improvements. I went from not being able to do the bar to ten pounds. Being able to do that to 40, 50, 60 pounds. I saw progress and I fell in love with it and that’s when I knew that I wanted to become a transformation expert. I want to help people experience what I’m experiencing. Change their body, change their mental state and understand that they can become whatever they want, if they’re willing to put in the work.
You put that forward when you started building out your fitness campaign. You went out there and I remember reading up on you that you put out there that, “I’ll help you lose this weight if you do the work. If you don’t lose the weight, I’ll give you your money back.” You were very much in that environment and very much challenging. You proved it by getting people to step up as examples and then trying it again and again. You are the first people that did that, though.
You almost have it right. They have to lose weight to get the money back.
That’s confusing, explain that. They want to lose weight. How can they lose weight to get the money back?
There’s no secret. Do you want to lose weight? What do you do? You’ve got to move more, eat less, and you have to be consistent at it. Everybody knows that. Everybody moves more and everybody knows how to eat less, but they’re never consistent at it. At first, I wanted to get a lot of before and after pictures for my website. I said, “I’m going to train twenty people for free for six weeks. I’m going to get them to see incredible results. I want to prove that I can get people to lose twenty pounds in six weeks. I’m going to use them as a marketing tool, their before and after pictures.” Everyone signed an agreement that I’m going to train them for free for six weeks, but they have to come in and do the work. They said, “Okay, cool.” They signed the contract.
The first time I did that, after about 4 weeks, everybody quit. I was devastated because I put in all this work. I’m talking to all these people who wanted to lose weight. There were crying in my office. They’re sick and tired of looking the way they do and feeling the way they do. Yet when it comes to showing up, they didn’t show up. My mind was like, “I don’t understand.” Remember where I come from. I’m willing to do whatever it took. My mind rejects when somebody says, “I’m willing to do whatever it is, but the next day doesn’t show up and not follow through it.”
My mind rejects when somebody’s audio is bigger than their video. I was literally frustrated. I did some research and I figured out what I’m going to do. I call one of my mentors who is the Father of Transformation. His name is Bill Phillips. I called him up and I go, “Bill, what is going on?” He goes, “Sam, there’s no prize for them. I know people who are multimillionaires. They have a note from the doctors that they need to exercise or they’re going to die, and they don’t exercise. When I tell this multimillionaire that I’m going to give you a t-shirt if you finish the program, they do it for a t-shirt because people love prizes.”
When I sat down and thought about it, I’m like, “Here’s what I’m going to do. What’s a better prize than free? There’s no better prize.” I changed it. I said, “If you want to come in, if you’re serious about this program, you pay for it. When you finish it and you come through, and you come in for all the whole 42 days, you do X, Y and Z and you lose the twenty pounds, I’m going to give your money back. It’s free.” People before quit because they had a bad day and they feel like eating some junk. They went to a party and there was pizza and they couldn’t resist the pizza. They went out and their friend offered them a drink and then they got a drink and they want to quit.
Now they’re like, “Sam has my money. If I don’t lose this weight, I don’t show up or I don’t do my part, Sam keeps my money. I don’t want Sam to keep my money, so I’m going to push through.” When they started pushing through, they went to a place they’d never been before. Remember, everybody knows that person that’s trying to lose these twenty pounds forever, they never lose it. They lose ten pounds, they gain ten pounds. They lose twenty, they gain twenty. Everybody knows that person. We all know that person. Now there’s an incentive. Do you want your money? You’ve got to come and get it. I dangled that money in front of them.
When at the end they saw what they can do when they come in for 42 days straight, they saw how they can change their physique, their mentality in 42 days, the money after that was not an issue anymore. At the end of the first challenge that I did that way, I literally took twenty people. The night before their final weigh-in, I had twenty checks ready for them because that was the deal. They lose the weight and I give them the money back. They came in, I go, “Nancy, great job. Here’s your money back.” “What do you mean?” “We had a deal. You lost the weight and I’m going to give your money back.” She goes, “Are you kicking me out of the gym? I don’t want to go back to how it was. I want to keep going. Can I do this another time? Can I stay in the gym? Can I offer a membership?” I’m like, “This is weird. They don’t want their money.” Next person, “You lost the weight, here’s your money.” “No. I want to keep going.”
I was expecting 100% refund. I got 10% refund. I thought it was a hoax. I’m like, “Let me do this again. This can’t be.” The next time I did it, same result. It became the basis of how we do business and everybody’s copycatting it. Imagine me going to my business partners at first and say, “We’re going to train people for six weeks and if I lose weight, we’re going to give them the money back.” My business partners would be like, “Have you fucking lost your mind? We don’t want to do that. I’m not going to train anybody for six weeks and give them their money back. They’ve got to pay.” Everybody rejected it. I did it on my own dime. I did my own thing. The next thing you know, everybody was like, “This is working. We’ll do it too.”
It’s the classic if they pay, they pay attention.
Nobody wants to take a risk. To me, you’ve got to always go against the grain. You’ve got to do things. You’ve got to reinvent this. The problem with most businesses is they look at what other businesses are doing and they kept repeating it. It’s a me-too business. “What is that guy doing? That guy is marketing this, let me market this.” You’ve got to stand out. You’ve got to innovate, don’t imitate.
You opened up an entire health franchise. What was the conduit behind taking it from what you were trying and then blasting it out? Is it international or is it national in the US?
It’s international now because we’re in Mexico as well. I wish I can tell you I was a smart guy and I planned it that way. I’m not that smart. It happened because I put in the work and it also organically happened. I did not sit down and say, “One day, I want to have an international franchise. I’m going to have two supplement companies and here’s what we’re going to do.” None of that happened. My thing is for me as a bodybuilder, it was awesome for me to love what I do, workout, compete, and make money at it at the same time. That was all I wanted. One location was good for me because that’s all I want to do. The next thing you know, we started doing good for people. People started doing great. People are asking me, “My cousin keeps asking for a location near her.” Me and my business partner opened up 2 or 4 more locations. Nothing crazy.
People came in and they got such great results. They are a believer in the program. They said, “Sam, we want to open up our own franchise. We want to open up our own location.” I’m like, “What is a franchise?” I didn’t even know what a franchise was. I’m like, “I don’t know how to do that.” I called an attorney. We figured it out. At first, we throw it out like a licensing agreement. A lot of people who’ve gone through our program start hearing what we offer. Now it’s a program that they can sign up for or they can open up their own camps. We got flooded with our own clients wanting to open up their own camps. I would say 95% of our locations is because of clients who have gone through the program and they love it. We haven’t even marketed to the VCs or outside money yet. That’s how it all came about. It fell in our lap. It wasn’t because I’m a genius or I’m any smarter or anything like that. None at all.
I remember a friend of mine, Jay Abraham, once said to me, “I had a great ‘I can’ than an IQ.” I’m believing that’s very similar to you, Sam, because you are unknowledgeable about many things that you’ve conquered because you’ve gone, “I don’t need to be a genius in this, but I’m going to do it.” You’ve gone forward. Your ‘I can’ is tremendous. That’s a great way to go forward. We’re in a very strange environment. Many businesses, including some of mine and yours, have been stopped. We know what a recession is like, we’ve been in that. We know what an act of terrorism is like, we’ve been in that. None of us have ever suffered a pandemic. It’s the thing you see on movies. They turned the lights off. I’m finding it funny how people are reacting to it. What is your trigger to react in these strange times?
I truly believe that these kinds of things happen and there’s a purpose for it. There’s a reason God create these kinds of things. I wholeheartedly believe that this makes the world better, as devastating as this is. I want to give my condolences and my best regards to all the families who are suffering, who lost people on this. It’s a terrible thing. However, I also believe that God doesn’t make mistakes and we are going to be stronger after this. We’re going to learn our mistakes, and we’re going to make adjustments in life that we wouldn’t have made otherwise if we weren’t in this situation. For many of us, maybe we’re in dead-end jobs.
Many of us were in places that we weren’t before. We were spending time with a family or we were on a project that we want to start and we procrastinate. God gives us this time to reflect back, look back, maybe readjust and reinvent ourselves. Nobody’s ever experienced this, but I remember the times of economic contraction. I wasn’t born in the Great Depression in the ‘40s, but 2008 kicked my butt. That was eight years after I started my business. I didn’t know. Nobody told me about ups and downs in the economy. They didn’t teach me that in class. I didn’t have a father to tell me, “I went through the Great Depression,” what to do and be ready for it.
I wasn’t ready for the wintertime. When 2008 hit, I was devastated. I was so over-leveraged. Even though I was making decent money, I was living paycheck to paycheck because I was making $20,000 and I was spending $20,000. I was making $19,000 and I was spending $19,000. I had all the toys, the cars, the house. I thought the house was mine because they said, “You’re a house owner.” I soon found out the house wasn’t mine. As soon as I missed the payment, the bank wanted to take it back. I learned a lot from that mistake. After that, I vowed to myself just like I vowed when I didn’t have a dad to become the best father, to be able to be the best provider. I vowed to myself I will never put my family in that position again.
This time around I made better financial decisions. I have some reserves. Even though it’s never good to see people suffering and all that stuff, I encourage everyone to learn from this because an economic contraction or an emergency is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Warren Buffett always says, “Every so many years, a new set of people know some very old lessons.” Look at the history. Thank God, I didn’t learn when I was 60 years old and have to start at 50, 60, 65 years old. I learned my mistake when I was in my 30s. I encourage everyone to live below their means, invest their money correctly. Keep some cash at hand all the time, have some liquidity, and always ask yourself, “Why so much waste?” Don’t waste so much. We don’t need anything. The older I got, the less I need to be happy. I wish I knew that in my twenties because I would have probably been a hectamillionaire, not a decamillionaire. I mean that sincerely.An economic contraction or an emergency is not a matter of if; it's a matter of when. Click To Tweet
We can go back before the Coronavirus came in. Every youngster in their 20s, 30s and late teens thought, “For me to make it, I’ve got to be shown in an Instagram picture of me leaning up against cars that I own.” I remember this made me laugh. As you know, I ride two wheels. I had my bike parked up in a garage in Beverly Hills. As I’m walking over to get on the bike, there were these couple of guys leaning up against the Lamborghini and someone else has got a video camera and a light on him. They’re giving orders like, “If you want this car, you’ve got to be doing it.” They started giving that spiel about some course that they were selling. The owner of the car sees them and started yelling, and these three kids scamper. The problem is it was being spoon-fed that for you to be successful, you have to have this, you have to wear that, you have to be seen there.
I’m hoping that this Coronavirus has given us a forced reset to go, “You don’t need that. If you want it and you want to play with it, great for you, but you don’t have to have it to be successful. There are other things to be successful and happy.” I’ve never seen you pushing hard the cars you’ve got. I’ve got to chat with you and we’ve spoken about them, but you’ve never been the guy that’s sitting there going, “Look at me. Look at this.” I’ve never seen that about you. That’s probably what impressed me more about you. You teach that in your coaching in your One Percent.
The cars are for me because I’m a car enthusiast. If somebody appreciates it, then cool, but I’m not going to sit down and get on Instagram every single day and say, “Look at my cars.” I don’t need that. I think silence is the best thing. If you know what you have, then you know what you’re worth. I’m not trying to impress anybody out there. I’m trying to impress myself and another person, which is a man upstairs. Some people buy cars because they want to flash. I’m a car enthusiast. I appreciate a Volkswagen GTI, which was my first dream car, as much as I appreciate a Lambo. Let me be honest with you right now. When I was coming up, because I was poor, success for me was about, “Let me get the cars, the mansion, the clothes, the shoes, the watches that I want.” For me back then, that’s what it was. I said, “One day when I make it, this is what I’m going to do.”
Honestly, the Lambo and Ferrari, they’re cool for about an hour. After a while, my back hurts. It’s too low to the ground. It attracts too much attention. I don’t enjoy driving them. People ask me, “Sam, what is your favorite car? You’ve got all these cars.” I go, “My Infiniti SUV is my favorite car.” It’s big. If I drive over a curb, I don’t have to worry about scratch that cost me $20,000. I don’t need to worry about somebody following me and trying to jack me in the car later on. I don’t have to worry about where I park it. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with who I am and the simpler I am in life. Back then, success for me was the Lambo, the Ferrari, the mansion, the watches. Not now.
It’s funny, I’ve got cars, so much clothes and so much shoes. Do you know what I do? I’m that old dude that wears the same thing every day. I’m that old dude I used to make fun of. I don’t want to be kept nowhere because I know this outfit looks good on me. I don’t need to get up in the morning and be like, “Which one of these 100 pairs of pants do I want to wear? Which one of these 100 shirts matches correctly? Which one of these 400 pairs of shoes matches correctly with this?” That’s a waste. How about I have a mentor? How about I’m more secure in myself? How about I understand success a little bit better? I wouldn’t have done what I’ve done and all that stuff. That’s why mentorship is very important. Being level-headed is very important.Success is peace of mind. Click To Tweet
I’m glad that I got those materials, things and fulfilled my appetite to what I thought success was, but it’s not. Do you know what success is? Success is peace of mind. Success is the whole world is shut down. I’m good. That’s success. I remember in 2008, I was a mess. I had panic attacks. I don’t know if you know what panic attacks are. It feels like a heart attack. It feels like you’re dying, but you’re not. You have shortness of breath. You start profusely sweating and you go, “I think I’m going to die.” I don’t want that anymore. I don’t want that for me. I don’t want that for anyone. That’s why I encourage everyone, if you make this much, don’t spend this much. If you make $10,000 a month and spent $2,000, you’re better off than a man who makes $1 million and spends $1 million. Nothing is sexier in life than peace of mind, knowing that you’re okay. The world may shut down, “I’m good.”
In this chaos, how important is it to have a mentor, coach or someone that you can get guidance on?
There are only two things that I regret growing up. I don’t regret anything other than these two things. The first thing is I should have surrounded myself with people who are where I used to be, who I want to be. I didn’t start personal development until I was 32. I didn’t know what personal development was. I don’t know what anything was. I thought you go to college. The last book I read was in college and that was it. I didn’t start reading a personal development book, get coaching or mentoring until I was 32. Had I done that when I was in my twenties, maybe I would have been a billionaire. I made the mistakes. It was very important to do two things.
One, surround yourself with people who you aspire to be like. There is a roadmap to success. Success leaves clues and be around those people. I had hung around with people who are drug dealers, drunks, steroid abuser bodybuilders. I had hung around with people who were okay living off their girlfriends and not do anything. That’s who I hung around with in the beginning. Had I not done that, I would’ve been in a lot better place in my life. I didn’t get coaching. My first mentor was when I was 32. Now if I see the younger people surrounding themselves with people like you and me because we’re OGs in this game. Not that I’m any brilliant, it’s just you’ve gone through life, you made the mistakes, you did all the fuck ups and you can tell this guy, “Don’t fuck up. I already did that fuck up. Don’t do it.” It’s very important to have mentorship and surround yourself with the right people.
I had someone say to me, “I want to get coaching with you, Steve, as soon as we’re out of this.” I said to him, “Who goes to the doctor when they’re feeling well? You go there when shit’s happening to you and shit’s happening to you now.” I can’t help thinking that now is the time when you should be laying those seeds. You should be looking for mentorship and you should be definitely making sure that you’re cleaning house, getting rid of those idiots in your life that are not challenging you and pushing you and surround yourself with the people that you want to become. Would you back that up?
The same thing happened to me. It’s like somebody saying, “I’m overweight but I need to wait until Monday. I need to wait until April. I need to wait until the stars align for me to get help.” The stars are not going to align for you to get help. The sun and the moon are not going to get up at the same time for you to be able to do that. You’ve got to take action now or shut the fuck up. I can’t stand procrastination. I can’t stand people putting things off. What you can do today, you never do tomorrow. You get shit done right now or don’t talk about it. That’s my biggest pet peeve. You make me mad. That mentality is against everything that I believe. I don’t like to wait. Most of my success is because I shot and I aimed later. I didn’t aim and waited for the perfect shot like, “I’ve got to make sure this is going to be okay.” That shot is never going to come. You’ve got to shoot and course correct along the way. Sometimes you make mistakes. I made mistakes. Making mistakes and failing forward is better than not failing at all.What you can do now, you never do tomorrow. Click To Tweet
A friend of mine, Ari Meisel, put it best. He said to me, “Get going then get good.” I’ve stolen that from him many times. I’ll always pay credit to my friend for saying it because I surround myself with smarter people than me. That’s a good trick to do. How can people find out more about you? Get the plugs out, a website or a book. Throw it out there.
Google Sam Bakhtiar. A lot of my stuff will come up. You can look me up. I’m very active on Instagram. My book, Becoming A One-Percenter, is on Amazon. For those people who want to have a more intimate connection with me, you can text me directly at (909) 200-4015.
Sam, you are the guy that I like because you’re full of energy and you do and then worry about it later. My hats off for you and I’ll certainly endorse whatever you get involved in.
Steve, I appreciate the time and the opportunity. Please stay in touch. I’m always here for you. I always love you. Two things that I’ve learned from you is get going before you get good. The other thing that I liked is what Jay Abraham told you. It’s funny because Jay Abraham was one of my mentors as well. He’s so smart, though sometimes I’m like, “What did you just talk about?”
He’s scary. I remember having a conversation with him a while back before my book came out. He was talking about a few things and one of the things he said, I didn’t like. We usually run away from what we have to do most. As Jay’s talking, I avoided it and I thought I got away with that. Jay stopped the conversation after about a few minutes and he said, “Are we brave enough to go back to what you avoided or should we pretend it didn’t happen for another five minutes?” I was like, “Fuck, he got me.” He’s good like that.
My ‘I can’ is bigger than my IQ. I love that.
Thanks for coming. I heard Jay wanted to follow you and I look forward to staying in touch. Sam, you’re a gem.
I appreciate it. Take care, Steve.
There you have it. I hope you enjoyed the episode. If you want to come and hang out with me and some of my friends, maybe you should come into one of our Speakeasy. How do you do this? You head over to SteveDSims.com and look up for next event. Click and get involve. We’ll find out where your problems are. We’ll find out how we can help you. We’ll give you a tremendous event. Hopefully, we’ll see you at Speakeasy one day in the future. All the best.
About Sam Bakhtiar
Sam Bakhtiar is a doctor, CEO, author, world-class bodybuilder, and multi-millionaire entrepreneur. He runs a fitness franchising business, The Camp Transformation Center, with 110 locations and two different supplement and nutrition companies. With a Bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in sports science and life science and a doctorate from Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, Dr. Bakhtiar has helped over one hundred thousand people transform physically and mentally. He specializes in helping people get to the top 1% in any and every aspect of their life. Dr Bakhtiar applies his business acumen and coaching to The 1% Club, helping others to become a 1%er by rising above. He is also the author of the popular books The Total Body Transformation Secrets and Becoming a One Percenter.