Saahil Mehta | Climbing Mountains, Trading Diamonds, and Uncluttering Yourself
Smart Business Revolution

Saahil Mehta is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and mountaineer. He works as a leadership coach focused on guiding leaders to navigate their health, wealth, and relationships. He is the Co-founder of ResNet World and Managing Director of Saahil DMCC, a diamond trading company. Saahil has also climbed some of the world’s tallest mountains.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Saahil Mehta, an entrepreneur and leadership coach. They discuss the challenges of working in a family business, how Saahil’s business was impacted by the 2008 economic downturn, and how Saahil transformed his life.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Saahil Mehta’s background and what he learned from his father
  • The challenges Saahil faced working in a friend’s family business
  • How living in various countries influenced Saahil’s career
  • How Saahil’s business was impacted by the 2008 economic downturn and the pandemic
  • Saahil talks about transforming his life and the tough decisions he had to make 
  • Why Saahil started mountain climbing 
  • The peers Saahil acknowledges for their support

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. For those of you who are new and haven’t heard it before, go check out our archives because we got some great episodes with smart CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs of all kinds of different companies, ranging from Netflix to Kinkos’, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, and relevant to today’s conversation, go check out my interview with PG Gildan Hoist that’s how you say his name. He is similar to today’s guest. He’s also in the travel and hospitality industry. And I think you’ll enjoy that conversation as well also in the world of entrepreneurship and EO Entrepreneurs Organization, which today’s guest is as well. And his name is Saahil Mehta. And Saahil is a longtime entrepreneur, author, speaker, diamond trader, hospitality industry, entrepreneur and CEO and coach and mountaineer. He’s climbed some of the world’s tallest mountains, we’re going to talk about that, and also how he was raised kind of a child of the world and lived in a lot of different countries. So we’ll talk about that as well as his background. And this, of course, is brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. If you are listening to this and ever thought about starting a podcast, I say yes, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, you get to talk to interesting people like Saahil. So go check out our website, if you want to learn more about it. Alright, Saahil, such a pleasure to have you here. And let’s start with your upbringing. So I don’t know if you describe yourself this way. But you’re a child of the world and also a child of entrepreneurs was your father, would you consider your father an entrepreneur? I know he had a diamond trading business. Was he an entrepreneur when you were a child and when you were growing up?

Saahil Mehta 2:29

So my first so first of all, John, a pleasure to be here. My dad was actually working for another company. And his entrepreneurial journey started at the age of 55, when the company, you know, told him that that’s our retirement age, but he said, No way, I don’t want to stop working, I want to continue. So that’s when it started. However, growing up in a family, where, you know, I saw my dad give it all, I always thought that he was one of the business owners because that’s how he treated the business. You know, he would bring customers home for dinner, so I’d get to mingle with them. It’d be working hard on the weekends, late nights. So you know, if from the outside, I always thought he was an entrepreneur, I had no idea until he told me he had to retire.

John Corcoran 3:14

Hmm. And what was that transition? Like? 55? Is a mature age starting a business for the first time? Was it a struggle, or because he was treated like a business for so long? Was it just a natural evolution?

Saahil Mehta 3:30

It was definitely hard initially, you know, I was there by his side helping him in the early days. Before he was focused on certain areas, but now he had to manage everything, including accounts and you know, paying salaries, etc. But what was amazing was because he had been in the same industry and predominantly in the same company, his entire career, he had built a solid reputation. And so a lot of his clients said, you know, what, we’re going to support you, we’re going to continue buying from you. And we’re going to make sure that you don’t find it to be a struggle to start on your own. And it’s those relationships, that really helped make that transition a little bit easier.

John Corcoran 4:12

And for you, now, you had studied electrical and mechanical engineering, you had also been an investment banker, and eventually found your way into the family business, so to speak, working for a friend in the diamond industry. But that was a little bit challenging. It was a strain on the friendship, talk a little bit about what that was like for you.

Saahil Mehta 4:38

You know, coming in, I guess I was working in a professional environment when I was an investment banker. So things were clear or at least is more clear that it wasn’t a family-run business. And when I entered this friend’s company, they talked about opportunity, and it all sounded great. And I said, you know, let’s give this a shot. But the reality was, I had this glass ceiling above I had. And I don’t know if it’s the upbringing that I had or the drive that I had to just keep growing, it just meant that I expect patients were very different from one another. And when my expectations were mismatched. It causes a rift in our friendship. And you know, it got to the point where you’ve heard it when you stretch that band so wide, it’s either you either have to let go, or it’s going to snap. And so I decided that the friendship was not replaceable. Work definitely was. And so although it was a difficult decision at the time, I called him up, it was very emotional. And I told him, I said, Look, I value this friendship far more than I valued the opportunity that you’ve given me. So I’m going to quit. And that’s the only way I see how we can salvage the friendship. Yeah. And you know, 15 years later, we’re like this were tight, very solid trends again, so it worked. That’s nice.

John Corcoran 5:57

That’s nice. I’m fascinated by people that are able to bounce around in different industries in different careers. I’ve done that quite a lot in my career as well working in different industries, from the entertainment industry to politics, to law to podcasting. Personally, I know that I attribute part of it to the fact that I moved around a bit as a kid. So I’m comfortable moving into a new environment, even in the middle of the school year where you don’t know anyone, and you have to, like, come in and make friends. And I feel like that’s kind of like starting in a new industry. So I just throw that out there is that, do you feel that perhaps for you being multicultural, you are of Indian descent, grew up in Belgium lived in five different countries? Is that part of what makes it easier for you to be into work in different industries?

Saahil Mehta 6:52

I’m sure there’s a part that’s played here. Wherever I’ve lived in the world, I’ve always made it a point how I blend in with the community. And how do I, you know, get, make friends build relationships, and understand the culture? And I find if you had used that same methodology and mindset, just like you said, in a new business, it’s all about getting integrated. And so perhaps someone else who may not have the same skill set would take longer, I guess I was able to do that a little bit faster. But I’m not gonna lie and say that it was easy. There’s still a steep learning curve, but you know, the drive was there. And I feel that as entrepreneurs, we’re kind of wired to want to succeed. And so we give it all. And I do believe that that helped as well.

John Corcoran 7:42

Yeah. And one of those pitstops along the way was real estate, you like many others were dramatically affected by 2008. downturn. Take me back to that time period. What was that like for you what happened?

Saahil Mehta 7:59

So we were diversified in real estate, primarily in development in the US in Europe, as well as in the UAE, which is where I live right now. And I thought, okay, you know, we’re, we’re kind of spreading the eggs. If some if one market goes down, at least we have the other two. But as we all know, 2008 wasn’t geography specific. It was, it was the entire planet. It was hard. It was really hard. I mean, I saw everything that I worked towards get wiped out, I saw the family wealth, get cut in half. In addition to that, whatever was left, it was a lot of it was illiquid, you know, and when you do try to sell during those times, you just get and he’s no ball big time. So it was very difficult for the family it was and but what it did do is really hurt my confidence. It took me a long time because I took it personally, that, you know, How could I say how could you have avoided this? I mean, you should have seen it come in. So I kept blaming myself. And that didn’t help at all because I lost my confidence in business, to the extent that a very dear family friend, a friend of my father’s invited me over for coffee at his office. And he looked at me and he goes sale. You know, when you came to me back in 2006, I was ready to invest with you. What’s going on? I mean, you’ve just you’ve lost that fire. And this was many years later. So that was a bit of a wake-up call for me. It was hard. But you know, fortunately, I put my head down and that wake-up call just meant, you know, it started making me look at things in a different way. And I had to forgive myself because I had to repeat and constantly tell myself that hey,

John Corcoran 9:51

It wasn’t just you.

Saahil Mehta 9:54

It was beyond your control. Yeah, yeah.

John Corcoran 9:58

It was after that. 2008 crash Ash that you join your company or that you founded your company, ResNet. World, again, in another industry? What was the origin of that? And what did what does it do today?

Saahil Mehta 10:13

Sure. So what it does simply, is it just enables independent hotels to be visible across all electronic platforms and control it from a single point. So it’s easier for the hotels to manage, how it came on me. You know, after this crash, I didn’t really know what to do. And, you know, my dad said, Hey, why don’t you come work with me? And so I started working with him. And although our relationship was like this solid, you know, in terms of the love and for one another, in the workplace, it was quite different. You know, he, him, and I, it’s like two lions in a pride, right? It’s just, it’s, it doesn’t always work. And we used to butt heads a lot. And ultimately, he’s the patriarch, he’s the one who’s got the keys to the coffer, as they say, and, you know, it’s his way or the highway. And so I was just looking for anything. And I had a friend who was in that space. And he came to me and said, Look, I know a company that wants to expand in the UAE, why don’t you help me find someone and we could broker a deal? And so I said, Okay, well, let me understand what it is. Because if I’m putting my name on the line and introducing you to someone, I have to know what it’s all about. And then the more I studied the business, I realized that, hey, this is actually a pretty attractive business. Now, I don’t know if it’s me just searching for something because I wanted a business beyond working with my father, or whether it was actually a good business, but I just took it. And it wasn’t easy. You know, we were making losses for the first several years of the business. And when we finally started making profits, a lot of it got wiped out because of COVID. You know, it was a cliff dive, it wasn’t even a decline in business. It was just one day on the other day, oh, my God, what just happened?

John Corcoran 12:08

Wow. And so take me back to that time period. So March 2021, COVID hits. Or maybe it was even earlier than that because I heard some in the hospitality industry kind of saw it start to take effect earlier. But what was that experience like for you?

Saahil Mehta 12:27

I mean, it was it went from sheer joy to, you know, because we had our best year yet. And to see it all just collapse. And what was hard was you know, what do we do with that team? Right? We were also responsible for the people in the company. But we have to keep the company afloat as well.