Saahil Mehta | Climbing Mountains, Trading Diamonds, and Uncluttering Yourself

John Corcoran 12:50

And how was your team at the time?

Saahil Mehta 12:53

We had 30, I think we were a total of 13 or 14 people at the time. Okay. And so we, you know, myself and my co-founder, we did a quick analysis, and we kind of did a calculation that How long could we survive? You know, we got rid of all the unnecessary expenses. And some expenses, we couldn’t spend anywhere, because Travel Stops. So there are no trade shows or anything. But we realized that we didn’t want to fire anyone. Because the team that we had put together and trained is so solid, they work so well together. And we knew that when things turned around to find someone and replace them, and to bring them up to that caliber would be very difficult. So one of the first things we did is we announced to the team, we’re not firing anybody. Now, of course, if someone fails to do their, you know, their work as per the job description, or they, they cheat or steal, or whatever it is all that still applies, but we told them, we’re not going to fire you do to COVID. And all of a sudden, it’s like this, this tension in the air just disappeared. And since then the team has given it 150%. You know, they’ve gone all out because they were so grateful, especially when they saw a lot of their friends in other industries and companies just getting laid off. They were happy just to have a job. And did you

John Corcoran 14:18

Was there ever a moment as COVID as the pandemic kind of dragged out because it ended up lasting a lot longer than everyone expected? It was ever a moment where you kind of regretted that decision and you thought oh if we managed to go back on our promise not to fire anyone.

Saahil Mehta 14:33

But join you know, it was really tough because you may recall, things opened up, and then suddenly COVID started spreading fast again, and then they started shutting down again. So this yo-yo effect was very hard on us. And you know after the last one, I can’t remember the exact date. But when things shut down, we realized that was our final kind of you know runway and If once it opened up, if it were to shut again, we probably wouldn’t survive, we would have had to shut the company down. So we wouldn’t have been firing people, we just it would have been a complete shutdown.

John Corcoran 15:10

Yeah. And there must have been times when you know, you, when you have an industry that’s or you have a company like that, where things are just not moving at all, where you start to wonder, like, you know, do we, you know, for example, the rental car industry sold off all its inventory, right, you know, and then there’s a huge shortage of cars in the year following because some of us rental cars had sold off the very assets they needed in order to operate their company, but in order to survive for longer, so how did you decide on you know, those sorts of matters? Like, you know, how deep do we cut things? How much do we just kind of like conserve cash?

Saahil Mehta 15:53

You know, John, even prior to COVID, just because we weren’t doing so well, in the first, you know, set of years, we were a very lean organization. And we were already always very cautious about how we spent our money. So we didn’t really have to cut much our real expense was payroll. And that’s the one where we consciously decided not to cut, we decided we did tell people to look, you have to take your leave, you know, you’re not and because once things open up, you can then say I want to go on holiday bonuses were eliminated, pay rises were eliminated. But again, you know, and in some cases, we even told them initially that we will only pay you 75%. But everyone understood, everyone came together as a team, and they realized it was a lot better than getting fired. So we did take some precautions, and we did work with our team members and got their buy-in as well. But we didn’t really have any assets that we could sell or remove because we were a very lean, you know, company.

John Corcoran 16:59

Yeah. 2016, you call that the year that you woke up, you were at an EO forum retreat, which is a small gathering of groups of eight to 10 peers. And you kind of realized in your words, that you’re not being your true self. Take us back to what that experience was like, what inspired that?

Saahil Mehta 17:21

sooner, we’re sitting there at the airport, about to board a flight, and I turned to one of my fellow forum members, and I said, Hey, Vinnie, and how can we make this forum trip more special? And, you know, we’ve all agreed to two words, because we discussed it internally. And those two words are no judgment. And John, I tell you, it’s like this huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. You know, I didn’t have to pretend to be someone that I’m not. I didn’t have to be a people pleaser, which is, which is what I have been living most of my life. I could just be me. And I felt free. I felt liberated. You know, I haven’t experienced what it’s been like to feel to be me to be authentically me for four days straight. You know, let me give you an example. We went to dinner at this restaurant called VO and they have entertainment while we dine. So you know, they got some music, they’ve got performances, singing, acrobatics, magicians, etc. And we were sitting right next to the stage. And so during one of the final acts, one of the dancers, she looks at me and she goes, Hey, come up. And you know, the previous me, who would be afraid of judgment would have, you know, look the other way, I would have picked up my phone and pretended I was busy. I received a call right at that moment. And just you know, perfect timing, right? Yeah, I would have just gotten back in my chair and kind of tried to hide, but I said, Hey, what the hell no judgment. And so I went up there. And it was amazing because I love to dance. So I felt free. And so at the end of the trip, as we’re coming back home, I said to myself, I can’t go back to the man I used to be. The man I used to be was a people pleaser, someone who was afraid of judgment. And that meant that I was just constantly wearing a mask or masks. And so I decided that I’m going to find out what was holding me down. I don’t know if you remember these old prison movies, John, you know, the ones where they had a ball and chain wrapped around your leg so you couldn’t escape from prison? Yep. I felt I had hundreds of those wrapped around my leg. And you know, as a mountaineer, I’m always telling people if you’re carrying excess weight with you, just imagine how much harder it is to climb up. And so I started to identify things in my life that were pulling me down that were dragging me and I started to break free from them. Now, that could have been something in my head, something meant, you know, it could be something of my health, you know, something with relationships, or the physical environment that I was living in. But as I did this, I started to get more energy, I started to become more focused, and I started to have more love in my life. I mean, just everything just started improving

John Corcoran 20:24

it tells me about you know, sometimes, when people have those things in our life, it could be a family member, it could be we’re stuck living in a certain place. So it’s hard to move somewhere else. Even if you don’t like where you’re living, what were some of the more challenging decisions that you made, that were shedding, as you know, decluttering? Okay.

Saahil Mehta 20:52

I was a social person, I used to go out all the time, with people, and all of a sudden, I’m saying I love my mornings, I’m gonna say no to late nights, on weekdays. I changed my eating habits. I went, you know, I went vegan. And so all of a sudden, I couldn’t share food with my, with my wife. You know, we used to share a lot of things when we went out for dinners. So one of the greatest challenges I’ve felt, I mean, look with fries, some people said, Oh, you don’t come out with us anymore. And, okay, look, it’s a difference of opinion, it’s fine. You know, if there’s some collateral damage along the way, I don’t mind, I guess they weren’t supposed to be my friends anyway. But what hurt the most Shawn was the relationship between my wife and me because I was changing at such a rapid pace. That one day, she just looks at me and she goes, sale. I don’t recognize you anymore. You’re not the man that I married. And I realized that I was so focused on myself because I made it a priority to keep removing this clutter, that this gap between us two started to widen. And we were just on completely different levels, on different planes. And so I realized, you know, it’s one of the things that, you know, something’s wrong, but nothing’s really happened. I don’t know if you’ve experienced that, because the gap just widens so slowly, but over time, it gets wider and wider. So we started this, you know, we started talking about how we want to communicate with each other, so that we can be free, without judgment to express how we feel, and what’s working in the relationship and what’s not. And so we started to bridge this gap. By holding each other accountable, and being brutally honest with each other. By agreeing to the rules of engagement, you know, I found that we, we found this respect, a new respect for one another, and our love started to grow again. And today. Fortunately, I would say it’s stronger than it’s ever been. But at one point, it did look like maybe the marriage wasn’t gonna last.

John Corcoran 23:09

Hmm. That’s one of the challenges of if you go off and have, you know, an experience like that, without your partner is, how to communicate with them and make them open or allow them, engage them in the process so that they can appreciate the growth and changes that you’re going through.

Saahil Mehta 23:32


John Corcoran 23:35

So you are a mountaineer, and you’ve climbed some amazing Kilimanjaro, and other large peaks. When did that start? Did that start after this 2016 experience? Or is that something that you were passionate about before?

Saahil Mehta 23:48

So the first mountain was actually 2010 December, and we went a little higher than the base of Mount Everest, to this point, that’s called Color Potter, which literally translates to Black Rock. And it was just one of those checklist things. You know, I don’t want to call it a bucket list. I’m not a big fan of that word. But it was just something that I always wanted to do in my life. And I asked my wife and I said, Look, do you want to come with me? And she said, Sure. So we went on this adventure 12 The adventure on the mountains, you know, far away from any luxury, but what an experience. And after that we had kids. And every year I’d make up some excuse of why I couldn’t go back to the mountains. But after this experience in 2016, I said look enough. I want to be me. I want to enjoy these things. If the mountains calling me why am I making up excuse after excuse not to go? So we signed up to climb Kilimanjaro and in January of 2017, that’s when we submitted so and then the adventure continues. So 18 we did Elbrus, which is the tallest mountain in Europe 2019, we went to Peru and climbed a mountain called shopee. Calgary, which was our first mountain over 20,000 feet, where we were using the ice axes. So it was a technical climb as well, you know, and the crampons to go up walls and stuff. And then COVID obviously didn’t allow us to climb mountains for a little bit. But we went right back when we could this summer and went to Mexico, and climbed the tallest mountain there, as well as one of the other mountains in Mexico.

John Corcoran 25:36

Now, a big chunk of your time is spent on speaking, and coaching. But you say that that is your other businesses allow you to enable you do those. Do that work? Even though I think it’s no secret that you know, getting established in a speaking coaching business can take some time. And oftentimes, it doesn’t produce financial rewards as much as it does psychic rewards and gratification. So talk a little bit about what that’s meant for you to spend your time on this, and be able to spend your time on helping others to declutter in the way that you have.

Saahil Mehta 26:19

Great question, John, you know, when I was focusing on what in life fulfills me, this was something that came up as a high priority. And before, I used to only focus my energy on things that gave financial returns, but I realized that especially during the year I woke up, I realized that life is so much more than just the financial returns, you have to get emotional energy returns as well. And so when this opportunity came up, and I could, I knew that I could share and make an impact on someone else’s life, that was exceptionally fulfilling, because not only was I helping these other people, but I’m constantly helping myself as well, at the same time. And you know, people forget that it’s not only about others, but you help yourself when you keep repeating the things again, and again, and or you’re discovering and researching more ideas and concepts. And so I feel that I’m privileged, and I have the luxury to choose the clients I want to work with because my other businesses support my lifestyle. And I can’t be more thankful for having this kind of opportunity. Because there are some companies that I just don’t agree with them. You know, if, for example, there’s a company that’s destroying the environment that we’re living in, I wouldn’t want to take their dollars and give them a talk. Because that’s not in line with my belief system. And so I have the luxury to say no. Yeah, that’s nice. And so choosing, I only work with clients where I enjoy being with them, and they enjoy being with me more importantly,

John Corcoran 28:04

yeah, one of the challenges of entrepreneurship is that it’s, everything isn’t always linear. It’s not always, you know, as we described, there are ups, there’s downs, that sort of thing. As you devoted more of your time to the coaching business and less of your time to we’ll call them the profitable businesses that are kind of paying the bills. As you experienced these challenges with COVID, there must have been moments where you had to take a step back or make a decision about do I go after what I’m passionate about, but doesn’t pay the bills, at least not yet. Or do I take a step back, step away from the thing that I’m passionate about, and spend more time on the business that has produced a profit, but is experiencing some big challenges? And for me, that is one of the hardest parts, is making those decisions when you made this commitment to move in a new direction, and then you have to take a step back because I experienced that as I made my transition from practicing law into entrepreneurship. So what was that experience like for you as you had to, you know, weigh those decisions?

Saahil Mehta 29:13

No, okay. You know, when I was starting this coaching, speaking, be you know, becoming an author, I realized that I have a responsibility, I have a responsibility to my family, you know, to the, to the team that works for us. I have to make sure that the bills are paid and salaries are paid, and we’re able to generate profit. So, you know, I told you that my dad and I, work together. Now, unfortunately, I lost my dad last year and COVID. And when that happened, I had to make a very difficult choice because all of a sudden, this partnership that we had, became, you know, I became a solo, you know, owner or solo MD or CEO, whatever you want to call it, and I had to manage everything because I don’t have other family members or partners in the business. And I realized that I didn’t want to give up being an author and coaching and speaking because that’s what gave me fulfillment. But at the same time, I couldn’t let this ship sink I was putting food on the table. And so to ensure that I could continue living a life of fulfillment, I first ensured that not only was the ship going to sail, but it had to sail faster than before. And so I really focused on the business in building the team. And I was so grateful for the team members that I had because I offered them and I gave them the opportunity to step up. And for, one of them, I even said, Listen, I want to make your partner in the business. And once you’re a partner, you’re not an employee. So you got to think differently, right? You can have the best of both worlds. And whenever once we got the team, given more responsibilities, and we added members to the team, that’s when I realized that, okay, now this ship is sailing again. I’m still monitoring, I’m still managing. But I took away all I only am in charge of things which I consider critical decisions, which only I can make everything else, I found a way to delegate or, you know, find processes that would help make those decisions. So that allowed me again, to free up some time to then allocate towards the coaching, speaking, and workshops that I give to other people. But there was no way I was going to say, Oh, I’m passionate about this. I’m going to continue and start sacrificing the breadwinner.

John Corcoran 31:44

Right, right. Yeah, you have to make those difficult decisions. So how this has been great. I want to wrap up my final question, which is my gratitude question. I’m a big fan of expressing gratitude publicly to those who helped you along the way especially peers, contemporaries, mentors, that sort of thing. Who would you want to acknowledge?

Saahil Mehta 32:09

So if I may, John, I want to split that into two parts. One is, you know, when when I lost my dad, my immediate family, my mother, wife, the kids, as well as the staff, who come and help us at home and our staff in the office, everybody really stepped up, they could see that I was a bit of a mess. And I can, I mean, I can think of how I would have been able to handle it if it weren’t for them, and my closest of friends who stood by me, you know, almost every day till I was in a better state. And the second one that I would, that I would love to give gratitude towards is Michelle, Michelle is my coach. And you know, people sometimes ask your coach, why do you have a coach, I say, Well, I can see my own blind spots. And so she, wow, she, I mean, she’s seen me through my darkest of times, and she always made me realize that I can be so much more. You know, she said, you know, she gave me that energy that I was lacking, especially when I lost my confidence. So I would really want to give a big shout-out to her as well. Great.

John Corcoran 33:23

So where can people go to learn more about you and connect with you?

Saahil Mehta 33:28

They can find me on LinkedIn, it’s just my name Saahil Mehta. And on other social media channels, it’s Saahil Mehta official. And finally, they can go to my website And through any of those channels, they can shoot me an email if they want to get in touch. Alright, so thanks so much.

John Corcoran 33:51

Thank you.

Outro 33:53

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