Minding Your Own Business: A Chat with Saad Uddin
By: Feryal Khwaja
Once a young owner of an ice cream shop at the age of 18, Saad Uddin, Founder and CEO of Native Touch, has persevered through both the challenges and rewards of being a successful entrepreneur. After having owned a number of businesses, over the course of six years he has successfully built a digital advertising firm with 30+ employees and locations in both Toronto and Montreal.
With Saad’s leadership at the forefront, his company established key principles that lay down a strong foundation built on a set of defined values and ethics. In an industry where companies thrive by leveraging the entertainment business, Native Touch differentiates itself by focusing on operational excellence and providing a unique product offering. Similarly, in an industry where it is believed that successful startups are required to raise funding, Saad was able to bootstrap his way to building a household brand name within the Canadian market whilst staying true to its values and purpose.
Saad has been actively involved with MAX since its inception, playing an imperative role as a Panelist Judge for the Max Scholarship program and as a Mentor for MAX Mentors. Apart from operating and leading his business, Saad enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter and is an avid basketball fan.
To learn more about how his values and perseverance has led him to becoming a successful entrepreneur, we asked Saad his insight on how his faith and business practices intersect.
What do you know now that you wish you had known prior to starting a business?
I always thought that I’d be able to easily attract and build a solid team once I had revenue flowing in. I was dead wrong. Building a good team is one of the hardest and most important things for a business. This should be the focus when hiring one person or a dozen.
How does your faith both challenge you and encourage you when operating your own business?
My faith is the most important thing in running our business. The fact that success and failure are from God allows me to focus on working hard and delivering good work.
Have you ever felt like your opportunities have been limited because of your faith? If so, what did you do to overcome them?
In general, no, My faith has allowed us to build a very unique business with key principles embedded within the business that today allow us to differentiate very well. When we first started in the advertising industry, I was very nervous about not partaking in activities that are common in the industry. I very quickly learnt people respect people with values. Over time, I learnt that the people who don’t, are probably not long term customers, vendors or employees to work with.
What advice would you give to Muslim’s in the workforce as well as entrepreneurs trying to break the glass ceiling?
The only glass ceiling an entrepreneur will encounter is the one that he/she creates for themselves. Being an entrepreneur is a lot lonelier than people may think. Think of the lives of celebrities, minus fame (most of the time).
When you think about the most challenging time of your career, what kept you going and led you to your success today?
The feedback loop that exists with my wife, some family members and a few other advisors. And, a good understanding of the fundamentals around business cycles. i.e. the market, your staff and your business overall will have its highs and lows.
MAX Café: Halal Hustle
By: Neha Naviwala
The MAX Mentors team did a phenomenal job at hosting the MAX Café at Torys LLP. The room was packed with a highly intellectual audience, made up of young professionals and University students. Salma Hindy, Comedian and Medical Engineer was the Emcee for the evening and had her fair share of struggles to walk us through. Goldy Hyder, CEO and President of Hill + Knowlton Strategies was the Keynote Speaker. More than half the audience had already listened to one of his many keynotes, hence the high number of attendees!
How to keep the deen and get ahead- Everyday I’m hustlin’.
5 Key points to note from Halal Hustle
- Both Speakers immigrated to Canada at a young age and faced many challenges such as being part of a Minority group and having strict parents striving to hold onto religious and cultural values. Due to social, digital channels having broken down barriers today, Muslims are part of a visible majority in Canada. What still holds true today, from 2-3 decades ago, is that the same values that’ll guide us moving forward are the ones that guided our parents, Hard Work.
- Regardless of industry, know that you must have qualities such as ability to invest (in time, relationships, network, work, education, and self), Patience, and perseverance. There are no shortcuts; you must work for, and earn for everything you get. Finally, it is vital to be who you are and OWN who you are. Be authentic, and it will be rewarded.
- We live in the most generous and compassionate country in the world. We must abstain from becoming communal. Getting involved in and volunteering in non-Muslim venues, in addition to Muslim venues, is a great way to show the beauty of Islam. Being a good person is what being a Muslim is about.
- Recognize and develop your morals. Firstly, by making your demands known, whether they relate to religion or simply self, and secondly, by investing in self-growth and surrounding yourself with welcoming, accommodating communities (not necessarily Muslim). These steps took Salma Hindy to a platform where she knew that by holding a microphone, she showed everyone around her that she had confidence, a voice, and eventually, Interviews with several Canadian news channels. She didn’t need to be paid in marijuana in order to succeed.
- If something isn’t working out for us, we should not blame our Muslim identity for it, because we are surrounded by countless successful Muslims. Work harder, and grasp onto opportunities and chances that come your way. The one thing that’s prevalent in society today is disruption
This MAX Café, the third one since the launch of MAX Mentors has definitely raised the bar very high. However, the dedicated and hardworking team is extremely capable of putting on an equally impressive, if not more, event on in the future.
Quarterly Max Cafe
Achieve Ahsan: The New Science of Excellence
“Flow is the term used by researchers for optimal states of consciousness, those peak moments of total absorption where self vanishes, time flies, and all aspects of performance go through the roof.” Flow science dates back to the 1900s where researchers investigated how the brain can alter consciousness to improve performance. The idea of flow is a highly investigated topic that seeks to deconstruct how peak performance can be achieved. From the whirl of dervishes engaged in dhikr to the stunning geometrical harmony found in the great mosques, Islam has its own history of Muslims engaged in a flow state submitting to and achieving what can be best translated as Ahsan, or perfection/excellence. Ahsan is the idea of expanding ones Emaan to manifest both deeds and action with a sense of social responsibility.
At MAX Mentors, we believe there is no limit to human potential. We believe that you can hustle and break all of the glass ceilings you want. In this MAX Cafe, our speakers will discuss the recent developments in the research into peak performance and excellence, and the key takeaways we can pragmatically and immediately integrate into our lives. They will discuss how excellence can be honed with the Islamic concept of Ahsan. And finally, they will discuss how the pursuit of excellence in and of itself can create what many of us are missing in our workplaces: joy.