Episode 155 : How To Use the Amazon Model to Become Design Architects for Your Business

During the Iranian Revolution of 1978, Shaahin‘s family had to escape to survive and ended up finally migrating to Los Angeles, California. At 15 years old Shaahin left home with nothing but the clothes on his back and created over a BILLION dollars in revenue by inventing the legendary smart drug known as Herbal Ecstacy. These childhood experiences had a major impact on his perspective of freedom, hard work and entrepreneurship. Later Shaahin went on to invent Digital Vaporization (the forerunner to today’s vapes) and start a number of successful businesses with a couple of notable failures.

Today, he is the Founder and CEO of Accelerated intelligence Inc, a major Amazon FBA seller with millions in sales, the lead coach at Amazon Mastery where he teaches entrepreneurs how to CRUSH IT! on the Amazon platform and an active YouTube creator.

Shaahin is considered one of the leading global minds on what’s next in e-commerce, Amazon and the internet. He is described as the “Willy Wonka of Generation X” by the London Observer and Newsweek and is one of the most forward thinkers in business – with his Amazon Mastery Course he acutely recognizes trends and patterns early on the Amazon platform to help others understand how these shifts impact markets and consumer behaviour.

Questions

  • Could you share in your own words, a little bit about your journey and how it is that you got to where you are today?
  • Could you share with our listeners for those persons who may be new to this whole Amazon reselling? What are some key things that need to be present for you to be successful in this channel?
  • So, tell us a little bit about the book Billion.
  • What are some things maybe that you’ve experienced that has helped to kind of manage the customer experience because that does form parts of the customer journey when their expectation is x, but the actual experience is y, how do you go around that? How do you navigate that to kind of come up with still a very good experience?
  • Could you also share with us what’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
  • Could you also share with us what are one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read a very long time ago or even one that you read recently that has left impressionable mark on you.
  • Could you share with us what’s one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about? Either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people.
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you’ll tend to revert to this quote? It kind of helps to get you back on track or get you refocused if for any reason you got derailed. Do you have one of those?

Highlights

Shaahin’s Journey

Shaahin shared that they moved to the United States as refugees, political refugees in the 1980s. By the time he was 15, he had started his first business, he left home, left family, no friends, basically sleeping in abandoned buildings, abandoned cars, trying to figure out what to do with himself. He got involved in the electronic music scene, he found a mentor and he invented an alternative to a drug that was very popular at that time called Ecstasy. It became a global phenomenon and by the time he was still in his teens with a grade school education, he had 200 employees, and it created over a billion dollars in revenue.

And so, he had 200 employees working for him, he had a lot of customer service people, he knows it’s a show about customer service, he knows a lot about that. And from there, he went on to inventing Digital Vaporization technology, all the vapes and eCigs that you see came from technology that he developed and invented and patented. And from there, he went on to master the Amazon landscape. And so, now he teaches people how to create recurring revenue streams by starting Amazon seller accounts, and selling products through the Amazon platform through his Amazon Mastery Course.

Keys that Needs to be Present for You to Be Successful in this Channel – Amazon Reselling

Shaahin shared that interestingly enough, he thinks one of the things that’s important when you’re selling on the Amazon platform, is that you have to know how to tell the right story. One of the things that they learned from platforms like Amazon, is that the form of marketing as it was known in the past as disruption marketing, changed dramatically. And whereas in the past, marketers were disrupting you to get your attention, Amazon changed that game.

So now, instead of being disruption marketing, we are permission marketing. And not only that, when you sell something on Amazon, when you’re a seller, you have to know how to speak the language of conversion for that platform and it’s very different.

And so, the work they do is based on the work of a guy named Professor Robert Cialdini, who wrote the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and another book called Persuasion. And what they do is they teach people how to use influence in creating their listing, how to become Decision Architectsso that when people arrive at your listing, they’re already sold. He likes to say often that the sale is made before the person even lands on your listing. And that’s so true. So more true today than ever.

Me: Amazing. I like the phrase or the coin that you just term decision architects. It sounds so eloquent.

About Shaahin’s Book – Billion: How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult

Me: So you have a book out or is it out yet, Billion?

Shaahin shared that the book just dropped called Billion: How I Became King Of The Thrill Cult, it’s available on Amazon Kindle, Apple, and you can get the audio book now. The audio book just dropped too. So it’s called Billion: How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult, he’s super excited about that, they just got to film deal for that.

And then anybody that’s interested, he has an Amazon course where he teaches people how to start Amazon businesses from anywhere in the world. He’s got people in Africa, people in Saudi Arabia, people in the United States, Canada.

And for any of your listeners, if you guys mentioned Yanique, he will give you that program for free. It’s a $200 program, it’s a one hour course A to Z, how do you get reviews?

How do you do great customer service?

How do you do all those things that go along with finding a product and selling it on the Amazon platform?

How do you start a seller account?

And anybody that wants to can reach out to him, his email is darkzess@gmail.com.

Me: Amazing. So tell us a little bit about the book.

Shaahin shared that the book basically just goes through his journey and his story that he told you now that was basically going from being broke and sleeping where he could lay his head to creating over a billion dollars in revenue. And there were some very exciting times during that period of time, but he was a kid and he didn’t know much about business. And all the lessons he learned he kept in a journal and he has those in the book, so it’s very interesting. The book is part autobiography and part personal development, where he teaches and coaches people how to become the best versions of themselves, using lessons that were hard fought for him.

Things That Help to Manage Customer Experience That Forms the Customer Journey with Their Expectation

Me: Now as you mentioned, our show is about navigating the customer experience and I know Amazon is a brilliant platform, really, really great. Of course, I’m sure everybody in the world uses it. But a lot of industries that maybe tapping into the Amazon platform I’m sure are affected by let’s say, the shipping and logistics issue that has been impacted by the world globally because of the pandemic. What are some things maybe that you’ve experienced that has helped to kind of manage the customer experience because that does form parts of the customer journey when their expectation is x, but the actual experience is y, how do you go around that? How do you navigate that to kind of come up with still a very good experience?

Shaahin stated that this is really interesting. And he’s glad Yanique brought that up. So, he’ll say this, he thinks there’s a couple things that have happened. So Amazon, this company that was started by this little guy, Jeff Bezos, little at the time, now he’s huge, disrupted the industry of commerce. And he did this very similar, he (Shaahin) likes to use the example of Piggly Wiggly. Piggly Wiggly was a disrupter.

Why?

Well, back in the turn of the century, if you wanted to buy something in America, you’d go into a store and the man would say, “What do you need today Mr. Jones?” You’d say, “Well, I need some bread. I need some beer. I need some sundries. I need some rubber bands, whatever.”He’d put them in a bag, he tells you how much it was and you would leave, you would have no choice.

So this guy comes around Piggly Wiggly, he goes, we’re going to disrupt this entire industry. How are you going to disrupt it?

Well, we’re going to build these things. What are these things, they’re called aisles. They’re going to allow us to have more than one brand, allowing competition in the marketplace.

And we’re going to allow customers to come in and pick whatever they want and bring it up to the front and check out. It’ll give them an opportunity to see touch and feel the product. Not only that, we’re going to have these things called carts where people can go through the aisles, put stuff in carts, and then check them out. It changed commerce forever.

Similarly, Jeff Bezos has done the same thing with his marketplace. Now what’s the important thing from a customer service standpoint that he’s done is that he’s taken the friction out of the sale.

In the old days of the internet, we tend to forget, especially people who are his age, he’s 46 now and he remembers the first days of the internet, younger people might not remember it. You didn’t know who to trust, you felt more secure going to a brick and mortar store where you could touch and feel the product and buy it. You didn’t know if you bought it on a website, if they would take your credit card number, if you’d never see the product, if you’d see it in three weeks, all those variables have been taken out.

So again, Jeff Bezos is being proactive with his customer service, the best customer service is done before the consumer ever even buys the product. He made sure that the products on the site were of high enough quality, he made sure that there was plenty of selection, and most importantly, the lowest most competitive prices, which he realized was very important, people wanted to save money. Now, from a customer service standpoint, what Jeff Bezos did was he said, “You know what, we’re going to let the customer handle their own returns.” Insane, nobody had ever done that before.

He said, “Yeah, we believe that customers can handle most of their issues, and they don’t need us. And besides, the cost for us to pay a representative, whatever it is $5, $10 an hour on the end of the other phone to deal with a customer for an hour or two may be more than the cost of the goods.” So what he did is he created easy returns. If you go on to Amazon to this day, you’ll see easy returns. If you buy something and you don’t like it, you go into the app, or you go into the back end, and you click return, it says what’s your reason, you say other, you’re good to go, they refunded right back to your card. In many instances, you don’t even need to send it back. So it’s a form of efficiency.

Now, it’s a dual edged sword because it has also created greed within customers. People are needlessly returning things, and people are more expectant now for the silliest reasons. Somebody might order a can of a food product, eat the food product, and then return the tin because it has a dent in it, half empty and this is much more commonplace.

Now Amazon, interestingly enough, doesn’t care, unless it’s their own product and even then they don’t care because they’ve got such higher margins. But if it’s a third party product, Amazon just builds the third party company, it becomes the sellers issue that their product was returned and they handled the customer service from that end.

And nowadays, when they do customer service, he has a policy where they just refund people’s money. But every once in a while, every occasion, when they get a ridiculous customer, somebody who is absolutely ridiculous, he will personally call them up himself and they’re always shocked that the President of the company is on the phone. And not only will he get them on the phone himself, he will let them know how silly they are being, in a very polite way and this goes against everything in customer service. And then he will sell them something else, he will make it a point not to leave the phone call without having sold them something.

And it always leaves a great experience, a great story that they’re going to tell people. And, he doesn’t do this with reasonable customers. So if you get a product that’s bad, or you have a bad service experience, or there’s an employee that maybe treated you unfairly, then of course, they just refund your money and they take care of you the best that they can, always.

But occasionally, you will get somebody who’s being unreasonable and the best way to approach somebody who’s being unreasonable is to confront them with their unreasonableness and to just call them up and have a real adult conversation. And more and more he’s finding that that’s a very effective tool because people who are trying to cheat the system, people who are trying to take advantage are generally cowards.

So when confronted, you can come across that. Another issue that they have is reviews. So this is one of the big things, Amazon has one of the largest blog networks in the universe. Why? Because they’ve got you and me buying things on there and writing content for them in the form of reviews, making videos in the form of reviews. That’s all searchable content, though you’re producing for free and giving to Amazon as their property. They own that work that you just created and put on their site and for it, they give you back nothing.

Now, reviews are a dual edged sword. So, you get some people leaving honest reviews, and you get some people leaving fake reviews, some competitors may leave reviews for your product because they don’t like you and they want people to think that your product is bad. They’ve had competitors leave reviews saying, “Hey, there’s a fly in the product. Literally, there’s a fly in the product, there’s a this or that.” They had one guy putting magnets inside some tea and being like, hey, look, it sticks. We’re like, static electricity, it’s a thing. So, there’s a lot of that going on. But at the same time, consumers are now learning that they can use their reviews, their social proof against the companies as a tool for them to get free things.

So what they will do is they will leave a bad review, and then sit back and wait. People do this on Twitter, they do it on Facebook, that’s why they take to social media. And they’ll just sit back, maybe they’ll do something weird. He heard of a guy who tore his shoe laces or tore the soles off his Nikes and posted it on social media and was waited for Nike to call him back and give him a new pair. But it’s this ecommerce 3.0 that has spoiled the consumer at the end of the day. And it’s for those ridiculous types of things where he feels compelled to call those people back. Now, he doesn’t encourage anybody to do that because you’ll never get what you want if you’re trying to cheat them. And it’s unfair to other people that have legitimate grievances. But there’s a whole faction of people that leave negative reviews for other people just so they can engage them, and then get a free thing or get a refund or not have to pay for their product.

And as any business, especially a small business, you have to have a way to address that in your business. And his way is just have the CEO call them, you won’t get very much of those kinds of calls, but you got to call them. And sometimes you just have to reason with people because people are unreasonable in general with their expectations.

So, they have another brand of glasses that they make of sunglasses, and it’s a special type of lens that you wear at night, and it blocks the blue lights, and it’s one of the best in the marketplace. And with that product, they offer an unlimited money back guarantee, they’re called Sleep Doctor Glasses. And the website is sleepdoctorglasses.com and they offer an unlimited warranty. And the reason why they did this, and it’s not just a defect warranty, it’s a run your car over warranty, it’s a grab a hammer and drill holes through it warranty, whatever you do, run over it with your truck warranty.

And the reason they do this is that most people don’t want to damage their personal property, most people love the product so much that they don’t want to damage it. But if you’re one of those people who does, they’re going to use that as a story and they’re going to tell that story. And not only are they going to tell that story, you’re going to tell that story to everybody that you know, you’re going to go, “Man, I bought these glasses for $40 bucks, $50 bucks, from sleep doctor glasses, and my 400 pound gorilla that I keep as a pet sat on them and smashed them. And they just sent me a new pair. And they said as many times as he sits on them, I’m going to get new pairs.” And that creates more marketing, more promotion, more social proof than any marketing that they could do.

So you can’t do that for every product, especially if you have a product that’s not as high quality, but it’s a great hack to offer that to them. When he was in the vaporizer business, they offered extended warranties, electronics, a lot of companies make a lot of money on the extended warranties, and they actually made more money on the extended warranties than we did selling the product because what’s your cost on an extended warranty zero, and you get $100, $125 bucks on a $400 product is 25% pure profit that you’re making with the product.

Yeah, you’re selling it for $400 but you got parts, you got to manufacture. So warranties are beautiful, and rarely, by the way for you guys who are watching this work in the favor of consumers. So if you just always say no to any extended warranty, and at the end of the day, you use that money to fix the thing that breaks, once you’ll be in a better place. So the rule of thumb is do not buy the extended warranties, they don’t work in the favour of the consumers.

But they had these vaporizers and they had this guy who and remember these are the first vaporizers, they were huge, they were not the eCigs that we see today, this was the original stone age vaporizers.

And they had this guy who bought the extended warranty and then he bought the additional, he wants to say slip and fall, he bought the original water damage, they had different levels of the warranty. So one level was just protects you against defects and other one was drop it in the pool and they cover it. And he bought the extended warranty and he would do crazy things, he would drag it behind a car, he would light like all kinds of objects inside of it, and make them explode. And he would call without fail every month and be like, “Hey, I broke my device, time to send me the new one.”

And finally, he called him personally, he was shocked, again that the CEO was calling him, he said, “I love this. Thank you for making these videos, people love them on our website, here’s what I’m going to do for you. Anytime you want a new device, just call me. I’ve refunded your money, I’ve refunded you for the extended warranty, you no longer have an extended warranty but here’s what you have. Call me anytime, here’s my cell phone and anytime you break your device, for whatever reason, I’ll just send you a new one. You don’t even have to send it back.”

And he was so pleased, he did it maybe three more times after that. They never heard from him again but he continued to make videos about how great their device was.

And so, it’s another great practice he thinks that people don’t do specially CEOs of companies or people that are running companies, even if you’re a mom and pop is that we lose touch with our customers, we lose touch with the people that are paying our salaries, people that are paying for our livelihoods.

And he thinks it’s great to reach out and get to know them. He knows it’s taboo and if you’re a hothead, you probably shouldn’t be the one doing that, somebody else on your team should be doing that. But if you’re cool and you like people, you like humans, what a great thing to do, not everybody likes humans, depends on the day he’s talking to people, his patience runs thin.

App, Website or Tool that Shaahin Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

Shaahin shared that he uses lots of great tools. So, he loves Evernote, which he thinks is fantastic, he uses Evernote. He loves 1Password, they use that company wide to maintain passwords, which he thinks is really useful. They’re big fans of Asana as far as task management for his managers that he does. He loves the website Upwork and Fiverr, they’re big fans of that, and they use that in their FBA seller course. So if you guys go to www.fbasellercourse.com or if you email him, darkzess@gmail.com, he’ll give you the Amazon Mastery Course for free the one hour crash course.

So, those would be probably his top tools as far as like personal productivity. He loves a VR app called Tripp, it’s awesome. It works on the Oculus ecosphere. So if you use the Oculus VR headset, it’s a fantastic app that gets you in a flow state in under 10 minutes. And it’s one of the most beautiful meditative apps; he thinks out there, it’s really a game changer. So, he really recommends the Trippapp, he thinks it’s really fantastic. And he also loves the Muse Headband for meditation as well; those two things are really great.

Books that Have Had the Biggest Impact on Shaahin

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Shaahin shared that he’s going to say his own book Billion: How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult. Again, available on Amazon and audible check it out if you guys liked his story, if anything he said here inspired you or rang true with you, check out his book and leave him a review. But he’s a big fan of David Allen Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, he thinks he’s an amazing, probably the best person in personal productivity if you’re in customer service, that’ll be a great book. I like Richard Koch, The 80/20 Manager: The Secret to Working Less and Achieving More, which would be great for anybody who’s managing customer service people or managing any people of any kind. Unreasonable Success and How to Achieve It: Unlocking the Nine Secrets of People Who Changed the World by Richard Koch as well. And always the books by Robert Cialdini Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

What Jeff is Really Excited About Now!

Shaahin shared that he wants to come to Jamaica. He has been many times. He’s been to Negril, he’s been to Montego Bay, he’s been all over Jamaica, actually. He loves the island, loves the people, and loves the culture. Such an amazing place, he’s been to Kingston, he’s been up in Strawberry Hill.

Me: You are a Jamaican veteran. Well, the next time you come to Jamaica, make sure you hit me up. I am in Kingston.

Shaahin stated that he loves that, they can drive up to Blue Mountains, get some of that coffee. It’s such an amazing place right now.

Right now he’s busy teaching people, inspiring people how to get out of the grind. The greatest crime that has been done to the average person in the last 100 years is this concept that you have to sell your hours for money. And they’re changing that now, they’re changing that paradigm with the work that they’re doing on Amazon, anybody can start an Amazon business for little or low cash, very little money, and to grow that business to a seven figure business in a couple of years by following some very simple paint by number recipes that they teach you. So, his goal for the next year is to inspire 1000 people to start 1000 Amazon companies, becoming a seller on the platform, creating great products and selling them and then creating amazing companies in the next two years and selling those to create recurring revenue.

Where Can We Find Shaahin Online

Shaahin shared that if you guys are interested in this content, and by the way, they’ll rebroadcast this on their channel, they’re up to about 67,000 subscribers now. So they’ll share this and they’ll try to send some subscribers to Yanique’s show. He knows they have a lot of customer service people who watch their show, who would be very interested in the content Yanique is putting out. So with your permission, they’ll do that as well.

So they have a show called Hack and Grow Rich, it’s available on Stitcher, Spotify, Apple podcasts, wherever podcasts are found, and also on YouTube if you prefer video content. So make sure to check them out on those channels like subscribe, dislike, put rude comments in the comment section whatever you want to do.

Also, his book once again Billion: How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult is available wherever books are found and on Audible. And additionally, if you’re interested in that course, reach out to him by email, that email is going to be darkzess@gmail.com and to learn more about his course, you can go to www.fbasellercourse.com FBA of course standing for Fulfillment by Amazon.

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Shaahin Uses

When asked about a quote or saying that he tends to revert to, Shaahin shared that he’s got two going through his head. His intuition tells me go this one.

Why do angels fly? Because they take themselves lightly. “Seriousness is a disease.” And he’s noticed Yanique laughed a lot during this show and you laugh and you smile, and that’s great.

Well, we all have to remember, this is not serious and business is not serious. Customer service is not serious, none of this is serious. Seriousness is a disease of the ego, so when you get that angry customer on the other end of the phone, when you get that disgruntled employee, when you get that person who you have to deal with, remember to smile. And remember why angels fly.

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