Q&A with Sam Gharegozlou, Forty Under 40 Winner 2021, Co-founder and president, Axiom Zen, Age 33
Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?
The credit goes to my brother and my parents. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents. Likewise, my brother’s experience in the tech space meant I had a lot to learn from him when we started the company together.
What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is a cheat night of junk food (specifically Pizza Hut stuffed crust and McDonald’s).
What is the best book you would recommend?
Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull. Probably one of the most inspirational books on building a healthy organizational culture.
Now that you are (or are close to) entering your forties, what goals have you set for yourself?
I want to continue to support our portfolio companies and repeat the success we have achieved with Dapper Labs to other projects. We’re not going to be slowing down anytime soon.
What was your childhood career dream?
I dreamed of becoming a pilot because I love flying. Plus, wasn’t it the coolest job when you were a child?
Name your happiest place.
It is pretty simple: spending time in-person with my team and enjoying those little moments that we have. COVID definitely made me realize the importance of face-to-face communication.
What was your toughest business or professional decision?
Every time we had to sacrifice great ideas at Axiom Zen because of timing or just the lack of opportunity or even other priorities and focus. It is always tough to decide what takes precedence.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Make time for yourself to stay healthy, no matter how busy it gets.
What is your best habit?
Smiling even through the toughest days. It’s great therapy to let myself and everyone around me know it will get better.
Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.
I graduated with a degree in political science and history with little knowledge of the tech startup landscape, but went on to build Axiom Zen and five independent companies/products.
Best piece of advice ever received?
My parents ingrained this into me: “Treat others how you would want to be treated yourself.”
Biggest learning (about life or business) during the pandemic?
Enjoy the little moments because life is short — the concerts, the people, the travelling, the interactions. You never know when that can come to a halt.
What career highlight are you most proud of?
Launching multiple companies that have established their presence in their own rights, and becoming one of the few venture capital unicorn companies in Vancouver.