#AskAni Ep. 001 | On Taking Opportunities, Dealing With Rejection & More

I’m very vocal about the role that mentorship has played in my life. By asking the right questions and being teachable, I was able to shave years off of my learning curve as an entrepreneur. I would observe people who were in the positions I wanted to be in, and learned what it took to be a leader from a tactical and emotional perspective.

Now, I’m aware that many young (and old) people don’t have access to mentors or someone to guide them through certain topics. This especially holds true for entrepreneurship where there are very few “rules,” and it’s hard to find a network to tap into to ask questions, get feedback and get better.

With this mind, I created my #AskAni Q&A series to provide a resource point for people. After dabbling in it over the course of the year, I’ve decided to make it a weekly thing that occurs at 6:30p ET every Monday via my Instagram account. The format is simple: you open the livestream, ask your questions in the comments and get them answered by me and other peers who are also participating.

I will be recapping the highlights from every session right here on Medium. Due to the volume of questions, I can’t cover them all , so tune in on Mondays to get the full flavor. Enjoy!

1. “How do you apply new information in your day to day?” — @donfreshly

Digesting new information in our content heavy digital world is definitely a challenge. I like to do a data dump immediately after consuming valuable information, meaning I keep a notebook to jot down key takeaways from the books, podcasts, conferences, etc, that I consume. When it comes to applying this new info, you have to try multiple things before you find out what works for you. It’s not possible to implement everything, but by getting exposure to different things, you can make better decisions about what to incorporate in your routine.

2. “As an agency how do you choose the services you provide?” Imtiaz Choudhury

Great question and one I had to learn the hard way. Simply put: Play to your strengths. Provide the services which you are the best at delivering value on, as well as the ones you genuinely enjoy doing. I know it sounds cliche, but prioritize doing what you enjoy, and the referrals and accolades will follow. Let your passion drive you profit.

3. “What should you do about taking opportunities that you aren’t necessarily ready for, but don’t come around very often? — @soundsbyak

My philosophy since I was a teenager hustling mixtapes in middle school has been, “Say yes to everything.” At least initially, you should be taking on as many opportunities to learn as possible. Challenge yourself to learn via trial by fire. Opportunities are rare and when they come you have to snatch them. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, and realize that it’s a privilege to even have that opportunity in the first place.

Most importantly, be ready to make mistakes — we tend to overinflate the impact of making mistakes and the consequences of them. Chances are your mistake(s) will have little impact on your company, and provide you a massive chance to learn and get better for the future.

4. “How do you scale an agency? What happens if you have a 100 new inquiries tomorrow, how are you handling it?”— @clearconcept

The first thing about scale is to have the right people to handle and manage it. I can’t stress this enough: invest in people. If you have 10 people reliable people on your team to field those 100 inquiries, that’s light work. Now, if you only have 2 people, then you’re in for a tough time.

Build a team which can handle the pressure and challenge for when the opportunities come.

5. “How do you pivot from rejection?” Imtiaz Choudhury

Great question! Even when you play all your cards right, in the course of business and entrepreneurship, you’re going to take more losses than wins, so you have to be prepared for rejection.

Here’s the thing about rejection: what are the benefits of dwelling on it? During the time you spend being #sadboyz, there are other people who are outworking you. Also, there’s a chance you might miss a more potent opportunity while you have your head in the sand. You can spend some time reflecting on rejection to see where you can improve, but the most important thing is to get back out in the world as soon as possible.

6. “What is your take on doing side projects as an agency? — Liban Mohamed

Do them! Side projects provide some of the best vehicles to learn about a new subject in more depth. You have to be realistic about how much time you can devote to it, but put a few projects on the stove and see what cooks the best.

7. “How do you treat yourself and live in the midst of the grind? Always interested in the work/play balance.” — Michael Blair

I don’t really believe in the whole idea of work/life/play balance. I subscribe to the idea that things come in waves, and sometimes it’s about locking in for months (or years) to accomplish your goals with minimal time for anything else. I think most people are scared to admit that they have to (temporarily) sacrifice their livelihoods in order to create great things, but that’s the truth for me.

That being said, when it comes to treating yourself, I believe in doing the small things. Whether that’s watching an episode of Narcos to decompress for a bit before you start your night shift, or just taking your weekend mornings just to read and catch up, I’m fiercely protective of time in these instances.

8. “What happens you give to/share for others but then don’t get the support in return?” —@kevitoclark

Honestly, nothing happens. When we give conditionally, expecting something in return, that’s when bad happens to our ego. When you give, don’t expect anything in return. Give unconditionally and through these acts, you will develop a certain reputation and that is always worth it. Then, when it’s your time to ask for something, people will step up and propel you forward.

9. “What’s the one thing you took from music that helped you transition into entrepreneurship?” —@shome504

Probably my favorite question of tonight. Hip hop culture is the most entrepreneurial of any genre out there. I owe everything I’ve built to the spirit and imagination that I learned from hip-hop culture. In terms of what I took from my time as an artist/manager — I learned work ethic, the need to put yourself in positions and not to wait on gatekeepers, and to be obsessed with your product and process, even when the results are slow.

Thank you everyone for tuning in! See you every Monday on Instagram live at 6:30 ET.

The oldest son of an immigrant. | CEO @ Green Room Creative. Investor, hustler, speaker. Connect: @anihustles