The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 7 months ago

Shaahin Cheyene: Create A Mindset To Overcome Anything


Shaahin Cheyene 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 thinkingers in business. Shaahin joins the show to share how car dealers can overcome the various obstacles in their path, from direct-to-consumer car sales to electrification and competiting against big tech.

What we discuss with Shaahin Cheyene: 

  • Shaahin explains the mindset required to take your book of business to the next level. He left home at the age of 15 and took his business to a billion dollars pre-internet.
  • The thing that led Shaahin to success was overcoming adversity after adversity and creating a mindset where you can overcome anything. If you can overcome the most challenging things in your life, you can do anything you want in business.
  • The difference between electric vehicles and petrol-powered vehicles. Shaahin submits that EVs are an appliance rather than being an actual vehicle. Shaahin built one of the first electric Porsche's out there.
  • When you are sleeping, your enemies are planning your demise. We're facing an industry that is being disrupted by an appliance. The automotive industry needs to pick an identify and go all in.
  • Shaahin walks through the 3 steps to solving any probelm. Knowledge, courage and action.  

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Thanks, Shaahin Cheyene!

If you enjoyed this episode with Shaahin Cheyene please let him know by clicking on the links below and sending him a message.

Click here to thank Shaahin Cheyene on Instagram 

...the car business is rapidly changing and modern car dealers are meeting the demand. I'm Michael Cirillo and together we're going to explore what it takes to create a thriving dealership and life in the retail automotive industry join me each week for inspiring conversations with subject matter experts that are designed to help you grow. This is the dealer playbook in this episode, I'm joined by an award winning business mogul, author, filmmaker and founder of the brain nutrition startup, accelerated intelligence. You might have heard of his invention, herbal ecstasy, It's 100% legal. If you're not familiar with it, you should probably go learn about it. Also, this is where I would say, are you living under Iraq? I don't know, I don't know, DPB gang, but maybe that's the case. He is a serial entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience in over 350 million in sales. I'm very excited to introduce you to Shaheen Shan Thanks so much for joining me on the dealer playbook podcast. So good to be on Michael, Thanks for having me on. Well, it goes without saying, but you've had a tremendous career uh and it's still going and it's still skyrocketing and you're doing all these incredible things, but I can only imagine, um you know, as I've consumed your content that it can I use the term, No pun intended, but it's kind of come together organically like none of us are born Going, I have the mindset to be an entrepreneur and build a business that does 350 million in sales things happen over time. So I'm curious what has your journey up to this point been like and are there pivotal moments or ah ha moments where you're like that's gonna help me go to the next level? Yeah totally, so look I chuck a lot of this up to grit And being able to overcome adversity, so you know, I know that you might have heard about my story before, but you know I left home when I was 15, I started my first company and we went from zero to close to a billion dollars, maybe even broke a billion dollars in those days, pre internet and before that the journey that led me to that was one that I write about in my upcoming book billion, how I became king of the throat pill called and we just got a movie deal for it to which I'm super excited about now um but you know the thing that led me to my success was overcoming adversity after adversity and creating a mindset that I could overcome anything because if you can live through some of the hardest moments in your life, there's always an upside, it's what Seth Godin the brilliant marketer talks about in his book the dip in that you know when you start something new, it's always easy but then at a certain point you end up in this dip and you're looking up at this massive mountain now if you can traverse this mountain, if you can climb this hill and do all that hard work at a certain point you will plateau and then your journey will be downhill. But until you get there there is a price to be paid for anybody in any industry. And that's really you know what happened to me? I was I left home from 15 15. Uh Iranian immigrants came here from Iran basically left everything behind, cut all contacts with everybody. And I was sleeping in abandoned buildings. I realized in those days that the realtors have these things called lock boxes where they had keys. This was pre internet era. So you could get the codes to that and L. A.

Was in a building boom. So you could go crash or you, I don't think anyone else did, but I did, you could go crash inside these luxury apartments that were under construction as long as I cleaned up and was out by the time the brokers got in I was good and so I was doing that. I was sleeping in abandoned cars. You know, I had the pages of think and grow rich pasted to the to the top of the trunk, reading them with a flashlight, thinking to myself, man, I gotta figure out a way to make money. And I got into the electronic music scene, the rave scene at that time and I managed to somehow invent this pill and I tell the story about it. You know, I know we've got a limited amount of time, so I won't go fully into it, but I managed to get a girlfriend, I managed to figure out how to create an alternative to the biggest drug in that time, which was called ecstasy. I managed to convince her that when her dad was out to let me cook it up in the kitchen. Now this was all herbs, natural ingredients, we weren't doing anything to list it. And I got the courage to walk up to one of the biggest drug dealers at the time and the electronic music scene and convince him sell him influence him on selling my product instead of real drugs. And he reluctantly did and the pivot point was when I when I did that, I had those pills in my bag, I had no money, I spent every last cent in the world I didn't even have enough to eat on making these pills and I was convinced that I was going to make my mark and I walked up, wouldn't take no for an answer from this like legit drug dealer the moment I was doing that, trying to get him to sell my pills instead of real drugs and him saying no, I me thinking I'm going to get killed by this guy, A couple people walked up, he was out of supply, I was at the right time at the right place, he said fuck it, let me let me you know, let me let me try this. He sold it came back A couple hours later the entire club was bouncing up and down. They had all taken my pills and he looked at me and I was like, this was the stupidest idea of where I am an idiot, I am so sorry. And he said kid, when can you get me more, wow! And that was it. It went from 11 guy, 200 guys to 1000 guys to 10,000 guys. A lot of these drug dealers became legitimate, they legitimized themselves and they became big distributors for my product. We started selling an urban outfitters, warehouse and Tower Records. Sex stores larry flynt started buying tons and pumping it through this thing, Penthouse magazine, Playboy magazine, we were selling everywhere and then we were a festivals and I walked into my office one day and now remember six months before sleeping in abandoned buildings And I had 200 employees and at this time I had a lot of hustle Michael. So I wasn't sleeping too much, you know, maybe a couple hours, I would sleep on the factory floor, I would sleep in the office floor, you know, wherever I could lay my head and then I would get up and I would go to work and I was exhausted and my hair was long and scraggly and I walked into the office and the news broke that we had broken a billion dollars in revenue, pre internet, pre covid pre cell phones, pre facebook, pre all that stuff and I thought to myself, holy shit, I don't know how much a billion dollars is and I had this huge panic moment where like this huge Sam Donaldson was in a limo on his way to my office, the great reporter Sam Donaldson on Nightline was there, Montel Williams had sent me tickets to fly out to new york. I was doing a big photo shoot for details magazine with David LaChapelle. You know, it was, it was, it was a huge, insane time for me and my level of sophistication was, you know, people, the guy, one of the top guys at bear stearns want to take my company public and my level of sophistication was such that I didn't even know how much money the money that I had was right and from there it became an insane wild ride and we write, I write about it in my book, I'll get you a copy for sure. But you know, we had run ins with mob runners...

...with the Yakuza, the government, which was worse than all of them. And it led to quite an interesting journey. All I can think about is because I can only imagine what these run ins, we're like you've just now disrupted you are the disruptor potentially. I mean for those that don't want to change their ways, you're the disrupter to the drug scene where there's gazillions of dollars being being distributed. Um, and you don't, you know, I'm anticipating, you don't know what, you don't know as, as you said, your sophistication level as such, you're kind of in, you know, you're on the peak of what is it, the dunning Kruger effect, the peak amount stupid. Um, and then I think about what we're facing in the automotive industry today. There are big tech incumbents that are coming in that are going to potentially, there's been some disruptive innovation there shifting the way people are buying cars and they're trying to bring things online And that's disrupting the way that a local car dealer might do things. But I've always tended to think, hey, there's an opportunity here. There's an opportunity because you can meet the demand where it is and you don't have to just lay down and die. And I'm just picturing you in these moments, there's, there must have been some lay down and die. Give up. This is going to get too hard moments even though you had the hustle in the grid. But what was it about your mindset? Like what, where did your mind have to be in order to continued as you've said, traverse the mountain. So that's interesting. I think it's all about mindset and coming to the United States is an immigrant from Iran, my mindset was one that, you know, in Iran five years old, I would leave the house, I'd have a little gang, we'd be running with, we'd hang out. You know, I was top of the heat came to this country and I was third class citizen. It was during the Iran contra, I was getting my ass kicked every day and I very quickly learned my quote unquote place and that lead to me going, man, you know, like God, things got to get better than this. And then my family ended up buying a house in a up and coming area that wasn't affluent when they bought, but right after they bought it shot up like crazy and reaganomics and trickle down economics, all that stuff, the values of properties went up and very wealthy people started moving in. Why am I telling you this? Well, the reason why I'm telling you this is because as a child, as a 13 year old, my, you know, my, my folks, their highest expectation of me, their highest hope was that I would become a doctor. It would be like Shannon will become a doctor. It will be the greatest thing in the world. That was the pinnacle of success for my dad as far as he could see for me, I would look out the window and I see the dude that's a doctor and I'd be like man that that fool is selling his hours for money and the bank owns his house, the bank owns the car, the bank might own his wife, I don't want that life. I want a different life. I want the life of the guy down the street who just built that huge mansion who's got five Portia's and seven beautiful girls and you know he's he's living the life. I want that, I want the yacht life. But there was no path to it. In fact the path that the chips were stacked well against me. So I had to find a path and what that makes you do. It's what walter. IsaAcson in his book about steve jobs, he writes about it and steve jobs also you know coming from an immigrant family was adopted. I believe Lebanese but is this is and and the reason I'm saying this is because there is something to coming from a third world country. Something not that steve jobs did but something from having that in your D. N. A. That I think can really shift the way you think about things. And I thought man I want all that stuff. And so it was what walter IsaAcson calls the reality distortion field. I think that's the point I was getting at was that steve jobs created...

...this thing where he would walk into a room and go, hey guys um I know it's just 1995 but I want a phone, I don't want any buttons. I wanted to work on our operating system and the engineers will be like okay this is cool, we're talking 10 years, 15 years maybe like very funny Wednesday afternoon, let's go. And These guys who were planning on doing this 10 years down the line would just be floored. But somehow by hook or by Crook they would figure it out and we all know, you know what happened during, you know the Big Steve jobs, early release for the, for the iPhone where the thing bombed on TV but it didn't matter. It's the reality distortion field. It's the same thing that Elon musk has when he's got his bulletproof truck and he's showing it when he throws a rock and it breaks the window. It doesn't fucking matter. Now, as far as the automotive industry goes, I'm a huge fan of cars and now I am a petrol guy through and through gasoline. I like a clutch. I like, I like to feel part of my car. I feel when, when I buy a car, I feel I am transported into the world of the designer, the engineers. I'm into the diamond stitching and I like the Porsche, supple leather compared to the other leathers and the way the car sounds and the exhaust and it's, it's a visceral experience for me now I was an early adopter to an electric cars. I built one of the first electric Portia's interestingly enough because I like electric cars. I like that concept and you were talking about disruption in the market and it's really interesting because one of my favorite quotes, I'll tell you this is when you are sleeping, your enemies are planning your demise and I, I used that quote my book several times. I think it's a very effective one and I feel like that's happening now. Not to say, I don't think the big four are sleeping at all. Not anymore. I think they were, I don't think electric cars should be categorized in the same category as cars. I think there are an appliance when you drive a Tesla, that thing is so scary, fast and so perfect and so smooth. You go into the compartment but what it lacks in my opinion, I'm probably gonna get hate mail. A lot of people hate me for this but it lacks soul, it lacks the soul of having that clutch, it lacks that imperfection that comes from years of like fucked up engineering from like italian guys and Germany to do that are like, you know, they're, they're, they're greasing the things, these are appliances made by tech companies that are perfect at doing what they do, They are surgical. Their speed is, you know, uncomfortable. So what you're facing now is an industry that is facing a crisis and being disrupted, buy an appliance and I think that separation has to be made. They have to pick a fucking identity and go with it now they can go both ways like GM is doing, you know, making outstanding electric cars. Some people might argue too late. I don't think so. I think they're making spectacular cars. You know, I was one of the first guys to get, I got one of the first bolts off the production line and that thing is, it's amazing. But to me it is not a car, it is an appliance. So if they were to separate that with their cars, I think that they're crisis would be much more defined and then they could, they could, they could act on it. We always talk about these three steps that can solve any problem that my friend Wayne boss always credit him with this is knowledge, courage and action. When you're faced with any kind of a problem or situation, the first thing you need to do is have knowledge, how do you get knowledge? You can buy it, you can rent it, you can borrow it, you can steal it, that may be better not to steal it, but you can get it right, you can rent it, you can hire it, get knowledge anywhere. Once you have that knowledge, that knowledge gives you courage because now we have the information, we know what we need to do. If I told you, hey man, go start a business, you'd be like,...

...okay, there's some risk. I don't know whatever I'd be like, hey, start a business and you've got 80% chance of making 50 million bucks a year, you'd be all over it because you had that knowledge, it gives you courage and the third step is action, you got to take action so and it's in, in those, in that specific order knowledge, courage, Action is what we talk about in your experience, because I know you collect vehicles, um, I'm guessing you've had a lot of experience inside dealerships over the years based on, based on what you've experienced and based on what you've just said, which I think is you are, you are the only person, I feel like we need a live studio audience to just give us a round of applause. Here you are the first person who has ever suggested a distinction between electric vehicles and petrol powered vehicles. And I've never even thought of it to the like just how you were explaining this as an appliance? I've never thought of it that way. I've, I've admittedly only ever thought of EVs as this is the next thing, this is where people are going, you better go invest in a motorcycle dealership because I know one thing for sure as a motorcycle rider, I always want to crank the throttle, I don't want to self righting motorcycle, I don't want, you know, but in your experience over the years now collecting purchasing vehicles, the dealership experience all those sorts of things in accordance to what you just said, the three steps to solving any problem, would a dealerships need to change or shift in your opinion, salesmanship is dead. I know car salesmen are gonna hate me, but every time and I love walking onto lots and looking at cars and I like to negotiate. So I enjoy walking onto lots and just hearing dude sales pitch. This is one thing I will tell you the guys who sell the most cars and this is gonna be a shocking statistic for some of you guys don't know shit about cars, selling cars has nothing to do with cars, selling cars has to do with people. What are the two biggest purchases that people make in their entire lives, their home and their car? Both things that are heavily charged with emotion. When a guy walks onto a lot, he's not thinking I'd like to get in a hunk of metal that's gonna take me from point A to point B. He is thinking of all things but that he is feeling an emotion. He wants an emotional connection to the car. Now the dealer comes up, can I help you out sir? You've already lost the fucking game. We've and we've gotten further and further from that now with the internet and zoom and and all the people, salesmen are just too used to the order coming in, you know, online, the sales order coming in and then sending it to their internet sales guy and you know, like talking to the guy about the features and details of the car. No one gives a shit about that. The guys that sell cars. And I remember reading this article, that's NPR article about this dealership in New Jersey and they did this, it was uh, they also had a radio podcast to go along with, it was fantastic and they actually followed this dealership and the dude, I think his name was Vinny, his name was actually Vinnie, the guy that sold the most cars like, and they asked him like, do you know if this is like a V eight hemi or a v A this or he didn't know shit, he didn't know any of that and he was crushing the other salespeople, why? Because he knew people, he couldn't get that information, All those details and stuff you could get right and it's good if you are in an industry, if you're selling Corvettes that you know everything about them are as much about them as possible. But at the end of the..., the core elements of influence don't change. If you're doing what I do, I train people how to make money on amazon every day. I've got an amazon course. So I teach them how to create influence on amazon and I coach people all the time, People who have coaching programs. Uh, young start up entrepreneurs, VCS bring me companies to help coach them sales is one of the most critical, one of the most essential skills that you could have and to master sales, you have to become an influencer of people first and foremost, you gotta put yourself beneath that person. If you're coming at somebody with that shiny suit greased up hair kind of like, hey buddy, I'm gonna make you a great deal. You've already lost the sale, the sale is made in the pre suasion, the sale is made by you being an authentic, genuine person and getting to know other people most of the time people will buy from you just because they like you, if somebody is on a lot already looking at a car, you know, unless they're kicking tires, they've probably somewhere in their decision making process, They've already been persuaded that they're going to buy the car and what I see happening over and over and over again is car dealers talking people out of the sail their, their sales process goes backwards. So sales starts with pre suasion as, as Calderoni talks about Professor Calvin in his book influence and his follow up book, pre suasion both fantastic. If you're a salesperson, if you're dealing in cars, selling cars, anything in business, you need to read Kalderans books, I've got no affiliation with Professor Cardini, but his books really are our revolutionary. Um, and he talks about the fact that most sales happen before the guy even walks onto your lot before the person even visits your website, that sale is done. So let's focus on that we can have so much more impact then and then instead you can just focus on being less of an asshole when somebody walks onto the lobby, a real person, like just fucking talk to that person and just be a human being and stop trying to think of like meeting your quota or making the sale. That's all bullshit and they know and people can smell it. Yeah, oh, it's the last day of the month, we're in the last week of the month. We gotta, you know, we got to get those deals going, we've got to get those deals on this resonates with me um Shaheen because it's something that we believe so deeply in, not just in my business, but also here on the podcast. It's one of the reasons why we produce this show because we want to reach as many professionals in the auto industry as possible to get what you just said across and I go, you know, how many more people do we need to say? Something similar to what you just said, putting yourself below the person service senior to selling um the power of pre suasion. The fact that customers today are more educated, walking onto the lot than they've ever been in the history of our planet, because you can get all the information you need already and I love specifically what you're saying about being an authentic, genuine person. This is like the thing that there's no tactic on, like I can't be like here are three steps to becoming more authentic. It's like, you know, it's it's that thing, do you have a desire to serve and be a good person and to do what's right? Even if that doing that right thing is not the popular opinion. Like there's just so many elements into it. I've experienced what you've just said in my own career so I can, I can add my, my testimony if you will to what you're saying for those listening. My team has witnessed quote unquote sales calls where we didn't even talk about what we were going to do and the deal closes and they go, wait, did you just close a deal by saying I want your kids to feel comfortable enough calling you uncle mike. Like what, how does that? And I think it's, you know, it's what you're...

...saying. It's it's that you know, it's being an alignment with that individual. Understanding them showing empathy, being authentic, doing what's right for them. The sales already happened. People aren't dumb. People know what they want. So how did where did you make that connection? And you've mentioned some books here by Professor Cardini. Um, along the way, how did you make these connections or what did you do to, to master this art of sales or pre suasion or being a good person as I like to say, I think everything is sales. I had a mentor when I first started off and he took me out and he showed me, he's like, look, yeah, I know you don't have any money now kid, but look around you and I looked and I was like what? I don't see anything actually benches, cars, houses like what are you talking about? And he's like everything you see around you has been sold from one person to the next. I said okay, he's like master that, master how a human influences another human to do something and you've mastered life, you'll never be hungry again, you'll never be broke again. And that's what I did. I started learning about the great salespeople do, how how do you become a salesperson? You american culture is something that stigmatized. So when we think about sales people immediately resistance goes up right and a lot of people come at it with a different perspective. Eastern perspective is very different. I'm a big fan of Alan Watts. I don't know if you've if you've heard of Alan Watson, great philosopher and he talks a lot about the difference between east and west and just like you were saying a lot of the times, especially in the situation that you just demonstrated the sale was made before you even got on the phone. That was just a formality. The fact that you were on the phone talking to these folks is just a formality. They had already decided to buy from you and that's exactly what we're talking about here. You know, for me that was the big shift was having a mentor who had succeeded and me trying to emulate him and learned from him and understand the importance of influence and all influences of sales. I teach that on amazon now, what we learned from Jeff Bezos and from creating products on the amazon platform, is that now we can compete with these big companies. I've got students all the time in this course that I teach to make 50 100 150 grand a month Selling on Amazon when they started from zero and they do it because they're competing with these mega companies, these massive brands and they can do it successfully on amazon why? Because they know how to tell a better story, they know how to tell that story in a way that convert on that platform. If you're doing face to face sales, it's a different form of influence. But the pillars are the same. The foundation of that influence is the same. An influence is everything. You're blowing my mind. I love this conversation. I wish I went back to my long find, I think I need to do another one with you back but we're gonna go like joe Rogan length somehow or four hours. Tell me a little bit, just in closing here about the book, I see in front of you billion, how I became king of the thrill kill cult. You said it's coming out, you've certainly talked about some of the concepts from the book, but I'd love to, love to hear more. Yeah. So guys don't wait for the film to come out. That's going to be a couple years. I'm told it takes a couple years for that kind of stuff to happen. But the book will be out as we speak. It's being released. So in the next few days, by the time you're probably listening to this podcast, the book will be released. It's called billion How he became king of the thrill kill cult. And you can get the first chapter for free on Spotify, google podcast, apple podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, we have a podcast called Hack and grow rich. Make sure to like and subscribe to our podcast as well. And if anybody's interested in selling on amazon for people of your podcast um I would like to offer my one hour amazon mastery...

...course, Normally 200 bucks. Absolutely for free. Just reach out to me on FB a seller course dot com. Or go to Shaheen Shan dot com. I'm sure we'll include it in the show notes and click on course. Reach out to me, email me if I can help inspire you on your journey and impact your life in any way I remain at your service. Amazing. Shaheen Thanks so much for joining me on the dealer Playbook podcast. Yeah, honor to be on. Thank you so much. Yeah. Mm Yeah, I'm Michel Cirillo and you've been listening to the dealer Playbook podcast. If you haven't yet, please click the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now. Leave a rating or review and share it with a colleague. Thanks for listening. Yeah. Mhm. Mhm.

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