On this week's podcast, Marcus sat down with Mamun Siddiq. From Bangladesh to Mobile, AL, Mamun quickly owned his hardships and inspired others on his way to ownership. This podcast is so motivating you might not even need coffee to get through your day!
Mamun: My name is Mamun Siddiq and I'm with Re/Max partners. I'm a realtor.
Marcus: Very good Mamun. Well, it's wonderful to have you here today. I know we were introduced by Ron Sivak from Lagniappe and he felt so compelled by your story that he wanted me to sit down with you and after we sat down I understand why so I'm excited to share your story with our listeners. Thank you for being here.
Mamun: You are most welcome.
Marcus: Yeah. Well, why don't we start with that story. Why don't you tell us where you're from. How you got here. Where you went to college. All the kind of back story of who Mamun is.
Mamun: Yes. I'm originally from Bangladesh. I came as a student to USA, University of South Alabama. When I came to the University of South Alabama and at that time there's not to many place you can get a job and plus you go to school. I started working in Pizza Hut and at that time I could not speak very good English. They hired me as a dishwasher and one day I became a store manager.
Mamun: Then it was around three years period of time. I was 2003, Pizza Hut had a competition all over the United States. It's called Champs Program. I was number one Champs in the entire United States at Pizza Hut and there was 13 thousand Pizza Hut. The mayor was Mike Dow at that time and he give me a recognition and also the Pizza Hut corporation I was recognized by them with Dallas, Texas.
Marcus: The additional to that story is not that that particular Pizza Hut was one of the worst.
Mamun: Yes. That Pizza Hut-
Marcus: You managed to turn it around.
Mamun: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That Pizza Hut was suppose to be shut down within six months. The time they transferred me over there as a manager, but I took that job as just like a regular job. I turned that Pizza Hut working hard and luckily I got a great team, people working with me. We become number one in the whole country.
Marcus: That's wild. So go back, you grew up in Bangladesh. Give people an idea of what's that like. I mean, it's obviously, how old were you when you arrived in the United States?
Marcus: You were right about college age for what somebody even here in the states would be, but up to 24 years old you were growing up in Bangladesh. That has to be a vastly different experience than arriving in lower Alabama.
Mamun: You are absolutely right. Challenge we see in Bangladesh and challenge we see over here and I see this is more opportunity in this country. I took the opportunity and tried to become like nowadays as American. How to take the opportunity and make and build the American dream.
Marcus: Yeah. It's amazing to me when I talk to immigrants because my father is an immigrant and very much tried to, he was always in sales and management positions and always striving to do as well as he possible could. You made a comment when we were sitting together before of you just whatever it was, whether it was the dish washing or the managing the Pizza Hut or, and we're gonna get into a little bit about what you're doing now, that it was always your mindset to be the best that you could possibly be.
Mamun: Yes. I remember when I was washing the dishes, my supervisor told me you are the best dishwasher I ever have. So, I did my best. When he told me do you want to cook? I started cooking and then he came by and said you're the best cook I ever have. What I did, I tried to put my hundred percent effort to try to be the best one.
Marcus: Yeah. It's that good immigrant mentality.
Mamun: Oh thank you.
Marcus: I mean, it's in all sincerity because I think people that come here from other countries have a very keen awareness of the opportunity that they've been given and I think some of us that have been here for a while, no offense to majority of our audience, but we forget just what we have and we don't strive to be the best in whatever it is that we're doing.
Mamun: Every day I see the opportunities over here and I use all my opportunity whenever I can to bring success in life.
Marcus: Yeah. Now what was, not here in the states, but what was your very first job?
Mamun: I came when I was ... came to the Mobile and I don't have enough money to pay my tuition fee or anything, then I had to go to New York and I was working in New York in a gift store. I stayed there for one year and that was my first job in the Korean Gift Store and I learned a lot of good things from there. I basically called this like a boot camp to me as a job because sometimes I had to work like 17, 18 hours a shift.
Marcus: Not easy.
Mamun: Not easy, but you just have to do it.
Marcus: Yeah. So you didn't have any jobs when you were in Bangladesh at the time?
Mamun: No. I never have a job. I just have the challenge.
Marcus: Growing up in a country like that I can imagine as rife with challenges. Now what, I mean besides the long hours, were there any lessons that you remember from that first job in New York. I often times, and I'll give you some background, I often times find that when people look back to their first jobs that there's something that they learned about how you have to show up and do the work. Like I am often, and people are getting tired of hearing me say this, but I often give the example of I learned that there's a right way to do things because there was a right way to mop the floor. There was a right way to wash the dishes. Is there anything that you remember from your first job?
Mamun: My first job is when you're working with Korean and they are immigrant also too. So you got to do like even when you are eating you are working to. So I just think how to use your time. Make sure a hundred percent time being used while you are working. It does not matter if you are eating, it does not matter anything else, but you are working the time you are on the clock.
Marcus: Yeah. That's really good. Now you are a Re max agent, right?
Mamun: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marcus: Do you have your brokers license to?
Mamun: No I do not have that myself.
Marcus: Just considered an agent. How did you get started because I mean going from, and actually go back. What did you study at South?
Mamun: Business administration.
Marcus: Okay. That makes sense going into real estate then. So how did you get started in real estate?
Mamun: Well, when I get awarded by Mike Dow, the mayor of Mobile and then I was awarded by the Pizza Hut corporation nation-wide and we have a realtor that used to come to Pizza Hut. Their name is Angie and Robbie. Mr. Robbie, he died. Mr. Robbie he basically came to me and asking me one day, "What are you doing in Pizza Hut?" I said, "I'm working." He said, "No. You need to come to see me." Mr. Robbie he basically guide me how to both become a Pizza Hut manager to become a realtor. Believe it or not, a lot of time, 60 hour class which is before you take the test to get your license. It almost take one and a half year to finish it because sometime employee don't show up so I had to leave my class to cover the shift.
Mamun: So Mr. Robbie he basically brought me in real estate. I don't know anything about real estate, but he's the man who brought it.
Marcus: Now it's really cool he saw something in you and wanted to give you that opportunity as well.
Mamun: I took that opportunity, yes.
Marcus: Wow. To have that handed to you. Do you remember the first time that you made a sale in real estate and you thought maybe there's something to this? Because I mean checks in real estate don't come often, but when they do come they usually have a couple of zeros behind them so I can imagine.
Mamun: It is a lot of hard work over there and then when I see the sales I compare what the opportunity I was working in at Pizza Hut and what is my sales team. Then I took the opportunity that I want to be full-time in real estate.
Marcus: Real estate isn't an easy business I'm keenly aware because my wife is a realtor so I know that there's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. I'm impressed. You say it took you a year and a half because you were having to leave and cover peoples' shifts and stuff like that, but let's keep in mind you didn't know English that well and when you go to take your real estate exam a lot of that is legal documentation about contracts and fulfilling agreements and stuff like that. I mean, that had to be a challenge.
Mamun: It is a challenge, but as a human, as a challenger, as a person I always believe that the bigger the challenge, the bigger the effort.
Mamun: So my effort is bigger than my challenge. So I overcome the challenge.
Marcus: That's very cool. Now if you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in learning their own business because I do view realtors as business owners. They're solopreneurs. If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?
Mamun: I will tell the person do your best. Whatever you do, even you cut the grass, do the best. If you give a commitment, do the best. This is what learned is ultimately you need to give whatever you have.
Marcus: No holds barred, right?
Mamun: No holds barred.
Marcus: Yeah. Now were you currently working on anything interesting that you're trying to accomplish or any achievements that you're trying to make with your RE/Max because I know you've been quite successful as a real estate agent? Why don't you kind of brag on yourself a little bit.
Mamun: Well, it's not a bragging in life. It's just that doing the job. Right now I want to do some development project in like how is eastern shore right now. They have a lot of development going on like subdivision here, there and so I want to work with developer and so we can see the Mobile, also they can grow and we can attract more quality people to live in mobile instead of go to Baldwin county.
Marcus: As a Baldwin county resident I can understand why you would say that, but we like people living over on the eastern shore too. Although I will say traffic has gotten absolutely ridiculous over there lately so ... that's interesting. So if someone was to ask you what your day as a realtor typically looks like, what does a typical day look like for you?
Mamun: Basically you wake up in the morning and you put yourself or what the job you need to do. Are you going to list something or you going to sell something? Then you just have to be put yourself on the map and say, "Hey. Listen. This is what my direction will be today."
Marcus: Is there anything you do in the morning mentally just to kind of flip that switch and turn it on?
Mamun: I run one mile.
Marcus: Run one mile. That's great!
Mamun: Yes, it's help you a lot to put your brain together, put your thinking together.
Marcus: It's funny how physical exertion, I don't do mine in the morning but even in the evening, physical exertion has a way of taking your focus from a very obtuse into a very narrow field of vision and get you kind of laser guided on that, right? It's interesting that yo start your day that way. If you were to look to the business world, is there a person that motivates you? Is there somebody that you look to and say that person's really kind of achieved something. I want to get to where that person is?
Mamun: In today's Mobile life, I always try to follow Coach Mike Godfrey [team focus 00:13:22] and coach does a lot of different thing for the kids. A lot of stuff and then being an Alabama fan I always follow Nick Saban. Nick Saban it is something he does different than other people. Other wise Alabama can not be champion.
Marcus: We just lost half our audience by the way. We're evil. I agree. I mean, I think there's been a lot of new lately about Saban and whether he's a good coach or whatever, but I mean you can't look at that team and not think that there's something there. Whether it's the recruiting aspect of it or the decision making during the game or whatever, as a leader, if you just look at him as a leader, don't look at him as whether you're a fan of Alabama or Auburn or LSU, but if you just look at him as a leader there's definitely something there. If you start to pull that apart, if you start to pick it apart and just look at how he operates, it's pretty impressive.
Mamun: It's different.
Marcus: Yeah. It's absolutely different and I just think that's cool that you think along those lines. That's somebody that "hey, he's achieved some stuff." What do you see specifically that you kind of want to mimic or you want to bring into your own world?
Mamun: I always say he's a fighter. He always want to overcome all the challenges. He always see that he can make the difference, so I try my best. It doesn't matter where I am. It doesn't matter what I do, I think I can make the difference.
Marcus: No matter what kind of diversity ...
Marcus: Are there any books, podcasts, people or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward? You mentioned the gentleman that brought you into RE/Max, but outside of that.
Mamun: Mobile Chamber of Commerce is a big time. I was serving as ambassador and I was ambassador of the year. It was 2009.
Marcus: So what you're telling me is your an underachiever, right?
Mamun: Well, not underachiever.
Marcus: Everything he does he excels at.
Mamun: It is just the way life is, you know, you try your best whatever you do and whatever your intention is you do the best.
Marcus: I love that word. Intention, right? Because really that's what it's about.
Marcus: If you set your intention on something, if you set your mind on something then that is what you will achieve.
Mamun: Yes. You are right.
Marcus: Very much so. You mentioned the Mobile Chamber. Is there anybody or anything else? Any books that you've read or any other people that have been influential in your life that have helped move you forward?
Mamun: My mom. My mom always use to tell me that some people are born with a gold spoon, some people did not, but it doesn't mean that you can not have the gold spoon. You can.
Marcus: Yeah. Is she here now?
Mamun: She's not. She is in Bangladesh, but sometime she visits over here.
Marcus: I can imagine she's extremely proud of the opportunity and how you seized it.
Mamun: Well she always said that doing good, you're trying your best.
Marcus: The immigrant mom: "Yeah, well you're doing okay." It's like come on mom, give me some credit.
Mamun: Yeah. But as the immigrant mom, they always think that you're son will be... way higher.
Marcus: The expectations are way up here.
Mamun: Either your son will be a doctor or an engineer.
Marcus: Or a lawyer.
Mamun: Or a lawyer. They always look that way, but unfortunately I could not be a doctor or an engineer, but I'm a real estate doctor.
Marcus: That's a good way of looking at it. Now what's the most important thing you've learned about running a business?
Mamun: The most important thing that when a client like I give you one example. When I was in Pizza Hut I see someone call you like it doesn't matter what time in the morning or they call you they ask you what time do you open? My message was to my client that what time do you want me to open for you? That basically changed the day for the client. The person who call you, he think different way about you also. Same way when the client that use to call at night and they use to ask hey what time do you close? My answer was not a specific time. I use to give the time that what time do you want to me to close for you? So that is basically giving impression about a person and the person who call you. They think about you that you are not a regular person. You are different. You want to make the difference and they will help you.
Marcus: Where does that come from?
Marcus: Because not everybody, you understand, not everybody has that mentality.
Mamun: Well, I will just always want to do something different in my life and I always use to think about that how I can attract my buyer or my client and what to expect like when even I was serving in the buffet, I use to go to my customer and I use to ask them, what do you want, what do you like to eat that we don't have in the menu in the buffet that I think I can make for you? That's basically, I give the message to your client what exactly they are looking for and fulfill their needs.
Marcus: It's a sure fire way to win people over, right?
Marcus: To let them know that you actually are taking care of their needs. I worked at Lowe's Home Centers back when I think Lowe's actually gave a shit. I apologize for the language, but I'm just frustrated with and we're currently in a building project so when I listen to this 20 years from now I'll understand why I said that. We're currently in a building project and every time I go to Lowe's or Home Depot now it's just the service is poor. They're thinking more about the bottom line instead of actually about taking care of their client, a clients needs. It's showing and instead of cutting costs they should be trying to provide the best service that they possibly can. Anyway, I remember we we're told you don't point to an isle and tell somebody it's on aisle 17. You say I would be happy to show you where that is. You don't just walk away from them if they're needing to load their cart. You actually help them and put it in their cart. It was all the small things because you wanted people to know that you care and that if they come to the store that they're gonna be taken care of. I just, I love that you still carry on that customer service oriented attitude because it's missing in today's society.
Mamun: You are absolutely right.
Marcus: I applaud you for that.
Mamun: I always look for what exactly the person looking for. What exactly the demand of the person. That's what I always try to do intention of that person.
Marcus: Now how do you like to unwind? What do you do to relax?
Mamun: Well, the relaxing is the family time. I have a son. I enjoy it with my son. I enjoy going to the beach and I enjoy sometime go to the woods.
Marcus: Yeah. Go for a walk or something like that.
Marcus: That's good and clear your mind. Now tell people where they can find you?
Mamun: Well, they can look my website, Mamunteam.com or they can call me 251-391-2047.
Marcus: Very good.
Marcus: Very good. And you are mostly a residential?
Mamun: I do both the residential, commercial because I keep it both simultaneously and both is doing very well.
Marcus: Is there a specific area that you would call yourself an expert in as far as location, geography?
Mamun: I do West Mobile and Semmes area which I heavily are involved in the two part of that area and then commercial wise I do more gas station than anybody else in Mobile and Baldwin county. Somehow I do it very well.
Marcus: Now that's very cool. Now I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?
Mamun: I will and just want to tell you thank you so much all the hard work you do and you will going to give the message for other people, for the community and people need to know that what different people is different things they are doing in our culture, in our society. Being me as a person I was thinking to tell like being a Mobilian or being Alabamian, we love this country and we are here for the purpose and will be here until we die.
Marcus: Yep. I do want to address that. I think it's wonderful that what we're seeing now in Mobile is we're seeing an influx of people that are from outside of the Mobile area. We're seeing a lot of immigrants come into the area and I think we as Mobilians need to embrace and I guess it's kind of a biased things because I'm not a native Mobilian. I moved here from outside of the area. I think we need to embrace those people because there's a lot to learn from other cultures.
Marcus: By culture I don't just mean Bangladeshie. I mean also just I'm from Norther Virginia. I am very different than your native Mobilian. So I think there's a lot to be learned, but I think that also as we start to see these people come in and we embrace them, that there's something that's going to happen in Mobile that there's going to be an uprising of this entrepreneurial business community of people like you that are gonna kind of raise up and it's gonna change the way that Mobile operates.
Marcus: That's why we do this podcast.
Mamun: Thank you and I want to also let you know that Mobile have a great future and a lot of thing happening in Mobile and I'm very optimistic about the Mobile gonna grow and grow and grow.
Mamun: We'll have more people gonna come over here and our living standard will be much, much better.
Marcus: Yeah. Well, Mamun I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you man.
Mamun: It is my pleasure that you invite me to come and to share my life.
Marcus: Awesome. Thank you.
Mamun: Thank you.