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Maziar Adl of Gocious: “Connect and understand people around you”

Connect and understand people around you. The U.S. is built on diversity. That means we need to study and understand each other’s culture. Walk in other people’s shoes and see things from the other side. Then we can build things together that are new and original. The chemistry is amazing. I take the time to […]

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Connect and understand people around you. The U.S. is built on diversity. That means we need to study and understand each other’s culture. Walk in other people’s shoes and see things from the other side. Then we can build things together that are new and original. The chemistry is amazing. I take the time to understand people’s backgrounds, their history, culture, and interests. Whether you are from Mexico, India, New York or Kentucky, I’m genuinely interested in your history, your food, your drinks, and your celebrations. It has been a great way for me to get to know people and have something to connect. When I talk about my traditions, sometimes people become engaged in my culture and want to participate in my cultural traditions. We celebrate Christmas and Persian New Year in our house and in both cases; we have Christians and non-Christians from every background celebrating it with us.


Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.

As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maziar Adl. He is the Co-founder and CTO of Gocious, a product planning software for manufacturers that empowers better product innovation for industries that include auto/mobility, industrial equipment, and high tech, where he oversees end to end design, implementation, and development of products. A strategic leader with a record for spearheading the successful design and rollout of medium to large scale technology roadmaps and transformation, Maziar has played a pivotal role in the creation of Gocious’ cloud-based product decision analytics platform since he co-founded the company in 2018. Throughout his career, Maziar has become renowned as an expert in improving long terms performance strategies of organizations and teams using better, accessible, and timely information and analytics.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born and raised in a relatively well-to-do family in Iran. My father came from a very well-known family of lawmakers, and doctors. My mom came from mainly a military family. I attended a British / Iranian school until 1979 when the Islamic Revolution took place and the new government took over. Then almost overnight, we lost everything, our friends and family had to go to hiding, lost their jobs, and some, their lives. I was around 9 years old then. But, we survived.

Looking back, that was a huge blessing in itself. Even though the family that met every Friday for lunch now was scattered around the world as most of my family fled the country. Thankfully no one lost their life. From that age, I was determined to be independent. I believed that hard work and studying will eventually get me there.

Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?

It was a gradual process. I came from a family of patriots. We believe in the greatness of Iran as a country and come from people with a long history of contributing to civilization despite going through many struggles. So immigrating and becoming a citizen of another country was very hard. I always wanted to complete my studies in the U.S. because of the quality of education and the entrepreneurial/capitalistic mindset of the country. However, I had plans to either go back to Europe where most of my family had immigrated, and a part of me was actually thinking of going back to Iran. But, once I completed my studies a few events made me change my mind.

First, in the U.S. once you complete your higher education you get a one-year work permit in the field of your study. I got a job in a small IT consulting firm that gave me the chance to develop a brand new product from scratch. Just like that out of college, I was able to do what I loved, buy a car on a loan and rent a relatively nice one bedroom apartment.

Second, I was living in California, and I loved nature and camping. I kept going up and down the coast and sometimes to the border of Canada (couldn’t cross since I needed a visa!). I just fell in love with the beauty of the land. Eventually, I started learning “American Culture” and it started growing on me.

I applied for a work permit as I thought I would live for another 3 years to see how things go. During that time, I got a job in KPMG and that is where I met my wife, Soheila. That was it! She was not going to move anywhere and I knew my life is where she is!

Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?

I wanted to graduate from a university in the U.S. So, after I completed my undergraduate program, and served in the Iranian army as part of the mandatory conscription, I applied to U.S. universities. Most of my family after the revolution migrated to France and the UK so I traveled to France and stayed with my uncle in Paris to complete my GMAT and Toefl. Once all was completed, I was accepted to the University of Southern California. I had an uncle that lived in Los Angeles at the time and he mentioned that I could stay with him. That was perfect as I only had around 5,000 dollars or so in my pocket! My time at USC was very expensive so I needed a sponsor and a job real fast. We had a family friend in Fresno that went back two generations. They lent me their support and provided me with the sponsorship I needed. I studied at the Marshal School of Management but my undergraduate degree was in Industrial Engineering. One of the professors in the USC IE department was Iranian and used to teach in my undergrad university. We met and he offered me a job on campus with a Research Assistantship, which paid for my tuition and left me with some pocket money to eat. It was like opening the doors of heaven! The research was to build a robot that carved teeth. I always say that robot paid for my tuition!

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?

I call them angels. I can’t name just one because many helped me to come here almost with nothing and protected me to overcome challenges. Without people on your side, you can’t go far. We do come together at the time of need. You just have to look at the right place.

My uncle here gave me a place to stay and help me sign up for university. My professors and dean of the school accepted me into the program even though I was late to enter the U.S. because the American Embassy in Paris rejected my first application for a visa.

I’m grateful for so many people who’ve helped me land where I am today.

So how are things going today?

So so! Just kidding! I’m very grateful and blessed. I found the love of my life here, have a son that I feel is getting access to good education and activities. Since I received my citizenship, I feel like I have new wings. I was able to travel for work, which landed me a job in Experian to lead a team in the UK. That ended up being one of the most challenging, yet rewarding times of my life and opened my eyes to new cultures. I have been given many opportunities and taken advantage of what I could to further my career and hopefully help people around me. We have great friends all around the world and I enjoy working with such a diverse team of individuals. And… who could complain about living in California?!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I hope so. That is one thing I think about every day. I ask myself, am I doing what I can to help people around me? Especially as you get older, that thought becomes more and more central to you when you take moments to reflect on your life.

I’ve been blessed, and given a second chance really, because I’ve been through a revolution, a war and then had to leave my home and loved ones behind. I am hoping I can give back.

I think there are four main ways you do so. We all work hard to be skilled at something. Not taking advantage of it and to applying it as a service to society is a form of waste, in my opinion. There are big opportunities to help people as customers all around the world.

Second is to help your organization. To bring jobs, hope and security when you can. You don’t even have to be a big powerful man. A simple referral can give a chance for an individual to realize their dreams and potential, which is a beautiful and fulfilling feeling. In my case, I believe in supporting people who want to help themselves and others. They may fail, but what matters is that they keep trying and learning. I am big on giving people from anywhere, from any race a chance in learning, creating and giving. I think it makes our society and our world a better place. I try to build businesses and bring along anyone who is hungry to join us.

Then there is obviously giving back to your community and people you relate to. From a simple monetary donation to actually doing something makes a difference, no matter how big or small. For example, at Gocious, we organize and go to food banks to help with sorting of food, every year. I think I can speak for everyone that when the day is done, we feel fulfilled and proud that we did something.

The last way I think people could bring success in the world is by supporting your friends and family. In some cases, you don’t have to do anything for them other than offer your support and let them know you’ll help them in any way you can.

You have first-hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest improving the system?

For starters, I would make it easier for employees to obtain a green card. Currently some nationalities wait for years to obtain green card. Without permanent residency, there is a big limit on switching jobs, and at times travel to other countries. It can cause lack of productivity and the employer, as a sponsor can potentially take advantage of the employee.

For students, especially graduate students, I would improve access to work and pay for college. I was lucky because I knew a professor who gave me a Research Assistantship. However, many students do not have those opportunities. By giving students a chance to find and take on jobs, you can avoid students potentially working illegally or dropping out when they have great talent.

Obtaining a student visa to come to US from some developing or poorer countries is hard. I was rejected and had to reapply. The time I got rejected, I had an official invitation from USC, and had paid for my trip to France as Iran didn’t have a US embassy that could issue me a visa. I had also paid for my GMAT, Toeffl, and university application, but the official in the embassy didn’t even open my file. They simply took my passport and before I could say why I was there, stamped a rejection on it and handed it back. I am not sure if things have changed, but I can see that if this is still occurring, an experience like this could be creating resentment for people who want to enter the U.S. Not to mention, the U.S. could miss out on talent that could potentially contribute tremendously to our country. Ironically, the professors in USC were shocked at my experience and did everything to make sure I could catch up for the lost time since I started my first semester late.

Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.

First, when you immigrate, you need to have short term and long-term goals. Be prepared to change your long-term goals, especially as you meet them. I came here to graduate and get into business. I thought I would immigrate to Europe where my family was but seeing the opportunities here in the U.S. I stayed, and then met my wife.

Secondly, love life and be curious. See this world as a blessing to experience and try things out. Remember the end is always the same and it is the journey that matters. The American dream is partly about the spirit, an environment of encouragement and the freedom to experience and do things. I always look for new opportunities to learn. It’s not like this in other places in the world. One day, I was driving by the airport in Van Nuys, I saw a sign saying “Learn to Fly’’ and I just thought, I really need something new in my life, and this opens new worlds for me. I pulled into the parking lot and the next thing I knew I was in a plane with instructors encouraging me to get my license!

Have faith in humanity. Meet people and know that there is always someone out there to help you. However, don’t be afraid to reach out. You also need to know what you want from life. I owe many of my achievements if not all, to angels along my life that gave me a chance. From our family friend in Fresno, to my boss in Experian who believed in me. Without them, I would have never excelled.

Connect and understand people around you. The U.S. is built on diversity. That means we need to study and understand each other’s culture. Walk in other people’s shoes and see things from the other side. Then we can build things together that are new and original. The chemistry is amazing. I take the time to understand people’s backgrounds, their history, culture, and interests. Whether you are from Mexico, India, New York or Kentucky, I’m genuinely interested in your history, your food, your drinks, and your celebrations. It has been a great way for me to get to know people and have something to connect. When I talk about my traditions, sometimes people become engaged in my culture and want to participate in my cultural traditions. We celebrate Christmas and Persian New Year in our house and in both cases; we have Christians and non-Christians from every background celebrating it with us.

Next, don’t give up. Experiencing life and trying new things means taking risks. A few will not work out. What you need is just a few successes, but if you don’t try they won’t come. From small failures to big ones, it’s never too late to learn. Dust it off and move on. When my first startup failed, I blamed the world and went into a couple months of semi-seclusion. Then I reflected and realized how much I had to learn from it and I was partly to blame. At that moment, I decided to take my learnings and apply it to the next chapter of my life.

Lastly, be useful and make a difference in people’s lives. If you are ambitious and you want to climb the ladder of society, it is best to look back and see how much you have given back. That is one thing that I carry in my mind. It is harder than you think, and you need to work at it. Giving something useful so others benefit requires a lot of study and energy. But, it has great returns. From a simple recommendation to building something that many can benefit from, nothing is more fulfilling than knowing someone has a better life or a better moment because you did something. Every time I see someone in my group excel, get promoted, get their visa to work in the US, or see customers that are happy and benefit from our creations, and I know I played a little part in that. It gives me great satisfaction looking back.

We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?

Well this kind of goes to the heart of why I immigrated. I believe the U.S., just like any other country, has its own issues and the exact form of capital markets that work are still experiments. However, if you look at the history of the U.S., you see mostly progress in the past 250 years at a rate unseen in many other societies. It has also influenced many parts of the word. If the past is an indication of the future then, in general, I am optimistic about the U.S. as a whole.

The second thing I am most optimistic about is the amazing change the world is currently going through. Growing up in the Middle-East we believe that energy and how you produce it, distribute it and harness it, is the backbone of everything. Today, the world is seeing a major change in that and the U.S. is getting back on track on to being part of that movement in a big way. Startups to more established companies are all starting to switch to alternative sources of energy which means whole industries are going to shift.

The third is the American “attitude”. When the time comes, we step up and deliver. At the end of the day, we are diverse, and in many ways humble. I know there are still many issues of race and gender here, but when I look at many businesses, great ideas, the skills people possess and the passion to get something accomplished, that takes center stage. I can’t say the same for many other countries I’ve been to.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

RJ Scaringe. Today, manufacturing and specifically car manufacturing is going through a revolution. These are extremely exciting times and because of my startup, I have been following these trends. Scaringe is going from zero to 100 at unbelievable speed to disrupt the SUV market. To me he represents the future of American entrepreneurs.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

You can follow our work at Gocious. Currently all my passion is in helping manufacturers plan products efficiently and empower their product managers to make decisions and communicate with high confidence.

You can also follow my work on my LinkedIn page.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


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