Be bolder — ‘cause Success is not how high you have climbed, but how you make a positive difference to the world.
Be more controversial — ‘cause rules and conventions are important for schools, businesses, and society in general, but you should never follow them blindly.
Be more disruptive — ‘cause in times such as ours, when there is too much order, too much management, too much programming, and control, it becomes the duty of superior men and women to fling their favorite monkey wrenches into the machinery. To relieve the repression of the human spirit, they must sow doubt and disruption.
As a part of my series about “Grit: The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ziad K. Abdelnour, Founder, President & CEO of Blackhawk Partners, Inc. a private “family office” in the business of originating, structuring & acting as equity investor in strategic corporate investments and co-Founder of Blackhawk Development Group LLC; a trading platform focusing on the financing of real estate, infrastructure and project finance properties throughout the US.
Ziad is also Chairman of the Advisory Board of Hawkstorm Global — a business specializing in providing a wide array of elite services ranging from Emergency Response and Asset Protection to Security Consulting and Risk Assessments by former members of Navy seals, CIA, DOJ, Blackwater, FBI, State Department, and DEA Agents.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path?
Born with a major stuttering handicap… It took me over 10 years to overcome it. I guess this was the turning point in my life when I started seriously thinking I could do whatever I put my mind to and which led me to come to the United States with a burning desire to take over Manhattan.
I also soon realized pretty early in my new life that “finance” was the glue that unifies all and that my mission was basically to create wealth and empower people to create more wealth. WHY? Because I believe that money is first and foremost about freedom. It is not about acquiring things nor flaunting it in front of family and friends. It is all about freedom. Freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Freedom to tell your boss or whoever is running your life to take a hike. The only boss I want to have in my life is money. All the rest is for the birds. This is another key reason I immigrated to the United States back in 1982. To find freedom, liberate my mind and make it big time… and this is the reason I created Blackhawk Partners back in 2008.
Can you share your story about “Grit and Success”? First, can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
My story is not a simple one and I had to face in my rise to success, wealth and power every single obstacle faced by mankind. From jealousy to prejudice to ridicule and I soon realized that the only way to prevail over all is by creating “obscene wealth”. Now that I have accomplished my goals, I don’t regret anything I did and would do it again and again. Nothing is sweeter than victory. One thing never to forget though when you reach your goal…. The question is not whether you have the money, it is whether you have and keep the hustle. BIG difference!
A lesson to be learned? Early bloomers enjoy many advantages in affluent societies. But one huge disadvantage they face is that many of the youth don’t give them credit for their success, more than the rest of us do. That’s understandable: adolescents and young adults tend to be self-centered… The problem arises when early bloomers have a setback: either they put all the blame on themselves and fall into self-condemnation and paralysis, or they blame everyone else. Late bloomers tend to be more circumspect: they are able to see their own role in the adversity they face, without succumbing to self-condemnation or blame-shifting.
The sad part….Plants are more courageous than almost all human beings: an orange tree would rather die than produce lemons, whereas instead of dying the average person would rather be someone they are not.
Bottom line: Successful people aren’t born successful. Behind it all there is hard work, persistence and a lot of grit. Over time, grit is what separates fruitful lives from aimlessness. Consistency of effort over the long run is everything.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I guess it has a lot to do with my DNA. Either you have it or you don’t. It cannot be taught.
I am the kind of person who refuses to conform, refuses to be controlled and abhors being a number. There are no “hard times” for me cause whatever hard it gets, I am the kind of person who crushes it whatever it takes.
My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence or of normal life. I crave mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it to suit my skills, temperament, and drive.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
Success is no accident or serendipity or just grit. It is much more than that. I had all the odds against me, and I crushed each and everyone along the way. Not because I was a Democrat or a Republican. Not because of my attitudes about social issues. Not because of what my background is or isn’t. Not because people think I’m a nice guy. I succeeded because I’m a capitalist, I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m a warrior. That is the mindset I want to teach others so they can create their own wealth and American success story.
I’m not here to entertain. If you try to please everybody and worry about offending anybody, nothing is going to happen. You might make some money, but you certainly won’t create wealth.
I’m an action-driven individual; too many people — including economists and academics in their ivory tower — watch from the sidelines and pontificate. You should do this. You should do that. But most of them have no “skin in the game”. They have nothing at risk, so they can talk the talk from now to the next century, and it’s not going to make a difference.
A while back some guy came up to me and said: I love what you write, referring to all the blogs and articles I publish. Then he asked: How do you make a living? He expected me to answer: Oh, I do this. I do that. I work here. I work there. Instead, I told him the reality: I am not here to make a living. He didn’t expect that. But the truth is, I don’t work here and there. I don’t make a living; I create wealth using the strategies, knowledge, and truths learned over my decades on Wall Street and the venture capital/private equity business.
I’m not an idealist. I’m a capitalist who wants to empower others to do what I did — find freedom. My uncle was a very successful entrepreneur bigger than life — worked very hard, never got married — who lived to be ninety-one years old. Before he passed away I asked him: How do you define success: Is it money? Is it power? He told me it was none of the above. Success is about “empowering people”. The more you empower people, the more you are going to succeed. This is exactly how individuals and governments alike should think.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
My uncle to start with. A man is bigger than life with no formal education other than being super street smart. I would not be here today without his guiding light. Other people who inspired me along the way to always give it my best and achieve what I’ve always wanted and more are:
In the business world: Michael Milken — Financier and Donald Trump — Deal Maker.
In the political world: Presidents Trump, Reagan, and JFK.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
- By enriching people doing business with me through Blackhawk Partners
- By having people come, attend our conferences and learn from my team of experts and myself through the Financial Policy Council
- By having people read my books, listen to my courses and attend my private briefings on a regular basis
- By having people benefit from my philanthropy work. On that note, I, much like Jobs, look at philanthropy in much the same way. I believe that a philanthropist should be an entrepreneur at heart and think of social challenges as an opportunity to create large enterprises. It’s really easy to create a $1 billion company–you just have to solve a $10 billion problem. Most of these large $10 to $100 billion problems happen to be social problems. That’s why I think that some of the largest opportunities exist for an entrepreneur in solving humanity’s grand challenges.”
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am working on financing the completion of 21 projects in the US with a total value in excess of $3.4 billion. These projects will employ, empower and create opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people both nationally and globally. I am also writing “Kick ass” books that are and will be read by millions of people the world over. My new book,, Start-Up Saboteurs: How Incompetence, Ego, and Small Thinking Prevent True Wealth Creation is available in May 2020 on Amazon. Start-Up Saboteurs shows entrepreneurs how to create real wealth by abandoning their limited thinking, eliminating boundaries, and teaching them how to stop defining the outcome along with some real tangible things they should be doing. I like to challenge people to think outside of the box.
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Be bolder — cause Success is not how high you have climbed, but how you make a positive difference to the world.
Be more controversial — cause rules and conventions are important for schools, businesses, and society in general, but you should never follow them blindly.
Be more disruptive — cause in times such as ours, when there is too much order, too much management, too much programming, and control, it becomes the duty of superior men and women to fling their favorite monkey wrenches into the machinery. To relieve the repression of the human spirit, they must sow doubt and disruption.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I indeed want to create a movement of smart, educated, well-informed, independent people and empower them to create their own wealth. In fact, I am doing it every day.
The best way to do that consistently is by explaining how the system really works and teaches them how to differentiate the wheat from the chaff and all the bullshit out there. In the end, it comes down to this: To create real wealth and achieve power and independence you must abandon your limited thinking, eliminate boundaries, and stop defining the outcome. Most importantly it means not letting people motivated by jealousy, greed, and envy dictate what your limitations are.
You have to take risks in life. Your actions are what count.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have no favorite life lesson quote but a few I like and can share.
- Always remember… Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots.
- Trust is earned, respect is given, and loyalty is demonstrated. Betrayal of any one of those is to lose all three.
- We are in an economic war. It is a war between those who create wealth and those who believe they have some sort of divine mandate to appropriate wealth. They don’t have such an authoritative command. I don’t think they ever did. We have tried their command-and-control methods for nearly a century because they said they knew better. It is now obvious that they didn’t.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find me at any of the Links below which encapsulate my profit and nonprofit activities along with my book publications and other events
- Blackhawk Partners, Inc https://www.blackhawkpartners.com/
- Financial Policy Council http://www.financialpolicycouncil.org/
- Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5318529.Ziad_K_Abdelnour
- Start-Up Saboteurs book website https://www.freedomforall.io/
- Personal YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ZiadKAbdelnour
How can readers find you on social media: