I was born in a small farm town in Ohio called Springfield. Springfield, Ohio is one of the largest distributors of roses in the entire world and is known for having some of the best air quality in America. I don't remember much but, I was told when I was younger, that I played extensively with the cows and chickens that lived in my backyard. When I was two my parents decided in to move to Los Angeles, California where I have lived ever since.
Did you know Los Angeles is the fourth largest producer of petroleum in the world? I grew up in a part of Los Angeles called the San Fernando Valley in a small town called Calabasas. Have you ever heard of the term “new money”? That's what Calabasas is; a town of “new money”. This means our parents were the first in their lineage to achieve wealth, status, etc. If my grandparents or great grandparents achieved wealth I would be considered “old money”. This probably sounds really silly but, I grew up hearing terms like this. The belief system is one where people of new money are way flashier and ostentatious versus people of old money who are more reserved, modest, and less likely to be flashy. My family and I would definitely be considered new money.
The late 80s and all through the mid-90s served as a huge economic growth period in the United States. My father has a successful insurance company and my mother is a professor at the top University in Los Angeles. I have three brothers and one sister. My parents are both very cool and free-spirited people who exposed my siblings and me to many different cultures and people. I was raised with a belief system where every people and culture has their own unique way of communicating to God and it should be respected as the same as mine. I was taught that actions of caring, love, and self transformation were the only ingredients to achieve happiness.
As a young kid I was not a great example of acting out these principles. In elementary school I was so hyper that my teachers begged my parents to put me into organized sports. School was very slow and uncomfortable for me but the attention I received from being a standout athlete made it tolerable. Sports have shaped much of my personality today as I am very competitive, tenacious, and relentless in almost everything that I do or come in contact with. I think this comes from years of playing sports and being in competitive environments where I played with and competed against many athletes who are currently in the NFL and NBA. I have many great memories from sports. During my senior year at Calabasas High School I was recognized as one of the top athletes in the state of California and the city of Los Angeles.
After high school I decided I didn't want to go straight to college and play football. I wanted to work for my dad and the family business and take classes at my Mom's University. To be honest with you, I was more in love with the power of being a football player with my peers than actually being a guy who tackled people on a field. In other words, I was more in love with being cool then the sport itself. Remember, I never asked to play sports I was told to by my parents.
Most of what you see today in Los Angeles stems from the 1920s when industries such as motion picture/media and aviation/transportation set up shop and expanded in LA. I still haven't figured out why they chose Los Angeles as the place to grow these industries, but it may have something to do with the gold rush and the seaports. As a result of the tropical weather, California agriculture is a tremendous source of revenue for the state and private business. There are over 33 million people in California with 3.8 of them living in Los Angeles. California is over 160,000 ft.² making it the third largest State in the United States. California is also bigger than Germany.
While working for my father in the insurance industry, I fell in love with business. You might be asking yourself, “How can a person fall in love with the concept called business?” Business for me is not just about making money, although that's a very important component to the business experience. I have learned from my father that the greatest satisfaction one can achieved in business is the human experience shared during the process of conducting business. More important than making large amounts of money are the relationships made, the things you learn from other people, the laughter, the tears….. the total human experience. Experiencing life from this standpoint is what I fell in love with, not selling and buying.
A large part of my father's business centers around his ability to improve nonprofit and community based organizations through life insurance and other financial strategies. I was taught to look at business as a means to improve people's lives and the community in which they lived. It's really an amazing thing to watch your father build a company from scratch, from zero to tens of millions of dollars. To this day my father serves as my mentor and best friend. Working for the family business was great and had many perks but, the insurance industry for me was very slow and boring very much like school.
Like many of my friends, I was drawn to the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. In 1998 my friend and I started an internet company. We put together a business plan, met with different investment bankers and venture capitalists, and raised close to $1 million. We were in business for less than three years. In 2001 there was a major crash on the stock market and many investors started to shy away from internet companies. My partner and I decided we wanted to explore other opportunities. He wanted to pursue further education and I wanted to continue to work in the private sector. For almost 3 years I only worked closely with investment bankers and venture capitalists in designing and implementing national strategies for my internet company. I learned a great deal during that time and at age 23 my business acumen was far beyond my peers.
After leaving the internet company I was able to achieve an executive position at an international beverage company where I was titled Vice President. The beverage company was trying to achieve a younger image and they felt I was perfect imagery for their brand. The great thing about being their vice president was being responsible for over 30,000 stores internationally and tens of millions of dollars worth of product every week. I also received a lot of press in both local and national media and became recognized and respect in the business community in Los Angeles. I assumed different leadership positions in community based organizations as a business advisor to young entrepreneurs. In 2004, the Urban Business Journal named me the youngest vice president in the beverage industry and I was placed on the cover of the newspaper with Bob Johnson and Oprah Winfrey.
Toward the end of 2005, a friend of mine, who I went to high school with, had recently become the CEO of his parents’ advertisement agency and asked me if I would join him as his Vice President of Creative Development. I accepted his offer and really enjoyed working with him and expanding what his parents worked so hard to build. During this time I became inspired to start my own company and that's what I have been doing for the last three years, growing my own business. We have primarily been a Marketing a Consultant firm to some of the biggest publishing companies in the world. Over the last two years I have been spending weeks at a time in strategic locations abroad doing market research on the best way to integrate American products over seas (specifically the Middle East). During the last six months we have become deeply involved in film financing and distribution along with education development.
The name of my company is the “Shariff Group”. Right now the Shariff Group is acting as a holding company for all of my new ideas and concepts and I am launching two books and an education foundation with my mother. We have recently been blessed with some huge clients and opportunities. This is a very important time for me and I need to stay focused. I feel that it's my destiny to achieve wealth but only to give it to those who are in need. The only reason why I want to be successful and recognized is to inspire other people to follow my example and sharing wealth to those in need. It may sound corny, but I know this is the only way to true happiness. Remember I grew up around money and I saw with my own eyes that it doesn't make you happy and not sharing it can make you very sad and depressed. So, I am not obsessed with being rich as I am obsessed with the happiness that can be achieved through providing for others in need. My goal for this year is to become more intimate and open about who I am and where I come from to the people I come in contact with on a daily basis thus, creating a greater human experience. Thanks for reading.