Sam Bakhtiar is a doctor, CEO, world-class body builder, and a multi-millionaire entrepreneur. He runs the Camp Transformation Center, a fitness franchise business with over 100 locations, as well as two supplement and nutrition companies. He has helped over 100,000 people transform physically and mentally, and he specializes in helping people get to the top 1 percent in all aspects of their lives. His 1% Club helps others get to the top 1 percent by rising above, and he is also the author of the popular books Total Body Transformation Secrets and Becoming A One-Percenter: The 99 Keys to Mastering Your Life and Rising to the Top.
On today’s episode of Stay Paid, Bakhtiar explains how discipline and time management can help you reach the top 1 percent of your potential.
- You need to be willing to put work into your own success.
- Don’t focus on money, focus on how you maximize your time.
- Daily discipline is the key to success.
Q: Tell us about yourself:
I was born in a third-world country, Tehran, Iran. We were in the middle of a war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. My dad and my mom divorced when I was three, and we were under attack every night with bombings. My mom decided when I was 11 that she didn’t want me to join the army and be killed, so we left the country with $500 and came to the United States. When I was coming to the US, I was thinking I was coming to Beverly Hills because that’s what I saw on tv with shows like Dallas and Dynasty and the A-Team. It was like the Kardashians of today where everyone has mansions and Cadillacs and I thought that’s where I was coming.
But I ended up coming to a little town called Sharon, Pennsylvania, which was a steel mill town, but all of the mills shut down. I remember going to this little town and my uncle had a store on the worst street, Idaho Street. There was abandoned buildings, drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps—and that was my first impression of America.
Later on I went to school to try and enroll in 7th grade, but I didn’t speak the language and I was the only minority in the school. I was picked on, bullied, beat up—you name it, I went through it. I tried out for the basketball team because they didn’t have a soccer team. I didn’t know anything about basketball but I thought I’d try it. I got cut from the team and was devastated. I told my mom I wanted to go back to my old country because I didn’t belong and had no friends. But she told me, “That’s not a choice. Go to the Boys Club after school, practice basketball, and get better.” While I was going to this club to get better, I fell in love with weight lifting and transformed my body. And not only did I transform my body, I transformed my way of thinking and as a person, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do the rest of my life.
Fast forward, I graduated from Penn State with my master’s in pre-medicine and nutrition. Then I went to Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and got my doctorate degree. Soon after that I started my gyms, and now I’m the CEO of The Camp Transformation Center with over 100 locations worldwide. I own two supplement companies, and I love what I do. I love helping people transform their lives through exercise.
Q: Talk about The 1% Club. What led you to form this?
At a very young age, my mom told me I could be anything I wanted to be, as long as I was willing to put in the work. That’s always been ingrained in me. I came from a very poor background with a single mom. We came to America and got food stamps and we were in low-income housing. I told myself, “I don’t want that for me. I want to be able to provide for my family and be the best Dad I can be. And I’m willing to do whatever it takes.” I thought, “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it, because I don’t want to go back to that.”
When I first launched The 1% Club, I got a lot of slack from people saying, “Oh, you’re rich now. You’re shredded and have a great body. You think you’re better than us?” But it has nothing to do with that. One percent is all about you being the best version of yourself—about you going against the grain. It’s all about doing the opposite of what’s popular and sticking to your goal. It doesn’t matter where you are now, but where you want to be and the price you’re willing to pay to get there.
When people come to me and have goals or ambitions, whatever it is, whether financial or physical, if they aren’t willing to put in the work, I automatically disassociate with that. Ever since I was a teenager I got up a 2 o’clock in the morning because I wanted to better myself. At some point you need to be obsessed about your goals. You have to be in pain—I wholeheartedly believe that. When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of making the change, that’s when change happens. The problem is people get comfortable. They say they want to achieve something, but they aren’t willing to move.
Q: What was the hardest part of building that business?
When we first started, we didn’t start out thinking, “OK, let’s get over 100 gyms.” I was just a guy who loved working out and I thought, “As long as I can help people and still do my bodybuilding, I’m happy.” When you do good by people and get them in shape, they want more of it. So when people started asking, “Sam, you have this location over here, but we want one over here and one there.” Next thing you know we expanded a little bit and had a few locations. Then someone came up to me and said, “Sam, I want to open up my own camp. How can I do this?” I thought, “Really?” and I ignored him. But he kept coming back. I called an attorney up and wrote an agreement, but I didn’t know what a franchise was. But people found out it was a business opportunity and, next thing you know, I’m getting flooded with people. So I looked more into franchising and thought it seemed complicated, but this was the next revolution brought to me. It all came organically, and now we’re here.
Q: How do you advise people to break into that one percent?
For me, it’s all about daily discipline. An easy example is, most people at the beginning of the year want to get in shape. Say they want to lose fifty pounds in 2020. They said that in 2019, 2018, 2017—every year is going to be their year. You can sit down and write your goals and read them every day. But what are you going to do daily to get to that goal, and how are you going to put it in a schedule so it happens automatically? As soon as we get up we have to make decisions: “What am I going to wear? What am I going to eat?” But there’s something called decision fatigue. I have a daily plan every single day, from what time I’m going to get up to the time I’ll have breakfast, and the time I’ll be on Zoom with you, and when I’ll have family time. I make sure every single goal I have is translated in my daily activities.
I had a come-to-Jesus moment with myself, and said, “Sam, what do you want to do? What is your top priority? Other than serving God and humanity and being a good person, what are your top three priorities?” And I came up with this: spending time with my family is my top priority, providing for my family, and staying healthy so I can do one and two. Every single hour of my day is focused on those three activities—nothing more, nothing less. I encourage people not to have any white space on their calendar. You need to be productive with your goals.
Ninety-nine percent of people will say time is more valuable than money. You can always get money back, but time you can’t. Other than in rap videos, do you see people on the street just throwing money away? Do you see all of us wasting time and not being productive? If everyone agrees that time is more valuable than money, we are throwing something more valuable away by wasting time. I saw a meme the other day that said, “I finished Netflix.” Are you f****** me? You can use this time to get better, to exercise if you want to, to spend time with your family, work on your business, read a book. But you’re going to use this time to finish Netflix and do nothing with yourself?
One of my mentors told me, “Guard your time like you guard your children.” I’m very stingy with my time. That doesn’t mean I don’t meet with people, but it will be on my time and my schedule. No one will walk in right now and say, “Hey Sam, can I talk to you for a minute?” I’ll say, “No, get on my schedule.” I’m not going to live forever. If you do the math, by the time you factor sleeping, working, commuting, you really live eight years. You only have eight years to do what you want to do in life. Are you going to waste it, or be productive? I don’t want to use those eight years that I have watching TV or serving things I don’t want to do.
Q: What have you changed about your routine in quarantine?
Nothing has changed. I still get up at the same time, work out at the same time at home. I have a nice gym at home, but if I didn’t, I could do bodyweight exercises or go for a walk. Nothing has changed about my schedule. I still work until 4 o’clock, and after that it’s family time. My phone goes off and I’m 100 percent present with the family. Nothing is going to change. For me, this is not a, “OK, God’s giving me a vacation not to do anything.” I’m still going to push forward and not give up on my goals. Thank God we’re living in a technological age. We have our phones, laptops, books—we have so many things we can do. Let’s do stuff that serves us.
Q: What is the biggest mistake you see entrepreneurs making where they aren’t using their time wisely?
They’re chasing too many things. They have a shiny object syndrome, which humans naturally have. They get sidetracked and distracted, and next thing you know they are doing everything half-a**** and nothing perfectly. They want to hit a home run after one day or one week, and switch gears. If you want to get good at anything, you need to put in the time. People want to become experts overnight, but that’s not how it works. Being distracted is the number one killer of dreams for entrepreneurs.
Q: What are some of the things you’ve implemented in your life that have driven success for you?
I can honestly tell you my number one routine is working out in the morning—especially if you’re an entrepreneur. This doesn’t mean everyone has to work out first thing in the morning, but you need to have a workout routine, and it needs to happen on a daily basis. I don’t believe you can go 100 percent every day, but you can go 50 percent or 60 percent. People say, “How many days a week do I need to work out, Sam?” I say, “How many days a week does your heart beat?” For me, working out isn’t, “Oh, I need to go k*** myself in the gym.” Some days I go in and give it 100 percent, and some days I give it 70 percent. It’s not about, “How big are my guns going to be?” It’s about being able to overcome stress, because I’m an entrepreneur, having over 400 employees, there’s stress associated with that. There’s stress associated with home sometimes. So for me to be able to cope with stress, I have to be able to exercise and be at my peak state.
I have to eat well. Entrepreneurs, you’re going to war. You want to make sure when you’re at war you’re in your peak state and that your body and mind are working right. I don’t understand when I see entrepreneurs who are 50, 60, 70 pounds overweight. Sometimes I’m downright rude. I was speaking at a conference to a group of entrepreneurs, and I see this young kid in Gucci everything, but he was, excuse me, severely overweight. I said, “Why don’t you ditch those Gucci glasses and get a personal trainer?” Do something for your health. I don’t get that. I wholeheartedly believe you need to be at peak state.
I also don’t believe there is such a thing as balance. Balance is for average people. Am I a perfect father every day? No. Am I perfect at my workouts every day? No. There are some days I fail as a husband and as a dad because I have to be at work until midnight. But I make up for it another time. No one can ever achieve anything great in balance. You need to be obsessed and go after your thing.
The best advice I can give young entrepreneurs is to, first, surround myself with better people—people you aspire to be. Second, start making a mental shift and look for people to help you. Pay to play. I believe you need to have skin in the game. If you don’t, there’s no value for you. You have to help yourself. Every year for the past 15 years, I’ve spent over six figures. I pay to play. Every single year it gives me 10x dividend on it. Instead of going out there and buying Gucci or having the latest iPhone, go get yourself some help.
Connect with Sam:
Add discipline to your life. Set your calendar and abide by it.