Accelerated Intelligence with Shaahin Cheyene

November 15, 2022
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

“Champions don't show up to get everything they want; they show up to give everything they have.”

Alexander den Heijer

After fearing for their lives during the Iranian Revolution of 1978, Shaahin Cheyene’s family fled the country – leaving everything behind – and eventually found a new home in Los Angeles, California.

At 15 years old, Shaahin left home with nothing but the clothes on his back. A few short years later, he kickstarted the “smart drug” movement and was at the helm of a business empire that spanned the globe and would bring in more than $1 billion in revenue.

The product? “Herbal Ecstacy”, a LEGAL party drug, that took the music world by storm – and caught the fierce attention of disgruntled drug dealers, big pharma, and of course federal authorities.

Today, he is the Founder / CEO of Accelerated Intelligence, which provides supplements, nutrition, and research to support optimal brain health and well-being. 

He’s also a major ‘Fulfillment by Amazon’ seller, the lead coach at Amazon Mastery where he teaches entrepreneurs how to crush it on the Amazon platform, and is regarded as one of the leading global minds on what’s next in e-commerce, Amazon, and the internet.

Outside of those ventures, he’s the founder of podcast booking agency PodcastCola and host of the Hack and Grow Rich Podcast.

In this episode:

  • How Shaahin ushered his startup venture to $1 billion in sales before his 20th birthday
  • The biggest opportunities to make money online today
  • The craziest moments from the nine lives he’s lived so far, and
  • The simple mentality that’s underpinned all his business and personal growth.

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Shaahin Cheyene!

James Whittaker:
Shaahin, great to see you! Thanks for coming on the show.

Shaahin Cheyene:
Thanks for having me on! I'm psyched.

You've had an incredible journey. What was your earliest childhood memory? And how often do you think about that today?

Man, my earliest childhood memory was probably in Iran. And I grew up in Tehran, my family, we were immigrants coming to the United States. But when we were in Iran, I remember being a little kid and at five years old, just being able to walk out into the street, go to the store and buy stuff. Iran's very safe as far as crime goes so there are kids who roam the streets all the time. So I remember doing that and having a little gang and feeling like, "Man, I'm at the top of the heap here."

And then shortly thereafter, the Iranian Revolution happened, my parents being Iranian Jews were like, "We've seen this happen before, we'd better get out in case something happens." So we moved to the United States as immigrants, as refugees, and then being in a new country where I didn't speak the language, I didn't understand the culture.

It was a pretty rough time back then, it was the Iran–Contra, we weren't exactly the favorite people of America. So it was a very difficult transition from being top of the heap where my family were solid middle class, being in a very good place, coming to America where I don't speak the language and we're poor and looked down upon.

So you're an outcast in the land of opportunity?

Exactly.

At the age of 15, you left home. What was the reasoning behind that decision? And how do you feel about that decision today, now that you're a parent?

So I looked around me at that time – we're talking about the 1980s, early 1990s – and I saw a lot of wealth. We moved into this up-and-coming part of town that hadn't been gentrified yet, this part called Pacific Palisades, I'm sure you know it. But back then it wasn't all that and my parents managed to buy a house, they bought it from some hippie and they had to fix it up and it was a whole story. 

And all around us started popping up all this wealth. The guy next door got a Porsche. There were all these big houses popping up. I noticed all this wealth, but there was none for me. I kept thinking, what's the path to this?

So I asked my folks, "Hey, I want the Porsche and the beautiful blonde sitting next to me driving down PCH, how do I get that?" And they were like, "Well, you have to become a doctor."

Because for immigrant families, the pinnacle of success is to be a doctor. So they really wanted me to do that and I looked around and I was like, "Fuck man, I've got to go talk to someone who's a doctor."

I noticed all this wealth, but there was none for me. 

So I went next door and I was like, "All right, I'm going to go talk to that dude and see what it's like to be a doctor." So I walked in, dude looked 60, he was probably in his forties now in retrospect. And he was fat and bald, the wife was fat and bald, the kids were fat and bald, everybody was fat and fucking bald. And they were all just grumpy. 

I talked to him, but he's like, "I can't talk." He always had to go. So he had the nice car and the nice house, but his life was hell. He didn't own his time. So I realized, man, I'd rather just go sleep on the beach. I don't want that. So that's literally what I did. I was like, "I don't know what I'm going to do." 

I remember reading Think and Grow Rich as a kid. It was the first big self-help book of that era. I mean, you didn't really have many choices of things to read when you were looking for personal development that was wealth-encouraging.

I remember I had that book highlighted so many times that I had highlights over highlights. Almost every word in that book was highlighted. And I remember thinking to myself, there's got to be a better way. I'm out. 

So I just bailed. I knew also that if I had a comfort zone to come back to that I would probably return. So I had enough knowledge about myself to know that I had to burn my ships, and that's what I did. I cut all ties and I took off and I just left. And I was like, "All right, now I'm going to figure it out."

What was your first thing that you would classify as a business that you were involved in?

I had a bunch of really dead-end jobs, and it was anywhere from making copies at copy shops, something I have to explain to young people now! Because people don't understand what that is. You say, "We used to make copies." They're like, "Of what? Why didn't you just fucking email it?" I'm like, "No, no. You go to a place, and you pay. And they take the paper, and they make a copy." And they're like, "And that's a job!?"

So I had a bunch of shitty jobs, the shittiest jobs possible. From there I realized that you are never going to get rich working for somebody else, so I needed to find something to do on my own. 

Then I found a mentor and I got involved in the electronic music scene, the rave scene, which was booming at the time, and I started doing raves. So that was really my first business venture was doing raves and underground parties and learning about how that whole thing worked.

But as I did those parties and the more and more successful I got, and throwing these underground parties, I started realizing that the DJs made no money. Nobody appreciated electronic music, especially guys that play other people's music, which it was at those times, the people throwing the parties. We didn't make any money. So I’m like, "Who's making the money at these parties!?"

I realized that you are never going to get rich working for somebody else, so I needed to find something to do on my own. 

So I started looking around and I knew that someone had to making money off it. I looked around and there were guys that were always there. They drove nice cars, they had nice looking girlfriends, nice clothes. And I realized the drug dealers were the ones who were making the money. 

I was like, "Perfect! That fits all the criteria that I need.” I want to get rich. I want to do it quick. I have no resources. That'll be ideal. 

Then I looked back to my youth coming to America, and I realized that I was really bad at crime. I had a little miniature crime ring as a child where I would sell gum and glue and little bottles of liquor that we took from the liquor stores and nudie magazines.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Shaahin Cheyene does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. ????


Back then, you had to get porn from magazines, which was another mind-blowing thing. So we would sell this stuff, and the problem was we would always get caught. And I had recruited all the kids at the school that didn't belong. All the kids that were, as you said, who felt like outcasts in the land of opportunity. All the outcasts were working for me.

But the problem was we would always end up in detention. So now I'm like 15, 16. I'm at these clubs, I see this perfect opportunity, and thank God I thought to myself, "Dude, just don't do crime. You are bad at crime. 

But then it hit me: the number one drug at the time was Ecstasy, MDMA. And they were out of supply, which mostly came from England and Holland. It had completely dried up with the ‘Just say no’ campaigns and all this. And the government was actually trying to stop drugs. So these drug dealers didn't have supply. And I thought to myself, "Man, if I could come up with a natural version of this, a legal version of this, it could be big." 

Because I could sell it through the same distribution network – always figure out distribution first – and there would be no penalty for doing so.

In marketing, they talk about the importance of selling to the starving crowd. So even though you weren't a drug guy yourself, in terms of consumption, you recognized that there were people out there who were just ravenous. So if you could give them that solution in a way that was legal, that was your path to achieving those goals that you had?

Yeah, totally. 

So one of the things I write about in my book that one of my mentors taught me is always look at distribution first. The fool's way to sell something is to create a better mousetrap and hope that the world will find its way to your door. It's bullshit. Nobody cares. 

The correct way to do it is to find a market, find the distribution, and then to just give it what it needs. That's how you get rich because now you're just feeding the market what it already wants.

The fool's way to sell something is to create a better mousetrap and hope that the world will find its way to your door. It's bullshit. 

And all you have to do is tell a better story. All you have to do is provide value, provide excellence, and you're good to go. Educating a consumer is really the job of these big corporations with endless capital and public funds and that kind of thing. That is not the job of us as mid-level, high-level entrepreneurs. It's not our job to do that.

Our job is to make money. We do that by finding distribution, finding a market – like you said, that's hungry – and just feeding it what it wants.

So those distribution channels that you had, the local drug dealers who were, did they know it was legal?

Yeah. In retrospect, it was brilliant.

So I remember thinking, "All right, this is an untapped network. Why has nobody sold anything else through these guys?" Okay, well there's a danger element, right? They're probably not the most savory characters. Secondly, people probably don't want to be associated with that kind of illicit network. It wasn't a problem for me, I am I going to go to jail for it? No. So cool. And those were the main two blocks. 

And third, probably reliability as if you sell into brick and mortar or retail store, you probably have reliability and credit and whatever. But the more I looked at it, these guys dealt with cash all the time. They had to pay cash under penalty of, you know what. And so they were mostly on the up and up. So you would get pretty much no bullshit kind of guys. 

I went into the clubs and I started recruiting the drug dealers. I said, "Dude, you got no product to sell. You're probably going to end up in jail. Everybody before you has ended up in jail and you're not making a lot of money right now. Give my stuff a try."

And I was very persuasive. Now, I didn't have any money. I barely had food to eat. I barely had a place to stay. I didn't have any of that stuff. So failure for me was not an option when I stood in front of that guy who has definitely done some bad things. Dude has tattoos on his face, which in the '80s meant something totally different than now. 

I remember thinking to myself, I should have been scared. I wasn't scared. I was standing there right in front of them, and I was not going to leave until they did what I needed them to do.

So it was more naivety than courage?

I think it was being steadfast in my view of the world and creating a mindset that's unshakable. I did that partly out of necessity, but partly out of understanding that really failure was not an option. It was not a path that I was on. I was going to do whatever it took.

The ultimate secret to succeeding in any venture is you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get there. And I was there, and I was also young, so I didn't have a family. I know you and I talked about having kids and having a family and lifestyle. So I really had nothing to lose. And that's when you're your strongest, they say, especially in the fighting world.

The ultimate secret to succeeding in any venture is you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

I do mixed martial arts now and I train Brazilian jujitsu. And one of the things when I love watching UFC, and I love watching Thai fighting and a lot of different fighting, is you never fight a guy who's got nothing to lose, because they're the most dangerous guys. And that's who I was in those days. And that's why I succeeded so hugely. 

In short, I got all these drug dealers to start selling my product, a legal product. A lot of them became legitimate. They started having, they're like, "We don't have to hide anymore." So they started legitimizing their businesses by starting booths, starting stalls. A lot of them started storefronts, a lot of them bought franchises. And pretty soon it went from a few hundred guys to a few thousand guys. 

And we were all over the world. Berlin, Russia, Japan. I mean anywhere you can imagine. We were following the music scene, but we were following any alternative culture scene that was out there. I mean, our product was sold in music stores, it was sold in sex shops, it was sold in smoke shops. It was sold in pretty much anywhere where you could find alternative culture happening.

Nobody was really servicing those industries. So I went in and I was like, "This is frigging awesome, let's do it." And pretty soon brick and mortar came to us. We started selling to Urban Outfitters to 7-Eleven, to GNC. And before I knew it, somewhere between my 18th and 20th birthday, I don't even remember right now. I walked into my office, I had 200 employees. All of Venice was mine. I mean everybody who could, if you could fog up a mirror in those days, we would hire you.

Because this was pre-internet. I needed people to answer the phones. We were producing this product, this alternative ecstasy called Herbal Ecstasy for 25 cents a unit. We were selling it for a minimum of $20 a unit. 95% of our business was cash. Imagine the margins. And as quickly as we could produce it, we were selling it.

Just before my 20th birthday, I walked into the office and found out that we’d sold $1 billion of this product.

We were talking about the starving crowd being the people that wanted the euphoria, they wanted that experience. Also the dealers, they were a starving crowd as well. So you had two starving crowd elements that were able to feed into create a stronger distribution plan.

Yeah, that's right.

At the time, we looked at the vulnerabilities in the marketplace. I looked at the other competitors in the marketplace. But primarily I looked at ‘what does the market need right now?’ They wanted ecstasy. They couldn't get ecstasy. They were out of it. And a lot of stuff going around with fake ecstasy. 

We came in and really filled that need.

And how important was the word ‘ecstasy’ in the title of the product?

It's interesting that you ask that. I think it was very important, and I'll tell you why. 

What Csikszentmihalyi wrote about in his book Flow, when you get into that optimal performance state and things seem to be going your way, it's no accident. And I really felt that way at that time.

I had worked hard, I had lived on ramen, I had done whatever I needed to do to succeed, and I was in that place where I could not fail. And opportunities came left and right. Finding the name for the product was like nothing. It was like, “Of course, this is what it is!”

Just before my 20th birthday, I walked into the office and found out that we’d sold $1 billion of this product.

I'd be on a train, a first-class train in Paris and some guy would open up a newspaper and there'd be a picture of me in the background. And then he would take a look and I would sit next to him. Turns out he owned 5,000 retail stores in Paris. And I would sit down with the guy, and we'd make a deal before the train arrived at its location. And that was my distributor there. “Of course, that's my distributor.”

That kind of stuff happened every day, all the time, because I was in this flow state of things happening very quickly. And you can get in that. Through my Amazon Mastery course, I teach my students how to do that. And you can do that, but you have to be in the right mindset for it. And that's going to be different for everybody.

I was reading something recently that spoke about the tendency for some second and third generation Americans or Australians who can become lazy and take their life for granted. 

But that immigrant mentality seemed like a big thing for you – the desire not to waste the opportunity your family had provided. Is there some other part of the immigrant mentality that enabled you to have that drive to do what it takes?

Yeah, we're fucking relentless, man. You look at immigrants from any culture, and I have so much respect for Koreans, for Persians, for Armenians and I've thought about this a lot. So this is really interesting. 

I'm a huge fan of history. I'm absolutely addicted to history podcasts. I listen to all of the different history podcasts, and I read up a lot on history. So you look at ancient cultures, ancient civilizations, and this is something right now that's missing from this experiment of America that I think immigrants have and why they're so valuable in this country and every country that they come to. 

You look at someone like King Tut, a fairly minor Pharaoh Tutankhamun. They find this guy, this guy's buried in this vault, and the vault has gold chariots and gold chairs. And then they find the sarcophagus.

But it's not one sarcophagus, it's four sarcophagus and one's made out of solid gold and the other one's like plated with all the jewels. You're thinking, all right, this was thousands of years ago that they did this. Why did they do this? Why? I mean, this guy had the run of the place. He had everything that he wanted. He had wives, he had food, he was living in abundance. Why spend time doing that for when you die? Why spent resources on that? Resources were scarce during those times. 
This is why – because legacy mattered to them. So the Egyptians said, “You die twice. Once when you stop breathing. And the second, a bit later on, when somebody mentions your name for the last time.” That's it. And that's how they're thinking.

So the Egyptians said, “You die twice. Once when you stop breathing. And the second, a bit later on, when somebody mentions your name for the last time.”

They're thinking about legacy. They're thinking about the future. They're thinking thousands of years from now, that somebody's going to mention my name. And that's why they built that. And then when you look at the immigrant mentality in the United States coming to all these other places, they're thinking about their ancestors.

When I worked with indigenous people, when I worked with native people through a big part of my life, the thing that I noticed is through their oral traditions, what they like to share is the story of their ancestors. Just the most important thing. Why? Because of legacy.

So why is that important? It’s because you operate from a different mindset. You operate from a different framework. This guy's worried about what's going to happen 2,000 years from now, how people are going to see him. So how is he going to act today? He's going to do big things.

That's so interesting. 

Can you teach resourcefulness and that growth mindset in people? Or are some people born with it and others just don't have it?

You can't teach hunger. You’ve got to be hungry.

So you can get there. You can find the thing that motivates you. You can find your fascination. But it's like the problem with millennials, nobody fucking stands for anything. They don't believe in anything. There is this constant bombardment of social media, TikTok, swipe right, swipe left. They're dating, both swipes. There's very little meaningful human interaction that's real. 

Not only that, the fact is that the hunger is gone because they know they can always return to a base level of comfort. The most dangerous thing isn't poverty or being on the street. The most dangerous thing is being comfortable enough. Because if you're just comfortable enough, you might not ever rise out of that if you don't know yourself.

The most dangerous thing isn't poverty or being on the street. The most dangerous thing is being comfortable enough.

So the trick is to do things that are uncomfortable, to seek discomfort, to take that ice bath, to do the hour long sauna. I'm not a doctor, so don't do it without your doctor's advice! But ultimately, you've got to find the thing that puts you outside your comfort zone and constantly be seeking that. You have to constantly be walking on the edge and you have to do it intelligently. 

It doesn't mean make stupid decisions, it doesn't mean do things that are harmful to you or other people. But it means maybe you're uncomfortable public speaking, go on a public speaking tour. Maybe you're uncomfortable in social circumstances. Go out there and meet as many people as you want and be rejected a thousand times. Maybe you're uncomfortable with sales. "Oh my God, how many millennials are uncomfortable with sales?" If you tell them, go out there and sell like, oh, it's like, no, you have to test your comfort levels.

And the people who I coach, and I mentor who I see are successful are either hungry, they're born hungry, or they've trained themselves to be hungry through discomfort, through challenging situations in their lives. They come out of it.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Shaahin Cheyene does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. ????


It's not the easy things that make us into who we are. It's the hard things. It's the challenges and being able to overcome those challenges in life.

With the business journey that you were talking about before, when did it was time to let go of that and move on to the next chapter of your life?

So I own Herbal Ecstasy once again. There was a period of time where it was sold. And so I do own Herbal Ecstasy again, so that is in my possession, but there was a time where it was more work than it was worth. 

I had made my money from it. I had achieved my 15 minutes of fame. I mean, I'd been on all the TV shows. We mentioned two covers of Newsweek, one Observer, LA Times, New York Times everywhere was talking about us.

So I had that moment and I had the money and it just became a pain in the ass, as the government started cracking down more and more on natural herbal medicine, and we kind of lost relevance at a certain point, the culture started moving away from electronic music culture. 

Now, it's back because everything comes back. And I thought, "Hey, I want to move on." And I moved on to inventing vaporization, digital vaporization technology, which now you see everybody is vaping.

How do you feel about vaping as a trend now?

When I was young, it was things like smoking cigarettes in high school, that was the big thing. And I’m told now that vaping has become the thing that people are worried about at schools.

I'll start out by saying this. If you're somebody who wants to be an entrepreneur and you're not quite there yet – and I'll get a lot of hate mail about this – but I don't feel that doing any kind of drugs makes you a better entrepreneur, honestly. And you're talking to somebody who's been in the jungle. I've done ayahuasca with the cannibals in the Amazon, and I've done all of that stuff. 

I was friends with Terence McKenna, and I knew Timothy Leary and I've been in that world. I don't think it makes you a better entrepreneur. Just my personal opinion. There's people that'll argue with me. There's Silicon Valley people that are microdosing. I think there's a lot quicker ways to make money and get better at making money than taking any of that stuff.

You can't teach hunger. You’ve got to be hungry.

I don't think it improves your life. As far as vaping goes to your question, I think that it can be very dangerous. The technology that I built was digital vaporization. Back in the day, you had no options. You could smoke and that was pretty much it. So what I came up with was a technology where we would heat up the active element. So whatever it was, the cannabinoids, cannabis or tobacco or herbs. And you would get the active element, but it wouldn't heat it up enough to burn it. The technology stemmed from that. 

We got that from being the size of a ketchup bottle to smaller to the size of a cigar, to finally the size of a cigarette. And that's kind of what you see around now.

And was the basis of the research that it's the smoke specifically that's doing the damage – so if you can stay one rung below that, then you alleviate 80% or so of problems?

Three elements that you worry about is smoke, tar, and carbon monoxide. They're the three carcinogens, meaning cancer causing elements of smoking. If you could eliminate those three things, then presumably smoking would be healthier. That's what science told us at that time.

So we started building this technology where you could heat up the plant just enough to release what you want, but not enough to burn it so you're not getting all that other bad stuff. That was the foundation of the Vapir, the company that I founded and subsequently went public. 

Now, I don't think anything belongs in your lungs rather than clean, pure, fresh air. Two things can't occupy the same place at the same time, if you're taking something into your lungs, you may have a problem.

I don't think anything belongs in your lungs rather than clean, pure, fresh air.

The problem with vapes, from what I understand is that in order to get the active elements out of those plants, they have to convert it to a liquid. Okay, fair enough. So you extract it somehow, you get into a liquid now for that liquid to aerosolize to look like smoke, to actually get to steam, they have to mix it with something. And that stuff is not tested, glycerin, whatever it is, they mix that with, that's what the problem is with. 

So the plant matter, sure. If you're getting a little bit of cannabis, a little bit of THC, I don't know how harmful it is. Again, I'm not a doctor, I'm not a scientist. I can't give anybody health advice, but I suspect for me that wouldn't be that harmful. But what may be harmful is what they mix it with to make it more palatable in the human body and to make it more look like a cigarette. So I don't think anybody should do it. 

Now, the problem where things really get tricky is that it's a much better experience than smoking. It's just clean, it's easy, it's friendly. They taste like fruit flavors. So what ended up happening when they introduced filter cigarettes and when they introduced menthol cigarettes is that people think it's better for you, so they consume 10 times as much.

And especially fucking Americans, we can't do anything in moderation, right? They're like, "Weed is legal. All of a sudden there's like people smoking." I'm like, "Really?" Do you need to have five vapes right now? I know it's legal, but-

It's like I'll drink six Diet Cokes instead of one Coke!

That's what it is! So Americans can't do anything in moderation. Unfortunately, we can't.

So I think that's the problem with vaping, and I don't recommend it. And I would be disappointed if I caught my kids doing it, but we got to look at it as a measure of relative risk.

You've done a lot of work on nootropics. What does your daily routine look like to get in your optimal brain function every single day? 

Yeah, that's a really good question. This might surprise you. I believe in routines, but I also believe in breaking routines.

I think it's great to try all that stuff. All that stuff is fun. I've met Dave Asprey, I was at his Bulletproof Labs. I love all that stuff because it's fun and I've got an ice bath at my house, and I've done cryotherapy and I've got an infrared sauna and red lights and all that. And I do that when I feel like it.

Ultimately, most days I fast, but not every day. Some days I have a really good high fat breakfast. Most days I eat low carb. But occasionally I'll have a pasta because I think probably the most dangerous thing for me personally is to get into the dogma of anything. I believe in discipline, but I don't believe in dogma. 

People think it's better for you, so they consume 10 times as much.

Usually, when I wake up in the morning, the first and best thing that I do, if my kid's up is I play with my kid. It's the best thing in the world. I know you're a father and that's the greatest thing ever. So I do that. I stop whatever I'm doing and maybe I'll have a cup of matcha tea. We produce some of the best matcha tea in the world, Matcha DNA if anyone's interested.

And I'll have a cup of matcha tea, and I'll hang out with my kid and it's whatever he wants to do. If he wants to play with his fishing stuff, he wants to build Legos, whatever he wants to do. Then the next thing I do after the kid's out and the wife's out of the house and everything is, I'll see how I feel.

I'll do a quick ice bath or a quick swim or both. I could go in the sauna for 30 minutes or so. I do a little bit of red light and while I'm listening to history podcasts, which I fucking love. Then I'll intermittent fast for most of the day. 

Three days a week I'll go to Brazilian jujitsu, and I'll train for two hours fasted. Somebody in my class taught me. Because I was doing intermittent fasting, but I would never do it when I was training. And then he said, "Yeah, I trained fasted." I'm like, "Never thought about that. Sounds really hard." Because it's 11:00 when I go to my class, I'm not out until 2:00.

Something happens in the body when you're training that all the adrenaline kicks up. You don't even think about food. The best time to train is when you're fasted. I didn't even think about this. And then when I'm out of class at two, I'm not even hungry anymore.

I feel the same experience if I go surfing in the morning. You can be out there for three hours, you don't think about it. But if you're sitting at home, in 10 minutes you’re like “I feel like I need to eat something!”

Yeah. Isn't that interesting? 

Because we also eat a lot out of boredom and being sedentary. It makes us think, "Man, we need more energy from food so I can have enough energy to work out." But it's the opposite effect. You get more energy by going out there and working out or surfing or doing something like that. So I'll do that. 

Then the workday starts. I just GTD: I get things done. I have a process where I attend to things and things work out pretty well for me. And that's the day.

A big part of your success has been about spotting trends before they happen so you can leverage that.

Do you have a formula to identify trends?

Yeah, there is.

So I'm a big fan of Steven Kotler. He talks about finding your fascination. I think there's three steps to spotting trends.

First, make sure you're in flow. The most important thing is being in that flow state, having clear space, not having a million things on your calendar, a million things overwhelming you during the day. Overwhelm is the death of flow. So in order to do that, you just need to have blank space. You need to have quiet space, space where you can slow the world down, take that time and focus on what really matters. That's when you get in the flow state.

Second, Kotler talks about finding your fascination. Find stuff that you’re really fucking interested in. Stuff that fascinates you, because you don't know what you stand for until you know what's out there to stand for. Start learning about shit. There's so much interesting shit in the world. 

There's an endless list of stuff that fascinates me that I'm interested in. I'm interested in how you're doing this podcast and how you're doing this stuff. I'm interested in cars, I'm interested in kids, I'm interested in all types of different areas of life, of how things work, how development works in children.

I've got my eight-year-old boy now who's developing, and I'm fascinated by how things work in his brain and how he builds stuff. And so there's so much stuff to do. So you find your fascination and what you're interested in. Find interest in stuff that has nothing to do with making money, nothing to do with business.

Overwhelm is the death of flow.

When you're in that state, things come to you. To see those opportunities and then to seize those opportunities is where it's at. And when that happens, it's not like, "Man, what do we name this thing?" It's like, of course it's called Herbal Ecstasy, of course it's called Vapir. You just move forward. Things happen so smoothly, the person you need to meet is sitting right there next to you. Things happen in that way. And I don't know how to explain it. I'm a science-based guy. I don't know why things work that way, but I feel like that's the key.

It's synchronicity, its intuition, and it's being in the flow. And I'm sure one day someone's going to figure out how to quantify it and work it out and stuff. But right now, I just know what works because when you're in that phase, you'll hear that voice that says go left. You're at a crossroads and you hear the voice, and it says, go left. And of course, you're going to go left, and you go left and there's everybody waiting for you going, where the have you been all this time? We've been waiting for you. Where have you been? Come on in. Here's all, here's all your money, here's all your accolades, here's all the things that you wanted.

For sure. 

I think when you have an open calendar and you're in that flow state, you have an intuition – almost an expectation – that things are going to work out for you. 

When you adopt a completely different mindset and expect good things to happen, they usually do.

To some extent, it's whatever you want to make it.

So people always ask me, how do I get this? How do I do that? I'm like, "It's whatever you want. You going to have to fucking work for it." People feel like they don't have to work for it. You got to go out there and work for it. And you got to be willing to do whatever it takes.

Can you work smarter? Yeah. Can you add efficiencies? Can you optimize? Yeah. How do you do that? You build your network.

Speaking of working smarter, you're doing a lot of work with Amazon.

Jeff Bezos, who gets a lot of hate, has discreetly created thousands – maybe tens of thousands of millionaires – through the platform that he has created. When did Amazon first come on your radar?

So I started selling on Amazon in the very early days. I think it was somewhere around 2009-2010 when Bezos opened up the platform to third-party sellers. 

Bezos in his infinite wisdom was like, "Hey, let's open up the platform and let third-party sellers sell on our platform and we'll charge them a commission." So we started doing that, and the second I started doing that, I was like, "Wow, this guy knows what he's doing, and this could be one of the biggest companies in the world." So I put all my eggs in the Amazon basket at that time, and I was like, "Let's see where this goes."

I learned how to speak the language of Amazon, how to sell on Amazon, and I had several products that were doing multiple millions of dollars on there in a very short period of time. And in that time, I've learned how to do it. 

One of the things that I do is I teach others how to create predictable recurring revenue on Amazon – and it can be taught to anybody. You need very little resources. If you were like, "Hey, Shaahin, I want to open up a restaurant." I'd be like, "Fuck man, you need a few hundred grand and your chances of success are so low."

You can open up an Amazon business with product and start selling it, and very feasibly make a few thousand dollars a month. It happens all the time to people making a few hundred thousand bucks a month, a million bucks a month in a very short period of time. So selling on Amazon is very low risk, very high profit potential. 

Any business isn't without its problems, but it's the brilliance of what Bezos has created. Love him or hate him, like you said, anytime I think you achieve that level of wealth, there'll be problems.

There'll be people who’ll hate on the guy. There'll be people who are jealous. There'll be people who don't feel that they're worthy of it, so they hate on him. And there'll be people that have legitimate qualms, like they say, "Hey, maybe the workers aren't getting the right benefits or whatever." 

But it's much like governance – everybody's good their first day in office, and then once they start governing, you're like, "Oh man, well these people are displaced, but those people are being unfairly compensated and those people have this." So it creates that kind of an ecosphere. And Amazon is one of those. It's got it bad parts. It's got its good parts, but it doesn't mean that you and me can't get really rich selling on there.

If you were working with someone who wanted to dominate Amazon but had no background in it, what steps would you take them through?

One of the common things that everybody should know is with TikTok and Instagram and all these channels popping up, everybody jumped on the bandwagon of being an Amazon guru. Everybody's like, “Drop ship. All you got to do is find a product that's sold on Amazon for $20 and you buy it for $1, and then you get that person to ship and you're making millions.” 

The problem is that teaching that to 10,000 other people and 10 other guys are teaching that 10,000 other people and it doesn't work. Who it works for is these guys selling their courses. We don't teach that. If someone's interested in that, it's not what I teach because it doesn't work. 

I teach sustained recurring, predictable revenue streams by creating excellent products. So what I teach people to do is go out there and find a vulnerability in the market, find a market that is starving for something. 

And now we're going to go to China, we are going to have them produce that product force, we're going to brand it, we're going to tell a better story, we're going to create added value to the product. Maybe our battery lasts longer, maybe our quality is going to be better, maybe our packaging is better. Maybe we include something extra in there. Maybe you have some information that other people don't so you can have better information that goes along with your product. 

Then we're going to use these algorithms, these systems that I've built over the course of the last 10 years from selling on Amazon, and we're going to use that to create recurring revenue. You're not going to get rich overnight. It's going to take time and you might fail once. You might fail twice, but eventually you will succeed. I've got a hundred percent success rate with the people that have followed my system to do this.

And then what happens is you create a business and guess what? You're going to have to work at it, but you get to create a system of revenue, a form of revenue where you don't have to go into a job where you don't have to answer to anyone else, where most importantly, you don't have to sell your hours for money. 

You create these predictable revenue streams, and maybe this is one of many. Maybe you do this, maybe you start buying some stocks, maybe you start investing in real estate and you start creating this really nice financial plan and outlook for yourself so that you just can't have a bad day. 

You come in and the stock market's down. That's cool. You got your real estate business, real estate business down. Well, Amazon always seems to be doing well. So you've got this well rounded foundational type of thinking. And that's really what I teach. Those are the people that I want to encourage to succeed are the people who want this kind of foundational thinking and are looking to get rich slowly.

Yeah, it's a refreshing change for the get rich quick schemes that you just get hammered with on non-TikTok and Instagram. 

Is that why now on Amazon there seems to be the emergence of more of these new brands? It's like these products that rate really well and appear in the first page of the search results on Amazon, but from brands that you've never even heard of.

A lot of those are our students. 

Amazon is the great equalizer. Back in the day, we had what Seth Godin calls disruption marketing. You're watching the Super Bowl? Knock, knock buddy you want a beer? Like, "No, I'm good." Knock, knock. You want a beer, you want a beer? Do you want a beer? That was how they marketed effectively. That's it. They just interrupt every few seconds pounded into your head until you buy it – and it cost millions of millions of dollars. And we're not sure how great it worked.

What happened is that things changed, and permission marketing came in. Amazon fed off that momentum. They created this amazing platform, right about the time where the internet and ecommerce was at its height and Amazon said, “Disruption marketing doesn't matter here.”

Sure, you've got the big brands that always sell, Tide will always sell Tide pods, right? People will always buy that. But if you've got a laundry detergent that's 20% cheaper, that looks cooler, that tells the story better on Amazon.

Amazon is the great equalizer. 

If you know the right algorithms and systems, you can compete with that Fortune 50, Fortune 500 company and do really freaking well and take up a big piece of their market share. And that's exactly why a lot of these big CPG consumer product goods companies are rolling up Amazon firms. Because what they realize is that companies started by people just like my students have gone in and taken a big chunk of their market share because they now realize that they can compete with these companies. If before you wanted to compete with a company like Tide or a company like Coca-Cola, you would have no hope that you would make any impact in the marketplace. 

Getting distribution is an old boys club. You'd have to know people, you'd have to have millions and millions of dollars to do that. But on Amazon, you don't need 10 grand and the momentum to get out there and just some good ideas and somebody to coach you. You can start that company and you can compete with those brands.

What we've seen happen is a lot of these companies are being bought out for seven figures, eight figures, a few of them for nine figures where they came out of nowhere and in two years, three years created these brands and companies on Amazon, like you said, that no one's ever heard of before and sold. And now those brands are owned by these big Fortune 50, Fortune 500 companies.

I know you're a fan of Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini, one of my favorite all time books. What are the biggest business or marketing lessons that you have learned from this journey that you've been on?

First and foremost is what we talked about – sell to a starving audience. Always start distribution first. It’s one of the key things that I talk about in my book Billion: How I Became King of The Thrill Pill Cult

Second, just to recap, is that being in a flow state is one of the key elements. Being able to get yourself in that flow state should be a priority for any entrepreneur because you think clearer. When you think clearer, you’re in a better place. We know not to drive when you're tired, don't fight when you're tired. Don't make any huge life decisions when you're exhausted. Similarly, you should make those decisions when you're in that flow state. And knowing how to turn that on and off is critical. 

The other thing is, it's so important to somebody who is where you want to be and utilize their mistakes, their lessons, which is why I talk about mentorship, which is why I teach an Amazon course. Which by the way, for anybody watching this, I'm happy to give them my one-hour course for free. So we can share that with everybody in the show notes or whatever [note: link to Shaahin’s course – free for the Win the Day community – is available in the shownotes below].


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Shaahin Cheyene does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. ????


The final thing is to know yourself.The Temple of Delphi, they had a few things inscribed on the walls, and one of them was ‘know yourself.’ You got to know your strengths, but equally as important, you got to know your weaknesses. You got to know if you've got a bag of cookies in the jar right in front of you, you're probably going to be eating cookies. So don't have that jar of cookies in front of you. Similarly, you need to set your world up to be a decision architect so that at the end of the day you win.

You're a dad. And the trick to kids isn't pounding it into their heads. "You got to do this, you got to become a doctor, you got to do that." The trick is to trick them into doing what's best for them. You become until they're of age, until they're 18, a decision architect where you build an ecosystem where somehow, they're just making the right decisions and winning and going, "Dad, look at this great decision I made, I won." 

And you're like, "Yeah, that's interesting!” But it's because you put them around the right people and the right environments. The right books just seemed to show up in the house. They see you leading by example, working with integrity, teaching with integrity. So they make the right decisions, but you were the decision architect.

So similarly, in your own life, you want to become the decision architect.

The Bradley Cooper film Limitless featured a fictional nootropic drug NZT-48 that offered significant cognitive enhancements. 

Do you think we’ll see something like that anytime soon?

I don't think so. 

The way that the human brain works is that it's a marathon and not a sprint.

And anything that it adds now, you will have to be forced to take away later.

There's a price to pay.

Look, there's amazing technology out there, and it’s constantly improving. Medicine is improving exponentially. There's going to be amazing things out there. 

Ideally, we would all like a pill to get younger. We would all like a pill to get smarter. But eating right, exercising, clean food, clean living, clean air, good connections with people. Good friends, time with family and friends. These things aren't sexy. There's no book in that! That's why diet books are so popular.

The fact is, you might do great on eating a little bit of meat and then maybe being vegetarian once a week, you might do great doing a certain kind of workout, another workout another day, and something that might work for you today might not work for you tomorrow. There's no book in that. There's no product to sell in that. And that's what people don't want to tell you. 

The most important thing is having discipline, but being able to break dogma and doing it without breaking the bank and just being stupid.

On your best day, what's an affirmation that you would write on a flashcard to show yourself on your worst day?

I love change.

Final question, what's one thing you do to Win the Day?

Outside of this podcast, it's an awesome podcast by the way!

One thing I'm going to do to Win the Day is to make a sale. But the most essential part of my daily routine is being with my kid. It's the best thing in the world.

But these things aren't sexy, these things don't sell books. People want you to take this pill, do this bio-hack, like this crazy thing, and all that stuff's fun, yeah, do it all, try it all, it's all fucking great, but the really basic shit is free. 

The really great stuff, you don't need to read a book. You know how to cuddle with your kids. You know how to go out there on a walk and just let the sun beat down on your face and be like, "Fuck man, that feels good." You know how to do all that. You don't need a book. You don't need a product for it.

And the lessons that you can learn just from watching your kids interact with the world and grow, teaches you so much about yourself and life.

It's amazing You get to be a kid all over again, and it's absolutely remarkable.

Thank you, my friend, for coming on the show today.

Thanks buddy, I appreciate you having me.


Final steps to Win the Day...

💕 Share the love:

I hope you enjoyed that interview!

As you heard, our guests love to hear positive feedback, no matter where they’re at in their careers. Share a comment on the YouTube version of this episode with your favorite takeaway so our guest knows they made a difference in your life today.

Also, the right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend or loved one out there who needs to hear this episode – or could use some help to Win the Day – share it with them right now.

🤗 Subscribe to the Win the Day podcast:

If you’re new to the Win the Day show, hit the subscribe / follow button so you can get access to episodes like this one as soon as they are released.

The Win the Day podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, Google, Audible, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

🙋‍♀️ Join the Win the Day movement:

We’ve created a safe space for the Win the Day tribe to connect with each other, share ideas, and upgrade their mindset. You’ll also receive access to content that you won’t find anywhere else.Join the Win the Day Facebook group.


That’s all for this episode! Get out there and win the day.

Until next time…

Onward and upward always,

James Whittaker

PS - If you have a question and want it featured on the Win the Day podcast, email your question (in writing or as an audio message) to: info@jameswhitt.com


Resources / links mentioned:

⚡ Shaahin Cheyene website.

📷 Shaahin Cheyene Instagram.

📚 ‘Billion: How I Became King of the Thrill Pill Cult‘ by Shaahin Cheyene.

📈 For a free download of Shaahin's 'Selling on Amazon' course, email darkzess@gmail.com with subject line: WINTHEDAY

🎬 Subscribe to Win the Day YouTube channel

💚 Give the Win the Day podcast a 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts

🙏 Give the Win the Day podcast a 5-star rating on Spotify

💕 Win the Day Facebook group

📝 Win the Day newsletter [weekly LinkedIn exclusive]

Back to Newsletters >

Ready to win the day®?

Get actionable tips from James and the world's leading experts. Delivered to your inbox every two weeks 🔥
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram