On the wall behind Omar Zenhom, a poster hangs bearing a quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger. It reads “The last 3 or 4 reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion.”
This poster represents Zenhom’s own personality.
A former educator who left an unfulfilling career to venture out on an entrepreneurial journey, Zenhom talks often about the importance of change and growth.
We were happy to chat with Zenhom, the co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of WebinarNinja to learn more about how he set out on an adventurous journey after 13 years of playing it safe.
Getting out of the comfort zone
Zenhom grew up in New York with a father who worked in sales.
The inconsistency of his father’s line of work was dismaying and set him on a trajectory toward something with more stability. With that, he commenced his career in teaching.
He was successful as an educator at both high school and university levels for 13 years, eventually becoming department head. From this role, he sought a promotion to department chair but soon learned from a colleague that despite being qualified and already unofficially performing the role, the position was to be filled by an outside hire.
Zenhom’s frustration was the catalyst for leaving.
As he explained to Kreig Kent in a podcast for Gritty Founder, he realized he wasn’t totally in charge of his own professional path. He recalled, “It was clear to me that ‘I have no autonomy, I have no control over my success.’”
He realized it was time to get out of his comfort zone.
Building a business
Zenhom recalls a friend visiting him from the United Kingdom and giving him a book by the founders of Coffee Republic called “Anyone Can Do It.”
This book helped open his eyes to new possibilities. He took away from this the knowledge that being an entrepreneur was an option for anyone that had the desire and drive to make it happen.
He had also been interested in the workings of the internet since around 2002 and began experimenting with small business ventures of his own.
One of Zenhom’s early business endeavors involved a sort of retail arbitrage on eBay.
Acting as a middleman, he would find a buyer in search of a specific item (for example, Air Jordans) and then source a seller. He could then fulfill the order at a markup and profit from the margin.
These early experiments not only taught Zenhom what his strengths were, but also how important passion is in developing a successful business. This period also gave him the chance to learn and grow. “I crashed and burned a whole bunch of times – I learned the hard way,” Zenhom recalled.
WebinarNinja became Zenhom’s golden ticket in the entrepreneurial world.
Founded in 2014, named as one of the fastest-growing Software as a service (SaaS) companies in 2018, over a million people have attended a webinar on WebinarNinja.
He’s also found success as the host of an iTunes Best of 2014 podcast, “The $100 MBA Show.” The podcast delivers daily, ten-minute business lessons and boasts of over 50,000 daily listeners.
With a background in both education and business-building, it seems Zenhom has really found his niche.
Change is good
Zenhom frequently speaks of this constant need for evolution and change. Something that is intrinsic to an entrepreneurial career path.
He said, “I always say that ‘if it’s hard, if it’s difficult, if you’re having challenges, if you’re having doubts – these are all rites of passage. It just means you’re on the track of where you want to go.’”
Zenhom loves reading biographies. Not only does he find them reassuring as they show us that even the most successful people struggle and everyone has low points, but because they allow us to witness the evolution of an individual as they evolve in their own journey.
To understand a little more about Zenhom’s own journey and how motivation and drive has brought him to manifest his own professional fulfillment, we had a few more questions for him.
You are in the business of inspiring and motivating people. Where do you get your inspiration?
I love reading biographies of those who accomplished great things.
Describe your entrepreneurship journey using three words.
Pain, change, adventure.
Describe your mind in three words.
Critical, practical, deliberate.
What are three words you would use to describe your character/ you as a person?
Competitive, positive, problem solver.
What qualities are the most important for budding entrepreneurs to have?
Not afraid to fail. Can Adapt and grow. Relentless.
What’s one critical moment that has shaped your life?
Quitting my full-time job as an educator to become a full-time entrepreneur. Took a risk on myself.
Screen time or no screen time?
No screen time!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take professional risks when the stakes are low. Don’t play it safe. Dream big.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A cartoonist. Taking an idea and making it exist in the world is like a drug.