Sometimes Helping the Competition
IS Your Niche
Meet Ticket Platform CEO Amir Khalighi
It is our people, our culture, and yes, even our partners, clients, and ultimately, the bond we all share that makes Newtek so special. Beyond a technology solutions provider, we are a thriving network of like-minded professionals who continually find new ways to improve each other’s worlds. WeAreNewtek.com provides a dynamic platform to help us connect in new ways – and celebrate who we are – both inside and outside the workplace.
“Reciprocity,” offers Ticket Platform CEO Amir Khalighi. “Years ago, I was having a discussion with an older gentleman who told me, in no uncertain terms, that reciprocity was the secret to life. Those words and their meaning, therewith, have stayed with me. Any relationship, or let’s say successful relationship requires being conscious of reciprocity.”
And if you spend any time getting to know Amir, that fundamental thought has been instrumental in his most recent business success. He explains, “I used to own Golden Circle which was a top-line competitive ticket agency. At that level, we were jockeying for position among the best of the best. At some point I realized that would be the full iteration of our business position. That being said, I noticed a bevy of services that I knew my company could benefit from, as well as our competitors. While there is certainly no shame in fighting the good fight, I thought perhaps I could actually become a valued asset to those who I was endlessly competing against. That idea catalyzed the idea for Ticket Platform.”
And the major difference in products and services now?
“We provide solutions to such national ticket agencies,” he explains. “Now we help their efforts by offering support in areas like online marketing, social networking, SEO, email, virtualization. Because of my background, it was simple to identify pain points as, at one time, they were mine as well. That enabled me to create on-point deliverables and solutions, coming to the aid of those who used to represent my competitive set. It was a perfect niche.”
“Win/win applies to all parties involved. It applies to my family time, my staff, and as you said, my clients. All relationships must be in balance.”
Would you say that reframing those relationships were instrumental to your success?
“From a business perspective, one could say that,’ Amir apprehensively agrees, but the self-described businessman is far more “Phil Jacsksonesque” in his philosophy. “Success, to me, continues to be a state of being content with what I have. When applied to business it means I have a ‘win/ win’ foundation and a growing company.”
By win/win you are referring to your client relations?
“Win/win applies to all parties involved. It applies to my family time, my staff, and as you said, my clients. All relationships must be in balance. As we spoke of earlier, reciprocity remains key. Of course, not everything is always perfectly balanced, but ultimately that is my role as a leader. That’s really my job to keep things well-synched if you will.”
So then keeping things balanced represents your greatest success?
“Actually, what I am most proud of is maintaining a close relationship with my daughter throughout her adolescence,” Amir suggests with dutiful honesty. “As a father of a girl, it was important to have difficult discussions. And while it may be counter-intuitive to think close, loving relationships might require more effort, anytime emotions are so full, we must be prepared to fully immerse ourselves. It is tough to acknowledge and discuss with the once-little girl you worked so hard to raise, that while she is moving to adulthood, and your style of relationship may change – that open lines of communication will best serve to maintain the bond that you spent years to develop. We are still close. It was not easy to accomplish with this level of understanding. To me, that’s success.”
Being the CEO of a technology-based company, you do understand that there is a stigma associated with tech folks. Oftentimes, they are considered quirky – any interesting habits you’d like to share?
Amir grins, but reminds, “I am a business man. Thereby, I do not share the same habits of the developers and programmers of the world.”
There has to be a …
“I meditate,” he concedes. However, considering how grounded he is, and the fact that he resides in the Los Angeles area, meditation cannot really be seen as overtly weird. Some guys are just solid.
Do you have a mantra?
“If I did, I would think it too personal to reveal,” explains Amir. “However,” he baits, “There is a quote that has always spoken to me.”
“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” He offers, “That has long inspired me to not allow fear to dictate my actions. The words themselves come from, I believe, Helen Schucman in the late 1960s, early 70s work, ‘A Course in Miracles.’”
“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.”
Beyond the impact of uncontrolled fears manning the helms of decision-makers, is there anything else you would like to see change, regarding our work culture in the United States?
“More than anywhere, we certainly have the requisite work ethic,” he begins. “Personally, I am a political centrist. I am a proponent of empowering the middle class. I am an advocate for a vibrant and proactive society – not one that desires trickle-down. When it comes down to it, we work so hard hours-wise to keep up in what has become sweeping consumerism. We see most everyone virtually overworking to merely pay debts, running around to acquire benefits. I see us becoming exhausted in our pursuit of things that seem to exist just beyond our reach.
“I do not think our culture of work needs much improvement. And I realize that much of our economy is based upon consumerism, but to answer the question, I suppose that most benefit would come from a recalibration of what really makes us feel satisfied. I think we have allowed ourselves to become a bit out of balance. And that happens in everything. In short, I guess the best change we could hope for was a bit more balance added to the equation. More life, less stress and panic. The work ethic is there. No question about that.”
Is there anything specifically in the world of technology that you would like to see come to fruition?
“That’s a toughie,” concedes the introspective CEO. “I see the quest for exponential growth in companies across the entire industry. I am not the number one fan of that approach. While growth is good, I prefer it to take place with a positive, albeit gradual incline. I suppose, I am more tree than weed in such regard. With explosive technological growth, I think we may risk losing a bit of our humanity, or at least, we’re seemingly allowing ourselves to evolve in ways that we might think twice about if given adequate time to reflect.”
What about actual advances in technology? What areas do you still see as worthwhile?
“I will say that if/when I have available resources for investment,” Amir explains, “I remain fascinated by robotics – particularly those with service applications that could bring companionship assistance to the elderly. That sort of thing. Lately, you hear so much talk about drones and I try to imagine our skies filled with little drones doing deliveries.” He jokes, “I hope they put some size and weight limitations on packages. I would be nervous watching couches and refrigerators flying overhead.”
Looking back, would you consider the gentleman who shared the secret of reciprocity your greatest influence?
“Not quite,” Amir cautions, “That would diminish the impact and influence of my mother. She had it tough when we were young. Much of who I am today came from watching her overcome obstacles. She easily served as my greatest inspiration.”
So, if you were given an all expenses-paid vacation, where would you head?
“Iran,” Amir shares without hesitation. “I have not been there since 1979 and I’ve seen less than 5 percent of my entire family since I was 9 years old. Life has been a beautiful journey, but in that regard … that’s just too long.” He pauses and then chuckles, “Why is Newtek making me an offer?”
I can ask, but before I do, what would you say is the most critical element to compete in the technology industry?
Amir’s clarity of mind is both inspiring and perhaps just a bit intimidating. Without hesitation, he offers, “Adaptability. Technology is so fluid. Business models continuously morph, changing shape, dimension, and approach. As leaders and contributors, we must enjoy the process of continually adapting to our ever changing landscape.”
Did you always dream of becoming a leader in the world of technology?
“Fireman came first,” confesses Amir.
As a leader, one could say that Mr. Khalighi has become something of an expert at extinguishing fires and avoiding potential hazards.
However, as you might expect, Amir is far too direct in such circumstance to accept such an applicable metaphor. Instinctively, he clarifies, “It was that show Emergency back in the 70s. I had the red hat and everything. Fireman – that was it for me.”