The SIP: Episode 2 Transcript

Justin J. Pearson (2013), Dr. Shaan Patel (2007), and Albert Lawrence (2003)

Learn more about The SIP and its second episode, Building a Shark Tank Side Hustle with Dr. Shaan Patel (2007), here.

[Intro music plays]

Justin J. Pearson:

Welcome back to The SIP, the podcast that shares a taste of the Coke Scholars around the world who are igniting positive change. My name is Justin J. Pearson, and I’m a proud 2013 Coca-Cola Scholar, originally from Memphis, Tennessee, and now living and working in Boston, focused on social and economic justice.

For those who are listening and may not be a Coca-Cola Scholar, welcome, we’re glad you’re here. To give you a little background, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is the largest achievement-based and corporate-sponsored scholarship program in the country. Each year, it awards $20,000 to 150 high school seniors across the country who share a unique passion for service and leadership. It’s a competitive program to get into, but once you’re a Coke Scholar, the benefits go far beyond the money for college. You become part of this bigger family for life. If you want to learn more, you can visit their website, Coca-ColaScholarsFoundation.org.

In today’s episode, 2003 Coke Scholar Albert Lawrence will be talking with 2007 Scholar Shaan Patel. In case you missed last week, Albert is an entertainer who wears many hats. As a correspondent on the Saturday morning CBS series Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, he introduces children and families to new inventions and technological advances. He served as a recurring correspondent and producer for ABC 7 Eyewitness News in Los Angeles, hosted virtual reality experiences for Lexus, authored Digital Trending Digest for Warner Bros, and won a Telly Award for content created through his production company, Talk of Fame.

Whether he’s camping at Coachella, cosplaying at Comic Con, or covering the Oscars, Albert’s an assertive pop-culture junkie, primed to debate topics ranging from country music to superhero flicks. If you know Albert like I do, you know he’s full of joy and fun to be around, which is why we’re so excited that he will be interviewing this Coke Scholar, and he also interviewed our first Coke Scholar, Juliana, last week.

Now, let’s learn a little about Shaan. Shaan Patel grew up in his parents’ Las Vegas budget motel, attended inner-city public schools in the worst school district in the nation with a 40% dropout rate, and was clueless about standardized tests. After spending hundreds of hours studying for the SAT, he was able to raise his score from an average to perfect, a feat achieved by only 0.02% of all high school students. He was admitted into prestigious universities, received a quarter-million dollars in scholarships, including the Coca-Cola Scholars Program scholarship, and even got to meet the president.

Shaan then started his own company, Prep Expert, to help high school students achieve their own dreams, and appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank. Shaan completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern California, master’s degree at Yale, and medical degree at the University of South California. Now, he’s doing his dermatology residency in Philadelphia. He has published over 10 books in SAT and ACT prep, entrepreneurship and self-improvement. Hear more about his story and what he’s doing now in this compelling interview. Now, over to Albert and Shaan.

Albert Lawrence:

Thanks, Shaan, thanks for making yourself available. It’s exciting, because this is one of the very first episodes of the Coke Scholars’ podcast, The SIP.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Yeah, I’m honored to be one of the first episodes, I’m honored to be on the podcast at all, and I’m excited to talk to you and everyone listening at Coke Scholars. I think it’s going to be something exciting for everyone.

Albert Lawrence:

So Shaan, you’ve accomplished so much, you are already, of course, on the path to doing even more; you’re a Coke Scholar, so there’s no surprise there with that. But I do believe that not only am I inspired and not only am I looking forward to being inspired during this conversation, but I really do have faith that everybody who listens to this is going to come away with at least one nugget, if not a whole Happy Meal’s worth of insight from you.

You are the founder of Prep Expert, SAT and ACT preparation, you won a deal on Shark Tank with Mark Cuban, and you’re current a dermatology resident physician at Temple University. You’ve got a full load right there. There’s so much for us to talk about, but I want us to anchor this conversation, actually, several years ago, right after you won your scholarship through the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. A few months after that, you gave a valedictorian speech.

First off, thank you to the Internet for housing all the fantastic things, because I saw something of yours and I clicked on it, and that’s where I want our conversation to start with. The title of this video was Valedictorian Dumps Girlfriend in Shocking Graduation Speech in Front of Thousands. Shaan, tell us all, what is this video about and who was that teenager that was standing up on the stage during this moment?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Oh, that’s a great place to start it, thanks for the little Easter egg you found on the Internet, too. So for those that haven’t seen it, you can definitely pull it up on YouTube, but this video went viral on YouTube, I think, there’s a couple versions of it, but one of them has a couple million views. Basically, it is my high school graduation valedictorian speech, where I do exactly what the title says, which is I dump my girlfriend in front of thousands of people in an arena in Las Vegas, I grew in Las Vegas, so it was appropriate that it was in an arena.

Basically, I got the inspiration for this from Common, actually, the very popular hip-hop artist who actually opened for the NBA All-Star Game recently, this year, and he has a song where he talks about this girl, and he talks about loving this girl and having the deepest relationship, but eventually she breaks his heart. And at the end of the song, Common reveals that this girl is actually hip-hop, and the whole song is about his love and adoration for hip-hop.

So I took that inspiration and I wanted to make a really unique, really fun valedictorian speech that’s a little bit shocking and has some shock value to it too, and so what I did when I was a 17-year-old, one of my best ideas to date, is I had decided I was going to make my valedictorian speech about a girl, and I was going to talk about how that girl was so inspiring to me, how she had initially sort of shunned me in the first couple years of high school, ninth and tenth grade, and I talk about how I get into a deep relationship, going to school dances, and I made some of my best friends with this girl, she introduced me to so many things.

And at the end of the speech, I of course reveal that the girl … and everyone, obviously, during the speech is super-shocked that I’m just talking about this girl during my valedictorian speech for minutes. But by the end of the speech, I reveal that the girl is actually my high school. It’s a lot of fun to watch, I think I remember saying that there was this other girl that I really wanted to get with, which was another high school that I was zoned for, but I went with this girl and it was the best decision. It just fit perfectly, and if Common ever listens to this, thank you for the inspiration.

Albert Lawrence:

That’s brilliant. Shout-out to Clark High School right there. And it’s wild, too, because as you mentioned that initially you had this other high school really set in your heart. In your mind, you thought that that’s where you were destined to go, at least where you really wanted to go. But you ended up here at Clark, so was that one of the very first moments in your life where you’d actually kind of come up against opposition and felt what it meant to be disappointed?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Yeah, I think that’s a great segue into sort of the lesson that I’ve learned over the years that’s so, so important. You mentioned nuggets at the beginning that people need to take away, and I think one of the biggest nuggets that I can give people is that rejection is the necessary evil of success. I’ve never met someone who is successful who has not been rejected and disappointed so, so many times. And that’s my whole life, you talk about getting rejected from the high school I actually wanted to go to, getting rejected when I was putting together my SAT prep book, that was one of my first ideas. I’m sure we could talk about that more later, but I got rejected by so many literary agents and publishers, I got rejected by so many colleges that I really wanted to go to, and I always found that whatever that I was successful at, I had to face so many rejections and disappointments to get there.

I think what separates successful people from unsuccessful people is that the successful people learn how to bounce back from failure, bounce back from rejection. It’s not that you’re never going to fail, never going to get disappointed, never going to get rejected, it’s how you deal with it. You just kind of have to shrug it off your shoulders and keep going and know that there’s something better in store and keep working. That’s really, it’s as simple as that.

Albert Lawrence:

Yeah, Shaan, I think that there’s this myth that, when people see you, because look, of course you made it onto Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 in 2019, bravo, by the way, to that.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Thank you.

Albert Lawrence:

But when people see you there and they see you on Shark Tank, I think that it’s very easy for us as viewers, if we don’t know your story, to just assume that this came relatively easy to you, right? Because the way that you wear it, you seem so comfortable in the space that you’re in, but there’s so much depth there. We’re just seeing the very tip of the iceberg, so I kind of want to get a little bit into some of these rejections that you’re talking about. We’re going to get deeper into the amazing things that you’ve accomplished, but I want to know who you were, what are these things that really pushed you and inspired you to get there.

Let’s talk, first off, you mentioned the SAT prep book. How did you decide to start working on an SAT prep book, and what did you run into while you were creating that?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Yeah, the inspiration for the SAT prep book, again, everything starts in high school. Like, Coke Scholars’ a big part of it, so in high school, I was a good student and I worked really hard, but I wasn’t naturally a genius. Everyone looks at perfect SAT score and they’re like, “Oh, that guy’s a genius.” Immediately, that’s the reaction people give you, but the truth is, I got around a average on my first SAT that I took. And then I took it again and I got a little bit higher, then I took it again, got a little bit higher, and then when I finally took it and I studied hundreds of hours in the library over one summer, I got a perfect SAT score. That was after just not being able to do it, struggling and struggling and struggling on over 20 practice exams, just continuing to work hard.

When I got that perfect SAT score, it totally changed my life. I got to university and I was like, I want to help other students change their life the way that the SAT did for me, and what better way than to write a book to help other students prepare for the SAT the way that I did in high school? I thought I had amazing strategies that helped me go from average to perfect and I wanted to share those.

I thought, oh, this is going to be amazing, everyone’s going to love it, the first SAT prep book by a perfect-score student, who wouldn’t want to buy that?

Albert Lawrence:

Yeah.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Reality slapped me in the face. I put together a book proposal and I pitched it out to 100 literary agents and publishers, and I got 100 rejections.

Albert Lawrence:

Oh, my gosh. That hurts.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

It hurts. Every single one was like, “The SAT prep market is too competitive, this guy doesn’t have a platform.” One publisher actually was like, “I don’t find Shaan’s writing very good or his persona engaging.” Those were straight-up shots. [laughing]

Albert Lawrence:

They were getting personal, Shaan!

Dr. Shaan Patel:

I know! And so I took all these rejection and then I was like, “Well, what am I going to do with all these hundreds of pages that I’ve written?” I decided I wasn’t going to wait for a publisher to give me a book deal. Instead, I’ll turn it into a prep course, so that’s almost 10 years ago now, I decided I was going to launch Prep Expert. The very first six-week SAT course that I taught had 18 students in it, and we had amazing results. Week over week, students were improving 50 to 100 points on the SAT.

At the end of it, the average score improvement in that first class was 376 points. That’s equivalent to taking a student from the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile.

Albert Lawrence:

Wow.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

I had parents knocking down the door for more courses. We were getting amazing results for kids. And so that’s when I knew I was onto something, and what’s ironic about all of this is the world’s largest education publisher, McGraw Hill, after they saw what I was building with Prep Expert, they said, “Hey, we know we rejected you the first time, but we’d love for you now to … we’ll give you the book deal.”

So I did the book, it went number one on Amazon for SAT prep, it sold tens of thousands of copies. Life gives you Plan A, it gives you Plan B; sometimes you just got to make Plan C, and my Plan C was just I’m going to make a prep course. And then your Plan A might just end up happening anyway, you know?

Albert Lawrence:

Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

You really have to pave your own path in order to make success happen. Success isn’t going to find you. I used to think that. When I used to wait for a book deal, I was like, “The right publisher or the right agent is going to make it happen for me.” It’s like, no, I made it happen for myself when I decided to start that business and start that company.

Albert Lawrence:

It’s wild, too, because I’m so curious. When you said that initially you were waiting for success to just come for you, you thought it would be there. Bro, you are not alone in that thought, right? I’m sure that several heads are nodding as they’re listening to this, and they’re going like, “Yep, I’ve been there, I thought it was going to come.”

I know that you don’t have all of the answers to this in terms of the human psyche and how we arrive at that kind of assumption, but for you, where do you think that that initial impetus to believe that, “Oh, all I’ve got to do is a good job, and then somebody’s going to find me”? Where do you think that that came from?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

You know, that’s a great question, that’s a billion-dollar question. I think part of it is entitlement, it’s the American mentality to feel that you’re entitled for success, that you deserve this success. One of the biggest takeaways that I’ve learned over the years in entrepreneurship is: stop waiting for handouts. And this doesn’t just apply for entrepreneurship, it applies for whether you’re working really hard at a law firm, at a hospital, whatever your career path may be, you might be a writer for a magazine. Are you waiting for your boss to do something for you, are you waiting for an agent to call you? Are you waiting for a big publishing deal?

Stop waiting, start making it happen. One thing that I’ve realized is that, if you create great work on your own and you create great content and you show your value, there’s less waiting involved. The wait gets shorter, because people will find you. Nowadays with the Internet, it’s easy to put yourself out there, showcase your work, showcase your abilities. Then you stop waiting for that big Instagram influencer to notice you or whatever you’re waiting for.

My big lesson to people is, don’t be like I was way back in college when I was waiting for a publisher to give me a book deal and hand me success. Be like how I was right after I got those 100 rejections and I decided that I was going to just take it, I was going to take that success in my own hands and started a company, started a business, and I wasn’t going to wait for someone to give me success.

Albert Lawrence:

But I feel like the longest wait of your life was probably waiting to hear back from Shark Tank, right? When you applied, just waiting to find out, am I going to be on the show? Take us back to that moment. What did you do while you were waiting to be called up?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Oh, man, that’s a great story as well. For those that don’t know Shark Tank, it’s basically a huge TV show on primetime television on ABC where entrepreneurs go on to pitch their businesses to these billionaires investors, and the audition process to get on a Shark Tank is a grueling one. I mean, they have almost 50,000 entrepreneurs apply every year, and only about 100 to 200 get on the show. It’s about as hard to get on Shark Tank as it is to get a perfect SAT score. I’m the only person that’s done both.

So for me, I was basically, I was a big fan of Shark Tank, like I am sure a lot of people listening to this are, and one day, it just clicked in my mind while I was watching, I was like, “Well, I have a company that’s a small business in Las Vegas that I’d love to scale to more cities, I’d love to scale it online, I could use some investment to build some more infrastructure, hire some more people.” I decided, I was like, “I’m going to try to audition for Shark Tank.”

I saw that there were some auditions in New York City, and I was going to business school at Yale at the time, which was about an hour and a half, so I took the train down, and it was funny, because I’m late to everything, so I was late to the audition.

Albert Lawrence:

Shaan, no!

Dr. Shaan Patel:

I know. I was the last person in line, I literally stood around New York City for nine hours with 500 other people to give this one-minute pitch to a casting call producer. After waiting around for seven hours, I’m kind of like, “I’m an idiot, I’m never going to make it on the show,” you know? But of course I practiced my pitch for hours and hours, and the entire time, the casting call producer has this stone-cold look on his face, like he is not into me. I’m saying all these amazing things, I’m like, “We have a million dollars in sales, I’ve written for the New York Times, we’ve been published in Business Insider.” None of it is gelling, he’s just stone-cold.

And at the very end of the pitch, I pull out my SAT prep book that McGraw Hill had published, and his eyes light up. He is so excited and impressed that I have a book.

Albert Lawrence:

Wow.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

He’s like, “You’re a published author, this is your face, oh, I’m going to give this to my nephew, he’s taking the SAT.” It was all of a sudden very real to him. And then literally, he calls me back, I think, it was so quickly, within two weeks, to move me to the next round after that. And what’s so funny about that, from the next round, which was a video audition, within two months I was being flown out to Los Angeles to pitch all the Sharks.

But the lesson in that, and I think there’s an important lesson in here, which is I never would’ve gotten on Shark Tank if I didn’t get that book, right? And so what’s really, really important for everyone out there is that a little bit of success begets more success. What I mean by that is I never thought that getting a book would lead to Shark Tank. All I thought about was the book, right? So you have to not try to jump the ladder all the way up, you have to take that first step.

Then you never know what that first step is going to lead to, that second step and that third step and that fourth step. I’m sort of building that ladder for people in my life, right? I took the SAT, I got a perfect score, that’s the first step. Then I got rejected by a bunch of book deals, so I couldn’t take that large step, so then the next step was I started a prep course.

And then it took me to that step for the book deal, then that book, randomly, I had no idea, there was another step to Shark Tank. You can only look at the next step, is what I’m telling people. Once you take that next step, who knows what little success that you have is going to lead to the next big step for you. It’s unpredictable, no one could’ve ever told me when I was in high school, “You’re going to write an SAT prep book and that’s going to let you on Shark Tank.” No way, I couldn’t connect those dots.

And neither will you, in whatever you’re pursuing as an entrepreneur, in your career, et cetera. Just do great work to do the next step and make it happen for yourself. Take your destiny and control it and put it in your own hands, is what I’m saying. At the end of this, stop waiting for handouts and take that next step, whatever that may be, and you will see doors open up that you would never thought open up.

Albert Lawrence:

Shaan, if there are any fortune-tellers or people with crystal balls that are listening right now, they’re very upset with you because, and let me tell you why I think that they would have a beef with you. It’s because, off of what you said, it seems as though, if we were to be able to look into the future and to see what the end is, if we could see what’s actually at the top of that ladder for us, it doesn’t matter. Because we still would not be able to reverse-engineer this, right?

If you knew back in high school that you were going to be on Shark Tank, you probably would’ve gone about trying to get on there in a completely different way. You would not have organically tried for the publishing, that didn’t work out, okay, so fine, let’s just go ahead, I’m going to do these courses. You would’ve thought, “Oh, A to B to C to D to E,” but nah, man, you’ve hopscotched, you’ve gone back ad forth and this has propelled you to the next step and so forth. So I think that sometimes it does benefit us to not necessarily know what that end results is going to be.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

100%, yeah. I think Kevin O’Leary, one of the very popular Sharks on the show, says “Vision is overrated.” Execution is way more important than vision, and I think it’s important that you have goals, but I tell people, I don’t believe in five-year business plans. When people ask me “Where do you see your business or where do you see your career in five years?”, I tell them I don’t know, because all I’m looking at is the next year or two, where I have very specific goals I’m trying to achieve, you know?

What I’m saying is I’m not against planning, I really believe in planning and detailing things out. For me, I plan out every single hour of my day, I know exactly what 20-minute phone call I’ll be on during lunch, I know exactly what 20-minute phone call I’ll be on during my commute back home from work. Every single thing is planned out in my life to a tee, but I can’t do that five years from now. I can’t tell you what my hour-to-hour day is going to look like on February 27th, 2025.

I can only tell you over the next week or two … I really believe in detailed planning because that leads to detailed execution, and I value execution over everything. Ideas are commodities; execution is everything. I’m sure there are people listening to this that believe that Shark Tank is easy, because there’s so many simple ideas. They’re like, “Oh, that’s such a simple fitness idea, that’s such a simple [inaudible 00:25:13], it’s such a simple course he made. It’s so simple.”

Yeah, the ideas are simple, but do you see the sweat and thousands of hours those entrepreneurs have put in executing those ideas? That’s what matters. An idea is nothing to me, execution is everything.

Albert Lawrence:

Execution is everything. So in the midst of you executing this master business that you’ve done with Prep Expert, you also are at Temple University, you’re a dermatology resident physician, so how in the world does that part of your life fit into this entrepreneurial lifestyle that you’ve also been cultivating? Where does the dermatology resident match up with Shaan the businessman?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

That’s a great question, and probably the most common one that I get, which is, “Wait, you’re also a physician?” I kind of left that part out, but during my whole entrepreneurial journey that we’ve been talking about, from high school, literally, to college, and then medical school and now residency, I have literally been training to become a dermatologist this entire time. I went to university at USC, I went to medical school at USC, I did business school at Yale, and then I also am currently at Temple University Hospital for dermatology.

During these past 10 years, I have not only been building Prep Expert, but I’ve also been training to be a dermatology physician. So what’s really interesting about all of this is that was the biggest gripe that all of the Sharks had against me on Shark Tank, which is, they asked me, “Do you want to be a doctor or do you want to be a entrepreneur?” on the show. They said, “You can’t be a part-time entrepreneur.” And I wish, at the time, when they asked me “Do you want to be a doctor or do you want to be an entrepreneur?”, I froze and I looked completely stupid on television, but I wish I could go back and say “I really want to do both.”

What was so amazing after I aired on Shark Tank, and why I think people really resonated with it, is that I’m living proof that you can pursue a business or an entrepreneurial trial without having to quit your full-time day job. My full-time day job was going to medical school and then becoming a dermatology resident physician, and I was able to continue to have my entrepreneurial venture, which is Prep Expert, continue run SAT and ACT courses, and continue to oversee and run the business. I have an amazing team that runs the day-to-day operations, whether it’s teaching or customer service, marketing, sales, I have an amazing team of employees that does it, but what I’m telling people is that you can, if you have that business idea, you have that entrepreneurial dream, you can work on your nights and weekends outside of your career and get that off the ground, execute it and make it happen, and really scale it to something amazing. That’s not impossible.

So many people reached out to me after the show and said, “You know, I’ve got a full-time day job that I hate, but I have this entrepreneurial dream that I’m just so excited about,” or “I have a full-time day job that I’m really excited about, but I also have this other idea that I’ve been toying with for a while, but I’ve never really gone to try to execute it.”

Hopefully, the people listening to this is, if you have that entrepreneurial … you don’t have to quit your job. You could literally execute and be super-productive on your nights and weekends and get it done. It’s not impossible. Now, it’s not going to be easy, I’m not telling you that it’s going to be easy and that you’re not going to have to work sometimes 70, 80 hours a week, sometimes more, to do both. But if you want to be in the 1% of people with a successful entrepreneurial venture, then you’re going to have to work like 99% of the people that don’t want to work that much, you know?

You have to work hard, you have to execute, but it’s not impossible, and you can do it. If I can do it, you can definitely do it.

Albert Lawrence:

First off, so thank you for that level of inspiration. I also dig the fact that you’re giving such specific answers, because I feel like the specifics, those details, those are things that we get a chance to really latch onto, that we can then figure out how to apply it to our own lives. But in the process of being an entrepreneur and also committing to a career that arguably takes a lot of brain power as well and a lot of focus, you clearly have shown, and you clearly continue to demonstrate that it’s possible and you can actually excel within both realms.

But usually there’s something that we end up sacrificing in the midst of pursuing our dreams, and in your case, multiple dreams at one time. Level with me, Shaan. What are you sacrificing, what, at night, are you laying down and thinking, like, “Okay, well, I really would love to do this tomorrow, but if I’m going to make sure that Prep Expert is still operating in the best way that it can with the best team that it can, and if I’m going to make sure that I’m really still fulfilling my duties as a dermatology resident here at Temple, I can’t do this thing, I have to say no to this”?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Oh, 100%. Yeah, I think you have to be willing to sacrifice some social events. I specifically say social events because you don’t have to sacrifice a social life. I think you can still have a very vibrant, and I hope my social life is vibrant. You can still have a great social life, but you just have to say “no” sometimes.

I’ll give you a specific example from this past weekend: I had my dermatology board exams coming up, I had to study literally all weekend, I mean, it was 12 hours a day of studying on Saturday and Sunday. My friends hit me up, they say, “Hey Shaan, we’re going bowling … ” Literally, they’re like, “WE’re going bowling, it’s right next to your apartment, come out.” And I said, “Ah, no, guys, I got to study.” Most people would be uncomfortable sending a text like that on a Saturday night at 9:00 PM, you know? They were totally … understood and were cool with it. It’s like, I’ll go to the next bowling thing, whatever it may be.

It’s like, yeah, even I felt weird. I was like, “Dude, it’s 9:00 PM on Saturday, I’m telling people I got to study, I can’t go bowling? It’s being ridiculous,” but you have to just sacrifice a little bit of a social life in order to be able to do these things. Now, granted, I don’t have some major obligations that other people might. For example, I don’t have a child. That would be a major obligation you can’t exactly ignore-

Albert Lawrence:

Right.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Social life’s a little easier. For me, I do think that I’m able to do it because I don’t have those major obligations like a child or a family that I need to take care of, and then on top of that, for a person that doesn’t have those obligations, sacrificing a bowling night, no big deal. Not the biggest sacrifices.

I do think if you have those bigger obligations, whether family or children or whatever it may be, that could be a little bit more difficult.

Albert Lawrence:

True, yeah. We can put the bowling aside, unless Mark Cuban is asking you to go out bowling. Then I’m sure you’d clear the calendar a little bit.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

I might sacrifice a little bit of studying for that, yeah.

Albert Lawrence:

So, Shaan, some of the key things that are really resonating with me that I think that our audience may be stewing on is, first off, the idea of rejection, the idea that rejection really did help you to form yourself into who you are, like all of those dings and all of those nos and all of those non-returning of phone calls and/or emails, all have poured into the mold of who Shaan is today. But then also, from that rejection, the idea of execution, right?

So not just being able to ideate and to come up with thoughts, but to really, really put the pedal to the metal and to build things there. Because you never know, you may be standing right next to a catapult that’s going to leap you up beyond what you’ve imagined, and beyond what you’ve dreamed right there. So Shaan, thank you so much for sharing with us. I know you’ve got, we could have tales for days, but just for the purpose of this particular episode, I think that you shared so much and I appreciate you.

So with that, I want to give you the final word in terms of sharing with the listeners any, maybe, one more nugget, one more piece that you’d love to leave people with, especially people who maybe are looking for inspiration for the next step of their journey.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Oh, absolutely. I’m going to give something that is both research-based as well as practical, so let me start with the research. Well, let me tell you what it is first: my number-one secret to entrepreneurial success, or success, actually, in life in general.

Let me tell you the research to it: basically, there was a famous, and I’m sure a lot of people have seen this, know about this, but there’s a famous Stanford marshmallow experiment that they did in the, I believe it was 1960s, around then. They took five-year-old children, and they did this on hundreds of children, these five-year-olds, and they put them in a room with one marshmallow. They told these kids that “You can either eat this marshmallow right now, or if you wait 15 minutes, we’ll give you two marshmallows.

What they were testing is the child’s ability to have self-control, to not eat the marshmallow immediately, right? What they found was only about one-third, or 33% of those kids, had enough self-control not to eat that marshmallow immediately. So they were able to delay gratification, they had self-control.

So they followed these kids 20, 30 years later, and they found that those kids that had self-control from a young age were found to be more successful on every metric in life. They had higher SAT scores by 200 points, they were more healthy, lower BMIs, they were more popular with their peers, they were making higher salaries. Literally, they were more successful in everything.

So what the research told us is that the number-one predictor for success is self-control. That is more important today, in 2020, than in the 1960s or ’70s, whenever they did this experiment, because today it is so, so hard to have self-control. The reason for that is all this technology. You think about Netflix, YouTube, Instagram, oh my gosh, Facebook. Even your email is a distractor. There’s just so many reasons to not have self-control, to get distracted by all these apps, all this technology, to make you stop getting real work done, putting out real value.

One of my big nuggets for people to become more productive and successful is simply, when you’re trying to do high-level work and high-value work, have the self-control to put your phone away. Put the phone away, if you’re writing an article or, for me, sometimes I’m writing a book or writing an article or I’m studying, I literally turn the Internet off and I just have my physical book. You will get so much done, you will get so much more … and I know everyone has to do work with the Internet now, et cetera, but at least put the phone away. I literally put my phone in a separate room so I’m physically detached when I’m trying to get high-level work done.

What I’m trying to tell people is train yourself, in this world of technology and distraction, to have more self-control, because you will become more productive and ultimately more successful.

Albert Lawrence:

So from breaking up with your girlfriend via the graduation speech to now encouraging us to step away from the marshmallows every now and then, I think that you bookended a perfect collection of nuggets right here.

Now we’ve come to the final portion called The Fast Five. I’ve got five questions for you here; as soon as I ask you them, I want you to just say the first thing that pops into your mind. We want some fast, quick answers, you can be completely honest, and promise, no judgment.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

All right, let’s do it. Yeah, that sounds fun.

Albert Lawrence:

All right, so, first off: what are two apps or websites that you can’t live without?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

I’m going to give two that I think make me more productive and healthy. One is Fitbod, so Fitbod is a workout app that I absolutely love. You can literally plug in which workout items you have and then it will build workouts around the … even if you have no equipment at all, it’ll be a complete … let’s say you’re just traveling and there’s no gym in the hotel, you could just say “I don’t have any equipment” and it’ll build a workout for you. It’s really cool that way. So I love that app.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

The second app that I love is, I’m all about mindfulness, but I don’t have time, I feel like, to really focus on doing more meditation as much as I’d like, et cetera, so this is really for the busy person that wants to do more mindful meditation. That’s called Simple Habit, love that app, use it every single night because it’s a five-minute quick meditation-

Albert Lawrence:

They go hand-in-hand, perfect.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Exactly.

Albert Lawrence:

Next question. If I looked at the music on your iPhone or iPod right now, what would most surprise me?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

I think the amount of rap that I listen to. I’m into everything from Drake to Jay-Z to Roddy Ricch, I’m playing his album, he’s the new hot young rapper out. I like rap because it is very, I think a lot of entrepreneurs actually gravitate towards it because it is very about hustling and starting from nothing and making it yourself, so that’s every bootstrapped entrepreneur’s dream.

Albert Lawrence:

So we’re going to look forward to an album from Shaan P.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

That’s my rap name, exactly.

Albert Lawrence:

What’s your favorite book or piece of music or art that has helped or inspired you in your life?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

The Power of Now, which is a book by Eckhart Tolle, he’s this very famous philosopher, but The Power of Now is so, so … it was life-changing for me. What I mean by that is he talks about how it’s very difficult to live in the present moment, we’re constantly thinking about the future or we’re thinking about the past. Our worry comes from thinking about the future, and our anxiety comes from thinking about the past, but it’s very rarely that people live in their fullest, in the exact moment … right now, the moment that I’m having is I’m speaking with you and just living in that moment. Nothing about what I have to do later or how else happened in the past; it’s really hard, but when you can do it, I honestly feel like you have the best experiences. So I encourage everyone to check out that book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It’s really incredible.

Albert Lawrence:

Beautiful. What quote or motto do you live your life by?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

It has to come from my business partner, mentor Mark Cuban. He says “Work like there’s someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.” That is inspiring, because you have to constantly out-grind and put more effort in than the next person-

Albert Lawrence:

Wow, so yeah, living like that, then you do need the meditation moments.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

[laughing] Yeah! Exactly.

Albert Lawrence:

Finally, what makes the Coke Scholars program or network unique?

Dr. Shaan Patel:

The Coke Scholars program was the most special to me back then, as well it’s the one that I still hold dearest to my heart, because I really feel like Coke Scholars is a family. They have made an effort through the program, through the culture they’ve created, to connect with us individually from being Coke Scholars, and also connect other Coke Scholars, and still do that. It’s been 10 years since I was a Coke Scholar, more than 10 years, and they still continually reach out.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

When they talk about network, I’ve never seen another scholars program make this kind of effort to really connect their alumni, to stay connected with their alumni, and really build out a culture of family and inclusion.

Albert Lawrence:

Well, Shaan, thank you for being such a valuable addition to this Coke Scholars family. Thank you again for your time, Shaan.

Dr. Shaan Patel:

Yeah, it’s been fun, thanks, Albert.

Transitional music

Justin J. Pearson:

We hope you enjoyed the second episode The SIP, featuring Albert and Shaan. For links to Prep Expert and other things they discussed, check out our show notes or Coca-ColaScholarsFoundation.org. Tune in for episode three in just two weeks, where 1997 Coke Scholar Jolene Loetscher will interview 1996 Scholar Sarah Turnbull. Sarah’s story will tug at your heartstrings and inspire you to live each day to the fullest. We’ll see you next time on The SIP.