Sahar is an Iranian immigrant, neutralized American who fled to America to pursue her higher education degree which she was banned by the government of Iran due to her religion beliefs. Here in the U.S, she attended University of Maryland, college park and received her B.A in Cell Biology and Molecular genetics. She worked at biotech companies for few years before she realized cooperate job is not a good fit for her or her growing family. Sahar's passion for cooking fresh homemade meals and research proofs of positive impacts of gut health and fit brain were driving forces to establish her Persian Fusion simmer sauce company, Spice of Life, L.L.C.
- CEO Hack: Planning when setting my goals and to-do list. I exercise and also meditate a lot
- CEO Nugget: A quote by Gretchen Rubin, “Don’t let the PERFECT be the enemy of the GOOD”
- CEO Defined: Having a flexible time to tackle my task and making the world a better place
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Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today as the hardrock of spice of life LLC, Sahar, it's awesome to have you on the show.
Sahar Roques 0:39
Hi, thank you for having me.
Gresham Harkless 0:40
No problem. Super excited to have you on and before we jumped in, I want to read a little bit more about Sahar so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. And so har is an Iranian immigrant neutralised American who fled to America to pursue her higher education degree which she was banned by the government of Iran due to her religion, religious beliefs. Here in the United States, she attended the University of Maryland College Park and received a BA in cell biology and molecular genetics. She worked at a biotech company for a few years before she realized corporate job is not a good fit for her and her growing family sohara his passion for cooking fresh homemade meals and research proves a positive impact of good gut health and fit brain. We're driving forces to establish her Persian fusion simmer sauce company, spice of life, LLC, Sahar, are you ready to speak to the IMC Oh, community?
Sahar Roques 1:30
Yes, let's begin.
Gresham Harkless 1:31
Let's do it. So I know I touched on it a little bit. But I want to hear a little bit more on what I call your CEO story. And we'll let you get started with the business.
Sahar Roques 1:39
Sure, well, as a lot of CEOs would say, I didn't plan to become an entrepreneur and a CEO. And I think the life kind of directed me towards that my parents are both entrepreneurs. And, and seeing them being a business and seeing them working so hard, I always thought, Okay, I'm going to have more time for my family. And I'm just going to work for other people, and not worry about things outside of work. When I come to come home, I don't think about work anymore. So I decided actually to pursue higher education, which I couldn't do in Iran. So I came here, and I'm very passionate about health. And so I did cell biology and genetics, I'm working biotech companies who they actually produce some products, which helps in research for disease, and finding cure and finding pharmaceuticals, kind of use those to make make some drugs for Alzheimer, cardiovascular diseases. So I thought, This way I can help the community. And it was going well, tail, um, you know, you get married and have one kid and then two kids, and you feel like oh, two parents working full time and with two kids, and it's just the scheduling did them work out working for corporate, it's not just sometimes it's not nine to five, sometimes you have to put more hours, which putting the kids in preschool really didn't work out that way. So I decided to basically, I changed my job from a biotech and I went to the pharmaceutical and I changed from permanent being actually went to temperature, just because I wanted to kind of manage my hours a bit more. But then that didn't work out. After a few months, they let me go. And after that, I felt like corporate job was not really a good fit for me anymore. And I always had a passion for cooking. I started cooking when I was very small because as I said, My parents were quite busy and I'm eldest and I was always doing the cooking at home as I was a kid. And, and I have two siblings, two other siblings who are much younger than me so so and then I when I was in high school, I was cooking from the recipe books and like things that my parents wouldn't do. And I always had a passion When I came here, it was actually quite nice. You know, I was still doing a lot of cooking from scratch from fresh. And after having kids working at the same time, you start having no time to cook kind of fresh meals, especially from scratch, which takes a long time and used are doing check out deliveries and buying, you know, ready to meal ready to go ready to eat food, which actually, I put quite a lot of weight because of that. And kind of I had a craving for kind of like, you know, why is that the case and it was kind of bothering me and I decided to come up with a way especially Persian food had takes a long time to kind of get to the perfection is mostly stews, and stews to get to the point to be able to like have the aroma and all those things kind of bring up bring together a good kind of meal, it takes about two to three hours just cooking it, I'm not mentioning the preparation, so so I didn't have any time to do that anymore. And I thought, and seeing all the other working moms, I saw that everybody is kind of the same way, especially after having kids us start going out with the same kind of moms who have little ones and nobody has time to cook anything. And everybody is kind of wanting to eat healthier, but
Sahar Roques 6:25
it's hard to do. And I and a lot of people, a lot of Americans especially I noticed that they don't they're not familiar with Persian cuisine. They think Persian cuisine is kibble. And that's just one aspect of it. So it's kind of homemade stews. was one thing that kind of a lot of people didn't know about, and I thought that would be a good way to have, you know, like a healthy food, and something different that nobody has seen in the other than Iranian stores, you don't really see anything in the shops. So um, I started to, let's say, to bring up all those things together, it took about a few years to kind of think like what direction I want to go to first I thought about frozen food and then I felt frozen food with kind of it's, it's not for everybody, you have to kind of do like one or two servings and so I went to the simmer sauces. And now I have two lines. One is the fresh herbs and beans. And another one is the excellent tomato, which are both especially the Persian, the fresh herbs and beans are very refreshing. And they all made from scratch her like fresh hurts every time. So yeah, that's kind of work. It all came about.
Gresham Harkless 8:11
I definitely appreciate that. And it's so funny I was reading something it was a while ago but it talked a lot about a lot of the immigrants especially don't see something when they come here to the US and they think about it back home. And you know a lot of times it's cooking and a lot of times it's cuisine and food and so funny that you were talking about you know as a child having those kind of seeds planted for what you're doing now and not seeing it as much and people not being aware of any food other than kababs and now kind of creating something so that we can kind of all enjoy it as well. So I was going to ask you for what I call your secret sauce and you might enjoy this but this is what you feel kind of sets you or your your brand apart and makes you unique. What do you think your secret sauces?
Sahar Roques 8:55
Well, I say my secret sauce would be the HomeMade Healthy conscious Persian cuisine, simmer sauces that everyone with different dietary restrictions, like vegans, gluten free people and they all can enjoy because I don't actually put any meat or anything on it so people can decide if they want to do it, especially the one with the bean really doesn't need anything extra. So I think being healthy conscious because I actually put canola oil in one of my sauces and I read a lot of books and I was reading Rainmaker like I was reading brain maker and and another one was the deep nutrition like Dr. Shanahan and they were saying how vegetable oils are actually not good for you and they Are they are making, making the body go through like bad responses because our body is not used to hydrogenated oils. So I changed my canola oil to olive oil after I had everything done, I had to change nutritional facts, I had to change the label, just because I'm very health conscious. And I want to change the way we eat, let's say one meal at a time.
Gresham Harkless 10:37
Awesome, awesome, awesome. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book or a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?
Sahar Roques 10:50
Well, as you, you, yourself as entrepreneur, probably not a lot of these. And I think planning, as one thing that is very important to have, when you're trying to set goals from getting, like a big goal to breaking it down into smaller goals and breaking it down to do lists. And I think I do that, and then I try to get three things done. And on top of my list as a week plans, so I do three things, I plan three things to do during the week, and I break it down to the to do list that needs to be done to achieve that goals, those goals during the week. And another thing is, um, I try not to forget myself during all those kind of busy days, especially with the family with all these things going on with the business. And I think it's I do try to exercise and meditate. I think those are the two other things that helps me Go go through all those ups and downs, especially when you're very nervous. And I don't know, I think running is kind of set tells me and meditation. I don't do meditation often. But I try to do at least once a week, but I tried to do running at least three times a week just to get my mind. away from everything else. Let's say.
Gresham Harkless 12:38
I love those hacks. If I were to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. And this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something if you have to do a time machine, you would tell your younger business self.
Sahar Roques 12:51
Well, um, I have a quote, if you don't mind, I'm going to read. It's by Gretchen Rubin. And she says Don't let the perfect be the enemy of good. And I think that's going to be a good nugget for everybody who wants to achieve something that I really didn't know what I'm getting into. When I started the business. It took about two years to go through all the let's say stuff that has to be done before you start your business. And I think you'll learn as you go, you don't have to be perfect in the beginning to start something. And and being having a growth mindset as well rather than a fixed mindset. That's another thing that is very important.
Gresham Harkless 13:42
Now I want to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different, quote unquote, CEOs on this show. So Sahar, what does being a CEO mean to you,
Sahar Roques 13:51
being a CEO is having a flexible time, they can basically take care of everything at the timing that I want to, rather than being a nine to five person, I think a lot of times I do work after the kids go to bed, which is like a good timing, very quiet. And and another thing would be, I like to make the world a better place, let's say with my health conscious meals. And also if you follow me on Instagram, you can see that I have a lot of book recommendations and book notes that I do with the health conscious stuff and inspirational books.
Gresham Harkless 14:40
Appreciate that I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know and of course how best to get ahold of you. Find out about your Instagram and see all the awesome things that you're working on.
Sahar Roques 14:53
Sure. Another thing that I was gonna say reading lots of books and listening to a lot of podcasts. And joining a lot of similar communities, similar minded communities are really good way, at least for me, or I'm sure for other CEOs to grow and to be able to keep themselves updated. And you can find me on Instagram, so have rock at spice of life. And you can go to my website and enjoy spice of life.com. And you can get my recipes there because I started with blogging recipes. And I still have tons of Persian and non Persian recipes. They're all supposed to be kind of healthy. There are a lot of vegetarian vegan stuff going on there. You can always enjoy those recipes as well. And you can also shop our sauces. They're
Gresham Harkless 15:56
awesome, awesome, awesome. Thank you so much against our we will have those links and information in the show notes and blogging is near and dear to my heart. So make sure that you definitely check out the blog and I definitely appreciate that reminder as well too about making sure you're aware of the environment you have around you whether that'd be people around you, or the things that you're also putting into your your mind as well whether that be podcasts and books as you touched on as well too. So I love that reminder. Appreciate you again and I hope you have a great rest of the day.
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