Fehzan “Lock It Up” Ali
I am hoping UPS doesn’t come after me for using their tagline in the title but a few of us felt it appropriate for the round of interviews I have coming up with some Indians oh and yes Pakis as well. I will start off by saying that we (India) totally destroyed (well not destroyed but did give a beat down) them in World Cup Cricket but we have nothing on them when it comes to Content Unlocking (pretty cheesy segue).
This is where a 21 year old dominates the industry and I bring you his story below. His name is Fehzan Ali – AKA Fez. He can often be found at the affiliate conferences surrounded by pleasing eye candy when he is not conducting cough cough business.
1) Fez, tell us briefly about yourself and how you got started in this industry and moreover, your forte’ into the whole Content Unlocking arena.
I’m 21 years old, currently a full time student at the University of Texas at Austin (go Longhorns), and run Adscend Media along side my team full time! I started in the industry at about 15 just creating random websites and monetizing them. When I was 17, I got very serious and opened my own referral incentive website called MacroBucks. The model of business was for users to refer their friends and complete free trials/purchase offers to earn towards a gift. For example, it would take 2 referrals to earn a prize equivalent of $80. I no longer run it, but between 2007 and 2009 we shipped over $700,000 worth of free gifts to our users and it was a big success.
I met a ton of people along the way and decided to open Adscend Media with Jeremy Bash in August 2008 and we launched in February 2009. My inclination was to stay within the incentivized industry and that led us to developing a content unlocker. From there, we started realizing the possibilities of content unlocking with legitimate content and the rest is history!
I don’t think it’s contributed either way – fortunately everyone in this industry is awesome and no one has held my nationality against me. Though, I think everyone likes to call me Fehz which is always helps since it reminds them of Fez from That 70s Show so I guess it helps a bit to have the name Fehzan hah.
3) What are the top 3 factors that you feel contribute to your success?
First and foremost, I work to build and expand on my core strengths within the industry – that is in incentivized marketing. It’s a competitive advantage to have almost 7 years of experience within incentivized marketing and I use it to my benefit. I understand all concerns that arise with it and work tirelessly with my advertisers to ensure we deliver what is expected.
My unyielding perseverance has a huge role in my success – even when times seemed the darkest, I kept working away never letting anything bring me down.
Staying positive has also had a huge impact. I like to be a positive person and always look towards the bright things in life, when something isn’t going the way I expected, I go back to the drawing board and figure out how to fix it. I take full responsibility for every aspect of my life and understand that I am the only person who can make things happen for myself. Just accepting that has contributed greatly to my continued success.
4) How important is it to you to communicate with your readers? Is there a particular message you are wanting to convey?
Very important – it’s very important to put a personality and face to the name. I want to convey that I’m just like anyone else and have simply decided to make the most of my life. I want to let everyone know that we all have our strengths and talents, we simply need to unlock it and take advantage! I say the same thing over and over again to my publishers and I think that the advice I’ve given has paid off 10 folds for many of them that are willing to take control and steer the direction of their life.
5) Talk to us specifically about your experience and frustrations in dealing with people in the industry.
Fortunately, most of my experiences within the industry have been very positive. Advertisers generally pay up for the most part – we have had a few instances where that is not the case and it’s been frustrating but a lesson well learned so I can’t complain. Of course, there is a whole other can of worms… fraudsters, but they are an accepted evil and we deal with them accordingly.
6) You are well known in the industry, who has been your motivation or inspiration, in other words, who is your driving force?
My parents have been my #1 driving force, they have always pushed me to be the best I can be. They are also entrepreneurs so I definitely picked up on their entrepreneurial spirit! I did have a mentor of sorts who also pushed me to be the best person I could be, however he ended up backstabbing me and so I can’t say it sticks true anymore. I introduced him to the industry eventually and he ended up going to a competitor and revealing trade secrets and facts about my personal life to them to obtain his new job, I won’t reveal who of course however it was hurtful to see that happen. Money changes things for some people I guess. Fortunately, I used it as motivation and bounced back better than ever!
7) What do you think is the impact of the “new” media on today’s generation? Are they leveraging it effectively and more importantly – are they leveraging it for the betterment of our industry?
I think media has reached a new level of success. Behavioral advertising has allowed the industry to target the interest of specific psychographics and hopefully serve ads to people that can add value to their lives. I do believe that most advertisers are actually looking to provide a real, value-added service/product to their target audience, however as with anything – there is always going to be the few malicious advertisers looking to take advantage and make a quick buck off of an unassuming person. In my opinion, social media, when utilized correctly and legitimately, has also allowed advertisers to reach an audience they not otherwise have. I could go on forever, but to sum up – I think we are headed in the right direction and just need to clean up a few things as we progress as an industry.
8) Being a minority myself, there are constant stereotypes that I have to overcome, have you ever experienced this?
You know, not really. I mean – sometimes people will say things jokingly, however I understand it’s a joke and don’t mind.
9) What are some effective tools and products that help you keep your life organized?
Nothing specific – I use Google Task in my email to keep track of important deadlines. I also follow the principle: A place for everything and everything in its place. The easiest way to keep organized!
10) If you had a money tree in your back yard and could purchase anything for your business tomorrow, what would it be?
More team members! I love working with a tight knit team and having everyone’s input – it makes working that much more fun and each individual adds huge value to the business by bringing in their experiences and strengths.
11) Any words of wisdom for my readers looking to get into this space?
It takes a combination of educating yourself and putting what you’ve learned to real use to end up succeeding in this space. Too often, I talk to publishers who have been reading for too long and haven’t tried to do anything themselves. Both need to happen!
If you are looking to get into content unlocking specifically – pull out a piece of paper and start writing down all of the ideas you can think of. If you can find or create premium content that users will complete a survey for – then utilizing the content unlocker will yield awesome results and is easy to get started with regardless of experience level. Also, finding a good network to work with helps too. I’m biased but at Adscend Media – we work with all of our publishers, regardless of size, to help them earn money with us and even go as far as giving away legitimate list of ideas to motivated publishers! This helps get the creativity flowing! If you are looking to seriously get into content unlocking, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me @ Fehzan [at] AdscendMedia.com and I will be happy to help!
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