Deniz Sasal (Executive MBA, 2013) has taken control of his own destiny, and wants to help you take control of yours too! He’s sharing insider hiring information at The Career Mastery and on YouTube, and helping you get further in your career at Landing Interviews Guaranteed. We asked him how it happened.
Tell me about your time at Cass!
Looking back at it now in 2017, it’s amazing to realise how much life can change in seven years. My time at Cass was full of ups and downs and in retrospect, I think I probably had more downs than ups. In 2010, during my second year, I was briefly unemployed. This quickly proved to be a major issue as I still had expenses to cover like school payments and rent.
I was the second youngest in my class and not only was I relatively younger than the others, I was now also unemployed. While many of my coursemates were already in senior leadership positions, I was finding it was difficult to keep up with their lifestyle. Even a $15-lunch was out of my league!
I tried to keep my difficulties to myself, but it was not easy. I’d be lying if I told you I never considered quitting, but my competitive sailing background had taught me to never quit and keep on going until I hit the finish line.
From an academic perspective, Cass gave us the best education possible. It was an intensive two-year programme which allowed me to learn what I didn’t know. Although this sounds trite, there is a major difference between knowing what you don’t know and not knowing what you don’t know. When you don’t know what you don’t know, then the opportunities to grow are very limited. You set the bar lower than your actual abilities just because you don’t know your potential.
After finishing Cass what was your next step?
Going through all these challenges during my MBA was a turning point for me because I realised then and there that I was going to be in charge of my own future. I never wanted to be dependent on anyone for my own fate.
So I decided I was going to own my own business. That was it. I just needed to learn a few more unknowns. To make it happen, I laid out my “very advanced” three-step grand strategy that would propel me to … Unlimited Wealth, Youth, and Prosperity! Step one was to get a job – any job – so I could start paying the bills as soon as possible. Step two was all about getting “the job” to leverage high income and save funds. The final step was to use that investment to set up my “own shop”.
Steps one and two were relatively easy to accomplish. After a few jumps, I was hired by PwC Consulting and quickly became a manager in the firm in my first year. The high intensity consulting environment was suited to my character, I was good at what I did, and my career flourished. There was never a dull day and my emotions regularly ran the full spectrum. Talk about the beauty that exists in volatility!
Finally, even though it was still going great, I quit in March 2017 to fully focus on step three. It was not easy. The third step took a few trial and errors. Not counting the days I sold fishballs in the wet market, my first real entrepreneurial activity was with Alphadore.
Alphadore was your first company?
Starting in 2011, whilst working full time, I worked night after night on Alphadore. It was a novel software solution designed to provide financial analysis for small businesses. Big corporations with their unlimited resources can afford to get best consultants, while mom and pop shops and other small businesses usually do not have such resources. So I thought I could create an amazing resource for them, a piece of software to run various simulations and show the health of their business. Not just that, but it could also benchmark them against each other. Well, it didn’t sell any… Not even my mother and father, small business owners, found any use for it.
After a year of working on it every single night, I gave up and sold it to another player in the market for the price of a nice coffee machine. They immediately renamed it, turned it into a QuickBooks Plugin, and made it a multimillion dollar solution within as little as three months.
But despite the seeming failure, Alphadore taught me many things about product development, product quality, adding tremendous value, digital marketing, guerrilla marketing strategies, and so many other essential skills that are needed to succeed as an entrepreneur.
When I heard about the success of Alphadore 2.0, I spent the next three months wondering whether I should be happy that my baby became so successful or devastated that I wasn’t the one who could walk the finish line. Of course, I made the right decision and chose to be devastated about it! Problem solved. I spent probably another four years hating entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs, and anything to do with being self-employed, and threw myself in to my corporate role.
Looking back, I was probably right to. Thankfully, I had a job in consulting that I loved immensely. I was sure that if I spent another three years with PwC Consulting, I would eventually become a partner. But then I remembered those days back in Cass again, when I was suddenly unemployed, and felt that lack of control over my fate. The idea that someone else could control my future just seemed so scary again. That was when I returned to that third step of my grand strategy.
How did The Career Mastery come about?
It started with a mission to expose some underhand practices in the jobs market. Specifically, I came across a few well-known multinational firms posting fake jobs online with job boards. This is a known but unacknowledged practice and happens for three main reasons.
Firstly, to trick financial analysts into thinking that the company is growing, because hiring means growth. Second, because the company bought bulk placements from major job boards anticipating growth, but then growth was slower than projected, so they put fake posts in instead. Thirdly, they may do this because the company wants to promote an internal employee but needs to pick a few bad apples from the external market to show that the internal employee is a better candidate.
I publicly named and shamed such companies during presentations at a few seminars in Europe. This was picked up by large media outlets and quickly turned into a big story. Eventually, one of those firms I named threatened me with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. Of course, this only further triggered the interest of the public and Netizens had a field day searching about me! All of a sudden, my LinkedIn was exploding with connection requests.
It was then that I realised how hungry people are for valuable, differentiated content. Every marketer knows now that content is paramount. Yet, what everyone misses is that quality content is king. I realised I had some real quality content to offer, and so The Career Mastery was born, followed by my YouTube channel, and finally my free and paid training program Landing Interviews Guaranteed. Suddenly, I found myself truly helping thousands of people transform their careers.
People are hungry for value but we are in an unprecedented era of content overload. Everybody has something to share but the winners are the ones who truly care to add value and make a difference in their customers’ lives. That’s when the customers become followers and life-long advocates of your services.
I want Deniz Sasal to mean something to career aspirants. They know that if I share an opinion, it’s valuable.
Do you have a favourite top tip for jobseekers?
Yes, I do. Join Landing Interviews Guaranteed!
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
Be obsessed with adding value. That’s the single biggest unique selling point you can ever have as an entrepreneur or an employee.
Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!
Favourite place in London: Cass Campus where I met my wife!
Favourite holiday destination: The Philippines
Must-check every day website: Of course it’s TheCareerMastery.com and LandingInterviewsGuaranteed.com
Dream travel destination: I think I already visited all my dream destinations. But a dream project is to participate in Clipper Round The World race.
Cheese or chocolate: Cheese.