Ali Abdullah received his first computer at age 13 and he and technology have been a pair ever since. As founding partner and chief marketing officer of Players 2 Fans, a sports entertainment media platform set to change the social media game, and founder of 5th Avenue Sports, a digital sports marketing company, Abdullah, 27, has accomplished what many never accomplish in a lifetime.
The Harlem native and serial tech entrepreneur credits former President Bill Clinton, Mike Novogratz, Al Harrington and Marc Lasry as his mentors.
Read what he has to say.
What inspires you to show up at work every day?
The thought of one day making a difference, developing some of the worlds most ground-breaking technology, working collaboratively and leaving a legacy behind for my beautiful daughter, Amirah.
How did you determine your career path?
While a sophomore at Bread & Roses High School in Harlem, NY – I studied Cisco – my teacher Omar Thorpe will proudly say “technology is the future” … I believed him. Fast forward a year later; I took a computer science courses at The City College of New York follow by enrolling into Alfred State College the School of Technology, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Marketing.
While at Alfred State College, I shared a room with a Japense student, who majored in computer science as well. We would stay up all night hacking into our fellow students accounts and building web applications. It was fun.
I remember each and everyday I would harass my teachers about my ideas of changing the world, uniting people and eventually making tons of money like Mark Cuban. This was 2005 by the way. They thought I was crazy. Fast forward eight years later, I’ve written some dynamic web and mobile platforms, traveled the world and hang out with some of todays most influential people. I’m blessed.
What other industries connect to your career choice?
As a technology entrepreneur, I would say the financial industry. We are always looking to raise money. I’m sure my peers would agree with me.
Describe the skill sets that are essential to future business leader and innovators.
I believe the secret is obtaining a beginner’s mind. With a beginner’s mind, this will enable you to learn new areas, discover details and work collaboratively.
Define innovative methods you apply to your business and life.
Most hackers enjoy working around the clock. I enjoy hatching out ideas within 30-60 minutes. At home, I apply the same concept around my four-year-old daughter homework duties. Her mom and I expect her to be able to read, learn and spell five to eight new words every day.
Describe goal setting methods you use and how you evaluate your success.
Goal setting embodies discipline. I measure success based upon completing a task, project, etc. For example, a small team and I are currently working on something big so I am entering a peiord in which I remove myself from all distractions, social media, going out, etc and focus on my daughter and this amazing technology that I believe will change the world. I call it unplugging.
Who do you consider your peers in your field and a few that are great examples for best practices?
Wow, thankfully there are so many. My mentors, former U.S. President bill Clinton, my brother hajji and some of my close friends such as Angela Benton of NewME, Anie Lewis my brand manager and VP of Mortages at MCU and Joe Desena, founder of Spartan Race just to name a few.
What information and increased skill methods you use?
I’m obsessed with reading all of what I know have come from a book.
Name your favorite role models for success in two industries.
Al Harrington, NBA Forward
Mike Novogratz, CEO Fortress Investments
Names three books that changed how you saw life that you would recommend to others.
Sorry, I have to name four here.
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator
Practical Mental Influence and Mental Fascination
The Diamond Cutter
Explain why lifelong learning is important to you.
The more I grow as a businessman the more I learn … I am currently learning a ton about IP and patents … It’s extremely important for entrepreneurs to learn almost every aspect of your business …
Describe the voice of success that you hear in your head.
I find this to be quite interesting — I actually hear voices in my head that tells me to push harder, focus and keep calm. I believe God speaks to me even when I play basketball. I hear a voice from up above that says “Ali you are the best.”
Community success based on what you do in the community means what to you?
My community is what made me. So giving back in very important to me. It’s been an absolute honor working with Sobro.org – we have some big plans and I am excited to announce; I begin teaching a Computer Science course at City College of New York this fall, starting October 9.
Technology plays what role in your daily life?
It plays a dominant role – I am glued to my mobile device – It practically takes up all of my time! My dad hates it.
What software and tools of technology have made the biggest difference in your life?
My buddy Paul of Kyak.com has a terrific app along with Pinterest, groupon and flipboard. I think they all share a similar cross-functional data structure and UX not to mention these are some pretty successful companies.
How do music and cultural events align with your self-identity?
I am addicted to electric house music and Pablo Dylan new mixtape. It keeps me going. At home, I write computer codes in a dark room jamming for hours. I know it’s weird.
Define your personal culture.
Most people would consider me the 21st century black steve jobs. I enjoy tracking customers spending data, sports, house music and fresh ideas.
Where is your favorite vacation spot(s)?
I love Orlando my daughter and I love the theme parks [laughs] and Santa Monica, Calif.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Time! [Laughs] I need about 30 hours in a day…
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
E: [email protected]
Photo credit: headshot by yellow brick collective and seated on Governors Island by Omar Thorpe for the Milkcrateproject