Ten On The Weekend is a weekly (-ish) feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.
Our guest this week is Ahmet Şener of Smart Citizenship.
How do you spend your weekends?
My choice for the weekends has changed substantially in the last two years, just like everyone else’s. I found out that the introspection that comes bundled with weekends distanced from the outer circle, as well as returning to the “core family”, is doing wonders for me when it’s back to the trenches on Monday.
I hate to turn this into a lecture, but nurturing the introvert inside us during weekends is very, very underrated. I’ve also recently introduced an experimental technology diet on Saturdays where I try to avoid using all technology. It will take some getting used to, but I feel this is an experiment I won’t regret.
Defining my weekends not by what I do but what I don’t do should tell everyone a lot about me.
What are your top 3 business goals this year?
Decrease the number of meetings we need to get things done, internal or external, with a client or service provider; it doesn’t matter. Building a culture that thrives on asynchronous communication is very high on my list.
Encouraging and empowering the Smart Crew to such an extent where we can achieve more with fewer people. I’ve always been a skeptic of headcount-based growth, and it’s now more relevant than ever. If you want to understand what I mean, simply look at high-income per capita countries.
The third one, well, it’s a little embarrassing. We are currently not a crypto-friendly company. We will change this within the next 12 months and embrace the revolution.
What’s your biggest business concern right now?
I have a few, but economic nationalism has to be the first here because it has the potential to spiral out of control. There are already signs of extreme aversion to foreign money (small or big) that is gaining traction by ultra-nationalist support. Unfortunately, even in this day and age, if you tell some random person they are suffering because foreigners are doing X or Y in the economy, they will believe that, and they will vote for you.
To make things worse, investment originating from new destinations might be over-regulated. Would anyone like to guess who will be the next Iran? You can bet it will be a country that is a big outbound market for the RCBI industry.
Which book is on your nightstand right now?
Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I hate to be the guy quoting a book here. Still, please look at this pure albeit condescending genius:
“A turkey is fed for a thousand days by a butcher; Every day confirms to its staff of analysts that butchers love turkeys, “with increased statistical confidence.” The butcher will keep feeding the turkey until a few days before Thanksgiving. Then comes that day when it’s not a very good day to be a turkey.“
How and when did you get into the investment migration industry?
My superhero origin story is underwhelmingly simple! It all started on March 24th, 2016, when a very polite gentleman from Greece messaged me over Linkedin. In the ensuing and inevitable Skype call, he patiently explained to me that Greece could issue a residency card despite the monstrous bureaucratic machine that is the EU. Little did we both know he was explaining to me what I would build my career on later. Of course, I went on to join Team Portugal a few years later due to, again, dumb luck.
What was your proudest moment as a service provider?
Well, because of 10 on The Weekend, I always had several answers lined up for this. But my all-time favorite moment has changed – I think, for good – very recently.
One of my investors from way back sent me a message three weeks ago that only had a selfie right next to the sea and said, “thank you, bro.”
I know he was safely away from it all when the proverbial dirt hit the fan in his home country but knowing he is really, really getting that mileage from his second citizenship struck a chord with me. In our industry, I know we can only help people of substantial financial means. However, it should never devalue the good we can bring to the lives of the people we are able to help.
Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
Well, it’s something I hate mentioning at this point, but the fact that the Portuguese government didn’t back down on their Golden Visa changes bill certainly surprised me. My prediction of the gov’t backing down on this issue certainly aged like milk. They postponed it, yes, but it is happening, and I still can’t wrap my head around it.
If you could go ten years back in time, what business decision would you change?
Back then, I was in the construction business. We sold what we had back then and started a digital marketing agency. I only regret we didn’t start mining BTC. Even if I were in the business of breeding real-life unicorns, the answer would still be the same: Why didn’t I pivot into crypto mining? I think if we don’t somehow get involved in DeFi – quite soon – I will be complaining about it in 10 years.
What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
This answer might cause some eye-rolls in some circles, but my favorite is Hakan Kodal who led his company into becoming a powerhouse in the industry. My admiration, however, does not come from his industry achievements alone but is based on personal experience. I was convinced RCBI wasn’t for me, and the “bad guys” would win no matter what. He convinced me to jump back in, got me into fighting shape again in no time, and we proceeded to wipe the floor with the previously mentioned “bad guys.” I hope to inspire this level of conviction in my teammates in the future.
If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?
I’m culturally and philosophically averse to making 5-year-plans but becoming redundant, almost like a spiritual leader to Smart Citizenship, would answer this professionally. From a personal satisfaction perspective, I want to write more, create more, and make a more significant impact on the larger issues in the world. The way we are headed globally, I think we will need all hands on deck to keep the world spinning.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.