Sameer S. Somal is Co-Founder of Blue Ocean Global Technology specializing in Online Reputation Management (ORM), to build a positive reputation for clients around select keywords and mitigate a negative online reputation.
What’s your story?
I was born in upstate New York. My parents are of Indian descent, though my father moved to England when he was two years old in 1950. They owned a gas station in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. I learned about responsibility, effective communication and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship through my time in the family business as an adolescent and teenager.
I always had an interest in finance with a passion for helping companies and others grow. Despite my dreams of wanting to become an investment banker and eventually an entrepreneur, my father never advised or guided me to be anything other than a “good human being who makes a positive impact on this world in our short time here”. Within a few years of working for large corporations, I realized that I may never be able to impact the world and make a difference in lives in a meaningful way. In other words, I finally understood what my dad advised me and sought greater purpose.
My business partner, Marguerita (Rita) Cheng and I formed Blue Ocean Global Technology in tandem with Blue Ocean Global Wealth. The foundation of both our companies is education and sharing information to help others make the most informed decisions. Many people advised me to focus more on money and not building brand equity. I never let the opinions of others, particularly friends and family with little or no entrepreneurial experience themselves, affect my determination to build an organization that was never going to be defined on money or number of clients.
I have the vision to make a small dent in the universe by empowering young leaders with inspiration, intellectual freedom, and opportunities to achieve their full potential. This isn’t just something I want to do, it is my life’s work. I will continue to drive progress on this dream so long as breath lasts.
What excites you most about your industry?
The way we now communicate with friends, family, colleagues, and clients has been revolutionized. Technology pervades every aspect of an organization; to realize success it must be applied thoughtfully and integrated strategically. The right technology decisions and partners improve performance; the wrong technology decisions exacerbate challenges. Reputations are everything. Digital reputation relates to every business and every human being in the future. Whether we like it or not, our personal and professional lives are impacted by the internet.
When you google your company or yourself, are the results reflective of what you want your clients, partners, investors or even friends to see? A stellar digital presence creates opportunities. Conversely, inaccurate or defamatory information erodes trust and compromises relationships. There are 5.5 billion searches made every day. Regretfully, social media empowers anyone to say anything at any time, so it is imperative that you protect the integrity of your online reputation.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I spent many summers growing up visiting family and exploring India. As such, I have always had a love for India and appreciation for my Punjabi heritage. Blue Ocean Global Technology has a growing team in India because we understand the historic long-term opportunity the country’s demographic dividend affords our organization. By 2026, India is projected to have the world’s largest working-age population, and by 2030, 28% of the global workforce will live in India. We are focused on providing young leaders especially women in India with exponential growth opportunities. I am dedicated to bridging the gender gap in the workforce. Personally speaking, engaging India’s demographic dividend is a core pillar of my life’s work. These demographics have always fascinated me, to say the least. India is a young country and the world will require skilled people and intellectual capital for many years to come.
Favorite city in Asia for business and why?
Chandigarh (in India), also known as the beautiful city, is my favorite destination city in Asia for business. A core pillar of our ecosystem and human capital is based in our Chandigarh offices. Undoubtedly, Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore are great cities for business. However, as our company’s name reflects, inspired by the book Blue Ocean Strategy, we operate in Blue Oceans as opposed to red ones. A five-hour drive from Delhi, Chandigarh was the first planned city in India after independence. Chandigarh is organized on a grid by sectors, with each one having designated parks. The master plan of the city was prepared by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier in 1950s. The city is scenic, with less traffic and more nature, and was named India’s cleanest city in 2015. Chandigarh also offers one of the most efficient and passenger-friendly airports. A morning flight and evening return from Mumbai is quite convenient. There are also regular flights available to Dubai, with more international destinations planned. Lastly, Chandigarh is a few hours drive from the breathtaking Himalayas and the Dalai Lama’s home in McLeod Ganj.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Give without remembering and receive without forgetting. Humility and gratitude are the essence of life. People know when you care and try to genuinely help them or make a difference. I try to leave positive energy with every person I meet. Karma has a way of returning this to you over the course of time.
Who inspires you?
My new hero is Laxmi Aggarwal. She is an acid attack victim from India. Despite the challenges and struggles she faced, her determination to make the difference in lives of those like her remained unshaken. You can read more about her here. While our paths briefly crossed at the 2017 Women Economic Forum, we did not meet in person. I recently visited Laxmi’s Sheroes Café. It was a life changing experience.
What have you just learned recently that blew you away?
During my last visit to India, I visited Taj Mahal after 12 years. To my surprise I found something more beautiful than Taj in the city of Agra, that is SHEROES café. This café is run by acid attack victims. Their stories are inspiring and motivating. They taught me to see good in every situation and make the most of what life do to you.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
- Minimize time with people that I discovered later to lack integrity or honesty. Although, the lessons learned from them are priceless.
- Spend more time with those who are no longer among us and tell how much I loved them. Every life without exception is a short one.
How do you unwind?
I get bored easily, which explains why I keep my life interesting in terms of how I spend my time. To decompress and relax, I often read or write. Exercising and eating healthy are also fundamental. I exercise six times a week. I often times return from a 10-mile run or lifting session at Dan Wilbourne’s gym with renewed energy and clarity on how to best proceed in a particular situation.
Favorite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Nepal. I love the food and the people there. The tranquility I experience there re-energizes me and refines my focus. Every time I return from Kathmandu, I feel it has been time well spent. Perfect weather, the friendly Nepalese disposition, and the enchanting Buddhist prayers always leave me yearning to return. I also have become somewhat of a honey connoisseur and have found Nepal to be the best destinations for acquiring wild honey, which I use as a processed sugar substitute wherever possible. I also collect metal animals and shop for the best quality pashmina and cashmere shawls. After gifting the shawls or other precious items from Kathmandu, family, friends, and clients often mention that this is the best quality they ever had. Again, give without remembering and receive without forgetting. People never forget how you made them feel.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Lean In by Sherly Sandberg. I am a big enthusiast of the empowering women with equal leadership opportunities at workplace. At Blue Ocean Global Technology, it is mandatory for every new member to read this book. It encourages our male team members to be more thoughtful and considerate of the unique challenges that women face
Our culture thrives on having women empower other women. Hiring more women is a great start, but demonstrating commitment to their personal and professional growth through a much larger ecosystem will have a sustainable impact.
Shameless plug for your business:
Blue Ocean Global Technology proactively builds stellar reputations. We create and promote digital assets that accelerate the growth of brand equity. We provide comprehensive reputation management services, which often includes search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), and web development. When an individual or organization faces crisis, legal or PR issues that reach the internet, we specialize in mitigating the impact of the defamatory content and repairing the negative reputation.
Blue Ocean Global Technology serves both clients directly and an exclusive group of PR, Law, Digital Marketing, and Web-Development agency partners. Ensuring that the trust, relationships capital, and goodwill you have offline and in real life, is represented appropriately online, underpins your personal and professional opportunity set.
How can people connect with you?
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.
Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com