An extraordinary journey of an Albanian from Gostivar, who went from homeless to highly successful CEO, author of bestsellers, as well as adviser, motivator, and coach to industry leaders, royals, influencers, and professionals of all fields
Interviewed by Ruben Avxhiu
Mr. Selimi, you have had an impressive life trajectory, from a difficult childhood as an Albanian in the Republic of Northern Macedonia to being homeless in London to a successful CEO, public speaker, Life and Business Coach specializing in Human Behavior, and multi-award-winning author, success seems sweeter when it comes after such a disadvantaged starting point. But the poor origin and tricky turns in life have doomed many fortunes. What made the difference for you? How would you explain your success in life?
My late parents, Ljutfije and Shaqir Selimi, came from a humble beginning, worked extremely hard, and dedicated their lives to providing for my siblings and me so that we could have the education that gave us a better chance for a successful, meaningful, and fulfilling life.
Mum taught me many life skills and the importance of speaking my truth. She created a healthy foundation in me of what love is and is not, and she embedded values that, to date, I embrace. Her life was an inspiration to me and everyone who knew her. My dad ensured that from a very your age, I spoke a few languages, had the best education and private tutors one could wish for, and taught me treasured business and entrepreneurial skills that prepared me to handle the storms life better can throw at me.
I am fortunate to have had the love and support of my grandparents, wider family, my brother Selim, and sisters Feleknaz, Hanumsha, Selime, and Drita. Despite the challenges presented by the environment in which I grew up, they too played a crucial role in increasing my curiosity and desire to be the best student I can be and never to stop questioning in my pursuit of demystifying the mysteries of life.
The truth is, it will be impossible to explain my phenomenal success in life in a few paragraphs. It is precisely the reason I decided to become an author. To share many life lessons learned from overcoming various life predicaments so millions of people can grow and benefit.
Surviving, living on my own since age 14, and standing on my own two feet despite all that happened to me and for me is what makes me stand up and be grateful for the journey of life and the lessons learned from my past experiences. I have always been relentless in pursuing self-mastery, working with coaches and mentors, attending talks and seminars, and doing cross-disciplinary research that has helped me grow my awareness of who I am, my true potential, and what I want to dedicate my life to.
Had I never invested the money, the time, and the energy in my continuous formal and professional education and training, I would not have the confidence, the will, and the tools to go through all I have experienced. It also created the foundation I needed to start TJS Cognition, a company dedicated to exploring, expanding, and evolving the frontiers of human awareness and potential.
My mission is to inspire and teach men and women of all professions, nationalities, creeds, and colors how to become purposeful and disciplined masters of themselves and dedicated and inspired leaders and teachers of others. Through films, documentaries, books, speaking, coaching, mentoring, education, and training, they build spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, vocational/business, financial, familial, and social awareness, thus more effectively and efficiently serving humanity, exemplifying high human potential.
My unshakeable vision and purpose in life are to help One Billion people achieve personal, relationship, career, business, and economic transformations faster and easier than ever imagined. To infiltrate my science-based breakthrough methods, one-of-a-kind principles, and spiritual teachings in business, leadership, government, healthcare, and education and ultimately contribute towards accomplishing the 17 UN development goals and the evolution of human consciousness.
In short, success followed as I dedicated my life’s work to creating life-long mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, relationship, social, career/business, and financial breakthroughs and transformations for others. The more daily inspired actions I took towards delivering an astronomical vision that spans beyond myself, the more my success grew.
You worked hard and graduated in engineering with excellent results. In a way, you made it and could have had a great life as a successful information technology or electrical engineer. Why did you decide to dedicate your life to working with people instead? This bold move to make a living as a mentor or life transformation coach doesn’t come with a secure salary and career. It must have been like a jump in the void in the beginning. How did it all start?
From age seven, without any formal training, I used my father’s car garage as a place where I could fix and repair broken things, including TV, Radios, washing machines, hoovers, hairdryers, and anything electronic or mechanical. In every school I attended, I won many awards in math, physics, chemistry, and later in computer, electronics, and engineering competitions. It paved the way for me to be accepted to study at one of the best engineering universities in Zagreb. Just as I felt I had reached my aim and finished the first year, I was conscripted into the Yugoslav army to fight in a civil war I intensely despised.
Fast forward, my life was saved, and at age twenty, I found myself living homeless on the streets of London, feeling hopeless with no one to turn to for help. What came out of the struggles and the pain I endured is an even greater desire to get an education and turn my life around. I worked many jobs to ensure I could continue my studies. Starting my university a few years later than most of my fellow students, I knew I wanted to fast-track my career. Thus, I chose a dual degree in Electronic Engineering with Organizational Behavior and Management Studies.
Having graduated with honors, I spent the next fourteen years building a successful information technology career working for various private companies and public institutions. Throughout this time, I used a proportion of my income to continuously invest in my personal and professional development and heal many emotional wounds. In my spare time, I would do cross-disciplinary research in various disciplines, including cognitive behavior therapy, neurolinguistic programming, neuroscience, quantum physics, cosmology, mathematics, business, engineering, leadership, philosophy, physiology, healing, various religions, and spirituality. On this journey, I discovered a practical path to recovery, success, and empowerment in every critical area of my life. And how the technology and everything we build in our external reality is simply an extension of ourselves. The more my understanding of laws that govern life and the universe grew, the more I started to draw parallels between science, spirituality, and human behaviors and how it is all interconnected in the fabric of life. I used all I learned to build great teams, deliver technology transformation programs on time and budget, and make a significant difference in my family, friends, clients, and every company I worked for.
So, when the financial crash of 2008 happened, I knew I would be the last to be made redundant from a job I loved. In 2009, I faced the prospect of being homeless again. I decided to use the redundancy money and credit cards to invest in Becoming a Key Person of Influence in my industry and be coached by one of the world’s best teachers to help me figure out the next steps in life. I also spent twelve weeks meditating eight hours a day and worked with various therapists and healers to keep healing the wounds and the pain of going through every life adversity that hit me from a very young age.
This journey gave me a clear vision of what I am here to do. This inspired me to continue working for the next three years as a senior technologist delivering multi-billion technology transformation programs while building a business that supported me in creating the mental strength needed to break free from the hamster wheel of working 9 to 5. In 2012, I started my speaking, coaching, and training company. In 2014 I published my first book, A Path to Wisdom, on how to live a balanced, healthy, and peaceful life, where I shared in detail the principles embedded in the TJSeMethod: ALARM® that people can use to empower their spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, relationship, social, career/business and financial lives. Little did I know that the book would become seven times an amazon bestseller and win many international book awards.
Was it hard to leave the security of a monthly paycheck you get from having a 9 to 5 job and jump into the void? Absolutely yes. That said, my desire to make a difference in other people’s lives was more substantial than any financial fear or challenge I encountered on the way. I created four core life transformation workshops that people from around the UK and Europe started to attend. The aim was to facilitate the process for them to break free from anxiety, addictions, fears, phobias, judgments, and expectations of others and create an inspired and purpose-driven life.
Furthermore, I assisted them in building a growth mindset and increasing their emotional intelligence. Some booked my yearly coaching programs to help them create a detailed Vital Plan that they could use to empower their lives, grow their existing businesses, and transition from being employed to becoming successful business owners. Many walked away with clarity of vision, improved speaking, listening, and communication skills, and a clear strategy for monetizing the knowledge, skills, and wisdom they’ve acquired throughout life. As my book sales grew, so did the number of clients booking private consultations or coaching programs for themselves, their partners, family members, their teams, businesses, and leaders.
In my mind, as long as I helped one person achieve the seemingly impossible, I knew I had made a difference, and that is what kept me focused and inspired to keep helping more people on their self-mastery and self-development journey.
Incredibly, the people who come to you for help include leaders in their professional context, royals, influencers, doctors, scientists, bankers, politicians, and many others, as per your company info. Aren’t these people who have already, in a way, succeeded in life? What is it that they look for when they approach you?
Change is the only constant of life. In life, everyone will face and continue to face challenges, no matter how successful, powerful, or influential they may be. The higher you go in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs triangle, the greater the challenges you will have to face. This natural self-evolution creates more significant challenges, demands, and expectations from high achievers. What they look when they approach me is very different from what they discover they want and need after we have had a few sessions.
There are many things clients ask of me when they start their focused one-on-one coaching and advanced life and business transformation training journey with me. Some clients end up mentally, emotionally, and financially affected by the expectations and opinions of others, which can either positively influence them or impact them negatively to such an extent that many resorts to alcohol, gambling, and other addictions to help them ease the pressure and the pain they feel. If unattended, it creates even greater anxiety, frustrations, stress, and other adverse knock-on effects that affect everything they care about and have worked hard to achieve.
Everyone will face a challenge, regardless of what they may have achieved. Even successful people need to know how to overcome it: low self-confidence, inner conflicts, doubts, fears, self-deception, and procrastination. Furthermore, many end up letting emotions get the best of them when life hits them hard, making personal, family, relationship, business, and leadership decisions that later they regret, affecting their health and costing them much money in the long run.
Knowing how not to shy away in the face of an adverse reaction or reputation damage and not let the challenge defeat them is one of the reasons many successful individuals book any of my integrated coaching and mentoring packages to help them spin it into a positive experience and greater levels of self-awareness, self-governance, and self-management.
You could be the most successful person in the world, but the truth is, you will continue to experience setbacks that can be difficult to overcome. Many people experience a conflict between their internal values and beliefs and their external reality that can be very difficult to align these two worlds. Our disempowered personas and disowned traits can make us feel a lot of anger and resentment and put us out of mental and emotional balance. Clients who seek my expertise know the priceless value I bring to the table in every session or my signature Vital Planning five-day VIP training they attend that saves them energy, time, and money by overcoming their perceived challenges faster and building mental strength and resilience, a detailed life empowerment plan and strategy for the future they want.
With success comes incredible power, but there will always be aspects that cannot be controlled. Often I have been hired by highly successful people to assist in overcoming factors that cannot be pre-determined and to help them face situations where they lack self-control. This also creates much noise in their head that affects their sleep, sex drive, relationship with their loved ones, and, most importantly, their emotional and physical wellbeing.
Losing a loved one and being rejected in your family and relationship life can impact your health, career, and business. Over the years, I have assisted clients in overcoming grief and dissolving many family and relationship conflicts. With some clients, I helped them avoid costly and lengthy separations and brought them to an awareness of being able to divorce with love. In some cases, the relationship breakthrough processes I used brought them to create a harmonious and co-loving relationship that felt empowering and freeing. It inspired one of my clients to co-create the globally watched Living My Illusion – The Truth Hurts. A life coaching documentary film available on Amazon Prime that first and foremost raises awareness of the negative impact that is going through a midlife crisis has on our health, family, financial, and business life.
Naturally, motivation wavers and a lack of it is something that even the most successful people will have to face. While feeling unmotivated makes even the simplest of tasks challenging. I have had clients who worked very hard to create multi-million, multi-billion dollar businesses but could not enjoy the fruits of their success. Recently, a client hired me to help him find, hire and develop the next generation leaders he could trust to hand over his business. The reason was that none of his children were interested in working in their father’s business. We worked on creating a philanthropic vision with another client, writing a book, building products and services, and developing courses and licensing programs. In my recent book, A Path to Excellence, I share how I turned their transformation journey into a documentary film that helped them grow their reach, profile, authority, and credibility.
You have topped many bestsellers’ lists. Why are your books in demand? What do they offer? Some notable people have appreciated these books, but who is your regular reader?
Modern life comes with many challenges, frustrations, indecisions, and stress: work, relationships, health, you name it. While we sleep, our brains and bodies work hard to heal past wounds and process anything that happens to us during the day. But answering the question of why we should live an average life and be the victims of our past when we can teach our minds and bodies to heal, grow, and rest while awake is what inspired me to write books and travel the world teaching and consulting people.
The reason why my books are in demand is that one will need to spend thirty years in cross-disciplinary studies and invest much money, time, and energy to learn the most effective path to creating a healthy work-life balance, healing their body-mind, finding inner peace and live a fulfilled, successful and meaningful life. I write self-help and self-mastery books with a twist. Unlike everything else in the market, I use methodologies and principles that blend scientific and spiritual proven principles to support businesses and individuals from all professional backgrounds, parents, teachers, educators, students, health professionals, and leaders along the ever-evolving journey of positive development beyond oneself.
My book benefits those who want to succeed and live a prosperous, meaningful, fulfilled life. With over thirty years of experience, through writing, I tackle the most prevalent problems that prevent people from growing into their fullest potential with purpose, integrity, love, and authenticity leading the way. Each of my books offers a unique methodology that helps you put together your puzzle of life and succeed. For instance, in my latest book, A Path to Excellence, I outline the eight essential elements of human excellence. I detail how to apply them consistently and continuously to overcome frustrations, obstacles, and pains to climb greater heights and be of more excellent service to humanity.
Perhaps most importantly, any of my books will help you see that you control your destiny through your choices, decisions, behaviors, beliefs, values, and focused actions. Reading any of my books will help you realize that you are the only one who can decide how much you want to enhance your mental, emotional, spiritual, family, relationship, social, career/business, and financial performance. This alone puts you in a position to direct the course of your life and excel. In a nutshell, my books combine the cutting-edge power of neuroscience, psychology, business, technology, mind re-engineering, human behavior, and spiritual principles with timeless wisdom to help you grow your mind, develop your self-governance and leadership skills needed to empower every critical area of life so you can live freely on your terms.
You were once an Albanian boy in Gostivar, growing up in particular historical and social circumstances. To what extent did your background play a role in your formation?
Whether we realize it or not, our environment is continuously (literally 24/7) influencing us. This can either be a force for good that helps us achieve our goals and win in life — or it can take our dreams and ambitions to the grave. Essentially, the environment I grew up in a while living in what is now known as the Republic of Northern Macedonia was equally challenging and supportive. Most of the time, I felt as good or bad as the environment I was exposed to daily told me to be. Back in the 70s and 80s, being of Albanian origin, studying in one of the best math schools in the capital city of Skopje was unusual and very hard.
Some teachers and students bullied and treated me unjustly and badly because I was of a different creed and religious background. My family and I had to endure a lot of abuse, bullying, injustice, and being reminded daily that we are not good or worthy enough as a nation. Without realizing it, this experience, on the one hand, negatively impacted my self-confidence and self-belief. On the other hand, it also increased my will to pursue education and succeed in life. As author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss said:
“You are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.”
Study after study has shown that we copy most of our behavior from our peer group. This means that as humans, we are social creators who adopt the behavior that is accepted (and encouraged) by our group — whether that behavior is destructive or not. It’s simply how we’re wired. Your experiences, attitude, and beliefs are part of what makes you who you are. In the long run, they affect how you think, what you do, and how you do it.
My background, upbringing, experiences, and relationships will all have played a part in how I saw things. Sometimes my attitudes and beliefs could lead me to assume things about people that are not right or fair. Culture, race, and ethnicity are social constructs that affect a person’s identity in many ways.
As someone who went from living homeless to becoming a globally known leader in the personal and professional development field, I spent years in cross-disciplinary study and research on the different factors influencing negatively or positively people’s identities and behaviors.
Thus one of the many things I offer in my coaching and training services is to assist clients in realizing the root cause of their issues, which may be simply a reaction coming from those preprogrammed paradigms originating from an environment in which they grew up and help them develop the self-awareness needed to shift into more balanced and empowering ways to act, behave, feel and think. Together, we spend time exploring the concepts of culture, race, religion, and ethnicity and learn how they have affected how my clients see themselves and others.
The reason is that the environment and culture you are born into impact so many different aspects of one’s behavior, including attitudes, unconscious biases, how we handle conflict, how we express different feelings through speaking and body language, and how we problem-solve.
I share how race and ethnicity influence our actions and behaviors in all my books. People might act differently, for instance, if their race and ethnicity have historically given them privilege within a particular society. If people have personally or historically experienced discrimination because of their race and ethnicity, they might feel cautious, suspicious, or mistrusting of the dominant culture in which they live. Racially, some clients felt consciously or unconsciously superior to or biased against others. Suppose a person has never seen someone from his racial background in a position of power or represented positively in books and media. In that case, this can negatively influence his attitude and beliefs about himself and others. This was the reality Albanians, Gypsies, Turkish, and other minority ethnic and LGBTQI+ groups back then had to face daily in the Republic of Northern Macedonia, something that continues to be the root cause of the many issues currently the people and the country are facing.
For all those kids who grow up today in your old hometown or everywhere in the Albanian world, throughout the Balkans, what is your advice? Is immigration the only path? How can they find a place in society or grow to become respected, accomplished, and at peace with themselves?
So much has happened since I left my hometown and the country I once knew as my own. Firstly, we no longer have a civil war raging. Many of the barriers and challenges I face are no longer an issue. People can travel freely, study in their language, and live in a technologically advanced world that enables you to learn and grow your knowledge and skills from the comfort of your hand or home. While the migration path may be necessary for specific circumstances, this is not the only path for most people.
In the last ten years, I have had the opportunity to coach and train more clients from Macedonia, Kosova, and Albania. It’s great to see that more people are breaking the walls of the past and instead investing in things that bring them more unhappiness and pain in the long run. They now invest in themselves and use my expertise to help them address various personal, relationship, family, professional, financial, and business challenges. Some are entrepreneurs of growing startup companies doing incredible work with clients worldwide. Others are great designers, filmmakers, scientists, educators, business owners, social media marketers, politicians, etc. One effective way to become very respected, accomplished, and at peace with yourself is to keep finding ways to be of service to people. The more problems you solve for others, the more respected you will become. The more value you learn to provide for others, the more accomplished you will become. And the more you invest in coaching and training to grow yourself, the more at peace with yourself you become. Find something you love doing, and relentlessly pursue it for the rest of your life.
What is the best way to get informed for those who want to learn more about you, are curious, or need your help in their lives? How can they reach you?
I work on a virtual basis and in-person with clients all over the globe, facilitating the realization and accomplishment of personal, relationship, professional, financial, and business goals. Here are four ways I can assist individuals or businesses in creating life-changing breakthroughs, growth, and accelerating their journey to excellent health, grow their influence, empower their relationships, succeed in business, create financial empowerment wealth and build a proven, personalized success strategy.
#1… Book a Breakthrough Consultation Session by emailing my team at [email protected].
#2 … Grab a copy of my #1 Amazon bestselling and Multi-Award-Winning books, A Path to Wisdom, #Loneliness, The Unfakeable Code®, A Path to Excellence, and enroll in my Mindfulness for Higher Productivity, Performance, and Profitable Life Udemy Course and join thousands of happy students.
#3 … Make the fastest progress by booking Business Strategy Session to work with them on their business and train their leaders and teams. Just email [email protected] and put “private” in the subject line. Let me know a little about you or your business and what you’d like to work on, and I’ll get my team to send you the quote, invoice, and the necessary booking details.
#4 … Invite me to give expert advice on your TV/Radio/Podcast show, interview me for your newspaper or magazine, or hire me as a speaker to educate, inspire and transform your audience at your next company or industry event. Do send your event info, and once my team hears from you, they’ll send you back the contract and fee info.
For more information, go to https://tonyselimi.com.