Alexis Assadi lives just steps away from the Pacific Ocean. Situated in Vancouver, Canada, he overlooks a mountain range on the opposite side of the ocean basin. He sips a machine-made Nespresso coffee while clicking through emails. They come from business partners and retained professionals, as well as from various media outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Globe and Mail, BBC, Medium and several legal services blogs. It is 7 o’clock in the morning – just an hour before his first conference call of the day. He uses this time to flag important messages, delete the unnecessary ones and browse through what’s interesting online. After his conference call at 8, he showers, gets dressed and begins his business day.
Alexis Assadi is just 31 years-old, but he’s developed a thriving practice of financing companies and real estate investors across the country. He is the is the CEO of Pacific Income Capital Corporation, the general partner of Pacific Income Limited Partnership, and holds executive positions at other private financing companies, too. These entities offer various consumer and business credit products. With assets deployed in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, Alexis Assadi is part of a breed of non-bank lenders who sought prominence after the economic collapse of 2008. As traditional lenders partially receded from the market, private financiers battled to gain a foothold in the long-competitive space.
But contrary to what one might expect from a white-collar industry, Alexis Assadi runs his practice mostly online. He chooses not to occupy expensive office space downtown, but instead harnesses the power of technology to do business. Armed with an internet connection, an iPhone, an Apple Watch and a laptop connected to a large monitor, he sits in a comfortable office at home that oversees one of Vancouver’s spectacular views. With his dog, Luna, by his feet, he fires off emails and places phone calls from his war room throughout the day.
“Much of my work life is on the cloud,” says Assadi. “I can access my office from anywhere in the world. Last year, I closed on a project in Vancouver Island while on vacation in Panama. It makes absolutely no difference where I am. So long as you’re organized, nobody cares whether you send emails or take calls from the business district in a big city or out in the middle of nowhere. What matters is that you can execute.”
The key is organizational skills, stresses Alexis Assadi. He is strictly regimented, inputting countless reminders into his virtual calendar each day to keep him on top of the tasks at hand. “I have calendar reminders for everything,” he says. “I’m notified whenever I need to follow up on a subject, begin planning for a new capital outlay or request information from someone. I will schedule events several months in advance so that I don’t forget. I even get reminders to put my clothes in the washing machine.”
Such is life in the 21st century. Businesspeople increasingly use on-demand virtual assistants instead of hiring full-time employees. They use services like Panda Doc, Hello Sign and DocuSign to sign contracts. They send emails instead of letters. They advertise on social media rather than through post. Working-hours from 9am to 5pm in a fixed location are a remnant from the past and are quickly disappearing. Technology has made us more efficient – and entrepreneurs like Alexis Assadi take advantage of that. Get the job done. Do it well. Then move on and live a balanced life.
One can see why Assadi enjoys working digitally. “I wake up and work hard for several hours. But my administrative work is usually complete by noon. After which, I’ll go to the beach with my dog or walk by the harbour with her. I’ll usually have business calls during that time, but at least I’m out in the fresh air. If I don’t have phone calls scheduled, then I’ll typically have a lunch meeting or appointments with a lawyer or an accountant or someone else I work with. People ask if I miss the social aspect of being in an office, but I see more than enough people during my day. The only difference is that it’s usually over food, coffee or drinks, rather than in a cubicle.”
Not only is digital life simpler and more efficient for Alexis Assadi, but it is also less wasteful. He has a printer, but almost never uses it. The only time he needs paper is to sign mortgage agreements and other documents that government agencies still prefer executed with wet ink – though that is expected to change, too. He refills the printer cartridge no more than once a year. He doesn’t need to commute. In fact, he doesn’t even own a car.
Will a physical office ever be necessary? Perhaps one day, he concedes. But until then, Alexis Assadi is one of thousands of businesspeople around the world who enjoy the convenience, cost-savings and freedom that are accommodated by technology. This is indicative of a trend as consumers and businesses alike migrate upwards to the cloud.