Adnan Zai is not your typical entrepreneur. And to be fair, he’s not really your typical human either. Having grown up on 3 continents, he attended boarding school in Switzerland that featured students from 100+ different countries, so he learned at a very young age the value and significance of being a globally-minded thinker. And this is a trait he has carried with him for his entire life. A history buff and student of the world, Zai has a deep well from which to draw when it comes to stimulating conversations and cultural understandings. Even his leisure activities revolve around history, globalization, and education, as he enjoys binging on historical fiction and anything about World War II. In fact, watching “The Crown” is among his current favorite ways to enjoy television. He knows that, as stoic Marcus Aurelius said, “The things you think about determine the quality of your mind.” He is truly a lifelong learner. “To me, the world works together.” This deep understanding of the connectedness of the world is a trait he has worked hard to instill in his children and his co-workers. For as worldly as he is, Zai’s true passion is much closer to home in the role of being a dad versus a parent, to his three kids. That is a distinction with a difference that he makes often.
No matter what title you give him at work or at play, the most important title for him is dad. His example and influence are already having a profound effect on his children, as he has admittedly tried to make his kids globally-minded as well. His son is living in London and pursuing a Master’s Degree in Finance at the University of Westminster. Already an analyst, he has been exploring Europe and gaining knowledge of the world. Zai’s oldest daughter is a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati studying International Relations. And his youngest daughter is a high school student in a suburb of Cleveland. Zai is happy about the path his children are on. “I always tell them not to be so quick to figure out their careers and instead focus on getting education through world travel. What they gain from that will be priceless,” he said. Zai’s children often joke that he is the quintessential metrosexual dad who is among the few fathers that gets their nails done with their daughters. His children will vouch that he will truly do anything for them, as they are the center of his universe. An example of this is that they never have to wait more than 60 seconds to get a response back from a text. Adnan Zai continues to try to be the best parent he can be.
And for as much fun and focus he shares with his children, Zai is also a student of the yin-yang nature of life, to create harmony and flow in his life and his work. Although he is cerebral, he is also a child at heart. Although he is a great thinker and history buff, he still loves playing soccer in pick-up games. And although he is a busy international finance specialist, he also created his own clothing label years ago and continues to appreciate fashion. Professionally, Zai currently leads global strategy at Berkeley Capital, a boutique international private equity firm. Outside of the office, Zai is determined to be a mentor and help the generation behind him who are traveling the same path, as he helps students and young professionals entering their careers. “I didn’t have a professional mentor growing up, as my life mentor was my father. I wish I had someone to tell me what potholes to avoid,” Zai said. He is working hard to ensure that those who need it will find key lessons and a supportive word from his mentoring.
In his spare time, Zai is busy trying to slow down his biological clock. He takes a holistic approach to life, thinking about diet, exercise, and the way he consumes the world around him. Yoga and meditation are paramount to staying young, as well as his interest in hanging on to his childlike wonder. He is an avid blogger, and he is also working on a book that will delineate many of the experiences he has had in his life. He dabbles in philosophy, with stoic Marcus Aurelius a favorite. His go-to exercise is HIIT and martial arts, and he enjoys a good run and a pick up soccer game. Although he does business around the globe, Zai has built a strong foundation for his personal life and his children by looking inward and finding the strength within himself to excel, whether at work or at play. As Marcus Aurelius says in his Meditations, “Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.” Adnan Zai is truly a man who looks within himself and finds an inner strength that benefits his children, his peers, and those he mentors.