'I love to climb mountains. There is joy to be found in the suffering to the top'
Get to Know… Abdi Ahmed
Are you originally from the Rochester area? If not, what led you here?
I naturally say I am to non-Minnesotans because I’ve lived here long enough that it has de-facto become home. However, I was born in Somalia on the heels of the civil war and my parents through grit and resilience, similar to many other refugees, escaped war and sought asylum which landed us in Maryland for a few years before moving to Minnesota after.
I have been away for the past decade and the majority of that time has been in Washington D.C. My wife, Laura, and I recently moved back here from DC after the pandemic with the benefit of being remote.
It’s great to be back!
What do you like best about Rochester?
I love the people! My people in Rochester—grade school friends, teachers, coaches, providers, and family, have all had a sizable impact in shaping who I am. I run into these faces around town, clinic, Hyvee, and at the RAC.
As a city, it has the advantage of being large enough but with a small town vibe. Along with the perks of being spacious, clean, and accessible.
What changes do you think still need to be made?
I often hear people talk about the need for more interaction amongst residents to foster diversity of thought, behavior, and connectedness.
I approach change from a system or habit perspective. A practical change that would make the city more inviting for everyone is for more residents to spend more time in the front yard instead of the backyard coupled with walking during the warm months.
It’s an insight I gained from living in Washington DC. Most people have backyards but surprisingly people spend more time in the front. This difference, coupled with openness, creates an atmosphere of invitation, spontaneity, conversation, and community building. If you don’t get spontaneous interaction with your neighbors, when or how are you ever supposed to connect to them.
What do you do for a living? Why did you choose that for your career?
The world is rapidly changing with the insertion of machine learning and artificial intelligence into everyday lives and many are unaware of this seismic shift.
I leverage business and data analytics to empower business leaders to innovate and to make data-driven decisions that are effective. For small businesses to compete and to digitally transform in the near-future, they will need to implement business analytics. Otherwise, they risk being disrupted quickly by large organizations or startups with data, algorithms, and platforms in place (Amazon, Ant Financial, etc.). I chose this because the future of any knowledge worker or business line are dependent on them understanding how this works and being able to apply that knowledge and skill.
Leading to that, it requires change management and mindset shift. This all built up from my other line of work or passion, AXLETE, which is coaching clients and businesses in health and wellness. I’ve helped clients lose fat and build muscle for over a decade now but have now applied it to employee health using analytics.
The final thing that I do is being on a crusade to end cancer. You can learn more as to why at Axlete.com . Let me know if you want to help!
What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to enter your profession?
For any age group, start cultivating a digital mindset. Make an effort to understand algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence so take a course, attend a speaker series. Start there.
For high school and below, they should all take a programming or computer science course. I wish I did that in high school.
You're also joining the Rochester in Color team as a contributing writer, how did you become interested in writing?
Yes! Thank you for bringing me and I’m excited to contribute to the Post-Bulletin and Rochester in Color.
I’ve always been curious about the world. Inevitably, that meant reading as much as I could from as many places as possible to paint a fuller picture of my interest topic. Through that I realized, not all writing is equal but that writing is important for anyone to learn. It was a cascading effect from there.
They say to write better, you should read more. I read a lot and that gives me the inspiration and energy to write.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment and what has been your greatest challenge you've had to overcome?
My greatest accomplishment is beating the odds. No single accomplishment is at the top but every accomplishment adds to the odds that would ever happen which gives me great satisfaction in overcoming it.
My greatest challenge recently is getting my 2-month old to sleep and to take a bottle! LOL. Other challenges have been recovering from chemotherapy treatment in the past year after a cancer diagnosis as a young adult and getting back into my career after such a disruption.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I love to climb mountains. There is joy to be found in the suffering to the top.
Get to know ... is a feature in Rochester In Color, a special section within the Post Bulletin's website that profiles people of color in our community. Find it at www.postbulletin.com/rochester-in-color . If you know of someone who should be featured, send us an email at email@example.com