Josef’s mother was born in Haifa, Israel during the 1950’s. She is a descendant of holocost survivors and has dealt with a life of trauma due to the hardships of WWII. Her father suffered from severe PTSD and later became extremely abusive, which led him to shoot Josef’s grandmother in front of his family and then take his own life. Josef’s grandmother survived, however the entire family struggled with the poverty and trauma that resulted from this life-changing event. Despite these troubles, Josef’s mother secured a position as an office clerk, making her the trailblazer in her family to hold such a role.
Josef’s father was born in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Having tragically lost his father at a tender age, he endured a difficult journey as his mother hastily remarried to a man who subjected her and her children to years of physical and psychological abuse. He grew up with his four siblings in Afghanistan, facing constant hunger and enduring physical abuse. Throughout his challenging upbringing, he held onto a strong desire to escape from these difficult circumstances and create a better life for himself. As a teenager, he enrolled in the army and later fled to Germany, where he was homeless for nearly two years until he got deported back to Afghanistan. Years later, he had the opportunity to travel to Montreal, Quebec to watch the Olympics. With the chance to extend his stay, he met Josef’s mother and married her, in Montreal, where they both still live today.
Josef’s parents dedicated themselves to building a life from scratch. His father worked tirelessly as a factory worker, primarily in the steel industry, while his mother held various office clerk positions in different companies. Eventually, they welcomed their only child, Josef. However, Josef faced challenges in school and struggled with dyslexia, which was only diagnosed later in life. Alongside his academic difficulties, Josef lacked self-assurance and harbored numerous insecurities due to growing up in poverty amidst an affluent community. While those around him appeared content, driven, and financially secure, Josef’s experiences were vastly different. Growing up was a continuous battle for him.
When Josef was just 10 years old, he spent his weekends at the St-Eustache flea market, selling used jeans to help his family make ends meet. Since his father had limited English skills and couldn’t speak French at all, Josef took charge of most of the sales. It was during this time at the flea market that Josef first learned about the art of selling. Despite facing ongoing financial and educational challenges, Josef became the first person in his family to graduate from college or university. However, his journey wasn’t without obstacles, as he found himself on academic probation twice and was on the verge of being expelled from college. Fortunately, it was during this challenging period that he met his future wife, who provided him with the support and motivation he had always needed.
Josef has been married to his life-long business partner since 2012, and together they have 2 boys.
In 2007, Josef successfully earned his BA degree in Sociology from Concordia University. His primary aspiration was to study marketing at the John Molson School of Business, but unfortunately, his grades did not meet the requirements for acceptance into the program. Undeterred, at the age of 24 and with limited experience, Josef took matters into his own hands and established Design Shopp International, a web and digital marketing agency based in Montreal. With a determination to learn and succeed, Josef initially acquired knowledge of online marketing through the “Digital Marketing for Dummies” book. Known for his self-reliance, Josef became notorious for teaching himself various skills and doing whatever it took to make things work. During the early stages of his business, he even took on part-time work at the airport, where he cleaned toilets and loaded luggage to make ends meet.
Josef also has investments in various restaurants and SAAS companies, and is the president of Imagination Holding Co.
FITNESS AND HEALTH
When he was young, he was drawn to combat sports like boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, and wrestling. He believed that if he became a strong fighter, people would admire him and forget that he came from a poor background. In his early twenties, he aimed to become a professional MMA fighter and opened his first business, a martial arts school named Black Hawk MMA. In 2004, he had the opportunity to sign a professional MMA contract with the well-known Quebec TKO promotion, but declined the offer to focus on his business because the income wouldn’t be enough to support his parents.
As Josef started to achieve financial success, he neglected his physical health and gained more than 50 pounds becoming self-conscious about his appearance. After his first child was born, he made a commitment to lead a healthy and disciplined life to set a positive example for his child. Josef now regularly trains with his oldest son.
PHILAN-THROPY & GIVING BACK
Josef is dedicated to making a positive impact and providing inspiration to individuals who have faced similar challenges worldwide.
Currently serving as the President of Cloverdale Multi-Ressources, a non-profit organization situated in the West Island of Montreal, Josef is committed to assisting low-income families who have recently immigrated to Canada. The organization’s mission is to provide support and resources to these families. In addition to this role, Josef is also a board member of Yes Montreal (Youth Entrepreneurship Services), a community-driven non-profit organization. Yes Montreal aims to help Quebecers find employment opportunities and foster their entrepreneurial skills. Together, these endeavours reflect Josef’s commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.
Occasionally, Josef gives entrepreneurship and leadership workshops at John Abbott College. He also dedicates a lot of his time hosting free conferences and events for various organizations, children, students and entrepreneurs. He uses much of his personal experiences and struggles through school and business as a source of inspiration.
In the past year and a half, Josef has given over 50 leadership and keynote speeches to organizations across North America and Europe. He has spoken to over 5000 underserved youth in communities and organizations such as Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, JA centers, and school boards. As of November 2022, Josef has been speaking in prisons and juvenile detention centers in the United States.
With his free time, Josef has been running the Riverdale Wrestling Club program in Montreal since 2016. To date, the club won 5 consecutive city championships and the Eastern Canadian championship and shaped many provincial and regional youth champions. Josef is dedicated to promoting fitness as a source of discipline and motivation to the children that he coaches. As a child and young adult, sports helped guide and motivate him, which is a passion he tries to share with the next generation.