Apollo 11 Moon Landing – Doing the Impossible

Several years ago, I was speaking in Jordan at a leadership summit when I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Armstrong. Of all the people I’ve met, I must admit that this meeting was the one I was most looking forward to. Given that fact and Mr. Armstrong’s incredible legacy, myself and millions, if not billions, of others around the world were saddened by his passing. In his memory, and in lieu of the 50th anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 moon landing, I wanted to share a story he shared that I believe has a profound message for our time.

As I travel around the world as a strategic advisor and keynote speaker, I have the privilege of meeting many amazing people, including presidents, prime ministers, and Fortune 500 CEOs, just to name a few.

Several years ago, I was speaking in Jordan at a leadership summit when I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Armstrong. Of all the people I’ve met, I must admit that this meeting was the one I was most looking forward to. Given that fact and Mr. Armstrong’s incredible legacy, myself and millions, if not billions, of others around the world were saddened by his passing. In his memory, and in lieu of the 50th anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 moon landing, I wanted to share a story he shared that I believe has a profound message for our time.

Impossible Roadblocks

He said that in the years of research, innovation, and testing that led up to his first footsteps on the moon, there were many times that NASA engineers and scientists would reach an impossible roadblock. During these times, they would say, “We will have to halt the mission. There is no scientific solution to this problem.” Or, “We have tried everything imaginable to solve this problem, and we can’t solve it.”

He went on to say that every time NASA’s best thinkers and scientists reached an impossible roadblock, they were told, “We are going to the moon.” And every time, they would look at each other and say, “OK, got it,” and then they would try again and again. Soon, they would have a solution that worked. He said this happened many times, and each time, the impossible turned out to be possible once they were reminded of the impossible mission they were on.

Your Biggest Problem

This concept is a variation of my strategy of taking a problem and skipping it. Take into consideration your organization’s biggest problem, and you will come to realize that it is likely not the real problem; it is merely a roadblock, much like NASA’s several roadblocks on its way to the moon.

In your organization, “going to the moon” is likely a metaphor for accomplishing something that no other organization has accomplished before. Perhaps your organization is implementing my Hard Trend Methodology, through which you pay close attention to the Hard Trends shaping your industry and pre-solve your customers’ problems with a new product or service they never knew they needed. From an outsider’s perspective, that new product or service initially sounds outlandish; however, the organization acted in an anticipatory manner in realizing what a customer needed before it existed.

NASA going to the moon, solving problems to get to the moon, and piloting our country far ahead in the space race was NASA anticipating. Having a compelling vision for where you want to go or what you want to do—something that is bigger than any one person, something that might even seem impossible—is the kind of vision that can cause people to want to do more, want to reach higher, and want to keep trying.

Remember, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not stand up in front of all those people in Washington, DC, and say, “I have a plan.” Rather, he said, “I have a dream.” And his dream was not to get elected or make vast sums of money. His dream was to better mankind. Putting a man on the moon was similar. It was a dream we could all share—a vision that would not have us question the cost—so we did it.

When Neil Armstrong was about to take that first step off the ladder and onto the moon’s surface, he did not say, “One small step for a NASA astronaut, one giant leap for the United States.” He knew that going to the moon was a human achievement for all of humankind.

Whether you are the leader of a country, a company, a business, or a school, when you find yourself faced with something that seems impossible, remember how we put a man on the moon—by keeping a dream, an articulated vision of what we want to do, as a picture in our mind’s eye. You can take your organization’s biggest problem and simply skip it, propelling the organization to new heights and accomplishing things for the greater good of humankind. Human history has taught us that nothing is impossible when we have a big dream that can be converted into a shared vision.

Learn more with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization– get your copy here.

Interview with Jennifer Ehlen, CEO and Founder at Brazen Global

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?
Jennifer Ehlen, CEO and Founder, Brazen Global

Tell me about your education?
MBA, Saint Louis University; BSBA, University of Missouri — St. Louis

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

I grew up in a tiny community, my parent worked very hard, but my family didn’t have much. My parents provided the basics, but if my siblings and I wanted something more, we knew we had to find the money for it ourselves. I think this is how I learned how to hustle and be scrappy. Moreover, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. We didn’t just erect lemonade stands — we created a lemonade stand empire, complete with tchotchkes and home-made goods. We would even go door to door selling painted rocks — whatever it took.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Our Brazen members. Our members are passionate, creative, wicked smart and BRAVE. They come from every walk of life, every socio-economic background, and every trade. However, they all have one thing in common: they know that this crazy journey called entrepreneurship is a scary and challenging one, and there’s no point in going it alone — which is why they’ve come to Brazen. I am in awe of them all.

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?
Brazen Global.

Where is your company located?

We are headquartered in St. Louis and operate in seven markets across the country — Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Fort Worth, Philadelphia, and St. Louis.

What services or products does your organization provide?

Brazen offers business-focused programs to a national member network of growth-seeking female presidents, founders, and CEOs. Brazen offers evidence-based membership programs to help women grow their businesses.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Simply put, we’re here to help female entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

In the U.S., 91.4% of women-owned firms have no employee other than the owner. If every WOB added just one member to their team, they could create more than 11 million jobs; more employment growth than 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined. Female entrepreneurs represent an incredible economic opportunity that Brazen hopes to unlock with our programs.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

First and foremost, our programs are squarely business-focused. Unlike many other groups for women, we’re not a purely social or networking organization. We pride ourselves on giving women a place to get down to business.

Brazen’s flagship program, Growth Groups, also make us unique. Growth Groups are peer advisory groups of seven to nine female entrepreneurs that meet monthly to present their most significant business challenges and work through solutions. While peer advisory groups are not new, Brazen Growth Groups use proprietary software to facilitate effective and focused sessions. Additionally, this program is offered to women only and is designed to be accessible. Unfortunately, many formal peer advisory programs have historically had incredibly high barriers to join, sometimes even requiring members to have $10M in annual revenue and 10 or more employees. They can also be prohibitively expensive, costing in upwards of $16,000 per year to be involved. This means that, while peer advisory groups are incredibly useful, they have traditionally been targeted at middle-market CEOS and have remained out of reach of at least 98% of growth-seeking women entrepreneurs… until now.

Brazen Growth Groups make the benefits of a peer advisory group available to all women entrepreneurs.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

Brazen was born out of research from 2011 and 2012 from Kauffman and American Express. These publications discussed the intrinsic and extrinsic factors facing women entrepreneurs today and, in American Express’ case, even ranked the top metropolitan communities for how well their women entrepreneurs fared regionally. At the time, St. Louis came in dead last — tied for 25th with San Francisco. I had just left the role of Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University, where I had worked pretty hard to ensure our programs and workshops represented gender parity. To say I was devastated to learn that my hometown ranked dead last was an understatement. Several incredible women entrepreneurs and friends (including my co-founder, Aimee Muirnin Dunne) and I decided to do something about it. We set out to create programs that would move the needle for women entrepreneurs in a substantive way. To go beyond the speaker series and social organization and offer continuous, immersive programs that would help women entrepreneurs achieve their growth aspirations.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

www.BrazenGlobal.com

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

  1. It sometimes feels like I’m squelching the entrepreneurship dream when I give this advice, but entrepreneurship is entirely about boot-strapping it, and the BEST way to bootstrap your learning curve is to go work for someone else first. Work in the industry that you hope to innovate before going out on your own.
  2. Seek feedback, even when it’s tough. Being open to feedback can make the difference between having an idea and building a business. Along with testing the feasibility of your idea, feedback is also an essential piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle.
  3. Sign-up for a peer advisory group, like a Brazen Growth Group. These groups connect members to other business leaders with whom they can solve problems and strategize how to grow. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone!

Interview with Derek Tian, Co-Founder at Black Lapel

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

My name is Derek Tian.

Photo credit: Derek Tian

Tell me about your education?

I have a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from NYU Stern.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

I was born in Shanghai, China, the son and grandson of educators. My parents and I immigrated to the United States when I was 8 when my dad got a scholarship to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Cincinnati. To this day, I have a strong indelible image of my parents constantly hard at work from the moment they arrived. Having very little savings, our family was forced to be extremely frugal to make ends meet, buying all of our clothes at church sales for $1 per brown bag and always getting whatever was on deep discount at the supermarket. Seeing my dad work another job while getting his degree and my mom works two jobs seven days a week had a substantial impact on me to this day. They’re comfortably retired now, and you could say that their hard work paid off in the kind of way American Dreams are made of — but I inherited their work ethic. My parents were far from the tiger parents that you read about that’s endemic to Asian cultures. I was by all accounts a “good kid” who didn’t make trouble and diligently got good grades. I think even then, and I realized that I had to do well in school to make their hard work and sacrifices worth it. That carried on into college and ultimately my decision to pursue a career in finance coming out of NYU.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, had a foundational influence on my philosophy as an entrepreneur. I read his book Delivering Happiness when I was still working in finance and was already thinking about starting a business. Tony’s philosophy of creating an amaze and wow experience for his customers, and how you can apply that same concept with your team internally to create happiness, satisfaction, and purpose in their careers resonated with me.

One of the things my business partner and I were lucky to have done very early in our business is we codified our core values. Following Tony’s lead, we adopted a few of the lessons from his book amongst other learnings and personal principles, and we distilled them into 11 distinct core values touching on everything from humility and honesty communications to having an attitude of constant self-improvement.

This focus on core values has allowed us to make some fantastic hires of team members who have a strong affinity to those values and also comes in handy in providing guidance on challenging business decisions. It’s indeed become part of our DNA.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

My company is called Black Lapel.

Where is your company located?

We’re headquartered in New York City, where we have our offices and a showroom. However, our brand mostly lives online where the overwhelming majority of our customer interactions take place.

What services or products does your organization provide?

Black Lapel is a maker of men’s made to measure clothing from finely tailored custom suits and shirts to accessories and topcoats.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Off the rack clothing, especially suits, don’t fit most people properly. Standard sizes are meant for an “average person” that simply do not exist in reality. Alterations are costly, time-consuming, and still result in a less than an ideal fit. Offering a made to measure custom product online provides an accessible solution to this problem at a price point comparable to off the rack options without ever needing to leave your home.

Photo credit: Derek Tian

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Rather than competing on price with our made to measure suiting peers, we’ve invested in our process and product to provide a better experience and outcome to our customers. This process involved a methodical and data-driven approach to understanding customer pain points and what their real needs are and applying those learnings to how we innovate and develop new products and processes. For example, knowing that most customers who order from us online are nervous about taking their measurements, we’ve invested in analytical algorithms utilizing our extensive database of customer measurements to identify potential measurement issues as soon as an order comes in (before we cut any fabric), so that we can reduce the risk of a poor fit on delivery. This tool applied with an intense desire to see our customers looking their best, yields incredible outcomes in fit and ultimately helps us earn some delighted customers with fantastic repeat purchase rates.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

My business partner, Warren Liao, and I were both working in finance. We wore many suits but as young professionals, could never find the find mix of fit, quality, and affordability. We set out to change that with Black Lapel. Having no background in the business of fashion, we had to do a ton of learning from understanding fabrics and fit, to learning about various construction methods and finding tailoring partners. That was a year plus process before we even launched our site and that the learning process continues to this day as we seek to improve our offerings continually.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

Our website — https://blacklapel.com/ is a great place to start!

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

I’d offer the following three tips for any aspiring entrepreneurs:

  1. Be humble. It will ALWAYS be harder than you think and throwing money at the problem is never the best solution.
  2. Be humble. Never fear constructive feedback, from customers, from vendors, from employees, from investors, from friends/family/sig other. Listen empathetically.
  3. Be humble. “This is how we do things.” This is why you were able to disrupt the status quo. Don’t become the status quo and instead, keep disrupting yourself.

Interview with Samantha Crafton, Founder of SCPR (Samantha Crafton Public Relations)

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Samantha Crafton

Tell me about your education?

I graduated from the University of Iowa with B.A. in Communication Studies and am currently pursuing an M.S. degree at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

Integrity is the single most important quality a person can possess.

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Jenna Kutcher (@jennakutcher) is an entrepreneur I became familiar with when a friend recommended I check out her podcast, Goal Digger (@goaldiggerpodcast.) I subsequently started following her on Instagram and was immediately a fan. She is unapologetically honest, extraordinarily ambitious and a major proponent of self-love/acceptance — a combination which is rare in someone so young and so successful. Jenna is a big proponent of celebrating other female entrepreneurs (she seems to agree with Madeleine Albright that “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”) In this day and age, the notion of women in business helping each other instead of competing with one another more important than ever and Jenna really embraces that. She is, in my opinion, a savvy #BossBabe that all young females can look up to.

My father, Paul Katz, is another entrepreneur who has had a significant influence on my professional development. A graduate of Indiana University’s prestigious Kelley School of Business, my father is one of the most intelligent and inquisitive people I’ve ever met. While he has worked in a few different industries over the course of his career one thing that has remained consistent is his commitment to honest and ethical business practices. He’s a man who believes that a person’s word is their bond and he has taught me that building a reputation as a business person of high moral character is an extremely valuable commodity.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

SCPR (Samantha Crafton Public Relations)

Where is your company located?

We currently have offices in Chicago and Washington DC.

What services or products does your organization provide?

SCPR is a boutique public relations/marketing firm that offers a wide variety of services to clients across the country including Media Outreach/Relations, Brand Development & Management, Social Media, Professional Photography, Copywriting and Community Outreach (an entire list of our services can be viewed here: https://www.samanthacrafton.com/services-2/)

What problem is your business trying to solve?

While each of our clients has a unique set of objectives or “problems” they want us to solve, one goal they all have is to increase the buzz around and revenue of their business so those are two things we always focus on “solving.”

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Many things set SCPR apart from the competition. Here are just a
few of particular note:

The frequency of Press Placements: SCPR has a track record of securing editorial placements for every client every month.

Availability: I, along with my team, are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. (Yes, even Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve!)

Responsiveness: As a company, we operate under the “72-hour rule” meaning that all emails, phone calls, and text messages are returned/attended to within 72 hours of their receipt.

Evaluation: I believe that regular assessment of the strategies we are employing on a client’s behalf is crucial to the success of an overall campaign. As such, SCPR takes the time to evaluate daily activities to see what is achieving the best results and if any tactics need to be re-evaluated.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

After years of working at many PR companies across the country I amassed a wide variety of experiences that, I felt, gave me a unique perspective on what the client-publicist relationship should be. With those experiences in mind, I launched SCPR to be a firm that works with its clients differently. I honestly felt there was a void in the industry and it was (and still is) my goal to fill it.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

Website: www.samanthacrafton.com
Instagram: @scpublicrelations1
Facebook: Samantha Crafton Public Relations
Twitter: @SC_PR1

Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

  1. Make self-care a priority. For an entrepreneur taking care of yourself — mind, body, and soul — is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. You can’t build an empire if your running on fumes.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You are your only competition.
  3. Looking at the big picture can be exciting but also overwhelming. Focus on taking small steps every day — you’ll be surprised how quickly those small steps add up to big successes.

Interview with Susan Newman, Founder of School2Life

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Susan Newman

Tell me about your education?

Attended Columbia College Chicago which was a fantastic experience learning about the marketing industry from top executives who had proven a success. However, my real definition of industry education came from the range of internships and “on the job” experience I obtained while in school which led to a successful, exciting marketing career.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

When I worked at Playboy in Beverly Hills, and at Leo Burnett, I had the opportunity to work with Founders such as Hugh Hefner and C suite executives at Burnett, and I learned the value of gumption — spirited initiative and resourcefulness. This quality has enabled my career to evolve in the most unexpected yet brilliant way. I now have the best job ever with school2life.

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

My father. He raised me on the very tactics and strategies which greatly influenced the school2life curriculum. He also supported my “unique and quirky” sense of humor which keep us all laughing (sometimes at my expense) when I’m teaching.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

school2life

Where is your company located?

Chicago, IL

What services or products does your organization provide?

School2life provides practical personalized guidance for young professionals.

Our services include customized, interactive workshops that provide important — yet seldom taught — — information with actionable steps and personalized roadmap to understanding the job search landscape, networking navigation tool, and professional communication tactic and strategies.

In person, sessions are supported by school2life GPS (Guidance and Professional Support) a digital tool that enables our students/clients to take actionable steps in making progress towards their goals. For example, WUHU (Would U Hire U) is an interactive tool that teaches the user the dynamics of a strong answer for each given questions and then lets them apply their achievements and experiences to create personalized answers thus building strong interviewing skills.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Problem: The job search process is introduced way too late and is inadequately taught making the experience confusing, demeaning and even “paralyzing” which doesn’t allow for maximum success. Promotes uncertainty.

Solution: Demystify the job search process early on making it manageable with actionable steps to enable young professionals to navigate their search path to achieve greater success in landing a job of interest.

Result: Promotes confidence rather than uncertainty = opportunities.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Based on the feedback from customers it’s the relatable teaching style that has allowed s2l to be so successful in “turning young professionals on to themselves and their capabilities.” We communicate with a real humanistic and relatable approach (we aren’t afraid to laugh at ourselves) which in turn leads to education through conversation and allows our students/clients to apply the tactics and strategies to their unique path.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

I started teaching Marketing Yourself at Columbia College and was asked to work with private clients, teach workshops and write professional development curriculum outside of Columbia. And quickly found that my quirky personality was a strength in motivating people to take actionable steps in advocating for themselves and their careers.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

school2life.com

Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

Surround yourself with people who:

  1. Are performing in their career and getting things done and evolving.
  2. Are positive and supportive.
  3. Can make you laugh.

Interview with Richard Bretton, Founder of Life and Success With Richard

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Richard Bretton

Where did you go to school?

I graduated high school in 2006, and went to the University of Kansas for one semester before dropping out. You’ll find out why soon enough. I went to a tech school here in Kansas City called Centriq Training in 2011 and got a software application certification in July 2011.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

Absolutely, I think the experiences and lessons we learn help shape everything that we will become in life. I referenced it in the above response to your first question, and that was I dropped out of college. The reason for that being is I lost complete control over my life from the age between 18 to 28. I am about to turn 31 in November.

Here is the short version of my story.

I was misdiagnosed with a mood disorder(bipolar) and put on ten different prescription medications.

During that time, I experienced all kinds of emotions and feelings. About five years ago I was in a complete haze and highly addicted to my medications. I had no idea what was going on, who I was or where I was. I just knew deep down inside I wasn’t myself. I became very hateful, aggressive, depressed and anxious at the same time. It’s hard to describe, but that’s how it felt.

One night I was at a friends house, and I got into a debate with a friend of his about something foolish. If I recall, it was about how the rules worked for this card game we were playing, Magic the Gathering. Moreover, it got so heated that he told me “I should go kill myself.”Thus, a few weeks later it got to the point I felt like there was nothing left for me, and I did attempt to take my life.

I saw how dark humanity could become. How cruel the world can be. I’ve experienced so many dark emotions and feelings, and the series of events that lead up to this changed everything.

After I fell 12ft from my dormer room window onto a steel patio table in the backyard, I was still alive. I didn’t sprain, twist, break, or suffer any internal damage of any kind.

However, my parents saw me limping around and asked what happened, so I told them the truth. I’ll never forget the look on their faces. How destroyed and defeated they looked. Like their world just came crashing down.

They knew I was having a hard time, but they didn’t realize how bad it was. After I told my parents, I walked them through everything I was thinking and feeling. That was when everything changed.

All of those events happened from the year 2006 to 2013. From the rest of 2013 to early 2016, I went through withdrawal from all my prescriptions one at a time. Also, to be completely transparent it was risky because we had no assistance from my doctors. They were upset when I told them I was going off them.

Those 2 and half years were more brutal than the seven years before it. There would be days I couldn’t eat or drink because my body was reacting like it was in shock without the meds, and went through a violent transformation to get things back to normal.

And….. the madness was still not over….

May of 2017, I ended up in the hospital, it both felt and looked like I was going to die. My skin was an ashen white, and my stomach felt like it was going to explode. I mean that in a very literal sense. It was like the movie Alien, and I felt like I was housing an Alien inside of me.

The doctors told me to go back on prescription medications and that I needed to see a psychiatrist. At that point, I took things into my own hands, since for the first time in 10 years I could think clearly. So I made an appointment with this top quality Acupuncturist, who was recommended by my mom’s friend.

I’ll never forget what she said: “I am not sure how you are alive right now, let’s go treat you” A warning this is pretty gross…

After my treatment, she said my kidneys, liver, stomach, and lungs were all out of alignment. She had suggested this was from my violent withdrawal that lasted a little over two years.

That introduced me to healthy eating, holistic and organic solutions to medications. We wouldn’t be having this conversation right now if it wasn’t for this decision I made. She had implied “I wouldn’t have much time left if I didn’t come see her when I did.”

What did a Living Nightmare teach me?

How to treat yourself

How to treat others

To not pass judgment so quickly, because we don’t know or understand other people ’s circumstance (s).

To live every day like it’s going to be your last.

Respect

Integrity

Inspire and empower others. Because there are others out there, who have been through something similar.

Lessons in life and bad stuff will always happen before happiness and greatness can occur because that is how the world works.

It taught me that this terrible series of events happened to bring out the good in me. It is my strength and power that I now have to serve others. It massively transformed me from a person who didn’t care about anything or anyone, not even himself, to someone who is extremely positive, also when things don’t work out to plan.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Ferny Ceballos and Tim Erway. I know I cheated the question here, but they work closely together and have been responsible for helping near 100,000 Entrepreneurs who want to serve others through Network Marketing.

I remember meeting Tim and Ferny at an event they were hosting in Vegas in June. That Saturday night of the event, I remember introducing myself to Tim for the first time. I felt like I knew him already, and I told him an abridged version of my story that I just mentioned.

He said: “Dude holy crap! I am so glad you here! I am so excited to be working with you! The next year is truly going to be game changing!” I am 99% sure that’s the exact quote.

He is the most real person I have ever met, so is Ferny he is very much like Tim. How awesome would it be if Bill Gates said to you “Ricky I am going to teach you everything I know about running a business over the next year?”

That would change your life I would imagine. They were the two who helped me realize how influential and inspirational I could be to others in this online and network marketing space.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Life and Success With Richard

Where is your company located?

Overland Park, KS

What services or products does your organization provide?

Coaching for Network Marketers, as well as different courses on how to brand, recruit, and generate leads for their business

I am also currently in the process of creating a tech consultation package. I don’t have all the details yet, but what it might look like is teaching Network Marketers how to utilize different tech apps for their business, as well as a high-end package that would allow me to build and customize their websites for them, and other integrations such as their funnels and social media

What problem is your business trying to solve?

How to utilize social media properly to get people to ask you about your business, and what you do. Instead of having to do what big corporations do and pay 10s of millions of dollars to recruiters, you would have prospects knocking on your door saying “I want in.” By the time they are saying they want in, they are already highly qualified to be in your business, based on what I teach others.

I know this can help big corporate businesses with recruiting, because this process of attracting prospects or employees works the same way, regardless of size. How cool is that?

How is your business unique against your competitors?

I think that is an interesting question because Network Marketing you don’t necessarily compete with others. There are leaders and influencers in the space. Also, yes while you and your team get rewarded for rank advancing, your still only in competition with yourself.

What’s your message? What does your brand represent? Can people trust you to do business with them? The more specifically people can answer those types of questions, the more likely it is they will build a stable and reliable team that will be successful. Otherwise, you fail. It’s one or the other in this particular space. This business is about building relationships and teaching those you make relationships with, a duplicatable system so they can help develop their teams do the same.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

When I recovered from my hard times and saw my acupuncturist. I got involved with a company whose product worked for me, and I wanted to start my own business selling this product but learned very quickly what I was taught on how to prospect and recruit wasn’t working. I made it my mission to show others how to attract prospects to their business.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

www.lifeandsuccesswithrichard.com, currently it is just a lot of content and value on how to get prospects, recruit, and run a network marketing business online. Users can access my main product at the end of each blog post. Currently in the process of getting my products page up.

If anyone wants to get a hold of me directly the best way to do that is here:

facebook.com/LifeAndSuccessWithRichard/ feel free to direct message me, I am usually responsive within 15–30 mins unless I am doing training or coaching.

I prefer this method anyway because it is a very one-on-one business. I like to get to know people and hop on a zoom call. The main reason for that is to get to know them, what they hope to accomplish, what their dreams are with starting a network marketing business.

It’s always best in this industry to build real relationships with people. I have a quote I live by:

“Real networking = Real relationships.”

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

Believe in Yourself — No one is going to understand your vision of what you are trying to accomplish, it’s so easy to fail and give up when you allow others to dictate what he or she believe about your business. Have faith in yourself and your vision.

Take Action — To be a successful Entrepreneur you MUST take small, daily CONSISTENT actions. When I failed to build my tech business, it was because I believed I had to knock out big pieces every day for me to make my dream. Also, from the outside, that’s what it seems like. One day you hear about this person you’ve never heard of, and now they are a millionaire, must have happened overnight? NO, they took small actions every day that were driving their business forward. When you try to do too much, you get burnt out and stop working.

Evaluate — If you are stumbling and struggling to resolve a problem in your business evaluate the problem. I think that’s where many Entrepreneurs get caught, they accomplish the first two things but then the result wasn’t what was expected, and they don’t analyze the results. Here is the most significant VALUE I can offer any Entrepreneur reading this. These three questions will help you break through this struggle!

What Worked?
What Didn’t Work?
What Might I Do Differently?

Thanks, Ricky for taking the time interview me. Thanks to everyone who read this. I hope these tips can help you on your path to serving others!

All The Best,

Richard Bretton

Interview with Anthony Knierim, Co-founder & COO of MoveSpring

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Anthony Knierim

Tell me about your education?

I went to Illinois State University, tried to walk-on the basketball team as I was a huge fan of college basketball. I was a total (what I call) a Hack-A-Demic — current education structure favors those with excellent memory retention and those that can put concepts together quickly, which I’m quite good at both. I barely went to class and chose teachers that I knew had high weighted grading on tests. So I didn’t care to do too much of the homework, I would learn concept enough to understand to be able to score high on tests, then just did enough to ensure I had above a 3.0 GPA (most companies meaningless barometer of entry). My priorities in college were the web design/agency I started with two buddies, basketball, social, then school as last. I knew I was going to figure things out “on the job” no matter what I was going to do.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

I started a lawn mowing business with my best friend at the time, our brothers had two push mowers and were terrible at running the business. We were in 6th grade and both from pretty lower economic means. We were always hustling for a dollar, and we pitched our brothers that we would mow all of their lawn accounts for free and give them 25% of all of our new accounts until we paid the mowers off to own them. They thought we were fools thinking it would take all summer to pay them off…. It took about a week!

Photo courtesy by Anthony Knierim

I learned a lot from this experience, 1st I learned that I LOVED negotiating and getting into a deal. The next big lesson is learning that there is always an angle, or an advantage to get something you want that you to have to find it. In this context Adam (my co-founder) and I realized we had a huge advantage in selling, we were in 6th grade, chubby, cute kids. We figured that knocking on every door in the neighbourhood we could play up the cute kid card, and convince them to pay us $15–30 to cut their lawn to help pay for our sports, or college savings and they couldn’t say no! We played this advantage up huge all the way into High School, hiring and training Jr. High kids to help us do our selling as we had over 500 accounts, 18 employees by the time I was a Senior in High School. I sold half the business to Adam who still runs the company in the SW Suburbs of Chicago.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Mark Cuban, I love his hustle and appreciation of the hustle and his incredible passion. He has a great way of putting things together to find the opportunity or the path to a dollar so quickly, and I love that about him. I also like how he speaks his mind and doesn’t care about how others view his opinion. Lastly, I like how he is humble in explaining how he learned in experiences of being wrong, and he seems to be quick to remove ego and go for the win regardless of the path.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

MoveSpring

Where is your company located?

Chicago, IL

What services or products does your organization provide?

We provide a flexible health and wellness engagement platform for businesses, healthcare providers and other stakeholders in health to use healthy lifestyle data to put the right resources and health actions in front of the right people at the right times.

Photo courtesy by https://movespring.com/

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Aggregating and marrying health lifestyle data, i.e., Fitbit, Apple watch Garmin, etc…data to broader health contextual but a point in time data, i.e., health risk assessments, claims, Bio-metric screens to provide a better picture of ones point in time, but more longitudinal health.

Photo courtesy by https://movespring.com/challenges/

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Our ability to approach this from a consumer first, we are B2C2B meaning we have a consumer platform that organically grows at 1K+ users a day, by allowing anyone with an activity tracker to build, join a community with others to challenge each other or just motivate or hold each other accountable to their health. From there we enrich information we know about them, to know where they work, and more to then introduce content to the user that may be relevant to help get our platform products to stakeholders in their health continuum, i.e., their employer (lowest hanging fruit) or doctor, insurance.

Everyone in our space sells B2B2C — and lacks empathy for the user, and they are building a product for the buyer, not the user. This philosophy is a HUGE problem in healthcare where everyone says they are making a product to go to the consumer but poorly executing and underdelivering.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

Working in the benefits space for a few years when I was leading digital strategies for a massive HR Consulting & Outsourcing company. I saw that most of the problem with the dramatic rise in costs of health care was how the services were being presented to the people, indeed a user experience problem. Very fragmented, pull-based, low participation and no longitudinal engagement strategy or purpose for the employees. I just knew there had to be a better way when wearable devices started to take off. I figured maybe this could be the hook/gateway to building engagement communities in health… so we did it!

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

Google us or go to either Stridekick.com (consumer app) or MoveSpring.com (B2B platform)

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

Hate to be cliché here, but be humble, not afraid to fail and fail quickly, talk to your users cause they are going to know best. The biggest thing I can say is don’t obsess over being the newest tech or coolest tech “that has never been done before” when I talk to people asking me for advice, this is a huge red flag! Focus on one problem and try to be the best at it.

Interview with Marty Bicknell, Founder, CEO & President of Mariner Wealth Advisors

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Marty Bicknell

Where did you go to school?

I grew up in Pittsburg, Kansas, and graduated college from Pittsburg State University

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

My first job was mowing and weed eating at a country club. All my friends were working in the pro shop or at their dads’ offices, but my dad thought having a job sweating and seeing snakes on a daily basis would build character. It definitely helped build my character, but beyond that, it taught me that hard work pays off. I also experienced a sense of accomplishment in seeing my hard work turn into something tangible.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Ben Edwards. When I began my career at A.G. Edwards, Ben was the CEO. He ran the company with a never-faulting “Client First” attitude that transcended throughout the entire company. When he was replaced, the company I loved quickly changed into a culture I no longer recognized. I soon left A.G. Edwards with one goal — to create a firm I could be proud of again. Shortly after, I started Mariner Wealth Advisors.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Mariner Wealth Advisors

Where is your company located?

Overland Park, Kansas

What services or products does your organization provide?

The services we provide at Mariner Wealth Advisors include wealth advice, estate planning, and trust services, specialized business services, risk management, and investment management.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

While many people realize the importance of developing a wealth plan, they often lack the tools to do so. We help by stepping back and looking at their entire financial life. We are their advocate. We want to be the client’s first call, whether for financial or non-financial reasons.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

We are unique in our business model because our advisors’ only responsibility is taking care of their clients. We are unique in our resources because we provide a wide range of financial services, including those noted above, under one roof. We draw upon professionals from across the firm to create specialized advisory teams for each client, based on his or her needs. I also believe we’re unique because we focus on wealth advice regarding our clients’ goals and how we can help them achieve those goals. Our view incorporates much more than just investment returns.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

It was inspired by my mentor, Ben Edwards, and supported by a group of seven who bought into my vision and joined me in founding the firm.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

www.marinerwealthadvisors.com

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

I actually have five tips I give to entrepreneurs who are considering starting their own business. It would be hard for me to narrow it down to three, so I’ll provide all five.

  1. Define your culture: Once you’ve defined the culture you want in your organization, you must live it and breathe it. Let it guide how you organize your company, the people you hire and the types of products or services you provide.
  2. Focus on your unique ability and provide others the freedom to do the same: A unique ability is a thing that drives you, that makes you excited to head into the office each morning. The difference between being excellent at a job and having a unique ability for it is having a passion for what you do. If you think about embracing and fostering your associates’ unique abilities, as well as your own, then achieving the improbable no longer seems improbable.
  3. Define what’s important and what you should measure: It’s important to remember…what gets measured, gets done. However, make sure you measure what truly matters.
  4. Never stop communicating: I believe innovation comes from communicating. Listen to those around you, as their insights may be the future of your business. Also, share your vision with others to help ensure you’re all working toward a common goal.
  5. Don’t be afraid to innovate: If culture is created from the top down, then I firmly believe innovation is generated from the bottom up. Hire great people and give them room to innovate.