Maveriqs Profile - Ryan Berman - I.D.E.A.
By Lamin Turay
Ryan Berman is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of the Courageous ideas company, I.D.E.A. He's also one of my former employers and a friend. I had the privilege of working at his agency as an intern last summer. While there I was witness to some real magic. Ryan's company is a true modern-day agency that employs any and all aspects of integrated marketing to develop successful campaigns for company's like Pentel, Harrah's, and the US Ski Team. Ryan is also a highly progressive thinker, who has been developing a personal brand built around the concept of courage. I recently spoke with him about his "Courage Brands" concept as well as the book he'll be publishing about his research and findings all related to courage. Here's how our discussion went...
Tell us how the “Courage Brands” idea came to fruition.
It has been just about two years since I started the process. I never intended to write a book. I'm probably the least qualified person in my family to ink a book. If we actually played “Family Feud” with my family, and we were asked, “Who in your family should write a book?” I may get a couple votes from my younger cousins, but that’s it. My brother would be the most qualified, followed by my father. Like I said, I never intended to write a book. It was more a question of, “How do I properly position the agency (I.D.E.A.) so when clients come in here they know what they're signing up for?”
I’ve realized even from my New York days that, half of my clients bought courageous work and half of them didn't. With the half that didn't, it's because we didn't declare to them that we are in pursuit of the courageous idea. That courageous ideas are the only ones that matter.
So, in March of 2015, I came up with “Courage Brands.” I liked how it sounded but I didn't know what it meant. So, I took the next 100 days and asked myself, “What could the definition of this actually be, and is there anything here?” What I realized fast, is that in order for me to understand what “Courage Brands” could mean, I had to really deconstruct the word “courage.”
My initial findings is that nobody likes this word. Nobody thinks that courage is for them. I set out and interviewed the most courageous people you could think of: astronauts, Navy SEALs, C.E.O.'s who make brave decisions in the office and many more. One of my favorite quotes is from a great guy and Navy SEAL named Jeff Boss who said, “I don't see myself as courageous, I see it as the byproduct of the purpose I'm pursuing.”
That’s cool. So rather than him choosing to be courageous, it’s inherent to the path that he chose to follow.
Yeah. In his case when you train to become a Navy SEAL you know it’s not going to be easy, and that courage becomes a byproduct of that training. In another interview I spoke with a woman named Trish Chaplin-Bailey. Trish was a bank teller who got robbed at gunpoint. When she originally applied for her job she certainly wasn’t thinking she was going to be robbed. However, in order to get the job she had to pass all of the company’s training modules. One of those modules was on how to handle a robbery. So it’s not like she was learning that skill to eventually be brave, right? She was learning it because she needed to get a job. Wouldn’t you know, after about a year on the job the bank got held up, and the robber came right up to her. Her training kicked in, instinct took over, and she used what she had learned to resolve the situation.
After the robbery had occurred, Trish’s coworkers all approached her and asked, “How were you so brave?” She replied, “I didn’t feel brave. I was just following the training and methodology that we were taught.” So whether we consciously opt in on courage -- or don’t opt in but learn it anyway -- training for courage makes us better. It prepares us for any obstacle that comes our way.
Yet, society as a whole does not think that courage is really important in their everyday lives. Employees aren’t typically rewarded for being courageous in the workplace. Most of us get rewarded through annual reviews. You’re typically rewarded for following process, and adhering to company policies, not for sticking your neck out. That’s in opposition to being courageous. Those were the findings from my first bit of research. So I continued to look for more.
How did that go? You’re interviewing people, data mining, and conducting more research. What was the “Aha!” moment that made “Courage Brands” something you wanted to pursue?
I started looking at the number of businesses that were perishing, and there’s a few statistics that I can share. Since the year 2000, 52% of the Fortune 500 are now extinct. Now a lot of that is due to mergers, however about 90% of mergers don’t work because they end up being more of a takeover than a merger. You’ve got one culture overtaking another culture and people are like, “Forget this! I’m out!” so you end up losing a ton of institutional knowledge. Then you have to start over from scratch in a lot of business areas.
Also, the Boston Consulting Group studied 35,000 public companies, and found that no company shape, size, or sector is currently safe from extinction. Right now public companies are perishing at an alarming rate. You could be in the hospital business or the hospitality business. You could be two people or twenty thousand people. Either way you’re at risk right now.
So what I realized from all of this is that businesses are failing. The statistics are there to support that notion. Every company is talking about risk, but not many are doing anything about that risk. My philosophy coming out of all of this is that if you’re having a conversation about risk mitigation, you’re really having a conversation about courage mitigation. If you’re in a boardroom talking about risk management, you’re really talking about courage management.
My theory is that courage is the “gas” and risk is the “brakes.” They’re two pedals in the same car. When you hit the brakes the car doesn’t go. When you hit them both at the same time the car is not going to function. So there’s only one way that the car will actually move, and it’s about determining how hard you can press on that gas pedal. That was the turning point for me.
Having developed that concept, what did you do to move forward and execute on it?
The first thing I decided to do was to continue to follow the thread. I asked myself, “Can I come up with a working definition of Courage Brands that declares the type of companies that we want to work with?” I wanted to do this in a practical way. Not in some theoretical way. It was a matter of developing a definition that brings courage back to the forefront. There’s a famous proverb, which states that “fear and courage are brothers”. It suggests you can’t get to courage without first experiencing fear. However, most of us suppress fear instead of addressing fear. This happens in business too.
And one of the important things to consider when applying courage in the boardroom is that an individual or company have to want to be helped. If there is no part of you that’s even willing to consider that courage could play a part in your business, then I certainly can’t help you. But if you consider that you and your business may be in trouble, you understand that you need someone to help, and you’re experiencing incremental rather than exponential growth, or you are in protect share mode vs steal share mode, then maybe I can repair the word courage for you and your team, and bring it back to the business lexicon.
Having completed all of this research, and also starting to lay the groundwork for a practical training on courage, what made you decide to write a book?
This is a story that needs to be told now, and while I joke about being the least qualified person in my family to write a book, the way the introduction of the book is written details what does qualify me to write a book about courage. I’m not a Ph.D., I’ve never been to Mars, I’ve never taken a bullet to save another person’s life, but I’ve been a professional observationalist my whole life. The more I went out and talked to experts in the space, the more I realized that courage, especially in the workplace, has become an uncomfortable and peripheral word at best. If I get to name the book (agents could always change it), it will be called “Return on Courage” - I believe R.O.C. is how you maximize your R.O.I. (Return on Investment). Brands and businesses who have lost their way can achieve a strong return on the courage platform.
The first story in the book focuses on Domino’s Pizza. They threw out an original recipe that was fifty years old. It can’t be easy to throw out an operational mainstay at that stage in the business. They even called themselves out on it in their advertising. When Russell Weiner - who was the CMO of Domino’s at the time - executed that move their stock price was at $2.84. They decided to change everything from the crust up, came out with their now famous “Oh Yes We Did!” campaign, and if you look at their stock price now it’s about $210.
So that all goes back to what you mentioned about the story needing to be told?
Exactly. And by the way, that’s a story about cheese, sauce, and dough. It’s not some complex Silicon Valley web application. It’s pizza. The point is that if an organization that’s been around for over fifty years can do it , you can do it too. You just have to start planning for it. My sense is, by the time you need to be courageous, if you haven’t learned the training already, then you’ll be in trouble.
I believe any business, being or brand who has lost their way can "return on" the courage platform."
What’s the current state of the book project?
Great question. I now have a 53,000 word document. I am still working out if I am going publisher or self-published. As of three hours from right now (Interview executed on March 24th, 2017 at 9am PST), I’ll begin that process of sending out the proposal to agents. I want to find someone that’s as passionate about the topic as I am. I’d like a partner that’s going to be aligned on my purpose of helping companies or people liberate themselves from their current situation -- and to do so with the help of courage.
Who are the major influencers that have driven you to complete this project?
When people see my name on the book, and assume that it’s all just my thoughts, that is the wrong way of looking at it. I want people to go to the acknowledgements page first. That’s where the book was truly made. There’s no book without Eric Ryan who’s the co-founder of Method and Olly. Eric was one of the first to invite me in and gave me his time to interview him. There’s no book without Adam Grant who wrote “Originals,” giving me a little bit of his time and insight which made it into the book. There’s no book without Russell from Domino’s or Jason Spero from Google allowing me behind their companies curtain. Jack Williams at Royal Caribbean, or Steve Wilhite the former VP of Global Communication at Apple who is an amazing all around person. When you have access to these types of courageous people who’ve made calculated courageous moves in their businesses, of course it’s going to make you want to be better.
As an observationalist I’ve noticed that whether it be pizza, computers, cruise lines, or communications, the theories are the same. It’s about team, talent, tenacity and training. It’s about setting yourself up to make fast, calculated decisions. You can only do that when you have trust with your team.
The subline of the book is, “A Playbook for Courageous Change.” My hope is that whether you want to jump right into the training, which is the back half of the book, or you want to understand how we landed where we are on the word courage, you can jump around and get what you’re looking for. My hope is that people will return to the book a few times as they need it.
How can we continue to follow your journey?
Personal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rberman2
Personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ryan_berman/
Personal Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/courageousideas/
Company Website: http://www.theideabrand.com/
Company Blog: http://www.theideabrand.com/blog/
Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theideabrand/
Company Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theideabrand/
I'd like to personally thank Ryan for taking time out of his busy schedule to discuss courage with me. We look forward to the release of his book. If you are seeking more information about deploying courage on you path to success be sure to follow Ryan. Let us know what you think about this interview in the comments below!
Maveriqs Profile - Roosevelt Williams III - Young Black and 'N Business
By Lamin Turay
Attending networking events is a fantastic way to meet potential clients and business contacts. They help you to learn more about the entrepreneurs, businesses, and services that are offered in your area. They're also a great way to maintain your in-person business development skills. Last month I attended my first Young Black and 'N Business networking event. It was great! They had close to a dozen business exhibitor booths, showing off their goods and services. They were providing free haircuts and shoe shines. They even had guest speakers educating attendees about useful business techniques. The event was hosted by the founder of Young Black and 'N Business, Roosevelt Williams III. He's created a powerful platform for generating positive group economics in the community. After meeting him in person we decided it would be a good idea to schedule a discussion so I could bring his story, and the story of his company to a wider audience. Here's how the discussion went...
What is it that your company does, and what problem do you solve?
Young Black and ‘N Business is a platform for entrepreneurs to work together cohesively in order to ascertain financial freedom by sharing and expanding their network. We solve some of the issues that I have witnessed in the San Diego community. Issues related to the disconnect with entrepreneurs in the area. There has not yet been a working unit that practices group economics. Everyone is pretty much fragmented. They don’t know who each other are, or what each other does. There’s a lack of coming together to work together. We’re bringing entrepreneurial understanding to the community.
What is unique about the way you approach the industry that sets your company apart?
What’s unique about the company is the pathos, ethos, and logos that we use. We leverage direct and in-person marketing. It’s about shaking hands and making a friend. We’re building a network one person at a time by highlighting unsung heroes. We’re giving these individuals a space to market themselves and their brand, and we’re doing it for free. We create the platform by paying for the venue, providing food, booking entertainment, and maintaining an environment where they can thrive.
So it’s almost like a turn-key platform to showcase your brand?
Absolutely! Also, the fact that it’s free of charge sets us apart from other companies. We don’t have an entry fee. If you’re young, black, and in business we understand that your business may be brand new, or that you may still be learning certain aspects of business. You can come to Young Black and ‘N Business and develop those skills.
Given your own experience, how did you arrive at creating a platform like Young Black and ‘N Business?
In the past I’ve worked for a number of elected officials, and I was able to see a lot of things from a 5,000 ft. (high-level) perspective. From that high of an elevation I began to notice that there were disconnects within the community. So I decided to use the political skills that I had gained and apply them to the business arena. Politics is business, and business is politics. There are certain individuals who don’t know how to speak to an audience or how to gain access to certain places because they don’t have the background or the knowledge. So I’m using my skills to bridge that gap and bring everyone together. We all have a common goal, which is to be successful, healthy, and happy.
What was the moment that you decided to make a business out of the idea of bringing people together to achieve that common goal?
So I’m a cobbler as well. I repair men’s and women’s shoes, handbags, and luggage. One day I was working on a pair of shoes, and as I was putting them together I thought, “If I can put together a pair of shoes, I can put together the community!” I began to think with the end in mind. By thinking with the end in mind I started to see us all (the community) in a healthy and successful environment. I saw a whole sector of people practicing group economics. I decided that if I could be a cobbler and put together shoes from the sole up, then I could also be a cobbler for the community. Given my experience with both business and politics I felt comfortable pursuing that goal.
In what ways has your life changed since you’ve been executing on that idea?
I continue to be associated and affiliated with positive-minded individuals. They’re people with a millionaire mindset, positive thinkers, movers & shakers, and people that are resourceful. When you’re thinking positive, the positivity comes to you. A lot of individuals achieve success by attending one of the mixers or networking events that we put on. I’ve read and heard multiple testimonials from our attendees where they talk about the connections they’ve made just by being involved in our platform.
When you come to one of our events you can get a free shoe shine, a free haircut, and you can have a successful day! We offer those services free of charge because we know that when you look good you also feel good, and that helps you to perform well.
Success is not a doorway - it's a staircase. It takes one step at a time, one meeting at a time, and one day at a time. You have to take the steps to reach success. You can't just walk into it."
What’s something unique about your offering that not a lot of people know, but that you wish more people did know?
I wish more people knew that we have a lot of resources in-house. I want more people to know what we do and how we do it. We’re about connecting individuals. It’s about going past just the first name, and knowing how they think or what they’re working on. We want our community to know what each other’s end game goals are so they can help each other out. Part of all that is simply knowing what services everyone provides. For example, a lot of people don’t know that I’m a cobbler because I wear suits, but if you get to know me and we build a relationship, that opens up more opportunity for both of us. There’s a power in that. 2017 is a P.O.W.E.R. year, and our next event is the P.O.W.E.R. Mixer. That stands for…
P - Purpose-Driven
O - Opportunity Chasers
W - Willing To Go Solo
E - Energetic
R - Relationship Builders
When you come to one of our mixers you can know that there are P.O.W.E.R. people in the room, and we’re all following that mantra. We’re looking to create a culture of more P.O.W.E.R. people.
What are some business challenges you have run into that you weren’t previously aware of, and how have you overcome them?
There are challenges every single day, but I look forward to them. I like to get a hundred “No’s” a day, because that means I’m out there looking for the one “Yes” that will make a difference. There are plenty of things I’ve had to learn. Knowing how to build a website, certain tax codes, how and when to promote on social media, tons of things that I didn’t initially know. However, by tapping into my network I’ve been able to make the group and team a lot stronger.
I also truly believe in positivity. A random text message saying “Keep up the good work!” really means a lot. That helps you move forward. Every single day is a challenge, but I like to say that, “If there’s not a challenge to it, then it’s not worth doing it.
What’s some of the best advice that you have received about entrepreneurship?
Some of the best advice I’ve received was from an attendee of one of our mixers. His name is Leonard Mack, and he has his own sauce business called Mack & Pepper Sauce. What he told me was, “You can take this mixer that you’ve had here in the neighborhood and have it in the convention center.” That was a great piece of positive reinforcement. I’ve also had a number of mentors that send words of encouragement, telling me to keep up the good work and to continue to think with the end in mind. More recently some of the best advice I’ve heard is that, "Success is not a doorway - it’s a stairway. It takes one step at a time, one meeting at a time, and one day at a time. You have to take the steps to reach success. You can’t just walk into it."
How do you continue to learn about your industry and self-educate?
I like to read. Right now I’m re-reading the book Machiavelli “The Prince.” I’m also reading “The Law of Success” by Napoleon Hill. Another book that’s one of my favorites is “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. I also like to watch the news, and check out different news channels. From Fox News ,to CNBC, or KUSI. I like to keep my education diverse, and be a diverse thinker. I don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and I like to relationship build. It’s about keeping my saw sharp. I’m keeping myself aligned with my one hundred year plan. I have a one hundred year plan that I wrote a while ago, and I like to keep aligned with that plan and purpose.
What do you see as the future of Young Black and ‘N Business?
The future is to create a model here in San Diego that we can then implement in other cities such as Chicago, Orlando, or Atlanta. We’ll be bringing a platform for young entrepreneurs in these cities to get exposure, and to share in the one hundred year plan. We want to create an entire culture around Young Black and ‘N Business. We want to catch aspiring entrepreneurs at a young age and help them move forward, and before you know it they’ll have their own old money. At that point they can teach the next generation how to do things like open up a checking and savings account, how to get a credit card, how to leverage your network, and how to be resourceful. So it’s about creating that business culture for everyone involved. We’ll eventual want to spread the model nationally, and then globally after that. That way we’ll have both an economic and political impact for positive change.
What’s some advice that you would provide to others who are looking to execute on an idea and turn it into a business?
I hate to be redundant, but P.O.W.E.R.! You’ve gotta be purpose-driven, an opportunity chaser, willing to go solo, energetic, and a relationship builder. Beyond that I’d like to share the ten most powerful two-letter words in the world, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” When you’re an entrepreneur that means it’s up to you! If you’re lazy, your business is gonna be lazy. If you’re motivated and driven, then your business will be the same. You also want to be part of a good team and be a good team member. Good team members are the people that bring resources, ideas, and solutions. Bad team members are the people who you have to constantly tell what to do, where to go, and how to be. That’s dead weight. So you want to both be and be with good team members. Associate with people who are driven to be even better than what you’ve imagined is possible. That will keep pushing you further toward success. Also, write all of your goals down. That will keep you accountable.
Where can we find and follow you?
Company Website: https://www.youngblackandinbusiness.com/
Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ybandnb/
Company Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ybandnb/
Direct Number: (619) 665-3031
I'd like to thank Roosevelt Williams III for taking time out to tell us the story of himself and his company Young Black and 'N Business. We support platforms that are centered around the growth and prosperity of aspiring entrepreneurs, and look forward to attending more P.O.W.E.R. mixer events. What do you think of Young Black and 'N Business? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Maveriqs Profile - Alejandro Ramirez - Founder, Fiesta Ziesta
By Lamin Turay
The dictionary defines the word handmade as, "Made by hand not by machine, and typically therefore of superior quality." This is not only one of the unique aspects of Alejandro Ramirez's company's products, but also of himself as an entrepreneur. Alejandro's life journey has made him into the entrepreneur who he is today. From learning the ins and outs of the lifestyle product industry at large corporations, to spending time studying international business in foreign countries, he has tread a positive path toward creating something of his own. Now, as the Founder of Fiesta Ziesta, a lifestyle goods company, he continues to follow that path and drive his company toward an admirable purpose for all those involved. I recently spoke with Alejandro about how his journey began and what sets his company apart from all the other lifestyle brands out there. Here's what he had to say...
What does your company Fiesta Ziesta do, and what problem do you solve?
We manufacture handmade beach blankets, ponchos, and dog collars. All of our products are individually crafted by local artisans in Mexico. The problem that we solve for our customers is providing quality goods for the beach and outdoor lifestyle market. That lifestyle in particular, is ripe for disruption. We wish to inject commodities and accessories that possess really well crafted design, and that are sourced from skilled craftsman. That's the motivation behind the beach blankets, ponchos, and dog collars we provide.
Our artisans are located in various locations across Mexico. Some of them are from Oaxaca, some are from Chiapas, and others are located in multiple areas of South Mexico. Each of them have specific skills. Some will manufacture the beach blankets, while others create our ponchos and dog collars.
What is unique about your approach to business that has made you a successful entrepreneur?
I originally came up with the idea for Fiesta Ziesta while thinking about the products that I was constantly using when I traveled in Mexico and around the world. They were something very natural that I would consistently have with me. When I used to go surfing I’d carry a beach blanket, and maybe a hammock as well. I’d also have a collar for my dog. At night I’d always whip out my Mexican poncho to keep me warm while near the ocean breeze. I thought about developing a brand that provided the same lifestyle I had grown accustomed to, while offering purpose-built products. I wanted to make sure the products were being created by skilled artisans, from sustainably sourced materials, and that they were of the highest level of quality.
In school I studied International business, and worked for many years with different brands at their retail locations. In the early days of my professional career I worked for electronics companies like IBM and Siemens, where I gained a lot of experience in planning, buying, production, and sourcing. I also worked for Quiksilver, and for a friend of mine’s company called Everyday California. I was highly valued there due to being bilingual. That was great experience, and also drove me to want to start my own business.
After gaining that experience how did you get your initial start with entrepreneurship?
When I was younger I always wanted to work for a big corporation in order to gain experience, learn business curriculum, and use that as a solid reference. However, in my late twenties I felt like it was time to get back into school and gain another degree so that I could leverage that knowledge and use it in starting something of my own. It’s been two years since I began, and i still feel like I’m learning everyday.
Before I started my own brand I had moved to San Diego to support my friend in building his company, Everyday California. Working for another company, making good money, and being in that corporate environment is starkly different than entrepreneurship. I’m currently doing most everything on my own with the help of a very small team now. You learn a lot, you sacrifice a lot, and you work even harder when it’s your own. I think it’s something that will pay off, but I have to remain patient.
Describe why you decided to create this type of company and not something else?
I always wanted to live close to the ocean, and I’ve always used these types of products when I venture out to the beach or just going on outdoor adventures. So it’s kind of always been in my mind that I should create a brand, and live the dream! (laughs). That’s what I’m attempting to do. I love the products. They’re something that have been in my family and my background. They’re something very natural that I use everyday.
I decided that I should create my own brand and produces the same products that I use in my personal experiences. The goal is to make products that are better than what’s currently available in the market.
Another factor was the fact that I studied International Business while in an undergraduate program in Mexico, and that Mexico and The United States have a free trade agreement. I also learned a lot more while pursuing my master’s degree at a university in Sydney, Australia. The information I absorbed from those activities are things that crossed my mind when developing the idea for the company, and that motivated me to get started.
Has travel affected the way you go about your business?
Yes! I think that through traveling and working with people in other countries or from other cultures you learn a whole lot. Creating a brand that encompasses elements of my own culture and nature has been made a lot easier knowing that I’ve experienced various differing cultures across the globe. It’s something inspired by my experiences traveling, the interesting individuals that I’ve come across, and products that I’ve enjoyed using.
Traveling and being exposed to different beach scenes in the United States, Mexico, and Australia I’ve seen a lot of beach and outdoor lifestyle products. One of the things I noticed upon returning home was a market opportunity to create a brand that brings all of these products together under a quality banner. I saw a lot of beach blankets with no brand, or beach blankets from Mexico that were cheaply made with poor materials. There needed to be a brand that people could rely on for well-made goods. So I came up with that brand.
How has pursuing your entrepreneurial journey changed your life?
It’s changed a whole lot! I fell at the beginning when I was getting my start. It felt like I was pushing the “reset” button on my life. A lot of sacrifices were made. Especially when it came to budget. You learn a lot. I’ve met, and I’m still meeting a lot of people. It’s all part of the process. You absolutely have to work hard, and be busy. I’ll add that you should work smart, and be patient as well. Those things will keep you in the game. I know that all of the hard work will pay off. It’s been two year so far. We’re getting better and better everyday. Keeping yourself motivated I think is one of the biggest challenges all entrepreneurs face. You are your own boss and must be positive and motivate yourself every single day...no matter what!
What initial challenges did you face in going from a safe and secure corporate job into starting your own company?
Capitol was an issue at first. I used my savings and had to acquire a family loan as well. You’re usually limited when you first start out. Before, when I was working for other people, I had a steady and consistent income. I knew how much I could spend and on what. Now it’s much more defined and budget-based. That’s one of the more explicit challenges up front. It’s one of the reasons that I’m developing a Kickstarter campaign for my products.
All that said, I believe it’s (Fiesta Ziesta) going to be a successful business, and the Kickstarter campaign will be a successful project. Once it all starts to pay back in beneficial ways it will all be worth the effort. It will be even better than the safe route of being an employee.
When I worked for other corporations like IBM Computers and Siemens Electronics I didn't feel like the scenario I was meant to be in. I saw how they’d fire some of their older employees, people in their 50’s or 60’s, to make room for younger, less-expensive workers. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to be like these guys.” That also pushed me to start my own business, and to offer opportunities to a diverse workforce.
What’s something unique about you as an entrepreneur that you wish more people knew?
That’s an interesting question. I think it’s a combination of my cultural background, the companies where I’ve worked, and the way I go about accomplishing tasks. I’m pretty organized and a hard worker. When it’s time to work I work, and when it’s time to party and be with friends I know how to manage that balance. I know how to manage my time and budgets effectively as well. That's a crucial component of running your own business.
My skills, background, experience, travels, being bilingual, and my attention to detail all help to create my superpower. I’m very involved in all facets of my business. I work close with our artisans and explain how we can make products better. I sit down with them and map out designs. That’s something which is very fulfilling as the business owner. Getting involved and working with everyone in the company is a must for me. I know that’s not so common. Some people like to be more hands-off and delegate, but that’s just not me. I need to be incorporated in all of the challenges and business channels at Fiesta Ziesta.
How have you overcome adversity in being an entrepreneur?
I’m not afraid to raise my hand and ask for help. I also ask for advice and feedback from friends who have their own business. I go to meetups as well. Within all of these methods is the ability to listen to other people and learn about their experiences as well as their failures. I am able to absorb that information and use it help grow my own company. I don’t like to be quiet when things are not working. I like to share what’s going on, learn from the current state of things, and move forward.
What’s some of the best advice you have received about entrepreneurship?
Be patient, work hard and smart, talk to others and learn from them, read a lot, and watch a lot of videos. Always be learning. Something that I see as the most important thing is to believe in yourself and in your dream. If you don’t believe in yourself you’re screwed. You have to have a stubbornness that drives you to accomplish what you’ve set out to do. Those are some things that I’ve come to understand, and I’m always trying to keep them in mind. I meditate everyday, and remain strong.
You also have to motivate yourself as the leader of your business. You have to be the one who is showing strength to your employees and partners. You also need to maintain a positive outlook in order to make it all happen. Even when it seems like it’s not going be the greatest of days, you still want to exude positivity. It takes time to learn all of these things as well. I’ve been told many times that it takes a lot of time to develop your entrepreneurial skills, and it’s true. You need to be patient and enjoy the journey. That’s what I try to do. Take it day-by-day and step-by-step.
How do you maintain your industry knowledge and self-educate?
I like to go to meetups. I like to go to trade shows. Sometimes I’ll meet with people who work in the companies that I used to work in, and I’ll listen to what they have to say about what’s going on at these large corporations. I like to know what’s going on at the large department stores as well. What are they selling, who are they partnering with and why.
Reading is also very important. I like to read the newspaper or relevant articles on the internet. I always want to know what’s going on in the industry. What are my competitors doing to get ahead? I need to know these things to have a pulse on my space.
What does the future hold for you as an entrepreneur? Where are you focusing your energy moving forward?
Right now most of my passion and energy is focused on the project that is Fiesta Ziesta. I want to make it happen! To help it grow and bring more people on board. Hiring more artisans and generating enough demand for my artisans to maintain full-time work for this company. We’ll continue to create products that are handmade and support the artisans that we source from. Eventually we’ll be donating ten percent of our net profits toward education opportunities for the artisans that we partner with. They help us develop our brand and our products, so we should be able to help them grow and prosper outside of just pay for their labor. It’s a worthy cause that I choose to champion.
The world is changing. More people are thinking about corporate social responsibility. Things like global warming, sustainable materials and jobs, and fair labor practices are all prominent issues. I want my company to represent a brilliant example of how things should be done.
What’s the best advice you can offer to someone who wants to build a brand like Fiesta Ziesta?
First you need to gain some experience. Work for a couple or a few companies in your industry of choice. Learn the ins and outs of how these larger companies operate. Once you have a base understanding of business, do not hesitate to chase your dream. You have to try it at least. It doesn’t matter if you’re successful or not. You’re going to learn, you're going to get experience, you’re going to get some great contacts. You HAVE to try! Otherwise you’re going to grow old and be filled with regret, thinking about what could have been if you had tried. If you try and it doesn’t work out at least you can say that you learned how not to do it. Believe, try, and work as much as you can.
Where can we find and follow you?
We would like to thank Alejandro for sharing his story of entrepreneurship with us. It's refreshing to hear from a purpose driven founder with meaningful cause that will affect both his business partners and customer following in a positive way. We will continue to support Fiesta Ziesta on its path toward prosperity. Do you have any questions or feedback for Alejandro? Feel free to sound off in the comments below!