Ahlilah Longmire: Founder, Ascot Manor

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My Native Admission Statement: I am the Founder/President of The Tesla Group PR & Events in Midtown Manhattan. II am originally from California and have spent the last 21 years in NY on quite the journey that ultimately lead to becoming an Entrepreneur/Business owner for the last 11 years. I am now working on my next new venture which is a passion project helping at-risk youth who aspire to play tennis competitively. - https://www.ascotmanor.com/

How did you get into the industry?

I guess it started with my dad who played for the Kansas City Chiefs back in the '60s. Being an athlete is in my blood. I played multiple sports growing up. But ultimately a knee injury is what ended my dad's career, and though he went to Purdue, he left the NFL without a degree. My positioning with the athletes I have worked with has always been to ensure athletes understand the power of having a brand or business early on, not waiting until you get injured, and setting yourself up for life after sport so that you nor your family have to struggle when the “coins” start to run out.

The funny story, however, is that I am the only girl with four brothers but grew up with my younger brother. My mother said she tried to put me in tennis early on but I wasn't hearing it. I had to play everything my brother played cause I always had to one-up him. I didn't pick up a racquet until I was in my early 30's maybe. But boy when I did, it was like a golden moment for me. Like, yes, finally, now this is MY SPORT, and my brothers can't touch it. Lol, I've been playing now for almost ten years. I got good fast, faster than normal and was playing at one point 3x a week, won a couple of recreational tournaments and finally, the coach at that time said you need to move on from here and get yourself a competitive coach. Thats when I met Esu Maa't. He is the National Manager of diversity and inclusion for the USTA and a high-performance coach. Needless to say, I got my first lesson in how NOT good I was and almost had to start from scratch with him. Different story now, though.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

There is a prevalent tennis ground in Harlem that “We players” call it the jungles (Frederick Johnson Tennis Park). In fact, it's so popular that in 2016 NY Post wrote an article saying that if you are looking for the next Serena Williams, you might want to head over to the jungles. But the park is near very diverse housing situations, and I started noticing different kids, in different programs given the season that were highly skilled in tennis and playing competitively that were dropping off the radar. So I started asking questions. I think there were three major things that became a game-changer for me. 1- Being the cost to play on a competitive level can get up to 80k a year. Can someone tell me how a single mom, only making maybe 40k a year is supposed to afford that? My competitive racquet cost $260. And you can't sacrifice on the quality, or you'll be buying racquets more than 3x a month. 2 - Youth competitive players train like the pros. Over half are homeschooled and have full-day training schedules not to mention the number of hours and tournaments required to play monthly on a national/international basis. 3 - The prize money a junior can make is only worth a family splurge at a fancy McDonald's. It does not sustain the cost to play. I can go on and on but ultimately over $250 million dollars is spent annually on tennis, and not nearly enough is going toward youth tennis, and educational programming and hardly any brands will take a chance on directly sponsoring a junior past gear and clothing because its too high risk on receiving a ROI.

Okay, so I might not be able to fix all of that but I can start with bringing awareness to this issue, and I can as an individual make a difference to some youth in my own way and that is how Ascot Manor was formed. But we are definitely trying to go beyond that. For me, life just isn't as fun without tennis, and there is a lot of people that feel the same, so my goal is to change the narrative of how people view tennis apparel but to have a tribe of people rallying together to show that the sport of tennis is a lifestyle.

What makes me the best version of myself? 

Honestly, heartache, pain, life's many surprises whether good or bad. I genuinely believe you've got to go through some things to be able to shape the best version of yourself. And I've been through a lot. I can't say I'm my best version of myself, though. I am always a work in progress, striving to be the best version of myself. Knowing who you are, being self-aware, and wanting to be better helps “the work in progress.”

What are my aspirations?

Personal aspirations... well, darling, I am a woman of a certain age that has accomplished quite a bit. But losing such a close loved one changes everything. I am most certainly trying to put more effort in my dating life as I still really want a family. But I do feel like I am at my best when I am helping others. You stay grounded and connected the with needs of the people, especially youth. Continuing on that journey personally and from a business perspective but ultimately being able to teach my children those qualities is something I 100% aspire to do. I'm working on that happy balance.

My Most Challenging Moment?

My most challenging moment was having my mom pass away from lung cancer just six months ago. We were very, very close. My younger brother and I have had to make some hard decisions as a family. Selling our childhood home was harder than any business decision I've ever had to make.

My Favorite People/Role Models? 

Favorite person: 

Was and will always be my mom. She just had an heir about her. Super sweet, always helping someone out but also extremely smart. My mother had a background in accounting and finance and was very much a part of my business.

My 2nd favorite person would have to be my friend Kelly Cefai. I've never seen her upset over ANYTHING. She embodies positivity. It's almost sickening that someone can be that nice. She probably is one of my biggest supporters and is equally talented.

I don't really have celebrity role models, but I am often inspired by Serena Williams and Oprah.

My Favorite Places/Destinations? 

London, London, and more London. I love Ireland too. Nicest people I've ever met. I can see why it rains so much there. Everything is so richly green. The Irish definitely know how to crack a joke or two and have a good time. Though I haven't been to Mexico in quite some time, the food alone is enough to keep you coming back.

My Current Passions? 

Of course, tennis being my #1 and all the things to come with Ascot Manor but I am actually really great at interior decorating. I'm kind of obsessed with it. I've been fortunate enough to do paid projects, both commercial and residential properties.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Surprisingly, my go-to is Pinterest. I get all the inspiration, tips, and tricks I need, without the “look at me, look at me, and my fabulous life” content. And why and how is literally everyone an influencer these days?!

Where do you enjoy getting lost? 

Always in London. Though I am starting to find it hard to get lost, I've been there so many times. I've gotten good about navigating my way back to my hotel or Airbnb without taking the tube.

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Brittany Merrill Yeng: Co-Founder & Senior Managing Member, Skrewball Spirits

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My Native Admission Statement: I am a living contradiction. I am a work obsessed, dedicated mother (with another one the way!). I am a health-conscious junk food addict. I am a creative spirit who loves logic and planning. A former scientist and lawyer turned whiskey brand owner. I truly love learning and fully dedicating myself to whatever challenge is in front of me, which probably explains my somewhat odd career path to becoming the Co-Founder and Senior Managing Member of Skrewball Spirits, owner of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey.

How did you get into the industry?

I jumped right in! I began my career as a pharmaceutical patient litigator at a major global law firm. I have a master’s in Chemistry from UCSD and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago. My husband had high volume restaurants that I had helped him develop in the beginning, but my career had taken me away from that. With both of our backgrounds, I saw an opportunity for us to join forces and create something new and exciting for the spirits industry.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

Literally, the inspiration was a cocktail my husband had created at one of his restaurants, but the reality is so much deeper. My husband and I have been together since I was fourteen. We’re extremely different people with completely different skill sets, but I think that’s why we work so well together. I always say, I’d never marry someone that I wouldn’t go into business with—and that is always what I figured we’d do at some point. Our relationship was the best when we were working together to build something. However, my school and career brought me down a different path and we were not able to work together like we had before. Still, I was constantly coming up with ideas for us to go it alone and each time he was hesitant to take the leap. When I was pregnant with our first daughter, I think it became real to both of us that it was now or never. We took the dive in and have never looked back. My husband likes to say that peanut butter is the glue that brought us back together.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

We started with Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey being available in just part of one city roughly a year ago. In the last few months, we have expanded to over thirty states. By the end of fall, Skrewball should be available nationwide. With all the regulations and red tape in the alcohol industry, it is unheard of for a mom and pop business to be able to expand this quickly. We are continuing this rapid roll out to make Skrewball available to as many people as possible. We started this because we saw that it was a drink that doesn’t discriminate or favor one crowd; it brings people together. So, despite the risks, all the well-meaning advice to slow down and the difficulty, we are moving forward on our mission.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

When you start in a new industry, you don’t necessarily trust your own judgement because you do not have all the industry experience. At the same time, everyone is offering advice. Some of it is well-intentioned bad advice, some of it is generally good industry advice but it does not fit your plan, some of it is just plain bad advice, some of it is helpful, but you’re not really at a place to implement it correctly and the list goes on. It is very hard to know who to trust or what to do.

With the attention we had created for Skrewball so early on, I knew that I had to make big decisions fast, while I was still getting my feet wet in the industry. This felt paralyzing. In that moment, I had a sort of heart-to-heart with myself. I had been here before. I moved from Chemistry and a world of scientists to law. It was supposed to be completely different and everyone was telling me that none of my past experience was relevant. However, they were wrong, and I was wrong to doubt that I had relevant experience to pull me through. The same is true here. Yes, I have made mistakes along the way. I will continue to make mistakes. I would love to have more perspective and hindsight for all the decisions I make, but life does not work that way. I just listened to as much advice as I could get, analyzing each piece and found trust in myself to work through it.

I think Vern Underwood, a legend in the industry, summarized it best. When we first met, he explained he’s been in the industry for 60 years. In that time, he said that he’s made a lot of big decisions for his companies and “to this day, I cannot tell you whether those were the right decisions or the wrong decisions. A decision had to be made and I did what I thought needed to be done, and here we are today.”

Career advice to those in your industry?

Don’t be afraid to break the mold. There are so many formulas, conventional wisdom and set ways of doing things. There is wisdom in that, but it’s not always the most rewarding. Someone has to be the first to set a new standard; let it be you.

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What do I do best?

I listen. Like, truly listen. A lot of people hear people talking, but they do not analyze what they are saying and process the depth of what people are telling them. I have found that if you take the time to really evaluate what people are saying and connect the dots, you’ll realize that they are giving you so much more valuable information than it would appear on the surface.

What makes me the best version of myself?

My daughter. I see all of this confidence packaged in this tiny two-year-old body. She looks at me and trusts me to do what is right. I know that no matter how tired I am, no matter how much I doubt my own abilities, and no matter what else I am going through, I need to be the best version of myself. I want her to look back and be proud of everything that I have done for her and our family.

What are my aspirations?

To do something that will inspire others. Most of what we’re working on with Skrewball has not been done before—especially by people like us. I don’t think many people would expect a pregnant woman to be behind this whiskey brand. So many others have paved the way for us, and we’d like to pay it forward. Whether we succeed or fail, we hope to open some doors for the next person.

My Biggest Success?

I’d like to take credit for creating the most incredible human being, my daughter, but I think it’s 99% her. I will take credit, however, for creating a home that allows my daughter to feel safe and comfortable, to explore and be herself. Nothing else can compare to that, and I am looking forward to welcoming another little girl into our home.

My Most Challenging Moment?

To stay at home for college. I had worked really hard to be at the top of my class in high school and was looking forward to stepping out on my own. Knowing our financial situation, I made the responsible decision to stay around home, which enabled me to work and pay off college before I graduated. At the time, I was really disappointed and felt like I was missing out on the whole experience. Now, I know that was the best decision I could have made. It may seem like a trivial decision, but who knows if I would have married the same man, made the same career choices and had the financial stability to start our own business if I had chosen differently.

My Motto?

The only failure is giving up and not learning something from what you’ve done.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

I am so fortunate to have so many strong people in my life that are so grounded in their values. I have always looked to my grandmother for strength and independence. As the middle of eleven kids, she lost her parents at sixteen and she fought to keep the family together. My parents have also been incredible examples of patience, support and allowing me to develop into my own person.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Traveling is something that my husband and I have chosen to prioritize in our family. It’s a way for us to step outside of ourselves and our daily lives. My favorite places are completely off the grid, meaning no cell service and no WiFi, just you and your travel companions exploring a new part of the world. These places exist- trust me. Recently, I found some amazing places deep in the rain forest, on a small island or in the Blue Mountains as we explored Australia. It was such an incredible way to see the country.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I love my air pods because they really enable me to get out of the house with my phone.

My Current Passions?

My family is the most important thing to me. With one little one and another on the way, I try to embrace as many of those goofy, precious moments as I can.

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Check more off the to do list than I add (although it seems I rarely achieve this).

Thought of the Day: Just keep moving forward.

Action of the Day: Do at least one thing I don’t want to do.

Deed of the Day: Do something small to make someone else’s life a little easier.

Tip of the Day: Believe in yourself. You’re capable of more than you think.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

Mostly nice weather and nice people.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

I love smoothies from Beeming.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Morning routine with my daughter.

10:00 AM – Working. On calls, answering emails, going to meetings.

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? A salad from somewhere fresh like Tender Greens.

7:00 PM - Winding down with my daughter.

11:00 PM – If I’m lucky, sleeping. I’m an early riser.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Being pregnant means no fun drinks. Instead, I get some green juices, young barley grass, and other natural energy drinks to keep me going.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

With all the travel we’ve been doing for work, I love my Audible app.

What should everyone try at least once?

To really indulge. Whatever it is that is important to you, whether it’s food, an outfit (or shoes), an adventure or anything else. It is the moments of harmless recklessness or irresponsibility that allow us to feel human in the midst of everything and hopefully, you get the chance to do it more than once.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In new cities. When we travel, we like to schedule a day to explore the markets and local restaurants.

My Pic of the Day: A typical day of me with my daughter

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Christina Merrill: President & CEO, the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation (BMCF)

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My Native Admission Statement: Since beginning the Foundation in 1992, I have dedicated my life to improving the quality of life for cancer patients and bone marrow/stem cell transplant patients and their families. While attending Columbia University School of Social Work, my work with pediatric and adult cancer patients changed my life, and ignited my passion for patient support and advocacy, which has led to the founding of the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation.

Many of the patients we assist are unable to afford pre- and post-treatment expenses such as temporary housing near a cancer center, transportation to medical appointments, health insurance co- payments, medication, and more. After receiving a life changing diagnosis, there shouldn’t be additional stress or worry about affording live-saving treatments. Since its inception, the Foundation has connected patients and their families with essential resources and programs to meet patient and family’s needs, all free of cost. At the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation, a patient is not just a number, but a part of a thriving and caring community of people who build powerful relationships from diagnosis through survivorship.

I had an unconventional upbringing which consisted of traveling around the country with my 3 sisters - competing in the equestrian world of show jumping, in addition to spending time watching my musician father perform with legendary artists like Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. I was homeschooled until I was 21 years old, and this, along with my competitive equestrian training, gave me a foundation of self-discipline and determination that has allowed me to create and sustain an organization for 27 years.

About Christina Merrill

Christina Merrill is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation. Since she began the Foundation in 1992, Christina has touched the lives of thousands of children and adults. For over 27 years, Christina has dedicated her time to improving the quality of life for transplant and cancer patients and their families with vital financial assistance, educational information, and emotional support programs at no cost. Assisting more than 100,000 patients and their families, the Foundation helps those diagnosed with any cancer diagnosis, and/or those in need of a bone marrow transplant, make effective decisions about their treatment and its aftermath. The youngest of four girls, Christina and her sisters traveled the world with their equestrian riding and with musician father, and had a life filled from legendary artists like Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. From her unconventional homeschooling which lasted until she was 21 years old to her professional equestrian career, Christina acquired the dedication and discipline to start and maintain an organization that impacts the lives of those most in need. Christina received her Master’s Degree in Social Work at Columbia University and received the University’s Social Work Alumni Association’s 2016 Hall of Fame and Pioneer Award. She worked as a social work intern in pediatrics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the adult bone marrow transplant department at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, and through these experiences, Christina saw the need for better patient and financial care in the healthcare system.

About Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation:

The Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation, founded in 1992, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for cancer and transplant patients and their families by providing vital financial assistance, comprehensive resources, educational information, physician referrals, and emotional support programs. Guided by a medical advisory board of nationally-recognized cancer specialists and working with hospitals across the United States, the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation is the only organization of its kind that does not limit assistance to a specific disease, type of transplant or age range. For the past 27 years, the Foundation has connected patients and their families with the services they need—from diagnosis through survivorship—to make effective decisions about treatment and its aftermath. All of the Foundation’s programs and services are offered to patients and their families free of charge. BMCF has worked to create programs and transform its resources to fill the emotional and financial needs for cancer and bone marrow transplant patients – whether it’s finding a home close to a care center for free or a scholarship for those who can no longer afford their education. To learn more about the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation, please go to: http://bonemarrow.org/

How did you get into the industry?

While attending the Columbia University School of Social Work, I interned in pediatrics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, supporting kids who had cancer and their parents who were facing unfathomable scenarios. Many parents had to continue working their day jobs: to pay rent, keep the electricity on, and additionally, pay for the medication and homecare support for their child. At the same time, their child would be crying every morning for their parents not to leave them during their chemotherapy treatments or transplants. Comforting these parents and their children was all I could do at this time - but leaving work was so difficult because I felt helpless in these scenarios: why should a parent ever have to choose between going to work to keep their home or being able to be present with their child while they undergo these procedures?

I witnessed many obstacles that these families faced upon receiving a diagnosis, such as many of these children being unable to use public transportation (due to compromised immune systems), the patients living far away from a care center, the cost of treatments, and more. After seeing families looking for solutions to these problems, while they were already in their darkest hours, I knew I had to do everything I could to provide the patients and their families necessary support to navigate their cancer journey.

Any emerging industry trends?
A cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment dramatically impact the lives of patients and their families. Every patient presents with variations that shape the course of their cancer, and there is no one-size-fits-all cure for this multifaceted disease. To adequately tackle their diagnosis, most patients will require a personalized combination of treatments, which may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and sometimes more targeted options; such as immunotherapy or hormone therapy. For eligible patients, clinical trials may present additional opportunities to address their cancer. Advancement in treatment options requires patient and family members to receive more psychosocial and financial support programs.

Also, unfortunately, the facilities, resources, and expertise needed to manage the complexity of cancer simply do not exist in many small communities in the US, necessitating patients to travel to major cancer centers for their care. These larger centers have access to cutting-edge equipment and use up-to-date protocols, in line with the highest standard of cancer care. The requirement for travel as well as limited hospital housing options can be prohibitive for many patients. In particular, the high cost of temporary housing can be a barrier to receiving treatment. This added expense prevents some patients from seeking treatment during the early stages of disease, a delay that can have serious consequences. While early stage cancers have a high probability of responding to treatment, late stages cancers often present little recourse other than palliative care. Traveling to major cancer centers for treatment has become much more commonplace and therefore requires transportation and housing funding. This need is getting more attention through such programs as Airbnb Open Homes Medical Stays with the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation. Though Open Homes Medical Stays is helping solve a critical temporary housing problem for many patients and families, it cannot meet the tremendous need of all patients and families throughout the country.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Recognizing the need for additional and more flexible housing options for patients, BMCF partnered with Airbnb’s Open Homes Medical Stays program to offer extended housing stays for patients and their families. Patients who meet the eligibility criteria (e.g. - Live >30 miles from treatment center, have a household income <$75,000, etc.) are referred by their physician or social worker, and BMCF’s patient coordinators and housing assistance team book a home geographically close to the treatment center. Through this service, there is no wait list for housing, and eligible patients travel to their treatment center with the assurance that housing is available for them.

Since February 2019, BMCF has helped over 600 patients and families obtain temporary housing. The length of the average stay, 14 days, has been invaluable for patients, allowing them to complete their treatment courses and recuperate near the care center, surrounded by their families. If complications arise, this proximity to the hospital is especially crucial. This partnership with Airbnb’s Open Homes is a huge opportunity to transform the housing options for patients, but the challenge is that the number of applications far exceeds the funding that we currently have. For example, to house a patient and their family near New York City cancer centers, it costs approximately $1,500 for 7 days and $2,500 for 14 days.

To continue offering extended stays for patients and their families, a valuable service not available through other organizations, we are working on securing additional funds to support this program. We are in search of new partners who’d like to expand their support for cancer patients, and therefore, their housing options while receiving treatments.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

Patients and families are my inspiration. Our goals at the BMCF are to expand and offer new programs to meet the needs of patients and raise much needed funding for our programs.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

The Patient Housing initiative with Airbnb has already had a transformative effect on cancer patients, enabling them to receive state-of-the-art treatments at the best cancer centers in the US and alleviating the stress of not being able to receive these life-saving treatments because of a lack of affordable, short term housing. Over time, we expect this program to impact treatment outcomes by allowing physicians to start therapy or procedures earlier, secure in the knowledge that their patients will have housing available, without delay and for the duration of the treatment protocol. Support for this initiative will also benefit hospital partners by helping to improve patient compliance and overall satisfaction. With new partners, we hope to sustain and grow this important program, which provides a much-needed service and positively impacts the cancer community in the US.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

This year, a key initiative of the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation has been to launch its partnership with Airbnb’s Open Homes Medical Stays. This initiative provides free temporary accommodations to patients diagnosed and being treated for any type of cancer or undergoing a hematopoietic stem cell transplant, as well as housing for caregivers, family members, and donors. Too often, the cost of temporary accommodations can be a huge barrier for patients seeking or receiving treatment. This initiative has already relieved and will continue to relieve a tremendous burden for patients and families who must travel for life-saving treatment, thereby allowing them to go to the best cancer centers and focus on their recovery. The Open Homes community provides a free and welcoming space for people that need to travel to a cancer center.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

Each month, the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation receives a minimum of 300 applications from patients and families for financial support for expenses associated with treatment. Unfortunately, however, our current budget only allows us to respond positively to 68% of applicants.

In order to meet the growing need for our support, we are actively seeking funding from individuals, foundations and corporations who share our commitment to providing financial support to children and adults before, during and after their treatment. Lack of funding is our biggest obstacle, and it pains me to turn away patients faced with a cancer diagnosis and in need of support due to a limited budget.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

A patient diagnosed with cancer, who needs our services, can utilize all our programs at the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation and receive support as needed.

How do you motivate others?

Sharing patient stories are so impactful and encourages others to help us with our important mission.

What do I do best?

At the end of the day, I am an advocate and a problem solver. I will campaign for my patients and their families and do whatever it takes to get the funds they need for their treatments. There are so many obstacles when one receives a diagnosis like cancer, and I am continuously working to provide programs and develop initiatives that will serve their needs best.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Compassion is a necessary quality for my work. Having compassion for the struggles and heartache of others drives me each day to work harder for our mission.

What are my aspirations?

My business aspirations are to raise millions of dollars for patient care and grow the BMCF much larger. Cancer does not discriminate, and it is estimated that there will be 1,762,450 new cancer cases diagnosed in 2019. Our patient programs and services require much more funding in order to meet the needs of these newly diagnosed patients.

My Biggest Success?

Founding the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation and having four sons!

My Motto?

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.”

My Favorite Products/Objects?

Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C, the Richway Amethyst BioMat and Sonic Handheld Percussion Massage Gun!

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

Buzzing Energy

Sense of Opportunity

Nation’s top physicians

Constantly meeting new people

Food and culture

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Four Seasons Hotel Breakfast

Candle 79

ABC Vegan

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Peloton

10:00 AM – At my desk

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? At my desk

7:00 PM - home with my boys

11:00 PM - working

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Green tea with honey

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Uber

What should everyone try at least once?

Run or walk the NYC Marathon

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

Running in the country

Louie Palmer: Founder, PlayBetterDrums.com

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My Native AdMission Statement: I am a jazz rock drummer originally from the UK and I am now living in Los Angeles. I began playing the drums at the age of 5 after being introduced to the instrument by my father who is also a drummer. My career spans almost three decades and I’ve played and recorded with legendary artists such as Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Luis Conte, Mitch Forman, John Patitucci and many others. In addition to performing around the world, I am the founder of the online drum school PlayBetterDrums.com. With more than 250 lesson videos, PlayBetterDrums.com is utilized by thousands of professional and aspiring musicians from around the world to improve their ability on the drums.

How did you get into the industry?

I started playing the drums around age 5 after an introduction to music from my father, who's also a drummer. There were always drums around the house and I was just drawn to them. After hassling him to let me play, he set up one of his small sets for me and the rest is history. 28 years later and a move to the US, I’m still doing it.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

With the music business being so different these days, this is always an interesting debate amongst musicians. Some see the challenges and complain about the decline or extinction of record sales, record shops and recording studios. Some think the old ‘model’ is all but gone while others only see the new opportunities. In this new era, you no longer need a middle man because Instagram is the new record deal, it’s how you get your content out in the world. Now you have a direct relationship with your customers/fanbase. I can see both sides. It is tough now for musicians, particularly if you’re a sideman/hired-gun, because the business we knew is now almost completely gone. You have to be flexible and versatile. If you can diversify and learn new skills (videography, web design, etc), you can build your own empire and run everything yourself which can yield great results. In the long run it’s better to be self-sufficient and allow yourself to earn money while you sleep, which is actually a lot better than the gruelling world of touring.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

The most difficult thing was moving to a new country. I moved from the UK to the US in 2013 and while I did know a few people here in Los Angeles, it was still a giant leap of faith. It doesn’t matter how good you are, when you move to a new city or country, you have to start from scratch. This means building an entirely new network and doing everything you can to secure work. As tough as it was in the beginning, it did force me to look at things from a different perspective, broaden my horizons, and push me outside of my comfort zone. This is what lead to me to finally starting my online drum school, PlayBetterDrums.com. It had always been a dream of mine to create a community and source for the drum community so while I was getting settled in Los Angeles, I knew there was no better time to start my website.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

If a drummer benefits from my school and their playing improves then that’s a win. It’s great getting positive feedback from drummers around the world, of all abilities, and hearing that they can see their playing improving and get enjoyment from the process. When I was younger I was lucky to have great instruction from some of the best drummers in the world and I remember that feeling of seeing yourself improve and feeling that you’re unlocking your potential; I love being able to pass that info on and help other drummers get the best information to help them get better. The school now has over 250 video lessons with accompanying worksheets, is suitable for all ability levels and has really turned into an amazing encyclopedia for drummers.

Career advice to those in your industry?

I would give two bits of advice. The first is to have other hobbies. I am lucky that I was given music by my father but also tennis by my mother. Tennis is my other passion in life and it keeps me healthy and gives me a whole other world to be inspired by. It’s important to have time away from work, mentally, and to keep yourself fit and healthy.

The other is to have a backup plan or some other area(s) of expertise. I never subscribed to this train of thought when I was younger. I always thought if you have a backup plan, you’ll end up doing it. I was stubborn. I was committed to the cause. But, I didn’t know how much the music business would drastically change and how it would be helpful to either have something totally different that I could dip into if I needed to, or just have other skills within the business that could help me. As a musician these days, you need to be well versed in websites, social media, videography, lighting, recording, publicity, etc. Having more skills outside your main area of expertise is never a bad thing and you never know when you’ll need them.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Self discipline. I can be lazy at times but when I want to do something or achieve something I have a lot of self discipline. I’ve been doing music for so long now that sometimes I don’t quite have the piercing levels of enthusiasm I once did. At times it may not be as exciting but I know I can be very productive when I put my mind to something so I have to remind myself of that from time to time!

My Biggest Success?

Shortly after moving to the US, I had the opportunity to play with my favourite musician on the planet, Mike Stern. I grew up listening to all of Mike’s records and saw him live countless times with some of my drum idols occupying the drum chair. To travel to NYC and play his music with him at the historic 55 Bar was one of the best moments of my life. As a kid I used to read magazine articles about my favourite drummers and how they got to play with all the musical heroes they grew up listening to, so for me to do the same was such a rewarding feeling.

My Motto?

Work hard and be humble. There will always be someone better than you. There’s no place for ego. Just concentrate on working hard and being the best that you can be.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

I have a lot of role models in and out of the music world. One person I can mention that everyone will know is Jerry Seinfeld. I just love the way he looks at the world and the way his mind works; it obviously influences his comedy but if you hear him talk about life and his work process, it makes him hugely inspiring.

What should everyone try at least once?

Live in another country. Although the UK and US have a lot in common and there wasn’t a language change or a massive culture change, it’s still be very eye-opening and a great learning experience. It was a big leap of faith and a big financial commitment but no matter how things work out and whether I stay or not, I’ll never regret making the move.

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Deren Guler: Founder, Teknikio

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My Native Admission Statement: Deren Guler is a researcher, designer and educator based in New York. She holds a B.S in Physics and a Masters of Tangible Interaction Design from Carnegie Mellon University. Designing accessible tools to improve the quality of life motivates her work. She has lead design and engineering workshops around the world. Her work has been featured in Wired, the BBC, the NYTimes and CNN among others. She is the founder of Teknikio- a series of tool sets that show you how to re-imagine and reinvent your world with technology. She adjuncts at Parsons School of Design, is a co-founder of the FatcatFablab makerspace in New York City, and author of Crafting Wearables: Blending Technology with Fashion. She loves to take things apart, and sometimes puts them back together.

How did you get into the industry?

While studying Physics in undergrad and was frustrated when friends thought that it was over their head, or magic. I took a physical computing class my junior year and was immediately enamoured with the world of digital to physical interaction design. I started to imagine experiences that would allow people to better understand and even partake in science and technology. Upon graduating I designed an exhibit for the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh and decided to return to school to study computational design.

Any emerging industry trends?

There is definitely a trend towards AR/VR that has been emerging over the past few years, which seemed outside of the scope of what we do at first, but as we develop more complex tools we are finding opportunities to weave these experiences in. There is also more talk around data responsibility and Internet safety, which is a very important issue, that I am relieved and excited to see is getting the attention it deserves.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

I remember having a moment in grad school, when I was experimenting with basic electronics that I realized it was pretty easy to make light up shoes and then I thought “ I would have loved this as a kid, why aren’t there kits about this?”. I did some market research and found that there was an upsetting void of engineering kits targeting girls. I set out to put together kits using off the shelf parts and see how far I could get. We soon saw the flaws in many of these products as they were not suitable for beginners, and started to design our own components. This has remained a core part of Teknikio’s mission over the years: to inspire people to add new tools, techniques, and parts to their personal toolbox and skillset. This also means that Teknikio might adapt and design intuitive experiences for new technologies, we are not married to one system, or set of products.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

We have been working on a new software and hardware platform for over a year now that we are very excited about and planning to launch soon. I am really excited about this and think it will be a very transformative tool for many people. The goal of the platform is to make it easy to build connected projects and teach you about the Internet-of-Things. You can find out more here, and inquire about joining the beta program! \

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

There have been several challenging moments and they all relate to being a small startup, with limited resources. I’ve had to wear several hats, including unofficial lawyer, logistics supervisor and more. Early on we were asked to change our brand name by another company as they felt it was confusingly similar. In the end I am much happier with this name, but when something is so fresh it is hard to understand the impact of starting over. We lost many resellers from this and re-branding too far longer than expected. While it opened opportunity for reflection and strategy, it definitely set us back. However, every time we launch something new I think back to that experience and have a better idea of what obstacles we may face.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?I

Always remember an experience from one of the first workshops I hosted at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. As we were finishing our projects, one student exclaimed “I can use this to replace the controller in my remote control car”. I was so excited that they made this connection, and felt like I had really succeeded in demonstrating that the principles learned in the workshop can be applied to all kinds of things. We’ve received similar feedback over the years, and it is always very rewarding.

How do you motivate others?

I try to encourage people to push the limits and see what happens. I am a fan of whimsical ideas and I see a lot of people playing it safe, especially when they first start at a new company or new project. I try to encourage people to experiment and form something based on a lot of ideas as opposed to a single track. I think this also helps people feel ownership or confidence that what they are doing is unique and interesting, it just generally makes everything more exciting.

What makes me the best version of myself?

That I am as some close friends and family call me “a completionist”. I rarely think that something is too difficult and do what it takes to get things done. Even if I can’t do it personally I know that there is someone or some tool out there that will help me accomplish the task.

My Biggest Success?

Probably a project I did with my friend in Grad School- Float Beijing. It was the first time I traveled internationally  to teach an electronics project and it was subversive project that we pulled off despite many obstacles. We were even monitored by the Chinese Secret Service!

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My mom- she has her own company (Intuvision Inc.) and always assumes the best, I think it’s very important to have this kind of outlook in life and I try to be more optimistic

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Seaside or nature (rainforests, jungles, etc). Living in a city, I like to flip 180 and visit places that feel most wild/natural, it helps me reconnect and be present in the moment.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

People using public spaces. I feel like a lot of cities have public spaces that are just empty. I also love all the history, the old houses and factory buildings. Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant? Turkish breakfast- Simit, cheese, jams, menemen

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Snoozing my alarm

10:00 AM - Team meeting

12:00 PM - Favorite lunch meal & restaurant? Roberta’s Pizza by the office

7:00 PM - Trying to leave work, or biking home

11:00 PM - Checking email before bed, organizing my apt

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Turkish Tea, 5-10 cups!

Caitlin Landesberg: Founder & CEO, Sufferfest

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My Native Admission Statement: I live to be with my family. My Sunday morning walk to the farmers market with my husband, two small children, and dog are the most gratifying hours of my week. I drink tea in the morning, beer cocktails at night, and do my best as a pescatarian. I find release through sweating and moving my body in new ways. I love learning a new skill, getting stronger and surprising myself. I’d love to start learning how to brew kombucha and I secretly wish I was a professional singer competing on The Voice. I’m competitive and hardest on myself. When I put my mind to something, I am tormented until it’s done.

How did you get into the industry?

A selfish need drove me to define and develop the beer I wanted to see in the world. After years of tasting beers that didn’t make the mark or understand me as a healthy &amp; active consumer, I started brewing at home and enrolling in courses at UC Davis School of Brewing and Food Science. I became engrossed in all that beer could offer. My new found knowledge ignited my ideas and passion to change hearts and minds around the role beer can play in a fit consumer’s lifestyle. As my recipes evolves and my beer more palatable, it wasn’t long when I saw that I wasn’t alone in my need...far from it!

Any emerging industry trends?

Better for you in food drove better for you beverage and alcohol beverage has followed in suit to answer the demand’s of Today’s Consumer. Functional beverage is the fastest growing category in alcohol beverage.

What’s next for the Business in the near future?

We are launching nationally so we can reach deserving, sweaty consumers everywhere! We believe the beer industry is ripe for disruption and we hope to make our mark and reimagine the role beer plays in the hearts and minds of healthy and active people. Beer can taste awesome and still hit nutritional thresholds you’re looking for!

Career advice to those in your industry?

Know your consumer and serve them well. Having a point of view is worth more than please everyone this day in age.

What do I do best?

I love working with people. I hire enthusiasm and passion over experience. I believe in authentic connections with people and fostering strong relationships with buyers, wholesalers, partners, and most importantly, our drinkers.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I believe I am honest and allow myself to be vulnerable in front of my teammates. The combination of honesty and respect when working with others and managing others, in particular, has always steered me in the right direction.

What are my aspirations?

I am always working on being a more direct and inspirational people leader. I aspire to build a household brand that disrupts an industry for the good and positively impacts the communities where in which we operate.

My Biggest Success?

Parenting my 7 month old son and 2.5 year old daughter. Seeing my daughter as a happy, healthy and kind individual is the most gratifying feeling.

My Motto?

Give ‘em hell. (As told to me by my dad for the majority of my life.)

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Our annual pilgrimage to the lakes region in Maine. It’s going off the grid and traveling back in time all in one place!

My Favorite Products/Objects?

Thule jogging stroller.

Apple iPhone earbuds.

My Current Passions?

Burro racing.

Mixology.

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Sweat for at least 20 minutes.

Action of the Day: Visit a retailer and say hello to the buyer.

Deed of the Day: No plastic bottles!

Tip of the Day: One thing at a time. Carve out “Caitlin” time in the calendar. Otherwise, it won’t happen.

What do you love most about Your City?

The view of the Golden Gate Bridge never gets old. Literally - every day I see it I am awe-inspired.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Morning routine and bottles with the little ones!

10:00 AM - In the office meeting with my teammates.

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

Blue Barn for big salads and draft Sufferfest Beer.

7:00 PM - Bedtime routine with my husband and kids. Groundhog day.

11:00 PM - With any luck, I am fast asleep!

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I love mixing drinks, exploring new brands and beverages. It’s less about the alcohol (I’m even dabbling in non-alcoholic spirits) and more about a fun, creative routine after a long day.

What should everyone try at least once?

My mom’s gluten-free carrot cake.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

The Farmer’s Market.

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Susie Coelho: Founder, House of Sussex

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My Native Admission Statement: I first started out as a Ford model in New York and then moved to LA to be an actress. I always loved fashion and now coming back to my roots. In the meantime I was an actress, television host and entrepreneur. I created the trendy celebrity eateries “Bono’s” (with then-husband Sonny Bono), then went on to create the fashion boutique “A Star is Worn” on Melrose Ave, which sold celebrity collectibles. I later became more well known in family living rooms for more than a decade as the host of two of HGTVs prime time series (Surprise Gardener and Outer Spaces) and as a regular contributor on “Today”, “Oprah” and “The View”. In my spare time I wrote four lifestyle books! :) - https://thehouseofsussex.com

How did you get into the industry?

My energy and passion for fashion and art combined with my entrepreneurial savvy and success has led me to create a new brand, “House of Sussex’. We started by creating a unique line of backpacks inspired by the brilliance of street and tattoo art. I am very excited about this venture as I have been collaborating with incredible graffiti and tattoo artists, some of whom were at the forefront of graffiti art in the 80’s and now have installations in major museums.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

After moving to New York in 2010, I reconnected with street art which had now become fine contemporary art. The art district in Chelsea where I lived was filled with works by Bansky, Basquiat, Lictenstein and Harring. I’ll never forget when Banksy’s “pop up show” came to NY and the city… was all a buzz. It was one of the installations that popped up right next door to me on 24th and 10th Ave and I ran out to see it, wondering if I could get a glimpse of this “secret artist”.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

I think that anyone carrying our backpack or bumpack and wearing any of our jewelry or jackets would feel stylish and fashionable as they are all “on trend” items. Anything “streetwear” is considered hot right now. All the top brands are aligning with the trend from Fendi to Balenciaga.

Career advice to those in your industry?

If you want to start a business you need to know some of the main elements that need to be in place to be successful. You need capital, public relations and marketing. Of course you need a production, finance and other divisions. You need to have the same divisions in operation whether a small company or a big company.

Also, you never know what inspires you and what you become passionate about…but always be on the lookout and listen to your instincts and they will always guide you in the right direction! 

What do I do best?

I would have to say my creativity is where I shine and I follow my instincts which has been successful for me. People would say that I am very focused and driven but it’s my energy that is my best asset. I’m rarely tired and I can stay focused on one task for hours until it gets done even if it means the wee hours of the night. Others might find it tiring. I find it exhilarating!

My Motto?

Believe in yourself and your thoughts and ideas and then work like crazy to implement them. That is the joy of life!

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Paris! I grew up there and so it’s like my second home.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I love Yamamotto and Comme des Garcons. I love fashion that have a theatrical flare!

A Day in My Life:

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Sleeping unless I have an early flight! Everyone needs their beauty sleep.

10:00 AM - Around 8:30 I go to Cardio or Spin or Yoga class. I like to start out the day boosting my metabolism so that I can burn high all day long!

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? I rarely go out for lunch. I feel it makes me too lethargic to eat a big meal mid day. I often just make a fresh salad and eat it in my studio.

7:00 PM - thinking about making dinner or going out with my husband to dinner. Often working until 8 or later.

11:00 PM - Starting to think about winding down. Although if I’m writing a book I’m writing in the evening.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I don’t drink coffee or caffeinated drinks. I like sparkling water with fresh fruit and mint.

What should everyone try at least once?

Indian food!

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Vinita Rathi: CEO, Systango, Founder, WomenHackforNonProfit.com & Ex-VP, Goldman Sachs

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My Native Admission Statement: I’m the Founder and CEO of Systango Technologies and Studio Fintech, a 175+ people digital consultancy and Fintech agency headquartered in London,UK.

We are a technology business with a focus on IoT, Smart City, Hospitality, Connected Logistics, and FinTech. We help unlock the next stage of digitalization for traditional businesses by integrating Blockchain workflows in parallel to existing enterprise system. We specialize in building mobile apps, web apps and websites from start to finish. We have done this for some very large companies like Grindr, Dialpad, Target, and Disney.

I have a 8-year-old and 8 months old son. Just the fact that I am able to balance being a mom while running a 175+ person strong software agency is quite an accomplishment for me!

Managing a global IT firm that is growing every day requires me to work 10-12 hours a day at least. It’s not easy but I make sure that I am able to prioritize and spend time with my two boys. Depending on where I am, I generally start my day early, 5ish and finish early about 5ish with rarely any breaks in between. This gives me enough time to spend with my family without compromising with my office hours. I tend to do most interesting things earlier in the day whereas leaving the mundane ones for towards the end of the day. This ensures things that need my attention gets it and I am efficient as well as effective.

How did you get into the industry?

Back in 1996-1997, when we were still using dial-up internet in my hometown (Indore, India), my dad got me a computer and I opened my first email account on yahoo. It really was a privilege, most of my friends had no clue what email services were. I spent endless nights either playing Minesweeper or programming in C. I think this early exposure made me interested in tech and enabled me to pursue engineering in Information Technology afterward. Ever since then I have been a tech and tech gadget lady.

Any emerging industry trends?

User Friendly FinTech Apps! A traditional vertical such as financial services is now being called “FinTech”. Right from 2017 – 2018, we are seeing massive adoption of cutting edge technologies across the industry. From digital payments, money transfers, alternative lending platform, open banking and funding platforms, though the market is still in its infancy. We are yet to see what machine learning algorithms; intelligent bots can do to the massive data set that is lying underneath financial sector. I am quite certain, the technical overhaul of this sector will have an impact on our lives in a way that has not happened before.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

They way people approach a tech startup and technology now. Industry is much matured than ever before.

A lot of companies get into trouble because they base product development on what they hope will be a future demand, and all too often that market demand never materializes. While sometimes the results are inspiring, they can also lead to failure. That’s why it’s critical to be more measured, taking steps and not leaps based on current market demand and how it is likely to change over time. Also Technology advances rapidly and shows up in media on all sides. This means users, managers at all levels, and even competitors pressure IT staff to implement new technology, simply because it is new. The real challenge is deciding which of these new technologies will work to the best interest of advancing the product, and which are better to avoid for now.

I see massive opportunity for agencies like Systango that remains at forefront of all technological innovations and makes sure that our clients are aware of its pros and cons before they decide to embrace it and make an educated decision.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

I hated the way offshore Indian teams worked at Goldman and always thought there is better way to offer the service.I have taken my personal love for the latest tech stack, and I’ve underpinned this with trust, ethics,

and security to build Systango. My desire was to bring transparency and offer reliable technology team with business advisory wrapped. And I figured the best way for me to do that is to setup a Web and Mobile development agency that can work with founders that struggle with the build of their technology product even when they have a fantastic idea just because they lack the technical know how.

My experience at Goldman Sachs has taught me how a big organization can be kept lean and made efficient year on year. This is what I am trying to do with clients we work with and within our own team. We want to be the most cost effective, reliable, the best on the street and transparent technology partners to our clients.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

We never wanted to call ourselves as outsourcing company. Despite of the fact that majority of our 175+ engineers work from India office, we deliver the same value as any other in-house, onshore/near shore companies would provide.

When we started Systango, we decided to stay at the forefront of technology. Every new technology that comes to the market, be it ReactJS back in 2015, React Native in 2016, Blockchain in 2015, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, UI-UX, Flutter, we are one of the first teams that evaluates it and prepares a mind map of how/when, what should be used. We embrace the technology as is but use it for the business to improve its efficiency.

The model that we work with where the account manager is onsite with no charge to client is unique in the industry and we are able to do it at the total cost that’s quite unbeatable at the moment!

Systango is also invested in EdSystango, an education arm of Systango with the vision to bridge the gap between traditional education sector and the skillset that industry requires. It is producing about 10 hands-on, industry ready developer every month.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

It’s the execution not the idea that decides the fate of a technology product. Our clients cherish the technical competency, commitment, passion and love for the product our team has most. Most of the clients that started working with us back in 2012 are still our clients. We have equity in at least 5 of our client companies and to date 4 clients have invested in Systango. The numbers speaks for itself!

How do you motivate others?

What I feel is, these days, if you’re a leader of any type, you can’t simply order people around and expect them to do what you want. They may follow your directions, if you are watching, but once they’re left on their own they’ll go back to doing what they think is important. I make myself regularly available, listening to their ideas is empowering and I try harder to listen for what my people are not saying. I also believe in building the Culture of Trust. I provide the resources they need to do their work exceptionally well. Help them develop new skills. Giving them meaningful new skills or knowledge in other areas that they can use to leverage their natural strengths for future roles which will help them to grow.

Career advice to those in your industry?

One of the upsides, as well as downsides to tech, is, it’s the ever-changing and at an extremely fast pace. Make sure to keep yourself updated. If this is something you enjoy you will love and thrive in the industry. You can do what you have set out to. It’s not as bad it sounds. As long as you are confident, determined, you will sail through. Persist and persevere are two traits you have to keep exhibiting - as much cliché it sounds its true!

What do I do best?

I demonstrate honesty and trust in all my actions to establish credibility as a leader. By having this conviction behind my words and actions, those who I lead are gain bought into the direction I take them. My problem-solving attitude helps me cope up with anything really!

.What makes me the best version of myself?

Don’t count the hours. They don’t matter. Don’t give up. Make it work attitude!

What are my aspirations?

Be one of the best digital consultancies, to become synonym of success.

Personally, be there for my family whenever I am needed the most.

My Biggest Success?

Despite of my insane schedule, I am able to spend quality time with my boys, be there for them!

My Motto?

Why Fit in, When you are born to stand out.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

I look up to Sheryl Sandberg for her determination and persistence and her stand for women empowerment.

look forward to the day when half our homes are run by men and half our companies and institutions are run by women. When that happens, it won’t just mean happier women and families; it will mean more successful businesses and better lives for us all.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Iceland and Egypt. I would like to travel to Antarctica and climb Mount Everest soon!

My Current Passions?

Reading, travelling and playing with my 8 month old. Preparing my firm for the next level. Step up!

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

I love Indore because it is a City with a passion for all that is homegrown, sustainable and community-oriented. We are famous for the Food & the Reach Culture that we have. This is where I was born and raised, and no place will ever feel more alive, or more home than here.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Tea-biscuits.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Getting Up & Getting my Son Ready for School

10:00 AM– Checking emails, working on my to-do list for the day

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? : Lunch Spot: Is My Office & Meal - Home Made Food.

7:00 PM - In Meeting or on Client Call.

11:00 PM – Making my younger one to sleep.

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What Else to Know?

You will find me at:

• MobileWorldCongress (MWC) Barcelona (Regular keynote speaker)
• Blockchain Technology Conference (Regular keynote speaker)
• WomenWhoCode.com London Chapter (Director)
• WomenHackForNonProfit.com (Founder)
• Google Women Techmakers (Lead)• JAX London (Java conference) (Regular keynote speaker)
• JAXenter webinars (Panel speaker)

I’m proud of:

• Being named in the business leaders 40 under 40 list
• Winning Dream Employer of Central India 2018
• Women At Work Leadership Award
• Donating 1% of profit to sponsor the education of underprivileged children. The aim is to not only fund their education but also influence and help children build their career by pairing them with a mentor who can relate with them and follow as a role model. 

Dr. Michelle Braude: Medical Doctor, Nutritionist, Founder of The Food Effect & Author of The Food Effect Diet

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My Native Admission Statement: Born in sunny South Africa but raised in London, I qualified as a medical doctor (MBBS) at University College London (UCL). During my medical studies, I completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Nutrition at King's College London. I also carried out an elective period in Gastroenterology, where I gain in-depth exposure to this field of medicine.

Being passionate about nutrition and healthy living, soon after graduating I decided to set up my own nutrition practice, The Food Effect, www.thefoodeffect.co.uk in 2012, which soon became hugely popular in London, UK - thanks to the results and word of mouth from many happy clients.

I combine my knowledge in the fields of medicine and nutrition, as well as my passion for cooking and all things food, to help clients looking to lose (or gain!) weight, improve their diet, and optimise their overall health and well-being. I also run a popular online blog The Food Effect www.thefoodeffect.co.uk and my work has been featured in The Times, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, Hello! Magazine, Women's Health, Marie Claire, Healthy Diet, Byrdie Beauty and Healthy Food Guide Magazine. More recently, I wrote The Food Effect Diet book, which was published worldwide and serialised by The Times UK in January 2018. My second book is coming out in January 2020.

How did you get into the industry and what was your inspiration for the business idea?

I started The Food Effect, after graduating from medical school in 2012. It frustrated me that no emphasis was put on diet or lifestyle in a medical setting, so I wanted to combine my medical and nutrition knowledge to help people improve all aspects of their health and wellbeing through dietary change. At the time, it was merely a deviation in my career path, whilst I decided to take a year out from hospital medicine, to see people for nutrition “just for the year”. Back then my only plan was utilizing the knowledge I had from studying medicine to be a good nutritionist for a year. I never dreamt that I would start a blog and revolutionary approach to food and eating that would help so many people and also become my full-time career (now seven years later).

Vision for the Business?

My vision for my business is to continue to spread The Food Effect ethos (via clients, my blog and social media), that healthy eating is simple, delicious and enjoyable, and that staying slim, healthy and looking and feeling your best, doesn’t need to involve denial or deprivation. I’d also love to launch The Food Effect range of food products, which I’ve started thinking about and have many ideas for. I hope to bring this vision to reality in the next few years.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

I have a second book coming out in January 2020, so I’m hoping that will be as popular as my first book (The Food Effect Diet, which came out January 2018).

Any emerging industry trends?

In the world of nutrition, cutting down on animal products (especially red meat), and opting for a more plant-based diet is definitely the biggest trend right now. Whether it’s going “flexitarian”, vegetarian or vegan – this is definitely something that many are opting for, and food brands and restaurants are catering more and more towards. Whilst I’m not usually in favour of “trends” or fads (and don’t advocating cutting out things like dairy (if well tolerated), or going vegetarian or vegan if someone doesn’t want to) – cutting down on red meat and incorporating more plant based foods is definitely something with tremendous health, weight and environmental benefits and I don’t believe this is a fad at all.

Your most difficult moment at the Business?

I’ve had many challenges, but most recently I received my second book deal offer from my publisher with a four week deadline to write the entire book! Normally one has a year or two for this, but they wanted the book to come out this January (i.e. in 5 months!) so everything had to happen super speedily. I happened to find out I was pregnant on the same day as hearing I received the book deal. Of course, I felt overwhelmingly blessed and grateful, but I had one month to write an entire book (including 75 new recipes), whilst working full time seeing clients and being newly pregnant and quite unwell with that the first few weeks (thankfully I now feel great!)

There were days I didn’t know how on earth I was going to get it done, but somehow I did! I learnt from this, that (almost) anything is possible if you put your mind to it and BELIEVE you can do it. Also, not to listen to people who tell you something’s too difficult or you won’t be able to do it, if you believe you can and want to.

Ideal experience for a customer?

My book, The Food Effect Diet is all based around my approach to nutrition and healthy eating, and my work with clients. It’s provides a simple, delicious and satisfying way of eating that sheds weight, boosts energy, and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. It also gives glowing skin, increased brain power and optimal health and vitality. In the sea of faddy, detox, quick fixes being sold – I truly believe The Food Effect Diet is the most rational, effective and science-based approach to losing weight in a healthy way, with the least amount of deprivation. It even allows you to drink wine, eat chocolate every night, enjoy pasta and pizza, and dine out from day one. Essentially it’s sustainable in that it lets you carry on living a completely normal life (if that’s what you want!) so I really believe it’s a life changer. It also makes the work I do with clients available to all, worldwide, at a fraction of the cost.

How do you motivate others?

I strive to fully appreciate and encompass different lifestyles and eating preferences, so that my advice is workable for everyone from busy Moms at home, to high flying corporate executives. In addition to being nutritionally comprehensive, my advice is always simple, practical and realistic, ensuring the optimum chance of success.

Career advice to those in your industry?

“The harder you work, the luckier you get.” I think nowadays it’s easy to get clouded by everyone portraying their “success” across social media and to think it all comes so easily, but no one sees the hard work and slog behind it all. I don’t believe in “luck”!

What do I do best?

Personal: I care a LOT about everyone – from my family and friends, to clients and even strangers who message me on Instagram. I really will do whatever I can to help anyone (even if it has no benefit to me).

Business: I am EXTREMELY hard working, and I’m happy and willing to put in the hours it takes to get everything done. Thankfully, I also don’t need a lot of sleep (I can function well on 2-4 hours a night), but I really want to work on getting more!

What makes me the best version of myself?

I think the fact that I am very driven, ambitious and don’t give up easily! I don’t give up after failures and I’m not afraid to take risks.

My Biggest Success?

In life – finding and marrying my amazing husband Jeff, who is my rock and support in everything I do and go through. In work, writing my book The Food Effect Diet which has been published worldwide, and was serialised by The Times UK in January (2018).

My Most Challenging Moment?

Giving up hospital medicine to start my own nutrition practice. I had MANY people discouraging me and telling me what I mistake I was making. I felt very discouraged and quite down for several months, but I went with my gut instinct and followed my heart. Thankfully, seven years later I’ve never looked back!

My Motto?

Work hard and be nice to people.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My parents. They are both truly the kindest, most amazing people I know (I’m not saying that because I’m biased). My Mom is also my number one cooking inspiration and has shown me from such a very young age what real, wholesome food is and how good it can taste. My Dad is my number one supporter, work motivator and inspiration, whose constant support and business advice are invaluable to me. He has taught me that kindness comes before anything else, and you don’t need to compromise on this to be successful.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Cape Town, South Africa

My Favorite Products/Objects?

My Swell water bottle - it definitely helps me drink more water.

My Current Passions?

Cooking (& eating) delicious food!

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Try and be as productive as possible.

Thought of the Day: Don’t stress if I don’t get everything done.

Deed of the Day: Smile at a stranger.

Tip of the Day: Don’t get angry (in both work and home life).

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

You can never get bored in London, there are always new places to see, shops and cafes to visit, and areas to explore.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Coffee with almond milk and avo toast.

Le Pain Quotidien

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Awake scrolling through my phone (when I’d like to still be asleep, I go to sleep VERY late).

10:00 AM – Drinking coffee replying to e-mails.

1:00 PM – Having lunch, trying to take time to sit (albeit briefly!), enjoy my food and not look at my phone (this doesn’t always happen!)

7:00 PM – Sitting down to dinner. This is my favourite meal of the day, as it’s the only time I finally get time to relax and unwind after a busy day. I really take my time, have a delicious dinner and enjoy it. 

11:00 PM - Catching up on all my e-mails and everything that’s come in from social media that day (when I really should be heading to bed, but that only happens several hours later!)

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I’ve always been a total coffee addict and couldn’t get through my day without a GIANT coffee in the morning.

Now that I’m pregnant I’ve switched to decaf, and have one milky (decaf) coffee in the morning. I’m sure once the baby comes I’ll get back onto coffee! The rest of the day it’s water for me.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

My favourite and most used app is Todoist. It’s seriously changed my life!

What should everyone try at least once?

My Hummus Pasta (the easiest, most delicious dish ever)!! And Safari in Africa.

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What Else to Know?

Follow me on Instagram @thefoodeffectdr for all my healthy meals, recipes, nutrition tips and lots more!! And you can visit my website: www.thefoodeffect.co.uk for more information about me and my services.

My book, The Food Effect Diet is available on Amazon here:

(UK) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Food-Effect-Diet-Weigh-Better/dp/034941582X

(USA) https://www.amazon.com/Food-Effect-Diet-Weigh-Better/dp/034941582X

Andrew Tyree: Founder. Coast to Coasta

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My Native Admission Statement: I’m Andrew Tyree. I’m a 38 year old native Angelino (LA born, though I left for 15 years) who is trilingual, married to the love of my life and I run a company where I get paid to take people on cultural group travel experiences to Spain, Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Cuba! We live in Highland Park with our dog Reggie and I love/hate fixing things in our little house we bought 2 years ago. 

How did you get into the industry?

I never graduated college. There, I said it! While I was in college, I worked in restaurants, where I learned my love of hospitality. I took a “semester” off of college (ended up being 5 years) and lived in Spain and Italy, where I learned my love of language and travel. When I moved back to SF after Europe, I worked in a Spanish restaurant and put my restaurant/wine contacts together with my love of travel and hosting people and started Coast to Costa, my company. We specialize in leading groups on cultural food and beverage travel experiences. I’ve been in “hospitality” since I was 18 and have been traveling since 22. I’ve owned Coast to Costa for 7 years. Lots of years! 

Any emerging industry trends?

While we are into travel for the cultural exchange, I am totally noticing people wanting to travel to places just to take pics for social media. It’s annoying but our company also relies heavily on social media. I just hope that people traveling just for the “gram” also have some chats with locals and learn something good while they’re at it! Like, it’s great that people are traveling more than ever but the motivation to start for a pic or likes is lame. Again, I just hope it’s a catalyst for some eye opening experiences after they get that shot! Also, get those likes! 

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

I do notice that there is a cultural shift and many more people are getting away from the norm and traveling. New generations are spending their money on experience much more than cars/houses etc. I love and totally appreciate that. I encourage that so much. I just hope that people remember to stay respectful in the places that they visit and realize what a privilege it is to be able to afford/be able to travel the world. We visit a lot of places that the people are not allowed to travel as freely and that’s a really hard pill to swallow for me. 

I do have to say that we have noticed a huge down turn in the last two years and I have to say it’s largely to do with the current administration. Yes, I’m talking about Trump. I believe he instills fear in people of the unknown or the “other”. He’s made terrible statements about Mexico and Cuba, two places and people who are very dear to me. Our mission is to bring people together through travel but I’m afraid that his tactics are actually causing fear and people are leaving and traveling less, especially in Latin America. It’s a shame because there are such amazing things to be seen down there! 

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?  

As I was saying earlier, I literally started the company to put together my hospitality contacts and knowledge with my love of travel. I started by going on trips with friends and organizing it/renting places to stay and creating awesome travel experiences. I realized I was very good at it and that I could show people the places that I loved. Since then, we have made the focus more on the local guides, winemakers, chefs, artists, etc who really lead the trips. They bring you into their homes and home cities and it feels like you’re traveling with cool local friends who are showing you around. As far as the future goes, I would love to have all of our local guides busy constantly with our travelers. If we could have all of them full employed and touring our Coast to Costa clients around, their financial and personal lives would be forever changed. That would be the goal! 

What's next for the Business in the near future?  

Our next new destination we’re doing is Colombia. One of our partners is Colombian and we’re having him create an incredible itinerary of his home turf. We eat at his uncle’s restaurant, see his mom’s old house, which is an amazing restaurant/bar...it’s going to be awesome! First trip is January 4-11 2020. 

Your most difficult moment at the Business?

As I mentioned, my wife and I bought our first house in November of 2017 and it was right around the time that Trump made his first round of speeches about travel restrictions to Cuba. Literally spent every dollar I had ever saved and THEN SOME and our business came to a grinding halt right after his announcements. It was the scariest damn time of my whole life. I learned that persistence and hard work pay off and that we are doing something good in the world and people will appreciate and support that. Also, if you just stick with something and continuously prove to be trustworthy, people will eventually trust you and come to foreign countries with you! 

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

We have been very lucky with our groups. Typically, when you have people sign up to go to Cuba with a van full of strangers, it brings a certain type of open/adventurous travelers. When we have a group with a great attitude who are there to enjoy, take it all in and take the place for what it is and not expect it to run like the US, it’s incredible. To have 12 strangers come together and become tight travel friends is an experience like no other. I am very fortunate that I can put that into the world for a living. We create a culture of travelers within a culture that we are exploring. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.   

How do you motivate others?

Firstly, we pay all of our employees a very good living wage. After working in restaurants for so long, I base guides/activity directors pay off of what I would make as a waiter on an average night. That’s a living wage in SF or LA, so when you directly pay that to someone in Havana, Cuba or Cusco, Peru, for example, that means they make way higher wages than what most companies would pay. We work directly with small business/individuals, so big companies don’t get their hands on it and keep most of it. They get paid in hand in cash. It helps their families and their futures directly and we treat our team like family and they treat us very well. It’s a win win. 

Career advice to those in your industry?   

To work in travel and for yourself is all consuming. Don’t do it for the money. It takes a very long time for it to make money. The first group trip that I did was amazing and so very challenging and I remember thinking “I need at least a week break from anything travel relater”. I got home exhausted, slept, woke up in the middle of the night from jet lag messing with my schedule and started researching where I was going next. If you do THAT, get into travel planning. If you want in for the money, don’t bother. 

What do I do best?

I am a very good people person. I treat people well and am pretty informed and can entertain the shit out of my travelers. I think the love for people and bringing them together is what I’m best at. 

What makes me the best version of myself?

The love of people/travel and persistence. This company didn’t make any money for three years and I worked in restaurants at night after working full days on the business. Many people told me it wouldn’t work. I believed and still believe in what we do and kept at it and it has worked for 5 years now. I have officially been out of waiting tables for 2 years and 2 months. My passion, dedication and persistence have made me the best version of myself. 

What are my aspirations?

I want to bring people together through travel. I know it sounds cheesy but I’m totally serious. People interacting makes the world better. That’s my aspiration. 

My Biggest Success?

Creating a company with no outside investment/no one else's rules. 

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My mom is awesome. She quit her safe job as an accountant five years short of retirement to ALSO get into travel. We both started around the same time. Things get tough or good, I call my mom. She’s rad. 

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

A town called San Francisco (San Pancho), Mexico. Solo traveled and spent a lot of time there. It gave me a lot of answers. 

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I’m a big fan of books. I am NOT a fan of smartphones. In fact, I believe they’re making us LESS smart. I hate them! 

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: To get through my daily to-do lists. 

Thought of the Day: Today is going to be a great day! 

Tip of the Day: If you want something bad enough, don’t talk about it, do it. Everyday. Any second of your spare time, until you’re an expert. 

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

I love LA for the cultural intersection of food. We just ate Din Tai Fung (a Taiwanese noodle restaurant) last night and I had fresh tortilla street tacos down my street today. The mix of cultures and what they bring with them is what makes LA so rad. Anyone who hasn’t been, come and visit and we’ll leave Santa Monica and the boring west side in the dust and see the REAL LA. 

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Chilaquiles at Huaraches Azteca in Highland Park, Los Angeles. Chicken fried chicken, potatoes and eggs at Millie’s in Silverlake. 

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Not waking up

10:00 AM - Emails and meetings

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? Street tacos. 

7:00 PM -  Cooking with my wife. I’m “sous chef”, so I basically prep and clean up while she makes awesome food. 

11:00 PM - Going to bed! Early nights these days. 

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Coffee in the AM. We recently bought a new fridge. I struggled to instal the water line for WEEKS, so nowadays I fill up a huge cup with fresh ice water all day and am proud as shit of myself! 

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Most used app is Instagram. Favorite is @coasttocosta. Haha. That’s our company and I check in like it’s going out of style! It’s too much. Owning a small business will do that to you. 

What should everyone try at least once?

Solo travel. It’s uncomfortable at first but is soooo good for you! 

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

I have a freaky good sense of direction. I’m hardly ever lost. I’m bad at a lot of things but getting lost isn’t one of them! As I’m writing this I’m like, it’s a figure of speech, Andrew, lighten up. Answer 2, a good used book store. The Last Bookstore in LA. I completely lose time and space and can be there for hoooours! 

My Pic of the Day: I swore I'd never be a dog owner that bought their dog clothes and I bought him an outfit in Mexico IMMEDIATELY after we got him. This is Reggie.

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What Else to Know?

People can contact me at coasttocosta.com. Email is andrew@coasttocosta.com. Instagram @coasttocosta Facebook.com/coasttocosta. Phone number (415) 601-6631. If people want to travel well, they should come and talk to me

Jennifer Walker: Partner, WALKER DRAWAS

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Bio: Jennifer Walker began her career in public relations at AEFFE USA representing Alberta Ferretti in New York City. Walker continued her professional path by launching the iconic British brand Ben Sherman and umbrella brands Evisu Genes and MiH.  She later joined renowned public relations firm LaForce and Stevens where she handled full scope service strategies as well as event support for H&M, American Eagle, Catriona MacKechnie, Milly and Twinkle, in addition to multiple special projects and New York Fashion Week shows.

As Vice President of PR and Marketing at ALLSAINTS, Walker launched the brand in the United States in early 2009 after its successful 15-year growth in Europe. Walker was responsible for the success of an aggressive retail rollout and long-term brand expansion. 

In 2013, Walker moved to the West Coast to work with Quiksilver, Roxy and DC brands to elevate their trade marketing efforts across all channels. Walker then joined forces with Adam Drawas to form Walker Drawas. Together they have worked with some of the biggest players in the industry, including REVOLVE, New Era Cap, Puma, Universal Dreamworks, Hudson Jeans, PacSun, Ksubi, French Connection, Baja East, Lucky Brand, ColourPOP Cosmetics, Kylie Cosmetics, Kate Somerville, The Glam App, Ray Ban, Persol, Oakley and VOGUE eyewear.

How did you get into the industry?

I got into the industry when I was about a year out of college waiting tables in NYC. I found an ad on craigslist for an internship in PR at an emerging British brand called Ben Sherman. I wanted the job so badly but it didn’t pay much. To survive in NYC I worked 80 hours a week waiting tables and interning full time. It paid off.

Any emerging industry trends?

In digital press it’s all about the clicks. Media have to report the performance of the stories so it’s now our job to tell stories and provide links, and names that will help them achieve those clicks.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

I think instagram and the changes it makes within its algorythms and the threats to get rid of engagement statics is going to extremely change the way influencer marketing is seen within the industry. I also think digital advertising is becoming smarter – now publications are able to offer guaranteed clicks through use of pixels and this is new and makes advertisers much more interested in that deliverable than impressions.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

My business partner Adam Drawas and I wanted to create an agency that excelled at multiple services within the industry. Many of our competitors are great at one thing or another, but here we are really able to maximize results because we create programs that sit under one roof and all the marketing components work together.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Will have to wait and see! We will expand in markets, categories, and services.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

We stayed out of the spotlight for a while and didn’t do any self-marketing. When we decided to finally do our first press interview with Forbes it literally changed the course of our business.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

Scaling this business without any investors or working capital has been a challenge.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

My biggest thing is face time. Face time with my clients is invaluable.

How do you motivate others?

Work hard, play hard. I find that if my employees are happy and healthy they will be inspired. We encourage company team building, volunteer days and work outings to keep our team motivated to  stay and thrive with us.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Don’t stress the small stuff – you’ve got bigger battles to win.

What do I do best?

My energy seems to be the thing that people like best about me and what I like best about myself. Although it was something I was born with – I do my best to keep my energy high and infectious with lots of selfcare.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I just go. I don’t stop to be tired. I will continue to fight until a job is done and my clients are happy.

What are my aspirations?

I’d love to do more work in the non-profit space. Animal rescue and ocean conservation is where my heart is. Im hoping to do more in those fields.

My Biggest Success?

Starting this company! Being where we are today has been and will be my biggest accomplishment.

My Most Challenging Moment?

Leaving my job at ALLSAINTS -a brand I launched and loved. It was like a very heartbreaking break up.

My Motto?

“One Team One Dream.” I firmly believe people need to work together to make a success. My team hears me say this all the time.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Paul McAdam – a former boss and client I have worked with for over 15 years. I learned how to be a leader by working for him.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I spend all of my free time when in LA, in Malibu. I have a horse there and love hanging at the beach and unwinding.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

Mojo App

My Current Passions? (

The ocean will always be one of my passions. I recently spent a vacation in Tonga swimming with Humpback Whales and it was life changing.

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Keep a steady course even though things derail you. Always come back into focus and stay positive.

Thought of the Day: All will be ok.

Action of the Day: Make shit happen!

Deed of the Day: Don’t buy or use single use plastic.

Tip of the Day: Protect your energy.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

I love how diverse it in in landscape and in people. I love that I can be in a city landscape, a hilly landscape and a canyon and beach all in the same day.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

I love Quavos Rancheros.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – I am laying in bed with a coffee and my dog answering emails.

10:00 AM – I just finished training and am getting ready for the rest of my day.

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

I love Erewhon natural grocery. I love their Killer Cauliflower wrap.

7:00 PM - I am having wine with friends.

11:00 PM – I am in bed sleeping.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Water. I would say Alkaline water –and lots of it!

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

I use postmates a lot! And my favorite Instagram is account is….Mine? Lol!

What should everyone try at least once?

Skydiving.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

I enjoy getting lost in the canyons in Malibu riding my horse –I do that weekly.

Links I would like to share:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliviaperez/2018/07/23/meet-walker-drawas-the-marketing-agency-behind-fashions-most-coveted-brands#421933d75194

https://profiles.forbes.com/members/agency/profile/Jennifer-Walker-Founder-Walker-Drawas/05cf0d2f-0fb3-4b17-9249-e3de34ed184d?utm_medium=insatagram&utm_source=linktree&utm_campaign=forbes+council+profile

https://musingsrobbreport.com/fall-series/?utm_medium=insatagram&utm_source=linktree&utm_campaign=muse+by+robb+report

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cultivated-conversations/id1380036020?mt=2?utm_medium=insatagram&utm_source=linktree&utm_campaign=cultivated+conversations+podcast+interview+episode+15

Lynn Jeter: Founder, Lynn Allen Jeter and Associates

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Bio: Lynn Jeter is a multi-talented businesswoman combining her 30-plus years of experience in entertainment and community relations as a seasoned organizer, consultant, public relations professional and former Motown Records Director. With her wealth of national media, community and governmental affiliations, Lynn Allen Jeter and Associates (LAJ) firm has been able to exceed clients’ expectations with maximum impact and results for all of their special events, direct marketing, publicity, event & television productions, crisis management, artist management promotions, social media, weddings, talent booking fund-raisers, product placements, conferences and trade shows.

How did you get into the industry?

Started in record business, working for Motown Records in Detroit after college.

Any emerging industry trends?

Social media has allowed unknown people to become trends, brands, influencers especially online.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Social media trends change constantly from myspace to now. Online sales and branding promo to be winners and profitable.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

Created Lynn Allen Jeter & Associates. to assist in event production and creating fundraisers and special events for the music business and community events. Publicity came from taking classes at UCLA.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

More focus on the future with television and film clients and want to produce content for streaming and TV.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

Partnership to produce T.V. and create special events and digital marketing partnerships too.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

The first person I had to fire was very hard but I had to learn to do what is best for the business.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

We like working with new talent and products to publicize and create brand awareness that help in sales and marketing the client.

How do you motivate others?

Share my experiences and invite others to join in our experiences and ask questions; anything I can do to show support too.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Work hard, continue to learn and grow as a person and volunteer intern on the paths you are interested in (i.e. publicity, marketing, digital and social media development, etc.)

What do I do best?

I would work hard and creatively on new talent and product lines. Produce all types of events, motivate and encouragement for clients and staff.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Honest, share information and listen to other points of view.

What are my aspirations?

Be the best and honest person in business and in life. Help and support others and create content and special events 

My Biggest Success?

Working with and help develop new talent successes, produced the 25th anniversary of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Stevie Wonder various events, production on Motown 25th TV special.

My Most Challenging Moment?

Not doing more and working smarter and less hours.

My Motto?

Do your best, there is no guarantee on tomorrow! Have fun and enjoy what one does.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My mother was a great role model. Stevie Wonder is a friend, full of love and inspirations.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I love to travel and I enjoyed West Africa and Caribbean travels the most. I love Hawaii too. I love the ocean!

My Favorite Products/Objects?

All derma-logical products by Dr. Susan Evans and Champagne by Moreno BHLV we helped break and launch their products.

My Current Passions?

Always help youth, mentorship of next generations, good health, the future! I love music and dance in all forms!

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Pastime thinking to achieve

Thought of the Day: Fearless

Action of the Day: Sharing and giving back

Deed of the Day: Being helpful to others

Tip of the Day: Kindness, gratitude, love and peaceful thoughts and words.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

The people, the entertainment business and weather

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Dupar’s at Farmers’ Market, pancakes with pure maple syrup.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – sleep

10:00 AM - office opens

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? N/A

Veggies, seafood, fruit.

7:00 PM - Cleaning and revising work done, next day plan, and doing homework.

11:00 PM - watching the news, writing and reading.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Water and chai ice blended from coffee bean

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Lifestyle, entertainment, fashion

What should everyone try at least once?

Something you always wanted to try. Fearless and faith!

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

At the beach and on vacation, meditation

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Teresa C. Younger: President & CEO, the Ms. Foundation for Women

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My Native Admission Statement: I’m an Air Force brat from North Dakota, who, as a young Black girl, knew more about farming than feminism and thought GS meant Girl Scouts, not Gloria Steinem. Now, I work on planting the seeds of feminism, have Gloria Steinem on speed dial, and live out the values of a lifelong Girl Scout: to make the world a better place. This set the stage for where I am today to lift up and amplify the voices of women and girls of color and to move money to those who need it most to make the changes in their communities. - https://forwomen.org/staff/teresa-c-younger/

How did you get into the industry?

From Girl Scouts to the Ms. Foundation, I have always fought for fairness and have made it my mission to dismantle the structures that uphold inequalities.

At my core, I am a grassroots organizer. I started my career in the nonprofit sector running a children’s residential camp, then moved to civil rights and civil liberties at the ACLU, followed by policy work in state government. My most recent career shift was into the world of philanthropy, where I focus on the power of women, their voices and their work.

I look at my current industry as two sectors: nonprofit through the lens of philanthropy and social justice movement building. For me, the nonprofit sector is about servicing women and girls, specifically of color, while philanthropy is about moving dollars to the areas that are most critical. My involvement in this space is driven by a deep commitment to social justice.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

In 1973, four women — Patricia Carbine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Gloria Steinem, and Marlo Thomas — believed the fight for gender equity would progress further if women worked together. Over 45 years later, this vision holds true, as the Ms. Foundation for Women works to build women’s collective power in the U.S. to advance equity and justice for all.

Today, we amplify the voices and visions of our grantee partners, women on the ground fighting for racial and gender equity. At the Ms. Foundation, we trust women to have the answers to help and heal their communities, a trust we have built our legacy on and will continue to build our future with.

Women of color have been at the frontlines of nearly every movement in this country; they have moved this country forward but our society does not show them the same support. In the strategic plan we rolled out last year, we reshaped the focus of our work, intentionally and unapologetically centering women and girls of color as a point of inclusion. We looked at the pool of inequality and decided to drop our pebble over the efforts of women and girls of color. We believe that the ripple effect of helping this community will spread wide and lift everybody up in the process.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

We’re facing an exciting time at the Ms. Foundation, as our future holds a lot of new shifts and changes for the foundation. We plan on lifting up the work of the next generation through a new girls fund that centers on girls of color in the South and U.S. territories. We will also be more directly involved in supporting political activism through our new 501(c)(4) branch, which is now fully incorporated! These new branches, combined with the current programs of the foundation, will all work to influence collective philanthropy to move more dollars to women and girls of color and to trust women’s leadership.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

The Ms. Foundation has historically been and continues to be a highly talented team of women whose lived experiences influence their passion and commitment to support movement building and women’s collective power. We use our platform to challenge the status quo and ask people to think differently and more critically about the issues that affect the lives of women.

When I started at the Ms. Foundation, I saw that many people had an impression of feminism that was based on an incomplete view of the movement. It left a lot of people wondering where they fit in. So, I designed a campaign called #MyFeminismIs to redefine feminism, breaking it out of the gender-binary and offering more inclusion in the fight for gender equity.

Later in my tenure at the Ms. Foundation, when Trump was elected and our feminist vision for this country’s future was forced to shift, we had to reevaluate our strategy for the coming years. We launched a #WeWontGoBack campaign and video taking a stand against the then forthcoming misogynist, racist, xenophobic, anti-LGBTQ administration. In defending and advocating for our rights, we also shared a rallying cry heard by our followers and beyond.

What makes me the best version of myself?

The Ms. Foundation is like ADHD for the feminist; there are a number of causes and tasks for me to face at any given time. Because we are a multi-issue organization and we recognize the complexities of women’s lives, I am present in a lot of spaces and engage as a thought leader on a multitude of issues. In order for me to show up and be my best authentic self, it is imperative that I move with intention; that I know when to speak up and use my voice, when I should lift up the voices of others, or when I should simply stay silent and listen.

What also really helped get me to where I am today is being comfortable with failure. That does not mean I like to fail — who does? — but, being comfortable in those moments enables you to grow and learn from those experiences.

My Most Challenging Moment?

When I was a burnt-out college student on scholarship, finishing my term as student body Vice President at the University of North Dakota, I was walking through the library when I saw a sign that said “Nanny needed in Connecticut.” I took down the poster, called my mom to tell her I was quitting college to be a nanny in CT and went to take my final. As the oldest daughter and the first in my family to go to college, I fully understood the disappointment that would be inflicted by saying those words. My mother’s hopes were wrapped up in me and in a single sentence, I made her greatest fear come true; that I might not finish college.

This moment was the first time I listened to and trusted myself to know what I needed. Doing so, gave me the courage to move to the East Coast, nanny and volunteer my time to work with children in the inner city, and, for the first time, truly understand the commitment that comes with working in a nonprofit. I worked for that family for two years. After all that, I went back to North Dakota to finish my degree, but not before I gained the life experience I needed to know how I could change the world while still being mindful of my own wellbeing.

Needing to step away from school was not a failure. It showed me how sometimes you have to make sacrifices in the present to be able to make an impact in the future. I cannot be an authentic leader if I do not recognize my own needs and acknowledge that every opportunity is a learning opportunity, even if it’s learning about myself.

My Motto?

Every morning, before I get out of bed, I challenge myself to be the kind of woman that when my feet hit the ground in the morning the devil says, “Oh shit, she’s up.”

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Maya Angelou, without a doubt. But, there are also the women I call “everyday feminists” that I have to privilege to work with who inspire me. Whether they are on my staff, on a panel with me, or a part of one of our grantees across the country, I look up to the strength of these women that fight for what they believe in.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

If I have to pick an absolute favorite place, it would be Saint Lucia.

My Current Passions?

I love being outside, whether I’m walking through Prospect Park in Brooklyn, hiking in Hawaii, or hanging in my hammock.

What are you doing at:

Before answering this question, I feel I must disclose that no two days are ever the same. One day may be focused on meetings with philanthropic or corporate leaders, while another may be spent at a grantee convening or talking at a conference about investing in women and girls of color. Or, I may be in our Brooklyn office making sure our audit is ready to go and creating strategies to raise women’s voices by day and attending a donor appreciation cocktail reception before seeing Gloria: A Life by night.

6:00 AM – Debating on getting out of bed and deciding how to make the devil say “oh shit, she’s up.”

10:00 AM - Making coffee in between meetings.

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? Having a Salmon Poke bowl for lunch, but, if we’re being honest, this happens closer to 2:00PM.

7:00 PM - Exhaling with a glass of wine at home, at the office, or at a donor event.

11:00 PM - Laying bed contemplating three things: did I do enough today, what am I grateful for, and what do I need to do tomorrow

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)? 

Coffee gets me through the day. Pro tip: heat up your cream before putting it in your coffee so it stays warmer longer! At the end of the day, I love to sit and reflect with a bourbon on the rocks.

What should everyone try at least once?

Sleeping under the stars.

What Else to Know?

Bio: Teresa C. Younger is a renowned thought leader, strategist, advocate, activist and amplifier having spent over 20 years on the frontlines of some of the most critical battles affecting the lives of women and their communities. Ms. Younger is a community organizer with demonstrated ability to build strong partnerships amongst diverse communities and constituencies, from grassroots organizations to state houses; from nonprofit to the corporate sector.

Ms. Younger is the President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the first (and oldest) women’s foundation. This legacy institution builds women’s collective power in the U.S. Under Ms. Younger’s leadership, the Foundation launched #MyFeminismIs, a multimedia campaign sparking a national conversation on feminism; funded a groundbreaking report on the sexual abuse to prison pipeline; joined leading women’s foundations at the White House (under the Obama Administration) to announce a $100 million funding commitment to create pathways to economic opportunity for low-income women and girls; and led a campaign to hold the NFL accountable for violence against women. Most recently, Ms. Younger led the development of the Ms. Foundation’s bold new strategic plan, in which the organization has chosen to center women and girls of color to challenge the philanthropic sector (and all of us) around how women, particularly women and girls of color, are being invested in.

As a thought leader, Ms. Younger’s contributions and expertise to the nonprofit and social justice arenas has been noted in BIG IMPACT: Insights and Stories from America’s Nonprofit Leaders, the Women’s Leadership Online Summit, and she has been recognized by The Council on World Affairs, Aspen Institute, Princeton University, Harvard University, and NetRoots Nation. In 2015 she was chosen by Planned Parenthood Federation of America as a Dream Keeper, and in 2016 was named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Philanthropy” by Inside Philanthropy.

She has appeared on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show, MSNBC’s UP with David Gura, NBC News, NPR Radio, Elle Magazine, Cosmopoltian, SiriusXM, and in USA Today, AP, Rewire, BadassWomenLeaders.com podcast and the New York Times.

Ms. Younger sits at the critical intersections of gender and race in the philanthropic space serving on initiatives to shape and change the narrative of women and girls, including Grantmakers for Girls of Color, Funders for Reproductive Equity, Philanthropy New York and Black Funders for Social Justice. Additionally, Ms. Younger serves on a number of boards; including the Ethel Walker School and Essie Justice Group. Her influence and voice can also be felt in the gender lens investing space having linkages with Gratitude RailRoad and Criterion Institute’s Gender Based Violence Advisory Group.

Prior to joining the Ms. Foundation family, Ms. Younger served as the executive director of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and as executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut – making her the first African American and the first woman to hold that position. Ms. Younger is a graduate of the University of North Dakota and in 2018 was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in Humanities from the University of New Haven. Ms. Younger is a resident of Connecticut where she lives with her husband. She is proud lifetime Girl Scout and Gold Award recipient.

“Teresa Younger embodies the definition of inspirational leadership. Our world will be a better place because of this Girl Scout’s dogged passion and commitment for influencing the change we need to make the world a better place.” – Mary Barneby, CEO, Girl Scouts of Connecticut

Recent Articles:

Amazing, Badass Women, Martha’s Vineyard Times

The biggest problem with feminism today—and how to fix it, Quartz

Ms. Foundation Strategic Plan to Focus on Women of Color, Associated Press

Save the date for our 32nd annual Ms. Foundation gala on May 6, 2020, Gloria Awards: A Salute to Women of Vision

Jessica Silvetti: Writer & Director

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My Native Admission Statement: Jessica Silvetti is an award-winning writer and director. Originally from Mexico City, of Spanish descent and raised in the US, she's been shaped by different cultures and views life through a bilingual lens. She attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she received a BFA in Theatre. After a few years in NYC, she relocated to Los Angeles to merge her love of writing and filmmaking. She is Co-Founder of Light and Shadow Pictures.

How did you get into the industry? 

I grew up in an artistic household. My grandfather was a musician, my grandmother a lyricist, my aunt an actress and my mom worked in production. The entertainment industry was where I wanted to be. I began as an actress and went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where I received a BFA in Theatre. Though initially I focused on acting, I always had a passion for writing and took some additional writing courses while at school. Ultimately, acting and writing led me to filmmaking.

Any emerging industry trends?

Women… but we’re not just a trend.
Diversity… but not just a trend.
I hope to be part of the voices that make these ‘trends’ an ongoing part of our industry.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

I love how so many people have taken to social media to reach out to one another and connect with groups that can be beneficial to achieving goals for their projects. That’s an awesome opportunity.

Challenges… funding. Finding funding to make the stories you want to tell. More opportunities on that front are welcome!

Inspiration for the business idea and your vision for the business?

There’s constant inspiration in the world around us -- the stories I hear or read and the people I meet. There are also many stories from my own experience that I want to explore and envision making into films. I keep a lot of journals, notes and an organized calendar to make those things come to fruition.
I think putting plans into action and speaking them out loud makes you accountable and helps sharpen the vision of what you’re after. Also, by speaking with others about your projects you make connections to people who may be able to help you along the way or point you in the right direction.

What’s next for the Business in the near future?

I’m working on getting funds to direct a feature film which I also wrote. The screenplay has done well in a few competitions and I’m working on putting certain elements in place to make it happen. The story is about two violinists.

Simultaneously, I’m pitching a TV show that I created with my husband, Ethan Kogan, who’s also my creative partner. It’s a freakish fairytale of sorts and we’re just starting to meet with people to see who’s in. We’d love to connect with Guillermo del Toro – it would be amazing to make this nightmarish world come to life alongside him… a girl can dream!

How do you motivate others?

Making them feel valued and heard.
Being clear with my vision and goals.
Creating a collaborative environment when working together.
Food. Friendship.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Don’t give up. Be proactive. Take time to reflect and breathe. If you fall, get back up and try again. Have fun along the way. Be genuine.

What do I do best?

I listen. I work on being a good listener and not being judgmental of others.

What are my aspirations?

I want to write and direct stories that make a difference in people’s lives. Even when it’s a comedy. I love for people to relate and connect to the characters from the stories I create. I hope it enriches lives in one way or another.

My Current Passions?

My family/friends. My dog. The violin.
Writing and directing -- of course.

My Daily Thoughts:

Step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask.
Laugh, it’s good for your heart.
Take time alone to reflect and recharge.
Don’t complain, it’s a waste of energy.
Look for solutions and alternatives.
Check in with my family and loved ones.
Be kind.

My Favorite People/ Role Models?

Good people with kind hearts and generous minds.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

This one is hard. I love lots of different foods.
Currently, favorite restaurant is Rossoblu in downtown LA – so good!

My Pic of the Day:  My dog!

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My Motto?

If you already have a no, find the yes.

What else to Know?
www.jessicasilvetti.com
www.Lightandshadow.pictures

Dana Marruffo: Founder, Buzz Public Relations

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My Native Admission Statement Buzz Public Relations is a virtual collaborative of senior-level freelance pros working together to combine the art of storytelling and the precision of PR and communications campaigns to help funded startups and small businesses position their brand as one to know. Our mission is to help clients break through the clutter by keeping it simple in a world of complexity. Standing by our core values of integrity, a can-do attitude, love what you do, do what you love and always give back where you can—we don’t perform dog and pony shows, place candidness in the front seat and admit we’re sticklers for measuring results so everyone can sleep well at night.

How did you get into the industry?

I started my career at a very early age—my senior year in high school through a half-day work program. Being from the MTV-generation and having musicians in my family I grew up fascinated about the entertainment industry, specifically music…the bands…the lifestyle. Fast forward after a decade of working in that industry and living in Los Angeles—I moved back to Austin. Technology startups were thriving, and I decided to make a career change and jump into the tech agency world working directly with some of the most incredibly innovative startups that disrupted their industries on both a national and international level.

Your most difficult moment at the Business?

The most difficult moment was during the 2008-2009 economic downturn, when my business was just me. I was faced with clients cutting budgets and dropping like flies. Luckily, I had planned a rainy-day fund which kept business afloat while lighting the fire and building new business. It took an entire year to rebuild my portfolio once things settled, and I’m incredibly fortunate to have made it through unscathed. This experience revealed 1) it pays to have a contingency plan (and cushion) in place for the unexpected, and 2) diversify.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

Since launching in 2006, I’ve evolved from a sole freelancer to a freelance collaborative business to scale to the next level of success. The strategy I took was to think like an entrepreneur and operate like a startup, but on a contractor level. I exercised my experience working with startups, approached long-time professional colleagues/friends as sounding boards and mentors, and tapped into my network to bring on partners and their skillsets in order to build teams. What ended up happening was flexibility, growth and scalability not only for my business, but for my partners as well. Win/Win.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Knowing my truth, living with integrity, surrounding myself with the right people, being a straight-shooter, keeping the lines of communication open, and always having the best interest in mind for my clients, partners and others around me.

My Motto?

There's always a silver lining, just look a little harder.

What should everyone try at least once?

One thing that scares them.

My Current Passions?

Empowering women to succeed and achieve economic independence through volunteering with Dress for Success in my city. Providing that needed support, image consulting to build confidence for that interview or first day on the job, career mentorship and guidance to nail that perfect interview or find an opportunity that excites them—coupled with the excitement on these beautiful women’s faces and the endearing hugs that scream appreciation and gratitude—there’s nothing that makes me more fulfilled than this.

Adam Drawas: Partner, WALKER DRAWAS

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My Native Admission Statement: My name is Adam Drawas and I am a partner at WALKER DRAWAS, an LA-based marketing and communications firm specializing in fashion, beauty, lifestyle and consumer brands. Our goal is to amplify brands’ exposure to the consumer through unique and creative strategies. The commercial landscape is ever changing, and Walker Drawas creates programs and brand strategies to break through the noise of the consumer and media landscape.

How did you get into the industry?

My roadmap was very unconventional. After numerous failed attempts at design college, I migrated to London at the age of 18 and began working for renowned UK firm Concrete PR. There I managed and developed press and commercial strategies for some of London’s hottest brands. After four years there, I became President of UK design firm Lara Bohinc. There I managed their house brand as well as all design contracts with such luxury houses as Cartier, Shiseido, Lanvin, and more. In 2005 I was lured to Los Angeles by iconic costume designer Arianne Phillips, and her projects she was doing with Madonna. The industry was changing, and I was seeing celebrity play a much more critical role in the fashion industry, and felt I needed to immerse myself in LA to stay ahead of the curve. In 2007, I opened my namesake agency, and in 2015 we reformed the company as Walker Drawas, with my business partner Jennifer Walker.

Any emerging industry trends?

In the consumer landscape the refinement of social media strategies is still a major trend. More brands are putting significant focus into the optimization of consumer purchasing thru social media, which I find very exciting. I also am finding that the influencer profiles are changing- we are engaging more “real” people who stand for more diverse subject matters- not just fashion, wellness, and beauty.

Another key trend is how brands are showcasing their news- traditional formats of fashion shows and campaigns have shifted greatly; brands are releasing news and content at a much fast pace, and in turn having to create “moments” in more unique, cost effective ways.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

I think the biggest challenge we find from our clients is working on new, disruptive strategies, on archaic budgets. It’s important to adapt financials and goals to the ever-changing shift in the consumer landscape. Many CEOs and CFOs look to us to define goals, needs, and create programs and budgets that align with these objectives.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

I have always had an obsessive passion for fashion. Being around designers and artists with unique perspectives on fashion and trends is what really gets me excited. Being able to amplify their message to the masses is so fulfilling to me. It enables their businesses to grow and continue creating art.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Expansion. We will be expanding in additional cities due to the direct requests from our clients. We are also continuing to grow our influencer and digital divisions.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

Stay ahead of the curve, be open to changing and adapting, be collaborative in your concepts and strategies, and be creative in getting to your goals.

Your most difficult moment at the Business?

Growth. Expanding your team and still giving your clients the most of you in the process.

How do you motivate others?

Through being an example to your team and compassion for your staff and clients. Exceptional people have exceptional problems, so it’s important to educate others based upon your experiences, and to be kind thru the process. And above all- listen!

Career advice to those in your industry.

Love what you do. You cannot devote 12hrs of your day to a career you do not live and breathe. Additionally, put as much focus into yourself care outside of business. You need to prepare your mind, body, and soul to tackle your business life.

What do I do best?

Sell the dream and deliver on my vision.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Sleep, serenity, and joy.

What are my aspirations?

To continue to expand this company and grow to bigger and greater heights.

My Biggest Success?

Having a team that is as committed and passionate for the business as we are.

My Most Challenging Moment?

I think it’s when a program just isn’t working. Sometimes what we feel will blow up, doesn’t always meet the mark. Understanding WHY is the core to the resolve, and that is sometimes hidden within layers of bullshit.

My Motto?

I will not dim my light to make you feel more comfortable.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Costume designer Arianne Phillips (for her creative vision and wealth of knowledge)

Owner of Revolve, Michael Mente (for his savvy business education, and passion for his team)

Oprah (for her spiritual and emotional intelligence)

Designer Henry Holland (for his fun and creative vision)

Kim Kardashian West (for her business hustle and commitment to her brand growth)

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Winters in Thailand

Summers in Ibiza

Mondays in LA

My Favorite Products/Objects?

Currently any eyewear from Luxottica (our client)

My Current Passions?

Fitness, yoga, travel, and my puppy Lennox

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: end the day with serenity

Thought of the Day: What would Beyoncé do?

Action of the Day: Look cute, even if you aren’t feeling it

Deed of the Day: Smile when you don’t want to

Tip of the Day: You always have a choice. Choose wisely

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

A workout in the AM with Jerry Ford, and hot yoga with Modo at the end of the day- fitness and meditation is key

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

@petshopboy

@piabaroncini

@lisarinna

@ageofaquaria

What should everyone try at least once?

Aura reading

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Cristin Smith: Founder & CEO, Saffron & Sage

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My Native AdMission Statement: Cristin Smith is the Founder and CEO of Saffron & Sage, the holistic health club located in Downtown San Diego. Saffron & Sage helps executives and entrepreneurs regain or maintain their wellbeing through their multi-sensory healing experiences. The flagship location in Little Italy is just the beginning of the Saffron & Sage lifestyle brand. In the coming months, Saffron & Sage is also launching their skincare line, body care and beauty products.

Prior to Saffron & Sage, Cristin has founded four companies before the age of 30 and has traveled around the world consulting and supporting local leaders to promote community development through social enterprise. Her background in financial and insurance services, sales and marketing has been instrumental in building a brand and business that is creating affordable access to holistic healthcare.

Recently named one of San Diego Magazine’s Women of the Year for 2019, Cristin has been profiled by various media outlets including The San Diego Business Journal, Modern Luxury, and PACIFIC Magazine, among others.

How did you get into the industry?

Saffron & Sage was founded by Cristin Smith as a result of her personal healing journey. During a six-month sabbatical in 2012, Cristin had a health crisis. Doctors found four tumors in her neck and thyroid leading her to seek out a team of holistic health care practitioners, non-toxic products, therapeutic practices and healing places. Cristin’s journey toward wellness of the mind, body, and spirit inspired her to bring all of these experiences and elements into one place to provide the integrative care she so desperately needed during her time of need.

Today, Cristin has built a multi-disciplinary team of more than 30 practitioners from Medical Doctors to Acupuncturists, Psychotherapists to Movement Therapists, who connect the community to consciously curated wellness resources through services and classes, products and practices and create customized treatment plans for each client.  

Any emerging industry trends?

The membership model is definitely developing as a trend, first started by businesses like Massage Envy and then moving into subscription boxes and now member-based wellness spaces are starting to spring up all over the country. From the few that I have seen they are isolating a specific service like Acupuncture or Concierge Medicine. This is definitely something we are going to see more of in the coming years.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

We are currently living in the age of information. Before calling the doctor most of us google our symptoms and have diagnosed ourselves with multiple conditions after 10 minutes of reading WebMd and a series of blog posts. We’re overwhelmed with unqualified information and when we finally do seek out a Medical Professional we leave with a long list of questions and often times prescriptions.

This country is looking for a community of health and wellness professionals who are on the same page and can offer simple yet evidence-based solutions in a therapeutic environment. This is what Saffron & Sage is providing—affordable access to holistic healthcare. Think about meeting your doctor at the spa! We are curating wellness resources at Saffron & Sage, where people can walk in the door and buy anything in the boutique without reading a label. What health food store can you do that in? You can step into a session where the Practitioner is looking you in the eyes, listening to you and providing you with a multi-sensory healing experience every single time. When it comes to healthcare, curation is the currency of the future. We have curated our products and Practitioners, practices all with our current and future members mind.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

I was driving from Tijuana to Los Angeles and everywhere in between paying a-la-cart prices for all of these top Practitioners but I was having to synthesize their diagnosis and treatment plan. This made me ask myself the question of why there isn’t a place with all these Practitioners and products under one roof, where I can take all the classes and services that they are recommending?! And as it turned out, there are, but they designed for the ultra-wealthy, with prices of upwards of $10,000 for week stays at “wellness hospitals” or “wellness resorts”. I didn’t have the time or money to jet off to a destination medical resort, but this fueled me to begin devising a plan to create such a space for myself in San Diego.

Saffron & Sage was designed with me in mind. A busy entrepreneur who needed a space to support me in healing my gut, learning to breathe out of my belly, decreasing stress, eliminating toxins from my system, and the list goes on. I wanted one place that I could walk through the door, not care about what I looked like or fear that I was going to break the bank and could begin to heal from the inside-out.

Located in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood, Saffron & Sage is a 3,000-square-foot urban wellness sanctuary is designed with expansive, light-filled treatment rooms, a movement and meditation studio, a luxurious wellness lounge, a clean beauty boutique and apothecary. Saffron & Sage offers its members a multitude of services and classes, including acupuncture, botanical medicine, energy therapy, fire cupping, sound therapy, and more. The studio also hosts wellness classes that are carefully curated to nourish the body, cultivate a clear mind, and serve as a space for your spirit to dwell. These include breathwork, sound baths, cleansing meditation, energy work and various forms of yoga, including yin and restorative classes.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Saffron & Sage is expanding its current space, building out more treatment rooms and launching an IV lounge along with Medical Consultations. With this, Saffron & Sage will also be enhancing its memberships providing Members with exclusive access to these new wellness offerings.

Saffron & Sage is also launching a skincare line featuring makeup removing oil cleanser, gel facial cleanser, facial serum, facial moisturizer and finishing oil. The full set and travel set will be available on the shelves in October and online just in time for holiday shopping.

Saffron & Sage also has an apothecary where the team custom formulates herbs for clients to help with anything from skin conditions to restoring gut health. The essential blends will be on the shelves next to the Saffron & Sage signature Flower Essences, which are a homeopathic tincture designed to support the emotional body. Taking a few drops under your tongue can help decrease stress or anxiety, help cut cravings and connect you to the Divine. Flower Essences can be found at Saffron & Sage and in the suites of a local hotel partner, Kimpton Solamar Hotel.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

Here’s just a few:

1. Hotels – Saffron & Sage has local partnerships with San Diego’s Kimpton Hotels and The Andaz. You can take Saffron & Sage classes and curated events on the rooftop or by the pool not to mention custom-designed suite packages featuring our flower essences and body care products like bath soaks and face masks.
2. Luxury Living Communities – Saffron & Sage partners with local living communities like Broadstone Maker’s Quarter, Alexan ALX and LUMA to provide residents with wellness experiences like Sunset Sound Bath and Acupuncture or Multi-sensory Meditation experiences along with cooking classes and other workshops.
3. Companies – Saffron & Sage partners with local companies to provide C-suite wellness packages to workplace wellness experiences onsite for employees, offering meditation and yoga to individual sessions like Massage and Acupuncture.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

The most difficult part of building Saffron & Sage has been financing. I financed Saffron & Sage myself then went out to supplement my contribution with bank loans and found that the banks didn’t grasp the concept of Saffron & Sage yet and therefore found it too risky of an investment. Additionally, they told me I should have kept my money in the bank and financed everything. Having personally funded my previous businesses and wanting to keep debt to a minimum, I thought banks would see my personal investment in terms of commitment and a reflection of my due diligence and market research, but they did not. That said, once we opened doors, I had investors knocking on my door but they wanted a lot of equity. It was important for me to remember the value of the Saffron & Sage brand I was building even if bankers and investors didn’t. My ability to embrace my worth served me well as I later attracted the investors and bankers who shared my vision and values and have turned into powerful partners.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

An ideal experience for a new client is an acupuncture session. Acupuncture is experienced both physically, energetically and emotionally. Whether people are dealing with brain fog, anxiety, fatigue, pain—they are going to feel a night and day of a difference after an acupuncture session at Saffron & Sage. The affects after acupuncture are also felt for longer than other modalities like massage because it
works on multiple dimensions.

How do you motivate others?

First, I hire leaders who share the vision and values of Saffron & Sage. Leaders who are self-starters and go-getters who thrive making decisions and designing their own path to achieve organizational outcomes. I highlight their wins and successes in front of the rest of their team. I have designed a compensation plan that rewards their achievements. We also celebrate as a team on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis.

Every onboarding process begins with me sharing my story and how Saffron & Sage grew out of my wellness journey and walk new hires through every aspect of the client experience, our vision and values, philosophy and methodology. We spend all day going through this, and I ensure that I highlight different components to illustrate how these are not just words we post on a wall but our North Star to which we always set our compass and the framework that we use to make every decision. We hire and fire by our values. Every policy and practice is shaped by our ethos.

Career advice to those in your industry?

We primarily hire for two types of positions, concierge or practitioner.

When it comes to concierges, I don’t hire based upon a resume but focus on strengths and experiences. For anyone looking to make a career change, I want to highlight that you’re more than your resume and there are many companies out there that are looking for good people and are willing to invest in training and development.

When it comes to practitioners, candidates need degrees, certifications and licenses even for modalities like energy therapy and nutrition. We receive a lot of applications from individuals who don’t have the necessary credentials. With that said, in addition to having a degree, license or a certification, it’s necessary to have the maturity and integrity to companion clients through very difficult times in their life. We hire the best and part of being the best is a lifelong commitment to personal and professional development.

What do I do best?

My Vision— my dreams or ideas go through this incubation process which allows me to clearly see outcome or my future desire and that paired with my strategic planning strength allows me to reverse engineer a plan to make manifest that vision. And then there’s pure determination, because I am committed come hell or high water to see my vision come to fruition and I align my life towards my objective.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Perseverance—I am committed to going the distance. When I set out to achieve something, I align my energy and focus to make it happen. I can’t tell you the number of sacrifices I made to make Saffron & Sage a reality and the sacrifices I am still making to grow the brand.

What are my aspirations?

I am living the life I want to live. I live in a beautiful neighborhood that is five minutes down the road from Saffron & Sage. I spend my weekends at the Coronado Dog Beach with my dog Harper or sailing on the bay. I want to travel more. Since I have lived in the U.S. and Mexico, I am on a mission to visit all 50 United States and 32 states in Mexico. I’m reviving my seasonal retreats, taking one week off a season, and this Summer I’ll be traveling to Oaxaca. I’m also looking to start playing tennis again and going salsa dancing regularly.

Professionally, I would like to open our Bath House consisting of a variety of wet therapies and beauty treatments and see one of those in each city nearby our Holistic Health Clubs and later launch our Retreat Houses which will feature everything in those two spaces, as well as a boutique hotel and restaurant in remote areas around the world.

There is also a long list of other ventures outside of the wellness space that I would like to launch so stay tuned!

My Biggest Success?

My biggest success thus far has been selling a minority share of my company to the right investors. The day after one of my investors wrote me a big check she told me, “I want to make sure that you that she honor your vision. Don’t get sidetracked my trying to deviate from your mission hit certain numbers but stay focused on your vision.” I knew I held out for the right investors.

My Most Challenging Moment?

My most challenging moments last year were centered around raising capital. I knew when we opened that we were underfunded and that I was going to have to pull together capital along the way. I also knew the timing was right and although that wasn’t ideal it was necessary. I remember one Sunday afternoon, I thought I would have to throw in the towel because I was on my last dime and one of my mentors called and said, “Today you have to do everything in your power to convince yourself that you gave it your all, that you left no stone unturned. So, what’s left for you to do? Who is committed to your success?” I sent an email that afternoon to about 20 people and I raised $30,000 in 24 hours allowing me to “live to fight another day” as my mentor would say.

My Motto?

Under promise and over deliver. This is a phrase I remind myself and it’s a phrase I share with my team almost every day. Don Miguel Ruiz reminds us to “be impeccable with our word” and I think that aligns so well, as we aim to align our actions with our intentions and to show up for ourselves, and therefore be able to show up for others.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Personally, I admire women like Katherine Hepburn and Coco Chanel – fierce women who embracedtheir essence and were determined to live an authentic and transformative lives. They were disrupters to the status quo, and they are icons as a result of their leadership.

Professionally, my team of advisors and investors. These are men and women who have dedicated their lives to creating purpose-driven businesses and have made an indelible impact on the community. I am thinking of one couple in particular. A husband and wife and duo who recently came on board as investors, are the most gracious and generous humans not to mention savvy and integrous business leaders in the community. It’s going to take a lifetime to soak up their wisdom both personally and professionally.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

That’s a tough one! A few years back I was in China and absolutely fell in love with Hangzhou just outside of Shanghai. This little city has 9 million inhabitants. It’s a unique blend of old-world charm and modern innovation. Mexico is one of my favorite countries because of its close proximity to the U.S. and its biodiversity. From its snow-capped mountains to beautiful beaches, rural desert oasis to urban metropolises. I love Mexico City and tend to hideaway in La Condesa or La Roma when I visit. One of my favorite cities is Queretaro and when it comes to the beach and a lush jungle retreat, Nayarit is my destination of choice.  

My Favorite Products/Objects?

My current obsession is the soon-to-be-released Saffron & Sage skincare collection. Having suffered from severe cystic acne when I was younger, I have terrible scarring as a result and nothing has been able to take the scars away let alone have moisturized balanced skin until now.

The collection features our pollutant and make-up remover along with a gentle gel cleanser, serum, moisturizer and finishing oil. Not only is my skin healthy and hydrated, tone and firm, but my scarring has continued to diminish with every use. My skin feels light after using each product and is protected to apply my sunscreen and begin my day. I use the same ritual during the evening only after applying the finishing oil I use my favorite beauty tool – my Jade Gua Sha. Used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine for radiant skin and clearing the body of stagnation and supporting the immune system. Gua Sha is an essential for holistic health!

My Current Passions?

Currently my passions are centered around healthcare. I am intrigued by the existing and emerging models of healthcare in the U.S. and am excited to experiment with new ways of providing affordable access to holistic healthcare. We have some exciting projects in the works and I can’t wait to see how they come together and how they impact our clients’ lives.  

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Delegate whatever task or project that better aligns with another member of my team
Thought of the Day: Are you doing only what you can do? If someone else can do this, you should not.
Action of the Day: Beginning each day with a long walk with my dog, Harper. Starting with silence and movement is essential for me.
Deed of the Day: Eat a nourishing meal slowly and with others.
Tip of the Day: Take time to transition. When you pull up to a meeting, before jumping out of the car, take a minute to pause, breath and focus on the intention of that meeting the get out of the car. Think about those little moments of transition in every part of your day.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

We’re a collection of neighborhoods. San Diego has done a wonderful job of designing little pockets unique to the fabric of their neighborhood. Each have their niche and vibe and you are drawn to them for that reason. Little Italy is now restaurant row, North Park is the hub for dinner, drinks and entertainment. South Park is like a sleepy town on the East Coast with little boutique businesses.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

My favorite place for brunch is Craft + Commerce in Little Italy. They serve their spin on eggs benedict which is a cornbread base with filet and the egg on top which is to die for. And my new favorite is the Soufle Pancakes from Morning Glory, also in Little Italy.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – I am waking up and walking Harper (my English shepherd) around the neighborhood

10:00 AM – In a meeting

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? Dona Jean In Bankers Hill. It’s a gourmet vegan restaurant and the best in town!

7:00 PM -  I am stepping into restorative yoga class at Saffron & Sage to activate my parasympathetic nervous system and prepare for sleep

11:00 PM – I’m asleep by 10 p.m. to honor my body clock and the detoxification and restorative rituals that out organs do every night.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I drink a custom blend of herbs that when combined with hot water make a tea specifically formulated by my herbalist to support the unique needs of my body.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Favorite instagram account is @captainandthegypsykid sometimes referred to as “Australia’s first family of style”. This husband and wife duo travel around the world with their kids exploring and creating content around their lifestyle highlighting people and places, brands and business of interest.

What should everyone try at least once?

Fire Cupping! It’s such a unique experience and a satisfying one. An ancient Chinese medicine technique designed to pull toxins and tension from the body bringing you back to a place of homeostasis.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

I enjoy escaping south of the border to Mexico, where I lived for six years. Tijuana is one of my favorite cities, it’s chalk full of culinary treasures and cultural experiences, and not to mention it’s just an hour away from Valle de Guadalupe (the Napa Valley of Mexico) for a little respite featuring world-class cuisine and a bottle of wine!

Angela Gaffney: President, Essential Health & Wellness

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My Native Ad Mission Statement: ANGELA GAFFNEY, CHC, is the President of Essential Health & Wellness, a firm focused on building healthy communities and organizations. As an international wellness speaker, consultant and author, she and her team have supported clients for the past 8 years through inspiring keynotes, corporate consulting, executive retreats, and unique wellness programming.

It’s Angela’s personal story that feeds her passion for this work. After surviving a personal health crisis that nearly took her life, Angela devoted intense time, education and energy into regaining her own health and becoming a Certified Health Coach. She’s shared these same proven strategies to help thousands of others transform their health and regain a zest for life. It is possible to achieve health while fulfilling your professional and personal goals; Angela will show you how to make it happen!

How did you get into the industry?

Through my own demise really. I was happily climbing the corporate ladder and leading an active life as a mom and wife. Then something happened, my body started spiraling downward fast and after a very difficult two-year struggle, I was told to go home and prepare for a rare disease to take my life. I thankfully decided to prepare differently, to fight to live, and in the end these efforts led me back to school and I founded Essential Health & Wellness thereafter. This journey is one of my most treasured gifts and I feel blessed to say I love what I do and do what I love. It’s beautiful when you can live out a passion you didn’t even know was inside of you until crisis happens. The greatest gift is seeing others’ lives improve because of the work we do.

Any emerging industry trends?

My area of expertise is in whole food nutrition and life fulfillment; I refer to the two areas as Table Food and Life Food. With the quick accessibility to information online, and the ever-shifting guidance that is shared in these two areas, it’s easy for people to get caught up in quick fix opportunities, to potentially be misled and bounce from one idea/program to the next. They’re never really getting to the root cause of their health challenge, and in some cases their actions enhance the health problem all together. I’ve seen it too many times. Be your own best advocate, do your research and know that it takes a while for a body to get into a compromised position. It’s going to take time to turn it around too. What I know for sure is that it’s possible to increase the quality of your life regardless of where you might sit with health today. Believe it can be, know that you have a choice in every matter, and take it one step at a time.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

There is a big need for comprehensive, well-rounded corporate wellness programming for small to medium size businesses. Typically, resources and manpower are limited for these groups and it creates a barrier of entry for robust wellness programming services. We have created an amazing program called the Healthy Roots Co-op which will launch October 1, 2019. It affords any size business the opportunity to have big corporate wellness solutions for their team. The program is designed to accomplish three goals: 1) Create ease for the wellness champion of the organization. 2) Provide a high-value, comprehensive program that will transform lives. 3) Make it affordable for any size of business. Organizations are excited about it and we can’t wait to launch!

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

What originally inspired the business concept was a burning desire within me to teach people all that I wish I had known before getting sick. There’s always opportunity to increase our knowledge; the right knowledge empowers us to make higher-quality choices in life. It is our mission to positively impact as many people’s lives as possible, to enhance their health so they can live life to the fullest. The vision for the business is to continue to create useful content that can be disseminated from a stage, a computer, or a board room to help busy professionals achieve health and lead a fulfilling life as they excel in business. There’s no need to give up one for the other. We will continue to branch out into new industries and communities; everyone deserves the gift of healthy, vibrant living.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

As mentioned earlier, we are very excited about the Healthy Roots Co-op that launches October 1, 2019. Beyond that, I’ll continue to engage large audiences through keynotes, retreats and training and am starting to work on my next book! It’s amazing to me how new content is constantly brewing, it’s time I get a bunch of it on paper.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

The key initiative I must focus on for the success of the business is making sure that whatever it is we do, we do well. As a business owner it’s vital that I focus on the vision and mission, that I support my team to rise, to use their skills sets where best suited and help them continue to develop. I am aware of my areas of strength, it’s seeing the big picture, understanding industry needs and figuring out ways to offer solutions. But the details, the marketing, the design, this is where my team shines best. When we’re all provided the freedom to be creative, take initiative and follow our passions, we do well in all that we do and provide unique and high-value client experiences. My job is to support my team and execute well.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

Being a business owner was a challenge in the beginning. In my corporate life, I had one job to do, to either sell, train or lead. I loved it and thrived in the environment. When I became a business owner, I quickly realized that every part of the job, administrative, financial, sales, marketing, follow up . . . it was all on me. I struggled and it wasn’t until I started putting a team in place that the business had the opportunity to grow and soar to it’s potential. What I learned is that it’s often in the uncomfortable space where we best learn and grow. Hiring a team, delegating, and believing in them have only opened new opportunity for us and for our clients.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

When clients hear me speak, they should expect to be taken on a bit of a rollercoaster of emotion, to be challenged to think about their choices and how these choices align with how they wish to live life, or not. Some will say it was life changing and all should walk away feeling inspired and capable of making higher-quality choices that will help them transform one small step at a time. Everyone deserves to lead a healthy, vibrant life.

How do you motivate others?

Believe in them. Share the gratitude you have for them. Lead by example. Expect much and deliver more. Get to the root cause of any challenge and support them where needed. And of course, celebrate their success.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Be yourself. Know who it is you want to serve, and why and then develop great relationships with people in that area of interest. And as a business owner, stay true to your goals and aspirations; many people will offer you advice and council, just be sure to take the information that helps you in that moment and put the rest in your back pocket for later. If you do everything everyone tells you to do, when they tell you to do it, you’ll never stay on course to accomplish your immediate goals.

What do I do best?

Love. That’s what I do best. I absolutely enjoy filling my home with friends and family and sharing love through food and connection. Moments big and small, easy and challenging, ones that last a minute or a lifetime; I lead with love through all of them. It’s a great blessing to be a wife, mom, sister, friend, daughter. I’m not perfect by any stretch but it’s how I most enjoy participating in life.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I have to believe what makes me the best version of myself is grace and grit. Offering grace to myself as much as I offer it to others. Knowing that everyone is doing their best on any given day, and our best can fluctuate. A beautiful smile, a moment of grace and a simple prayer for someone in need can make a huge difference in a life. And grit. We just can’t give up. It’s not an option and there’s always another way. I choose to believe in all the possibility that exists.

What are my aspirations?

To continue to grow and learn, travel with my family, stretch my abilities and skill sets, and to inspire millions of more people to live life well.

My Biggest Success?

My biggest success is raising two incredible human beings. It’s an honor and joy to be called mom; I don’t think there’s any other role that I’ve put as much time into than this. And it’s so worth it. I love seeing the young adults they’re becoming, and it fills my heart to watch them live out their own passions.

My Most Challenging Moment?

My most challenging moment was sitting in that doctor’s office and receiving the news that I was to go home and prepare for a disease to take my life. I’m just glad that I chose to focus on preparing for a different outcome . . . living well!

My Motto?

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Personal: Maya Angelou. I admire her strength, grace and her amazing words of wisdom.

Business: Jia Jing. He provided me great inspiration for business growth.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I love the beach. Add in a great massage, hiking, swimming, biking and shopping and you’ve got one very happy lady on your hands!

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I don’t go anywhere without my doTerra Chapstick and essential oils. My favorites include Pastense, Deep Blue, Digestzen. Peppermint and Wild Orange.

My Current Passions?

Singing, leading my church women’s group, hiking with my friends and family, walking my dog, drinking green tea, reading, writing, listening to music (daily, all the time!), travel, speaking, board game nights with the kids and date nights with my hubby.

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My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Make high-quality choices in every area of life.

Thought of the Day: Always stay humble and kind.

Action of the Day: Get the top three things off the to-do list as soon as possible.

Deed of the Day: Making nourishing meals for my family.

Tip of the Day: Above all yes, be kind and true to YOU.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

The beauty that surrounds it. Anywhere you go, you have views of the mountains and rolling hills. I love the small-town feel, the sweet traditions and the accessibility to healthy fare. And last but not least, it’s full of wonderful people whom we’re blessed to call friends.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

My favorite place to eat breakfast is the Urban Egg. I usually get the hot quinoa that is beautifully dressed with coconut milk, fresh berries and walnuts. And sometimes a side of their nitrite/nitrate-free bacon does the soul some good

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – By now, I’ve read my daily devotion and thrown in a load of laundry. I make breakfast for my family and then it’s off to my home gym to exercise before I make a smoothie and begin the day.

10:00 AM – I’m at my standing desk probably connecting with a client or writing content. It’s also time to fill up my mason jar with round 2 or 3 of water.

12:00 PM – My favorite lunch spot is my kitchen table where I’m surrounded by bright light, peaceful pines, and my favorite tunes playing. I usually make myself a nourishing salad or eat leftovers from dinner the night before.

7:00 PM - We’re usually back from activities or arriving home soon. The family will sit around the table enjoying dinner, talking about the day and deciding whether we watch something for 30 minutes to make us laugh or play a boardgame together. An evening stroll with our dog Winston sometimes happens too.

11:00 PM – I’ve usually been sawing logs for a good hour by now, but on a rare occasion I’ll get a second wind and motor through a house project, watch a movie with my hubby or write. The quiet of the late night offers me the space for a lot of creativity and thought. Unfortunately, though, it usually ends with head bobs at my desk, or falling asleep after the first 15 min of the movie. I’m better off just heading straight to bed!

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I love green and enjoy a cup or two every morning. The rest of the day it’s water and maybe a Bubbly or Spindrift for a treat.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

My most used app is WhatsApp; we live quite a distance away from our family and this app allows us to share photos and videos in real time. As for Instagram, I’m a little behind the times and just started enjoying following people! My favorites include my daughter (of course), and Jasmine Star (The Social Curator). She’s real, she’s all about love and she creates high-value content.

What should everyone try at least once?

Whatever it is that scares the tuna salad out of you! Jumping into the ocean, ziplining through tress, speaking, dancing, whatever it is . . . you’ve got to just do it once! You’re going to feel a freedom you’ve never known before.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In music and nature.

My Pic of the Day:

This picture is of the 5K road race I ran to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of my diagnosis. My husband ran it with me and the kids did it too! My heart felt incredibly full <3

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Angela At a Glance

President, Essential Health & Wellness

Professional speaker, consultant, and author

Best-selling author of Feel Good, Look Good, For Life

Overcame the rare neuromuscular disease she was told would take her life

Writes for many publications on health and worksite wellness including USA Today, The Huffington Post, Careers in Government, Prostatepedia, Yoga+Life Magazine, and more

Worked in sales, training, and management and was Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Distance Learning Network

Relates well to the busy executive

Received her BBA and BA from Saginaw Valley State University

Certified Health Coach

Dynamic, big-hearted keynote speaker that inspires others in health everywhere she goes

Catalyst for healthy transformation: helped thousands of others lose weight, boost energy, rid the body of pain and regain a zest for life

Wellness Consultant for corporate groups

Offers private coaching and hosts community retreats

Passions include enjoying the great outdoors with her family, traveling to new places, and being a creative cook in the kitchen

Clients will tell you that Angela is a game-changer

Jessie Nagel: Co-Founder, Hype

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My Native Admission Statement: I am the Co-Founder of Hype, a boutique communications agency that provides brand-strategic PR, Marketing & Social Media services to creative companies. I am also one of the original Founders of Women in Animation, and I am a current Board Member of the Association of Independent Creative Producers (AICP), and Chair of the organization’s Care Committee. That’s the career me, anyway.

How did you get into the industry?

I graduated from university with a Film Studies degree, a passion for Cinema, and no sense of where to apply it. My cousin, who is akin to an older brother, owned an Editing Company in Los Angeles and he invited me to move from San Francisco to become his Assistant. It was a real-world graduate studies program in Advertising and Commercial Production, and eventually led to some writing opportunities for a small PR agency. In writing about creative process, I found a through-line from my studies and the path to my career.

Any emerging industry trends?

There has been an increase in brands aligning with causes, presenting ethos and product side by side. When done hallowly, it shows; however, when the narrative rings true and is presented astutely it carries great power. These are incredible storytelling opportunities for our clients.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Many people have become accustomed to free or inexpensive things -- entertainment and creative services being just two examples that affect us directly. It makes it increasingly difficult for the creative class to thrive. Like fast fashion or hasty tweets, we run the risk of becoming a throw away culture -- and that’s harmful to people’s livelihoods and our environment. We need to be adaptable in a way that enhances and bolsters, in that mindset there is opportunity.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

I was raised by feminist parents and have always had a slight anti-authoritarian streak, something I believe many entrepreneurs possess. So after years of working for others, it felt like the natural next step to launch my own company. I met my business partner, a Magazine Editor and Journalist, and she and I hatched the plan for Hype. It would be an independent voice for creative companies, a sassy, boutique communications agency with a “be it and we will promote it” ethos. The name Hype was a cheeky response to the perception many people have of PR.

What are my aspirations?

To help make the world a better place and to raise my daughter as a happy, healthy, independent person. I also strive to lead Hype into its future, and to one day have a show of my paintings. Those are just a few of the many things to which I aspire.

My Motto?

I vacillate between “Proudly Weird” and “Kindness Matters.”

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My earliest and most profound role models were and are my parents. They encouraged me to be inquisitive, inspired my love of travel and food, and showed me that it is always worth standing up for people and causes you believe in. My mother, perennially creative, reinvented herself in her 40s to become an Editor, showing me that you can always try new things or change direction. My father instilled an early love of film -- we’d watch and deconstruct them in discussions that would invariably include the larger themes touched upon within the celluloid frames. I am lucky to have a wonderful family and great friends. They keep me looking up at the stars.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

My favorite destinations are wherever I am going next -- the promise of discovery and upcoming adventure.

My Current Passions?

Painting is my enduring passion and lifelong companion. My teen daughter is an inspiration.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

As someone raised in Vancouver B.C. and who has lived in Los Angeles for many years, I struggle to know which is, indeed, my city. So in fairness to two magnificent and complicated places, I’d offer a few things I love about each:

You can never say you are bored in Los Angeles. There’s not enough time to experience it all, which I find exhilarating. I believe there’s something for everyone here; the trick is scratching beneath the surface to discover what version of Los Angeles best suits you. Los Angeles doesn’t reveal itself immediately because it is really many places and ideas and identities stitched together. It is known for being shallow. Only if you skim the surface.

Vancouver is glass towers against mountains, and tall trees dotting along the shoreline. It is a magical place to be in the summer when the sun fades late in the evening stretching the days into opportunities for many adventures. It’s a large city by Canadian standards, but where you easily run into friends. It’s cosmopolitan and neighborly at once.

Most used Apps: Most used Apps are: Podcast, Transit (works in cities around the world), and Instagram (@hypegirl is my personal, @hypeworld is Hype). I also love Chatbooks - a photo book creating App that I use after each vacation so that I have a hard copy collection of the images.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In a book. Otherwise, I am too much of a control freak to enjoy getting lost. However, if someone wants to lead the way on a hike or exploring a new place -- then I relish the opportunity to wander without knowing each next step.

My Pic of the Day: I think it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” This photo of me, taken by my dear friend Carmela at Zion National Park (a remarkable destination to be sure), represents that notion well. On life’s long path we can appreciate what is before us, the adventures we experience, all the while knowing who has our back along the way. And no, I don’t want to get lost.

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Evan Noel Cheurfa: Writer

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My Native Admission Statement: I’ve considered myself a writer of sorts my whole life but have only recently felt comfortable claiming it as a part of my identity. Writing has always filled me with a sense of pride and validation. After receiving my master’s degree in Telecommunications in 2014, I had difficulty finding my place in the world and was bouncing from job to job. In the summer of 2017, I created EvanNoel.com as a form of self-expression and release. Over the last couple of years, I have learned that I am the best version of myself, the best writer I can be, when I allow myself to be vulnerable on paper. My biggest hurdle at this stage in life was recognizing that to find self-fulfillment I must expect more of myself, creatively and professionally - outside of my titles as a mother and wife.

What do you love most about social media?

I love the access it gives me to share my writing. I think most would agree that the overuse of social media is detrimental but when used right, it’s a great tool. I try not to get too caught up in how I am perceived and focus on being my authentic self.

Favorite Places/Destinations?

I have some of my best memories in New York City. Living in Los Angeles, there is always a lot to see and do but NYC brings a sense of independence that I don’t have in LA - walking more and figuring out subway routes. I admire the architecture, the history; and of course, the food. Secondly, Amsterdam. I would describe the city to be dreamy and diverse. Only having spent 48 hours there, I need to spend more time there to give a full review. I would love to go again and explore.

Who are your role models?

My Father. He has always instilled in me the value of hard work. It took me too long to apply that to my life; which I have often regretted. I am making up for that lost time now.

What are your career goals?

This year, I have devoted a lot of my time and energy into my writing and really establishing my website, along with my image. I know my target audience is primarily young moms, but I am aiming to reach both women and men from all walks of life. I will be expanding my website to include healthy, step by step recipes accompanied with photos before the end of August. Ideally, I would love to be a published author within the next 5 years, creating meaningful and relatable content that comforts people. Ironically enough, my readers have brought me reassurance and confidence by consistently reading my blogs and providing encouraging and honest feedback.

How do you try to better yourself?

Each morning when I wake, I make mental notes of what needs to get done and what I want to do for myself. I used to have difficulty holding myself accountable and making small goals for myself ensure that I go to sleep that day feeling accomplished. Being a mother has simultaneously made this easier and harder. I focus on not letting exhaustion get the best of me.

Tip of the day?

Stop complaining. I cringe at myself when I realize I am complaining about something trivial. I live such a fortunate life; there is very little room for complaints.

Quote of the day?

“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must write it.”

– Toni Morrison