5 Ways to Get Support for Your Social Business

Courage and a healthy disregard for the word “impossible” are the fuel of dreamers and idea creators. But once you’ve conjured up that 100 million dollar idea, how do you get to the crucial part… resources? While getting funding and building a clientele list that can support your idea, that investment capital will be instrumental in whether you toss that idea onto the pile of experience or take that idea all the way to the bank.

Naturally, seeking out venture capital firms, crowdsourcing and dipping into your savings to keep your business or organization afloat are all ways to finance that next business venture. However, investment capital often extends beyond how much cash you’ve got behind you. Listed below are just a handful of places to get the resources you need to grow beyond your favorite dreaming chair.

1. The TED Fellows Program

Known for the quickest way to learn something new, interesting, or enlightening, the masterminds behind TED offer a fellowship program that grants selectees exclusive access to the visionaries that keep TED relevant and rich.

Photo courtesy: TED
Photo courtesy: TED

2. Ashoka Fellows

Leading the development of social entrepreneurship, Ashoka provides the social impact community with a variety of resources. Among them is the Ashoka Fellowship program that, after a rigorous selection process, provides a stipend to truly innovative changemakers to help them focus entirely on bringing their idea to fruition.

Photo: Ashoka Foundation
Photo: Ashoka Foundation

 

3. SOCAP Conference

Hosted on an annual basis in San Francisco, California, the purpose driven conference brings together the greatest minds in social business. With an impressive list of attendees and speakers, SOCAP will expand your network and maybe feed that insatiable dream machine that’s leading the development of your company.

Photo: SOCAP 2015
Photo: SOCAP 2015

4. The Grameen Creative Lab

Known by it’s initial mission of eradicating poverty through microfinance, the Grameen Creative Lab is leading the way to formalize the social business sector by building awareness, investing resources in social businesses, and providing guidance for those who are looking to make their business social.

Photo: Grameen Creative Lab
Photo: Grameen Creative Lab

5. USAID Global Development Lab

Responding to the rapidly changing needs of the developing world, USAID recently launched the Global Development Lab to harness the creativity of social innovators to address the needs their field teams are facing. Pick a focus area on their needs list and submit your idea on how to solve their global problem.

Photo: USAID Global Development Lab
Photo: USAID Global Development Lab

 

This is by no mean an exhaustive list. If your favorite resource is not listed above, leave a note in the comments below so we can incorporate them into the next resource list. Disagree with any of the listed resources? Tell us why in the comments below.

 

How to Break into the Media Biz, Nicely.

I remember being in front of the camera one day saying to myself “I’m a smart guy, I think I can learn how to do all of this.” So I did. – Carson Nicely

 

Photo Courtesy of Carson Nicely. Behind the camera.
Photo Courtesy of Carson Nicely.

I first met millennial entrepreneur, Carson Nicely, when he was studying Psychology at Rollins.  Born in Michigan, but came of age in Knoxville, Tennessee, Carson Nicely has been developing his career in the media world since before he graduated. Since I last saw him, Carson has lived in New York, Miami, Dallas, Nashville until he finally starting Nicely Made Media, a content media company  in Los Angeles.

How did you get into modeling/acting/photography?

In college, I was on the varsity swim team for Rollins. During a practice, one of my teammates told me there were Abercrombie & Fitch recruiters wanting to talk to me. I thought they were joking, so I dove into the pool to start swimming. It wasn’t until a few laps later when I looked over and saw a man and a woman in their late 20s wearing all A&F that I believed them. I ended up getting out of the pool and talking to them, which led to me being in 3 campaigns for Abercrombie over the next 3 years. After college when I lived in Nashville, I found an interest in acting where I would eventually be cast for over 20 music videos – mostly country. It was when I moved to Dallas that I started working behind the camera as a photographer. I remember being in front of the camera one day saying to myself “I’m a smart guy, I think I can learn how to do all of this.” So I did. I took it upon myself to study every resource I could whether it was an online YouTube video or meeting with professionals in the region to discuss their work flow.

What has been the greatest challenge in starting Nicely Made?

Courtesy of Carson Nicely.
Courtesy of Carson Nicely.

The hardest part of starting Nicely Made Media has been finding clients that trust my abilities. Even though I have credible work and examples to show them, I haven’t had the long running track record or any famous names to put behind my brand, yet. It’s getting easier the more established I am, but it will always be an uphill battle.

What has been the greatest success?

The greatest success for Nicely Made Media has been working with small business owners to create their online web content that they never would have been able to do before. In the past – they never would have never been able to create a quality video for their website or yelp web page. I’m happy to say we offer an affordable option that can fit all of their needs into a package that can also fit in their wallet.

Photo Courtesy of Carson Nicely.
Photo Courtesy of Carson Nicely.

What is the greatest concern you have for the Millennial Generation?

One of the largest concerns I have for the millennial generation is we are unlikely to have a better standard of living than our parents. With high levels of unemployment coupled with crippling financial costs for schooling, it leaves the millennial generation at a loss, even when working as hard as possible. The millennial generation thrives on change and innovative technology, but resents the baby boomer generation for their lack of interest or dedication to understanding this. This leaves a gap in the work force between newly recruited employees (millennial generation) and their bosses (baby boomers) which can hurt the bottom line of a company. Millennials believe success and upward mobility should be based upon knowledge and not seniority or time.

What is your greatest hope for the Millennial Generation?

With this being said – I believe the millennial generation has a lot going for it. They truly understand that a single voice can determine change, as can be seen throughout the social media outlets of today. With regards to business, they are not afraid to try out new ventures on their own despite the large risks of doing so. With this type of risk come many failures, but from these failures, new ideas are created and refined to a point where amazing products, services, and companies have emerged. A millennial may not have the same position in a company for more than 2 years, but they are interested in gaining upward mobility as quickly as possible. They would like to see their boss more as a mentor or friend, instead of someone who pushes papers onto their desk and says “do it”. While the unemployment rate of millennials is quite high – they are the most optimistic of any generation.

Courtesy of Carson Nicely.
Courtesy of Carson Nicely.

What is your advice for anyone looking to start a company like yours?

My biggest piece of advice would be to gain insight from anyone you can. Talk to the professionals in the industry, set up meetings, work an internship…etc. Literally everyone will have some opinion on what you can do better or worse, and you should take all of it into account before setting out on your own to create something. You may not agree with everything they have to say, but you should be able to learn something from everyone you talk to whether it’s a peer from college or a CEO of a fortune 500 company.

To connect with Carson check out Nicely Made Media on Twitter @CarsonNicely, Instagram @CarsonNicely, and Facebook.

 

Saving the World One Massage at a Time

“I feel fortunate to be able to unite both of my passions into my dream job and my business.” – Felix Estevez
Photo Courtesy of Felix Estevez of FeelXtra
Photo Courtesy of Felix Estevez of FeelXtra

As a millennial, finding your professional path is an overwhelming experience filled with self doubt and cues from competitive parents. For many, that experience follows the basic formula of graduate high school, get into an excellent college, graduate again and get an excellent job so you can join the successful people table. While many of us try to pursue that plan, others know that true happiness comes by  following their gut to take a slightly different path.

Meet Felix Estevez, a Founding Partner and current Client Relations Manager at FeelXtra Mobile Spa, Orlando’s leading mobile massage therapy company. With a team of about 15 to 20 therapists and technicians, FeelXtra brings the power of massage to any location in the Orlando area. Established in 2011, Felix has grown the company from running it by his self and his girlfriend to firmly gaining a place in Orlando’s small business community.

As a young boy, Felix started selling candy in middle school as well as customized t-shirts. Learning how to hustle allowed him to learn the persistence needed when becoming an entrepreneur. Then, in high school, Felix discovered he had the power of healing when he used to ease his sister’s severe back pain with  massage.

After he graduated high school, he tried community college for a few semesters. He knew almost immediately that he wasn’t going to get what he really wanted from a regular community college.  Instead he left pursue a career as a therapist at the Florida College of Natural Health . Before he even graduated Felix had already had a good sized clientele list and a variety of offer from several companies.

Felix and his girlfriend. Photo courtesy of Felix Estevez.
Felix and his girlfriend. Photo courtesy of Felix Estevez.

While at first he enjoyed the stability, it was during his first time travel to Colombia in 2011 that he realized that he was missing something in his work at home, something many millennials can relate to. It was then that he realized that he was ready to launch his own business. With the economy in the tank, starting a mobile massage business was extremely tough. Luckily for Felix, his girlfriend believed in his business and the two established FeelXtra.

At first, Felix spent a year trying to get FeelXtra into the Orlando malls. But during that time, Felix started researching ways to overcome this setback through business building tips and becoming an industry expert. In his research he discovered that the greatest challenges faced by customers was getting to their appointments. It was then that Felix decided to switch his business model and go mobile. As FeelXtra refined their model, they landed their first big client: a conference hosted in Orlando where 20,000  participants could get massages, mani/pedis and facials. It was a significant challenge that proved to Felix and his team, that FeelXtra as on the right track.

Photo Courtesy of Felix Estevez.
Photo Courtesy of Felix Estevez.

Since then, Felix has graduated from Valencia and moved on to getting his business degree from University of Central Florida.  Finding value in all the resources available to student entrepreneurs, and is living proof of the Grant Cordone’s Ten X Rule: When opportunity meets hard work you have to be prepared when that opportunity comes up you are ready for it. That kind of commitment to hard work is a quality Felix sometimes struggles to find among his peers. He often worries that they have given up on pursuing their dreams. On the other hand, he notices that there is a community of Millennials who are rabidly pursuing their dreams and doing whatever they deem necessary to get where they want to go. Seeing his peers at UCF showcase their companies and accomplishments affirm to Felix that millennials are on track to becoming the next great generation.

To contact Felix and the FeelXtra team check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instragam @feelxtra_ and join their community.

Enamoured with Millennial Fashion Designer, June Cruz

Enamour Denim Dress from the most recent collection.
Enamour Denim Dress from the most recent collection.

For most people, science and art are two career paths that should never intertwine. But, millennial fashion designer,  June Cruz it was her love of science that led her to her current business venture.

June always wanted to be a marine biologist. All through high school she spent her time learning all should could to become a researcher of the animals who exist just below the ocean’s surface. But her ever present creative side demanded her attention in college where she went on to also major in Fine Arts. Within her Fine Arts study, June dove into mixed media and learning how to bring textures and colors together to share a story. Never dreaming that her two passions would come together, it was through an internship at Baltimore Medical Center that allowed June to invest in her two passions; through producing anatomical drawings of the human body.

Now, while this may have been a dream come true, graduation was fast approaching and June had to choose: chase the dream or be practical and find a stable way to pay the bills? After her college years, June chose the practical path and started teaching Art.

Models Backstage Photo credit: Enamour Clothing
Models Backstage
Photo credit: Enamour Clothing

Although she loved her students, she often felt frustrated with the politics and felt that she just wasn’t at her best. It was only when she was designing clothes that she felt happiest and most confident. After a lot of deliberation, and some nudging from her now husband, June decided to get her design degree in a part time program.

Successfully balancing work and school, June was thrilled to receive several offers to work with larger design houses upon her graduation. Having always made the practical choice, she decided to finally go on her own and in October 2010, she started her own brand: Enamour. Since then, she has learned a whole host of lessons and refined her designs as well as her business savvy.

Her greatest lesson has been to enjoy and celebrate all of the little successes, “they are what keep you going.”  Recently, for June those successes came in the form of being featured in Style Week in Rhode Island, and having one of her creations at the Grammy’s. But June is quick to point to the importance of celebrating every success along the way.

The Grammy Dress from Enamour Clothing
The Grammy Dress
from Enamour Clothing

But with successes, come… growth opportunities. June’s first growth opportunity happened when she started getting orders for her first independent collection.  At the time, June didn’t know about how to go about buying her fabric in bulk. She was so excited about creating 12 perfect looks that when it came time to sell, four or five could not be replicated. Either the fabric was sold out or too expensive to scale. With her heart in her throat, she had to go back to those customers, explain what happened and deal with the consequences. Losing some customers and taking a couple hits to her reputation, June chose to learn from the experience. Now her designs are centered on the availability of fabrics to ensure she can deliver cost effective fashions, while building  credibility with her customers.

June and her daughter at a fitting.
June and her daughter at a fitting.

Looking past the cringe worthy experience, June takes pride in her successes. Her most significant has been starting a company in this economic climate. June now advocates that while starting a business isn’t easy, it’s completely doable. Knowing your market and connecting to your community are crucial for building your business. Making face time with her community a priority, June regularly volunteers for local organizations. Staying people centric has allowed June to focus on identifying who is her customer and finding those customers.

After going through this experience, June grows increasingly concerned about her fellow millennials. Will developing their passion projects on the side be enough, or will it negatively impact their desire to invest in their whole community? At a time when communities are defined by how many neighbors you can trust, June hopes that her daughter has a future where communities blossoming from the investments of it’s citizens, rather than decay from fear.

To learn more about the June and her brand Enamour, check out her site here and her Facebook here.

The Journey to Achieving Balance

Some might see graduating with a degree in English or Creative Writing as, well, extremely foolish, especially in our STEM focused society. But for Rochester based Liz Furl, to give up on writing would mean giving up on a critical part of her identity. Now, the Editor in Chief of her own magazine, Real Talk, and co-host of the rebranded Getting There podcast, Liz has crafted a life where she is chasing her dreams and keeping up with her career.
Liz Furl Photo Credit: Liz Furl
Liz Furl
Photo Credit: Liz Furl

Liz discovered her love of writing at the precocious age of 7. When she finished up her assignments before the rest of her classmates, her teacher asked her to write up a poem on happiness. She enthusiastically dove into the assignment, and then fell in love with writing. She went on to major in English and Creative Writing and upon graduation, hoped to continue developing her career as a writer.

But, the tough reality set in and Liz focused solely on finding a job and stopped nurturing her writing. When she found a good paying job as a customer service representative, Liz couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing, that she felt incomplete. So, she started to invest more in her writing. She pitched to a variety of publications, and soon was overwhelmed by writing commitments, performing at her job, and having time to spend with friends. One day, at her wit’s end, she had to face the reality that she couldn’t have all of that pressure to succeed at everything and still be happy. She started dialing back and evaluating what exactly she wanted at that moment. Frustrated by “click bait” pieces and “nostalgia porn,” Liz wanted to create pieces that people would find useful as opposed to something that would fill in their time.

Getting There Podcast
Getting There Podcast

That goal drove her to develop two projects: the Getting There Podcast (formerly Lady Bits) and Real Talk Magazine. Although both provide honest, real perspectives on the struggles that many of us are facing on a daily basis, Getting There is an uncensored collaboration with her friend Sarah Stewart. The weekly aired podcast started as a small project for the two friends, but through the power of social media, Liz was able to reach out to the executive producer of 5by5. Two and half months after they started the podcast, they were asked to join the network and have been hitting their stride ever since.

In addition to the successful podcast, Liz started her first magazine, Real Talk. With life inspired pieces from up and coming writers within the millennial generation, Liz is able to curate the honest writing she craved. Through developing both projects, Liz has found the creative outlet she needed as well as staking her claim in the millennial conversation.

And while Liz’s resume of accomplishments are impressive, they came about with their own fair share of challenges. For Liz, the greatest challenge came in the form of developing and adhering to a schedule. As most of her friends had structured and routine activities, Liz had only herself to get things done. Developing the discipline and the balance of paid work, passion project, and her relationships took a while of trial an error. Now, she sets aside her evenings for her new husband and to recharge for the next day, and leaves working on everything else for mornings and weekends.

Real Talk Magazine
Real Talk Magazine

Finding that balance was a tough process for Liz, and while she has finally found a way to make things work, she often worries about her peers. Having been told by parents and supporters their entire lives that they could do anything, millennials are often unprepared for what happens when life does not follow the plan. “The term the quarter life crisis has been created for our generation, because we are struggling with the disparity between our dreams and what it takes to reach that dream.” But as many millennials continue to develop “side hustles” and invest in passion projects, Liz hopes that millennials can find fulfillment in that way. Her advice for passion seeking millennials? “Just start it, and don’t be afraid to ask your idols for advice. They are your idols for a reason.”

To sign up for the Real Talk list serve, click here and to follow Getting There, click here. Liz can also be found via Twitter @lizfurl.

The Millennial with a Possible Dream

Volunteering. Its something that was weaved into our DNA from our very first bake sale fundraiser. With such an early practice of engaging and giving back to the community, millennials have earned their place among the most civically engaged generations.

While this usually leads to high political involvement, modern politics has turned into an awkward dance for most millennials. Not entirely pleased with available leadership options paired with an oppressive amount of misinformation, the data and facts driven millennials are often opting to tweet their views in lieu of casting their votes. And while we could point to a “tech addiction” among millennials, the big business of political campaigning creates a far less friendly climate for millennial involvement. Can it be fixed? If so, how?

Photo: Rio Tazewell
Photo: Rio Tazewell

For Rio Tazewell, regulating how political candidates can use donated funds will be the key to breaking down this barrier for all voters. As the Campaign Coordinator at People for the American Way, Rio has been building a movement to pass a constitutional amendment to regulate campaign spending.

But before his big move to Washington D.C., Rio started gaining public policy experience while in college. As a student he was involved in advocacy work to address climate change. Impressed by his dedication, a professor approached him upon graduation with the opportunity to help develop the Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy (AIRE).

While working with AIRE, he realized that there were so many great resources, but the community needed a way to connect with each other. He then founded the Boone Community Network, a social media platform designed to help community members build relationships. After years of personal and financial investment, and significant growth with the organization, Rio began to look for the a way that he could impact the world beyond the Boone’s borders. Having visited the nation’s capital on multiple occasions, Rio decided to pack up and move to the nation’s capital. A couple of months of job hunting and he landed his current position with People for the American Way.

Tasked with getting a constitutional amendment passed, Rio and his team are planning a campaign to get two thirds of Congress on board. If you’ve been paying attention, getting Congress to do anything is already difficult, but to get a solid majority? And while the challenges are countless,  Rio looks to the smaller successes. For example, about 6 months ago, their sponsors in the Senate presented the resolution called Democracy for All and it passed with by 54 to 42 vote.  That success serves as an example that an amendment could be possible.

But while this career success for Rio keeps him moving forward, nothing disappoints him more than millennials who give up on their dreams. Understanding that our generation is faced with unprecedented challenges, he also fears that we will run away from change as opposed to embracing it. And while Rio has his concerns, he hopes that we continue to explore and engage in our communities. Already we have more socially conscious organizations and people, that continuing on that path can only lead to a better society.

While the movement is still in it’s beginning phases, you can get involved with Rio and his team by joining their movement or donating.

Top 5 Lessons from Millennial Takeover Interviews

http://bit.ly/1CS9U75
http://bit.ly/1CS9U75

For the past 6 months I’ve been collecting interviews from millennial leaders from around the world. And while each one has been working on something drastically different, their insights have a lot in common. Inspired by the work that they do, here is my list of the top 5 lessons I’ve learned from the millennials I’ve interviewed so far.

1. Stop dragging your feet and go for it.

You could wait until the timing is right, but that may never come. The sooner you start working on pursuing your passion project, the sooner you’ll know if you’ve got a great idea. Not a single person interviewed has regretted the decision to take that leap of faith, so chance are you won’t either.

2. This is hard work… but it’s totally doable.

Most of these millennial leaders have been clawing their way to grow their ideas into actual entities. That has come from many late nights, weekend long work sessions, and a commitment to see the project through.
3. Don’t forget about your greatest asset, your sanity.

The whole purpose of building out your idea is so that you can be happy. When you are pushing yourself (and your support system) to focus solely on the development of this project so you stop sleeping regularly or eating, you are on a one way train to a breakdown. Those are never pretty and often damage more than you’d ever imagine. So get that sleep, get to that work out because if you aren’t on your A game, then your company/organization/project won’t be either.

4. You are not alone.

While the rest of your friends are hitting up happy hour after work or have an established routine, starting out on your own can feel isolating. Your schedule is designed to squeeze every minute out of it so you can be productive while their’s are structured and predictable.

Finding a community of fellow entrepreneurs is critical to remind you that you are on the right track and that you’ve totally got this.

5. Put your “why” at the center of everything that you do.

You will face set backs and obstacles, it’s an inevitable part of life. But if you put your “why am I doing this” at the center of everything you do, you’ll be motivated to keep pushing and keep creating.

I have gained so much insight from the millennials I’ve interviewed so far and I hope that you have gained a little insight from them as well.

Until next week!

From the Paper Chase to Solving Problems, Simply

Financial freedom is the driving motivation for many millennials. That goal often drives many to choose majors and career paths based solely on earning potential, rather than any other factor. But, what happens when you go down that path and discover that you would prefer to solve problems for other people instead?

Jared Gold, Chief Simplicity Officer at Brevity
Jared Gold, Chief Simplicity Officer at Brevity

Meet Jared Gold, the super connected Chief Simplicity Officer that founded Brevity,  a digital media marketing company providing tailored services to small businesses. But, if you had met Jared when he was a George Mason freshman, owning a business wouldn’t have been on his radar. Knowing he wanted to do well financially, he tried out a variety of majors that could get him there. From finance, to exercise science, then ultimately decided to major in Operations Management and I.T. systems. Attracted to the big picture thinking, and the scarcity of math, Jared was felt like he finally made it. Lucky enough to nab a good paying software company job, Jared was ready to start building his adult life. But, within the first couple of months, Jared realized that he hated that environment. Looking for a way out of the 9 to 5 grind, he read the 4 Hour Workweek and  it literally changed his perspective on everything.

Buy the book on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1aeib7V
Buy the book on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1aeib7V

Jared realized he didn’t want to spend his days waiting for 5 pm to roll around. Instead he started building a marketing solutions business that focuses on digital media. After a couple of months of doing a few pro bono sites by reaching out to potential clients, he landed his first paid client. That first client was Jared’s signal to commit.“I had to force myself to succeed.” So he quit his job and launched his business. Two years out and Jared knows he made the right decision.

But, what were some steps that secured his success? When Jared left his full time job, he had saved enough money to support himself during the most trying months of building his clientele list. Although maintaining the motivation to keep working towards that first client was not easy, Jared was able to focus on building his business instead of his finances.

However, his greatest success in starting his business was learning how to live without the fear of failing. Failure, for Jared, was not earning enough money to pay his bills. But, as he watches his business grow, that fear becomes non-existent. Through building Brevity, Jared has been able to learn his strengths, identify his weaknesses and become a networking machine.

As a millennial entrepreneur, Jared sees his generation in a slightly different light. Having worked hard for his current success, Jared is concerned by the attitude of many of his peers.

Many millennials live with this ‘”woe is me attitude’” and expect things to just come to them. By positioning yourself and networking to the right group, you can take control of your destiny.

This concern stems from the habit of the “work, party, rinse, repeat” life cycle that doesn’t help professional millennials take initiative or get ahead and eventually leads to unfulfilling lives. On the other hand, Jared is quick to point to leaders within the millennial generation as his source of inspiration.

My peers who are overcoming challenges and achieving their goals and are moving at a quicker rate than their predecessors. Our savvy and not being afraid to make it happen are unique to our generation. I think they are inspiring.

Jared’s drive to build a business he loves has lead him to be generous with his wisdom and resources he thinks might be helpful. Through Brevity, Jared has found his passion and himself.

How to be a Mind Reader, Like Netflix

The Problem

When planning out your career, forecasting what you’ll need in future can be daunting. While many skills may come to mind, it’s impossible to ignore the significance of data. With companies collecting information on our every move, all industries are going to need employees who can make sense of that sea of information. How does Netflix know what to recommend? Data. How do these new billboards know when to show you what image? Data. But, if you’ve avoided analytics and numbers, can you even learn how to use these big, scary, complicated tools?

The Solution

Meet Dmitri Adler, the founder of Data Society; a startup that’s helping everyone learn about data, but in an approachable way. Together with Merav Yuravlivker (Education Expert), Josh Touyz (Advisor) and a team of collaborators, they are helping professionals of all kinds begin to harness the power of “data.”

Through a custom built online platform, the team has developed a curricula that allows students access to real data from real companies to gain a real life understanding of how these tools apply. They’ve even interviewed every instructor to make sure they have the right personality, energy, and ability to break down the 0’s and 1’s for your average individual. With their first class launching this weekend, major corporate clients are already considering Data Society to fill the gap in their employees’ skill sets. By teaching these skills, Data Society hopes, as Merav has said, “That everyone becomes data literate enough to understand and use what they have.”

The Back Story

Dmitri Adler (left) Merav Yuravlivker (center) Joshuah Touyz (right)
Dmitri Adler (left), Merav Yuravlivker (center), Joshuah Touyz (right)

But how did this power team come together? Fittingly, Merav, Dmitri and Josh all met at various places in their schooling. Dmitri and Josh from elementary school, Merav and Josh from university, and Merav and Dmitri through Josh.

By maintaining their friendship over the years, the three were able to share insights from their very different fields. When Dmitri could beat his competitor’s capital gains using data science at his Wall Street job, Josh was perfecting an algorithm that could generate an almost perfect picture of someone’s life by simply using their Facebook profile. Merav was building her teaching skills in New York and obtaining her Master’s in Education from Pace University. Their vastly different backgrounds have provided the perfect needs for their online education company.

The Insight

Looking back at their journey thus far, the greatest piece of advice the team would provide is be intentional and do your research. With as many free tools, books, articles, and resources there has never been an easier (or cheaper) time to start a business. “What would have taken $10 million five to ten years ago, is now only costing $250,000,” said Dmitiri, who speaks from his experience as a JP Morgan Investment Banker. By surrounding yourself with a good team and following a specific plan, are crucial to giving your business the best chance.

The Perspective

As Merav, Dmitiri, and Josh are all millennials, they have hopes and fears for what once was termed “the Great Generation.” Systems behind education, interacting with the environment, and healthcare all need reform. With their respective experiences in these fields, Merav and Dmitri were most concerned with how our generation will be tasked with addressing these crumbling, hefty problems. In terms of hopes, they believe the millennial generation should take advantage of today’s tools to build businesses that enhance the human to human connections to make the world a slightly better place. As the great Steve Jobs once said, “Everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you.”

 

Not convinced? Check out Data Society’s site here and use the discount code DS100. If that kind of commitment is too much, check out their DC area Meetup group Data Driven DC. How has learning about data analysis helped you?

How Being Foolish Can Pay Off

Nestled in between an antiques store and a bike shop, Bikes, Beans and Bordeaux pairs the coziness of a local cafe with tastiness of your favorite sandwich shop. A cycling themed cafe, it attracts the full range of patrons making it the ideal location to meet with the inspirational Alex Hanse. Balancing a full time job with a clothing company, Foolies, and a podcast, Dream Without Limits Radio, would lead anyone to see this young man as a magician.

Photo Credit: Carey Mays
Photo Credit: Carey Ebanks

By inspiring young people the world over, Alex Hanse has staked his claim as an influential millennial leader driven by one thing: changing the world by inspiring others to follow their dreams.

Originally from Miami, Alex developed his talents in Sports Medicine at the University of Florida. After working in a variety of roles, a co-worker during his AT&T days encouraged him to pursue his dreams of working in the arts and entertainment industry. Taking that leap of faith landed Alex at Full Sail University where he truly explored his creative skills.

Driven to promoting powerfully positive messages, Alex and a friend took the risk and invested in their clothing company Foolies. Over time, they have built a variety of shirts that inspire with messages like “Have Faith without Fear” and “Dream without Limits.” Although his shirts were gaining traction, Alex kept finding other people who were also chasing their dreams. He was so inspired, that he decided that he had to share their stories through his podcast, Dream Without Limits Radio (DWLR). Since then, Alex has been giving back to his community by sharing his story by visiting schools, through his ebook A Shot of Espresso: Motivational Thoughts to Pick You Up, and a variety of other ways.

Photo  Credit: Carey Mays
Photo Credit: Carey Ebanks

While Alex’s wisdom is overflowing, the three top  lessons he’s learned along the way. First, pursuing your dreams isn’t hard, but you have to commit. Sleeping in until 11 am, isn’t going to get you there, you’ve got to put in just an hour a day and you will be able to move your project along. Second, if you want to engage a celebrity, or other higher level person with your project, you have to bring them an idea that has a plan behind it. Busy people don’t have time to engage in something that isn’t concrete. If you want that celebrity to get involved, make it so all the person has to do is say “yes” and participate. Finally, never underestimate the power of word of mouth. If you are working on something that you are passionate about, talk about it, get the word out there. If you find out about someone who is doing something interesting, talk about it. Don’t leave all the goodies for yourself.

Photo Credit: Carey Mays
Photo Credit: Carey Ebanks

Divulging every bit of Alex’s wisdom would probably break the limits of this blog post, but if you want to learn more about Alex and subscribe to his podcast follow this link here. If you want to check out the clothing that is impacting lives, check out his site here.

Are there other lessons that you have learned in your path to following your dreams? If so, share them below in the comments or on our Facebook page.