Tag Archives: millennials

A Look Back: JD Casto and what Pulse meant to him.

Flag and Sky

It has been a little over a month since my hometown community was faced with the country’s worst mass shooting, words I would never attribute to the city in the shadow of the Mouse. Below is the story of a dear friend of mine who pushed himself to exhaustion to be there for the Orlando community. 

While the world came together to mourn the tragedy of the Pulse nightclub shooting, Orlando resident, J.D. Casto opened his heart and home to anyone who needed a safe space. Originally from Ohio, J.D. attended Rollins College and since graduation has been building his career as a photographer, videographer, and community organizer. Having chosen Orlando as his home, the events of June 12 hit particularly close to home.

Gay Chorus and Anderson
J.D. Casto is here on the left.

Even though he did not lose any close friends that night, the attack was personal. Pulse to J.D. is “a safe place to have fun and not be judged” and was a welcoming place for all kinds of people. In fact, his first time to the nightclub was with a group of straight male friends later in his college years.


The last time he went to Pulse, he was invited by his straight guy friends to go out on a Tuesday. With excellent drink deals, the guys just wanted to enjoy a chill environment. J.D. remembers that the crowd was truly representative of the diverse community in Orlando.


As the dust settles and life slowly returns to normal, J.D. was quick to point out that while we may focus on the gun control debate now, there is a larger issue at play. “We need to reform our education system. Without that, our communities will continue to only see differences and continue to be divided.”

The images above were made possible by J.D. Casto Photography and you can find his work on Facebook and Flickr.

Happy 2016! The Perfect Time for a Pivot.

One of my early supporters of the Millennial Takeover, Patrick McKelvey provided creative direction and never ending enthusiasm.
One of my early supporters of the Millennial Takeover, Patrick McKelvey provided creative direction and never ending enthusiasm.
Another early supporter of the Millennial Takeover, Jewel Jennings Wright, provided enthusiasm as well as structural guidance to building the blog.

When I first started this blog, I did all the research to figure out what the heck I was doing so that I could give this blog the best shot possible. With a firm set of rules in mind, I started to build out content to meet meaningful metrics: a post a week, at least four social media interactions a day, etc.  And over time, the influence grew and I was seeing results. As things got harder at work, the more I pushed on the blog, until the predictable happened: I burned out.

I had to travel to Afghanistan for work and I was nearing burn out with the blog. Frustration, fatigue, and disappointment started to settle in and I was not delivering the quality product I wanted to deliver. When I tried to maintain the momentum once I arrived in Afghanistan, I just gave up. It was too much to be devoting the kind of energy my job needed to then go back to my room and sit in front of my computer (again) to write  about things that felt so far away from where I was. So I put blogging aside with every intention of picking it back up when I returned home. And I tried and tried, but when I came back the reverse culture shock had me questioning everything, including my initial intentions for the blog.

The Millennial Takeover was designed to spotlight kick a$$ millennials in a world that loves to hate them, that wants to put them back into the 1950’s boxes of polite and predictable society. Even using the label “millennials” has placed our entire generation into yet another box, into the plan that every “good” citizen is expected to carry out. As my generation continues to grow up and morph the milestones (car, house, etc.) for the lives we are crafting, we are recreating the world to the way we want it to be, no matter how bad it hurts in the process. And I want to share their stories to demonstrate how we are disrupting the way the world works.

One of my favorite writers and long time friend, Megan Almasi and her husband Erick.
One of my favorite writers and long time friend, Megan Almasi and her husband Erick.

So, while I debated on giving up entirely on this blog and the incredible progress I was able to build over 2015, I simply couldn’t. The Millennial Takeover has become such a key part of my development that I could not close up shop and move on to something else. Instead, I am making some adjustments. This year I will be posting twice a month instead of weekly and I’ll be featuring posts from my dear friend Megan Lanier. 2015 ushered in for Megan a whole slew of “adulthood milestones” that her and her husband have made their own.

As The Millennial Takeover makes this pivot, I want to thank you so much for being with me through the ride so far and look forward to your feedback in the coming year. Happy New Year!

Looking back to my first Startup Weekend

Recently, I went to my first ever Startup Weekend event. Focusing on social impact, the whole 54 hours was devoted to finding real scale able solutions that have a positive impact on society. While I went to check out what the event was all about and stretch out my business savvy muscles, I learned so much more about myself as well as the field that I so desperately wanted to join.

But how does a startup weekend work exactly? Imagine a mini conference with the requisite check in table, swag giving and name tag collection. Then, at least in my case, sheepishly scan the room for a friendly face and a place to sit through the impending talk that gets participants in the right mind set. After about an hour of that, participants are invited to pitch their ideas and the top 10 or so become the businesses that will be developed over the weekend. Once the 100 or so participants are released they search for a group that will hopefully win the competition for best business idea. That’s when the gloves come off and the race to build a validated business is on.

While our team did not win the competition, the experience itself allowed me to learn some very valuable lessons. The top three are below.

1. Just because you have an idea, doesn’t mean you’ve got a business.
There were a ton of inspiring and seemingly solid ideas that were pitched during the weekend. But the businesses that rose to the top of the heap, were the ones who were able to clearly articulate who their customers were and had proven that they would be willing to pay for whatever they were offering.

2. Shiny object syndrome is a real thing.
When you are trying to develop a project from an idea, having an unwavering commitment to your mission is crucial. Without that focus, your idea quickly becomes a Frankenstein of features that don’t have anything to do with the original intent. This doesn’t mean that your idea can’t change and evolve, but the original problem you are trying to solve needs to be the center of your work until you can prove that it’s not a problem people are willing to pay to solve.

3. Building and keeping your team engaged is half the battle
Getting a group of very passionate people together can be energizing and motivating. You are exploring ideas with each other and all of a sudden anything seems possible. While idea development is a ridiculous amount of fun, getting your team to go from the idea to actually testing your idea is the only way to know if you’ve got a business or a fun idea.

So if you are looking to take your idea and test it out in the real world, find a Startup Weekend event in your area.

It Takes Being Lean to Play Lean

“We’ve only just tapped into the beginning of the potential.” – Tore Rasmussen on teaching Lean Startup.
Test playing in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Photo Credit: Playing Lean
Test playing in Rotterdam, Netherlands with Co-Founders Tore and Simen.
Photo Credit: Playing Lean

Taking an idea and turning it into a business is risky and the likelihood that you will be successful by copying and pasting someone else’s business model will only seal your fate as another failed startup.But how can an innovative millennial founder-to-be get over this potentially idea killing situation?

Meet the masterminds behind the incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign for Playing Lean, the board game, Simen Fure Jørgensen and Tore Rasmussen. Based on the Lean Startup Method, Simen and Tore built a teaching tool that simulates the process of rapidly building a successful business. Made famous by Eric Ries in 2011 by his book, The Lean Startup, the Lean Startup Method is centered on building the simplest prototype, testing it and gaining customer feedback, and then applying those lessons to improve the product. Today, the framework is deemed an essential piece to building a successful startup.

How I found them

I discovered Playing Lean by participating in the Lean Startup Academy’s Meetup, “Playing Lean.” At the time, I had heard of Lean and understood the basic principles, of “build, measure, learn” but, wanted to learn more. As luck would have it, I was able to join a testing group for a board game, Playing Lean. After 2 to 3 hours of maneuvering the prototype and relentlessly trying to push the boundaries of the game, I gained a greater appreciation and understanding of the importance of Lean.

Photo Credit: http://blog.necomputersolutions.com/
Photo Credit: http://blog.necomputersolutions.com/

This experience was not unique. For the past 18 months, Tore and Simen have been traveling throughout the U.S. and Europe testing low level prototypes. Organizing a variety of groups tests of the game and carefully documenting the interactions with the product led the duo to gaining 500% more than their goal on Kickstarter within a year and a half of the first prototype.

How They Started

But how did these two meet and create a game as well as an educational tool? Simen worked as an IT consultant and often had to teach the Lean Startup Method to groups within these larger groups. Simen searched for tools and teaching aides to help his clients grasp the concept beyond just reading the book. One night, while playing board games at home the idea came to Simen to create a board game version of the Lean Startup Method. Within months he had created tons of prototypes and gained some feedback, but it wasn’t until an inquisitive grad student, Tore, was able to join Simen did the team begin to assemble.

Bringing his programming expertise, Tore was able to help Simen address the technical aspects of the game. They wanted to build a game that would take 90 minutes to play while still allowing players the ability to firmly understand Lean.

More test play. Photo Credit: Playing Lean
Using Lean to build the game, get customer feedback often.
Photo Credit: Playing Lean

Lean Challenges

Through their first iteration they faced many challenges. First, they failed to raise capital through their first Kickstarter campaign. Second, they struggled to get the scenarios just right. To properly address it, they had to be willing to toss out good work, 200+ of it, all in the hope of building the right product. But through each challenge, Tore and Simen continued the process to build, test, learn.

By taking the game out into the U.S. and European markets to their ideal consumer, not only were they able to build a better game but they were also able to build a massive following. That following, paired with new team members and the guidance of Lean Startup evangelist, Ash Maurya, Playing Lean was fully funded in 10 hours and is now available here.

Lean Successes

Ash Maurya, Lean Celebrity Advocate Photo Credit: Playing Lean
Ash Maurya, Lean Celebrity Advocate
Photo Credit: Playing Lean

Although laden with challenges, Tore points to seeing people playing the game and have moments where they clearly see how their last project went astray. “It’s not like reading a book. You have the euphoria from winning and the pain of losing,” says the millennial co-founder. Seeing those moments, Tore hopes that Playing Lean will save entrepreneurs tons of money and time in their business’s future.

Lean Advice

Looking back, Tore’s greatest piece of advice is:
Really challenge yourself. For example, if in the testing stage ask if what you are doing is the absolute MVP (Minimally Viable Product) or is there a way you can make it cheaper and faster to get that learning.
For more information on Lean Startup visit Eric Ries or Ash Maurya or buy the game from Playing Lean here.

Why Millennials Won’t Be Defeated

Today’s blog post is the 50th! And as a testament to the true mission of the blog, promoting snake people, I mean millennials, who are creating impact in our world, over the last couple of days there have been several articles that heaped on the fears and doubts if any millennial hoping to live a happy life. For example, this Vice News video does an overview of how our economy is changing. By the end of it, the expert panel paint a patchwork economy vastly different from the one we’ve prepared for. I closed the tab feeling a sense of dread for this “new” economy and fear that I have played all the wrong cards during my 20’s.

After taking a sip of my white wine and some deep breathing, I realized that the fear and panic I was experiencing  was inherited baggage from our older generations. The rate at which things are changing, it is absolutely terrifying and creating a panic across all of society. Think of it this way, 7 years ago the first Iphone was premiered and fundamentally changed the way we use phones. Now, everyone has a smartphone and are using them to make money. Millennials are perfectly poised to capitalize on all of these changes for the following reasons:

1. We are young.


Although I often feel as if I’m 45 and I’ve figured everything, there’s a greater sense of relief that I have at least 30 years to correct my life’s course. This also applies to my peers,  what ever past mistakes we have made we have plenty of time to make our way to a life that works for us. Having that much time is a very precious gift that our parents would often kill for. As my roommate always says, “Most successful people started from a different place than  where they are now.”

2. We are creative.


Never have we had the opportunity to express ourselves in mediums beyond the classical arts. So keep working those Insta filters, embracing your creative side not only improves your mental health, but the future economy will heavily rely on out of the box thinking and doing more with less.

3. We’re resourceful.


Yes, the Great Recession was terrible, I lived in Florida at the time, I can tell you stories. The dramatic shift of a spend happy middle class to one losing houses and jobs which lead to feeling, and still dealing with, the pinch of stagnant wages and rising costs. Whether we’re building money saving apps or embracing the DIY instructions from Pintrest, we’re finding ways to save here and there.  Creating that kind of value is what our future economy demands, and millennials have completely embraced it.

4. We are thirsty for knowledge.


Cited as the most educated generation , our incessant consumption of media demonstrates leads one to believe there is a strong desire for knowledge.  According to this Entrepreneur article, millennials spend 18 hours consuming media material.

 5. We are strategic.

With the rise of Postmates, Uber, Lyft and, others, millennials have found ways to create an income that funded by a variety of sources, and have time to socialize. Making the world work for us will be critical as we cope with this rapidly shifting economy.

The Takeaway?
So the next time you are faced with the inevitable millennial tear down, take the time to sit back and identify all of the ways you’re getting ready to handle the quickly shifting economy. No other generation will be ready like we are for this evolving economy, no matter what it ends up looking like.

Closing the Deal by Disrupting the Sales Community

“Take action! A small step is better than no step at all and you learn so much along the way. Take those steps.” – Ian Adams, Senator Club
Photo courtesy of Ian Adams
Photo courtesy of Ian Adams

Open up your newsfeed and you literally can’t escape the overnight success stories of today’s startup world. It seems like every enterprising millennial is solving a problem and in turn, making a six to seven figure payout. But, with our rapidly shifting economy those of us who aren’t giving up stability to pursue an idea, can be left in a vulnerable position. In a time where one is lucky to find a job, especially with benefits, figuring out how to stay two steps ahead to be ready for the next job isn’t a hobby; it’s a survival strategy.

Laying the Groundwork

No one has figured that out quite like Ian Adams, the founder of the Senator Club. Senator Club is a social club for junior sales professionals who want to get ahead. Inspired by the popular corporate sales incentive of President’s Clubs, Ian created a way to help junior sales people get the tools they need to meet or exceed their sales goals. Starting out as an informal meetup group, the Senator Club now caters to over 400 members. With networking opportunities and expert speakers, Senator Club has helped members find new jobs, develop new skills and simply get ahead. Focusing on the needs of this demographic has allowed Senator Club to develop a following beyond who goes to their events. A growing Twitter presence as well as being featured on Inc.


Taking the Leap

Quickly, Ian realized that the heroic tales of overnight startup success couldn’t be further from the reality. For a year and a half, Ian watched his first two ventures fail and learned a wealth knowledge from it. The most important lesson for Ian was the importance of work/life balance. Ian had left finance to get away from the 60+ hour work week and working as a startup founder did not meet that goal.

Following the end of his second startup venture, Ian decided to look for work at an established company in sales. With his experience in the startup world and finance, Ian believed that his transition would be a smooth one. However, in the span of 3 months, Ian went to 27 interviews and received one job offer. Those odds left Ian shocked and decisive that he would not let himself land in that position again. Like many millennials, he found tight competition at every turn and tried to make a diverse work history fit a narrow job description.

Steli Efti for the Senator Club.
Steli Efti for the Senator Club.

Reeling from the  arduous job hunt, Ian realized he probably was not the only career changer to go through that experience. By establishing the Senator Club in July 2013, Ian has been able to build a growing and supportive community that has helped younger professionals strengthen their ties, close deals, and play a crucial part in their career development.

But, building a community of sales professionals is filled with its own set of challenges. First, and by far the most challenging,  is identifying a specific vision. At the beginning, clearly defining what resonates with his audience and creating value based upon those findings required a lot of testing and trying what worked best. Once Ian found that vision, conveying a relevant message that would have value 5, 10, 15 years from now became his second most pressing issue. Once, messaging and vision became clearer, Ian has been faced with managing business operations. These challenges allowed Ian to learn his greatest nugget of knowledge,”there is always more to learn, there’s never a point where you stop learning.”

Hiro Rodriguez at Senator Club
Hiro Rodriguez at Senator Club

While frustration may mount as Ian navigates the issues of early business implementation, his greatest success has been witnessing the genuine relationships that develop within the group. This was never more evident for Ian than when he was laid off from his first sales job. At the time Senator Club was just gaining traction. Let go from his job just days before the next Senator Club meeting, Ian shared with the group that he was back on the job market.  Within days a member of the club connected Ian with contact that lead Ian to find his current job. Witnessing the value Senator Club has provided to Ian and other sales professionals to the Bay area has made the journey all worth it.

From investment banker to founder to sales professional, Ian Adams has gained a wealth of knowledge and insight through his various experiences. His goal setting advice:

Really be clear in your big goal in what you want to accomplish, people fail get too into the details and not the big picture. When you keep an eye on the big picture the pieces will come together.

If you would like to connect with the Senator Club, you can check them out on Twitter, their website, and Youtube.

How Improv Comedy Is Changing Lives

Be Present. – Coonoor Behal

Photo courtesy: Coonoor Behal
Photo courtesy: Coonoor Behal

Some of the most iconic comedians to the millennial generation (i.e. Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Joan Rivers) have built incredible careers on their early careers in improv. While it’s most common use is to entertain in shows, like Saturday Night Live, one millennial has harnessed the power of improv to help her clients gain a more collaborative perspective on their work life. Improv comedy is centered on the ability to communicate and innovate with others. By learning how to accept the creativity in others and use it to build a story, improv comedy can often adjust the way we see working with others.  But how can improv principles be used build better organizations, better communities?

Mindhatch in action
Mindhatch in action

Meet Coonoor Behal, the millennial mastermind behind Mindhatch, an organizational and customer insights firm that is guided by the principles of improv.

Offering services in design thinking, innovation facilitation and organizational improv, Mindhatch is impacting the way team members collaborate with each other. She does this by walking groups through a variety of games and then moderates a debrief with the group. No session is ever the same as she tailors her workshops to the needs of each client.

Coonoor at Work. Courtesy of Mindhatch.
Coonoor at Work. Courtesy of Daian Glover Photography.

For Coonoor what inspires her most is seeing her clients’ moments of clarity, where she can see them actually shifting in their perspective. The most noteworthy moments have taken place during the games, “Yes, And…” and “Solution Circle.” Although each game has a unique approach, both games are used to teach  what happens when we justify other’s ideas. “Spoiler alert, everyone immediately recognizes that more ideas and more fun happen when we say ‘Yes!” Learning how to engage and support, even the craziest of ideas has allowed participants to experience a collaborative and innovative culture. That type of culture, often attributed to hip tech companies not non profits or traditional companies, can be applied to any work environment. As Coonoor demonstrates, it is simply a change in mindset.

The Prologue

But, Coonoor wasn’t always crafting improv inspired ways to foster collaboration. In fact, Coonoor started her professional path by searching for a way to impact the world. By obtaining a Master’s in International Affairs, Coonoor then chased her dream of creating change in the world with her first job at a non-profit. Stifled by the inflexibility that often comes with grant funded work, Coonoor left the non-profit world to work as a consultant with Deloitte Consulting.  Through a variety of projects, Coonoor grew within Deloitte and perfected her abilities in a variety of ways, specifically design thinking. Her most significant experience came Coonoor landed an opportunity to work with the Deloitte Global Innovation team. With Deloitte Global Innovation, she helped clients find the connections between business and creativity.

At the same time, Coonoor began taking improv lessons in her spare time. She quickly discovered her talent and passion for improvisational comedy. Inspired by improv and finding a market demand from her work at Deloitte, Coonoor began to feel like she was ready to start her own business. By “focusing on merging business and creativity through design thinking, organizational improv and facilitation” Coonoor was ready to launch Mindhatch.

Photo Courtesy of Mindhatch
Photo Courtesy of Red Turtle Photography.

With Mindhatch, Coonoor has built a diverse clientele list and creates unique tools for each one to help her clients address their most pressing needs through experiential learning. For example, one of her clients wanted to master the art of going “off script” at donor meetings. Using the principles of improv, together they were able to build up that’s client confidence in that skill as well as engaging in more informal conversations with donors. Another wanted to set the right foundation for her new team. Desiring a creative and innovative team dynamic, Coonoor designed a workshop that helped them set that tone. Through Coonoor’s work, her clients have been able to sharpen their abilities in connecting and working with other people .

Looking back, Coonoor’s winding journey had many stepping stones leading her to start Mindhatch. Like many millennials, she is driven by the need for impactful work that allows her to be challenged and creative. By starting her own business, Coonoor has been able to meet her professional needs and in turn , is creating value for communities actively looking to change things up.

If you want to connect to Coonoor and her team at Mindhatch, you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter or check out her website here.

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.