Introducing The Brand Behind The Cover Of The Latest Issue Of MoneyCentral Magazine: Mr. Gino-o

Cover Photography by: Bilgaer Photography

Mr. Gino-o, the visionary fashion brand known for its innovative approach to traditional Filipino attire, proudly announces the unveiling of its latest collection during The Miss Mardi Gras International Queen 2024 Pageant. The brainchild of Albert Prias, Mr. Gino-o has once again captivated the fashion world with its reinterpretation of the iconic Barong Tagalog, blending cultural heritage with modern style.

Mr. Gino-o’s latest collection, aptly named “Made For Men,” showcases a contemporary twist on the classic Barong Tagalog, seamlessly blending traditional Filipino craftsmanship with a trendy, globally relevant aesthetic. Crafted using Philippine-sourced materials such as abaca, jusi, pinya, banana fiber, inaul, inabel, and tinalak hand-woven cloths, each garment embodies the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines while catering to the international market.

“At Mr. Gino-o, we are committed to promoting Philippine products and materials while providing employment opportunities for Filipino artisans,” said Albert Prias, the creative force behind the brand. “With ‘Made For Men,’ we aim to showcase the artistic abilities of Filipinos and celebrate our cultural heritage on a global stage.”

The grand reveal of Mr. Gino-o’s latest collection took place at the Orion Function Center in Campsie, NSW, during The Miss Mardi Gras International Queen 2024 Pageant. The event, curated by Flagcom & Friends, not only celebrated beauty and talent but also served as a platform for raising awareness about issues facing the LGBTQI+ community.

“Mr. Gino-o’s collection was the highlight of the evening, showcasing the perfect fusion of tradition and modernity,” said a representative from Flagcom & Friends. “Albert Prias’s innovative vision has not only revitalized the Barong Tagalog but also promoted Philippine products and materials on a global scale.”

As the glittering lights faded and the echoes of the event lingered, Mr. Gino-o’s collection served as a reminder of the transformative power of fashion and advocacy. Through its groundbreaking designs and commitment to cultural pride, Mr. Gino-o continues to redefine the fashion landscape, one garment at a time.

Meet The Entrepreneur Behind The Cover Of The January 2024 Issue Of MoneyCentral Magazine: Elton A. Hollis III

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Elton A. Hollis III, the dynamic entrepreneur and owner of Hol-Tech Resources, LLC, is making waves in the business world as a sought-after consultant and influential figure in the Safety, Quality, and Compliance realms. With a career spanning over 25 years in the Oil and Gas Construction field, Elton has consistently demonstrated his commitment to excellence, leadership, and small business development.

As the owner of Hol-Tech Resources, LLC, Elton oversees a full-service consulting firm that specializes in providing comprehensive guidance and training in Safety, Quality, and Compliance. His expertise extends to the industrial, commercial, and small business industries, where he has earned a reputation for delivering top-notch consulting, training, executive coaching, and safety management services.

In addition to his role at Hol-Tech Resources, Elton serves as the General Manager of RT Technical Solutions LLC, where he plays a pivotal role in leading their team to the forefront of the Industrial Electrical and Instrumentation fields.

A dedicated advocate for entrepreneurs, Elton is a co-founder of the Golden Triangle Industrial Group and serves as the Vice-Chairperson for the Contractors Business Development Group. His passion for fostering small business success is evident in his involvement with marketing meetings, events, and mentor speaking engagements aimed at helping entrepreneurs flourish.

Elton’s impact goes beyond the boardroom, as he enjoys spending time outdoors exploring the Texas Hill Country on hiking trails. His commitment to empowering entrepreneurs led him to publish two insightful books, “Creative Problem Solving” and “Buy Into Yourself First.” The latter serves as a detailed guide on successful business development tactics, offering invaluable insights on making businesses more successful.

Recognized for his Small Business training grant work in collaboration with the Lamar Institute of Technology, Elton is well-regarded in the Safety and Training field. His dedication to small business success has garnered him features on the cover of international magazines such as Global Millionaire Magazine, InLife International, StarCentral Magazine, and Global Elite Entrepreneur Magazine. Additionally, he has contributed articles to Elitepedia, The Los Angeles Refine Post, and The Global Celebrity. VT Post has honored him by naming him one of the Top 100 Entrepreneurs in Texas.

Elton A. Hollis III stands as a true inspiration in the business world, using his experience, expertise, and voice to motivate and empower entrepreneurs on their path to sustainable life satisfaction and inherent success.

Through his leadership, advocacy, and commitment to holistic success, he exemplifies the qualities that can propel individuals towards not just business triumphs but also a deeply satisfying and fulfilling life journey.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently interviewed Elton to discuss his journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:

Could you share some insights into your 25 years of experience in the Oil and Gas Construction field and how it has shaped your approach to business consulting?

Having 25 years of experience in the oil and gas industry can bring immense value to any business. The oil and gas industry is known for its complex operations, rigorous safety standards, and demanding logistical requirements. I have developed exceptional project management, risk assessment, and problem-solving skills through years of working in this industry. These skills are transferable to any business, as they foster a strategic mindset and an ability to navigate challenges effectively. Moreover, the oil and gas industry operates in a highly regulated environment, requiring professionals to understand compliance and legal frameworks. This knowledge can be invaluable in ensuring a business operates ethically and within the boundaries of the law. Additionally, the oil and gas industry is at the forefront of technological advancements, such as digitalization and automation. With 25 years of experience in this industry, I have witnessed and adapted to these technological changes, making me well-equipped to drive innovation and optimize processes in any business. Overall, the extensive experience gained in the oil and gas industry has brought me a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and a unique perspective. The most important part of my experience has been learning that nothing trumps hard work, kindness, and doing whatever you can to help another person.

As the co-founder of Small Business Friday! Video podcast, could you elaborate on how this platform supports small businesses and what motivated you to initiate this venture?

Small Business Friday started as a way for radio listeners to hear some good news about local businesses in Southeast Texas. With guidance and wisdom from the late Fernando Ramirez, we were able to expand on this to include many other platforms. Joe Tant, I, and our Producer Matthew Chance have been truly blessed to meet so many wonderful people and listen to their stories of struggle, triumph, and everything in between! Our video podcast highlights local businesses, events, and stories in hopes of expanding their footprint and giving them a helping hand to grow their business. We are very fortunate to have show sponsors that allow us to do this for these folks free of charge! Our fearless leader, Joe Tant, is fond of saying, “Once upon a time, someone helped me; now it is my turn to help someone else.”

In your role at Hol-Tech Resources, LLC, you provide Safety, Quality, and Compliance guidance. How do you ensure that these critical aspects are effectively integrated into your consulting services?

I feel the best way I’ve been able to incorporate these aspects into my services is by truly taking the time in the beginning and listening to what my customer needs. Properly identifying the need is paramount to an effective solution. Secondly, finding a way to help incorporate this solution into the unique culture of their business is also very important. One of the most rewarding parts of this process for me is watching the ideas and suggestions take shape and mold into the best solution for the company. Lastly, keeping up with all the latest regulations, laws, and industry best practices is essential for me to be able to provide my customers with the best possible safety training, consulting, and advice.

As the General Manager of RT Technical Solutions LLC, how do you contribute to positioning the company at the forefront of the Industrial Electrical and Instrumentation fields?

A key element of being at the top of any field is to have a great team. I know this sounds like the same old song and dance, but it’s absolutely key here at RT! Most of our clients are end users, such as Kinder Morgan and TC Energy, which means they are on tight deadlines, and their bids are highly competitive. The team we have here has really embraced the concept of “value-added services.” Our Projects Team hits the ground running to ensure components are ordered, delivered, and processed as quickly as possible, while our Field Services Team puts it together to finalize a safe, on-time product. None of this could happen without having great ownership. Our owner, Kasey Taylor, is one of the best in the business at setting goals and allowing her team to get things done without micromanaging. We are also a proud, certified woman-owned business.

Being actively involved in Golden Triangle Industrial Group, could you share the group’s mission and the impact it has on the industrial sector?

Travis Woods and I founded the Golden Triangle Industrial Group. Our common goal was to form a group that would bring a unique and energetic business development event to Southeast Texas.

What challenges do you perceive in the industrial, commercial, and small business industries today, and how do you address these challenges in your consulting role?

I have identified three challenges that I deal with in my realm very frequently these days.

Difficulty in marketing and advertising, and competition from industry leaders.

  • I have two good friends at First State Bank of Texas in Beaumont. They have taught me the importance of sincere marketing. They have done this not by baiting me with rate discounts, but by showing up to support me, giving back to the community and being available. This not only fosters a belief in sincerity but also creates a deeper connection with customers who share those values. If you follow these basics, you can’t go wrong! Sometimes fighting the complacency of a comfortable business is tough, but if you want to grow, you need to be on the go!

Finding and retaining customers and avoiding reliance on one customer.

  • The best way I’ve found to combat this problem is to offer personalized solutions, provide excellent customer service, and diversify your customer base. These items allow you to spread the footing on your business to account for any ups and downs in financial or service-based issues.

Recruiting, motivating, and training staff.

  • This is such an important yet overlooked piece of business. Some great ways to help with this is by focusing on hard and soft skills, not just technical training. Next is to personalize the training to the employee skillset.
  • Utilizing multiple platforms helps break up the boredom that can come with training. Something else I’ve had great success with is actually having employees train one another when they are qualified. This grows comradery and fosters teamwork while also building a great foundation of excellence for your company.

Could you highlight a particularly challenging project you’ve encountered in your career, and how your expertise helped navigate and overcome those challenges?

One of the most challenging projects I have ever dealt with involved helping a client through an OSHA audit on an industrial site. This client had never been through an audit before and was rightfully stressed. We were able to navigate this challenge by essentially using the Golden Rule. We were very upfront and honest with the inspector. This allowed an open and direct line of communication for both parties. Fortunately, I have built a very impressive group of friends and colleagues in several different fields who helped us with advice to help in this situation.

Ultimately we were able to navigate this audit with no fines and learned some very valuable learning points for daily work procedures. This was another example of how relationships, hard work, and honesty help in all aspects of business.

With your extensive experience, what advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to succeed in the Oil and Gas Construction field or related industries?

To aspiring entrepreneurs looking to succeed in the oil and gas industry, here is some insightful and inspiring advice:

1. Develop a Deep Understanding: Take the time to thoroughly understand the industry, its dynamics, and the challenges it presents. This includes staying updated with market trends, technological advancements, and regulatory changes. The more knowledge you have, the better positioned you’ll be to identify opportunities and make informed decisions.

2. Build a Strong Network: Networking is crucial in the oil and gas industry. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with experts and influencers. Building a strong network can open doors to partnerships, collaborations, and valuable insights. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who can support and inspire you. Importantly, ALWAYS be looking for a way to help other people!

3. Embrace Innovation: The oil and gas industry is constantly evolving, driven by technological advancements and sustainability goals. Embrace innovation and be open to adopting new technologies and practices. Seek opportunities to leverage digitalization, automation, and renewable energy solutions. You can differentiate yourself and create a competitive advantage by staying ahead of the curve.

4. Focus on Safety and Sustainability: Safety and sustainability are non-negotiable priorities in the oil and gas industry. Make them integral parts of your business strategy from the start. Implement robust safety measures, prioritize environmental responsibility, and invest in sustainable practices. Demonstrating a commitment to safety and sustainability will not only protect your business but also enhance its reputation and credibility.

5. Be Resilient: The oil and gas industry can be volatile, with fluctuating prices and geopolitical factors impacting operations. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to be resilient and adaptable. Prepare for uncertainties, diversify your business, and have contingency plans in place. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and learn from setbacks.

6. Foster Strong Partnerships: Collaboration is key in the oil and gas industry. Seek out partnerships with suppliers, contractors, and other stakeholders. Establishing strong relationships based on trust and mutual benefit can lead to cost efficiencies, shared expertise, and access to new markets. Remember, success is often a collective effort.

7. Maintain a Long-Term Perspective: The oil and gas industry operates on long-term investment cycles. It’s essential to have a patient and long-term perspective. Avoid short-term thinking and focus on building sustainable growth. Invest in research and development, talent development, and strategic planning. Success in this industry requires perseverance and a commitment to the future.

Remember, entrepreneurship in the oil and gas industry requires a combination of industry knowledge, innovation, resilience, and strong relationships. Work hard, stay passionate, stay adaptable, and always strive for excellence. With dedication and a willingness to learn, you can carve your path to success in this dynamic industry.

As a multifaceted professional, how do you balance your various roles and responsibilities to ensure maximum impact and success in each area?

As a multifaceted professional, balancing various roles and responsibilities is crucial to ensuring maximum impact and success in each area. One strategy I employ is effective time management. By prioritizing tasks and setting clear goals, I am able to allocate sufficient time and attention to each role. This involves creating a schedule, identifying essential tasks, and delegating when necessary. Additionally, I believe in the power of delegation and collaboration. By leveraging the strengths and expertise of others, I am able to distribute responsibilities and work more efficiently. This not only helps me manage multiple roles effectively but also fosters a sense of teamwork and collective achievement. Lastly, I maintain a growth mindset and constantly seek opportunities for learning and development. By staying updated with industry trends and acquiring new skills, I am able to enhance my performance in each role and adapt to evolving demands. By employing these strategies, I am able to balance my various roles and responsibilities effectively, ensuring maximum impact and success in each area.

Unlocking Financial Freedom: A Surefire Guide to Passive Income Ideas For 2023

In today’s dynamic economic landscape, the quest for financial independence has led many to explore the realm of passive income. The concept of earning money with minimal effort is appealing, and with the right strategies, individuals can build a diversified portfolio of income streams that work for them. This article will explore various passive income ideas that have the potential to generate wealth and provide financial security.

Investing in Dividend-Paying Stocks

Dividend stocks offer shareholders a share of the company’s profits, providing a regular passive income stream. Diversifying a stock portfolio with reliable dividend-paying companies can create a steady cash flow.

Real Estate Investments

Real estate has long been a popular avenue for passive income. Options include rental properties, real estate crowdfunding, or investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). These investments can generate rental income or dividends with minimal active involvement.

Establish and Monetize a Blog/YouTube Channel

Building a blog or YouTube channel around a passion or expertise can be lucrative. Through affiliate marketing, sponsored content, or ad revenue, content creators can turn their hobbies into a source of passive income.

Peer-to-Peer Lending Platforms

Platforms facilitating peer-to-peer lending allow individuals to lend money to others in exchange for interest payments. While risks are involved, this can be a way to earn passive income through interest accrual.

Write and Self-Publish Ebooks

Self-publishing ebooks can be a source of passive income for those with a writing talent. Once published, ebooks can generate revenue over time without continuous effort.

Create an Online Course

Sharing expertise through online courses on platforms like Udemy or Teachable can result in passive income as learners enroll in the course. Regular updates and marketing efforts can keep the income flowing.

Automated Dropshipping Business

Entrepreneurs in e-commerce can look into dropshipping, which involves sending goods directly from the supplier to the client. With careful planning and marketing, a dropshipping store can operate with minimal day-to-day involvement.

License Your Photography or Artwork

Licensing your work for commercial use can generate royalties if you’re a photographer or artist. This allows you to earn income whenever your work is used, providing a passive revenue stream.

Conclusion

Building multiple streams of passive income requires initial effort and strategic planning. Whether through investments, online ventures, or creative pursuits, the trick is to develop systems that produce income with little continuous effort. As with any investment, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research and, if necessary, seek professional advice to make informed decisions that align with financial goals.

Meet The Shepreneur Behind The Cover Of The October 2021 Issue Of MoneyCentral Magazine: Em Hardwicke

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It took Em Hardwicke 40 years and the birth of her beautiful son to be truly comfortable in her own self, to love the person she is, and to be proud of her achievements and successes in life. Em’s son is her world. He is what inspires and motivates Em every day and she wants her son to know that anything is possible with passion, determination, and hard work.

It is this passion, determination, and hard work that has got her through some tough times and has given her the strength and courage to take on some big dreams and physical challenges over the years. She has trekked Kokoda, Everest Base Camp, Mont Blanc, Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro. She has also competed in several ultra-marathons including the Ultra-Trail Australia 50km and 100km. She does these things, not to stand on a podium or to break any records – but to remind herself of what she is capable of and of the beauty this world has to offer. Doing these things reminds Em to always be the best version of herself.

For Em, like for so many others, 2020 was a year never to be forgotten… Australia battled the Snowy Mountains bushfires in January then COVID in March which saw her get stood down from her job and ultimately made redundant – leaving her without work and her family not knowing what was next.

Not one to let a setback deter her from achieving her goals, She refocussed and at the age of 46, after 25 years in Event Management, she’s now embarking on a career in Real Estate and Property Management, which is exciting for her giving her a new focus. However, she also couldn’t let all of her knowledge and experience in event management go to waste, so she took the opportunity to rebrand and relaunch. Hence, her Event Management Consulting business, Meraki Events and Public Relations as well as The Meraki Academy of Personal Development and Coaching were born.

MoneyCentral magazine recently caught up with Em to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:

When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?

I have always had determination and have always been a bit of a self-starter, but I guess my entrepreneurial flair first revealed itself after a stint living and working overseas and when I returned home to Australia there wasn’t much full-time work available within my industry. So I decided to set up my own business and freelance – this gave me a lot of flexibility and the opportunity to take on a number of projects at the same time and really diversify my skills and experience in different areas, making me more employable and more valuable within the Event Management industry.

In addition to working full time, I have four small businesses of my own… Meraki Events & Public Relations, The Meraki Academy of Personal Development & Coaching, Soul Purpose Body Products, and Jindy Treats.

Photographed by: STUDIO 49 / TONY PALLISER 2021

How did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?

I have always loved being busy and have always loved having variety in my days and in my work, so I think the biggest change I noticed when working for myself was the ability to be able to choose the projects I wanted to work on and the variety that my workdays took on.

As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?

Definitely the rewarding feeling when you pitch and land a new client… or when a new retailer chooses to take on your product. But I think the biggest motivator for me is customer satisfaction. I have always said that customer satisfaction is paramount to my success. If my customers and clients aren’t happy or aren’t satisfied with my work or my products, then I am not doing my job!

In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.

Passionate and Determined! Okay, so I know that is two words, but I truly believe I have passion and determination in equal measure.

It has not always been an easy ride and there have been disappointments along the way, but I have always got up, dusted myself off, and landed on my feet and I know it is my passion and determination that has allowed me to do that.

Photographed by: STUDIO 49 / TONY PALLISER 2021

What were your top three motivations for starting your business?

Circumstance, necessity, and opportunity… that combined with absolutely loving what I do and doing what I love.

What do you put your success down to?

Passion, determination, hard work, and a strong work ethic. It is also important to know your clients and be clear on the services and/or products you have to offer. Don’t spread yourself too thin – you are better off being really good at some things than mediocre at many things.

What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?

For me, it was all about having a clear plan about the products/services each of my businesses was to focus on and a clear target market. Without clarity, there is no direction. Without direction, you have no destination. I once read a quote that has stuck with me and always reminds me what is missing when I find myself stuck, or in a rut.

“Clarity has purpose and strength and brings with it the undeniable ability to move forthwith into our chosen direction.”

This is when I stop, reflect, refocus and gain the clarity I need to move forward.

Photographed by: STUDIO 49 / TONY PALLISER 2021

What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?

I think there are always different challenges at different times. When I first started my business, my biggest challenge was getting my foot in the door and getting people to take a chance on me, particularly if I was completely unknown to them.

Another challenge for me was not selling myself short or undercutting myself just to get a job – you have to know your worth and be able to sell that to a prospective client.

Overcoming these challenges was a challenge in itself as it largely came down to believing in myself and not taking the knockbacks and lost contracts personally.

I found as I won pitches and landed contracts, the door opened a little wider each time. I also did a lot of research about salaries, wages, and contract rates, and how to quote a job fairly so the client felt they were getting great service at a rate that was affordable, but I was also still charging at a rate that I knew I was worth for the work I was doing.

Knowledge and confidence was a big factor in overcoming these challenges.

Knowing the market, knowing your worth, and being confident in your ability.

Does the loneliness of the entrepreneur really exist? Is there such a thing?

I have never found entrepreneurship a lonely venture. Perhaps this is because I have always surrounded myself with a lot of people and have also, more often than not, had another job to give me some stability and human interaction while I have been starting and building my businesses.

Photographed by: STUDIO 49 / TONY PALLISER 2021

As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?

Be clear on what your definition of success is for your business and do what is necessary to achieve those successes. Your definition of success will always change as the business grows, but so too does the plan and actions needed to achieve the new goals set for yourself and for your business.

My businesses are still small and all still growing at a pace I am happy and comfortable with. One of the biggest lessons I have learned along the way is to never let my business become bigger than I can, or want to, handle. I always remind myself that a business doesn’t have to be BIG conglomerates to be successful.

The other important leadership lesson I learned at a very young age, and one I apply to all aspects of my life. Always treat people the way you would like to be and would expect to be treated, and NEVER ask someone to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.

What do you hope to see happen in the near future for small businesses all over the world?

I truly believe small business needs to be nurtured and supported. There is absolutely a place in society and the world for big business and multi-national firms and operations, but I also believe that big businesses and multi-national firms are not the place for everyone, and nor should they be.

The pandemic has, in the blink of an eye, totally destroyed so many small businesses around the world and destroyed the lives of the people whose blood, sweat, and tears have gone into building these businesses.

I would love to see some of the big businesses and multi-national firms around the world, whose businesses have remained largely unaffected by the global pandemic, establish a series of small business grants to support many of these small businesses re-establish and re-build. There are a lot of amazing business minds in this world whose businesses have failed, by no fault of their own. Small business is an important part of society and all contribute to a country’s economy, but do not have the support and backing of deep pockets to keep them afloat when times get tough.

Photographed by: STUDIO 49 / TONY PALLISER 2021

Meet The Entrepreneur Behind The Cover Of The September 2021 Issue Of MoneyCentral Magazine: Danish Sayanee

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A veteran entrepreneur, Danish Sayanee is an internationally published author with 3 books published under his name on platforms such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Simon & Schuster. He is known for his innovative developments and affiliations in technology and STEAM/STEM integration at the school level – some of these affiliations include Microsoft, Google, STEM-ED Coalition, Common-Sense Education, and more. On top of that, he’s also the co-founder and director of the Institute of Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

A highly sought-after trainer, Danish is an internationally certified and licensed TESOL trainer from the Arizona University; he’s Pakistan’s very first CommonSense Educator, and he’s a Cambridge English trained agent which entails him to counsel students, teachers, and professionals on the importance of Cambridge English Certification. In fact, he has incredibly trained 3000 individuals including teachers, students, and other professionals. Danish also happens to be the first National Geographic Educator in Pakistan.

Danish has completed Business and Leadership Management from the Michigan University and he is also a Microsoft Educator, Adobe’s Master Trainer, and Intel’s Technology Partner, who’s currently working on his Teacher Training Licensing Program from London Teacher Training College OFQUAL Affiliated program.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Danish to discuss his journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

What are your standards for success? Is it a certain dollar figure?

My benchmarks for success are not measured by anything especially not by the monetary success of a man. I have set the standards of my success on two principles:

1. Your Effort should match your vision
2. Be true to your vision

I have stuck by these principles, worked hard, tried my level best not to deviate from my vision, and climb ascend Mount Success.

What do you think made you successful in business?

I was born not to be the sort of person who can comply with the rules that others set for him, rather, from an early age, I have been able to make people do what I wanted them to do, I feel that this being able to delegate, and process who does what best is a key factor that made me successful in business. Another thing is the fact that I can jump from the mountains but I can still stick to a vision. Often, businesses simply fail, or people running them fail because they lose sight of their vision.

How would you define true entrepreneurship?

The truest form of entrepreneurship is when a person can identify a true social gap and fill it up with a unique and innovative idea.

What inspired you to develop your idea?

I have always been a compassionate person by nature, this enables me to look at society from a unique perspective and this is the very perspective that I am able to translate into ideas. So far, my analysis of societal needs has been pretty much on point, and I hope that this will continue to be the case.

What were the main challenges you faced at the early stages of your business? And do you still encounter them to this day?

Challenges have and will always be part of my life, they are part of every person’s life. In Pakistan, the situation for budding entrepreneurs is tough, it is cutthroat most of the time. Some of the major challenges I have faced is the lack of investment availability, people are not willing to invest in businesses that will reap a profit in the long run but at a steady pace. Nowadays, people want instant gratification when it comes to reaping their investments.

What keeps you going even in hard times?

Interesting question! I guess the fear of failure is a huge motivator for me that keeps me going but another motivator is that I am a largely stubborn human being and hate giving up, this keeps me going on.

What are your thoughts on entrepreneurship for young people especially in an economy where jobs are harder to find?

Unlike what many people believe, entrepreneurship hasn’t arrived, it is here to stay, and entrepreneurship is the element that will create opportunities for Generation Z.

What strategies did you first use to market your business?

Hah! You will probably laugh when you hear what I have to say on this. I had no ideas about marketing strategies in those days, I had no idea how a business was supposed to be run. I relied heavily on social media platforms to spread our word and to introduce the business and promote it. As time went by, we invested in paid marketing and again we had no idea how it actually worked! In the end, all I can be grateful for is that our wild guesswork paid off.

How have your priorities changed from when you first started?

No, I guess not, my priorities have not drastically evolved over the years, but I have realized that for a man to succeed in a business, he needs to learn to give as much leverage to his team as they deserve, and not let them take advantage of you. I have always prioritized empathy and sustainability and have tried to ensure that I achieve the two.

Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?

Nah! I think I wouldn’t have succeeded as much as I have if I go back and undo my learning opportunities, I have grown and matured with time and my mistakes, my missed chances, even the moments of despair have taught me to be a better man and an even better entrepreneur.

5 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Totally Stressed And Overwhelmed

2021 has been a stressful year across the board. Even if you think you’re good at dealing with stress, there have undoubtedly been times this year during which you’ve had to use every trick in your book. And if you’re not good at managing stress, there have undoubtedly been times in which you’ve been desperately seeking an outlet for those overwhelmed feelings.

You’re in luck, because this article will furnish you with some useful tips and tricks to help you relieve some of your mental strain.

Nourish Your Spirit

If you’re feeling stressed, a good way of easing your troubles away is to connect with yourself. Spiritual pursuits, like meditation or prayer. Both of these practices can help to increase your sense of self-awareness, diminish feelings of anxiousness, and shift your focus off of your worries and onto something higher than those worries, like yourself, or your deity.

Exercise

This one may seem tricky if outside stress-compounding factors such as anxiety, depression, or physical limitations make the idea of exercise or activity seem daunting. But keeping active doesn’t have to mean high-intensity fitness training at the gym, or even organized sport. Take the dog for a walk. Mow the lawn. Watch an exercise video online and move or stretch along. Certain scientific studies suggest that regular physical activity may have similar effects on mental health as antidepressants due to the encouraged production of endorphins, the brain’s neurotransmitters that help to mitigate stress.

Do Something You Like Doing

If you’re a writer, write. If you’re an artist, create something new. If you’re a musician, play. If you’re a sportsman, head outside. If you’d rather binge watch TV, there’s a plethora of streaming services to choose from. Any constructive hobby is a worthwhile pursuit and can go a long way to giving you a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.

Get a Pet

If your life circumstances allow, having a furry friend can help with stress relief, as certain studies have shown that taking care of a pet can help to lower the blood pressure that stress can raise, and decrease levels of cortisol, a hormone sometimes caused by stress, and even make a person feel less lonely.

Unplug from a Busy Life

Sometimes, you simply have to escape, and that’s okay. Work will be there when you come back, and so will the news. Spend time with friends or family – or time alone – uninterrupted by your day-to-day activities. Taking a break from an otherwise busy life may also include a social media hiatus. You might find that the more you disconnect from the pressures of everyday living, the more you connect with yourself.

A Final Word

Taking care of your mental health is important, and even more so in these unprecedented times in which we live. And now that you’ve seen some ways to help combat stress, hopefully, you’ll be able to fight against it even harder.

Introducing The Entrepreneur Behind The Cover Of The March 2021 Issue Of MoneyCentral Magazine: Justin Wang

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Justin Wang is the CEO of PIA (Property Investors Alliance). He is the embodiment of the self-made businessperson. From unassuming beginnings to life as a property magnate – he now personifies the paradigm for financial freedom. MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Justin to discuss multiculturalism in the industry and here’s what went down:

Please Share With Us What Multiculturalism Means to You.

I came to Australia back in 1993 as a young, Chinese, Mandarin teacher. Luckily, the Australian Government heavily promotes multiculturalism in Australia and even encourages students to learn other languages. That’s why I was able to come to Australia, if the government of Australia wasn’t firm advocates of multiculturalism then there’s no chance I’d be able to go to this beautiful country. Because of my background of being Chinese, most of my staff, in the beginning, were also Chinese. But eventually, as the years went by, we expanded and opened our doors to various communities and people from different backgrounds. So now, PIA is made up of people from various backgrounds because embracing multiculturalism is important to me and my company.

Is there a way to help potential clients better understand why buying properties is a must in life?

Based on my personal experience, buying Sydney residential property is definitely the key to financial freedom. That said, making people understand the importance of our concept is a case-by-case basis because every single person has a different background and way of thinking. For example, with Chinese people, we usually follow a long-term wealth creation plan. So if you want to convince a Chinese person about getting into a long-term investment to accumulate wealth for their retirement – the key is to make them understand that buying a property is the best way to help secure the future of the next generation. That said, if you try to convince a young athlete to buy a property, for example, they won’t care too much about looking out for the next generation – they would care more about establishing their own retirement. So you really need to be flexible when it comes to convincing potential clients hailing from different backgrounds.

In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of working in a Multicultural Environment?

The real challenge is dealing with people of various backgrounds. Each person has their own set of cultures and traditions so the biggest challenge is making sure our message gets across despite everyone’s different nationalities. We always try our best, even though it can be quite challenging.

What Is Your Approach to Understanding the Perspectives of Clients From Different Backgrounds?

Getting your message across to people of various backgrounds may be very challenging, but I believe that the main recipe for getting your message across is “love.” It doesn’t matter what your background or nationality is, if you put yourself out there and love other people then other people will be able to genuinely feel it. Hence, I believe love is everything.

What are you doing to make sure people from different backgrounds are welcome in PIA?

Most of my staff in PIA are Chinese so I always brief them to be very sensitive when it comes to dealing with other people especially if they come from a different background to avoid any misunderstanding. I always tell them to smile and be friendly so that everyone feels welcomed in the PIA office. So far we’ve done very well because 50% of staff now are from other backgrounds while initially, it was 100% Chinese.

What are your thoughts on how the world will be different after COVID-19, and how are you moving to address that new world?

We all know that Covid-19 caused a massive disaster in the economy. But I’ve always believed that crisis actually creates opportunity. I believe this Covid-19 pandemic has woken a lot of people. When I say it has woken up other people, here’s an example: Back then when you ask someone to buy and accumulate assets to secure their financial security – they would’ve probably said no because they had a job or business so they had income coming through. Now when you talk about it in this day and age due to the effects of the pandemic, it has become important to accumulate assets as soon as possible since job or business security is not guaranteed. For example, as a real estate agent, you have to set up an office, pay for setting up the business, etc.. nowadays you can just work as a freelancer, using your car and laptop – since PIA is now online, anyone can run their business using just a laptop.

What is the greatest challenge that lies ahead for 2021?

2020 has definitely been tough for all businesses and various sectors. I believe the greatest challenge is figuring out how a business can survive or even grow in these tough times.

What opportunities do you see for 2021?

More and more people are more interested to buy in Sydney residential property despite the current situation. The traditional real estate business model is under threat so, this is a good opportunity for PIA to take over because we have a very cost-efficient model. From PIA’s current model, we are starting to create a new platform – Property Agency Alliance, to attract and empower stuggling agents to continually run their business.

Meet Jennifer Kem: The Shepreneur Who Lost It All & Then Bounced Back & Built 3 Million-Dollar Brand-Building Businesses

Jennifer “Jen” Kem is a San Francisco Bay Area-based branding and marketing expert who gets entrepreneurs seen, heard, and paid – for being themselves.

She’s the creator of the Master Brand Method: a framework to develop powerful brand archetypes that win customers’ hearts, leveraging Jennifer’s 17 years of corporate experience and her launching of multiple companies.

She uses the Master Brand method in digital strategy coaching for emerging entrepreneurs, celebrity brands like Oprah Winfrey Network and Steve Harvey, and major corporations including Verizon, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Bank of Hawaii.

Jennifer serves up straight talk wrapped in love because she understands entrepreneurs’ challenges: She built a retail business and became a millionaire at 32, only to lose it all in the recession two years later. She is now the successful owner of three million-dollar brand-building businesses and the mother of three children.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Jennifer to discuss her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself?

I grew up in the sugar plantations of Hawaii watching my grandmother transition from sowing seeds in the fields to becoming our family’s first entrepreneur when starting her own in-home elderly care business. Inspired by her example, I launched Hawaii’s first brick and mortar lingerie store in 2006, becoming a self-made millionaire at 32 years old. Then, disaster struck as the 2008-2009 financial crisis swept me clean of all financial reserves. I lost my store, my staff, and my beloved grandmother all at once.

After wrestling with grief and depression, both natural consequences to all I had experienced, I began to understand that I had a choice: I was given the opportunity to rebuild and could do so with more power, more wisdom, and more resources than the first time around. I decided to start a service-based, recession-proof brand consulting business. Within a few years, I developed my own marketing process called the Master Brand Method: a framework to develop powerful brand archetypes that win customers’ hearts and encourage them to open their wallets, and opened the Master Brand Institute.

Today, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and share tools and resources to serve small business leaders in this time of economic crisis. I’m proud that I can utilize all of my past experiences to serve other leaders and continue to contribute to the stability and growth of the economy.

Can you describe your journey to success?  

As a little girl, I always had big dreams inspired by my grandmother’s mentorship. When I grew older, I began to notice that I had sort of a sixth sense: I could smell money in opportunities. This served me well as I began my career in B2B branding and marketing for technology companies, winning them large, lucrative contracts. When I decided to fly solo and redirect my natural business instincts and corporate experience to entrepreneurship, I naturally felt both the rush of possibility as well as the shakiness of risk. My success grew just as quickly as it failed, with both the realization of wealth filling me up and the plummeting into pennilessness draining me once more.

But I had babies to feed and big dreams to fulfill, so I began again. With the support of family, friends, and mentors, I was able to leverage my past as a successful brand expert in corporate settings and an entrepreneur to build yet another business venture. I used my sixth sense, smelling the money in opportunities to find quick, and this time, lasting success.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am focusing on serving the small business community. This means I am gathering resources to keep them in the market, promoting branding strategies to help them sustain their clientele during the crisis, and foreshadowing how they can thrive faster post-quarantine. Additionally, I am creating a community for small business leaders so that they have competent and compassionate support that will fuel them so that they can stay true to themselves, their families, their businesses, and their brands during this stressful stage in history.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers?  

At Master Brand Institute, we have developed a tried and true way to ensure businesses will be successful from their marketing campaigns. One, they must understand their brand archetype, which will define their essence, vision, and communication style. Two, they must invest in a deep knowledge of the understanding and motivation of their ideal audience. Three, they can integrate visual aesthetics that promote the brand’s values to attract customers. Four, they can practice an activation process of testing, iterating, and launching successful products. Five, they commit to amplifying their brand, their products/services, and successful campaigns to a variety of platforms and audiences, with confidence and an ownership mindset.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

I believe in the power of brand archetypes, which is a term coined by Carl Jung, a renowned Swiss social psychologist. Archetypes can be defined as recurring stories or characteristics that make up human behavior. Understanding your own archetypes can help you to assess what talents come naturally to you and where you might need support in the development of your brand and business. There are 12 primary archetypes: the Maverick, Ruler, Sage, Explorer, Ruler, Lover, Alchemist, Creator, Provocateur, Healer, Hero, Muse, and Advocate. Each person is a conglomeration of three archetypes: Dominant, Intrinsic, and Intuitive. Your dominant archetype defines brand visibility and values. Your intrinsic archetype, or your secondary, helps decide your brand identity. Lastly, your intuitive archetype supports you in all decision making. Each archetype has a light side and a shadow side. Understanding where you will shine and where you need help shining will set you up for brand success. Using the dominant archetypes in your messaging, email and social media campaigns help create authentic resonance and make people trust your brand more.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Besides the brand archetypes methodology that we use, we use a values-driven framework called the Master Brand Method and Brand Authority Map that specifically lines up what the brand stands for and how it helps its audience. Ultimately people buy things because they are clear on how a product/service helps them in their lives, and our Method and Map allow our clients to market more effectively because of how clear they are in what they deliver.

We also emphasize storytelling – because, in any niche, the only thing that truly sets you apart is your stories, both your authority and your approachability stories. When your brand tells a better story that connects with your audience, you enroll clients on demand.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Canceling all of our live conference events and shifting them to online conferences for the rest of the year. In-person platform events are one of the biggest ways we make revenue not just for our company, but for our clients we consult with too. So adapting and pivoting to a purely online delivery took a lot of choreography, modified marketing, and increased fulfillment. It also takes different types of people resources to create an online experience in the same realm as an in-person experience, so there were additional training and sales expectations to be modified.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from?

During the 2008-2009 recession, I believed that I could continue to expand my lingerie business in a failing economy against the recommendation of my financial advisor. I expanded without increasing cash flow and went deep into debt. At the time, I thought that in order to have integrity as a business owner that I needed to pay off all of my debts even when I had no money coming in. This was a huge mistake. I ended up paying thousands of dollars in debt only to go bankrupt anyway a year later.

Today, I coach entrepreneurs to focus on gathering cash reserves to utilize in times of crisis. I encourage them to find trusted financial advisors who can accompany them honestly and safely throughout their business cycles. I also counsel business owners to consider bankruptcy if they get stuck financially, without holding the societal shame. Bankruptcy was created so that business owners could start again and utilizing the system is very much in alignment with being a person of integrity.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

I came from a family that immigrated to the United States because we had so little and dreamed of so much. I am grateful for the privilege that my family passed down to me in their hard work and have continued that diligence to bring more wealth into my family. I enjoy the wealth I have while recognizing that so many other families are on different stages of their wealth journey. I always hope to empower people into more wealth through sharing my insights in personal and professional contexts, as well as gifting portions of my abundance to those in need.

What new business would you love to start?

I am currently building two platforms to help women acquire affluence and influence that I’m super excited about! One, Femmefluence, is a podcast that sheprenuers can listen to in order to be guided in topics from soul research, to tribe building, to brand mastery. Additionally, The HerQ is a women-focused co-working collaborative space in Walnut Creek, California that will open as soon as the Coronavirus Pandemic has passed and we’re all safe to inspire each other through collaboration in common places again!

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would have hired a mentor sooner than I chose to – both in the business world and in supporting my personal development. Coaches, therapists, and consultants have been critical partners in my growth as an entrepreneur, and I believe in investing in them before you “need” them and especially before you think you can afford one. The goal of hiring experts to help you is not to make you better at what you’re already good at – the goal is to hire them to help fill the gaps and navigate the blind spots, which we all have. And, create a wealth-building strategy early by paying myself forward with an IRA, life insurance, and estate plan. I have one now but would have definitely liked to have started one earlier.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My first mentor at work was a woman named Maria who had the life I wanted. I asked her, “If I want to have what you have in the next 10 years, what do I have to do?”. She said: “If you take the jobs (projects/tasks/things) that no one wants to do, you’ll get seen, heard, and paid more than anyone else in your field.” She was right.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Build a network of support internally and externally! Understand your inner voices and motivations. Listen to the ones on your side and learn to reframe the ones who challenge or limit you. Hire a coach or therapist if you need support in this work. Otherwise, find peers to normalize what you’re going through, mentors to lead you to where they are, and mentees who you can coach to remind you of how far you’ve come. This support network will carry you past obstacles and into a sustainable success!

One On One With The Woman Behind Some Of The Biggest Gym Chains In The World: Selena Short

Selena Short’s business acumen was revealed quite early on in her life and in a most unusual way. Short reveals that “as a kid, while others played games, I played shops, would even make up raffles to sell. Actually, I would raffle off my Mum’s frozen chickens, without her knowing about it, sorry mum!”  From that nefarious beginning, Selena Short has built for herself not only an incredibly successful career but one that is full of passion and purpose.

If one hears of a big-name fitness club, chances are Selena Short has had a hand in it.  The New Zealand native holds a Master’s Degree in Commerce from Victoria University in Wellington and has been working in the fitness industry for 18 years.  A fortuitous move to Hong Kong (having previously worked for Air New Zealand as a Business Analyst) gave her the chance to apply for, and secure, a job as Marketing Manager for California Fitness Centres (CFC).  She shares that “over the 7 years with this company, I worked my way up into a senior role as Vice President in charge of Marketing and Human Resources.  I managed an annual marketing spend of over US$5 million and oversaw the HR for over 2,000 employees across 6 countries (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia).”  When the company was sold in 2005 for a record $1.6 billion US, Short made enough from her shares to be able to make the move to Australia in 2006 and start her first gym.  She reveals that “alongside my husband and business partners Mark Mastrov and Eric Levine we started V Club, a revolutionary concept and a gym that won the best gym in Sydney 4 years straight.  Since then we have grown the business into 10 Crunch gyms across Sydney and Melbourne.”  Selena was also involved in opening the first international locations for UFC Gym and Hard Candy Fitness, the fitness company started by music superstar, Madonna, and her manager, Guy Oseary.

It’s obvious that Selena is passionate about fitness and health.  But the 46-year old is also passionate about, she shares, “seeing people grow in their unique gifts and purpose…we have over 750 in our team who are responsible for close to 55,000 members, I get to equip our teams to inspire and motivate people to live better…I love building strong teams that are on a mission to help people ‘perspire to greatness’…if our business can help someone become stronger and be healthier, then we will have played a part in helping them live their life to the full.”

Massive success has the unfortunate side effect of warping one’s sense of self-worth and sense of entitlement.  But nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to Selena Short.  Take for example her revelation of what has been the most memorable experience of her career so far: “Opening the doors of our first owned fitness club for the first time will always be a defining moment…it is a moment I relive with every new club opening to this day. I am personally on site helping set the club up and finish the final clean! I’m there on opening day and I do the first workout with members. But right before we open our doors I pause and say a little prayer for all the lives we are about to change from that day onwards! It’s powerful, we impact communities!”  This from a woman who has worked with stars such as NBA legend, Magic Johnson; model extraordinaire Cindy Crawford; UFC President Dana White, and NBL Australia’s Executive Director, Larry Kestelman!  The half Kiwi/half Cook Islander directly attributes her continued humility and down-to-earth nature to her Christian beliefs – “I believe I am positioned where I am today because it is God’s plan.  All I had to do was obey the signs and work extra hard for it.”

Any successful business entrepreneur got to where they are because there were people who influenced them along the way.  For Selena, these included her business partners, Mark Mastrov (founder of 24 Hour Fitness) and Eric Levine (founder of California Fitness).  But perhaps the most influential, and who provided the impetus for Selena to start her own gym, is movie legend, Jackie Chan.  She fondly remembers “working with Jackie on design concepts for a Jackie Chan-endorsed California Fitness Centre.  He wanted a whole lot of crazy concepts in the club, I was the only one who would tell him ‘no’, but together we came up with some cool ideas!  Jackie spoke life into me, it prompted a confidence in me to move on to start my own business.”  In China, Chan’s philanthropy is as legendary as his acting career.  Short recounts attending Jackie’s 50th birthday party where the action star became annoyed at guests who gave him big, flashy flower arrangements.  He growled that he preferred to be given money – but the money wasn’t for himself.  Selena shares that “he then sent his team out into the party with buckets for all his guests, the who’s who in Hong Kong to take off their expensive watches and jewelry and donate it to his causes.  I love that he is not just about his movies and business, but is driven to help children living in poverty in China.”

The now Sydney-based wife and mother of 3 continue to have big plans to inspire others to ‘perspire to greatness.’  She shares that they “plan to continue to grow our business in Australia and possibly into New Zealand.  We have a few new clubs in the pipeline now.  We are also going into franchising, I look forward to mentoring franchisee owners and helping them build their own fitness businesses.  Personally, I am starting a foundation to help support women and families through health and fitness initiatives.”  And it all started with a few frozen chickens!  But, as Selena shares, you must figure out your ‘why’ first.  She emphasizes to “figure out what it is that you are passionate about.  What gets you out of bed.  What gets you excited.  And go for it!”  She passionately urges others to actively seek their calling, put in the hard work for it and enjoy the ride – “When things are going well, enjoy it, you’ve probably worked hard for it. When things are tough, don’t give up but fight harder, you are just being shaped for greater things to come.  Love the saying, tough times don’t last but tough people do!”  And there is no better example of this advice than Selena Short herself.

‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen – ‘Moana’

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Tiare Teina (Gardenia flower) because it is my favorite reminder of home Cook Islands – from the gorgeous white flower to the beautiful unique scent – it’s my sense of home.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could?  Trace my ancestor’s steps back through New Caledonia and Samoa, my sister’s idea I love.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” sail across the Pacific Islands in a vaka

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? Oh, so many!  I am highly competitive, can cause over-the-top behaviour!

How This Couple Made The Leap From Rock Bottom To Successful Entrepreneurs

James and Steph Purpura’s journey of transformation is nothing short of extraordinary. Before they met 15 years ago, both of their lives had hit rock bottom. Depressed, bulimic, hopeless, running away from an abusive relationship, and suffering through decades of silence after being sexually abused as a child, Steph at one point tried to commit suicide in a hotel room. James, on the other hand, was filled with self-hate and rage at the world because he felt abandoned by everyone and everything. He eventually turned to drugs and then petty theft to fuel his addictions. Later on, he found himself in prison, locked up in solitary confinement.

At the lowest point in their lives, they met and were united by a shared vision of creating and becoming more. They started the only place they could by working on themselves and helping each other grow. They believed in each other but more importantly, they challenged each other every step of the way, and never settled.

James and Steph Purpura revealed that those tragic events actually became the catalyst for dramatic life changes that brought them together, and their discovery of the keys to unlocking their perceptions, challenging their beliefs, and changing their behaviors. But it took years of trial and error using their relationship to test new ideas, theories, and practices with each other. As they created a new life together, James and Steph formulated an evolutionary plan for living that resulted in tremendous personal and professional success. Now their hugely successful Powerful U events and programs are changing the lives of millions.

Their mission is to provide a roadmap for creating meaning in people’s lives, showing them how to master their perceptions and their emotions, the two factors that separate life of desperation and unhappiness, from one of joy, love, and accomplishment. According to James and Steph, “Everything you are, everything you see, everything you experience, is determined by perception. And it is your emotions that give your life the only meaning it has.”

Money Central magazine recently caught up with James and Steph Purpura to talk about their journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Please provide background about how the two of you met and how the world’s first personal evolution company, Powerful U came to fruition.

How we met is a topic of great debate around our house because we both have different stories about how it went down. But most people seem to believe Steph’s version of the story! We both worked in the same office building, but not for the same company. I saw Steph walking in the parking lot and held the door for her, (Steph swears we were 150 feet apart) but to me, it was more like 10 feet. Anyway, she walked through the door and I walked in after her, she became flushed once she realized I was holding the door for her. Steph was walking to the elevator when she turned around and introduced herself, and then we didn’t see each other until the next week. Later on, we had an awkward encounter in the parking lot where I asked Steph really odd questions like “do you eat” and somehow I convinced her to go on a date with me. The next morning I showed up in her office asking her to go to lunch with me and we have been together ever since. When we met, we were both coming out of the darkest periods of our lives and we had nothing. I was a year out of jail and Steph was 4 years out of a brutal suicide attempt. We started with nothing and were both committed to re-building our lives into what we always dreamed they would be. Years later, we sold our worldwide tech company, and started Powerful U, as our way to give back through sharing the knowledge we learned on our climb out from rock bottom.

Many are calling “Powerful-U” a movement. What are its basic fundamentals and why do you think it’s being referred to as this?

We are encouraging people all over the world to embrace and share their stories because your story only has power over you when you keep it inside. When someone has the courage to share their story it unconsciously permits someone else to do the same. If there is a movement, it’s because we are giving people permission to stop hiding from their past and embrace the power of vulnerability.

What do you find most rewarding through Powerful-U?

Giving people hope. When people tell us that our event or content pulled them out of the darkness and saved their lives. It’s truly incredible knowing that the work we are doing is having such a powerful impact on people.

What types of people tend to gravitate toward the Powerful-U platform and who would you consider your main audience?

Seekers, those who are hungry for the knowledge to shape and change their lives. People who are not afraid to question every aspect of who they are.

You have been extremely successful in various technology ventures, including that of PlanSwift. What has been the biggest challenge shifting from that world to Powerful-U?

The hardest part of transitioning was leaving the world of logic and numbers to the world of emotions and personalities. Embracing social media was very difficult for both of us.

What advice do you have for other business owners struggling to make a footprint in today’s competitive world?

Most business owners quit just before things take off, so if you feel what you’re doing is right and provides value to others keep pushing forward!

What life moments have made the two of you the successful people you are today?

Always pushing each other forward through our biggest fears, and challenging the false and limiting beliefs we had about ourselves.

What would you consider your personal missions in life?

Steph: I just started a subset of Powerful U, called Powerful Women. We had our first event in February 2020. I want to help women find their voices and step into their personal power.

James: To help and change the world into the place that I want my kids and grandkids to live in.

What career goals do you have, after accomplishing so much to date?

We want to make help available to people all over the world so they will have the knowledge they need to transform their lives.

Tell us about your award-winning documentary titled “Perception: Seeing is Not Believing” and your experience as first-time filmmakers.

We wanted to demonstrate that everybody’s life makes perfect sense when put into the right context. We want to give people awareness into what elements create their lives and what they need to know to change. Making a film was both easier and harder than we thought it would be. It was easy to film a lot of compelling content, and it was hard deciding what to use in the final cut.

Do you plan to continue in the world of film and pursue a bigger picture in this space?

YES! We have some future projects in mind that we are really excited about producing.

Who do you consider to be the most interesting and impressive people?

People who have the courage to stand up and question/challenge everything about themselves and the world around them. We are constantly reinventing ourselves and we fully understand how challenging that can be and we respect anyone who attempts to do the same.

You now have a Powerful Universe APP available for smartphones, iPads, and tablets. What drove you to create this, outside of your thirst and natural ability to thrive in technology?

The model to distribute independent movie is broken because filmmakers don’t get access to any of the customer data on the big platforms. We initially launched the platform as a means to distribute our film and it morphed over time as a way to deliver subscription content.

Which social media platform do you feel is the most powerful and why?

Facebook is still the king because they have the most flexibility in the type of content you can post

Where do you see Powerful U in 5 years? 10 years?

As an ecosystem for people who need a platform to deliver compelling content to seekers from every corner of the globe.

How do you separate work from family, considering you are married with children and work together. What is your secret?

We wake up an hour before our kids every morning and meditate together, to make sure we remain connected and on the same page. We make an effort to eat dinner together most nights as a family.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round — feel free to answer individually

1. Last good movie you’ve seen: JOKER- Even though it was extreme, they did a really good job of portraying the impact of mental illness.

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Our children- Seeing the beauty of their individual personalities.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Tour Europe.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” Enjoy our lives more fully.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? We wouldn’t change our past, because it’s taken everything we’ve been through to become the people we are today.