Dr Michelle Rozen: Rising Through Resilience; Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient

Dr. Michelle Rozen: Rising Through Resilience; Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient

Love and accept yourself. Resilience can only happen if you love and accept yourself the way you are. If you don’t love yourself, how strong can you actually be? Think of it this way: resilience is the ultimate from of belief in yourself and the best gift that you can give yourself.

In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Michelle Rozen.

Dr. Michelle Rozen, PhD is a game-changing, revenue- building, performance-boosting change expert, keynote speaker, and respected authority on the psychology of change. She is an author, a Huffington Post contributor, and a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC, ABC, FOX News, and CNN. Dr. Michelle’s rare blend of audience engagement, killer take-away strategies, and instant connection with the audience have made her one of the most unique and memorable speakers on the stage today. Her latest work is around “2-Second Decisions”, helping people to master time management and power through decision making in turbulent times. Dr. Michelle consistently speaks for Fortune 500 companies and her clients include some of the most recognizable companies in the world including Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, and The U.S. Navy. She holds a master’s degree and a PhD in Psychology and resides in the greater NYC area with her husband, three kids, and two dogs.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

It all started on a rainy, windy day, on October 11, 2008. I was 37 years old and I felt that my life sucked. Back then, I’d meet my good friend at Starbucks at 7am every Saturday morning before our kids woke up. One day, I told her how much I hated my job and routine. She looked at me and said, “Then change it. Go to school and change your path.”

“I wish I could,” I told her while holding back the tears. “My kids are so young, and they need me. Adam is in a startup and never home. One day, when the time is right, I’ll do exactly that.”
She gave me a sharp look and then told me something that changed my life.

“Michelle,” she said, “you just don’t get it, do you? Your kids will always need you and Adam will always be in a startup. Go and sign up for classes this week, and tell me next Saturday that you’ve done it.”

I looked at her puzzled. That never crossed my mind. I never thought of it that way.

SO, I REGISTERED. I COMMITTED TO CHANGE

Not many people start their master’s with a five-year-old toddler, one-year-old infant, full-time job, and spouse who constantly travels. The new 3am to 6am shift for studying was brutal, but my life was suddenly full. I was being challenged. I was finding fulfillment. I was going somewhere.

Then, in 2008, the economy nosedived. My husband’s startup shut down. Being challenged moved closer to being broken. I told my husband that I thought the most sensible thing for me to do was to take a break.

“I’ll go back to school later,” I told him. “When things get better and the time is right.”

He looked at me and said two things that I’ll thank him for every day for the rest of my life. “Who deserves a PhD more than you?” Then, he said, “Michelle, if you leave now, you won’t go back. Stay with the program no matter what and finish your degree.” So, I stayed.

A few semesters in, I found myself struggling with bills, kids, work, and school. The juggle impacted my coursework, and I even received a warning letter from the university. It said I was on probation unless I repeated a class. I literally sat and cried.

That night, I cried myself to sleep. I was tired and worn out and felt that I had no wins under my belt. Everything seemed to work against me. Perhaps I was wrong with my choice to go back to school. And a PhD? For a full-time working mom of three little ones with a husband who is never home? What was I thinking?

Maybe I should have thought this through. Maybe I want too much. Maybe I am just aiming too high.

That night I cried myself to sleep.

The next day was my daughter’s 10th birthday party. I had it all planned beautifully, with the kids and the balloons and the beautiful cake and all the fun activities. I was smiling on the outside but my heart was heavy. What am I to do? Should I stay at school, or should I leave? I had a big paper that had to be submitted within a week. I am chanting to myself: should I stay or should I go? Should I stay in school? Or leave? Should I even write the paper at all? Just to think of all the spare time I’ll have if I just won’t have to do it…

And then the cake came and I hear the kids chanting:

Are you 1

Are you 2

Are you 3

Are you 4

And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I remembered a tool that I learned in one of my classes. We’ve learned a tool of scaling for people who suffered from depression. It was called scaling questions; it was a part of Solution Focused Brief Therapy and the goal of the tool was help people scale how they feel.

Are you 5

Are you 6

And I think to myself: what if I use this to decide, right now, right here- what on earth am I going to do? What if I use this tool to figure my decision out?

Are you 7

Are you 8

Are you 9

My head is chanting: Do I stay or do I go?

The kids were chanting:

Are you 10

And then they yelled-

STOP

And then it hit me.

It’s a 10. It’s a 10 for me. How much do I really want to leave? 0. I just kind of think it’s something people expect me to do but it’s not what I really want! How much do I want this? 10! I want this a 10.

I got up. I gave Abby the biggest birthday hug and felt so relieved. So happy.

Gosh. Now I have to write this paper.

WHO CARES?

I know what I want.

I know my 10.

I know what matters the most to me.

Fighting tooth and nail I got my PhD. The day I got it was one of the happiest days of my life. Not that I liked the ceremony, I hate ceremonies (also, didn’t really eat that morning and forgot my banana in the car so I spent the entire ceremony thinking of that banana- full disclosure). But what I really felt good about that day was that I stuck with what mattered to me the most. This wasn’t about pleasing anyone. This wasn’t about doing what other people expected of me. This was about following my “10” through and through. And it felt whole, and it felt right.

That decision I made at that birthday party is a decision that changed my life. It changed my life not only because I took a decision that changed the course of my career and ultimately my life, but also because it gave me a tool to work with when it comes to making decisions that I found myself using in my daily life more and more. And the more I used it, the more successful, focused and high achieving I became.

I used it for prioritizing and time management and found myself a lot more confident and in control of my time, both for work and for rest. I used it for making business decisions for myself. I used it for managing my day to day

I used it extensively with leaders throughout the globe that I was working with. I found that leaders used it in team meetings for team decisions, and for their own decisions that they had to make.

Who to hire?

Who to fire?

How to price

Outsource or in-house

Instead of being in doubt, indecisive or taking the wrong turn if life, in a business, as a leader or within your family, I started getting out of my own head and coming up with a number for every decision in my life. I was amazed at the impact it had on leaders I have worked with. I was amazed at the power it had over my own life. I learned to be bold. I learned to be decisive. I learned to take action. And I witnessed how successful and powerful it made others. Change was no longer just in sight. Change was happening.

I believe in the power of the human mind to do amazing things when we are given the tools and the freedom to make the decisions that shape our lives. I believe in getting in the driver seat of our life, work and future. I share all of that with you through my books, my articles, from the stage and from the media. If I can do it, so can you.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

This is only funny in retrospect considering how much I move on stage these days but at the time it was not that funny at all. My first speaking engagement was in Canada at a conference for elementary school teachers. When I got to the conference, the organizer pointed at a podium and said: ‘Michelle, I just need you to stand there’. I was so confused. How can I be engaging if I just stand behind the podium the whole time? Hesitant, I asked him: ‘Are you sure? I would rather move around and interact with people”. The guy just looked at me impatiently and said: “Michelle, please. I just need you to stand there, behind the podium and please don’t move from there, that’s it”. Being that this was the first time I spoke to a large audience; I had no experience to understand that just standing behind a podium and not moving literally ruins a talk. I followed his request and stayed behind the podium the whole time. Somehow, I got through the talk and did what he asked but this is what I had learned: communicate expectations ahead of time, stand your ground, and take the lead. I never, ever, just stood behind a podium again.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I owe so much of my success to my husband and business partner, Adam. I am so grateful to him. Adam has this thing about him where if I set a goal for myself or want something, he commits to it himself. When I came and said that I want to go back to school, this guy, who was always in trouble with me for not helping enough around the house, took it upon himself to stay with the kids and run the house while he was working full time so that I can go to classes. When he couldn’t do it, he made sure we hired help. When I wanted to quit school because the economy collapsed and he lost his start up and we had no money, he pushed me to stay. In my hardest moments. He encouraged me to push forward.

Two years ago, he joined the business as my business partner and manages the marketing and branding. When we started working together, after already being married for 20 years, it is a miracle that we even stayed married. It was so challenging and we didn’t get along at all. Now, we work together in complete harmony. We understand each other completely and I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for Adam’s relentless work and belief in me.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity. Resilient people are:

  • Resourceful- they would typically have good problem-solving skills
  • Confident- they believe in themselves and in their ability to cope, solve problems and deal with challenges
  • See themselves as strong people
  • Have a good support system- being lonely makes you less resilient. We are social creatures and need other people
  • Are not too proud to ask for help- being humble is part of resilience. You cannot be very resilient if you are proud, because it will stand in your way.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

I think of myself as a resilient person. My mom is also very resilient. In fact, 2 days ago her apartment caught fire and she lost all of her belongings. She remained calm, managed the situation, was very resourceful, and today already found herself an even better apartment. I find that inspiring.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

I was told multiple times by my family that getting a PhD with young kids while working full time is impossible. They didn’t realize that on top of it all I was going through a financial crisis. They were definitely wrong. If you truly and passionately want something, you will find a way.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

It happened to me several times. The worst was the 2008 financial crisis that shut down my husband’s start up and left us in financial dire straits. We went through a very rough time but ended up being a better couple, a better team and with a better financial foundation. Crisis is the best teacher.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

I believe that resiliency has to do with self-confidence. You have to really believe in yourself and trust yourself to be resilient. I remember in 5th grade the whole class decided to not speak to one of the girls in the class. The reason was silly, something about a boy. They all followed the leader, and some girls said that they are ‘neutral’. I found the whole thing to be stupid and unfair and declared that I support her. I wasn’t afraid and I didn’t care to speak my mind. This girl has been my best friend for years and no one in the class dared to confront me. I think they were too confused by the fact that I didn’t follow the rules. That’s another aspect of resilience- you follow your own rules and your own common sense. That makes you stronger.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Work on your self-confidence. Here is a little mind hack for you on this: fake it till you make it. Tell yourself that you are confident. Speak confidently. Remind yourself to be confident. Eventually you will feel confident.
  2. Block all negativity. Negativity makes you weak mentally. Stay away from negative people and steer clear of negative content. Fill your life with positive people and positive content. It will make you mentally stronger. I often stay away from social media and the news. I prefer motivating content instead.
  3. Stop being afraid of failing. If you fail, you fail. So what? You’ll be in great company. The most successful people in the world fail all the time and then succeed. Welcome to the club. It’s a good one. I often feel that success is like rock climbing, even if you fail, you can still catch up and climb high.
  4. Look at everything that happens to you as a learning opportunity. When something bad happens to me, I always look at what I can learn from it and I think of it as something that happened to me so that I can become better.
  5. Love and accept yourself. Resilience can only happen if you love and accept yourself the way you are. If you don’t love yourself, how strong can you actually be? Think of it this way: resilience is the ultimate from of belief in yourself and the best gift that you can give yourself.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I have my heart on working with teenagers and kids from less privileged communities. I feel that many of these kids lack role models and inspiration and their dreams are limited simply because they have not seen any adults that can demonstrate to them what they can possibly become.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

Oprah, of course. Because she is living a life that is beyond any circumstances and filled with purpose. She is a living proof that anything is possible no matter what your circumstances are. I don’t know about the lunch though. I don’t think I’d be able to chew!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.facebook.com/DrMichelleRozen

Instagram: @DrMichelleRozen

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichellerozen/

Twitter: @MichelleRozen

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Dr Michelle Rozen: Rising Through Resilience; Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Laura Conlon of ‘Welly’: Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand

Create good product. Be good to your team. Live the values. Share the values. Connect with your customers.

As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Laura Conlon.

Laura Conlon serves as the VP of Marketing at Welly, a reactive healthcare brand focused on premium first aid inclusive of bandages, ointments, and tools, that carries the perfect sized travel kit to throw into any bag when you’re ready to go.

Laura has a varied background across large and small CPG and Retail brands. She’s led integrated media and marketing plans for start-ups, agencies and retail. Her true love is being part of a challenger team. Creativity comes with constraints and finding ways to break through by putting a spotlight on great products.

Her focus over the years has been leading with content that tells a story through earned media, social, influencers and customers. While loving the physical retail environment, she also knows digital pathways are convenient for people looking to research, learn and buy. As a mom of three littles herself, she’s well versed in the efficiency of making an online purchase — and the power of great reviews!

Laura’s belief is that when a business is doing good, it must do good in the world as well. Her team focuses on ways to make sure the Welly World is positive in our own offices (or virtual offices), as well as a positive impact in the world where we live, work and play.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Truly, it’s been a path of saying “yes” to new experiences, and meeting people willing to take a chance on me. I love blending creativity and business understanding, and marketing offers that every day.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Mistakes & mis-steps are all part of the learning path. I once pitched technology stories to a food editor and got an earful about doing my research. I certainly have never made a call without doing my research in 20 years since.

My favorite was when I first started working with a video game company, and I was assigned to invite the bloggers who reviewed the games to a launch event. At first, I didn’t want to waste the time of some of the executives with an introduction to these young bloggers. My mistake. These were the most important people in the room. They understood the games in detail, and had a huge influence on how well the games did out of the gate. I learned to truly understand where influence came from based on the world views around a brand. It’s not always the obvious choice that can make the biggest impact.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Welly stands out because we were designed with real people in mind. We make products that people actually need, in designs and with functions that are practical and playful to make these a purchase people want to make.

The reviews are my favorite stories. People tell us every day that they bought a Welly tin because of the stylish prints & patterns — but are delighted to realize the products WORK!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are always looking at pain points to solve. One thing we look at are the products that people use in large quantities and work to make Welly more practical for them.

We JUST launched a larger box of Welly Face Savers + Thin Tin, which consists of transparent bandages designed for discrete face coverage. Our Face Savers are our one of our most frequently repeated purchase items, and we also know that people like to bring Face Savers with them, so we made a super thin tin that people can put a few Face Savers in, and keep them in their back pocket, clutch, car & back pack easily. Looking at how Welly works in our fans’ lifestyles & responding is core to our success.

Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

Branding is the DNA of the product, company and the people behind it. Advertising is telling that story to the masses.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Well, to me, I believe in spending resources on making the product awesome first. That’s the core. You can’t do anything well without awesome product. Then the brand is about understanding the worldview of the company — what does it stand for, why does it exist, who is this for? Advertising is about bringing the brand to the people it works for today. Product first, define the brand, then shout it from the rooftops.

Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand?

Create good product. Be good to your team. Live the values. Share the values. Connect with your customers.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you?

I mean, everyone knows this one, but Patagonia. They live their values as a company, in their products and where they put their resources to support in doing good in the world. Truly, Patagonia lives their values inside and out.

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?

The brand builds the moat around the product, the media shines a light on it. Engagement of the campaign and awareness lift are all metrics on brand success.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

At Welly, it’s very important. It’s where we talk and engage with our fans. Where we try out content and learn from our mistakes. We get feedback on new products and watch the engagement. We use it as a tremendous listening platform.

What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

Take breaks. I love to run in the mornings to get time to do something totally unrelated to my work. I know that’s what everyone says, but it’s true. If you become a work machine, the work shows like work — not like a brand you want to love.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Find a way to do good, and you’ll never regret it. Shine a light on an important issue, raise money, donate goods and lift others up. Or, find a brand you admire that you want to see succeed — then tag them, write a positive review and be part of their everyday success.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

You must be more clever than wise.

Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of KNOWING the answers in this wild ride. So trusting your instincts, and trying new things is where the creative thinking grows.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Well, is having breakfast with someone IRL a thing these days? But, Yvon Chouinard, would be pretty amazing.


Laura Conlon of ‘Welly’: Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Jessica Potts of ‘We’re Not Really Strangers’: 5 Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved…

Jessica Potts of ‘We’re Not Really Strangers’: 5 Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand

Keep the focus on community first before sales and revenue; that will come if you are building and engaging with your community the right way.

As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Jessica Potts.

Jessica Potts is the Vice President of Digital and eCommerce of We’re Not Really Strangers, a purpose driven card game and movement all about empowering meaningful connections.

Jessica’s expertise spans a number of disciplines including leadership, brand and digital marketing, eCommerce, and digital strategy development and execution. She currently oversees all aspects of We’re Not Really Strangers’ digital strategy and online retail presence, and most recently, led the brand’s eCommerce strategy around the launches of the Self-Reflection Kit and the Breakup Edition.

Jessica is passionate about how the game and platforms help build community and encourage difficult, but necessary, conversations around vulnerability, relationships, race, privilege and much more.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

The eCommerce and digital space has always fascinated me, I fell in love with it the moment I had my first job in the online industry. The customer journey from brand discovery to first purchase to lifetime value is so complex and mesmerizing to me. I can (and will) talk about it all day, everyday!

I had my first opportunity to work in eCommerce while working in brick and mortar retail in LA, but it would have required moving with my young son out of state. As a single mother, I had to turn the opportunity down to be able to be near family. And that’s when my dear friend Hilary heard her friend mention she needed help with her startup that was at an incubator and needed help…I got the job! I worked hard and dedicated everything I had to grow and learn, and get where I am today.

When Chris Pfaff, President and CEO of We’re Not Really Strangers, asked me to join the brand, I knew that all that hard work, all those long hours, long days lead me here. We’re Not Really Strangers isn’t just a place I work, it’s where I know I was meant to be and feel passionate about our mission and honored to be able to help build connections and drive conversation on a daily basis.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think in business there is a stigma about making mistakes when in reality they are what teach you the most. When I was first starting out, I insisted I knew everything about the email system the company was using at the time — meanwhile, I hadn’t even taken notes during the training. I was in the middle of building an email, and I accidentally sent out a half-completed DRAFTED email to our entire email list!!!! If I could have escaped out of the back door — trust me, I would have! It wasn’t funny at the time, but looking back I laugh so hard at myself. The lesson learned was to take notes, don’t be arrogant, and ask for help when you know you clearly need it.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

We’re Not Really Strangers stands out for many reasons, but the main reason to me is that we are a community-first brand, and we are discussing mental health in a way that no one has before. As a brand, we encourage everyone to have those hard conversations that lead to growth. The card game goes far beyond just a game and creates authentic connections and a positive impact on people’s lives.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We just launched a new product! The ‘Breakup Edition’ stems from our team’s own personal breakups. Whether the breakup occurred recently or years ago, the Breakup Edition is meant to help teach us about ourselves, what we want, and what we don’t. The end of a relationship is the beginning of a new one…with yourself.

Ok, let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain it?

Before I started working at We’re Not Really Strangers, I viewed Brand Marketing as a brand mission/manifesto (storytelling) versus Product Marketing as simply selling a product to a customer (more technical). After joining the We’re Not Really Strangers team, I now believe that these two things don’t ever have to be exclusive from each other. They are one and the same if you are doing it correctly.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

There are so many ‘brands’ out in the world these days, and there is endless access to it all. The brands that stand out in the market are the ones taking the time, energy, and effort to invest resources into explaining their mission — why they exist and essentially why you should choose them above all other brands. These are the brands that will have longevity in the market. The majority of consumers these days want to feel like their hard-earned dollars they spend on a product aligns with their personal values as well. A great deal of brand identity and storytelling needs to go into that, thus the investment into resources to do so.

Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand?

  1. Stand for something. Discover the “why” or the mission behind your brand before beginning anything else.
  2. Find your brand’s authentic voice and make sure it’s carried out across all channels — social, email marketing, product design, etc.
  3. Keep the focus on community first before sales and revenue; that will come if you are building and engaging with your community the right way.
  4. Make sure you have a great product that can highlight the brand’s mission and bring it to life.
  5. Invest in the right leadership and team members.
  • Leadership can make or break a brand. Hire wisely.
  • Skill is important, but if a hire doesn’t believe in the brand mission as well, it won’t work.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Patagonia. They have a very clear company mission and never waiver from it. They live out their mission statement in the products they make, the documentaries they produce, the daily content they provide, the people they collaborate with, the list can go on and on. They have also built a massive community that is not all about selling products. That’s where I truly believe brands lose customers is when you don’t put community first. Patagonia takes a position politically when it’s a direct question of right vs. wrong on what’s best for our planet. That to me means their mission isn’t just fluff, they take it as their duty. They have also acknowledged and are outspoken in that they are a white-led outdoor company reliant on recreation on stolen Native lands that are not yet safe for all. This has now been part of their company mission to do better, be better, and actively show up here. I’m eager to see their work here.

How do you replicate that? Have a purpose and mission that is way beyond just creating revenue.

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand-building campaign?

That really depends on the overall strategy of the campaign. The kickoff to a campaign should always be asking yourself questions like:

  1. What is the purpose of this campaign?
  2. What do I hope to achieve?
  3. Who am I speaking to?

Once you clearly answer the ‘why’ of said campaign, you can start setting goals and specific KPIs around it. When you have an understanding of the intent behind the campaign, you can then start the data process: define, collect, analyze, interpret, and then apply.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

Social media plays a major role in our branding efforts. I would be concerned if any brand said otherwise.

We’re Not Really Strangers has grown organically with a loyal community of over 2.9m on Instagram and 1.8m on TikTok in large part because of the introspective, thought-provoking questions and quotes we share which create connections and conversations among strangers in the comments.

Social media is the most beautiful, powerful, and to be honest — sometimes exhausting tool — that exists for brands.

What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

  1. Your team is there for a reason. Give them a clear strategy and then get out of their way and let them execute. It will save you so much time and energy if you truly give them autonomy in their job roles.
  2. Define clear boundaries for yourself. Previous to my current role, I was burned out because I was trying to be everything to everyone. My job got every inch of me, and I had nothing left for myself at the end of each day. I created these clear boundaries for myself:
  • No computer in bed
  • When I’m with my son, he gets priority and receives (and deserves) my full attention: not my cell phone or work emails/slacks.
  • When I’m totally burnt out on a day, I call it. I try not to force it.
  • I started holding myself accountable to all of the above. I don’t win at this every day, but I can definitely say some days I do 🙂

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Recently, I started my own ‘movement’ — it’s called Ôtaneme (IG: @thisisotaneme). It’s a community that has an honest and expanded conversation about leadership in the workplace. There’s so much that needs to be accomplished in this area, and there are no reasons leaders shouldn’t have access to tools to help them grow, navigate, and thrive through the complexities of being a manager/leader. Koreen, the Founder of We’re Not Really Strangers, Chris, and the entire team have been so supportive of this passion project of mine, which I think only further exemplifies the importance of community and strong leadership within a company.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship,” by Denzel Washington. There are many times when life gets hard (professionally and personally), and I always come back to this quote. It helps me push through and keep following the right path, not the easy one.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have lunch or breakfast?

Cathy Hughes, Founder of Radio One and Allison Robinson, CEO of The Mom Project.

Cathy Hughes story, which you can listen to on the ‘How I Built This’ podcast, is one for the books! These women GRINDED in a male-dominated field and didn’t let anything get in her way.

Allison Robinson tapped into and highlights the strengths of working mothers. It was an open space that no one was paying attention to nor appreciated or gave us the respect that we deserve.

I have so much respect for women who fight for what they want in their career and show that you can do all of that while being a mother — it doesn’t have to be one or the other. That takes guts and strength. Society pushes women to choose between home and work the majority of the time, gives us language that you can only succeed at one, or that you should feel shame for choosing to do one or the other. These women are proof of the exact opposite (like me!).

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@WereNotReallyStrangers on Instagram, @WereNotReallyStrangers on TikTok, @WNRSTweets on Twitter, and We’re Not Really Strangers on YouTube. You can also discover Ôtaneme on Instagram at @thisisotaneme.


Jessica Potts of ‘We’re Not Really Strangers’: 5 Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Kumar Patel’s Big Idea That Might Change The World

Insurance is something everyone needs, but no one enjoys paying a premium for it. We believe data transparency can help refine consumer sentiment, and we believe we have the secret sauce to execute it. Our objective is to empower consumers through personalized data insights from the data generated by them. Responsible handling of the data and providing transparency to consumers will help build trust between the two parties.

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Kumar Patel, CEO and founder of Omnidya.

Kumar Patel, CEO and founder of Omnidya, is an experienced founder with a demonstrated history of working in the consumer services industry. He is skilled in Market Research, Management, Start-ups, Leadership, and Marketing. Kumar is a strong business development professional with a Juris Doctor (J.D.)

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

This world we live in has a ton of inefficiencies and problems that need to be solved. Several legacy companies often have a culture that makes it difficult for them to innovate and fix issues quickly. For example, I had an opportunity to work with a successful company that had a culture of “Yes, boss.” This culture ran deep, and as a result, they decided to stick with the status quo. They hired me to help transform the company and address its inefficiencies — but during my tenure there, it took over 50 meetings with senior management and six months to convince the senior management to switch their infrastructure to the cloud. I realized that the real issue was that they didn’t understand how cloud infrastructure works because the people around them kept telling them:

“We are good.”

“Why reinvent the wheel.”

“We’re still profitable, so why change?”

The last phrase got on my nerves every single time. This company is alike to many legacy companies in that their core issue is a culture that deters new transformation — which prevents them from rolling out new products/services in record time to boost their profits further while also staying ahead of the curve. After experiencing both sides of the spectrum and seeing several problems firsthand, I decided to join the side that proactively addresses issues.

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Every day in the startup world is fascinating. I can assure you that no two days are the same. The list of interesting things is long, but two things that stand out are make sure to fail fast and pivot quickly.

Fail Fast: Growing up in an Indian household, I was taught at an early age that failure is not an option in life. I was raised with the mentality of keep trying, and eventually, you will succeed. This doesn’t fly in the startup world where you are dealing with limited resources. It took me a long time to understand that failing “sometimes” is okay, and the hard part of failing is acknowledging the failure and moving on. I like to use the Amazon Fire Phone as an example. Amazon Fire Phone was budget-friendly and targeted a very specific demographic. BUT consumers were willing to pay a premium price for applications provided by both Android and Apple. Amazon killed the product right away, even though it had the resources to keep up with its competitors. Acknowledging failure fast can help distribute essential resources to other projects that end up being winners.

Pivot Quickly: Every time I use the word pivot, everyone rolls their eyes. In my opinion, there is a substantial distinction between a product-market fit (PMF) and a perfect product-market fit (PPMF). To go from PMF to PPMF, one must pivot. A good pivot will help a company compete more efficiently with other competitors.

To find the perfect product-market fit for Omnidya, we had to fail and pivot quickly. I can assure you telematics is not the future of the Insurance industry. Our company has distinguished itself from traditional insurance companies and new insurtech pushing telematics by introducing a new industry-first risk avoidance model that uses unique technology. We’ll be making an official announcement in the upcoming months.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

Several philosophies have guided my life. But the main two are…

“Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”

This has been my mantra for a long time. This is a bit of a cliché, but it is something that has worked for me. I am naturally an optimistic person, but at the same time, optimism won’t fix everything, so everything that I do has a plan B.

“Conscious Capitalism”

If you have read the book Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia, you know exactly what I am talking about. It is a concept that focuses on four simple concepts, Purpose, Stakeholder, Leadership, and Culture. It matters how money is made, and an organization needs to instill values long term vision and profitability.

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

At Omnidya, we’ve figured out how to eliminate 100% of fraud in the insurance sector while introducing an industry-first risk avoidance model using a unique proprietary technology.

To provide a quick background, most traditional companies in the sector use the standard risk-mitigation model to which they implement modern technologies like machine learning and other artificial intelligence. That’s putting duct tape on an ancient model to try and make it current. New technology added on top of existing inefficiencies leads to additional costs, which translates to a higher premium for consumers. Shareholders and investors love hearing modern buzzwords and they also want profitability, which results in consumers paying the additional price.

We have solved the various problems from top to bottom. In today’s world, quality data is the key to solving the most complex issues. Our unique technology:

  • Automates multiple aspects of the business, thus reducing operational cost,
  • Eliminates fraud.
  • Provides consumers with real-time feedback using modern engagement tools and exceptional consumer experience from beginning to end.
  • Increases profitability.

How do you think this will change the world?

Insurance is something everyone needs, but no one enjoys paying a premium for it. We believe data transparency can help refine consumer sentiment, and we believe we have the secret sauce to execute it. Our objective is to empower consumers through personalized data insights from the data generated by them. Responsible handling of the data and providing transparency to consumers will help build trust between the two parties.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

First of all, Black Mirror is a fantastic show, and the creators have displayed our crazy imaginations perfectly. Every solution has a drawback; just like autonomous cargo transport may eliminate the need for truck drivers in the future but cause a rise in technicians with software knowledge to maintain those new complex machines. Just as such, we believe our technology will address the inefficiency in the industry but will also highlight the skills gap. This is a drawback that can be solved with training and education.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

Almost everyone I’ve talked to has had at least one lousy experience dealing with an insurance company. My major one happened when, after years of not shopping for new auto insurance and paying the increased premiums every year, I decided to shop around. My problem begins with the time it takes to get a single quote and execute the policy. This issue is something everyone can relate to. I also know they have marketplaces that compare prices, but they provide quotes — which changed as I talked to insurance agents from various companies. The time it took to execute a policy was my tipping point, and I started to research and understand the insurance sector’s inefficiencies. Most of the organization’s issues were solvable with modern technology, yet no one had addressed them. I even applied at a well-known insurance company, but I was told my ideas were too drastic after the first conversation, and that I wasn’t a good fit for the company. That is how Omnidya started.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

We are confident that once our product is launched, consumers will immediately experience its impact on our society. To get there, just like every other startup, we need capital to create awareness in the marketplace that there is a new company that addresses the issues they face every day dealing with insurance. Capital, strategic partnerships, and reviews from early adopters will lead to widespread adoption of this technology.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

You have to learn quickly in this world, and having mentors helped me tremendously. There were still things I had to figure out on my own, which only come with experience.

Existing Tech v. Building It Yourself: This is a tough one, and depending on how you answer and execute this question will determine various things about the company. From my experience, the correct answer is a healthy balance of both. Do I want to build a consumer portal internally that will assist in marketing, business intelligence, etc., or do I want to implement Salesforce or another technology specializing in that space? My goal is to use the resources wisely and get to the marketplace quickly.

Managing Global Teams: Time difference and communication barriers are challenging at certain times, but it is the price one has to pay to lower the burn rate.

Cash Cash Cash: It was vital for me to bootstrap the company myself and develop it to the point of being launch-ready before reaching out to VCs. This comes with sleepless nights consistently making you think of the limited funds you have and how to leverage the most development.

Learn quickly: Going in, I was aware that I would have to wear multiple hats and tackle various issues daily, but no one told me I would have to learn the subject material overnight and make a decision the following day. I remember staying up an entire night to understand how insurance compliance differs from state to state. It was a situation where the longer I took, the longer it took for the developers to develop the platform.

Feedback from the Sector: One would think talking to someone from the sector would help you better understand the problem and help your cause, BUT this is not always true — an experienced and knowledgeable gentleman from the industry provided me with false information. Don’t trust everything the sector leaders tell you and instead do your research.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

I have a few things that I do consistently. I don’t know if those are considered success habits or mindsets, but they work for me. I start with a macro goal and as I am trying to accomplish that, I end up implementing other disciplines required to achieve my macro goal.

Every year on my birthday, I pick up a habit that is mentally challenging for me. For example, I went an entire year being a vegetarian, the following year, I read 52 books in 52 weeks, and last year I went without drinking alcohol. This year I picked my 15-minute meditation to start the day. Each healthy habit has contributed to a healthy mindset. Regularly challenging your mind and picking up healthy disciplines is my definition of success habits and/or mindsets.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Omnidya provides a data-driven approach in the insurance industry where even telematics is old news. We can analyze and act on quality real-time information using our proprietary technology to create an industry-first risk avoidance model.

Between 1–1.5 million fraudulent accidents are costing over $250mn annually to providers. Our technology can eliminate those fraudulent claims while also providing meaningful data for risk-avoidance, further decreasing the claims rate. Additionally, we are able to automate several processes for consumers as a by-product of developing our platform.

We will generate an accurate risk and pricing model through our quality data, which will enable us to create highly profitable offerings. Feel free to reach out for more details about our unique technology. We are looking forward to making Omnidya a household name with you by our side.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram, which is the only place I am active: @koolmar888. You will find several book recommendations there.

You can learn more about Omnidya and stay current…

Facebook: Facebook.com/Omnidya

Instagram: Omnidya_ai

Twitter: Omnidya_ai

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


Kumar Patel’s Big Idea That Might Change The World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Is Now: Robert Morgenstern On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech…

The Future Is Now: Robert Morgenstern On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene

Utilizing technology, we’ve changed the entire way we operate multifamily real estate, and therefore how our investors and clients interact with the reporting we produce. We have spent the last 18 months designing software that allows a look into the performance of multifamily real estate that helps everyone on the deal team from portfolio to property manager to make meaningful decisions to improve the communities where they own and the performance of these assets.

As a part of our series about cutting-edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Morgenstern.

Robert is the founder and strategic leader of Canvas Property Group. This full-service property, construction, and asset management firm handles day-to-day operations of the 40 mixed-use assets on its own behalf as well as a growing portfolio of third-party institutional and family office clients. Canvas Property Group prides itself on a new style of reporting that goes well beyond traditional monthly financials. This portfolio includes fully staffed amenity-laden properties and portfolios of tenement assets throughout Manhattan Brooklyn and Queens.

Morgenstern is also the Managing Principal at Morgenstern Capital. Morgenstern leads the firm’s multifamily acquisition and operation efforts. Robert and his firm have built a diverse multifamily portfolio since its May 2015 inception, targeting value-add and core + return profiles in the most vibrant submarkets in New York City. Morgenstern operates direct co-investments with limited partners ranging from closed-end institutional equity to individual high net worth investors. Morgenstern and his partners have acquired approximately 1,500 units valued at $500million.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As is the case with most great stories, my real estate career began… following a girl. After a successful run in my family business with my father in the IT Consulting world, the dot.com bubble created an opportunity for a change. At the time, I was dating my future wife, Sabrina, who was getting her broker’s license to join her family residential brokerage. Wanting to spend as much time as I could with her, I joined her for the classes and got my license as well. When her mother, Michele Kleier, landed the listing for a townhouse on East 87th Street, I helped her out and met an investor who wanted to see some cash-flowing townhomes in Harlem. I was hooked on the investment aspect and the creativity it took to imagine something from nothing. So, a new career and a wife and two kids later, I’m a real estate junkie for life. And having started out in IT with an innate interest in tech, its incorporation into and advancement in my real estate business was a natural evolution.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The best stories, of those I can actually share, generally involve what happens on property tours. I remember walking a portfolio of buildings, and we walked into a unit with the bank and a group of investors with the seller’s representative. On the counter of this occupied, but an empty apartment is an enormous bag of marijuana. As we leave, the seller’s rep says he forgot something, walks back in and takes the bag. The stench flows through the elevator and we all have a light knowing giggle. On the floor below, 2 police officers get onto the elevator and get hit in the face with the smell. The sweat beads are still vivid in my head today.

Can you tell us about the Cutting-edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Utilizing technology, we’ve changed the entire way we operate multifamily real estate, and therefore how our investors and clients interact with the reporting we produce. We have spent the last 18 months designing software that allows a look into the performance of multifamily real estate that helps everyone on the deal team from portfolio to the property manager to make meaningful decisions to improve the communities where they own and the performance of these assets.

How do you think this might change the world?

When we make changes, we expect them to change the work-life of people using them. But the beauty of our industry is the decisions we make change the living environment for everyone in our communities. That can be as simple as a deeper understanding of our tenancy and the analytics behind the survey results each occupant gets, which can drive amenity selection or capital expenses. But it’s more likely to change the perspective of an owner to understand the past performance of their real estate to allow them to make meaningful decisions about leverage, operations, and management. 2020 has taught us we need more analytical data to see problems before they blow up into disasters.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

We think a deeper understanding of tenants and their habits has a fine line. We’re very cognizant of making sure all tenant information is kept anonymous. We see big technology and what is happening with our data. But changing real estate operations to affect a much analytical financial and operating report is a pretty far line from a Black Mirror episode.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

COVID-19. We had been working on this software platform and were working it into our operations. But going remote and not seeing team members, while getting demands from investors, lenders, and clients to report on a daily basis in ways we hadn’t considered was the tipping point. I realized we needed to look at data in a whole new way. A collaborative cloud-based platform was the obvious solution, so we leaned into it in a meaningful way in March of 2020.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We have rolled our technology out to our client partners with great success. This has led to meaningful growth in our management firm. We are developing a SAAS product based loosely on this software and believe it will have explosive growth later in 2021.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

We have yet to launch. But with nearly 20 years of real estate experience, I’m going to be starting with my friends in the business, which is a fairly extensive group of decision-makers in the multifamily space.

What are your “Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

I wish someone told me to choose your partners carefully.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward”. I’m not sure I would have chosen this gem by MLK, Jr. in 2019, but after the year we just endured, I think that I felt this way almost daily while managing my portfolio. COVID impacted so many aspects of the business, as well as the business and safety of our retail and residential tenants; but while we may have slowed to a crawl, we did keep moving and are now about to get back up on our feet to run in 2021!

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

PropTech solutions created by people that have lived the problem for over a decade and are in the weeds to understand why a solution is necessary is more important than any other skillset. Operating and managing $1Billion of multifamily real estate with a technology-focused management firm makes me the right sponsor, we’ll see if the product stands on its own.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’ve made a habit of keeping my personal life offline and generally use LinkedIn to publicize our business. Robert Morgenstern, Linked-in. We also just launched an updated version of our website, http://www.canvaspg.com/.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!


The Future Is Now: Robert Morgenstern On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Is Now: Jonathan Ogurchak of STACK On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up…

The Future Is Now: Jonathan Ogurchak of STACK On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up Healthcare

It’s going to take some time. If everyone could bring a solution to market, you’d see many more entrepreneurs and far fewer employees. Even with the most aggressive development cycles, you’re still going to need time to get from nothing to something.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Ogurchak.

He is the CEO and Co-Founder of STACK, a curated software platform designed to help organizations drive compliance with deliverables, particularly in the healthcare sector. As a pharmacist and educator, he teaches at multiple universities on both clinical and operational areas surrounding specialty pharmacy and serves as an educational consultant for a variety of stakeholders. His expertise helped to grow and own specialty pharmacies and now he’s poised to upset the healthcare industry with some innovative solutions that align many of the disjointed facets of patient care.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’m a pharmacist by training and have spent a majority of my career in the “specialty” pharmacy sector — focusing on high touch, very complex medications for some life-changing diseases. I served in management roles with one of the country’s largest corporately owned specialty pharmacies and used some available technology (like spreadsheets and macros) to automate operational processes to improve the experience for patients. I left there to help start an independently owned specialty pharmacy and grew the operations from a few of us in a garage to a national player, developing some innovative technology solutions along the way. I’ve always been technologically inclined and have seen technology as a way to improve the typical ways of doing things. It was a logical next step after I left my role at the independent pharmacy to get back into the technology sector, relying on that pharmacist training. Today, we’ve built STACK to meet the needs of pharmacies (specialty, community, and otherwise) that struggle to manage their day-to-day processes and tackling all of the complexities associated with staying on top of compliance through software. We’ve expanded our scope to recently include membership and educational management offerings for professional associations, higher education institutions and other groups, all based on this shared ecosystem that we’ve built with STACK.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I think the most interesting story is one that’s still being told, and I share with my students frequently: your career is so much more than the first job you take. There’s this notion that you’re always going to find a job that’s going to be your “place” from the time you start until the time you retire — and that’s not necessarily the case. In the time since I graduated pharmacy school, for instance, I’ve worked for 6 different organizations, with promotions and growth during tenure at each. The crazy part is that each new role lends itself to the one that may or may not follow it. Every day, you’re learning something new in both your career and your personal life that translates into how the next day will transpire. So for me, I never would have dreamed that at this point, I would have owned a pharmacy; would have owned a technology company; have served as a consultant and an author; have been married and started a beautiful family — these things continue to evolve as you grow. Personally, it excites me to see what my next steps might be, since I never envisioned this is where I’d be today!

Can you tell us about the Cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

With a product like STACK, we realized that users in the healthcare sector are continually burdened with managing multiple areas just to stay on top of what’s necessary — sure, there’s trainings they need for work and continuing education to maintain a professional license…but what about the other “stuff”? Let’s say you or your company is a member of a professional association. Let’s say you help to precept students as they enter their experiential curriculum. Multiple systems. Multiple logins. The burden to participate and manage your professional life often outweighs the needs to get through the day. What we’ve done with STACK is find a commonality to thread all of these areas into one ecosystem. Since they all work together, why don’t they interact together and eliminate some of that burden?

How do you think this might change the world?

The stress placed on the healthcare industry only continue to grow — you don’t often hear of less regulation or less oversight of healthcare…only more! If we’re able to serve as that connector of all things professional, and do it in an easy-to-use fashion, it helps every aspect of the industry to grow. Companies can take advantage of programs offered through association membership. Associations can further demonstrate their value to paying members. Schools can gain more meaningful experiences for their students by putting everything at the end user’s fingertips alongside the other aspects of their professional life. Eliminating the password/website/process burden will ultimately help to focus more on the patient — which is why we got into the professions we chose in the first place!

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Honestly, no — this type of technology is being used already in a number of different avenues. We’re just trying to build a better environment for all of these activities to co-exist.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

We had been building STACK for pharmacies specifically to manage compliance with licensing, accreditation, trainings, for about a year, when we started getting questions from clients related to expanded capabilities. We realized that we were better suited to partner with industry leaders and let their expertise help us to grow and evolve our product when we realized that there had to be a broader application. Similarly, at the same time we started accepting student pharmacists virtually on an experiential rotation from schools around the country — with each school came a new username, new password, new place to manage requirements. It became just as daunting to manage paperwork than it did to provide a meaningful experience for the students. Both of these events catalyzed where we are today.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We’re starting to hit a critical mass — the more users that are on the system (and I mean both individual users as well as organizations), the more meaningful the collaboration becomes. Since we initiated this development over the last several months, we continue to draw interest and new clients, and it’s helping to truly bring the idea to life.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

Without having the luxury of in-person events over the last 10 months or so, we’ve certainly been facing some unique challenges for awareness. Our biggest resources from a marketing perspective have been through social awareness online. Our LinkedIn page has exploded over the last year, with a following that continues to grow every day. More importantly, we’re seeing that once users begin to take advantage of the platform, they recommend it to others who can benefit just as well — word of mouth has gone a long way!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My biggest support system throughout this whole process have been my wife. She supported me in my decision to leave a full-time, ownership position in a successful organization to not only spend more time with the family (since I was missing out on a lot), but also supporting me to chase this idea of bringing meaningful technology solutions into the healthcare sector. She’s been my rock helping to keep the family moving forward (helping our 3 kids to thrive in school and activities) and supporting me through all of the ups and downs in starting a new business.

The rest of my family has been a huge area of support as well — my dad passed away from ALS the spring before some of these notions came into my mind. He always told me from the start of pharmacy school, “you’re not going to be a pharmacist.” I thought he was crazy — here I am going to pharmacy school to be a pharmacist. Was I not cut out for it? He’d clarify — “you’re going to use being a pharmacist to do something more.” As I was looking for guidance on what to do before launching this company, I started finding random pennies in my travels (and started documenting it on Instagram under #pappennies as a fun way for my kids to keep his memory alive). He always felt that when he found a penny, he knew it was someone from heaven trying to tell him something. Whenever there’s a big decision about to happen, I’ve been finding pennies — hundreds, in fact. I’ve taken it as a subtle way to keep me motivated to “do something more” and his way of still supporting me even today.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

In the midst of growing companies and sharing time with my family (which was a huge reason in why I decided to go out on my own in the first place!), I like to find ways to share time and expertise as well. I frequently lecture at my alma mater to encourage student pharmacists to think of alternative pathways for career opportunities. I also serve as the President of our University’s Alumni Board of Governors, and the President-Elect of our Pharmacy School’s Alumni Association. So many people paved the way for me to be in the place I am today, so whatever way I’m able to give back, I want to find ways to do so.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. It’s going to take some time. If everyone could bring a solution to market, you’d see many more entrepreneurs and far fewer employees. Even with the most aggressive development cycles, you’re still going to need time to get from nothing to something.
  2. It’s OK to adjust over time. When we started STACK, there was no real notion of the scale that we could look to capture. Now, we’re trying to find ways to stay on top of the use cases and not let any of our clients down.
  3. Don’t start a business in a terrible selling environment. Not that anyone could have predicted the year that 2020 evolved into, but the forward movement that we anticipated was quickly halted from a sales perspective. However,
  4. Use every moment you can as a positive. We were able to adapt our poor sales time into an opportunity to further build and refine the product. We had greater strides in 4 months product-wise than we did in the entire year prior thanks to this slowed period.
  5. Your biggest competitor will be yourself. It’s easy to overthink and worry about progress, particularly in a new organization. Your mind can do funny things as you start to worry when really, you may just be competing against yourself. Being able to center your expectations, then recenter them, and repeat that process, instead of looking at what’s going on around you — you’ll set yourself to be the most successful.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Too many areas in healthcare are commoditized. Solutions that could have the most benefit to the most people — like patients — are restricted to help drive market share. For patients to experience the maximum benefit, there needs to be a more standard approach to delivery of care that takes the market share component out of it (and just maybe STACK and some of the other projects we’re developing can help to be a catalyst of eliminating market share and barriers for healthcare stakeholders). That “rising tide raises all ships” mentality could truly help to inspire more informed, collaborative patient care.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“I am the one thing in life I can control” — Aaron Burr, Hamilton. You aren’t able to always control the messaging that circles around your experience. However, if you live your life with integrity, your reputation will speak for itself. Once you lose your integrity, you lose yourself and your ability to maintain meaningful relationships. I’ve found that putting my integrity first, and controlling myself, has always won out and helped me to grow both professionally and personally.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Think about how difficult it is to juggle everything that’s not only expected of you on a daily basis related to your business, but things that you want to accomplish as well? Now, imagine that you’re taking care of patients at the same time — it creates undue stress to try to not only stay on top of what you need, but find it when you need it. STACK empowers organizations, like pharmacies, trade associations, and schools, to complete their business-critical tasks, and share the visibility across one unique ecosystem. It joins the “need to do” for your entire professional life into one, easy to use and customize platform.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Web: managewithstack.com

Personal LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanogurchak

Company LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/managewithstack

Company Facebook: www.facebook.com/managewithstack

Company Twitter: @managewithstack

Company Instagram: www.instagram.com/managewithstack

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Is Now: Jonathan Ogurchak of STACK On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Dr Elizabeth Jennings of ‘Remember You Matter Coaching’: 5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proact

Dr. Elizabeth Jennings of ‘Remember You Matter Coaching’: 5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country

Encourage conversations that are open. honest, and authentic– Encouraging honest and open two-way conversations is a vital step to heal our country. These conversations should intentionally be encouraged in places of work, schools, churches, places of religious gatherings, communities, and in homes with families. By encouraging conversations where people are allowed to talk and express their honest feelings and emotions and where they have a safe space where people can feel like someone is really listening to what they have to say will really matter. In addition to open expression, the other person involved in the conversation should also be allowed to openly express their thoughts and feelings in response without judgment and feel heard. When open and honest communication occurs, and people feel listened to then healing occurs. Compromise is able to occur, people start to feel that their voice matters, and that they can be heard without judgement but with understanding which is important and necessary to start to heal the world.

As part of our series about 5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Elizabeth Jennings.

Dr. Elizabeth Jennings, OTD, OTR, c/NDT, CODC, CEC, CLC is an Occupational Therapist with 19 years of experience, has a Doctorate in Mindfulness Studies, is a Certified Mindfulness & Integrative Wellness Life Coach, with a focus on PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Anxiety, and Depression. As an Occupational Therapist, she has spent 19 years working with children with developmental disorders, rehabilitating military veterans and making a major impact within businesses, organizations, and communities by helping individuals to manage difficult life transitions and overcome obstacles to success with resiliency and confidence.

Dr. Jennings is the Chief Empowerment of MEASURE Austin, which takes a data-centric approach to address systemic injustices in all aspects of the community and provides resources to restructure and is the CEO of Remember You Matter Coaching, Consulting, and Mentoring where she provides individual coaching and group workshops for youth ages 3 and up dealing with adjustment issues, low self-confidence and esteem, suicidal thoughts, and behavior difficulties.

Dr. Elizabeth Jennings is a visionary and full of passion to motivate and inspire others to action. She is a single mother of 2 children, and she knows first-hand the pressures of balancing happiness, life, work, health, family, and well-being in an ever-changing world. Be sure to check out her leading podcast, Living Bold, and her books “Overcoming Loss,” “God-Given Grace,” “Transforming Through God’s Loving Pursuit,” and “Buster The Test-Anxiety Crusher.”

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. I am the middle child out of five siblings. I grew up in a quiet community and I was raised by strict Christian principles in a Pentecostal home environment. The only two holidays that my family celebrated were birthdays and Thanksgiving. Our family did not have much. I grew up initially in a two-parent home, then when I turned twelve my father left and moved out of the country. He returned back stateside 15 years later. Growing up during my teen and early adult years, I focused my mind on doing the best I could in school to set a different standard and example for my future. I never wanted to have to depend on anyone and I knew that education was my key to success.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

In 2018, after binge reading “Jump” by Steve Harvey, I was inspired and took a leap of faith and decided to start my own business and become an entrepreneur. “Jump” discussed the beauty in taking risks, not being afraid of change, and embracing the inner passions and curiosities that we have inside. I chose to pivot from solely focusing on my primary profession as an occupational therapist to pursuing my passion in the field of coaching kids, teens, and adults to remember that their life matters, has value, and to never give up despite the obstacles they may face. The end result of my own personal “jump” was the creation of Remember You Matter Coaching, Consulting, and Mentoring. This business was named after my mother who died of stomach cancer in 2015. My mother used to always tell me to “remember you matter” when I struggled with relationship and friendship issues in the past.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

A favorite quote that resonates with me is by Maya Angelou: “When people show you who they are, believe them.” When I was younger, I had a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve. I would give everyone multiple chances, even people who obviously had already shown that they were not planning to treat me differently. So, I experienced many heartbreaks from wanting people to be who I hoped or expected them to be. I created a habit of believing in the potential that I thought people could show someday. I had to learn to release my expectations and just accept what others were showing me as their truth. Embracing this concept of acceptance has saved me from lots of future disappointments and frustrations.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I believe that leadership is setting an example that pulls people together to accomplish a desired purpose or task. Leadership allows progress to be made towards a desired goal through collaboration and bringing out the best qualities in people. An effective leader can provide support to people to allow them to complete a goal, task, or mission. When everyone is able to have a part and feel satisfied from contributing to the desired end, then you have good leadership.

In life we come across many people, some who inspire us, some who change us and some who make us better people. Are there a person or people who have helped you get to where you are today? Can you share a story?

After going through a series of losses, from the death of my mother, divorce after 17 years of marriage, a period of unemployment, my son failing school, and a few tough legal challenges that I had to face, I had to accept that my comfortable life was being totally uprooted. Around the same time, I remember having a conversation with another female who was dealing with similar legal challenges. As we spoke, I remember listening and realizing that at that moment we were really the same. Our past upbringing did not matter. The greater meaning that came from that conversation was the fact that we are all only one decision away from possibly making a decision, when in a state of distress, that could put us in a life changing situation or predicament. At that moment, I learned the importance of releasing judgments and embracing true acceptance of other people’s differences. Since having that conversation, I made a commitment to speak up for those who cannot share their voice or story. I have continued to hold true to that promise and commitment.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a series of unprecedented crisis. So many of us see the news and ask how we can help. We’d love to talk about the steps that each of us can take to help heal our county, in our own way. Which particular crisis would you like to discuss with us today? Why does that resonate with you so much?

I would like to discuss the racial tension and division in our society. Being a black female and mental health advocate, I can personally feel the impact and weight of this issue. I can also see the toll and burden that mentally the racial tension is causing on everyone.

This is likely a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?

I believe that repeated trauma, be it mental, emotional, or physical, if left unchecked can develop into a breeding ground for more trauma and the side effects that result are feelings of intense anger, aggression, violence, fear, rage, unrest, and division. Observing all the things happening in our society, I realize people are reaching their breaking points and limits. More than ever before it is important for our mental health and well-being to be cared for to prevent emotions from continuing to erupt and thus leading to internal and external chaos. We are beginning to see what a state of chaos looks like in our society.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience either working on this cause or your experience being impacted by it? Can you share a story with us?

I am a mental health advocate and Occupational Therapist who specializes in mindfulness and working with military veterans with PTSD, children with special needs, and supporting educators in our education system. As an integrative wellness life coach and empowerment coach, I specialize in understanding trauma and its connection to depression, anxiety, and physical health. Prolonged trauma can disrupt the mental state and cause a lapse in judgment, and as a result, our protective mechanisms can cause a fight or flight response. Our society is actively in a fight or flight response in reaction to COVID-19, fear of safety, feelings of being overworked, job loss, losing loved ones to death, racial tension, police brutality, and the political climate and division in society. Everyone is at a heightened state of alert and either fleeing from marriage, families, responsibilities, suicide is increasing, domestic violence rates are high, teachers are resigning, and unemployment is increasing. These issues will not improve unless they are addressed appropriately with sensitivity and care.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps That Each of Us Can Take to Proactively Help Heal Our Country”? Kindly share a story or example for each.

Prioritized

#1 Encourage conversations that are open. honest, and authentic– Encouraging honest and open two-way conversations is a vital step to heal our country. These conversations should intentionally be encouraged in places of work, schools, churches, places of religious gatherings, communities, and in homes with families. By encouraging conversations where people are allowed to talk and express their honest feelings and emotions and where they have a safe space where people can feel like someone is really listening to what they have to say will really matter. In addition to open expression, the other person involved in the conversation should also be allowed to openly express their thoughts and feelings in response without judgment and feel heard. When open and honest communication occurs, and people feel listened to then healing occurs. Compromise is able to occur, people start to feel that their voice matters, and that they can be heard without judgement but with understanding which is important and necessary to start to heal the world.

An example of this occurred during the recent first presidential debate. It was noted and evident that there were multiple interruptions during the debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Being on the outside looking in, it was easy to observe a tone of disrespect, no one was listening, but everyone was talking, there was no order, resolution, compromise, or unity brought from that conversation. During the 2nd debate limits were clearly defined, but you were able to hear the voices, opinions, and the tone was changed. There was less disrespect, and their voices were heard. When people feel heard, they feel less angry, depressed, or volatile. If people were heard more this would help to heal the world.

#2 Advocate for empathy to be shown frequently– When people learn to empathize with others, they show compassion towards another person. Empathy also allows a person to relate to the emotions and feelings that someone else is going through. When people show a sense of understanding, people feel understood and cared for. If society could learn how to empathize especially now with the race wars or the political unrest that exist, then the racial tension, division, and the breakdown of relationships would start to be mended and restored. In order for our world to heal, society has to be taught how to empathize with one another.

3 ways to show and practice empathy:

1. Listen with an open heart to people.

2. Respond to other people without judgement.

3. Realize that if promises are made or if someone gives their word, then it is important to honor those words through consistent actions.

For example, when Black and Brown Americans express that they are tired of being treated unfairly, instead of being so quick to jump to defend behaviors as a non-black person it is important to take time to hear what is being expressed with empathy for their feelings and without judgement or dismal. If you do not know what to do or how to respond simply ask what you can do to make a difference, then take the advice or information and do something with it. If a suggestion is made to educate yourself, then do just that. Ask for recommendations or books that would provide insight, connect with a group that educates or works to support the rights and justice of all people.

#3 Master the skill of forgiveness- Forgiveness is not an easy task. When we have been violated, wounded, or offended, to forgive is not easy to do. True forgiveness takes being intentional and working at it daily. Forgiveness is not a one-time task, but it is an action that may have to be repeated. The key to remember is that forgiveness is not something we are doing for someone else, but it is the permission to be and live free that we give to ourselves. When forgiveness is practiced, people can sleep better, have a calmer mind, and release the built-up stress and tension that comes from holding on to unforgiveness.

I remember struggling internally with having panic attacks and only being able to sleep for 2–3 hours for most nights, when I struggled and battled with past unforgiveness. Once I was able to release that unforgiveness and master doing it over and over, forgiveness came easy and the payoff was worth it. I now quickly release feelings of unforgiveness, and I do not hold grudges. As a result, panic attacks have stopped, I sleep for 6–8 hours nights, and internal peace is present. Mastering forgiveness is a gift that everyone deserves to give and receive.

#4 Practice Mindfulness daily– At the core, mindfulness is about being present in the moment. It is about living and focusing on making the most of every day. Mindfulness centers on strategies to implement to be more aware and conscious of the daily thoughts, words, habits, and actions. Mindfulness allows more attention to including daily actions that focus on meeting our self-care and self-love needs while also being aware of our actions towards other people.

When we practice mindfulness on a daily basis, we embrace the concept of making the most out of every day. We are not worried about the past or anxious about the future. We learn to stay and remain grounded and rooted in the present moment experiences. We learn to not put off for another day the pleasures and activities that we could make memories and connections that would last and make a difference in our life.

#5 Make a commitment to serve others– When people make a commitment to provide service or volunteer within a community, organization, or for a cause that has meaning and impact, then connection occurs. Connection brings feelings of community and is healing to the soul and for relationships. When we cease to keep our eyes focused on problems and we redirect our focus to serve a mission or cause that is bigger than us, then people are open to find purpose and satisfaction from serving others.

I personally have found passion in serving others through the mentorship program, Boys Matter to Men, that I founded to support boys ages 8–18 who lack the presence of fathers in their life. By recreating the family village and empowering mentors to connect with single mothers and their sons, this fills a gap that is needed. By giving to a cause greater than us, hope is found by paving the way for a better tomorrow for future generations.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but what can we do to make these ideas a reality? What specific steps can you suggest to make these ideas actually happen? Are there things that the community can do to help you promote these ideas?

In order for the community to promote these ideas, then it is important to do the following 5 things:

1. Inquire or check the hearts of those who serve

2. Ask honest questions

3. Start conversations in small groups that allow space for nonjudgement expression. Start a proactive discussion about actions to bring about positive changes that will move us forward and not backwards.

4. Adopt a ‘people first” attitude in all areas of occupation and services. Be internationally daily by doing things that matter to the people who are doing the daily job or work. Take and hold space to allow people to be heard at the beginning of a workday for a few minutes each day.

5. Have mental health resources available or implemented during the workday or during meetings to ensure an attitude of support, respect, openness, and availability of resources exist.

We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain? I am optimistic for the future.

I do not think things will be resolved easily. I feel people will need to engage in more open and honest conversations where voices and experiences are elevated and listened to in regard to racial tension. It is important to remember that for people who feel that they have been disrespected and walked over that it will take time to heal the past wounds. COVID-19 forced people to slow down and learn to treasure the simple things in life again. I think we are a strong and resilient country, and we will rebound. It is important that we show more compassion, empathy, a willingness to listen to other people, and an attitude to work together.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I would tell them that their voice matters. Oftentimes young people feel that no one is listening; if they speak with anger, frustration, and disrespect, then young people’s voices are usually dismissed, shut down, or judged quickly even if there is meaning to what they are trying to communicate. Young people can empower themselves through education about the issues confronting the world. Then, they are better able to take a stand and make a positive difference towards moving things forward. It is important to know the history of what has happened to reflect, but the key is to not stay or remain stuck in the past. Young people are powerful and full of energy, passion, drive, endurance, and stamina. It is important to use those special qualities and gifts for good and to share a message that will evoke positive change.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Yes, Oprah Winfrey; Oprah is a humanitarian that people listen to and people are calmed by hearing her speak. We need a voice of calm in the world today. I would love to hear her advice about the actions that she believes are necessary to gather people together in order to make a bigger impact on the world today. I also would like to let her know what an inspiration that she has been for me and my life journey by sharing her honest truth and encouraging others to do the same. I am paying that same message forward.

How can our readers follow you online?

www.rememberyoumattercoaching.com

Facebook Elizabeth Leigh Jennings: https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.jennings.94/

Remember You Matter Coaching

Living Bold

Instagram @rememberyoumattercoaching

Linked In Elizabeth Leigh Jennings: www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethjenningsotdcoach

You tube:

1.Remember You Matter Coaching

2.Elizabeth Jennings

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


Dr Elizabeth Jennings of ‘Remember You Matter Coaching’: 5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proact was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Is Now: Mihai Ivascu of Modex On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The…

The Future Is Now: Mihai Ivascu of Modex On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene

Say no. If you think that an idea doesn’t represent you, or it might affect you in the long term, you should be able to say no. Choose fights that are worth fighting.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs I had the pleasure of interviewing Mihai Ivascu, CEO & Co-Founder of Modex.

Mihai is a serial social impact and technology entrepreneur, CEO, and Founder of London-based tech group M3 Holdings which comprises 3 fast-growing companies: Moneymailme, a Neo-Banking technology infrastructure provider; M3 Payments — FX management and global payments platform; Modex — Blockchain Database — SaaS technology provider. Mihai holds an MBA in Innovation Management and is currently enrolled in a Doctorate of Business Administration at INSEEC Group with a Thesis on Disruptive FinTech Technologies. Awarded Forbes 30 Under 30 and finalist of Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Mihai is an experienced speaker and entrepreneurship mentor.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I come from a family of teachers, my parents being teachers of mathematics and computer science. To some extent, this has helped me develop my competitiveness, but also my entrepreneurial spirit. I am passionate about chess and martial arts, hobbies that I strongly believe had a great impact on who I am today. I created my first company at the age of 18, and so far I have been involved in over 100 projects internationally.

Today I am CEO and Co-founder of Modex, a tech company that innovates with software solutions based on blockchain technology

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

That is a good question. As I said, I founded my first company when I was 18 years old, so there have definitely been many interesting stories since then, with the Ingenium Group companies. But a very special one is the moment when I managed to convince a team of investors to finance one of my first ideas. I started out simple, I didn’t aim to make a better world, I convinced them to support me in developing a new technology, not necessarily a better one. Of course, after the first investment round, you as an entrepreneur need to perform at 110%, not only to develop a new technology, but to develop the best one. That’s the reality, and that’s the first lesson every young entrepreneur should learn. You need to provide them with the same respect and expectations. This moment happened when I was studying for my MBA at the University of Monaco. My graduation project was chosen by a team of angel investors to be implemented in the real world. That’s how all of this started, with the inception of the Moneymailme app, a social money transfer platform. The second turning point was when the founders of Moneymailme launched in 2017 Modex, a blockchain-based project and since then the business has skyrocketed. It was a long and bumpy journey, but I enjoyed every moment, from convincing my first investor to the first line of code written for our Modex technology suite of products.

Can you tell us about the Cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

We believe that blockchain is one of the technologies that has the potential to create a stable framework, an exciting emerging technology, and an efficient infrastructure which can support the rapidly changing world we are living in.

Modex has developed a middleware solution based on a new technology that prevents cybersecurity problems. Last year we launched the Modex Blockchain Database (Modex BCDB), an innovative product that can be used to supplement established data breach and data loss prevention mechanisms. By connecting an existing software application to a blockchain backend, BCDB can ensure confidentiality, integrity, immutability, and availability of databases. Through Modex, BCDB companies can move from a centralized model to a decentralized, distributed model, secured by complex encryption and hashing algorithms.

We use an innovative technology and we utilize a unique hybrid product that does not change what the beneficiary has. Our solution is designed to connect seamlessly to a client’s existing database as an API through a set of custom connectors… As a result, any developer who knows to work with a database system can operate with our solution, without needing to change their programming style or learn blockchain.

In the context of a digital world, we thought of creating an infrastructure dedicated to enterprises, but the real beneficiaries are the ordinary people, who regain through our product control over their data.

How do you think this might change the world?

There are numerous use cases that can show how our technology can improve our lives. We concentrate our efforts in order to help organizations and enterprises to build trust by protecting their data.

For example, in e-governance, blockchain has made an important step towards the democratization of the decision-making process by creating secure platforms that enhance the level of trust and transparency. And we have launched the first blockchain-based platform for e-governance in Romania.

Another important field is health. From managing patient data to tracking drugs through the supply chain, blockchain can solve some of the healthcare industry’s biggest problems, including compliance, interoperability, speed, privacy data, and security issues. Blockchain could also enable new patient-centric business models, bringing patients to the center of the healthcare ecosystem by giving them power and control over one of their most valuable assets: their data.

And the examples continue in the travel industry, the oil & gas industry, supply chains, retail, education, transportation, and so on. We are proud to say that we have created a versatile and innovative product — Modex BCDB — which can be used in all the business sectors mentioned above to protect the interests of end-consumers.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Although we are a tech company and we promote new technologies, I believe that before the adoption of any new technology we should take a moment to analyze the pros and cons and to consider if we really need this new type of technology.

The technology behind our services — blockchain, is relatively new in the business environment, so it isn’t fully understood by end consumers, but it is not a technology that addresses the end population directly. The drawbacks that people should consider is what happens if the companies they work with don’t apply the latest technologies to their business, to their data management and their digital protection mechanisms.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

I am an entrepreneur, passionate about start-ups and innovation, so I am always keen to learn new things. Back while I was doing my MBA at the International University of Monaco, I was exposed to the fintech disruptive culture in the financial system and I realized there are great business opportunities there, which could also give me the chance to create something good for the world. That was the moment I started the Moneymailme project, which in time directed us to found Modex, and the meeting with the future tech co-founders — Dragos Rautu and Alin Iftemi — was the moment of truth. I am not a tech guy, I am a business person, and to innovate and to understand the technical approach, you need to roll out the best possible players. Thank God, Romania is an IT heaven with some of the best programmers in the world and a major IT hub in Europe.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

In general, it takes a long time for a new technology to become widespread in the market. It has to undergo a maturing process and the market must prepare itself for adopting new technologies. But this last year, given the Covid-19 situation, has shown that it is extremely important for companies to be capable of adapting to new situations, and adopting new technologies. We believe that we will continue to see a rise in technology adoption.

As for our needs, I would mention government support for adoption and digitalization.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

In terms of marketing strategies, a lot of our efforts go to educational content that helps us build value for our customers. Especially when we are talking about new technologies, educational content can help in making a purchase decision. We have the company’s blog — https://modex.tech/blog/ where valuable content is added constantly.

Other marketing strategies include hosting and attending events, social media, newsletters, webinars, or any other tool that can help us promote our ideas.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Throughout my career, I had the chance to meet many great people who, one way or the other, shaped me to be the person I am today. I want to extend my gratitude to David Applefield, a former journalist at the Financial Times. He was a great partner and adviser to me, and I will always remember him as a life teacher because, unfortunately, he is no longer with us. I respect his heritage at Modex because of his dedication, enthusiasm, and optimistic character. I also want to thank my beautiful wife, who supports me every step of the way.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I think it is important to give back as much as you can. I am constantly involved in philanthropic work that I want to remain private. With Modex, we are constantly involved in educational programs with various schools and universities, with the aim to help future developers. Another project that brings me joy is my investment and support for .lumen — a research startup that uses the most advanced technologies in AI, Robotics, and Neuroscience to empower blind people.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Always ask questions. I am not a tech guy. I am an entrepreneur, so for me, it is very important to ask all the questions I may have. There are no wrong questions, and more importantly, you can learn something from the answers you receive.

2. Surround yourself with smart people. For example, at Modex, I am surrounded by a great team of tech developers that are able to imagine the technologies of tomorrow. It is important to allocate time for scouting and hiring the best people.

3. Take time to prepare yourself before any meeting. You never know when a new opportunity arises. So you always have to be prepared and ready to answer any question.

4. Take chances. As an entrepreneur, you have to be ready to risk it all in order to succeed.

5. Say no. If you think that an idea doesn’t represent you, or it might affect you in the long term, you should be able to say no. Choose fights that are worth fighting.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It’s not my job or my role to inspire movements, but if you want to play this game… I will say this: fewer politicians, more technicians, that is my kind of movement.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Race cars are neither beautiful nor ugly. They become beautiful when they win.”Enzo Ferrari. I replaced cars with my dreams.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Do you want to protect every single digital data owned with a push of a button?

Modex Blockchain Database (BCDB) is a middleware solution that enables blockchain adoption in enterprise software development and deployment without eliminating the database component. Our solution combines standard database engines with blockchain features while allowing programmers to work within the systems they are already using. This service helps build a secure and stable blockchain environment, saves on operations and maintenance costs, and facilitates business development.

Win your customers’ trust through blockchain technology!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

We have a very active presence on social media, and we are always open for conversation. You can reach us on Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, YouTube, Linkedin, Medium, or Twitter. Just leave us a message and we will contact you.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Thanks for having me!


The Future Is Now: Mihai Ivascu of Modex On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women Of The C-Suite: Beatrice Purdy of ‘Measure & Made’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As…

Women Of The C-Suite: Beatrice Purdy of ‘Measure & Made’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive

One major challenge that women executives have to face is balancing motherhood with your career. It is sometimes a real struggle to have a work/ life balance when running a company. I think women put so much pressure on themselves to be the “best mom” or the “best boss” and ultimately wind up feeling that they aren’t pleasing anyone. You only need to please yourself! Today you may be better at one thing and tomorrow another, as long as you know you tried your hardest that’s what matters.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Beatrice Purdy.

Beatrice Purdy is the president of women’s apparel company, Park Avenue Apparel, Inc. Since April 2018, she has spearheaded the branding, merchandising, marketing, eCommerce sales, operations, and consumer insights for the brand’s revolutionary apparel subset, Measure & Made. Beatrice has taken her 17 years of experience within eCommerce and retail to drive brand visibility, increase sales, and cultivate a positive consumer shopping experience.

Prior to joining Park Avenue Apparel, she was the Digital Vice President of Juniors and Special Sizes at Macy’s, where she was responsible for improving the digital shopping experience and contributing to omnichannel growth. Throughout her tenure, she aided in the launch of Thalia Sodi, Macy’s biggest female private label launch at the time and the first private brand that catered to the department store’s Latina demographic. In addition, Beatrice has held coveted buying positions within the cosmetics and apparel categories, focusing specifically on women’s contemporary clothing, denim, better bottoms, coats, and classification sportswear. Earlier in her career, she also worked for Ross Stores, Inc., where she gained valuable experience within the off-price retail sector.

Beatrice attended Boston University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts. She resides in Staten Island, NY with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. She enjoys traveling, dining out or cooking in, and spending time with family and friends.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Looking back now, fashion was always an undercurrent in my life. I remember drawing ladies in different outfits for an assignment as far back as the 1st grade and would even accessorize my pajamas with belts and headbands and would beg my mom to let me use her shoes and handbags to dress up. When I was in college figuring out what I wanted to pursue for my career, an Aunt mentioned to me that most department stores had buying programs. I knew right away that’s what I wanted to do. I’ve been in the retail world for 16 years now and have a department store, off-price, and e-commerce experience. Prior to becoming President at Measure & Made, I was a Digital Vice President at Macy’s.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Two months into starting my position I found out I was pregnant. It was wonderful news but it accelerated my timeline of getting Measure & Made up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible. One month prior to giving birth, we launched the brand website and kicked off our journey of giving women their perfect fit!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

On our first trip overseas to visit our factories, we attempted to cram too much into one trip! It was planes, trains, automobiles, with very little sleep, on loop. All future trips were planned with ample time for working, sleeping and eating.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. What is it about the position of CEO or executive that most attracted you to it?

The most attractive thing to me was being able to truly shape a business and make a meaningful impact. With Measure & Made, it is my job to drive the overall vision of the brand. Having that responsibility and power to create change is really exciting for me.

Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

As an executive at a startup, I am involved in every aspect of the company: financials, product assortments, fittings, marketing strategy, creative, website maintenance, promotions, customer service, etc. A good amount of the day is spent strategizing both short and long-term strategies to propel our business forward, as well as organizing internal meetings with our various teams. Unlike other leadership roles, it’s my job to keep everyone (from the bottom to the top of the ladder) focused and moving the bus forward.

What is the one thing that you enjoy most about being an executive?

As I mentioned earlier, the best thing about being an executive is having the power to create change and really shape the business. I love having my hands in a little bit of everything and thinking on a macro level about what is needed to make the company stronger as a whole.

What are the downsides of being an executive?

One of the downsides of being an executive is that when the business is struggling, that weight is on your shoulders. Like many other companies, the pandemic has put a major damper on our business in all aspects. Sales declined by 65% and securing capital became next to impossible. I had to strategize what was best to save the company, which included temporarily furloughing staff, canceling all-new Fall launches, and cutting back tremendously on marketing to maintain efficiency. I had to make a lot of tough calls, but they were necessary. Business is slowly improving and I am sure we will bounce back to normal in 2021.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

I think that there is a myth that once you are in a leadership position, there are certain things that are “below” your title which you will never have to do. I think that especially since Measure & Made is a small team and a startup environment, there is nothing beneath anyone. While my job mostly entails higher level, big picture stuff, it doesn’t mean I refuse to do the small things that need to get done. Executives need to be willing to do anything and everything to make sure the business runs smoothly.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

One major challenge that women executives have to face is balancing motherhood with your career. It is sometimes a real struggle to have a work/ life balance when running a company. I think women put so much pressure on themselves to be the “best mom” or the “best boss” and ultimately wind up feeling that they aren’t pleasing anyone. You only need to please yourself! Today you may be better at one thing and tomorrow another, as long as you know you tried your hardest that’s what matters.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I wouldn’t say there is a stark difference in what I had expected before starting here. I’ve been in the retail world for many years now and have really honed in on what it takes to drive sales in this specific market. My expectations of the job were very similar to what it actually is, and my past experience has certainly helped to prepare me. I think the only real learning curve was the fact that Measure & Made is a DTC brand and more of a startup environment, compared to my previous experience at larger, more corporate department stores.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive?

First and foremost, I think that all successful executives need to be passionate about what they do. With Measure & Made, I wholeheartedly believe in our mission and will always fight for what’s best for the company because of that. I obviously also think that strong leadership skills are key. You need to be decisive and clear with your vision, and you can’t let people walk all over you. As for things to avoid, I think that anyone who is in it just for the job title doesn’t deserve the title. It is a lot of hard work to be an executive, so your heart has to be in it and not just your ego.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I think that other female leaders need to be clear on expectations, but also express compassion and understanding in order for their team to thrive. At the end of the day, we are all human. I make sure to prioritize my family time and if emergencies happen, they happen. Being flexible and making sure your team is taking care of themselves is key to a healthy work environment.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have been very lucky to have several mentors through the years, all of whom were women. They contributed to my success because they helped me develop my strengths and improve my weaknesses. Most importantly, they didn’t micromanage and fostered an environment where you could speak your mind and bring new ideas to the table. Their guidance and support helped me become both a better worker and a better boss which contributed to where I am today. The only way to grow is to learn. Mentors can provide insight from past experience and help lead you in a direction that you hadn’t originally anticipated, or help push you out of your comfort zone to try something new, or even to reset and start over.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

With my role at Measure & Made, I have really tried to use my success to evolve the antiquated fit system within the retail world. The average woman has 103 things in her closet and 78% of it doesn’t fit, largely due to the fact that the female apparel sizing system has not changed since the 1950s. This a staggering number fueled by years of vanity sizing built around the “ideal” hourglass shape. No two women have the same body, so why should they be expected to fit into the same size? I hope that the world can be a better place thanks to our work at Measure & Made, which is trying to find a solution to the fit problems that many women face and empower them.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1, 2, 3, 4, and 5…Don’t sweat the small stuff!!!! It’s taken many years to not fret over every little detail and nuance of business. Inevitably, something will always go wrong, but how you manage through it will make the difference.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a major problem within the retail industry, and I hope our work at Measure & Made can create a movement to solve this. Brands often portray their styles as plus size before truly getting to know the plus-size woman of today. In the US, the average retailer will characterize sizes above 14 as “plus-size,” when the average woman is really between a size 16 and 18. Because of this, the options for stylish clothing are extremely limited, often leaving women with few choices or having to pay steep charges for custom clothing. We are proud to offer inclusive options from size 0–28, so women of all shapes and sizes can enjoy our perfectly fitting pants.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This quote is something that I came across when I was younger that always inspired me: “No one knows the mysteries of life or its ultimate meaning, but for those who are willing to believe in their dreams and in themselves, life is a precious gift in which anything is possible.” -Dena Di Iaconi

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

Last year I attended a Glossy conference in which Rebecca Minkoff was one of the featured speakers. We are both the same age as well as mothers, and I was so impressed with everything she has accomplished and continues to do.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Women Of The C-Suite: Beatrice Purdy of ‘Measure & Made’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Is Now: Mark Kadison of ‘TradeUP Securities’ On How Their Technological Innovation Will…

The Future Is Now: Mark Kadison of ‘TradeUP Securities’ On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene

We’re opening the door for people to learn to enjoy trading in a straightforward and accessible interface. For serious investors, they now have advanced analytical tools at their disposal in the palm of their hand. Once you open an account on TradeUP, you’ll have access to an enormous amount of research at the palm of your hands and our platform offers low cost trades. There’s a plethora of resources on investing and securities available at your fingertips.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Kadison.

Mark Kadison co-founded Marsco in 1986 and is currently the CEO of TradeUP Securities (formerly Marsco). Mark has over 34 years of experience in the securities industry where he has managed a self-clearing DTC member firm and has served as a General Securities Principal and Financial & Operations Principal.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Shortly after graduating from college, I worked as an accountant. During this time, my brother, Scott, and I saw an opportunity in servicing retail traders in the early 80s. We wanted to start a broker-dealer to capture this market so we formed Marsco and in 1986 we commenced operations. Initially, we found it was extremely rewarding for us to grow with our clients as they grew their own businesses and careers. We focused on building relationships with our clients, as maintaining customer loyalty was key to us.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

About a year after we started, we faced the Black Monday market crash. It took many years for investors to regain confidence in the markets, and growing our customer base in the aftermath of the crash was quite difficult. We continued to provide the best service we could to our customers, and when fears of the ’87 crash began to subside, we found we were well-positioned to grow. Since then, we’ve been focused on providing the best service for investors in the self-directed space.

Can you tell us about the Cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

We’ve been involved in the latest developments in the investing and self-directed space. We have an incredible trading app called TradeUP. It features powerful trading tools, zero-commission trades, and has a clean & intuitive UI. We’ve recently launched a feature that gives retail traders access to up and coming IPOs from our affiliate. From the latest market news to real-time quotes, you have a comprehensive suite of tools for managing your portfolio on-the-go.

We understand that retail traders are always looking for new ways to trade which is why we have new updates every two weeks that adds new features, analytical tools, and promotions. This is possible since we have a high level of control over our operations with the cutting edge app and the back-end clearing house being all a part of TradeUP

How do you think this might change the world?

We’re opening the door for people to learn to enjoy trading in a straightforward and accessible interface. For serious investors, they now have advanced analytical tools at their disposal in the palm of their hand. Once you open an account on TradeUP, you’ll have access to an enormous amount of research at the palm of your hands and our platform offers low-cost trades. There are a plethora of resources on investing and securities available at your fingertips.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

We specialize in clearing and execution in the back office of the operational side. The breakthrough was when we met with the senior executives at TradeUP. It was a combination of outstanding front-end technology and backend businesses. This union is a win-win for us and our clients. All of our systems operate in-house and keeps costs low, and for our clients, we’re able to integrate the latest features and technology onto our platform while keeping our fees competitive.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We believe the best advocates for TradeUP are its users. Our customers have been very enthusiastic about the TradeUP app with many sharing their glowing reviews and positive experiences with their friends and on social media platforms. We wanted to thank our customers and encourage them to share TradeUP so we continuously have promotions and have a referral program with very generous rewards.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

First and foremost, I am very fortunate to have had a wonderful Brother, Mother and Father and Grandmother. There are so many individuals in my life that I have been grateful for over the years. If had to choose someone, it would certainly be my brother Scott, followed by our loyal customers. For over 30 years, we have watched our customers grow, and they have helped me evolve in my career. Currently, after 30 years in this business, I’ve never been around such great and talented personnel as the ones on the TradeUP team. They’re the best I’ve ever worked with and am grateful for their hard work each and every day.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love for more younger people to learn more about the world of finance. Getting into investing is easy now with apps like TradeUP and there are so many educational resources available that are just a few taps away. Not only would they have a deeper understanding of the world of finance, but they’ll also learn how to analyze and leverage tools for their own financial goals.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of Persistence”, and “Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” I found that this has struck me the most, and throughout our many years in the industry, my brother and I always found ourselves reflecting on it in difficult moments during our careers.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can find us on Twitter at @TradeUP_APP (Twitter) and Instagram: @tradeupapp (Instagram). Looking forward to seeing you there!


The Future Is Now: Mark Kadison of ‘TradeUP Securities’ On How Their Technological Innovation Will… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Andrea Tellatin of LedWorks: Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand

When you have made a decision, don’t look back — If you want to be innovative, you must trust your gut and go with it. The market can be tested but cannot be validated until your vision is there. Many people will see it in a different way and if you change your mind every time someone is sharing his vision you, it will never take off. Falling down is a possibility, but this is the only way to take off.

As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Andrea Tellatin.

CEO of LedWorks, Andrea Tellatin, oversees the Italian startup whose mission is to bring software innovation to the world of consumer and professional lights. Tellatin is an experienced business professional with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. His strong business development skills include knowledge in Embedded Hardware and Software, Management, Start-ups, Product Development, and Research and Development (R&D).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was working as the CEO of a different technology startup, I met a visionary person who asked, “Andrea, do you want to change Christmas with me?” In many years of business, I have never been involved in lighting, so I happily answered, “Do you want me to help Santa deliver gifts faster?” After listening to him, I understood it was time for me to bring the right people together to bring a new era of lighting experience to every home. That person is now my friend, partner, and President at LedWorks, Marco Franciosa!

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest marketing mistake happened when the marketing team was focused on a specific product called “String Lights”, which was the main visual on every package. One of our biggest markets at that time was France, where the word “String” means “Thong”. When a customer explained this to us, we began to panic and question the team on how we could make such a mistake. It turns out that we did the most product sales in France than ever before! I still don’t have an answer as to why this happened, but I learned that the biggest marketing results are not coming from what you study in school. The results come from your specific vision, strategy, and sometimes, with a bit of luck!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The way everyone is a part of the Twinkly story. This is not just a product, but an experience everyone wants to be part a part of. This emotional connection with our products is now a part of our brand story. I remember when a customer shared a story about their father’s illness and a picture of his glasses reflecting Twinkly lights on the tree they built together. He smiled and said, “Thank you for bringing a moment of happiness to his life.” When we hear these stories on a regular basis, we know that Twinkly is a pleasant light emotion people want to have in their life.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, we are creating an all-encompassing lighting ecosystem! No longer just a lighting experience, but a fully immersive experience!

Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

Product marketing creates tangible value differentiation, where brand marketing creates an emotional value differentiation. We always try to focus on the emotional value differentiation in the minds of our customers. Product marketing will always support our brand and strengthen our position in the market. Both marketing efforts are essential to our brand’s success.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Branding is the advantage you will create between you and your competition. It is the loyalty you will build with customers year after year. It is where your sales will stem from when paid opportunities and media placements are no long enough to see results.

General marketing and advertising are the “short term” revenues streams. You cannot maintain these sales without a brand connection. Are they important? Absolutely yes! Without advertising, you cannot bring the product or the brand to the next level of success. But to growth your market share, you need to connect foster long-term relationships with consumers, so they continue to buy again and again.

Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.

Building a brand is like building a community. When building a brand, your job is to inspire consumers with your mission. I would suggest these 5 strategies to build your company and your brand:

Trust your team (and if you don’t, get a new team).

Trust in your team is essential. Your members must be aligned with the same goals. You cannot implement a mission without trust.

Never start a task if you don’t have the clear picture in mind.

Everything in your strategy must flow organically. Look at the big picture and begin to build your tasks from there. Do not start investing in anything that may stray away from the big picture.

When you have made a decision, don’t look back

If you want to be innovative, you must trust your gut and go with it. The market can be tested but cannot be validated until your vision is there. Many people will see it in a different way and if you change your mind every time someone is sharing his vision you, it will never take off. Falling down is a possibility, but this is the only way to take off.

When faced with a failure, take time to reflect on what went wrong

Many times, we fail in the execution of a task and simply re-try without asking ourselves what caused the failure. Some just repeat the task the same was as before, leading to more failures. We end up paying a much bigger price by not considering what went wrong the first time.

Bring your mission at every level of the company

If your passion, brand, vision, and goals are also a part of your team, everyone will be a part of the interest, listening, developing, and understanding. Ensuring this is done in the initial phases of your brand will help you see optimal results faster.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

I recently start a collaboration with Balsam Hill and I discovered the power of this brand in a such competitive market where everyone are selling pre-lit Christmas trees. But the way Mac Harman (the founder & CEO) built the passion, the details, and the beauty of the portfolio is amazing. To replicate this, you need to build the brand not in words, but build each part of the company breathing your mission.

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?

Sales are for sure the metric to measure, but also the final result of a brand campaign. A strong brand is a power you cannot touch! The success for a brand building campaign is measured in how many times your customer is buying your product again.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

Social media is key for us, especially in this hard time where people are staying home and searching for something new and exciting, like Twinkly is. Twinkly is all about experience and excitement connected with the lights. Sharing customers’ homes and emotions while using the products with videos and pictures is the biggest communication tool a company can have. Our social networks and other digital channels are the engine helping us to spread the word quickly.

What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

There is no specific advice but a clear message to everyone starting a new business adventure. Companies are not just made by an idea. Execution is everything, sometime before the idea. So many times, I saw a startup founder burning out because under-evaluating the process. To be a leader, you need power, to be powered, you need support from all the people in your company working in the same direction.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Getting everyone in the world their own Christmas tree — for free if they can’t afford it — would be a dream.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

An old business teacher always told me, “We are paid to make things happen and not to justify why they didn’t happen.” Not easy to understand and even more difficult to accept. We are humans and we often select the road that requires less effort and without planning in advance. Anything can happen before reaching your goal, and choosing to find a way to cover the mistake is a natural instinct, but being responsible for the result is key. It was not easy for me to switch my way of thinking, but it has been a business success starting point.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Jeffrey Bezos

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.instagram.com/twinkly.smart.decoration/

https://www.facebook.com/twinkly.smart.decoration/

https://twitter.com/twinkly_led

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9mHLA5RjQWrBQT4EHpbvwg

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


Andrea Tellatin of LedWorks: Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Is Now: Erik Budde of GigaPoints On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How

The Future Is Now: Erik Budde of GigaPoints On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Use Credit Cards

Be prepared to do a little bit of everything. Sales and hiring are always going to be two of the most important tasks for any founder, but unless you raise a lot of money early, be prepared to do things you may not know a lot about. Someone needs to run payroll and there’s a good chance it’s going to be you. Multiply that by 100 small things that need to be taken care of.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erik Budde, founder and CEO of GigaPoints.

Erik is a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur who is passionate about travel, credit cards and their points. He has leveraged his own credit card rewards to stay in five-star resorts throughout Europe and book first-class tickets to Japan, and started GigaPoints in 2019 to help other people enjoy similar benefits. Erik has a track record of bootstrapping and selling companies.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was fortunate to be at Stanford Business School just as the first tech boom was starting. The company I interned for went from 65 people to 130 that summer. By the time I graduated and joined full time, it had gone public and grown to 400 employees. It merged with another company, hit 3,000 people and then went bankrupt two years later. I learned a ton during that time and just kind of got hooked on tech.

In those early days, I had some great product management mentors. Since then, my career has roughly revolved around starting with customer needs and then building products to meet those needs. After working at a few large, public companies, I struck out on my own. Funded with a home equity loan, our first site grew 25% a month for two years before we sold it. After that, I bought a small site and grew it significantly before selling that one as well, this time to IAC.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

On my first real “boondoggle” trip, a supplier offered to fly us out to Taiwan in business class to see their factory. I even got to tack on a few days in Hong Kong before and I was super excited for my grist trip to Asia.. We landed in Taiwan, got taken out to a great dinner and then went back to the hotel. About two hours after I went to bed, a 7.7 earthquake hit. At first I thought the hotel had been bombed. I was still jet-lagged, couldn’t find my glasses in the middle of the night and was freaking out. It was the biggest quake to hit Taiwan in 100 years. Luckily, we were all fine and able to get a flight out later that morning. But the facility tour was a wash!.

A few years ago, I was negotiating to buy a business, and while doing due diligence I noticed a few things that didn’t add up quite right. The bank statement the founders had provided had some tiny discrepancies — almost too small to notice. I went down to my local branch of that bank and explained the situation. The representative had to be careful about what he could reveal, but he let me know that there had never been more than a few hundred dollars in those accounts — not hundreds of thousands. I hadn’t been expecting outright fraud, like photo-shopping bank statements.

Can you tell us about the Cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Picking a credit card is way harder than it should be. Is it better to get 1.5% cash back or 3 points per dollar on dining? Is it worth paying a $95 annual fee (or even more) for extra benefits? Figuring it out requires hours of research, wading through questionable “recommendations” and probably designing a spreadsheet to compare your options.

We created GigaPoints to take the work — and guesswork — out of the process. Our technology analyzes your past credit card spending; using our proprietary database of credit card programs, it then calculates the rewards you could have earned with different cards, and shares its top recommendations. We’re finding that the average consumer is missing out on about $1,000 worth of rewards each year by not having the right card for their spending habits.

If you want a quick answer instead of personalized picks, we’ve also developed a new tool that shows the “Best Card For” just about anything. Just enter a category (i.e. Groceries) or any merchant (i.e. Starbucks) and we’ll show you the cards that pays you back the most.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

I started getting really into credit cards, miles and points about ten years ago. There’s a whole community of “points hackers” out there, and at first I just wanted to maximize my return on our family’s credit card spending. We’ve used rewards to fly first-class to Japan, stayed in amazing hotels around Europe — we’ve made countless memories, all basically for free. I kind of see the Matrix when it comes to credit card rewards: I instantly spot the sub-optimal card someone is using to pay for groceries. Friends were always asking me what card they should get, and I realized that the existing system makes it hard for even financially savvy people to pick the best credit card for their needs. There’s so much information out there, and so much of it is biased because credit card companies pay big affiliate fees. After I sold my last company, RothIRA.com, I decided I wanted to help people and work on something I was personally passionate about. (No, retirement accounts don’t make my heart pound…) So I started GigaPoints.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

When we do a demo or people try out GigaPoints themselves, they immediately understand how powerful and easy the product is. Our biggest challenge is getting people to that point. Understandably, people are nervous about sharing sensitive financial data with a small (but growing!) company. But we use the same security technology as the big guys, including Venmo and American Express. If we can get over that hurdle, I believe consumers will flock to the product.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

Our first goal is to make the product as good as we can. We’re constantly collecting feedback and improving the user experience, since that is always the base of any marketing efforts. Beyond that, we’re working on various fronts to help consumers discover GigaPoints, try it out and, ideally, share it with their friends. Natural, organic growth is going to be critical to our success.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

This is a seriously long list. At virtually every step in my life, I can identify a handful of people who helped me immensely. I think most of them know the role that they played as well. But, ultimately, I can’t help but be most grateful to my parents. Most notably, my mother worked tirelessly to teach me how to write, something I consider one of the most valuable skills anyone can have. And my father taught me how to think critically. He would argue any point merely for the sport of it, and it taught me how to analyze, shape and defend my beliefs.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Startups are roller coasters. One day, everything is awesome and you’re on your way to becoming the next Facebook. Then a week later, something happens and you it seems like the company is doomed. Managing those emotional swings is one of the most important things you can do.

2. A startup is a reflection of the founders. Flaws and all. Google is the way it is because that’s how Larry and Sergey are. Oracle behaves a certain way because of Larry Ellison. Be prepared to see your weaknesses on display in your organization (since you probably won’t appreciate your strengths).

3. Startups can be incredibly rewarding. Being able to say, “I built this,” is really unique. Lots of people have ideas. But not a lot of people are willing or able to take an idea and turn it into something that touches thousands or (hopefully) millions of people. I hold great respect for everyone that even attempts it.

4. But you definitely don’t do it for the money. I haven’t had a salary for 12 years. The successes can be enormous and that’s obviously what a lot of people focus on. But risk-adjusted, you’re almost certainly better at a big company.

5. Be prepared to do a little bit of everything. Sales and hiring are always going to be two of the most important tasks for any founder, but unless you raise a lot of money early, be prepared to do things you may not know a lot about. Someone needs to run payroll and there’s a good chance it’s going to be you. Multiply that by 100 small things that need to be taken care of.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

“Don’t be an asshole.” It’s pretty simple, but if everyone kept this in mind, the world would undoubtedly be a better place.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Not sure if it’s quite “life lesson,” but MLK’s quote is always a cornerstone: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Of course, that bend doesn’t just happen, it takes hard work. But I believe that if you do the right things, the rest will eventually take care of itself.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Credit card companies give away more than $25 billion worth of miles, points and cash back every year — and most consumers are missing out on their share, because they don’t have the best card for their spending habits. GigaPoints takes the time and hassle out of finding the right card, using data to deliver personalized recommendations. Our platform securely links to a user’s existing accounts, calculates how much users are earning from their current cards and determines how much they could be getting from competing cards. The results are detailed, easy to understand, and filterable, so users can easily find the top cash cash back, no annual fee or Intro APR card.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram — @gigapoints

Facebook — GigaPoints

Twitter — @gigapoints

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Is Now: Erik Budde of GigaPoints On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Heroes of the COVID Crisis: How Dr M Nasar Qureshi of QDx Pathology Services Stepped Up To Make A

Heroes of the COVID Crisis: How Dr. M. Nasar Qureshi of QDx Pathology Services Stepped Up To Make A Difference During The Covid19 Pandemic

It appears that at some level, from day one, a large portion of the population worldwide either knowingly or unknowingly discarded the possibility that COVID-19 could become a serious pandemic. They minimized the effects, including loss of life, that related to it. It frightens me when people equate COVID-19 to the H1N1 virus (influenza) in terms of loss of life because COVID-19 has far exceeded what we experienced with H1N1.

Every life that has been lost only matters to the people that person was dear to. Otherwise, lost lives just become another number in the total. For students of history, the dead will always be part of a statistic, and they will never feel the impact of each lost life on families and friends. Even worse is the fact that we as a human race have refused to learn from the lessons of history, like the Spanish Flu, despite being reminded again and again that another pandemic was imminent.

As part of my series about people who stepped up to make a difference during the COVID19 Pandemic, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. M. Nasar Qureshi, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. M. Nasar Qureshi, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Medical Officer of QDx Pathology Services, is a recognized leader in the medical field for diagnostic excellence. He completed professional training at Tulane University School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Beth Israel Medical Center and North Shore University Hospital. Dr. Qureshi specializes in clinical and anatomical pathology and has contributed to more than 50 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. He has also served as the lead investigator for several institutional and NIH-funded grants. Dr. Qureshi currently acts as President of the American Pakistan Foundation.

This year, the QDx Pathology Services team has served our country by providing clients nationwide with fast, accurate COVID-19 test results in 48 hours or less. Quick results can be the difference between life and death. The QDx team takes this responsibility very seriously, working many nights and weekends to keep clients safe and healthy. QDx also received an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for their Qdetect test, an at-home collection kit used to test for COVID-19 via nasal specimens.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how and where you grew up?

I was born in Karachi, Pakistan. I spent my formative years through my time in medical school there. I left Karachi for the United States to pursue my Ph.D. at Tulane University.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

In my opinion, hardly any book can help you formulate real ideas that will make an impact on society. Rather, true learning opportunities come from “the book of life.”

I owe everything I know to my fabulous mentors. My greatest learning experiences have come from teachers who allowed me to observe them as they worked.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

Each day at our morning hospital meetings to discuss issues from the past 24 hours, one of my mentors used to say “kiss,” which stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” I’ve found this to be true throughout my medical career. When you boil issues down to their least common denominator, solving the problem from that point up becomes much more manageable.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?

Traditionally, QDx Pathology Services has been a certified pathology laboratory specializing in cancer diagnosis for patients who had diagnostic procedures. We also have an associated molecular biology laboratory, which is catered to molecular analyses of infectious diseases and supported diagnostic efforts.

The advent of COVID-19 led to an immense number of delays in reporting results, which put a lot of people in peril and allowed uncontrolled exposure to family and friends. This phenomenon really struck home when I lost my mother to COVID-19 due to a lack of adequate testing and availability of hospital facilities, albeit not in the United States. Two days later, I lost my youngest brother to COVID-19. He was a gastroenterologist in Louisiana and spent ten days checking in and out of hospitals. He could not receive proper medical care because his COVID-19 test results took over a week to return.

At that point, I decided QDx had the capability and expertise to do COVID-19 testing and provide timely and accurate results for our own community, at a minimum. We are proud to now serve clients nationwide.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be a hero?

Heroes are not usually recognized. True heroes cater to the needs of the time without looking for self-recognition or promotion.

In your opinion or experience, what are “5 characteristics of a hero? Please share a story or example for each.

Heroes are typically high achievers, passionate about their work, selfless, have a firm conviction and desire to enact positive changes.

If heroism is rooted in doing something difficult, scary, or even self-sacrificing, what do you think drives some people — ordinary people — to become heroes?

Heroism is not equivalent to extreme risk-taking. Someone who jumps from a parachute in space is amazing but not a hero. Real heroes are those driven to make a difference in the lives around them without looking for a reward.

What was the specific catalyst for you or your organization to take heroic action? At what point did you personally decide that heroic action needed to be taken?

When I lost my mother and uncle to COVID-19 in a matter of days, I decided QDx needed to jump in and begin providing COVID-19 testing. The decision wasn’t easy, as I knew my team would have to sacrifice many nights and weekends. Still, everyone was on board and more than willing to serve our community in this way.

Who are your heroes, or who do you see as heroes today?

My personal heroes will always be my mentors who sculpted my life and career. Some include Dr. Carl Teppire and Dr. Stanley Bauer, Chair and Vice-Chair of the residency training program I attended at Beth Israel Medical Center, Dr. Edward Baton, Head of the microbiology program at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, and Dr. Lee Henderson, who was my mentor after my Ph.D. program. I would also be remiss not to mention my parents, to whom I owe everything.

Let’s talk a bit about what is happening in the world today. What specifically frightened or frightens you most about the pandemic?

It appears that at some level, from day one, a large portion of the population worldwide either knowingly or unknowingly discarded the possibility that COVID-19 could become a serious pandemic. They minimized the effects, including loss of life, that related to it. It frightens me when people equate COVID-19 to the H1N1 virus (influenza) in terms of loss of life because COVID-19 has far exceeded what we experienced with H1N1.

Every life that has been lost only matters to the people that person was dear to. Otherwise, lost lives just become another number in the total. For students of history, the dead will always be part of a statistic, and they will never feel the impact of each lost life on families and friends. Even worse is the fact that we as a human race have refused to learn from the lessons of history, like the Spanish Flu, despite being reminded again and again that another pandemic was imminent.

Despite that, what gives you hope for the future? Can you explain?

As a race and nation, humans are incredibly resilient. We have always come out on the brighter side of the tunnel.

As far back as we can go in history, the human race has faced many obstacles and has always moved forward. The perfect example is 9/11. Once again, I hope that our next generation does not think of COVID-19 as an event which they will never face and not forget the concept we are still in the process of comprehending.

What has inspired you the most about the behavior of people during the pandemic, and what behaviors do you find most disappointing?

I’m inspired by all the people who have given their time, energy and even their lives to help fight this virus. There are heroes everywhere; all you have to do is look around at the grocery store or in your neighborhood to find people who are going above and beyond.

I’m disappointed by those who refuse to acknowledge COVID-19 as a genuine threat to society.

Has this crisis caused you to reassess your view of the world or of society? We would love to hear what you mean.

My view of the world is no different today than it was a year ago. Humans have always behaved in the same manner, but we need to be students of history to learn from our mistakes.

Often when things are going well, humans assume it’s our right and that good things will always happen for us automatically. On the other hand, when facing times of crisis, we blame other people for our mistakes. If nothing else works, we pray. I think humans need to learn that no one can shape our futures and control our destinies other than ourselves.

What permanent societal changes would you like to see come out of this crisis?

I’d like to see unity of purpose when we face our next challenge, rather than division of purpose and behavior based on political view. It would also be great to see a higher level of comprehension about what is happening around us. This is hard to achieve on an individual level; however, it can be easily reached on the community level if we have proper leadership.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

It is your future and the future of your offspring. Either we do it now, or we never do.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ve meant to do this for years, but I’d like to start a drive called “Fast to Feast.” The idea came from the fact that many religions emphasize fasting. Fasting has also become trendy in health and fitness circles. Since fasting is used for religious and health-based purposes worldwide, I would like to set up a program that donates the food saved from each fasted meal and shares it with another person who cannot afford one square meal a day.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d like to sit down to a meal with the people who worked tirelessly to bring us the COVID-19 vaccines. They have pushed the boundaries of science and technology.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me on Facebook and Instagram at Nasar Qureshi. Visit QDx Pathology Services’ website at qdxpath.com or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/qdx-pathology-services/.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


Heroes of the COVID Crisis: How Dr M Nasar Qureshi of QDx Pathology Services Stepped Up To Make A was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Nicholas Bubeck’s Big Idea That Might Change The World

My playroom has been transformed into a plane-making assembly line, and our family partakes in the process. I am the oldest of three boys and “employs” my younger brothers to help make planes, package kits, etc. But what keeps me going is the outpouring of support from people I don’t know. It’s amazing how many people are buying planes made of popsicle sticks simply to support a young child’s ambition.

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change the World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicholas Bubeck, a 7 year old First Grader out of Arizona. Nicholas’ mom told him to create a business during Coronavirus, so in May 2020, he launched Creations by Nicholas. He is now the crafty and creative youthful CEO with a booming pay-it-forward business.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific path?

In March 2020 everything changed for kids all over the country. They didn’t return to school, instead, went virtual overnight.

My mom, who is helping me with this interview, wanted to take advantage of this time and consider it an opportunity to teach me to think outside the box and do something different- something I wouldn’t normally do in the classroom. With plenty of time on all our hands, I took a bunch of crafts and created an adorable, functional craft plane (complete with wheels and a clip to hold a picture).

My mom helped me create a website (creationsbynicholas.com); I even wrote my own bio and paid my brothers to model for my online store.

My love for art fueled this idea- but also my love for travel. I love exploring different places, and due to Covid, much travel has been postponed. And so, my planes are meant to inspire kids to utilize their imagination and imagine you are going anywhere you want.

Customers can purchase pre-crafted planes in an assortment of colors, or they can purchase a DIY Plane Kit- a fun crafty kit for kids to create and customize their own “Creations by Nicholas” aircraft.

I wanted to do something extra special, so a portion of every sale goes to the Triple Heart Foundation, a foundation that gives books to NICUs all around the country. I care about the NICU because I was born early and in the NICU, too! And since this whole idea stemmed from Covid, I also launched a Kits for Kids program, gifting free DIY Kits to kids whose parents are essential medical workers.

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your new initiative?

My career path is just getting started… but it has sparked quite an adventure. I have learned the value of marketing my business and partaking in news interviews- I’m quite the Zoom interviewee! I have been featured on national networks nationwide, including ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, E! News, Forbes, and more. The most interesting moment was getting an influx of orders after my GMA appearance… and GMA even gifted me a trip to the United Airlines HQ in Denver! I was also included in Real Simple’s holiday gift guide, and got TONS of orders… so cool people want my stuff!

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

I launched my business at 6 years old; I’m now 7 and balancing school and being a CEO (and being a kid, of course). I enjoy filling orders and marketing my business- my mom says it gives me purpose during these interesting times. I want to encourage other kids to get creative.

My playroom has been transformed into a plane-making assembly line, and our family partakes in the process. I am the oldest of three boys and “employs” my younger brothers to help make planes, package kits, etc. But what keeps me going is the outpouring of support from people I don’t know. It’s amazing how many people are buying planes made of popsicle sticks simply to support a young child’s ambition.

How do you think this will change the world?

I hope Creations by Nicholas brings much needed joy to kids who are longing to keep busy, get creative and have fun during these crazy times.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Owning a business is a lot of work. After I was on “GMA,” I received an influx of hundreds of orders. While thrilled, I had to fill every single one. It took a lot of time and effort. I enjoy running a business because it’s fun to make the planes and kits- it also keeps me busy.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

The most important success practice I value is being grateful for my customers and supporters. I include a personalized thank you note in every order. I also think marketing is of utter importance- doing interviews, getting media coverage, and showcasing my stuff on social media (I share Instagram with my mom- she won’t let me have my own). These are all important outlets for evolving a successful business.

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

“My business is very cool because I am helping kids use their imagination and creativity during this crazy coronavirus. I am only 7 years old and new to the business world. I have big plans, hopes and dreams for making Creations by Nicholas grow. I have new ideas in the works and appreciate all the support and guidance I can get- especially from successful CEOs.”

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Nicholas shares an Instagram with his mom, @mamaandmyboys


Nicholas Bubeck’s Big Idea That Might Change The World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Tara Jackson: ‘How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person’

Your sensitivity can be your greatest strength but you have to honour it. Trying to do things a way that doesn’t feel good in your body will inevitably lead to burn out. Sensitivity can be your greatest gift which I will go into, but first you have to honour your needs. Listen to all parts of your being — body, mind and soul, and give it what it needs. Rest and look after yourself in your way, and the way that makes you feel good, not according to someone else’s way of doing things. This might mean doing more gentle exercise, or spending more time in nature — whatever it is, listen to yourself.

As a part of our series about How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tara Jackson, a proud highly sensitive, introverted, empath.

Tara once saw these traits as negative and did everything she could to numb and escape them, through highly destructive patterns and addictions. Having turned that around she learned that these are actually her greatest strengths, and today she is on a mission to support empaths and other sensitive souls claim the gifts in their sensitivity and use them in their lives and businesses, to help others and this planet.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally?

I am a business intuitive and mentor, Colour Mirrors alchemist, and the founder of Empathpreneurs®, a business service for empath entrepreneurs supporting them to align and ground their businesses with the chakras.

Practically this means I support empaths and highly sensitive people with the elements of running an online business from systems and processes to PR and marketing, done in a way to honour their sensitivity, as well as releasing blocks to business impact and success through ancestral and past life healing, and colour therapy.

Thank you for your bravery and strength in being so open with us. I understand how hard this is. Can you help define for our readers what is meant by a Highly Sensitive Person? Does it simply mean that feelings are easily hurt or offended?

About 20% of the population is highly sensitive and it is biological i.e. something you are born with. Those that are highly sensitive process information differently from others. They pick up on cues and subtleties (coming from all over the place) that others don’t, which can feel overwhelming and stressful. This is why highly sensitive people often get labeled as weaker or people think they get easily hurt or offended. Highly sensitive people are incredibly attuned to what is going on around them, even if it can feel like too much at times, which makes them pick up on situations more acutely than others.

Does a Highly Sensitive Person have a higher degree of empathy towards others? Is a Highly Sensitive Person offended by hurtful remarks made about other people?

A highly sensitive person usually has a higher degree of empathy towards others as they pick up on other people’s emotions and expressions, tone of voice, body language etc. As a result of this a highly sensitive person may feel emotionally invested if someone else is offended as they can relate to the experience vividly.

Does a Highly Sensitive Person have greater difficulty with certain parts of popular culture, entertainment or news, that depict emotional or physical pain? Can you explain or give a story?

Yes absolutely, as you are able to really pick up on the emotions that the person/animal is experiencing, feeling them deeply. I find it incredibly hard to watch news which depicts war torn countries, suffering people, poverty or illness. It hurts so much and I can feel the pain being experienced. Also if there is a lot of noise or stimulation going on, this feels overwhelming as it’s like a sensory overload.

When did you suspect that your level of sensitivity was above the societal norm? How did you come to see yourself as “too sensitive”?

I first really noticed it when I was working full time in central London. I seemed to find the day-today commuting and office experience much harder than my colleagues. I am also an empath which added to the situation, but I would get easily offended about things. I would pick up on the energy in the office and it often affected my own mood, I got overwhelmed if there was too much going on and I felt like it was all too much for me, and the only way to get through was with large amounts of alcohol during the week, then sleeping all weekend.

I’m sure that being Highly Sensitive also gives you certain advantages. Can you tell us a few advantages that Highly Sensitive people have?

Absolutely, being highly sensitive means you pick up on what is going on around you acutely as you are highly perceptive and can therefore empathise with others more, or provide wisdom beyond your years.

Being able to receive information at this detailed level often means you can focus in on an area is a lot of detail. For example you may be really good at analytical work, or even drawing things with lots of detail.

Highly sensitive people need to honour their needs more and take time out and rest or just be away from stimulus, I find that this encourages a more gentle approach in life, which is something this planet (particularly the western working world) needs more of.

Can you share a story from your own life where your great sensitivity was actually an advantage?

My high sensitivity is one of my greatest assets (on an ongoing basis) in my business and life today. As a coach and mentor I am able to tune into my client’s needs more acutely to support them as they need. I am able to pick up on what’s needed so that I can create it. By honouring my body’s needs I am creating a way of working for myself (and those I come into contact with) that is gentler, kinder and more in tune with the seasons and cycles of the planet.

There seems to be no harm in being overly empathetic. What’s the line drawn between being empathetic and being Highly Sensitive?

Being highly sensitive can mean that you are empathetic, as you relate to others’ experiences. Being highly sensitive also means you pick up on all the cues that affect your senses so you might feel overwhelmed by it all, and less likely to feel empathetic.

Social Media can often be casually callous. How does Social Media affect a Highly Sensitive Person? How can a Highly Sensitive Person utilize the benefits of social media without being pulled down by it?

Social media can affect highly sensitive people, yes in terms of people’s offhand comments and hurtful remarks, but also in terms of too much usage (as it does all humans, but highly sensitive people even more so). I would limit use and really curate the spaces you are in. Only join spaces and follow people who inspire and uplift you. Perhaps have private profiles, or if you can, higher someone to deal with all the comments, messages etc, so that this part doesn’t bring you down or overwhelm you. I personally use a scheduler and go on social media to engage and interact when I feel like it, so that my energy doesn’t get pulled down.

How would you respond if something you hear or see bothers or effects you, but others comment that you are being petty or that it is minor?

These days I’ve learned that not everyone is going to see things my way and fortunately I have a large number of highly sensitive friends that I can confide in, if I need to vent or share something that has affected me. But, previously I used to bottle it up and think that something was wrong with me. I would love to say to that younger version of myself that it’s okay to feel that way, do what you can to support yourself through it and know that you are here for a reason.

What strategies do you use to overcome the perception that others may have of you as overly sensitive without changing your caring and empathetic nature?

Honestly, I don’t these days. I am proud to be highly sensitive and I don’t see it as overly sensitive or something that I want others to see differently about me. I am happy being who I am, it is a gift and one that serves me and supports the people I work with powerfully.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a Highly Sensitive Person? Can you explain what you mean?

That highly sensitive people are weak. Highly sensitive people are actually incredibly strong and intuitive, and able to take on a lot as they pick up on so much. Just because they may not fit the masculine paradigm of strength, it doesn’t mean they are weak.

Another is that there’s something wrong with you if you aren’t able to do as much as others. I do feel the world is waking up to this as there’s a health crisis from pushing too hard and overdoing it. Actually there’s so much to be gained from the inward, quiet times — the times of rest, and when you do take action it is much more aligned and effective.

As you know, one of the challenges of being a Highly Sensitive Person is the harmful, and dismissive sentiment of “why can’t you just stop being so sensitive?” What do you think needs to be done to make it apparent that it just doesn’t work that way?

High sensitivity is something that people are born with, it isn’t about being able to turn it off or on. It’s the way the individual perceives the world. I think more information needs to be shared about what it means to be born highly sensitive. I think highly sensitive people need to stop apologizing for themselves and trying to fit into a way of working/living/being that doesn’t fit them. Start being who you are and claiming it, and the world will catch up.

Ok, here is the main question for our discussion. Can you share with us your “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person? Please give a story or an example for each.

  1. Your sensitivity can be your greatest strength but you have to honour it. Trying to do things a way that doesn’t feel good in your body will inevitably lead to burn out. Sensitivity can be your greatest gift which I will go into, but first you have to honour your needs. Listen to all parts of your being — body, mind and soul, and give it what it needs. Rest and look after yourself in your way, and the way that makes you feel good, not according to someone else’s way of doing things. This might mean doing more gentle exercise, or spending more time in nature — whatever it is, listen to yourself.
  2. Trust yourself and what you are feeling. You are highly perceptive in many ways and just because others don’t see, feel and experience the world in the same way as you, doesn’t mean you are wrong to feel the way you do.
  3. Reach out and find a community of other highly sensitive people. Knowing you are not alone in how you perceive the world is the biggest support.
  4. Sensitivity is a gateway to creativity and intuition. Feeling and being in tune with things on a more acute level can be harnessed as an incredible gift to help others. As you look after your needs first and foremost you’ll be able to start to see your sensitivity as a gift and use it to support others and yourself.
  5. Sensitivity is a gift that can help create a kinder, more compassionate world. As you can feel things so much you are able to pick up on what’s needed to help more people. The world needs you to help it come back into balance after we have pushed on for too long.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’d love the world to honour sensitivity more, and not see it as a weakness, especially in business. Even if you aren’t highly sensitive it fosters a more inclusive, gentle approach to working which is good for us all and this planet.

How can our readers follow you online?

The best place to connect with me is my website www.empathpreneurs.org, here you can also find a free ebook I put together with stories and interviews from 31 sensitive entrepreneurs, sharing why sensitivity is in fact their greatest strength.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Tara Jackson: ‘How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person’ was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.