Gena Wozimirsky of The Balanced Biome: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your…

Gena Wozimirsky of The Balanced Biome: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your Wellbeing

Photo Credit: ©Anne-Laure Autin

Daily Movement, such as going outside for a walk or trying some light yoga. Set a goal and incorporate movement of some form every day. Due to the pandemic, we have been limited in activities that what we can do. Do your best; try to use what is safe and accessible. There are so many online programs; find one that aligns with you. There are so many resources online, and some classes often have free trials.

As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gena Wozimirsky NNCP, ATP, D.H.

Gena Wozimirsky (NNCP, ATP, D.H.) is a Functional Nutrition Practitioner and Founder of The Balanced Biome. She empowers women struggling with hormone imbalances to take control of their health so they can live a vibrant, energized life and feel like themselves again.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

Thank you so much; I’m grateful for this opportunity! My journey began years ago when I started my career in Dentistry and became a Registered Dental Hygienist. Years later, I struggled with infertility and embarked on my health and wellness journey. I realized that many of my hormone levels were not within the expected ranges, decreasing my chances to conceive. I found out I was hypothyroid, which is a critical component in optimizing fertility in and of itself. After making various lifestyle tweaks, including changing my diet, adding supplementation, and modifying exercise, I restored my hormone levels. As a result of all my efforts, I was able to conceive, and I am now the proud Mom of two amazing kids!

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

I’ve had a Celebrity interest in the work I do. It’s very humbling, as they can work with whomever they choose. In many ways, I found it interesting that my message resonated with them. We all share the common goal of having optimal health and wellness, and I completely understand their desire to achieve that.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?

I’m from Canada, most of my clients are from the U.S. I’ve found that what is available to us here in Canada versus what is available in the U.S. varies, and it’s constantly evolving. Whether it’s new supplement companies, or products themselves, I always have to adapt to changes or differences in development and availability. While I might love a product in Canada and recommend it, it’s not always something that is going to be available to everyone. With that said, it’s always something I’m rolling with and can pivot quickly.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

I feel that those who have lived through a particular health crisis or chronic illness have a unique perspective to offer when it comes to wellness and the entire healing journey. Similar struggles people can relate to and the connection that they are not alone. After my family struggled with various health challenges, I dove into research and furthered my studies and receiving a Diploma in Holistic Nutrition (Hons). I’m also an ADAPT Trained Practitioner, along with advanced therapeutic training in Integrative and Functional Nutrition.

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 husband has always been very supportive, and he has always encouraged me in my pursuit to further my education and career. He’s stood by me every step of the way, and I can’t thank him enough for always encouraging me to pursue my dreams. You never realize that each aspect of your career is just a stepping-stone. When I chose to leave my profession as a Dental Hygienist, I wasn’t exactly sure how Women would receive my message or which approach would be the most impacting. It tends to all fall into place, work hard, provide value, and the results speak for themselves.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion, what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know and integrating it into our lives?

#1 Lack of time is an enormous issue for many. Our lives tend to be very fast-paced, and we are often burning the candle at both ends. Making health a top priority in our life can get neglected. Carving out time for any goal, whether it is meal prep so you can incorporate healthier eating or time to relax and unwind for the day, it’s how we prioritize our time and what matters most to us.

#2. Mindset is powerful and can be a massive block for many. Limiting thoughts or beliefs can keep us stuck in the same old habits. If we can change our thought patterns and recognize negative self-talk, it can be very impactful. Gratitude is such an easy way to change your perspective. Think of something you are grateful for every day.

#3. Outside influences can be another block. This one can be tough when friends and family don’t support your goals or desire to change. There is the common saying that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” The influences of the people we are around most can profoundly impact our ability to change. Sometimes a little break from those people in your life can be a great reset and give perspective on how much it may influence your life and hold you back.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

Lifestyle Tweak #1 Many are experiencing increased stress as a result of the pandemic. Optimized nutrition can help our bodies better adapt to stress. Increasing vitamin C is a great way to support your adrenal glands, known to be primarily responsible for our “fight or flight” response.

Lifestyle Tweak #2 Meditation can be a powerful tool to incorporate to calm your body and mind. Studies have shown benefits for a variety of conditions, including reducing stress and anxiety. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy process and something you can work to increase over time. A simple 5-minute reset is a great way to get started!

Lifestyle Tweak # 3 Sleep Hygiene — Getting adequate sleep is truly important to our health; this is when our bodies repair and rejuvenate. We are often staying up later than we should on our devices, impacting our circadian rhythm. Some do not realize that lack of sleep is a stressor to our bodies. Work on dialing in a bedtime routine; perhaps it’s using some essential oils like lavender to get you into a more relaxed state.

Lifestyle Tweak #4 Hydration with a twist! Even mild dehydration can impact our energy levels. It’s essential to work on optimizing your hydration throughout the day. Some fun ways to make this easier is to add a twist of citrus — which provides a significant boost of vitamin C. Infused Ice cubes are another great way to make your water intake exciting. You can add bits of fruit or herbs to infuse flavor into your water.

Lifestyle Tweak #5 Daily Movement, such as going outside for a walk or trying some light yoga. Set a goal and incorporate movement of some form every day. Due to the pandemic, we have been limited in activities that what we can do. Do your best; try to use what is safe and accessible. There are so many online programs; find one that aligns with you. There are so many resources online, and some classes often have free trials.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

1. Exercise has the fantastic benefit of reducing stress levels. Fitting in some form of daily exercise is a great way to relieve stress and positively impact our overall health. Studies have shown that exercise improves perceived stress, which is how we react to or manage specific stressors in our daily lives.

2. Exercise benefits our memory — Physical exercise can help us recall information and improve our memory. Exercising activates different parts of the brain, releasing endorphins that increase our concentration.

3. Regular exercise can improve our sleep. Both aerobic and strength training are great exercises to help enhance sleep quality and decompress your mind. Timing of activity is essential, as particular exercise too close to bed can inadvertently delay sleep. Your elevated core body temperature impacts your ability to fall asleep, so be mindful of this.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

Less is more, and I often see many overtraining, which is a stress on the body. A simple walk is excellent for various ages, and you don’t need much to get started other than a supportive pair of shoes! Additionally, doing low-impact exercises, such as resistance training, helps build lean muscle. I would also recommend restorative yoga for mind-body balance. Yoga is excellent for maintaining our flexibility and a great way of stretching, which is crucial as we age.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

Digestive Wellness” by Elizabeth Lipski. My Son had severe eczema when he was a baby. I did SO much research surrounding gut health and digestion. She discusses practical solutions to common digestive ailments and ways to bring our digestion back into balance. Digestion truly is everything; Hippocrates once said, “All disease begins in the gut.” When our digestion is off, it impacts our health in so many ways. We can see eczema and acne in our skin due to poor gut health — deficiencies in nutrients from poor absorption and digestion. Gut health even affects our mood, as our gut bacteria produce many neurotransmitters. There is undoubtedly a gut-brain connection; 90% of our Serotonin receptors are in the gut.

You are a person of enormous 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 wish that everyone could have access to functional medicine testing and integrative health practitioners. It would be amazing to provide premium healthcare at more affordable pricing — which I’m already working to do through the testing I can offer my clients. I’m always advocating for people to get to the root cause of their health challenges. Often insurance or the inability to have further testing done stands in the way. We have to take our health into our own hands; you know your body better than anyone!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

One of my favorites is “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu. Often the first step is the most difficult to take when we embark on making any change. Whether it’s health changes, new habits, or difficult decisions, we are often standing in our way, stuck in our own self-limiting beliefs. If we can get just get started, many will continue to keep pursuing their goals. When I found out from my Doctor, I was to postpone trying to conceiving due to my hormone levels; it was difficult to accept. I took her advice and waited and did everything I could to achieve my end goal of a healthy pregnancy. That meant taking steps to clean up my diet and lifestyle so that I could optimize my chances of becoming pregnant — and I did it, thankfully!

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

I’ve always been a huge fan of Dr. Mark Hyman’s work; he is one of the top Functional Medicine Doctor’s in the U.S. His “food is medicine” approach to health is in line with my beliefs and the way I practice. I would love to chat with him about functional medicine and the latest methods and therapies for improving overall wellness.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

I’m most active on Social Media; TikTok is my most frequented platform at the moment, along with Instagram. My handle on both those platforms is @thebalancedbiome. I also love Clubhouse and can be found there as @balancedbiome — I look forward to connecting!

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

Thank you so much; I appreciate the opportunity!


Gena Wozimirsky of The Balanced Biome: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Maegan Lujan: How To Thrive Despite Experiencing Impostor Syndrome

If we are not being true to who we are because we afraid of how we will look then we are also not allowing others to be true to who they are. It creates fear and blocks for everyone instead of authenticity. Figuring out who you are and how to share your story in a positive way inspires others and lifts them up.

As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maegan Lujan.

Maegan Lujan is a brand strategist, business leader, and author on a mission to motivate and inspire others. Maegan’s journey has taken her from high risk in the foster system to high potential in Corporate or Fortune 500 boardrooms and beyond. She was recently named to the 2020 Top 100 Product Marketing Influencers list by the Product Marketing Alliance and the 2021 People to Watch List by The Cannata Report. Maegan’s tenacity has also earned her a nomination for the Women in Business Award from The Orange County Business Journal in both 2019 and 2020 and recognition as a 2016 Young Influencer and 2019 Woman of Influence by The Cannata Report. Both on-stage and off, Maegan enjoys assisting with and speaking out for causes associated with foster care, domestic violence, and youth development.

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’?

Well, I grew up in Foster care and then I was out on my own at 14 years old. I didn’t go to high school or college. But I made my way in the world and climbed up the corporate ladder by starting as a temporary document scanner operator at a bank. Later on, I ran a lean entrepreneurial operation at Drivve which really fueled my entrepreneurial spirit. I stepped back into the corporate world landing my current role as a Director at Toshiba. And now I have expanded that into managing both my corporate career and starting my personal brand becoming an intrapreneur. More on that here. Talk about imposter syndrome! A teenager trying to be an adult. A non-college grad as a director in the male-dominated field of technology. Then I started wanting to build my own personal brand but I was afraid to tell my real story about where I came from. But I have started sharing and that has made all the difference.

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?

I remember when I was just starting out in my professional career in the early 2000s and was working a full-time job managing loan portfolios and temporary jobs on the evenings and weekends.

One of the jobs I did in the evenings was “Admissions” for a college in GA at 11.50 per hour.. which is basically cold calling prospects. It was like living an old-school sales meme. I was toured through layers of the campus, seas of cubical, into an office, and back into a large conference room with more cubicles.

I was sat down at a dusty desk with a desk phone, pen, highlighter, and printed prospect list and told to just book in-person appointments for the admission staff. No training, scripts, or guidance. Truth be told, I hated that job. Every minute of it for the first three days, and then I ghosted them — professionally. I called the staffing agency up on my fourth day and told the truth. I appreciated the offer and I tried to do the work. It was hard. After hours of calling and dealing with brutally rude people, I was only booking 20-ish appointments per week. It was hard work, no one wants to get a cold call. Period. I didn’t like feeling as though I wasn’t making a contribution and getting beaten down in the process. I then went on to thank them and maintain the bridge built by saying this “considering I have an FT job, the PT job at $11.50 isn’t attractive and I would like to pass and end the remaining 6-month assignment”. It was a hard conversation to have, to be an adult and say, it’s not working and to have the talk.

What happened next blew my mind and changed my career path mindset forever.

Later that evening, after my shift was about to start, I received a call from the manager. He told me that he was really disappointed in me not returning and went on to tell me that the numbers I hit were 4x the volume of anyone else they’ve had in that role. He said he wanted to pay the agency to bring me on as a direct employee, PT, and that he wanted to know the price. We have all had those moments, where you have to leap and just state your worth. I shot high and said $18.50 he accepted. It blew my mind and here’s what I learned

  1. Having the hard talks in life opens up more possibilities and you learn to trust yourself a bit more.
  2. I didn’t know my worth and spent time feeling like an imposture when others had a totally different perspective.
  3. Everything is negotiable and you won’t know until you try.

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

The company I work for Toshiba stands out because of our values. We value grit.

You have to be bold and take some risks. You have to be determined to figure things out and be creative. The support they provided me in launching my thought leadership and personal branding goals and helping me give back through my work with the Orangewood Foundation. Toshiba’s values are Agile, Bold, Creative, Determined, Empowered. I love that!

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?

My LinkedIn Community.

LinkedIn community, you’ve helped me grow by encouraging me, pushing me, giving me honest feedback, and challenging me to be better today than yesterday. To continue showing up and providing value during one of the worst times in history: COVID-19. The positive affirmation I’ve received from you, encouraging me to write blogs and books, has been monumental. I cannot thank you enough!

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 experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?

To me, Imposter Syndrome is feeling like you don’t belong. I grew up without a mother or father in foster care. I didn’t feel like I belonged. It is feeling inferior to someone else. The feeling did not stop when I was young. It didn’t stop as I climbed the corporate ladder. It did not stop when I received honors and accolades.

I was named a top influencer by the 2019 Cannata Report and for that honor, I needed to go out to New York and tell my story. I was there thinking, why am I here. I don’t deserve to be here. I didn’t feel successful enough.

It’s something you have to fight personally as an entrepreneur knowing everyone’s story and path are different. I’ve battled imposter syndrome since beginning my career. The truth is, I still do to an extent. I feel we all do, and that we need to experience this (in small doses of course) to be successful on our chosen paths.

It’s how you know that you are stretching into a new growth area. You have to be brave enough to suck at something new.

What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?

Imposter Syndrome limits us by keeping us from taking risks. It can also keep us from asking for help when we need it and keep us from being humble enough to grow. We want to keep up an image or front on the outside but we have to let go of this to learn and be true to who we are. No one can be me. No one has my combination of skillsets, passion, and story.

How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?

If we are not being true to who we are because we afraid of how we will look then we are also not allowing others to be true to who they are. It creates fear and blocks for everyone instead of authenticity. Figuring out who you are and how to share your story in a positive way inspires others and lifts them up.

High-achieving individuals are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” Does that sound familiar?

In my experience, imposter syndrome is a feeling that you aren’t authentic. You have your skillset, belief sets, accomplishments and resume, knowledge, etc. yet you still don’t quite feel as though you are that person or that you’re deserving of being that person. As a result, you’re continually trying to improve yourself and overachieve and overdeliver.

It is something I think we all have to continue to work at. Leaders especially need to set the example to build authentic teams and authentic companies

We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?

As I talked about before I have experienced Imposter Syndrome many times over. That instance where I was honored as a top influencer for the Cannata Report opened my eyes to ways that I could write and share my story through the platforms I’ve been given to let others know that who you are on paper, or who you have been, does not tell the end of your story.

You can change things. You get to be the CEO of your life.

Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?

Taking time to reflect and get clarity is what helps me push past feeling like an imposter. Last year provided the time for me with the pandemic and got me on this new journey of helping corporate leaders build their personal brands not hiding who they are but by sharing.

In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Know who you are and what you want out of life. I have done this in my corporate career by taking assessments. It is hard to face your weaknesses and how others see you but it gives you the power to grow.
  2. Don’t be afraid to share your story. You can share it your way and you do not have to share everything. But know that your story connects you with humanity.
  3. Humanize yourself. Social media is supposed to be social. We’re not just building companies, we’re building communities
  4. Know that failure is ok. It is not the end of your journey but part of it. Failure always brings lessons and things we can take away for next time.
  5. Just keep going. You may have these feelings but don’t let them stop you from focusing and accomplishing your dreams and goals.

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

Normalizing the path to success by sharing the failures. People are craving the real, raw, and actionable stuff. Maybe tie this into building a personal brand. If you do this properly, you will go on a self-discovery and development journey. You will learn more about who you are, what you love to do, and how to share that with the world. And we all need it.

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, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I’d love to spend time with Sophia Amoruso. She embodies the grit and grace that I bring to my day-to-day, has been there and done that vibes, and acts in ownership of her failures. I’m impressed with all the touchpoints of her brand.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/maeganlujan/

https://www.facebook.com/maegan.lujan/

https://www.facebook.com/maegan.lujan/

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


Maegan Lujan: How To Thrive Despite Experiencing Impostor Syndrome was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Kraft Heinz SVP Rashida La Lande: “How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time To Be Great Parents”

It’s about being loving and kind and setting boundaries. I want to make sure my children have what they need to grow. I’m not a helicopter parent. It’s good to remember there are things I have to control and things I can’t. The really tough part about being a parent is when to give leeway and flexibility, and when not to.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Rashida La Lande, Global General Counsel and Head of ESG and Government Affairs at Kraft Heinz.

Rashida La Lande is Senior Vice President, Global General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Kraft Heinz. Prior to joining the Company in January 2018, Ms. La Lande was a partner at the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where she advised corporations and their boards, primarily in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, private equity deals, and joint ventures. During her nearly 20 year career at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, she represented companies and private equity sponsors in the consumer products, retail, financial services, and technology industries.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

I grew up in Jamaica, Queens, a very diverse neighborhood in New York City. I was extremely lucky to hit the parent lottery: they’re kind, loving and focused on learning. I’m great friends with them now and we talk every day.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

Sure! I usually wake up around 7AM. I or my husband let out the dog and we start the process of getting our four children up and ready for school. The hardest is the 6-year-old. Even though she goes to a school that requires a uniform, there is a daily battle about her outfit and hair. My husband puts on music and based on the playlist, the children know whether they should be rushing or whether they have time to be leisurely. One of us will get breakfast ready for the four. I have to say, teeth brushing is the bane of my existence — my children will not do it on their own! Once everyone is off to school, I race upstairs and try to fit in a shower if there’s time before my first meeting. If not, I’m hoping I can take a shower during lunch. It’s a juggling act for sure. Though I try to keep normal work hours, I recognize that it’s all about the role. As general counsel, there have been times where things happen in the middle of the night that I need to attend to.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development? On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

I tell my children all the time that my job is not to give them what they want, but to give them the skills to succeed in life. I take this job very seriously and to do it right I need to spend time with them and teach them the right things to do. But spending time with them helps me as well. It’s a way to charge my battery and to feel motivated. And I really enjoy all of it: reading them books before they go to bed, arguing over what’s a better book or who’s a better superhero, cooking together, baking together. I thrive on it. Most of the time it’s really enjoyable!

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

For me, the only way to make everything work is by being super-organized. Up on my computer screen is a monthly view of my family’s life. I map it out every six months and color coordinate it by child. Work life balance is about understanding that there are periods of intensity around work, and periods where there is intensity around family life. Mom stress is a real thing, and this is a way to combat that. I include key Kraft Heinz dates as well — Board of Directors meetings, stockholder meetings, conventions. Every Sunday night I’m looking at my calendar to see which days are early days, late days. I look ahead to the short term, medium term and long term. Forethought and planning keeps it working. During the week, I also try not to overcomplicate things. If I have a late day and it’s my turn to cook, it’ll be something I can cook ahead of time, in between calls, like arroz con pollo in the pot.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

It’s about being loving and kind and setting boundaries. I want to make sure my children have what they need to grow. I’m not a helicopter parent. It’s good to remember there are things I have to control and things I can’t. The really tough part about being a parent is when to give leeway and flexibility, and when not to.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

It’s a multipronged approach but it starts with books! Books are really big in our family and always have been. Reading is always extremely important to us. One of us reads to the kids every night. We’re reading Anne of Green Gables — everyone loves it, even my 14-year-old. Our favorite books are The Little Engine That Could and Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, an incredible piece of African American feminist literature. It’s about a girl who wants to be Peter Pan in her school play. I also like to lead by example. Sometimes I’ll talk through issues at the dinner table and ask my children what they think. It’s all about getting those muscles trained.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Success is me going as far with my career as I’m capable of and my children being generally happy, caring, hardworking, thoughtful and as successful as they want to be. I think these goals complement each other, especially in the context of leading by example.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

It full on takes a village! My advice is to take whatever help and guidance you can. I have a ton of mentors who I call on for all sorts of problems. I also rely on books to help. The book series from Your One Year Old to Your Nine Year Old by Louise Bates Ames, PhD and Frances Ilg M.D. are great. Another book that gets read in our house is Raising Lions by Joe Newman.

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

I have a quote that I love because it perfectly incapsulates the importance of leading by example but also the importance of spending time with your children:

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
― James Baldwin


Kraft Heinz SVP Rashida La Lande: “How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time To Be Great Parents” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women In Wellness: Nathalie Botros of The Bon-Vivant girl on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will…

Women In Wellness: Nathalie Botros of The Bon-Vivant girl on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

LET GO — Sometimes holding on to things can be more harmful than letting it go. I was so scared to LET GO that I got stuck in some points of my business. Letting go of a business partner or a project doesn’t mean failure but a small reboot to function better.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nathalie Botros.

Nathalie Botros is the Founder of “The Bon-Vivant girl”, a lifestyle brand that helps women find Happiness without conditioning it on anything or anyone; and teaches women to love and accept themselves while enjoying every aspect of their life. She is also the author of “If You Are What You Eat, Should I Eat A Skinny Girl”, an anti-diet book that helps readers lose weight without losing their joy for life.

Nathalie is a self-proclaimed Happiness Fairy, spreading her Happiness Dust and Bon-Vivant girl Lifestyle through her publications, online courses, and her podcast.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

All of my life I was told that I needed to be skinny in order to be happy and healthy. I started my first diet at the age of 12 while attending boarding school in Switzerland, not because I was fat, but because everyone else was doing it. It was only the beginning of my serial dieter phase. In between diets, I was enjoying life — and during those sparkle periods of my life is when I would gain weight, which then led to the dark periods of my life — where I would start the latest fashionable diet and feel punished and miserable. The pattern got worse when I first moved to New York 15 years ago, and I gained 40 pounds in less than a year. I became obsessed with weight-loss and sadly didn’t lose any weight but instead, lost my appetite and joy for life.

After hitting rock bottom, I decided that I needed to change this harmful pattern and take charge of my life.

Instead of focusing on my food intake, I started by first grieving my old figure, while learning to love and accept myself with my current figure. It worked, and once I was at peace with my body shape, I started to shed all the weight.

The funny part is, today I gained some of that weight back, but guess what? I am Ok with it and actually look even better. Why? Because I have spent these last few years learning to love every inch of my body and to cherish all of my flaws, body, and personality — even turning them into qualities.

My rock bottom was the day that The Bon-Vivant girl was born with the sole purpose of helping others to understand that we should never attach our happiness to something or someone, but to ourselves: “Things and people will come and go, the only thing that stays is ourselves.”

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I have several but this story makes me smile and proves that the happy, positive, and confident energy that we emit is particularly important.

Before launching The Bon-Vivant girl, I decided to do a photoshoot to have some good quality pictures for my brand and book. I hired a fashion photographer. He took great photos, told me that I was photogenic, but I couldn’t get any other compliment out of him. You know when someone says that you are photogenic but doesn’t say that you are beautiful, you’re not sure if it’s a compliment or not.

When I hired him again last summer for a new photoshoot, his attitude was completely different. He spent the day talking about my positive energy and how beautiful I was.

The main difference between the two photoshoots were 4 years, 30 pounds, and a lot of practice of what I am preaching: Self-Love and Acceptance.

This story shows that your age and weight are just a number, your energy is what makes you look beautiful, powerful, and successful.

You can see by yourself with these two photos.

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

When I first started to write my book, I attended a book writing class and they kept asking the question: Why do you want to write this book? What is the purpose? I didn’t have a specific answer, I just wanted to write a book, share my story, and help people lose weight.

Once I wrote the book and published it, I understood what they meant with their questions, because I had no idea what my next step was. Should I become a coach, an author, a public figure — I genuinely had no idea.

It took 6 months along with consultant and public relations fees to finally discover what I really wanted, and what the purpose of my book was. My book wasn’t about weight loss after all, it was about seeking happiness via my story of having a love/hate relationship with my body.

I wish I had defined my purpose prior so I could have saved all of that time and money.

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 don’t have one person, but two: my mother and my sister.

They are my biggest supporters but also keep me grounded every step of the way. I don’t think I would be where I am today without them. I had a lot of doubts while I was building my brand, but their support made things easier.

I can have a great team behind me, but their opinion is the most important one, as they know my limits and my capabilities.

I will always be grateful for them.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

The purpose of my work is to spread happiness and put a smile on everyone’s face. It can be through multiple channels, such as private coaching, my book, my online course, my publications and even my social media platforms.

The Bon-Vivant girl is a brand with the sole purpose of spreading Happiness Dust all over people and teaching them how to live fully without limitations!

The biggest reward is when I receive messages from my clients or followers telling me that I was the nudge that they needed in that moment to find Happiness or that I helped them to find their own self-love and confidence.

Every smile I put on someone’s face is a step towards a bigger impact, because I know that person will now put a smile on someone else’s face too.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would ask people to help put a smile on at least one person’s face every day. It is a small and simple action that leaves a big impact.

You can do it by helping them, giving them some of your time, or even giving them a compliment.

This will create a ripple effect as that person can now pay it forward or “SMILE IT FORWARD”.

The process would make you and the other person happy.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

One — DEFINE

Whatever you decide to do, you need to DEFINE the outcome. I made that mistake with my book, and even my brand. You need to know what your target is, don’t start a business just to start something.

Two — MUTE

You are going to have a lot of opinions around you. Everybody is going to tell you what your brand should be. I made the mistake of listening to them at the beginning and got confused. Today, I still have all of those “suggestions”, and I know it comes from a good place, but I just MUTE them now.

Three — FAIL

I know right? How to succeed if we must fail first? You have to FAIL at least once in order to be able to learn from the mistakes and never do them again. I was so scared of failing that I never took any risks in the beginning. The important part is not failing or falling, it is how to rise up afterward.

Four — TAKE RISKS

Which comes to my fourth thing. You should TAKE RISKS, staying in your comfort zone will not bring you success. Today I keep taking risk, sometimes I am successful, and sometimes I fail but it makes me a better coach and businessperson.

Five — LET GO

Sometimes holding on to things can be more harmful than letting it go. I was so scared to LET GO that I got stuck in some points of my business. Letting go of a business partner or a project doesn’t mean failure but a small reboot to function better.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Definitely mental health is the dearest to me because it seems that everyone is eager to take care of their physical health but dismisses taking care of their mental health.

Maybe it is due to the fact that the physical issues show up faster. I agree that the mental issues take longer to show up over time, but the damage could be deeper, and the consequences could be bigger.

Some people think that when we talk about mental health, we are only referring to mental illness, but it goes beyond that. It includes the way we cope with our daily life. It is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects our daily life more than anything else.

In the past talking about our mental health was considered taboo, but today we don’t have any excuses.

So why is it natural to go see your physician for a yearly check-up, but you disregard doing the same for your mental health?

Similar to a computer, if it has a problem with the hard drive, you can try to download an antivirus or cleaning software, but it won’t resolve the problem. The only way to fix the hard drive is to send it back to the factory.

The hard drive of a computer is similar to your mental health, it is the way that you function, your inner programming. You can buy all of the makeup and outfits that you want to decorate the outside, but it won’t resolve the inner issues. And being a human, sending you back to the factory is out of the question. Therefore, if you want to function properly, be in sync with your mental health and make it a priority.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Check out my website The Bon-Vivant girl where you can find many tools to enhance your happiness, and also please check out my Instagram and YouTube Channel where I share weekly Happiness Tips.


Women In Wellness: Nathalie Botros of The Bon-Vivant girl on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple, with Sloan Saunders and Dr Katherine Saunders of Intellihealt

Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple, with Sloan Saunders and Dr. Katherine Saunders of Intellihealth

From the day I decided to specialize in obesity medicine, I’ve been passionate about my mission. When Sloan became more passionate than I was about the massive supply-demand mismatch associated with my profession, I took notice and we decided to team up with Dr. Aronne to start Intellihealth.

As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sloan Saunders and Dr. Katherine Saunders Co-founder and CEO, Intellihealth.

Sloan Saunders is an entrepreneur with 15 years of banking, private equity and venture capital experience. He co-founded Intellihealth in 2017 together with leading obesity medicine specialists Dr. Katherine Saunders (his wife) and Dr. Louis Aronne, with the mission to redefine the perception of obesity as a medical disease and expand access to care with a scalable treatment solution that helps more people live longer, healthier lives.

Dr. Katherine Saunders, MD, DABOM, Co-founder and Senior Medical Officer, Intellihealth

Dr. Katherine Saunders specializes in the care of patients with obesity and weight-related medical complications. She is an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and an assistant attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. As a senior medical officer at Intellihealth, she helps ensure that the obesity treatment delivered via the company’s platform adheres to the highest standards of evidence-based medicine.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?

After receiving minimal education on obesity during my medical training, I was completely unprepared to address the underlying cause of my patients’ myriad health problems — their excess weight. My obesity medicine fellowship (one of the first in the country and the first at Weill Cornell) with Dr. Louis Aronne at Weill Cornell’s Comprehensive Weight Control Center was the first time I actually witnessed people lose weight and keep it off. Instead of prescribing multiple medications for high blood pressure, joint pain and over 200 other conditions associated with weight, I finally had the tools to address their weight appropriately and successfully.

At the same time, Sloan was gravitating towards more entrepreneurial pursuits. With his finance background and his passion for solving problems, he designed a business plan to digitize what we do in addressing obesity at scale. At the beginning, he even took a crack at an algorithm to mimic our medical decision-making.

In 2019, we teamed up with Dr. Aronne, who pioneered an effective medical model for obesity treatment over the course of his career and helped develop the field of obesity medicine. Our company, Intellihealth, created its first software platform, Evolve, to democratize access to this type of effective obesity treatment through a comprehensive, individualized approach.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?

Marriage is one of the ultimate forms of partnership. Becoming startup co-founders on top of that while raising three young children during a pandemic really heightens the challenges. Some warned us about the pitfalls of working with your significant other but it has actually strengthened our relationship and allowed us to see one another in a different light. Combining our complementary expertise to grow Intellihealth has been an exciting journey.

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?

At the beginning of the pandemic, when back-to-back Zoom meetings were new to everyone, we found ourselves displaced from our separate offices, working under the same roof. We took several Zoom meetings, including many investor pitches, sitting side by side in front of the same camera, strategically hitting mute to hide our babies’ cries. It took us way too long to realize that we appeared exponentially more professional on separate screens and as far away from screaming children as possible.

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

While the weight loss space is very saturated, less than 2% of people with obesity receive treatment for the disease of obesity according to guidelines. This is compared to 86% for a disease like type 2 diabetes. When you combine the serious health risks and costs associated with obesity with how widespread it is (74% of the U.S. population is overweight or has obesity), there is a real urgency to develop a solution. With Intellihealth, we have combined advanced technology with a proven medical model to create a solution scaled to the magnitude of this epidemic. The access to quality clinical care provided by our platform will allow millions of people who have repeatedly failed commercial weight loss programs to lose two to three times more weight and, more importantly, sustain their weight loss long term.

It has been so gratifying to see the impact of our progress on individual people. A few months ago, one of my patients arrived at her initial visit feeling like a “loser” because she had regained most of her weight since bariatric surgery. She was embarrassed and blamed herself. She described a perceived lack of willpower and repeated “failures.” She was skeptical because nothing had ever worked in a sustainable way — not even bariatric surgery. Over the course of our visit and her first few months using Evolve, she learned about the physiology of weight regulation, about how our bodies have evolved to not starve through anti-starvation defense mechanisms that fight our best weight loss attempts every single time. She learned that excess weight literally leads to inflammation in the hypothalamus, which results in increased hunger and more weight gain. She learned that her inability to sustain weight loss was not her fault. Obesity is a disease that shouldn’t be viewed as a personal failure. The Intellihealth approach goes beyond diet and exercise to treat the disease with a medical model similar to the model used to treat other diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This is the standard of care. She now has hope and support, two concepts that had always been antithetical to her weight loss attempts. Today she is well on her way to significant weight loss — without fad diets, cleanses or starving herself.

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

Healthcare providers don’t have time for anything cumbersome and individuals who have overweight or obesity have many competing priorities. Thus, our solution needs to be as easy and seamless as possible for everyone involved. We’re currently integrating the Intellihealth software platform, Evolve, into electronic health records to streamline healthcare providers’ workflow. We’re setting up wireless transmission of data — including weight, blood pressure and blood sugar — from individuals’ devices to our platform. We’re launching our Evolve app for iOS and Android in the next few months so it’ll be easier to use our program on the go. We are also continuously refining our algorithms to optimize precision medicine for obesity treatment.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Intellihealth is truly a mission-driven company, and our objectives are meaningful and critical. This is a real advantage for us, as our company culture is empowered by an incredible team of individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise coming together around our central mission of helping people achieve lasting improvements to their health.

How do you define “Leadership”?

True leaders know where they want to go, but they keep an open mind about the best ways to get there. With a dynamic, talented and passionate team, leadership is as much about listening and learning from different perspectives as enabling them to inform decisions. When the team feels that sense of agency, they can be more motivated about the collective mission and create greater value.

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?

Without a second of hesitation — Dr. Louis Aronne. He has spent his career pioneering and developing the field of obesity medicine. He has persevered despite skepticism and doubt to transform our understanding of what obesity is and how to treat it effectively. He has changed thousands of lives in countless ways that go way beyond weight loss and health outcomes. He taught me everything I know and practice clinically, and he has afforded Sloan and me this tremendous opportunity to build on his success though Intellihealth.

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

As physicians, we derive tremendous satisfaction from improving our patients’ health. While Dr. Aronne and I do this daily in our practice on an individual basis, the Intellihealth technology is positioned to bring our success to millions of people around the world. This will bring not only goodness but improved health outcomes, happiness and tremendous cost savings. As Dr. Laura Alonso, chair of endocrinology at Weill Cornell Medicine, once said, we have the potential to reduce the average BMI (body mass index) in the country.

Several times per week, our patients thank us for changing their lives. Before they were introduced to us and Evolve, other healthcare providers were scared to talk to them about their weight and offered little guidance beyond “eat less and exercise more.” Evolve can empower healthcare providers to address weight in a compassionate way and offer treatments that their patients desperately need.

What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Dedication. Sloan and I met at nursery school. When I repeatedly rejected his pleas to “race me, race me” and told him “I don’t have my running shoes,” Sloan didn’t give up. Twenty-five years later, we got married thanks to Sloan’s dedication.
  2. Different expertise. Since the day we started dating when I was in medical school, everyone would ask if Sloan was in medicine too. People often assume that doctors only marry other doctors. While this works for many, I’ve always felt grateful that we didn’t have too much professional stuff to discuss at the dinner table. Until now … But it works because we’re on completely different sides of Intellihealth.
  3. Compatibility. We traveled around the world for a year between my residency and fellowship. We were together 24/7 for months at a time. I can’t tell you how many people told us they could never do that with their spouse. We did and came out of the experience a stronger couple.
  4. Passion. From the day I decided to specialize in obesity medicine, I’ve been passionate about my mission. When Sloan became more passionate than I was about the massive supply-demand mismatch associated with my profession, I took notice and we decided to team up with Dr. Aronne to start Intellihealth.
  5. Support. Specifically, child care — especially during the pandemic. We couldn’t function without above-and-beyond excellent child care in combination with four extremely involved grandparents.

You are people 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. 🙂

The movement exists. There are many organizations that bring awareness to the disease of obesity and the need for effective treatment. Intellihealth is poised to scale provider training and patient care globally.

Check out the Obesity Action Coalition: “Our core focuses are to raise awareness and improve access to the prevention and treatment of obesity, provide evidence-based education on obesity and its treatments, fight to eliminate weight bias and discrimination, elevate the conversation of weight and its impact on health and offer a community of support for the individual affected.”

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

During my fellowship, I often asked Dr. Aronne how to communicate with healthcare providers who questioned our approach. Some called to share their doubts directly and others discouraged patients from working with us. When given the opportunity, I cited studies foundational to our field of medicine. It was hit or miss whether providers wanted to pay attention to the data from randomized controlled trials. Sometimes, I would realize months later that a patient had never returned for follow-up. Dr. Aronne has encountered this skepticism every step of the way throughout his career. His response to me was always, “prove them wrong.” I repeat these words every time I train healthcare providers eager to learn about obesity medicine and every time I’m faced with any level of doubt. Each one of our successful and grateful patients proves the skeptics wrong.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest 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 🙂

Melinda Gates — there’s a lot of work we could do together.

How can our readers follow your work online?

https://www.intellihealth.co/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/intellihealthinc


Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple, with Sloan Saunders and Dr Katherine Saunders of Intellihealt was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women In Wellness: Susan Dudas of My Day Screen on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support

Women In Wellness: Susan Dudas of My Day Screen on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Think big, start small. When I started running over 30 years ago, I could not run 50 yards without stopping. I started with a short distance then added several more yards to my distance just about every trip. I celebrated every time I met a new milestone.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Dudas.

For over 20 years, Susan Dudas served as an Organization Development consultant to numerous multi-nationals in a variety of industries (Finance, Manufacturing, Health Care, Education, Management Consulting) as well as midsize and small organizations. Parallel to her business career, Susan has invested her time and resources into helping underserved children. She and her husband started two charter schools for low-income students in Akron, Ohio in 1999. She has served on numerous nonprofit Boards as well as volunteered her time for these organizations. Susan is passionate about finding kids stable homes.

A diagnosis of skin cancer for her husband and herself set Susan Dudas on a new path — one to find a mineral sunscreen that was safe and appealing to wear. Not finding a natural, mineral sunscreen in the marketplace that was also aesthetically appealing, Susan used her 20 + years of business consulting experience to create a brand — My Day Screen™. My Day Screen™ offers antioxidant-rich, mineral suncare products made from plant-based ingredients to protect your skin from damaging indoor light (Blue Light) and outdoor light (UV).

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

My background is in business. I was a business consultant for multinationals for many years. Parallel to my business career, I have always been actively involved in serving the community including the founding and operating — with my husband — a charter school for low income children in Akron, OH. I have also served on boards of organizations that help kids find stable homes. I am adopted and our two daughters are adopted. Helping kids find stable homes is a passion of mine. I know these nonprofit organizations struggle to build steady revenue streams. I thought of ways over the years to use my business talents to generate income for my favorite nonprofit organization. Nothing resonated with me, however.

Not until October 2018. A skin cancer diagnosis for my husband — and later for me — propelled me to seek natural, mineral sunscreen options. When I did not find a product that I wanted to wear every day, I decided to start my own plant-based mineral sunscreen brand — My Day Screen™. I also decided that I will donate on each qualifying sale to two charities that help kids find stable homes.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

My consulting career provided me the flexibility to add some fulfilling nonprofit experiences to my life. One experience that I treasure was an 8 year association with a farming community in Russia. I volunteered to help the women in two farming communities north of Moscow in the Dmitrov region during the 1990s. I organized the creation of a dental clinic which provided the only dental services for rural residents of the small communities. I started a few cottage industries which allowed the women to earn money for their sewing and needlework skills. I sold their items in the US. I also organized trips for American youth to visit the villages, do a service project, and learn more about Russian youth. I met some amazing people along the way.

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

When I was in my late twenties, I was the only female manager in a high tech production plant. I had a steep learning curve. The male managers really tested me because there had only been one other female manager before me. Because I felt the weight of the expectations and was unsure of myself, I decided to keep my thoughts and emotions to myself. I adopted the approach: ‘never let them see you sweat’. This approach caused incredible stress on my physical and mental wellbeing. When I received an invitation from the Plant Manager to abandon the iron shield, I decided to take a risk and be more vulnerable. This was a great decision. I began to build trust and relationships that allowed me to be more effective in and satisfied with my job.

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 grandfather was my mentor. He and his partner started a potato chip company in Detroit during the depression. They started with nothing. Through their hard work and grit, they grew the company to a national level and merged with Frito-Lay in the 1960s. The company later merged with Pepsi Cola to form Pepsico. He stayed on for a while after the merger but retired to spend more time with the family. My grandfather had amazing stories of how he used his marketing talents to grow his business. We were close and I cherish his stories. I learned an incredible amount about business and about determination from him.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the USA. As a skin cancer survivor, I believe in the need to wear sunscreen daily to prevent skin cancer and skin damage. I never liked sunscreen before my diagnosis. Therefore, I created sunscreen products that I want to wear every day — whether I am indoors in front of my computer screen or outdoors exposed to UV rays. Two other ways our company impacts the world: 1. My Day Screen™ uses eco-friendly packaging. Each product is packaged in components made from recycled materials; 2. Our company’s charitable donations impact kids in the foster care system and kids that are homeless.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  1. Think big, start small. When I started running over 30 years ago, I could not run 50 yards without stopping. I started with a short distance then added several more yards to my distance just about every trip. I celebrated every time I met a new milestone. Eventually, I was not only able to run a 10k but was able to complete marathons. This principle also applies to business and relationships as well.
  2. Pay attention to the tension. This is a phrase that the pastor, Andy Stanley, uses and I find very beneficial to employ. If I have resistance to an idea, person, or decision, I ask myself, ‘what is really bothering me about this situation?’ Sometimes I must ask myself this question two or three times to arrive at the real answer. Tension is often a ‘red flag’ and may prevent making a poor decision, taking damaging action, or may reveal a shortcoming in my thought processes.
  3. Push the pause button. Sometimes the best thing to do in a situation is to pause. When I struggle with trying to solve a problem or to mend a relationship, I remind myself to pause. The space that a pause brings can reduce emotions, bring clarity, and/or present other options. Unless there is an urgency to address an issue, consider pausing a bit.
  4. Find a picture of your goal and look at it every day. When I set a specific goal — whether it be to arrive at a certain weight, start a business, or improve a relationship — I find a picture that represents that goal and place it in a visible spot. I look at the picture every day. While I still need to measure my progress toward the goal, the visual reinforces my emotional commitment to meeting the goal.
  5. Focus on the good and the good gets better (Abraham Hicks). I spend much of my day solving problems. It is a challenge to look for the good in problem situations. However, when I reinforce what is working rather than what is broken — especially when it comes to other people — I find steady improvement.


Women In Wellness: Susan Dudas of My Day Screen on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Vassilis Dracopoulos of The MarBella Collection On The Future of Travel in The Post Covid World

We are implementing several innovations that will make the experience of staying in one of our hotels smoother and safer in the post-Covid-19 era. The main one to note is our new concierge app through which our customers can effortlessly stay informed about our services and interact with the various hotel departments at the touch of a button.

As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vassilis Dracopoulos.

Originally born in Athens, Vassilis Dracopoulos has been passionate about hospitality from a young age. After a brief stint in banking, Dracopoulos entered the family business of hospitality. After more than half a century of superb service, personalised care and dedication, the MarBella Collection portfolio now boasts three unique 5* properties; MarBella Corfu Hotel located in Agios Ioannis Peristeron and its adjacent sister, adult-only hotel MarBella Nido Suite Hotel & Villas, and the brand-new edition for 2021 MarBella Elix, located in Parga.

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

It is the story of family karma. Our first hotel, MarBella Corfu, was built by my grandfather in the late 60’s. It was supposed to be his personal opus magnum just before he retired but he sadly did not live enough to enjoy it. In 1973, my father stepped in to help grow the resort while also attending to his other businesses. Fast forward twenty-five years the same story repeats itself. My father needed to retire early and I stepped in to help revive the brand. Although neither my father nor myself were groomed to become hoteliers, as we both initially pursued other interests, we both became emersed and captivated by the hotel business to a point that it clearly defined our entrepreneurial presence — beyond all other projects we got involved with.

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

The first time I landed on the island of Corfu after assuming the position of CEO I was picked up from the airport by an old family friend who took me for drink to try and dissuade me from the job. His concern was that my US education in finance would not serve me well with the realities of doing business on a Greek island. It was a warning that I have not forgotten and certainly helped me avoid becoming complacent.

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?

In the first year of my involvement with the resort I had an unexpected visit from some very senior officials from one of the largest European tour operators. At their request, I took them on a tour of the property as they wanted to inspect all 14 different room types that we had just renovated. After having exhausted them with the tour I asked them what they thought of the property. They replied that the hotel was fantastic but laughingly suggested that next time it would be better if I took the time to open the curtains when showing a room. I was so immersed into explaining the technical improvements we had just made that I had totally forgotten to talk about the fantastic views.

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

The Marbella Collection is a rare hybrid of a professionally run, family resort. Although we leave the day to day running of the business to experienced highly qualified professionals, my family has always been very close to the people working at the hotels and to the local community. We currently employ members of 2nd and 3rd generation from families that have been with us since the beginning of the business, over 50 years ago. At our annual company gathering I get to see and greet people who have worked with my grandfather, whose kids have worked with my father and whose grandkids honour me with their collaboration today. I am proud that since the day the MarBella Collection was founded, it environmental, social and governance practices — long before they became a popular business practice.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

Running a successful hotel is a long-term endeavor. One has to set high goals but approach them gradually. As with any “people-intensive business” it takes time to build the necessary trust and commitment required — both with the people working for the hotel and with its clients.

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 don’t like to name just one person as I have thankfully had the opportunity to work alongside several interesting, intelligent and experienced colleagues. Every one of them has contributed to who I have become. I highly value others peoples opinions and always seek to learn from the people I work alongside.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

We are implementing several innovations that will make the experience of staying in one of our hotels smoother and safer in the post-Covid-19 era. The main one to note is our new concierge app through which our customers can effortlessly stay informed about our services and interact with the various hotel departments at the touch of a button.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

We are addressing two pain points. Firstly, our guests now need to get as much information about their holiday before reaching their destination. Secondly, they must perform their in-house bookings in an effortless, safe, yet interactive mode.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

I think it will increase direct bookings and ultimately improve brand awareness. Giving the guests control to plan their experience as they wish is paramount for us, as is the safety of every guest. This encourages people to discover the destination for themselves and what they can do outside the resort, which in turn helps support the local community.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

The perfect vacation experience combines cultural experiences with full-body and mental relaxation.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Through our company and our family philanthropic foundation, we try to engage in projects that can directly impact people in need. In Greece, we tend to finance multiple small-scale projects that usually escape the more significant donors’ radars in health and education. Outside of Greece, we are currently funding the construction of a school for orphaned children in Madagascar.

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. 🙂

It would probably be something related to assisting local craftsmen and artisans with planning, microfinancing, and distributing their artworks in global markets.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Through Marbella Collection’s social accounts.


Vassilis Dracopoulos of The MarBella Collection On The Future of Travel in The Post Covid World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Leah Del Percio & Tara Faquir of Trustate On The Three Things You Need To Shake…

Female Disruptors: Leah Del Percio & Tara Faquir of Trustate On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

“It is always a good thing when a client reaches out to you wanting to share thoughts about their experience” — Recently, a client reached out to us saying that he wanted to talk about his experience. We were instantly concerned as we were assuming he had negative feedback. We were pleasantly surprised when his review was glowing and told us we were underselling our service.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Leah Del Percio & Tara Faquir of Trustate

Leah Del Percio and Tara Faquir met in college and have both had successful careers respectively. They have joined forces to help families through the challenges and stress of administering a loved one’s estate once they have passed on. Their unique service marries technology and human empathy through this often challenging time.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! 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?

Leah Del Percio is a former trust and estate attorney who has settled hundreds of estates over the course of her notable career. Tara Faquir has years of sales and operations experience and has worked with well-known start-ups. She keeps the customer in mind when creating services to offer. Together Leah and Tara’s skills compliment perfectly.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Estate administration is designed to be inefficient because lawyers bill hourly for it, causing the customer to pay hefty, unnecessary fees. The majority of the estate administration work is administrative, not legal work and does not require a law degree to complete. We at Trustate recognize the needs for an efficient, affordable solution for the millions of executors who are desperate for a solution. Trustate is where human empathy and technology meet. We are not your traditional tech company, because we recognize that difficult human problems (like losing a loved one) requires a human ear. Our technology enables our estate concierges to complete estate focused tasks in less time and more efficiently than if they were to complete them manually. Our user-friendly technology combined with our personalized service gives our clients the space they need to grieve and support their family — which is the most important thing they can be doing.

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?

While we don’t have a “funny” mistake, we did recognize early on that we needed a clear way for people to purchase our services. Through market research and listening to our clients at the time we learned through their experience things we could have done early on to make the process even better — like an easy way to buy.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

The key to making wise decisions is learning from other people’s mistakes and be open to all feedback. We consistently ask for feedback from people who have done this before — whether they are successful entrepreneurs, investors or mentors. Their advice and guidance is gold as they have made mistakes along the way too and learning from their hiccups and stories has allowed us to be open to creating services and products that perhaps we had not thought of before. Even when we feel we have a great offering, we continue to seek feedback to see if there is anything missing/could be improved.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

We ultimately believe that Trustate is not disrupting but pioneering. We are filling a true gap in the market that has not yet been explored. Disrupt implies doing common things differently but pioneering means we are doing things better and creating a market.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. “It is always a good thing when a client reaches out to you wanting to share thoughts about their experience” — Recently, a client reached out to us saying that he wanted to talk about his experience. We were instantly concerned as we were assuming he had negative feedback. We were pleasantly surprised when his review was glowing and told us we were underselling our service. We shared this story with an advisor who said “it is always a good thing when a customer reaches out to share their thoughts with you, because a bad experience they will share with everyone else but a positive experience they will share with you.”
  2. Don’t oversell — We are passionate about our business and find that we want to share every detail about how we can help our clients and partners- however, there is a fine line between sold and overselling. Years ago had an experience at a department store when buying a blazer. I was thrilled to buy the blazer I had my eye on for weeks. As I was nearing the register a salesperson approached and told me all the details about the stitching- handsewn, silk, hand-dyed…all I thought about now was the care this blazer would require- dry clean only, spot clean..”what if I get something on it”. As a customer I was sold but the salesperson in telling me what she thought I needed to hear oversold and ultimately deterred me from buying the blazer. — Tara Faquir
  3. “If I had asked the people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”- Henry Ford. During the market research phase we were constantly told by lawyers that they didn’t need this solution. Then one day, someone said to Leah — “have you talked to any end-clients, do you know what they need?” This prompted a shift in the business model to create a solution for the end-client, not necessarily the lawyer. The Henry Ford quote resonates with us because the customer wanted a better solution, a faster horse. Instead, Trustate created the car.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Trustate will not be done until we have settled every estate in the world.

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

Access to capital. Venture capitalists invested $109.3 billion in companies with all-male founders. All-female founded teams received just $2.86 billion.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

We are constantly listening to new podcasts/reading new books. One of our favorites is “How I built This” with Guy Raz. Hearing stories of founders but the ups and the downs is both inspiring and thought-provoking. Starting Greatness — Another favorite of ours for the same reasons as above- gets us thinking about how others have navigated the path to success and things they learned along the way.

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. 🙂

Time is most valuable asset — We work with so many people who have just lost a loved one, and one thing they always say is that they wished they had more time with someone. They rarely say that they wish they had more money/bigger house etc. We encourage people to spend quality time (screens aside/distraction free) with those they love, because friends and family really are treasures.

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

“Will this matter to you in five years from now, or even five minutes from now?” Before you react, take a breath, take a walk and just ask yourself — how much does this matter to me? If you feel that in five years from now something will still be important to you then go after it with full energy, if not, perhaps re-evaluate.

How can our readers follow you online?

https://www.trustate.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/trustate

https://www.instagram.com/mytrustate/

https://twitter.com/trustateco

https://www.facebook.com/mytrustate

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


Female Disruptors: Leah Del Percio & Tara Faquir of Trustate On The Three Things You Need To Shake… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Caffrey Francis of Grow Hair Clients: Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty…

Caffrey Francis of Grow Hair Clients: Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry

Being truly happy is beautiful it radiates out of you. Being happy comes from being grateful and liking who you are. You’re truly only as beautiful as the person you are on the inside. Being a good person, doing good for others, and having positive healthy relationships is key to keeping your happiness glow. When someone is happy, they are beautiful.

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years ,I had the pleasure of interviewing Caffrey Francis.

Caffrey Francis is the CEO of Grow Hair Clients. Through her business coaching program, she shows hairstylists and salon owners how to gain up to 10 clients in 30-days.

Growing up with a family of small business owners she’s witnessed first-hand the trials and tribulations of growing a successful business. As a successful entrepreneur herself Caffrey’s strengths are exhibited in marketing and sales. Caffrey has combined her business degree and experience to become a successful business coach.

When she isn’t coaching or building businesses you can find her on the tennis court or hanging out with her Chihuahua, Holly and her Irish Setter, Dublin.

Caffrey holds a BA in business administration from Oglethorpe University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I am a business coach for hairstylists and salon owners. I show them how to increase their clients and sales through my nine-step growth roadmap. I have a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from Oglethorpe University where I also played tennis as their number one singles player.

I’ve always loved business and growing up in a family who owned several successful small businesses gave me the opportunity to learn a lot from my parents. I was able to witness firsthand the trials and tribulations of growing a successful business especially in the financial crisis.

When I was 16 years old, I created my first business as a tennis coach, teaching tennis to kids. The business was very successful. During this time my mom and I fostered hundreds of dogs which we later pivoted from and created a successful dog boarding business. I had to temporally withdraw from Oglethorpe due to health issues. When I came back to Oglethorpe to finish my degree, I became part of group called Team Wildlife which was a movement of high-reaching individuals who share a belief in living life to the fullest without the use of drugs, abuse of alcohol or inebriation. We coordinated events with colleges and provided entertainment in a safe environment that allowed participants to enjoy themselves without reckless behavior while also supporting a good cause. During this time I was able to meet a lot of people within the entertainment industry, learned a ton about social media, events, and creating professional content. During this time my long-time passion for hair and make-up started coming to light as I began creating my own how to content and sharing it on social media. At this time I wasn’t sure of how I could combine my passion of the beauty industry and make it into a profitable business.

So, after graduation I quickly got a job as a leasing agent at a property management company. A few months later I was promoted to assistant manager but as time went on my health started to decline and impacted my job. Due to my health I knew I would need to create another business so I could work my own hours. So, one day after work I’m in the salon chair at Ulta like I always am every four weeks and I’m getting an incredible blow out from Drew, my go-to person to do my hair and he was talking about how he was thinking of creating an Instagram account so he could start marketing his services to increase his clientele. However, but the only thing that he really isn’t interested in is social media. And, then it hits me that I should create a business that shows hair professionals how to grow their business. This is a great way to combine my love of the beauty industry with business and have a positive effect on people’s lives.

Forward to a few weeks later, I am fired from my job and I know it’s an opportunity to put my education and experience into a program that will grow hair professional’s clients and sales. I sold everything I had and moved from my nice apartment to my parent’s home. I was excited. I finally knew what my purpose was, and I was going to make it happen.

From the moment I got home I started working, learning, and implementing. I pulled out old textbooks, researched things off the internet, looked at old business plans, and identified what I could have done better in the past, and this was just on the business side. I also taught myself all the technical stuff such as creating a website, sales funnels, and marketing through Facebook and YouTube. I knew I had to figure out how to do these things so I could make a short cut version for the people going through my program. This way they don’t have to go through all the technical confusion and set up to have success. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. After 13-months working 12–15 hours a day, I was finally done but as I looked at my program, I knew there was something missing. I needed a clearer, more defined path for my clients, so, then enters my now mentors, Aaron Fletcher and Matt Lopez. With their knowledge and continued support I was able to come up with a clear nine-step roadmap for hair professionals to continuously grow their clients and sales. Of course, this is the same process that not only I use but every business owner has to go through to grow their business.

Before launching this I also launched an inspection business with my father called GA Custom Home Inspections that followed the same nine-step roadmap.

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

I wouldn’t say it’s the most interesting story, but I’ve spoken to so many kind people who have been working so hard trying to stay afloat in their business and are just at a loss on what they need to do to increase their clients and it’s been such a great experience being able to help these people.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I would say the tipping point was a few months ago when I launched a home inspection business with my father. Immediately after we launched the phone was ringing off the hook and it was hard for us to keep up with the demand plus the other businesses that we imminently had to scale back. The same happened with Grow Hair Clients the first week I launched. I was completely booked and for me to keep up with the demand I decided that I could only speak to extremely qualified prospects so before someone would schedule a call with me, they were notified that if they don’t at least complete the required pre-call homework one hour before their client and sales growth mapping call their appointment would automatically be canceled and the next person in line would get their call slot. I’m happy to say that the demand has only increased, and I only work with people who are highly motivated to gain up to 10 clients in 30-days and build a business that automatically grows by itself month after month.

What did I do differently — I implemented my 9-step proven process which is the exact process I show hairstylists and salon owners, how to apply this process to their business. For anyone trying to grow their business I would tell them to go to my website and watch the 9-step roadmap video — you’ll quickly be able to understand how to grow your clients and sales. My 9-step process works for any business.

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

I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the continuous support of my parents. I’ve learned from them that you are the only person who can put limits on yourself and if you continuously work towards one singular goal you will achieve it. I’m lucky to have them.

My mentors, Aaron Fletcher and Matt Lopez, I thank for sharing their knowledge, providing me clarity, and guiding me as my company grows.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

I show my clients how to us an online business platform that also assists in handling customer data through a CRM, or customer relationship management system. It helps my clients understand how their customers interact with every aspect of their marketing and sales — this enables them to see what is and is not working in their business. Although this technology is not completely new, it is to a lot of business owners because they have never used an online business platform before.

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

I believe technology is just an easy object for us to point blame at instead of looking at ourselves. It’s not technology but people’s actions and moral compass that we should be focusing on.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

1.) Today consumers want personalized products that solve their particular beauty problems and AI is able to give customers their exact solution all while creating a custom experience the consumer craves. This combined with AR that allows potential customers a future peek into exactly how they will look once they purchase that product or service will not only bring a flood of new customers to you, but you will easily be able increase your customer’s average cart value when they are able to see in advance how additional up sells will make them look.

By showing someone their future self, you will be able to dramatically increase a consumer’s desires to buy your products and services — they are no longer looked at as an option but an immediate necessity. This will dramatically increase all stages of a customer life cycle but especially your customer retention rate because you have given them exactly what they wanted and now your customer has a higher level of trust, therefore the likelihood you will retain them increases.

As AI and AR continue to advance, we will continue to see more of an authentic and detailed look of how a product will actually look on a customer.

2.) Incorporating skincare into make-up.

3.) I’m excited about alternative offline distribution channels such as vending machines for make-up and skin care. Due to the pandemic, companies have had to look at more efficient and effective ways to make money and one of the ways companies are doing this is replacing their employees with machines that already exist, such as vending machines. Although many companies such as Benefit, MAC, and Sephora have been doing this for many years and Kylie Cosmetics joined in on it in 2019, I believe we will start to see them everywhere not just continuously in crowded spots such as airports.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

1.) Since artificial intelligence and augmented reality will continue to increase beauty companies’ bottom line, we now need to look at how we are packaging these products. Companies need to pivot from plastic to a more ecofriendly packaging material. Today’s consumer is more informed on the environment and we will continue to see a shift in consumers gravitating to more ecofriendly, but always budget-friendly products. A beauty company making the move on using more ecofriendly packaging, more people will buy because they not only want the product but feel good that they are doing something good for the planet, which intern makes them feel good about the brand.

2.) We need transparency on the ingredients that are in make-up and skin care products and how it affects our health. Consumers have no idea what they are putting on their face and body much less how to pronounce it.

3.) Although I’m a big fan of AR, we need more transparency on the data someone is collecting on us. Its’ not just what we are typing into a computer, it’s a camera capturing our facial reactions to everything we like and don’t like, and they are capturing not just our face but the grounding areas. People think that money is our number one source of currency, but data is, and they need to keep this in mind. We also must know who and what country owns it.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1.) Being truly happy is beautiful it radiates out of you. Being happy comes from being grateful and liking who you are. You’re truly only as beautiful as the person you are on the inside. Being a good person, doing good for others, and having positive healthy relationships is key to keeping your happiness glow. When someone is happy, they are beautiful.

2.) Working out even if it’s just for 20–30 minutes a day. I love Beachbody workouts! I’ve been doing them for years. My favorite is T25!

3.) Never stop learning! I’m constantly evolving as a person because I never stop learning and implementing what I know. Education enables people to make better and more informed decisions about their lives and with that we have the option of living a life that best suits our wants and needs, leading to an increase in overall happiness.

4.) Don’t limit yourself. Beauty is so much more than what you look like. It’s more about the mindset that you allow to create for yourself.

5.) Take care of your skin — always wear sunscreen.

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. 🙂

When I was 12 years old there was a lady who I was close to, she was a mom of my sister’s softball teammates. She had terminal cancer and died quickly. It was heart breaking as she was such a kind woman. Before she died, she gave me a gold coin and told me this coin serves as a reminder to always smile at, at least five-people a day no matter how you feel inside. You never know the positive affect a little bit of kindness can do for someone else, and who knows, maybe your smile will be contagious and have a ripple effect. Never underestimate what kindness can do for the world. I still smile at, at least five-people a day.

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

“If you want something bad enough you will find a way to get it.”

“There is more than one way to skin a cat.”

“You’re the only person who can limit yourself.”

When I was six, I came home from school crying and so upset it was another day I realized how bad and hard school was for me and it made me so upset because I really wanted to go to college and play tennis. If you looked at my grades it looked like an impossible dream, one that so many people constantly told me that I couldn’t achieve.

My parents dedicated their lives to helping me get there. They gave me so much support and poured so much of their time, money, and recourses into me achieving it.

I had to put twice the amount of work and time into schoolwork and I barely made passing grades. It was difficult. My mom would often tell me, “if you want something bad enough you will find a way to get it,” and “there is more than one way to skin a cat.” I ended up going to college and playing tennis.

Through the time of me accomplishing that goal and many others — I’ve had a ton of people try to sit me down and tell me what I am capable of. As they spoke to me, I realized more and more that they were telling me a lie, one that was passed down to them by someone who also told them what they were capable of, and they accepted someone else’s limitations over their life. I decided a long time ago that I am the only person who can limit myself and I’m never going to do that.

How can our readers follow you online?

www.growhairclients.com

www.facebook.com/growhairclients


Caffrey Francis of Grow Hair Clients: Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Ocean Ronquillo-Morgan of Geistwear On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up…

Female Disruptors: Ocean Ronquillo-Morgan of Geistwear On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Celebrate the process. Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster with unexpected twists and turns. You have to enjoy the entire ride and not just the highs. Learn to adapt to survive the shake-ups, like the current pandemic. At Geistwear, COVID-19 allowed us to fully accelerate our direct-to-consumer business model and sell to people across the nation.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ocean Ronquillo-Morgan.

Ocean Ronquillo-Morgan is a three times founder and serial entrepreneur from Los Angeles, California. At age 23, she is the founder of Kaivent Media, co-founder of Geistwear, and a former Forbes Under 30 Scholar. She is also a full-time senior at the University of Southern California (USC).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! 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?

My entrepreneurial flame ignited when I was 6. I had just received my first laptop. I came across an online game that required a membership subscription for $5 every month, and for some reason, I was too scared to ask my parents for money. Instead, a light bulb went off in my head, and I ended up creating a PayPal account (even though you were supposed to be at least 18 to do that). I learned how to launch websites that offered affiliate products, drive traffic to them, and earn a commission on every purchase. I also signed up for an online publishing service where I wrote tutorials on how to beat video games. I used search engine optimization (SEO) to get clicks on my articles. By the time I was 8, I’d get about $20 deposited into my PayPal every other week.

At the age of 14 and a freshman in high school, I started my first “official” business uploading gaming content. I partnered with the largest entertainment network at the time and had my dad sign the contract because I wasn’t old enough to. I stopped creating content before my senior year to focus on college admissions. Now, I’m wrapping up my last semester at USC, where I co-founded my second business (an e-commerce company), Geistwear, when I was 20 and started my third (a marketing agency), Kaivent Media, by age 22. After graduation, I’ll be working as a software engineer in Los Angeles at a Fortune 500 consulting company while balancing my companies.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

My co-founder and I, Clara Diogo, didn’t have any prior credentials in fashion or e-commerce before we created our brand, Geistwear. Ironically, I was also the last person that anyone would think would start a clothing brand — I wore the same black hoodies and skinny jeans to class every day. But Clara and I knew how to interpret what’s going on in the world around us, tell a story about it, and tap into human psychology. To create loyal customers that love you beyond a transaction, you need to understand that people buy things because it makes us feel lasting, positive emotions. You’re rarely consciously aware of these emotions, but they’re intricately ingrained, driving your entire buying process from start to finish.

Our brand ethos at Geistwear is about using pop culture to commentate on societal issues and be a voice for the unheard. Over the years, we’ve sold out of multiple designs from our dorm rooms, released limited-time collections like a college admission scandals drop that used grunge and heavy metal imagery to repurpose negative press coverage into positive representation for students, a Coachella-inspired drop that sold out in the month that Coachella got canceled (for the first time), a Japanese-inspired “Katakana” drop to celebrate our multicultural roots, and a Black Lives Matter drop where we donated 100% of the proceeds to Black Lives Matter foundations. We don’t want to sell a commoditized product or be a generic place to buy random things. We want to cultivate a community for students, alumni, and fans to experience powerful identities and lifestyles that resonate heavily with them.

At Kaivent Media, we’re changing the way entrepreneurs work. I used to be just like my clients: I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed out, trying to keep all the balls in the air while going to school full-time. But, the reality is, you’ll never grow your business into the business you want if you’re the only one that can make things happen. You become the major bottleneck. We help entrepreneurs stop trading their time for money and make sales in their sleep. We do this by packaging the meat of their services or offer into a “productized” service that can run entirely online. Then, we automate or delegate work like lead generation, customer support, content delivery, registration, and payment so they can focus on more high-level things. This creates leverage in their business so they can spend more time with their kids, take a year-long vacation, or even solve their cash flow issues.

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?

We incorporated Geistwear into a California LLC before we had significant traction. California taxes nearly eradicated all our profit in our first year. So… If you’re bootstrapping a business, I highly recommend not worrying about the legal stuff until you’re making money!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

In 2018, the same year we launched Geistwear, I came across a community on Twitter called “Money Twitter.” It’s a hidden niche community of other entrepreneurs who are my age and even younger, running 6 and 7-figure brands and companies! I got connected with a sales closer and an agency owner through a few direct messages. I joined their accelerator program, which teaches you how to sign high-ticket clients and build a marketing agency, and a private Slack group to network with other students for accountability. They helped me craft an offer that my first client paid me $5,000 for. They got me connected with other industry titans. They served as a catalyst for learning to invest in myself. Since then, I’ve bought other programs from everything on Facebook Ads to building my personal brand.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disrupting an industry is beneficial when you eliminate inefficiency caused by systems that have no incentive to change but would increase the overall productivity and convenience for humanity as a whole. Let’s take the financial industry, for example. If I want to send somebody a check, the money usually isn’t deposited until after 24 hours, and it certainly won’t clear on the weekends or holidays. I also can’t carry my account number with me if I switch banks. Superficially, this defies our 21st-century need for instant gratification, but it could also prevent someone from getting a meal or shelter that they desperately need to survive. Meanwhile, my friends and customers can pay me on PayPal, Venmo, or CashApp, and I can instantly transfer the amount in my account, even for a fee. I can also send somebody Bitcoin any time of the day, anywhere in the world, thanks to the blockchain. Now, we have non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that never disappear, authenticate the originals of digital work, and provide a system to pay artists and creatives directly while bypassing fees from middlemen. These inventions have applied immense pressure and competition on banks who previously had no incentive to upgrade their legacy infrastructure or reserved their best services for a small portion of society. To put it simply: it’s made finance more open and accessible for all.

However, disruptive technology can also create the opposite effect, like fostering a miserable society that destroys itself. Let’s explore the idea of human immortality, for example. I’ve been watching a noirish cyberpunk Netflix show called Altered Carbon. In the show, humans don’t have bodies — they have “sleeves” which are replaceable. Our memories, personality, and minds are transferred into digital information and downloaded into tiny hard drives called “stacks.” Stacks are installed in the back of our necks. As long as they don’t get destroyed, we can theoretically live for eternity. However, “re-sleeving”, or switching bodies, is expensive, especially if you want to grow clones and stay in the same body through multiple lifespans. We can see how such a system would further drive a wedge between the wealthy and “normal” citizens. The wealthy can increase their assets over centuries, while those that cannot use up their short lives and die. In this world, such disruption hasn’t helped everyone escape the effects of death — instead, it’s just made the rich richer, and “evil” people more untouchable. Such a power struggle could result in us destroying ourselves. Paradoxically, immortality could then lead to our extinction, and we can then say that death is once again inevitable and has always “withstood the test of time.”

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Celebrate the process. Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster with unexpected twists and turns. You have to enjoy the entire ride and not just the highs. Learn to adapt to survive the shake-ups, like the current pandemic. At Geistwear, COVID-19 allowed us to fully accelerate our direct-to-consumer business model and sell to people across the nation.
  2. Do things that don’t scale. Take Stripe for example. They needed a lot of users. The founders (the Collison brothers) would ask people in coffee shops to try out their beta version. If they said yes, they didn’t do what most founders do and follow-up in a few days — they immediately asked to use their laptops so they could create an account on the spot. It took them two years to get their first 100 customers, but now they’re a billion-dollar company. At Geistwear, Clara and I would engage with potential followers on Instagram for hours every day when we first launched our brand. This gave us about a dozen brand ambassadors with large social media followings and photoshoot opportunities during our pre-order stage. We would also stand outside for hours selling at pop-up shops and made thousands in sales and got great direct customer feedback.
  3. We only have one body. Take care of it. Younger people tend to be reckless with their health until they’re in the hospital or have a near-death experience. I used to have a similar mentality until I read stories about young, successful entrepreneurs who passed away after overdosing on social drugs. Scary stuff.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

All my ventures have been within marketing thus far, but I do have an engineering background. I’ve been working on a mobile app for my senior capstone project. I’ve also been getting into philosophical discussions about my peers on sci-fi topics like immortality and commercial planetary travel. Who knows… I might try to pull an Elon Musk and build a few technology companies shortly soon. No matter what, I’ll always be driven by the volition that I don’t need to be “qualified” or ask for “approval” to start working on the idea I have.

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

Let me ask you this: when we think of a successful CEO of a major company, who do we envision? What do they look like? Chances are, you immediately thought of a white, older man. When we generally think about leadership and authority, most people in society tend to ascribe male attributes. They sound something like: “men are strong, enterprising leaders and women are caring nurturers.” This is called unconscious bias. It’s stereotypes and incomplete information we’ve built throughout our lives from the movies we watch, the stories we read, and the people we see.

Such unconscious bias is harmful. When a woman is elected to any high position of authority, like becoming vice president or elected to a presidential cabinet, she has her competency questioned on forums and social media. The women are challenged to “prove” their worthiness. I’ve never seen a male in a position of high authority be ruthlessly questioned like that before. So when people say: “Oh great, there’s a new woman CEO! But it’s 2021 — why do we need to announce her gender identity?” This is exactly why. It’s because we need more visibility and representation. Not just within negative contexts like that Theranos documentary The Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley, about Elizabeth Holmes, but for amazing women like Sara Blakely of Spanx, Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble, and other underrepresented BIPOC female entrepreneurs.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

The Third Door by Alex Banayan. Alex was a USC student (like me) who was trying to find his purpose. He discovers that there are three ways to success: waiting for it, having existing connections or wealth, or carving your own path. The entire premise of the book is him relentlessly pursuing the third option by trying to interview famous and successful people on how they got to where they are. I’ve never seen anyone deal with so much rejection (he got rejected by Warren Buffett multiple times). But he ends up scoring a major book deal, interviewing the most influential people in the world (like Bill Gates), and having a blast. It taught me that we have the power to design our opportunities through persistence and experimentation.

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. 🙂

Hopefully this article can inspire other women to speak up and share their story. It doesn’t have to be just on entrepreneurship. You deserve to tell your story, share your thoughts, and be heard.

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

“Ask for forgiveness, not permission.” This comes from Tim Ferris’s book, the 4-Hour Work Week. I started “working” when I was 8 and getting $20 deposited into my PayPal every other week, even though I wasn’t old enough to have an account. I started a college apparel brand without “asking” my school to create designs and sell them to other students. I started a marketing agency before getting a degree. My favorite YouTuber, TheSyndicateProject, started recording gaming content in his childhood bedroom even though his dad would take away his Xbox and say he was wasting his time. Now, he makes a living traveling around the world, vlogging, and doing what he loves.

Overall, we’re accustomed to authority figures, like our parents, bosses or spouses, stopping us from doing something if we ask them for their permission. However, you’re much more likely to go forward with a decision than if you ask for a green light and put up with emotional resistance. Your “authority figures” will also be more reluctant to stop you if you’ve already got the ball rolling (and obviously, this applies to intended actions where the repercussions are not severe or irreversible). If you want to start a business by fronting 50% of your savings, don’t tell anyone. Wait until you have respectable numbers, and proudly show your profits to your family. That way, they can’t argue with success. Risk will be involved, but you get to keep your autonomy. It’s empowering. Hopefully, this encourages anyone that has been putting off a dream. Just go for it. Life is too short.

How can our readers follow you online?

I can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

https://www.instagram.com/ayeocean/

https://twitter.com/theoceanmaria

https://www.linkedin.com/in/oceanronquillomorgan/

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


Female Disruptors: Ocean Ronquillo-Morgan of Geistwear On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.