Interview with Founder of Renaissance Collective, Creative Director and Social Entrepreneur, Steven Gonzalez Marin

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I would like to start off by asking, how is everything in the world of Steven Gonzalez Marin?

Sensational! Very excited for the start of the new year. Many new projects on the horizon which will surely make it a year to remember.

What would you say to someone who walked up to on the street and asked, what is it that you do?

I come up with ideas and I bring incredibly talented people together to bring them to life. I always say I wasn’t blessed with any tangible talents, but I was able to recognize talent, and able to give it the direction and guidance it needs to ensure success. Which I suppose that is a talent of its own.

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Can you take me back to your childhood, your “come up”, what inspired you take the path to become a creative director? Was there an “aha moment”? Did you always visualize or expect to live the life you are living now?

Well I graduated high school and I really had no idea what I was going to do. That last year was a struggle and I knew school just wasn’t what I was destined to do.

Last minute I decided to go on a vacation to West Palm Beach, Florida and I never left. I stayed there for a year, and that was the turning point in my life. The energy and atmosphere was just perfect. I meditated, read, wrote, and walked for at least 8 hours a day. I had the chance to really dig deep and figure out who I was and what I was destined to do.

From there I began taking the initial steps that have gotten me to where I am today. I ended up moving back to my home town to take the courses I felt I needed and eventually moved to NY where I officially started the company I had dreamed about in Florida, and also founded IMAGE Gallery with my partners.

I didn’t know how or what path I would take, and I surely didn’t think I’d be involved in some of the things I am involved in today, but I did however know that I would be in the position of working for myself and doing what I love sooner or later.

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Can you tell us your perspective of what creativity is to you? Do you think everyone is “creative”? Do you think creativity is taught or are you born with it?

I’ve struggled with the concept of creativity. There was a span in my life where I didn’t think I was creative at all. I couldn’t come up with any ideas that I thought were worthy of anything really.

I just kept trying. I kept surrounding myself with creative people, I would come up with idea after idea, until some of them were actually pretty good. It has almost become like second nature.

I think creativity is a both a skill and a talent. Some people are born with it, some aren’t, but we all have it within. You just have to tap into it. And sometimes that means really digging deep, constantly, and failing numerous times. But its the repetition that makes your ideas great. Even if you were born creative, if you aren’t constantly doing things that stimulate your creativity then it won’t be nurtured and grow to reach its full potential.

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Take us into your creative mind, what is your process? How do you approach creativity? Many creatives are known to lack business sense, how do you balance the two? Any suggestions for our readers?

My purpose is rather simple, I want to create cool stuff that makes a difference in the lives of many. It’s easy to come up with something that is cool, but how do you make something cool and impactful, inspiring and motivating? That’s always the challenge for me. I believe creatives shape the way the world thinks and functions, and it is our responsibility to use that creativity in a responsible way.

As for balancing creativity and business sense. That’s a tough one. Many creatives either don’t know anything about business or don’t want to know anything about business. I think that’s where the role of manager and creative director are so important. We are the ones who are able to find balance between the two. That’s what many companies don’t understand. The role of creative director is crucial, as we both understand artistry and business and find a way to make the two coexist. My advice would be find yourself a good manager, who believe in you.

You have worked on numerous projects, can you tell us about some your past projects? Future projects for 2016!?

That’s a loaded question. I’ve been working on my own projects as well as with other companies and brands since I was 16. My first venture was a music label, where I managed a bunch of musicians and producers. That was fun. But that was my first taste of being an entrepreneur.

Since then I have worked on projects for international clothing brands, artists, musicians, athletes, etc. Last year I had the opportunity to work with Kanye West, on producing his Season 2 showroom in NYC. That was pretty awesome as he is an inspiration for what I do.

2016 is looking to be a great year. I am opening up a second gallery here in Brooklyn. Working on a really awesome for NBA All star Weekend with my client, Andre Drummond who will be in the All Star game for the first time. But what I am most excited about is this is the year I really start branding myself and engaging people with my story as well as doing a lot of social awareness and charity work. It’s all about giving back while you are here.

Who are some of the companies and other artists/creatives that you have worked with and are currently working with? What is Renaissance Collective? And what is Image Gallery NYC?

Renaissance Collective a creative agency that I founded in 2014. It is actually my dream company. I had in in my mind since I was 18 and took 5 years to finally bring it into fruition. Now I have the opportunity to work with a roster of incredibly talented people and really cool companies that understand the value of creativity and culture.

IMAGE is an art gallery and studio my partner founded and brought me on board to pretty much run the show. An art gallery was never part of my plan, but I must say it has been a great opportunity as it’s opened up many others and has allowed me to work with artists from around the world. Check out the gallery at www.imagegallery.nyc or @imagegallerynyc.

Now this question is a little different, can you tell us your most depressing moment in your career or even life if you are open to it, and how you worked to over come it?

There was a point in my life where I was actually homeless for quite some time. that was a hell of an experience. I made some moves in my life that might have been premature but I knew I needed to make in order to go where I needed to be. And it led to me not having a place to stay for while. It was definitely tough. But it was an experience that really built character, and put some things in perspective.

I just had to keep on working and fight through the depression. It’s life, but when you have that singular vision and that is the single most important thing in your life, everything else doesn’t matter. You really have to sacrifice in life to get what you want. Like really sacrifice. It’s all a part of the story though. I wouldn’t change a thing.

We have a saying/mantra/way of life known as “DO WHAT YOU DESIRE” or #DWYD. How does that apply to what you are doing in your life?

It applies perfectly. I left my comfortable job, home, and life all at once because I was miserable. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. Once I did that life got significantly harder, but I was able to breathe so much better. I was able to know that time was mine and I was able to do whatever I wanted to do with it. I am definitely still figuring it all out, BUT I can proudly and happily say I DO WHAT I DESIRE.

You guys can check out the agency page at www.renaissancecollective.com, my personal Instagram, @renaissanceco as well as Facebook at Steven Gonzalez Marin.

Last words of advice: Never settle, never compromise. Do what you feel is right for yourself. And be selfish, but let your mission be selfless.

Project Feed NYC from IMAGE on Vimeo.

Bklyn House Mural Project from Renaissance Collective on Vimeo.

Urban Natured: Dropout 2014 from Urban Natured on Vimeo.

Interview with Marnie Schneider, founder of Keep On Playing!

FullSizeRender (1)If a stranger walked up to you on the street and asked “What do you do?” what would be your response?

I run a foundation for youth athletics called Keep On Playing!

Can you take us back in the past and tell us the story of your life? What inspired you become who you are today? Was there a moment or moments in your life that shaped you to become the person you are today?

I have been very blessed and I have been able to be around and learn from amazing people from all walks of life who have inspired me to make a difference every day and to do what I say I’m going to do.  I have learned to listen to what people are telling you. Listening is a skill that takes discipline and patience but always adds value! If you want, I will send you my bio!

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Tell us about your new foundation, Keep On Playing! What is it all about? How did you start it? What are your plans for it?

Keep On Playing is a family expression that is exactly what it says, in life no matter what to get anywhere you must keep on playing! I have learned that when you love what you do it’s play and fun in addition to that KOP is encouraging children not to give up. We work with community centers and rec centers with our PRO resources of MLB and NFL to get kids clinics, equipment, experiences at PRO games, motivational material and information on healthy ways to eat! I started KOP when I realized that just getting kids equipment was a handout and that felt like it was the end of the road. KOP is a FULL program to enhance everyones mind, body and spirit! The leaders at the rec centers love it and the kids and the teams we work with and the community leaders all recognize the importance of game and life changing moments when you Keep On Playing!

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You are an advocate of sports and the value of team work and developing yourself, especially children. Can you tell our readers how these principles are and have improved the children that you have worked with?

Sports promote healthy minds bodies and spirits that teach you ow to play together participate and cooperate with each other all skills that we must have to function properly in the world and also give you coping skills and keep you away from bad habits!!! Team mates and coaches keep you safe!

Your grandfather was the late great Leonard Tose. Can you tell us more about your memories of him, his legacy with The Philadelphia Eagles and The Ronald McDonald. How important of an influence has he been on your life and your calling?

My grandfather would always say “what do we have to do to get it done!” In 40 years the Ronald McDonald House has had tremendous success and is the crown jewel in our family legacy! He was the owner that would write the BIG checks to the players, coaches and staff. He knew how how to motivate and inspire people and being around him was FUN! My Grandfather taught me that Civility is NOT a sign of weakness and that it is my role to help others and be a leader!

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You recently wrote a book! Can you tell us more about it? What is your mission and goal for the book?

I wrote a children book called Football Frankie it’s about my experiences growing up in the world of Pro Football but teaches you about friendship and respect and LOVE!  My plan is to get it into every Ronald McDonald House and the proceeds will go to Keep On Playing!

You live a very fulfilled life, which is rare, so I’d like to ask you if you could share with me your greatest triumph and also, your lowest moment in life and how you overcame it! I ask this because I think we all need some inspiration to keep us playing in the game of life.

My oldest son had cancer – Neuroblastoma at 9 months old he had surgery to remove his tumor and did chemo and didn’t walk or talk till he was 5 and now he’s 16 and playing football  and he is a great kid who is a nice person and a good student and a great son, grandson and friend!

I look at low points this way. It is an opportunity to show myself what I am capable of. I try to not be reckless with other peoples feelings and using proper communication, because it is important to be able to stay away from drama and stress. I guess making the decision to end my marriage 8 years ago was a tough decision because I could have stayed. He is a nice guy but we were not a perfect fit.  I didn’t want to rob him of finding his ideal mate and I knew that mine was out there. I want the people I love to have the best life ever,  especially my kids because they only get one childhood. You can’t do childhood over, so that’s why it is so important to help kids all over who may not be as blessed as mine!

I have learned a lot from sports. The time out is the best thing ever. I even give myself a time out. I have an egg timer and I allow myself 2 minutes to regroup then I get back on the field and do what I have to do! That’s what I love about sports. It is the lessons we learn from watching the best play! They can’t dwell on a bad play or a missed call. They have to refocus and go do it!

I give people a lot of chances, maybe too many, but I want people to be patient with me too. I view everyone I encounter as someone’s sweet precious BABY.  When they were born into this world, their mother had dreams for them and they are on their own journey and I’m not better than anyone. I love meeting new people and learning about them and their life and what their triggers are. What makes them happy and then doing that to help them! Being able to make people laugh and smile and feel safe and comfortable is what makes me HAPPY!! Being a provider is a compliment and I am proud that I can provide for my kids and show them my definition of being a good person. Then they can go and create their own definition!

We have a mantra, a lifestyle called #DoWhatYouDesire aka #DWYD – can you tell us how this applies to your life and all of the amazing work that you do?

I desire to be a leader and create a legacy of making a difference.  Every thing I do has a breath of life and I have to make really solid decisions because people are donating to me and my foundation. I am so grateful for people, so I make sure that everything I desire is about making anyone who has helped me see the positive results!


Where can we find out more about you, your Keep On Playing Foundation and your book!? Website? Facebook? Twitter? 

All of the above!
http://keeponplaying.org/
https://twitter.com/marnieschneidr
https://www.facebook.com/justkeeponplaying

Finally, are there any final words of wisdom or life advice that you’d like to share with the readers?

Joshua I think that being open to making new friends and accepting people for who they are and loving what makes them happy is the best way to love yourself first! The Golden Rule is always the best! DO unto Others as you would have them do unto YOU!

I am SOOOOO thankful that you find me interesting enough to want to feature me Joshua!! You are very special and smart and I believe IN YOU!

Interview with Suicide Intervention Coach Arielle Caputo

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If a stranger walked up to you on the street and asked “What do you do?” what would be your response?

I often say “I’m in the business of being happy.” And people often laugh and then I say I am a suicide intervention coach and also work at a film studio for the time being.

Can you tell us about how you got involved in charitable work? I read your story on the Huffington Post, but I want to hear it from your words, your feelings and your life. What were your influences to pursue it?

2013 was a rough year; I was extremely depressed and crying all the time. One day after crying non stop, I sat down and started thinking about it all. And all of a sudden a thought shocked me: I have been crying non stop; in the grocery store, class, the library, in my car, on the bus… and not one person ever stopped and said “Miss are you ok?”  I was shocked. But more importantly I was like oh my, how many people did I pass by and I had no clue they were crying? It was that moment, I said, “Ok, enough is enough.” I feel like I am screaming on the top of my lungs for help, yet no one seems to hear me. I am looking for someone to lean on, someone to hold my hand, someone’s shoulder to cry on. That is it, from this point on I am going to be that person for everyone and anyone who needs it. We always hear, If you want love then spread love. Or put love and good out and it will always come back. So I purposed in my heart to do one random good deed a day. Then I started posting my IG videos hoping to encourage others. If you go back to the first few video posts, I am literally crying. I then went and got Suicide Certified so I could be properly trained on how to respond and help others. I had found my happiness, my inner peace and my passion in life. I wanted to show others that is it possible and the how to. So I wrote, “Love You.Me.We. Read more to find out my story.

You are advocate for Suicide Prevention, especially for teenagers. I know that you experienced your own bouts with love, loss, loneliness and inner turmoil. What was the one spark that happened inside of you that caused you to change your life?

One day enough was enough. I was done crying. I was done feeling this way, poor me. And I started my Instagram thinking I couldn’t be the only one feeling this way. And I started receiving a bombardment of suicidal posts, DMs, comments, messages…and was like wow you have to call the hotline and many people kept saying nooo we want to talk to you, we know you, they are a cold stranger on the other end of the phone. So I said you know what I am going to get suicide certified. And there happened to be a program near me that fit my hours and budget and I got suicide certified right away. And then that led to me wanting to start my own support group.

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I read that you began with a simple Instagram post, a video, then that simple video spread to many others who have felt like you. What was your reaction, to the reaction? What did you do next?  

It was over whelming. I started with 20 followers in September, by January I had 1k by June I had 10k. I realized I was on to something. Now my day doesn’t feel complete unless I’ve started it by making my 15 sec motivational power thoughts.

You created a beautiful and inspirational website, Dream Endlessly, Actively Pursue. Can you please tell us more about it? What is all on there?

So when I decided I was going to find self love, and to discover happiness… I would look for books, podcasts, websites I could go to every day to help me get my mind set in the right direction. I found a couple. But nothing I really liked. So that was the goal of my site to create a go to place to offer a pick-me-up and or help you get motivated for the day. I also started doing a lot of charity events and had a lot of people wanting to help so my website allows people to see all the upcoming events and how they can participate.

You also authored a book! “Love You. Me. We: Your Daily Year-Long Journey to Happiness” Can you tell us more about that? How did you even find time to create your own book?

I started January of 2014 and my goal was to release to the world on June 18th, which I did!!! I just started. I basically disappeared from the world for 6 months and set aside time every single day to work on it. It was a book of love that’s for sure. I kept saying someone should write a book about this… and one of my good friends had just finished his and was like do it! It’s easy. So he guided me through it and I self published through Amazon and hosted a huge book release June of 18th in Los Angeles, CA. Definitely one of the greatest feelings in the world receiving that first copy in the mail after all the hard work and labor poured into it.

I personally believe the people who have felt the most “pain” are the ones who fight past it and inspire many. Can you tell us your greatest setbacks? Can you tell us your greatest achievements? Can you tell us how they shaped the person that you look at in the mirror today?

Ahaha no actually. I am a firm believer in things that don’t make you feel good we do not need to talk about. I don’t need to relieve the pain nor does any one else. Life is about feeling good not telling sad tales to convince people we have been through hard times.

In short I have been homeless, I have gone through a painful car accident so I know physical pain with herniated disks, fractured feet, dislocated pelvis, 2nd degree burns…

I have hit rock bottom. Where you feel helpless, hopeless. I felt ugly and unattractive. I Hid from all mirrors and cameras.

All those “hard times” or “setbacks” are what create empathy. I’ve been there I understand. I’ve hit rock bottom. But I’m also not there any more J so I’ve seen what it takes to come out and how easy you can change your life around. Sometimes life is a catapult pulls us (what seems to be backwards) only to shoot us that much further to our goals!

We have a mantra, “Do What You Desire” or simply #DWYD, how does that apply to you and your lifestyle?

Oh definitely agree! Do what makes you FEEL good. Feeling good is the key to manifestation. Feeling good inspires action. Do what ever you can every day to help you feel good. Listen to good music, eat your favorite food, do things you love.

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Are there any last words of encouragement that you’d like to give our readers?

Garbage in garbage out. Same goes for happiness and positivity in happiness and positivity out. You have to constantly fill up your environment, mind, home, work place with positivity. Happiness is something we choose everyday. Just like yesterdays shower doesn’t work for today. Read good books, listen to motivational podcasts as you are getting ready for the day. Set alarm clocks on your smart phone with positive reminders. There are lots of little new healthy habits you can incorporate that will help you along your transformation.

Are there any shout outs that you would like to give?!

There are many supportive people. Nick with @epicgood. Tony with Seven Seas Tea LLC, there is @faithhopeloveproject … I could write a looooong list lol.

Where can we find out more about you and what you do? Websites? IG? Twitter? FaceBook?

My Instagram’s and websites are where you can find me!

@ariellecaputo

@ariellesmiles

www.deapinlove.com

Interview With Life Coach Allynn Taylor from www.sipofpositivitea.com

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Good day Allynn Taylor! How is everything going in your world?

All is well! I hope the same for you.

I always like to ask, what would you say to a stranger if they came up to you and asked, “What do you do?”

If a stranger came up to me and asked that question, I would tell them I’m a certified life coach. I essentially help people who are ready to be pro-active about creating the life they would love to live.

Can you tell me what inspired you to create your own life coaching business? Like, what happened in your life’s story that led you down the path you are on now?

When I was a freshman at Hampton University, a friend of mine put on a DVD called “The Secret”, which talked about the law of attraction. From there, I discovered my cousin Nikkita had the same DVD. She fully immersed herself into being a positive and optimistic individual, which really inspired me to practice the same. Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree from Hampton, I decided I wanted a career where I could not only truly enjoy what I do and but have a sense of purpose. I began to think about all of the elements that could be the perfect fit for me and decided life coaching would be the ideal career. For a while, I searched to find the perfect institution to take my life coaching certification and discovered The Life Purpose Institute. I graduated from there with a certification in life and career coaching and now have my company “Sip Of Posititivitea”.

I have been a subscriber to your “Positivitea” texts for almost 2 years now. I must admit that I am definitely a fan of them! They are a very good way to reflect and apply the knowledge that you send! How long have you been doing these texts? Also, what have been other people’s reactions to them?

I really appreciate the fact you’ve been on my list this long and actually still enjoy them. I try to make things fresh although a subject can be repeated and I’m glad its working. LOL. I’ve been sending my motivational texts for 3 years now. I started with just 5 people and now there are over 600 people on my list, which is so AMAZING! Every day I get messages from people telling me how much they appreciate me sending them out to them, which really makes me feel, so appreciated! I encourage everyone to let me know if they love the message of the day!

In your words Allynn Taylor, what is a life coach? How can you, help someone who is 1000 miles away or just down the block?

Many people have an idea or a dream they want to fulfill, but they don’t know how to move towards that, – they may have blocks or issues they need to get around to make those dreams and ideas into fruition. A life coach is a companion who helps you be pro-active with the things you want to achieve; cheers you on while making it happen and helps pick you up when you may feel overwhelmed or doubtful. If someone were to be interested in becoming my client and so happened to be miles away, we have our good friend technology and could use Face Time or Skype!

What is the best way to remain positively motivated while being realistic about life and what we may be going through?

The way to remain positive is to be honest and patient with your self. We know in reality things may take a while to change because it’s a process, but we also know the way to keep stress levels down is to be positive and optimistic in the midst of the storm. Having faith and trusting the process is the easiest way to keep positive and remain sane. Also, learning to let go and have no expectations of the outcomes of our reality will also make things easier.

Do you think, with the usage of social media and us literally being able to filter out lives to the public, that we have more “competition” on social media? Like who is living the best or who is traveling where? Does that help to contribute to all of the depressive/neurotic and “pill popping”, overly medicated society that is coming up now?

I believe comparing yourself to others has been present way before social media. Although it’s a display of every day or even every minute of other peoples lives, we have to realize everyone has their own path that they’re supposed to be on. I believe social media isn’t the reason why people are becoming depressive, but it could help reveal internal feelings that have been buried inside of a person for a while.

Random Question, but I can imagine you are well read, so what has been the most influential book in your life?

I love love love LOVE “The Game of Life and How To Play It”. After reading that book, it really put life into perspective for me. I began to really understand the law of attraction, the law of karma and other types of spiritual laws to help create the life I wanted. The book is by Florence Scovel Shinn and can be found online or on Amazon.

We have a mantra here, “DO WHAT YOU DESIRE” or #DWYD. How does that apply to what you have and are doing with life coaching and “Sip of Positivitea” mantra?

It applies in many ways with Sip Of Positivitea! Doing what you desire is something I want all my clients and the entire world to have the opportunity to do! My purpose is to help people to obtain and maintain the life they want to live and have a sense of purpose!

How can we find out more about you and “Sip of Positivitea” online? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Website?

You can view my website at www.sipofpositivitea.com!

My motivational texts can be found at www.instagram.com/sipofpositivitea and www.facebook.com/sipofpositivitea!

Are there any last words of wisdom or advice you’d like to give any of our readers?

I would like to tell everyone to trust the process and yourself. Have faith and confidence in all that you do. Be kind and patient with yourself, all is well.

#DWYD 4th Annual Toy And Book Drive

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#DWYD aka #DOWHATYOUDESIRE www.dowhatyoudesire.com and Joshua Scarver www.joshuascarver.com are collecting toys and books on behalf of Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee and The Child Protection Center http://www.chw.org/childrens-and-the-community/child-abuse-prevention/child-advocacy-centers/

The toys and books are being collected for possible abused and mistreated children. The reason I am collecting the toys for these children is because it hits home for some of the things I’ve seen in the past and how it affects the children for the rest of their lives. No child should be mistreated or abused in any shape, form or fashion. Also, due to the nature of what The Child Protection Center specializes in, (in terms of physical/sexual abuse) I think that many people don’t want to discuss or address that aspect of our worlds issues. I feel that it is one of my missions to help bring some light to what these children need. That is the reason why I, Joshua Scarver and #DoWhatYouDesire collect the toys and books every year. Its not much, but its the least I can do.

Last year we collected over 550 toys and books within 30 days! This time our goal is to collect 1000 Toys this time – under the hashtag – #1000ToysAndBooksDWYD – so far we have over 150!

Finally this year we have many 3 new places that are helping to collect the toys! All the locations are listed on the flier and will be listed below as well!

DROP OFF LOCATIONS!

Spitfires on State
5019 West State Street
Milwaukee, WI
414-777-5060

Lids & Clips
1401 South 6th Street
Milwaukee, WI
414-383-7887

Frenz Garden Center
505 North Main Street
Thiensville, WI
262-242-1060

NEW LOCATIONS!

KRS Hair Studios
832 East Locust Street
Milwaukee, WI
414-265-7919

Parallel Employment Group
569 West Lincoln Avenue
Milwaukee, WI
414-385-5120

Special thank you to our sponsors

Joshua Scarver – Brand Consultant & Strategist
www.joshuascarver.com

#DoWhatYouDesire – #DWYD
www.dowhatyoudesire.com

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
http://www.chw.org/

For all other questions, to schedule a pick up please contact Joshua Scarver at DWYDdonations@gmail.com or 414-745-6233

You can mail toys & books to

DWYD –
PO BOX 170722
Milwaukee, WI 53217

Thank you all once again!

PS. The last day to donate at drop off locations is December 22nd but you can donate year round!

Interview with music artist Brooke Ashley

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How are you Brooke Ashley? How is everything on your side of the world?

I am doing great, thank you for asking. Things on my side of the world are amazing and extremely busy!

I always like to ask, what would you say to a stranger if they came up to you and asked “What do you do?”

I am a songwriter and recording artist.

What inspired you to become an artist? Like, was there a specific moment when you just knew that “YOU HAD TO DO THIS NO MATTER WHAT”? Or was it something that you grew into? Tell us! We are dying to know!

My artistry is something that I grew into. It started when I was a toddler when I would put on performances for my grandparents in their living room. I started writing songs around the age of seven or eight and was very involved with performing arts in school. It’s always been what I was most passionate about, but it wasn’t until I was in my third year of college as a nursing student that I finally realized that I wouldn’t be happier doing anything other than making music. I took the next semester off of college to work full time and save up to buy studio equipment so I could start creating. That was the moment I decided that music is what I had to do no matter what and it’s been my focus ever since.

I like to delve into the creativity behind an artist and also the hard work that most of us don’t realize that goes into an artists career. What is your creative process behind making music? Take us into the studio or even when you are laying down and suddenly find inspiration.

There isn’t one specific process I have for creating. I’m inspired a lot by my own experiences and relationships.     I’m a very emotional person and I write from a relational perspective the majority of the time. I write down or record all of my ideas as soon as they come to mind. Once I sit down to create I’ll decide what concept or topic to write about based on what I’m feeling that day. Music is all about emotions and feelings so I really believe that the process has to be just that, what you’re feeling!

I know that you are from the south, New Orleans actually and then moved to Florida. You mentioned to me once that growing up you sang in the church, which is where many of the greatest singers start. Can you take us back to what you observed, learned and felt during your singing at your church? Do you still draw inspiration from that time for your current songs and creative process too.

My first experience performing for an audience was in my youth group at church. My best friend went behind my back and signed me up for a singing contest they were having at camp the summer after sixth grade. The auditions were for them to find another singer for the youth group band. After winning the contest and being given the opportunity to be on stage I fell in love with performing. I appreciate that time so much because of the incredible influence it had on me as a person and my beliefs, which ultimately influenced my point of view and the music I create. I learned at a very young age how to use my God given talents to connect and relate to people and  have a positive, impactful influence on their lives. I wouldn’t be the artist I am today if it weren’t for my faith.

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I know that you can sing country music and also urban/r&b music as well! Can you tell us your thoughts  on each genre, on how they are similar or different? Do they both help shape your current creations?

The production as well as sounds vary genre to genre, but the emotions being expressed are all very consistent. Different sounds and chords make us feel certain emotions. The mood I’m in is what directly influences what genre or sound I create.

Can you tell us about your album that you are working on? What can we expect to hear from it? Who are some of the others artists/producers that you worked with for the project?

What I can say about this album is that it is fresh, innovative, unexpected and I’m so excited for people to hear it! I stepped out of my comfort zone and stopped caring what people would would think about the music or even me. I’m truly focused on pleasing no one but myself.

So far on this project I’m working with Malex, Deonis Cook and Caleb Sean. There are a few other producers and artists that I still have my eye on to add to the mix though.

You have a young career that is rising daily, so I have to ask, what have been some of your greatest moments? How about some of your biggest setbacks? How did you overcome them?

Some of the greatest moments so far have to be sharing my music with my family. My entire family has always been so supportive and encouraging of my dreams and it means the absolute world to me to have them here to share these special moments with.

I have to say, I don’t consider anything so far a set back, but only a redirection. I’m a firm believer that everything works together in the greater good and even the “set backs” so far in my career have turned out to be positive. How you perceive circumstances will always influence your ability to overcome them.

We have a saying here “DO WHAT YOU DESIRE” or #DWYD. How does that apply to what you all are doing with your life as an artist?

I can apply that to every aspect of my life, but for my life as an artist I would have to say it’s pretty spot on to how I approach my career. I think it’s important to be aware of what exactly it is that you are passionate about in life. Then, when you put a plan into place and are persistent and dedicated to following through with those plans, you’ll finally be able to experience doing what it is that you desire to do.

How can we find out more about you, Brooke Ashley? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Website?

www.BrookeAshleyMusic.com is where you can go to find everything you need to know from social media to new music releases or upcoming performances.

Are there any last words of wisdom or advice for our readers?

Find your truth and live by it with conviction.

Interview with Athlete PR Expert, Ari Nicole of Double Coverage PR

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Good day Ari Nicole! How is everything going in your world?
Everything is great here, I woke up this morning so I cant do anything but smile.

I always like to ask, what would you say to a stranger if they came up to you and asked “What do you do?”
I used to say I handle PR for athletes, but a lot of people didn’t understand what all that entails. So now I would say I handle branding, appearances, and autograph signings for athletes as well as being the point person for athlete/fan relations.

Can you tell me what inspired you to create your own Public Relations firm? Like, what happened in your life’s story that led you down the path you are on now?
At the time I was a senior at Michigan State University and interning for the Miami Heat. I had already started to receive job offers for post grad and when I started looking over contracts and roles in the job offers, the number didn’t add up for me. I thought to myself “why should I work for someone else and have to give them a percent of what I’m making from the client?” I just figured, I had enough experience and knew the right people to do it on my own.

Tell me more about career? How long have you been in public relations? Did you receive “formal” training? Or did you just use “street smarts” or what I prefer, failing your way to success?
I’ve been working in PR for 5 years now. I went to school for PR and Marketing, and that’s what I received my degree in. I also interned for two NBA teams, a NHL team, and worked for Michigan State men’s basketball while in school. So I guess you could say I had a lot of hands on experience

What type of services do you offer an athlete or potential client at Double Coverage PR? (Love that name by the way!) Who are some of your current clients?
The services we offer are branding, setting up autograph signings, paid public appearances, charity/ foundation work, and in-house styling. For disclosure reasons I cant mention every client we work with but some of them are Taijuan Walker of the Mariners, Tyrell Jenkins with the Braves and Darqueze Dennard of the Bengals.

To be job specific, how do you handle a “crisis situation” that may happen for an athlete? Are there any well known examples in history that you think were handled ‘like a pro’?Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to not have too many negative crises to handle. The types that we usually handle are in the essence of being cut or traded. One of our MLS clients was traded mid season this year and unexpected. Like 10 minutes after it happened, I went into work mode reaching out to media in his new teams city to introduce him to the community and work on getting housing situations together. I try to stay away from the clients who are going to get into legal crisis situations.

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I was doing some research on you and I realized that you worked with the great college basketball coach Tom Izzo! How was that experience? And do you believe in the theory of surrounding yourself with success to become successful?
Coach Izzo is great! I honestly owe him a lot when it comes to getting my career kick started. I worked for him as a student secretary while in college. He kind of knew that I wanted to work in sports as a career. I remember one day as a junior, he asked me into his office and was just like “what do you want to do when you graduate?” We had a long talk and next thing you know I was interviewing with the Miami Heat. I definitely think you have to surround yourself with the right people to get to where you want to go. You have to evaluate who you let your in your presence; if they’re not helping or inspiring you in some way, why have them around.

We have a saying here, “DO WHAT YOU DESIRE” or #DWYD. How does that apply to what you have and are doing with your pr career?
I mean I think that has everything to do with my career. I could be working for someone else right now at a desk, probably burnt out. Instead I created my own path and enjoy every day doing what I love in PR and sports.

How can we find out more about you and Double Coverage PR online? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Website?
Twitter is @dblcoveragepr I also post a lot on my instagram about my clients at @arinicolelife. Our website is www.doublecoveragepr.com

Are there any last words of wisdom or advice you’d like to give any of our readers?
Don’t be scared to do things your way. Even if its not conventional, you have to do what the heart desires. Nothing is more rewarding than making your own lane and succeeding.

Interview with serial entrepreneur and global connector, Germaine Moody

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Good day Germaine Moody! How is everything in your world? Everything is exciting, exhausting, unbelievable, and supernatural.
I always like to ask, what would you say to a stranger if they came up to you and asked “What do you do?” I’m an serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, and global connector. I pretty much do whatever I feel passionate and excited about, and I love bringing people together.

I know we all have a story, that relates to their pursuit of their passions. What is your personal story? Was there a moment where you saw/read someone/something or had an experience that made you say “I know what my life purpose is”?
It would take a book to share my full personal story but the gist of who I am, what I do, and who I’m becoming has a lot to do with the inspiration of Michael Jackson. His heart and passion to help heal the world, humanity, is what drives me to be successful, and to use that success for the greater good globally.

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Tell me more about career? How long have you been an entrepreneur? What have been your biggest accomplishments? Biggest setbacks? How did you overcome them?
My mom says I’ve been an entrepreneur since age 7, selling lemonade and popcorn, producing puppet shows from the front porch and so on. I started my first business at age 14 called GM Productions. My services included playing the keyboard, singing, choreographing and performing for weddings, banquets, and any events around town that would hire me. My first business pay check was for $325. I knew I had to work for myself after that moment.

My biggest accomplishment as of now? Just being alive now is an accomplishment. Businesswise would have to be my worldwide networking event tour of 2010 and my book “50 Seeds of Greatness”. The tour hit 14 cities including New York, Los Angeles, London, Miami, Toronto, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Vancouver BC, Atlanta and several others. In each city I hosted networking events up to 300, sometimes 500 people, creating the most amazing business connections worldwide. Several of which I’ve partnered on business ventures. In my book “50 Seeds of Greatness”, 357 business professionals, entrepreneurs, and multimillionaires from 106 countries around the world joined me in that book, making it the largest global collaboration on any book in publishing history. Guinness World Records offered me the record “Most Contributors To An Anthology” but I’ve yet to submit the materials to accept it and claim it, mainly because I plan to break the record in my next book “The Power of Dance”.

My biggest setbacks are having a lack of discipline and allowing too many distractions to steal my time. I’ve overcome the distractions by removing them, whether it’s people, television, or what have you. As far as the discipline, I just tell myself every morning before I get up that “I won’t get rich by staying in the bed”. That gives me discipline to get my butt up and create money.

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You are known as a networking master, I am sure many of the readers want to know, how do you find, build and maintain a network? And how important are relationships in life?
Networking is something that can and should be done everywhere, a movie theatre, restaurant, sports game, church, at work, etc. The more people you connect to, the more opportunities you’ll have in life. Building relationships, strategic relationships, is the most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur, business professional, or someone that has dreams and goals to accomplish. In life, just about every major door will be opened for you by another person. You may be able to create a few of your own, but ultimately, you’ll still need a yes from someone to continue expanding. Linkedin is a major resource for networking on any level. I suggest everyone set up an account on there. Without developing key relationships, your life will be limited and will not produce much.

I know you are someone who believes in Philanthropy, giving back to the world. Do you believe in the mantras of “paying it forward” and “what you give to the universe is what you receive in return”?
I believe that we all have a divine mandate to help someone in our lifetime. Whether we get something back in return should never be the concern or question.

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Can you tell me about some of the books that you have authored? What inspired them?
“An Abundance of Person” is one that came about from a realization that we as humans, God’s creation, were given everything at birth that we need to accomplish all of our dreams, goals, and God-given desires.

“Discover Wisdom: 100 Days of Inspiration and Power” was inspired by a desire to help people learn how to live a daily life of inspiration through this devotional writing. It is imperative that we discover how to self-motivate ourselves and include inspiration in some way, shape, or form everyday, as much as possible. There is an atmosphere of dismay waiting to consume you daily.

“50 Seeds of Greatness” started out as a compilation of daily journals on topics for me to create a better me. I then decided to share those with the world in a book, and eventually asked the entire world to join me in on it, and they did.

Can you tell us about DIAS eyewear? How did this partnership form? And what can we look forward to at the event in Chicago?
DIAS Eyewear is the coolest, founded by entrepreneur Sophia Dias who is an amazing friend of mine. We met on Linkedin, our spirits connected and I knew I wanted to be a part of her vision. From there we started strategizing on how to build the brand and connect with consumers, celebrities, and so forth. Through launch party events, we get to showcase and market the line to buyers and those who appreciate fashion, plus the custom designs. Our Chicago event will be a great night out of high end business networking, great food, amazing people, surprises, and fun with the DIAS family.

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You have worked with some interesting people and in many industries! Can you tell us some of your most memorable moments so far?
Well I try not to drop names, that’s really not my thing, but I believe attending certain events, working with particular companies, and traveling to cool locations are the most memorable. From attending my first GRAMMYS, judging talent competitions in South Africa, hosting London’s largest networking event in history, casting for major television networks, volunteering with the Salvation Army to serve Thanksgiving dinners to the less fortunate, pitching music to some of the biggest artists in the world, and being able to assist my own clients reach newer heights in their career, those are all the best and most memorable moments.

Besides business, are there any other interests/hobbies/vices that you enjoy that people might know about you?
I love tennis, bowling, volunteering, visiting museums, cooking, horses, dalmations, and smurfs are the best.

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We have a saying here “DO WHAT YOU DESIRE” or #DWYD. How does that apply to what you are doing with your career?
I only do what I desire. I’m blessed and beyond grateful to be able to say that.

How can we find out more about you and your vision and products online? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Website?
I’m on Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t tweet much. My main personal websites to follow my life and global mission are GermaineMoody.com and the upcoming GermaineMoodyFoundation.org launching in January 2016.

Are there any last words of wisdom or advice for people searching for meaning and passion in their lives?
You only have a certain amount of time in life to accomplish that which you desire. The more time you waste, the less you will accomplish and the less fulfilled your life will be. Be awesome. Be amazing. Be unique. Be yourself. But most importantly….Be bold. Be wise. Be great.

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Interview with Jahde of The Phat Start Up!

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How are you all at The Phat Startup? How is everything on your side of the world? 
We are doing well, grinding and learning something new everyday. We’ve had a very busy year and have even more exciting projects coming up in the future. Currently we are preparing for our second annual Tech808 conference, that’s been our main focus over the last couple of weeks.

I always like to ask, what would you guys say to a stranger if they came up to you all and asked “What do you guys do?” 
Through a combination of hip hop motivation and startup business lessons, we help aspiring entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. Through our education platform we provide interviews, coaching and multimedia resources all designed so that you can take actionable steps that build on your ideas.
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What inspired you all to create The Phat Startup? Can you tell us more about what you hope to accomplish with your organization?
We created The Phat Startup because we felt a gap in the marketplace when it came to the tech startup industry and it’s coverage. We would attend conferences and although very informative, it didn’t speak to us in a way that made us hungry to start a business. We have always been big fans of hip hop music and particularly the aspirational and motivational aspect that a lot of rappers bring to the table. We wanted to incorporate that into the tech world and started The Phat Startup to bring those elements of the culture that we grew up in to the startup scene. Over the past 2 years we have seen a tremendous response from people all over the world who have identified with our vision. In the future we hope to see more entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs starting companies and getting more active in the tech industry. That’s a goal we all share and something we work towards every single day.

I think I first heard about your company from listening to Great Scott McKenzie. The thing that drew me to your organization was that it spoke to me, in my language, the Hip-Hop and Entrepreneurship language that I grew up with and am a part of. Many companies are trying and actually have gotten their hands into the culture. and spending power of us . What are your thoughts about this? 
I think it was always inevitable. The saying goes that pop culture is America’s greatest export and if that’s the case then Hip-Hop could very well be argued as one of America’s biggest exports. Maybe not so much the music itself but definitely the culture around it, which has grown to become an artistic expression of black and latino youth. From music, to fashion, to language, the list goes on and on which is the reason why I’m not surprised that major corporations are now trying to benefit from the culture. These companies are in the business of making more money and that often lies within the interests of the youth.
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I do think that some companies do a better job than others but there are definitely some that are forcing it. Ultimately with those companies since it does not feel authentic I doubt they will be running with any “hiphop” themed promotions for too long. On the other side it’s interesting when certain artists become partners or promote brands that they themselves enjoy. Since we have a passion for starting businesses, investing and ownership it’s nice to see rappers help their families financially benefit from the products they would rap about anyway. It is my hope that in the future they can take a more active role in these partnerships e.g. instead of just charging a fee to promote a pair of sneakers opt for a certain equity percentage based on sales.

Can you tell us about your live events? What are they like?! Who have been some of the speakers/presenters at your events? What can one expect to experience at a live The Phat Startup event?
Our live events are definitely unlike any other tech conference you’ve seen before. The reason is because we do not hold back on our speakers, we ask them the really nitty gritty questions that most people would be afraid to say. Last year we hosted a fireside chat with Ben Horowitz (co-founder of VC firm Andressen Horowitz) and even he said that most people would not have the guts to ask what we asked him. Furthermore the energy in the room is always electrifying. Whether it’s a huge conference hall or smaller room for a fireside chat, you can feel the energy in the air of a group of individuals who are eager to start a new journey in life and change their business for the better.
That motivational feeling is an important part of our events and we try to keep up that energy with #bossup breaks where attendees can talk and network with each other. We also play great music throughout the whole day, so you can dance and bop your head while getting fed nuggets of wisdom. Some of our past speakers include Ben Horowitz, Gary Vaynerchuk, Young Guru, Combat Jack, Alexis Ohanian and many more. All in all it’s a very electrifying experience at our Tech808 conferences, I would urge anyone interested in technology or business to come check it out.

You recently decided to take the show on the road, calling it the #Tech808 Tour! What provoked the decision to go beyond New York and travel to Oakland and D.C.? Was there a particular reason those cities were chosen? How has that experience been? 
The people decided for us! We had such a great reaction to the inaugural Tech808 at NYU that we literally had people calling us to take the conference on the road. It had always been in our minds that a conference like Tech808 could work in different cities but we had no idea how successful the New York conference was going to be. In the end we had a turnout of about 400 people which let us know that this was something we wanted to share with the world. Oakland and D.C. were chosen specifically because they have a burgeoning startup scene, especially amongst people of color. In the Bay Area, San Francisco gets most of the love because of the incredible companies that have sprung up in the region over the last couple decades. However, Oakland is now starting to become it’s own tech community and we wanted to take advantage of that to bring together all the amazing entrepreneurs, programmers and designers in the Oakland area.
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I have been reading and doing a lot of networking and there truly is a lack of so called “minorities” (I don’t like the term minority, I think it is used to diminish our contributions to the world) in the technology sector. Is there a reason(s) that you can pinpoint why this is the case? What can we do to help change this for the better?
It’s very hard to pinpoint a specific reason for a lack of so called “minorities” in technology. There are so many nuances when it comes to the socio-economic problems within the country that it would be very tough to single out just one. With that being said I do believe there are a few areas that could be causing some of the issues. One is undoubtedly access and education. Many of the tech entrepreneurs we know of today were fortunate enough to be exposed to technology at a very young age. Whether that was their Dad’s Apple II computer or a beat up Commodore sitting in their garage, they had means to understand and tinker with the machines at a very young age. This would give such a person a head start within the tech industry but also reinforces their love and interest for all things that are technological.
Another issue in the tech diversity conversation is what I like to call the “Tiger Woods effect”. Before 1997 it was safe to categorize golf as an upperclass, middle-aged, white man’s sport. It was rare to see anyone that didn’t fit this profile at your local country club and probably even more rare to see an exception on TV.  When Tiger Woods won his first Masters tournament in 1997 he changed the game when it comes to the sport of golf. Nowadays you see all different races, coming from all different backgrounds both men and women on the golf course. The problem in the tech world is that there are hasn’t been any “Tiger Woods effect’ yet. Where is the black Mark Zuckerberg or brown Elon Musk? In many minority communities most kids dream of growing up to be like their favorite basketball player or rapper. I think when we start to see more entrepreneurs of color excelling in the field of technology, we will also start to see an increase in minority computer science graduates and kids interested in pursuing a career in the field. There has been some progress over the years including Intel’s recent $300 million fund for “minority” entrepreneurs and technologists. Although there is a tremendous amount of work to be done we can all help by exposing our youth to technology and the benefits of being a creator and not just a passive consumer.

You all are very accomplished in your careers. What have been some of your greatest moments? How about some of your biggest setbacks? How did you all overcome them?
Some of our greatest moments have definitely been putting together this Tech808 conference and seeing it grow in the short span of a year. It feels like the culmination of all our hard work with The Phat Startup has blossomed into this amazing experience with Tech808. We have met people from around the world that are inspired by us and we have also met and become personal friends with many individuals that inspire ourselves. Another great moment was our panel talk at SXSW last year in Austin, Texas. We had a great time in a new city and really got to test the strength of our brand name. As entrepreneurs we face problems everyday and it’s our duty to work on solving them in the most efficient manner. Luckily we have not had many huge setbacks, but some setbacks were actually spontaneous and would often happen on the day of an event. A speaker might be caught in traffic or a package was shipped to the wrong location, yet these were all problems we were able to fix as a team. Over the course of working together on Tech808 and The Phat Startup we have grown to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses which makes it easier to deal with setbacks when they arise.

We have a saying here “DO WHAT YOU DESIRE” or #DWYD. How does that apply to what you all are doing with your lives and The Phat Startup?
Do what you desire is a great slogan and definitely something we incorporate here at The Phat Startup. To me it means seizing everyday and making the choice to live your life how you want to live it. We have been indoctrinated from a very young age to live according to a certain standard and it is often very hard to break out from the norm. The desire to become an entrepreneur is something we all shared and that focus has led us to experience and accomplish many things we never would have if we did not make that choice. Its not easy being an entrepreneur, you have to fight and work hard everyday. Starting a company is something you need to have a burning desire for in order to see it through, or else you will never find the will power to continue when the going gets tough. To me #DWYD is emblematic of the passion and sacrifice it takes to follow your dreams and choose your own path in life.
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How can we find out more about The Phat Startup online? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Website? 
We are very active on social media and our account is the same across all properties @thephatstartup so holla at us. Thank you for your time and remember to #BossUP!
website = tech808.co
If you have any questions about Tech 808 or The Phat Start Up tweet Jahde here http://twitter.com/jahde.

Are there any last words of wisdom or advice for our readers? 
If you are reading this right now you have the power in you to follow your dreams and change the world. There has never been a time in history where that statement is more possible or even more true. Life is short and the best way to live it is by making sure you are having fun and learning something new everyday. That could mean starting a business, learning how to paint or simply spending more time with your family. It’s important to realize that the only thing that matters in this world is what matters most to you. Once you figure that out the next step is to create each day with that as your focus. This might not happen overnight and sometimes can take years but I promise once you get there you will experience a reward like no other! Thank you for your time and remember to #BossUP.

P.S. JOSHUA HERE! I wanted to let you all know that Jahde and the good people at The Phat Start Up set up a special discount code for all of YOU readers for the Tech 808 Conference! Go to https://www.squadup.com/events/tech808nyc and enter “DWYD” for a special price!

Interview with music industry connector Tampa Mystic

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I always start off by asking, how is everything in the world of Tampa Mystic?
Everything is Amazing! Busy, just how I prefer it!

What would you say to someone if they came up to you asked “What do you do ?”
I’d ask them if they have a few minutes, because I do so much lol!

Tell me more about yourself? How long have you been in business? What have been your biggest accomplishments? Biggest setbacks? How did you overcome them?
I’m an innovator for sure. I started my business ‘Mystic’s Entertainment’ just over 3 years ago. We offer promotional services to the music industry. Also, twice a week I have an independent artist showcase in ATL called ‘Industries Most Wanted, I manage 2 artists (King Miz & Smoov ATL) along with being on radio 3 days a week. Some of my biggest accomplishment are having won 12 awards in 4 years of being in the industry. Also, moving to ATL and successfully putting my stamp on this city! One set back, but also a blessing at the same time was getting laid off my job earlier this year. It was tough going from 86K a year to no paycheck. Fortunately, I have Mystic’s Ent established and I now run my business full time!

Your work with all types of artists/djs/companies/etc. Can you tell me how you approach each one?
I approach each with an open business mindset. I’m all about building and keeping good relationships.

Your work is done in Atlanta, which to me is a hotbed of talent. How is the scene from an insider perspective? What is lacking? Is it over saturated? Is there anything that you desire to change?
 I love this city! I’ve been coming here for years, and always knew I’d live here one day. If you’re an independent artist who is serious then this is the place for you. I don’t think there’s much it’s lacking, the opportunities here are endless. It is somewhat over saturated in the aspect of everyone wants to be a rapper, DJ & promoter but so many don’t have the skill set! Only thing I’d like to change is the rush hour traffic lol

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How important is public relations and branding in the marketing and pushing of a new artist? In your perspective. What do you help artists do in the music business?
Very important! An artist not only needs PR, but positive PR! They must be out networking, shaking hands and kissing babies! Getting involved with community activities etc. Also, on the branding side having things such as shirts with their name on it etc.

Besides working with artists, is there anything else that you are passionate about that supporters of you may not realize!?
Yes, ME! lol I recently started living a much healthier lifestyle. Eating cleaner & exercising daily. I do a combo of jogging / walking 8 miles a day.

We have a saying here “DO WHAT YOU DESIRE” or #DWYD. How does that apply to what you are doing with your company and in your life?
It applies from top to bottom, front to back! After losing my job of 10 years, I’ve decided to wake up in the morning and create my own day! I absolutely Do what I desire every single day!

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How can we find out more about Tampa Mystic online? Facebook? Twitter? Website? IG?
My IG, Twitter, Facebook & Periscope are all @TampaMystic and website www.tampamystic.com

Are there any last words of wisdom or advice?
I’d like to thank you for this dope interview! Advice would be stay humble, consistent and definitely stay loyal to those who are loyal to you!