024 – This Dude Went From Being a Rap Artiste, to a Successful Web and App Design Specialist, with John Sandiford

John AM Sandiford is based in the Netherlands. He is a certified Web and App Designer with an extensive knowledge in User Interface and User Experience Design and Social Marketing Strategies. In 2010 he founded the company Antonio Media. He has been elected by World Trade Center Eindhoven Netherlands as the Young Professional of the year in 2016.

Peak Performers, John shares his journey from a #rap artiste to an entrepreneur #TheEntrepYou… Click To Tweet

Show  Notes:

If you could choose your age forever, what age would you choose and why?

I wouldn’t choose and age. I love every age of life. It’s all a different part of the journey. There are so many things that happen at every stage. I would think that being stuck at one age may turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing.

Did you always know that you wanted to become an entrepreneur?

I always knew that I wanted to do something special, to do something more than average. For a while I thought that it was something in the entertainment industry and eventually that shifted into what I’m doing now. What I’m doing now is slowly taking on an additional life of its own, heading into new territories while still sticking to the core.

Was there a point that you ventured out into the music industry?

Yes, I spent quite some years there. It all started with just loving music from a very young age. That grew into loving it even more as I got into high school. I started writing my first lyrics when I was about 13 years old in Dominica when I was based in the Caribbean between Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica and that career moved on simultaneously with me going to school.

From high school to college I working on my music and doing things in the music industry. That brought me up to my climactic moment, in 2009 when I performed on BET’s 106 & Park in New York City performing the song called Break Your Back (Nemesis). That was the highlight of my music career.

Born on St. Maarten, I was one of the first artistes from the island to also perform original music on BET and to have made music videos back in 2005-2006 that was also on television in Europe and the Caribbean and having original music on iTunes. Actually then, I was already busy with entrepreneurship because I had a record label. It got a bit more serious from 2005 onwards. I was still in college although I was contemplating to drop out and to pursue music.

During my pursuit of music is when I came across certain things within the industry that I didn’t’ like. That made me question if the quest that I was on was the one to fulfill my life’s purpose. I’m allergic to fake people and I met a bit too many of them within the industry (I also met some real ones). As I started analzying those that I met at a younger age and started looking at their personal life, there was just different signs that led me to believe that maybe I should try my hand at something else and that I could always come back to music if I choose to. The love for music will never go. I still listen to music religiously every day. I work with music constantly so there will always be a time when I could reconnect but on different terms.

Fast track to 2010 when you decided to start Antonio Media, how did that happen?

You could say it started in 2008 maybe a bit before that. I started a study in Information Technology and then I switched after about a year to ICT media Design which is a mix of design, communication and ICT because I could then create my own album covers, websites and flyers since I was young and couldn’t pay anyone to do it but I wanted to have the most awesome stuff so I thought why not go to school and learn to do it. In 2008 when I started my first internship I realized I actually had some skills and people are willing to pay good money for them because of the types of assignment I was getting from my boss at that moment. That gave me the confidence, I could actually venture out and do more stuff for other people.

In 2010 I was completing my final internship. I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree. I looked around my City as to what jobs were available but there was nothing appealing to me. I always wanted to be my own boss. Then I decided I would go for it and started the company in 2010.

What is your Unique Selling Proposition?

We think about the complete user experience as in customers, people that use your products. We design websites and Apps. When you’re thinking about the complete experience, it goes beyond the colours and fonts. You really have to take the business goals of your clients in mind and fully understand the journey that their customers will go through and you design around that to match what their customers are looking.

What’s the worse challenge you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?

Creating enough cash flow. When you’re doing something that you love, something that you’re passionate about, you could easily spend more time than was budgeted for working on the thing that you’re working. It doesn’t matter to you because you love doing what you’re doing. It is difficult to figure out how do you price that creative work versus what people are used to paying and also the type of clients that you’re providing those services to. Figuring out that balance of where you could continue to work on passionate projects and make enough cash flow to sustain yourself, that was one of the most difficult things of figuring out where that balance point is.

How did you figure it out?

I’ll have to give a bit more context as to how the business grew. I started at home about 8 months in the spare bed room at home. At that point, nothing was really growing. The one thing I can recommend, if there is some place that you can go out and network with other business people, there is where you’ll learn the most. It wasn’t until I moved to an area inn Eindhoven when I started to work at a Flex Desk in a space of about 25 other creative professionals when I started to learn and understand how to balance what you ask for versus what you deliver, etc. Also. I learnt in that period to collaborate more with others. I started to figure out that I needed to specialize in Web and App Design versus making logo, flyers and posters. In the beginning, I was making anything that people were willing to pay me to make.

I remember going to one of the first networking events, when they asked me what I did and I explained, the lady looked at me and said you’re doing too much, you need to specialize and I thought to myself, how dare she say that? I can do all these things. At some point, I came to accept that while you can do it partially, you’ll never be able to be great at it. You’ll never be great at everything, at some point you’ll have to figure out what you’re really great at and then you put all your chips in that section and move forward with that. You can always add additional things to your plate but you should really be focusing on things that you’re really good at. The stuff that you can do but aren’t really great at, make sure you find someone who is great at that and outsource it to them, collaborate – that’s how you make great things happen. That’s what I learnt in the early years at the co-working space I was at.

What are some of the high points in your journey?

Here in the region, one of the first big projects that I worked on was for Rockwool Benelux (the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg). That project became so successful within the company that we also did something similar within the company for Rockwool GLOBAL where we redesigned their career the career page within their website where everyone gets hired and you see all the applications passed through. It taught me a lot; it was one of the first projects where we outsourced every element that wasn’t our responsibility.

I focused on the website design; there was someone that focused on the videos; someone that focused copy writing, a bit of animation went into that and managing all that together to ensure we delivered an awesome project to the client. This was one of those first good experiences to learn how to do things on that scale for big corporate clients.

We went to do stuff for ASML – that company is kind of like the guy behind the guy. They build the machines that produce the chips that go into your phones, laptops, iPads, etc.  They have about 10 or 12 clients in the world and they are the clients that you want to have like Intel and Samsung. We also did awesome stuff for Honeywell Emaya – (Europe, Middle East and Africa). That took me doing workshops in boardrooms in Paris, to launch setting up the launch in the Czech Republic.

In 2016 I was awarded the World Trade Centre Eindhoven Young Professional of the Year Award which was a special moment, it was actually towards the end of 2015 that I received the award. 2015 was a very busy year for me and my company as well. It was also the year when I hired the first additional employee outside of me. Before that point, I always collaborated with Freelancers and other companies so I built a network of over 25 Specialists that I would work on projects with but internally I didn’t have anyone else in the company doing the core and the daily activities. That grew from the first hire to we are now at about 6 of us.

Final piece of branding advice that we need to hold to?

In 2017, it’s very important for you to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Look for Simon Sinek’s the Golden Cirlce and make sure you apply that messaging to your own brand to understand why you do what you do. Furthermore, I would implore you to research design thinking and what exactly that means. It’s all about having empathy for your customers and knowing what they are looking for and making sure that you provide that to them. You need to have more dialogue with your customers. Social media is a good way to do that.

Content is king. Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re creating good content to show to the world what you’re about. It can be as simple as documenting elements of the journey. You need to step out of that comfort zone if you’re in that zone and move outwards into the epic space. Really focus and do research on how to create good content because it will make all the difference in how people perceive you and link into the product/service that you’re trying to sell.

Main Take-Aways:

  • Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re creating god content to show to the world what you’re about.
  • You’ll never be great at everything, at some point you’ll have to figure out what you’re really great at and then you put all your chips in that section and move forward with that.
  • It is very important for you to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.

 

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The Golden Circle – Simon Sinek

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Question of the Day:

When you hear the term branding, what comes to mind? Do leave a comment below.

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023 – Social Media Automation – Trend Towards Engagement, Support and CRM, with Gilad Salamander

Gilad Salamander is Co-founder/CEO at eClincher – the most advanced social media management tool. With a proven track record in Business, Product & Engineering Management, New Product Introduction (NPI), and Manufacturing and Support, he has the proven ability to implement strategies that support business growth. He is an active investor in several startup companies and a co-founder/partner at EpiMetrix Inc. Strengths include product vision, strategic planning for growth, full P&L management and operational excellence.

#PeakPerformers, Gilad shares the @eclincher story on #TheEntrepYou today! Click To Tweet

Show  Notes:

Here’s a fun question for you…If you walked in your sleep, where would you go?

Probably to the beach, but I need to wake up before going into the water.

What is eClincher all about?

We started the concept about four years ago; we wanted to build a social media management tool for the Micro, Small businesses. We developed that with a cool user interface. Customers compared us to some of the big competitors. We find that we had to build an amazing solution for end users that was transparent. There was also a lot of discussions with our customers. We sought feedback and continuously improve our platform to include features so that they don’t have to go to multiple tools to find unique solution for things. They can do it all in one platform in our system.

We also wanted to save them time because we know how businesses and entrepreneurs are. They need help. That’s our vision. We’re are about entering solution and engagement.

What problem is eClincher solving that Hootsuite isn’t?

Social media has evolved from social media marketing and publishing into engagement. Social Media is expanding into support and CRM. That’s aligning well with our vision and we have developed our tool to address those issues. The differentiation is that we take care of the publishing and the scheduling. We do it really well with features like post preview, edit links, free access to stock images, animated GIFs, integration with Canva (the publishing aspect). We added another great feature called auto-post with queues. You can use queues to queue a category of posts, fill it up with content and schedule weekly schedule. Once you turn on auto publish it will continue to recycle each post at a time until it reaches the end. There is the option for one time publishing as well as queues with end date that allows you to run campaigns. That can get as 80-90% engagement.  The publishing is the tool to get more engagement. In addition, we have analytics, RSS feeds, content curation, inboxes – an amazing way to get engagement. Everything gets collected from all your social media channels into one inbox. You can respond, follow, follow from different profiles rather than going to the different platform. It saves a lot of time.

What are some your users saying about eClincher?

We get a lot of 5-star ratings from software review sites. The main thing they are saying is that they like the completeness of the product. They can get everything in one platform so they don’t have to use 3 or 4 products. The price is reasonable, we are efficient with everything on stored on the cloud.  We continue to evolve into adding new features and the customers benefit from that.

Is eClincher the first product you’ve worked on?

I’ve worked on new product introduction in different companies and managed teams but this is my first startup. I’ve done some investment and other stuff so I understand what it takes to build and define a product. It has helped me a lot with eClincher but I also learnt a lot of new things with the experience. I can certainly share tips I’ve learnt along the way.

What are some of the things that are foremost on your mind when you are thinking about developing products?

In general, for entrepreneurs and startups the two most important things that an entrepreneur need to focus on is:

  1. Connect with the end user. How are they going to use the product? Is it solving a pain point? What is the advantage? If you think you have something that they are going to benefit from go ahead. If the answer is no you probably shouldn’t do it. Try to think from the end user’s perspective and not from an engineering one. It is not easy but they are things you can do to help for example ask questions of others to get feedback.
  2. Execution – this starts from the very basic of design and thinking about the product all the way to go to market and trying to sell it. There are lots of services out there to help you and you need to execute to sell your product. Entrepreneurs that are coming from a technical background don’t feel as comfortable to go out and sell. There is no one better to sell your product than you. When you talk to people they will give feedback that will help you to improve it.

 

Was there any major challenge you faced during the development stage of eClincher?

As a startup, you think you develop something that everybody is going to go wild and want. The reality is that once you develop it, you shouldn’t fall in love with it thinking this is the best thing on earth and everybody is going to run to you and pay for it. You have to be open to listen to get feedback from others. Customers can give you an idea of what they want and you can develop it into something better. Someone with a technical background to switch into that mode is a challenge.

The second thing I would say is the packaging. It is important how your product is going to look, your user interface, your website. All of this is affecting the decision of the end user whether they should buy your product or not.  Be open to get feedback from them.

I had to try to be as neutral as possible saying, is this what people really want?’ Is this going to solve their pain point? Try to think ahead where the social media trend is going. What will people need 2 or 3 years down the line. We all tend to be very focused on the development of the product and we sometimes forget to separate ourselves and think from a high-level perspective. It is challenging for technical people because they love to write the code.

Main Take-Aways:
  • Be open to getting feedback from your customers.
  • Pay attention to your product packaging.
  • Social media has evolved from social media marketing and publishing into engagement.

 

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Connect with Gilad Salamander

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How to Live the Life YOU Want: 3 Simple Things to Help You

Don’t you want to live a that is meaningful, fun-filled and purposeful, essentially to be happy? Click To Tweet But what does that really mean and how can you attain it? For some people, it is an ideal that seems like mission possible, only for a select few.

Many people, in fact, are unaware that they are deserving of a great life. They believe it is only for persons who were born to specific families, born in certain neighbourhoods or even born with particular hues.

Understanding and believing that you are in the driver’s seat, that you are in control of your happiness and living your best life now is necessary for your success. Knowing the things that you must do to achieve this is even more paramount.

Here are 3 Simple things to help you live that life that you are dreaming of.

  1. Understand your purpose in order to declutter your life

Mark Twain left us with these words, “the two most important days in a person’s life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”, and equally brilliantly echoed in another way by Myles Munroe, “The greatest tragedy in life is not death but life without a purpose”.

Did you know one of the biggest reasons for your unhappiness is that you take on tasks, opportunities, etc. because you are unsure about who you are and why you are here as on earth. When you know your purpose, you know what you must say yes to and the things you must reject.  Begin to take an introspective look at where you are now. If at this point you are still unclear as to why you were created, start asking of yourself and those around you, what is the one thing I can do with my eyes closed? What I am great at? I am most at peace doing _____, and you fill in the blanks.

The word NO is a complete sentence and purpose will give you an appreciation for this and you will begin to experience happiness not someday but NOW. Eliminate the things that don’t serve you so you will have space for your purpose.

  1. Know the season you’re in

On a bright Saturday morning, I took a detour from my routine of either working on my business, doing house chores or simply lying in bed till some point in the afternoon. I was on my way to a women entrepreneur’s event. As I drove, I wanted to get the red at traffic lights but I prayed not to be at the front of the line when stopped. This was because I wanted to apply my makeup and if I’m at the front of the line it would be a challenge to see when the light changed to green. I wanted to be behind other vehicles so that I could see when they move off.

Then like a ton of bricks it fell heavily on me. Why was I rejecting being at the front of the line? Why did I not want to be in the lead? Why was I comfortable in second place? I had a serendipitous moment. I thought to myself, so many times I, like the many others who are part of the church, keep singing, ‘I’m next in line for my blessing”.  Have we stopped to recognize that we are actually at the front of the line? Not only are we at the front of the line but we are at the counter being served. Yet we are singing melodiously, like the Angels in Heaven, “I’m next in line for my blessing”.

To everything under the sun there is a season. You must be alert and be intuitive enough to recognize the season you are in. If you are in a season where you must apply your own mask first before you can help others, take the time to apply your mask. You cannot give from an empty cup. The good Samaritan stopped briefly to help the man in need. Then he quickly moved on, continuing to take care of his business then he went back to continue his Good Samaritan duties.

Recognizing your season will allow you to be happier. If you are in a season that requires that you give attention to your development, you will not feel guilty when you are not able to give assistance to others during that time. Oftentimes it is the guilt that accompanies our NO that is the root of our unhappiness.

  1. Choose ye this day with whom you spend your time

According to Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most of your time with”.

This principle, based on the law of average, suggests that if you are spending time with a bunch of losers then of course….The converse is also true. Since those closest to us impact us, when we share out time with super successful people, our success odds also increase.

I’m working on a project that it’s safe to say it’s ground-breaking at least in this part of the world. I reached out a someone who is pretty much the Steve Jobs of Apple in their industry. I sent a 90 second video stating the project, my ask and that I will would follow up with additional information.

He responded by first saying that he liked the video and congratulated me on the things I’ve been doing. He then went on to say that what I’m requesting is something that under normal circumstance he would have said no to. However, he loves what I’m creating and he wants to be part of it.

I’ve made it part of my duty to be strategic with the people I allow in my space and spend time with. So now it is not uncommon to have emails from persons like Chris Ducker, Amy Porterfield, John Lee Dumas, etc. – and these are not subscription emails.

I say this to make the point that other people, can affect our moods, attitudes and overall behavior which in turn affect the decisions we make including those having to do with our happiness.

Like Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Beginning today, decide to live the life you want by:

  1. Understand your purpose in order to declutter your life;
  2. Know the season you’re in;
  3. Choose ye this day with whom you spend your time

I wish for you nothing less that true happiness as you live your best life now.

What are you doing for your hapiness today? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below.

022 – How One Cancer Survivor & Model, Became a Successful Caribbean Magazine Publisher, with Neysha Soodeen

Neysha Soodeen is the CEO of Toute Bagai Publishing, considered one of the Caribbean’s largest magazine publishing houses. Toute Bagai Publishing has received many international accolades, including international print and design awards, such as the SAPPI International Printers Award. Neysha has received numerous awards including the Marcella Martinez Award for her contribution to promoting the Caribbean internationally and was nationally recognized and awarded the Business Pioneer Award by The Association of Female Executives of Trinidad & Tobago.

#PeakPerformers, Neysha shares her inspiring journey on #TheEntrepYou today! Click To Tweet

Show  Notes:

If you were to name one piece of clothing that describes you, what would you say?

Jeans & t-shirt. It’s so funny because I meet people right cross the Caribbean and I guess everyone is assuming because I am a magazine publisher and a former model that I am this little glamour puss trotting around the Caribbean. But I really am not, I love my jeans, I love my t-shirts.

You were a model?

At University, being a foreign student I couldn’t work so my parents supported me. After I finish university, I decided to go and do another degree because life was too easy. All I had to do was pass and my parents were supporting me. At that point in time my parents said, “no-way, get out and get yourself a job”! This was in the late ’80’s early ’90s. At that time, ethnic models were the hottest thing walking the planet. I’m almost 6 foot tall and Indian. I was picked up by a modelling agency that whisked me off to Italy. I told my parents that you wanted me to work so I just got a job working as a model and it’s in Italy. To that, my parents were terribly disappointed because all that money wasted on an education for me to go and trot up and down the runway was not their idea of a great profession.

However, being in Italy, a foreign country, a foreign language taught me so much. It taught that no matter where I am in the world I could figure it out and I was completely on my own in Italy and it was a great experience for me. After a couple of years, I’d come back home for a holiday – I was about 24 at the time and I have a lump in my neck. My mom took me to the doctor. Although I was 24 and thought I was a big woman, in the doctor’s office, the doctor and my mother spoke directly and they totally cut me out of the conversation. That lump turned out to be Thyroid Cancer which was at the time stage 3, after a couple of years turned into stage 4. I had to undergo years of treatment and surgery. That was the end of my modelling career.

It was the beginning of a new life. I’m in bed in tears thinking how can this be and I grabbed a bottle of wine; I figured if I’m going to die I’m going to die happy; really preventing myself from smoking at that time.

In and out of sleep I thought, ‘what would my funeral be like?’ And then I thought of the eulogy and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have the most boring eulogy ever’ I have not accomplished anything. I swam for Barbados but I never made it to the Olympics; I went to university but I never did anything with my degree and I modelled in Italy but never really did anything with that either. And I thought “Neysha Soodeen was this fun little, happy girl” and that was the beginning of a brand, new life. Once I was able to beat the Cancer, that was when I decided I need my eulogy to be an awesome eulogy and I picked up myself at 28 or 29 moved to Trinidad and started a publishing a company, started my magazine – Maco Caribbean Magazine.

Tell us about the concept behind Maco Caribbean Magazine

I was privileged to have gone away to school in Canada and then I was living in Italy. When I had come back home, two very poignant things still out:

  1. While I was away everyone assumes that if you are from the Caribbean, you either work at a hotel, own a hotel, or live on the beach or drink banana daiquiri. They didn’t quite understand how we lived and what we did and our lifestyle in the Caribbean.
  2. When I came back home to the Caribbean I realized that no-one in the Caribbean valued what we have right here. I would go into someone’s house and they would have beautiful roses as their mantle-piece as opposed to tropical flowers; I would go to someone’s house for dinner and they would be serving me a strawberry short cake as opposed to guava or soursop. And I thought, we as West Indians are trying to emulate everything that’s foreign as opposed embraced everything that’s us, that’s home grown.

I decided to start a magazine that will showcase both aspects – showcase to the world, the luxury side of how we live, our food, our decor, our architectures, our gardens, our artists. And then for West Indians, I wanted to show them that if I took our life style and I presented it on a platform that was first world all of a sudden (hopefully) they will start appreciating what we have. I decided to do this over-sized glossy magazine. I called it Maco.

No one wanted to back me on this project because it didn’t seem viable. Advertisers were not going to spend the kind of money advertising in a super-sized glossy magazine when that was their whole year advertising in the newspaper or on radio. I decided to do it alone, I took a big risk and it paid off. Every issue came out. My audience grew and then by year 2, I started launching other publications. The company grew and grew. I went from doing the first issue on my own to hiring 2 people by my 3rd and 2 more people by my 6th issue and then the company just kept on growing.

What were some other challenges you faced in the early stage?

Advertisers were not used to advertising in glossy magazines and therefore I had to go out and educate my advertisers on the pros of advertising in a glossy magazine opposed to a newspaper or radio or TV. At the time, besides in-flight magazine, my magazine was the only magazine that was a regional publication. By year 2, my magazine was the only Caribbean magazine that was distributed internationally at Barnes and Nobles, Borders, etc. Therefore, there were a handful of advertisers that not only wanted to reach every island in the region but those outside of the region and so my magazine then found its own niche market but I had to fight for that market.

Other real challenges that no one knows – I was young, I never did a business degree, I never studied publishing or journalism, I winged it. When you wing it, not every decision you make is going to be the right one. For example, I didn’t keep an eye on my cash flow. There came a time where, because I was paying for the publishing upfront but then I was collecting my advertising dollars after, I had a bit of a cash flow problem. If that was not managed or caught in time, just like other magazines, I would have had to bury my magazine in that big grave yard.

I was very good at was networking. I never claimed to be a bright spark, but I knew how to network and I was able to my magazine, my brand out there. Interact with advertisers, interact with people who were able to give me advice, to keep an eye on me, to mentor me and to also spread the word. Networking is so important; it’s the one thing you can do to spread your business your business and to get more business.

What are some of the other lessons you learnt?

One of the lessons is that you have to keep up with trends and technology. When I started my publishing company, the digital world was not there. We had to send CDs to printers by mail or FedEx. For my first magazine, I sat down on the floor with big sheets of paper and I drew out how I wanted every page laid out. Now its pre-historic to do things like that. The print industry is taking a real bashing from the social world. Advertisers are going from print to digital so they don’t want to advertise anymore.

Now I have to relearn a whole new world, how do I move my publishing company from a print to digital. Now it’s just going to continue until the day I die or the day I retire which will probably be until the day I die. Everyone needs to keep up with trends. You have to keep re-inventing your business model; keep hiring new human resource that understands how the world is going because you can’t do it all.

If you aren’t making mistakes you aren’t learning anything and the more you make mistakes, the more you learn, the more you learn, the better you are. Richard Branson almost hit bankruptcy many times, so does most of the most successful people in this world. You win some and you lose some. When you lose, that just makes you a stronger person and a brighter person.

The first thing that companies cut when there is a problem is advertising, my only source of income in my business is advertising. Magazines were closing down all over the world. I had to quickly decide oh my gosh am I going to tighten up my belt and hold my breath, cut corners to keep on surviving or am I going to fold and a lot of companies do that – go to bed and don’t have a good night sleep as there isn’t a salary at the end of the month when you’re an entrepreneur.

Who are some of the big clients you’ve had within the region?

The one thing I realized when I was 29 was that there wasn’t a lot of people in the Caribbean in my profession that wanted to see me succeed so when I went to them for help, they would rather stand on my head and push me down to elevate themselves than to hold my hand and say, ‘come Neysha, I’m going to help you be the best Publisher ever’.

One of my biggest mentors was a Jamaican, Ian Randle, from Ian Randle Publishing and so when other publishers across the Caribbean would not help me, Ian Randle said, ‘absolutely Nesyha’, ‘not only am I going to introduce you to my printers in China and Hong Kong but I’m actually going to extend my line of credit so that you can get a good head start’.

They aren’t too many people like Ian Randle in this world so when I grew up and thought that I had achieved something, that I can pass it forward, I did so and I started working with young entrepreneurs not necessarily in a formal way but a lot of entrepreneurs come to me from all over the Caribbean and so I work with them. I open up my networks to them because that’s something that’s very hard to them if you don’t travel a lot, and get them to a place where I know that their companies have a good chance of succeeding.

I have the largest library of Caribbean content because I have been featuring each island for the last 20 years. Some of my clients are Sandals, I publish the Sandals Style Magazine that’s awesome because Sandals is one of the largest companies in the Caribbean and by every right they should be going to one of the largest publishers in the world or in the States to publish their magazine. It’s just awesome when we decide to partner up on this magazine and to have them choose a local publisher, a small publisher compared to all the larger ones in the States. What I was able to bring to a massive company like Sandals, was my Caribbean content. Some of my other clients across the Caribbean are big names, Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA), some of the Ministries across the region.

Piece of advice?

Opportunity does not knock it just sit there waiting patiently to be yanked. Go out there and just do it. A lot of people are fearful, ‘what if I fail?’, well what if you fail. If you don’t try you will never know. What if you succeed? Opportunity isn’t going to come knocking at your door. If you have a good idea – if you have a bad idea that you thing you can turn into a great thing, go for it. I did it, all of the top entrepreneurs in the Caribbean or in the world didn’t do something that was already tried and tested, that’s not how you become an entrepreneur. Becoming a successful entrepreneur is going out there and doing something that no one else has done before.

Main Take-Aways:

  1. Mentorship is essential to business growth.

  2. Networking is so important; it’s the one thing you can do to spread your business your business and to get more business.

  3. The first thing that companies cut when there is a problem is advertising.

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Question of the Day:

What do you think about life in the Caribbean? Do leave a comment below.

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How are They Doing Startup in Israel?

Earlier this year I had a conversation with Lior Degani, co-founder of Swayy (now Similar Web after the acquisition) for The Entrepreneurial You podcast.
Here’s what Lior said in our conversation when asked about his top 3 mistakes during his startup phase.

1. We didn’t share our idea with anyone – maybe we were afraid anyone would steal our idea. We did this for a year. You should never be afraid of sharing your idea. An idea in and of itself means nothing. It’s about the execution, it’s about the people behind the idea. Even if someone thinks your idea is great and are going to do it themselves, if you believe in yourself you will do it better.

2. We were looking to raise money from VCs and Angels but we decided to spend on our own and quit our jobs. Although it seems like a great thing to do because it means that you believe in your start up, that’s wrong because you shouldn’t spend money on your start up because it really gives you no other option to live. It makes you more stressful and dependent. It makes your lifespan shorter. You cannot always spend time on your startup because you’re always worried about money. From a financial perspective, when you’re spending money from your own pocket, there is no end to it. There is no budget.

3. We wanted to build the best and most comprehensive product that the world has ever seen which is completely against any idea of lean start up. When we started, it wasn’t there yet where everyone knows about Minimum Viable Product (MVP). We just thought that if a product is not good enough, no-one would use it so we would rather build the best product we can, which is against any common sense. When you try out something simple, the basic, the core of your product, you collect feedback from your users, you see if you can even get users. Why would you spend so much time building the best future if no one would use it? We built a super complicated and probably useless product which took us more time and more money.

Now can you identify with any of these mistakes Lior and his other co-founders made?

You can listen to the podcast episode here in the event you missed it.

By now you know I’ve created The Entrepreneurial You Virtual SME Conference & Expo happening 25th-28th September.  I’m bringing back some of your favoruites from the podcast for 4 full days of rich content to ignite your passion.
Included in the line-up is of course Lior Degani. I’ve gotten to know Lior personally and I know he is going to inspire you as he shares story of his journey with you.

As mentioned earleir, Lior is Co-founder of Swayy (Acquired by SimilarWeb). He mentors at Google Campus in Tel Aviv to startups with Growth and Go to Market strategy as part of the Google Launchpad program.

He specializes in system engineering, growth hacking and data analysis, with over 10 years experience working in Telecom and Startup companies, as well as serving in the prestigious IDF unit 8200 – an elite intelligence unit which has spawned many successful Hi-Tech entrepreneurs over the years.

Lior lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Sign up now or share with a friend. This is going to be EPIC!
Can’t wait to have you join us.

8 Signs that you are Living a Purpose Driven Life

As spirit beings, we are able to step away from outside of ourselves and observe who we really are. Click To Tweet. I don’t believe animals are able to do that. This is a treasured gift made available to humans.

In our quest for a deeper understanding of life’s meaning, and to get clarity, over time we develop our self-identities. With this search, the age-old questions of ‘who am I?’ and ‘why am I here?’ top the chart of ‘frequently ask questions’ that can be found anywhere. This cannot be avoided. You see, we weren’t randomly placed on this earth to make up numbers. Much like a piece in a zig-saw puzzle, each of us forms part of a bigger picture of this thing called life. We were meant to play specific roles. I can’t fill your shoe neither can you fill mine.

Since this is true, we must continue our quest to identify what that purpose is. What is that great work that causes your soul to stir? What is the thing that drives you to rise and shine in the mornings? What is the last thing you think about before your go to bed? What is that problem you can’t wait to solve in the mornings?

The answers will be different for everyone but one thing remains constant – it gives us life.

I have narrowed my purpose down to this – “life transformation through inspiration’. The reason I get up every day and do what I do i.e. podcasting, writing, speaking, entrepreneurship, is that I get a platform where I can inspire others to action through my story. Many people live vicariously through my eyes. Now everything I’ve ever been through in life makes sense. The depression, abuse, pain, neglect, rejection…it’s all abundantly clear, why. My life is a story of transformation, hope and triumph. And I love it.

Are you living on purpose? Here are some ways in which you can be sure.

  1. It is true that if you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life. When you truly love what you are doing you will be excited about doing it. The result is an obsession that is almost inexplicable and you enjoy every moment of it. This gives you joy and a true sense of reason for living. In the moments that you feel like you want to stay in bed and simply let time pass by, there is a constant reminder of the reasons not to and your energy comes from that.
  2. There are times others may be trying to get your attention but you are so focused it appears that there is no one around. You are always focused when doing what you love. You do not allow yourself to get distracted. ‘Random’ social events will not appeal to you much, as your gaze is affixed on your prize.
  3. You have a strong underlying belief that you are doing what you were created for. You may have tried several things before and soon found that your interest in them disappeared as quickly as they came.
  4. You keep a clear vision all the time of where you want to reach irrespective of any ‘failure’ that may happen along the way.
  5. Even with a clear vision, there are times you are not quite sure of what to do. As chapters unfold and phases roll out and define themselves, you stay open to guidance from professionals, books, CDs, the internet or whatever resource is available to you. Although it is your purpose, you will never be able to accomplish it alone.  Forging strategic alliances with the right people and organizations and having the right tools, is a sure way to get ahead.
  6. You keep going when the going gets tough; in those times when things don’t seem to be going right. The odds all appear to be stacked up against you; yet you refuse to give up because you know that anything that is worth fighting for usually comes with challenges
  7. You surprise even yourself at your persistence and drive to press on. Challenges are inevitable; it is how you deal with them that will determine whether you are doing what you were called to do. Despite the challenges, hurdles, trials, tribulations and frustrations, you look in retrospect with delight knowing that you have totally enjoyed the experience anyway and have no regrets. The mistakes were merely lessons to learn from. You say to yourself, these mistakes only meant that you tried something new.
  8. Sometimes you find that many of the opportunities that are aligned to your purpose just seem to fall into place easily and things appear to ‘just happen’. The telephone calls, emails, connections and people just seem to appear serendipitously to give guidance and assistance; things that seem to happen out of the apparent blue. The truth is, nothing happens by chance.

I’d love to hear about your purpose. Leave a comment below.

Heneka Watkis-Porter is a serial-entrepreneur, cultural ambassador, sociologist, author, speaker, fashion designer and podcaster. She wakes up every day with a grateful heart as she lives her purpose of “life transformation through inspiration”. She is the leading lady behind Patwa Culcha International, the company that owns the authentic Jamaica clothing brand, Patwa Apparel.