In a world where people are famous for doing nothing, we’re here to discover the seemingly ordinary people who take giant leaps to do something extraordinary.

Moving Forward features individuals from all different backgrounds and walks of life with the goal of inspiring you to discovery the extraordinary in yourself.  Everyone from 6 and 7-figure entrepreneurs to actors, musicians, filmmakers; everyone has a story about how they moved beyond the ordinary and excelled to become extraordinary.  Get ready, it’s time to start moving forward!

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MF 114 : From Flying Jets to Scaling a Multi-Million Dollar Vending Business, with Matt Miller

Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above.  Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

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Matt Miller is a former Air Force pilot turned entrepreneur. Today, you will hear Matt’s extraordinary story of how he founded School Spirit Vending and scaled it into a multi-million dollar business.

Successes at a glance:

  • Graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
  • Former Air Force Pilot.
  • Founder, School Spirit Vending, a company dedicated to providing vending machines to schools to help bolster fundraising efforts.
    • Scaled it to a multi-million dollar franchise.

Setback failure or time when things fell apart:

  • In 2008-09, the economy crashed which greatly impacted Matt’s then sidepreneur venture, selling vending machines. Since vending machine revenue is largely driven by foot traffic to local businesses, a downturn in the economy meant that people weren’t going out; directly impacting his revenue stream. As detailed in the “aha” section below, Matt had spent time, money and lots of sweat equity building up a business w/ machines at 120 locations. At that time, this side venture was bringing in double what his day job was paying him but the downturn in the economy put all of that in jeopardy. At one point, Matt was delivering pizzas to raise seed capital bc as he put it his credit “stunk” and he couldn’t get a business loan. Matt was working at a demanding day job and struggling during nights and weekends to make his side business work; all the while caring for a family that includes three kids. So what kept Matt going? How did Matt end up a success story rather than a cautionary tale? To understand this, it’s important to understand that Matt’s pivot wasn’t simply a one and done. It was a long process, filled w/ many hard decisions, strategic planning and a lot of hard work. As Matt reveals, he didn’t just have one “aha” moment but many that grew and evolved.

The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:

  • Although Matt served in the military for nearly a decade, flying planes, he never liked being told what to do! Around the midway point of his commitment to the military, Matt started thinking about a post-service career and life. Initially, Matt decided to pursue a job in the corporate space; transitioning to medical sales and then advertising, where he spent nearly a decade. While Matt found tremendous success and joy in advertising, as he notes in our conversation, “the rules were always changing” and at the end of the day, the stockholders were the number one priority over the employees. Moreover, Matt’s plans for his family’s wellbeing were continually disrupted by changes in the company’s comp plan and increasingly, Matt found himself on “the losing end of the stick.” This continued to spiral until one day, a decision by his then boss put Matt and his team in a “really deep hole, financially.” Knowing that the comp plan was constantly changing, Matt realized that it just wouldn’t work out in his favor, long term. It was at that point that the entrepreneurial spark “kicked in.”
  • Once the entrepreneurial bug bit, the next step was to figure out “how to make ends meet.” A characteristic you will notice about Matt is that he extremely scrappy and tenacious; he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Matt did everything from collecting aluminum cans to selling used books online. There was nothing glamorous about this: it was finding roots in entrepreneurship by trying different things and sheer hard work. One of the tenents that Matt had adopted was the idea of creating passive income streams, a notion he learned from Robert Kiyosaki. Matt found that the sidepreneur ventures helped him keep his head above water while his corporate job became more and more uncertain. This led to the next “aha moment.”
  • Matt pondered a question: if he could do well enough as a sidepreneur to pay the bills and keep a roof over his family’s head, could he create something that could afford a lifestyle, free from the hustle and bustle of working a day job. Fortuitously, a friend of Matt’s at church happened to mention that he and his daughters had started working w/ local businesses, providing gumball machines. At that moment, Matt had an epiphany. The gumball machines were putting into practice Kiyosaki’spassive income lessons. Once the machines were in place, they would sell their wares (in this case gumballs) w/o the need for a sales person to be present at the location. Notably, Warren Buffett had a similar revelation when he started his first pinball machine business as a teenager.
  • From there, Matt started w/ his first used candy machine that he bought off eBay. Over the next year and a half, Matt grew his business to 120 machine placements in and around Houston. Matt also started branching out from candy to toys, stickers, and temporary tattoos. Matt describes this as quite the “accident” and not an intended career path, certainly not for someone who used to fly jets!
  • Increasingly, this side venture starting taking up all of Matt’s nights and weekends. Meanwhile, Matt was keeping his day job. Although he was bringing in double his day job income from this side venture, he made sure to continue having a stable income to provide for his family, taking a strategic approach. You might wonder why Matt took a more conservative path towards full-time entrepreneurship. Although the business grew considerably, as noted above, the downturn in the 2008-09 economy put that side venture in serious jeopardy. Matt had seen friends who had found initial success in ventures such as multi-level marketing make bad decisions that put them in serious financial jeopardy. So, while Matt was very much an entrepreneur at heart, he was also sensible in how he made decisions: putting his family’s short and long-term well-being first and foremost.
  • As Matt was contemplating how he was going to weather the storm of a downturn in the economy w/ fewer patrons to local businesses (which also housed his machines), another fortuitous event occurred that changed everything. With the kind of timing you might only see in a movie, there was a knock on the door. Several neighborhood kids were going door to door selling goods to raise funds for their school. And that’s when Matt had the biggest aha moment that changed everything. Matt being a parent, had kids that were of similar age and the one thought that kept running thru his mind is that he would never let his kids go door to door, selling things to strangers, unaccompanied by an adult. This led to a crossroads of opportunity that met several market needs:
    • Matt needed to stabilize his vending machine business which was suffering from decreased foot traffic at local businesses.
    • Schools needed to fund raise.
    • Parents have an interest in keeping their kids safe.
  • The convergence of these three factors led to the next phase of Matt’s vending machine business, which was the formation of School Spirit Vending. Matt could redirect the vending machine business towards schools which would simultaneously provide Matt w/ a large, untapped market while creating a scalable fundraising solution. Matt could also utilize his background in print advertising to create custom stickers for the schools to sell in the machines.
  • This new direction opened up tremendous opportunities for Matt, ones he couldn’t foresee at the time. While Matt was initially driven by a need to salvage his vending machine business, he never imagined that School Spirit Vending would lead to a franchise. Before long Matt had friends and family interested in learning and becoming involved as well. As Matt shares, this was a big reveal for him: he was not only validated by the schools (his market) but now by people around him who he respected and looked up to. This led to the next phase of his business, a licensing and distributorship model: teaching others the business model that was proving so successful. Soon this spread from Texas to other parts of the country. And that’s when Matt had his breakaway “aha” moment. Once scale had been introduced into his venture, the gains had increased so significantly and the risk had become so spread out that it no longer made sense for him to continue working in his day job and that’s when Matt made the full leap. Equally incredible, Matt left his job at a time when they things were starting to look up and his team was doing really well. Matt’s boss was so floored by his announcement that he first offered him a 3-month sabbatical to “clear his head” and when he couldn’t convince him to stay, allowed him to move to Ft. Worth and work remotely to help the transition in exchange for staying one month longer.
    • Matt shares this invaluable insight. Not once did he let his work ethic or devotion to his day job slip. He put in 100% up until the last day which is why he was so respected by his boss. Matt’s integrity is what allowed him to start a side venture in the first place and leave on his own terms bc there was never any doubt as to his commitment. As long as Matt put in 100% during the day, the company didn’t own him during his nights and weekends.
    • Moreover, Matt knew his job was never 100% secure. He could lose it at any time from a layoff so it was in his best interest in continue building his side venture and put as much effort into that as his day job. Not easy but as Matt shows, it can pay off in huge dividends!
  • So what kept Matt going? As Matt shares, there were several years when he was stretched really thin but what kept him going and moving forward wasn’t where he was but the vision of where he wanted to be. Matt knew that his biggest aspiration was a lifestyle that wouldn’t be dictated by a company only interested in shareholder profits or a comp plan that was out of his control. Matt’s entrepreneurial journey was more about freedom than money and at the heart of it, that’s what kept Matt going.
  • The beauty of Matt’s story is that it builds slowly and logically, from lessons learned, experiences and from witnessing the mistakes others have made. The biggest takeaway from Matt’s story is that you can start something entrepreneurial. You can explore a side venture and there are incredible opportunities to grow something that can take you into a whole other stratosphere. But, there are risks involved and to mitigate those, you can take a calculated and strategic approach that won’t put your livelihood and the well-being of your family in jeopardy. It’s not easy and as Matt shares, it took a lot of nights, weekends and many frustrating moments and setbacks along the way. But not only did Matt create a successful business that created a lifestyle of freedom, he did so w/o having to risk his livelihood and his family’s wellbeing. As w/ flying jets, you can be dangerous and risky or sensible and strategic. As Matt proves, being the later doesn’t prevent you from reaching great heights and moving forward.

Knowledge bursts:

  • Resource or cultural experience that inspired Matt to move forward:
    • ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie (Paperbook | Kindle): Matt cites this as having the “worst’ title but the best insights towards understanding people, relationships and the power of listening.
    • ‘The 12 Week Year’ by Brian P. Moran (Hardcover | Kindle): talks about the importance of focus and using “short sprints” to make real progress in your projects and endeavors.
    • Robert Kiyosaki: his books taught Matt passive income concepts upon which he has built his business.
    • Matt also loves conferences. As his team grew, Matt realized that the speed of the team’s growth and development is all determined by the growth of it leader. Thus, Matt puts significant investment into his own personal development by attending conferences and events held by masterminds like Seth Godin and Dave Ramsey. Notably, at a Dave Ramsey event, Matt met Aron Walker, a highly successful entrepreneur who has built and sold 12 businesses. Shortly after, Matt hired him as a coach.
  • Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
    • Rev.com: a transcription app. Matt loves to talk but finds writing a challenge. With Rev, Matt can create multiple blog posts by speaking the content and editing it later.
    • YNAB (youneedabudget.com): great app for personal and business budgeting that syncs across all platforms (computer, tablet, smartphone).
  • How Matt recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
    • Shut things off for a while. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is being able to take the time to do so. Recently, Matt visited his son in college and shut off all of his devices for three straight days. Matt finds those moments when he can give 100% to his family to be the best way to recharge and reboot. Matt also shares that he can do this bc he has surrounded himself w/ people he can trust to run the business during those days when he needs to step away.

Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:

Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:

  • At a low point, Matt was deeply in debt and had to go to consumer credit counseling to see if he could get a bunch of credit card interest rates dropped bc he couldn’t get a payday loan. Thinking through it all now and reflecting on his own journey, Matt’s mantra is to “think bigger” and “dream bigger” than you can ever imagine. Even w/ all of his success today, Matt continues to work at this. When he hired Aron as his coach, Matt had achieved huge success and was … bored. Working w/ Aron, Matt is now pushing on to the next level, thinking and dreaming bigger than even he could imagine w/ all of his success. Moving Forward listeners, it never stops. Whatever you imagine your goal is, your “walk-away number,” your success line, it’s simply a place in your journey. Today, Matt has reached success. Now, he is focusing on significance. As Matt shares thru his extraordinary story, reaching your goals does not have to be (nor should it be), the end to you moving forward.

Parting wisdom (in a few words):

  • “Get Started Now!”

Connect with Matt:

MF 113 : Tom Schwab on Moving Forward with Masterminds, Mentors and Podcasts

Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above.  Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

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Tom Schwab is an entrepreneur, speaker, founder of ‘Interview Valet‘ and author of ‘Podcast Guest Profits: Grow Your Business With a Targeted Interview Strategy‘ Today, Tom will share how masterminds and online connections can move you forward in a big way for your business or career.

Successes at a glance:

  • Former Naval officer and nuclear power plant engineer.
  • Built a business from local to national scale using inbound marketing.
  • 2015 featured speaker at INBOUND, presenting for HubSpot.
  • Founder of Interview Valet, a company that specializes in connecting entrepreneurs and thought leaders to podcasts to help grow their businesses:

Setback failure or time when things fell apart:

  • Although, Tom started out as a nuclear engineer while in the Navy, as he shares in our conversation, he was always an entrepreneur at heart. However, Tom grew up in a small midwestern town without many entrepreneurial role models. Rather, the mindset was to go to school, get an education, and get a stable job afterward. This led Tom to the Naval Academy and sparked a 20-year career in the military. While Tom loved the Navy, the peak of his career in the 1990s was met w/ the fall of the Soviet Union and a renewed period of peace. As a result, Tom saw a lot of his colleagues’ careers cut short thru no fault of their own.
  • Tom transitioned into corporate America where he built up a company store distributorship. However, this too was cut short as the company wanted to buy back the store. As Tom candidly reflects, “while this sounds good,” it really meant that they wanted to “cut out the middleman.” This led Tom to make another transition and this time, it was towards his lifelong dream of being an entrepreneur.
  • Speaking w/ Tom, there is an undeniable enthusiasm and positive energy which includes his outlook on the setbacks that have occurred on his journey. Tom doesn’t look at these events as “failures” bc as he puts it, the word “failure” implies a hard stop. Instead, Tom sees life as successes and lessons. Reframing setbacks into lessons is what keeps Tom going and moving forward:
    • Important to this is a mindset shift that one of Tom’s mentors shared w/ him: when you hit a roadblock, “thank God that you did” bc the timing is usually ripe for a great lesson.
    • Case in point: when Tom started his business, he didn’t know about concepts of cash flow. Early on, he hit a point when the accounts receivable didn’t have enough cash to cover payroll! Looking back, Tom is grateful that this road bump and the accompanying lessons happened when they did bc if it had happened two years later, it would have been fatal to his business.
  • Moving Forward listeners: are business and entrepreneurship hard? Yes. Are there bumps along the way? Absolutely. But what keeps Tom moving forward is the mindset that he will not be stopped on his journey. That’s why he doesn’t use the word “failure.” It’s not easy to do this. We often have emotional, knee-jerk reactions to hitting those bumps in the road. But if you can discipline yourself and have the big picture perspective that there are lessons to help you grow but moreover, that it’s probably better you hit this obstacle now rather than later, then you will continue to move forward and in a big way.
    • Tom shares this bit of wisdom. Have great mentors in your life. Reframing failure is not easy for many of us. But if you have mentors that can guide you in this journey, ones that you can be transparent and vulnerable w/ then this will be much easier to achieve than doing it alone.
    • Remember, everyone starts somewhere. No one wrote the definitive guidebook on how to be a parent, a lawyer or an entrepreneur. As one of Tom’s Navy skippers once told him, “we’re making this up as we go along.” If you can remember that, you will not be so hard on yourself when you do stumble along the way.

The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:

  • As noted, Tom was an entrepreneur at heart but was led thru a long, winding career in the Navy and later, corporate America. Once the company bought out his store, he was essentially “forced” into entrepreneurship. Tom’s only regret is that he didn’t make this move decades earlier. Tom shares that he learned more in his first couple years on his own than he did while in nuclear power school!
  • The other big “aha” moments have come bc Tom has had great mentors. So how do you find a great mentor? It’s not as hard as it sounds. Tom puts it this way: “if you look for them, you’ll find them.” What does that mean exactly?
    • First, understand that w/ the age we live in, there’s no excuse for not connecting w/ people. In an era of social media, blogs, and podcasts, you have every channel imaginable to create amazing connections w/ people. Being solitary and ignorant only happens now if you proactively choose it.
    • Second, Tom shares this invaluable tip. To gain a great mentor, sometimes you have to give something first. Give great value. Tom’s earliest mentors were the people he worked for in high school. What was the secret to gaining great knowledge and wisdom from them? Simple. Work above and beyond expectations at whatever job he was doing. Now, apply this to you. You have skills, expertise, wisdom in areas that are of value, you just may not know it yet. Tom reminds us that “what’s ordinary to you is amazing to other people.” Maybe you’re a great editor, blogger, or copywriter, or perhaps you know Twitter and Instagram really well. Whatever your talent or gift is, it’s a source of value, even if you don’t know or think that it’s that extraordinary.
    • Third, “be open to ask[ing].” This calls back to Tom’s point about transparency. The worst thing you can do is pretend like you’re perfect and you know all the answers (hint: that’s a straight path to the solitary, ignorance state that we want to avoid). If you’re transparent, even vulnerable, you will gain trust and a truer connection. In contrast, pretending to have all the answers (when we don’t), will ruin people’s trust in you and you will neither receive nor give value.
  • Finally, the big “aha” moment is just coming to Tom now. It’s funny how we sometimes don’t realize how the pivots we make and the detours in our lives actually connect until much later. For me, I never thought that being a lawyer, actor or corporate trainer was anything more than uber-career wanderlust. It’s only recently, that I see the connective tissue in all of these experiences. Similarly, Tom has only recently started to see how his time working as an engineer, then later in ops management, sales and inbound marketing are all connected in the entrepreneurial stage of his life. Tom also reminds us that the choices we make are as important in understanding what we don’t want to do as much as what we do want to do. Tom knows he never wants to work in corporate America again. He can do just fine w/o working in a company w/ an HR dept, a legal dept and all of the red tape, bureaucracy that comes w/ it. But his time in corporate America provided Tom w/ skills, experiences, and wisdom that he is applying in his own business. Part of this is having the perspective that only comes w/ time. Moving Forward listeners, the most poignant lesson Tom shares is that there really is no overnight success. What looks like instant success may have 7 years of hard work, mistakes, pivots and career detours you never knew about or imagined.

Knowledge bursts:

  • Resource or cultural experience that inspired Tom to move forward:
    • Masterminds: if you are not in one, Tom advises you to get into one! It’s where Tom finds inspiration, ideas, encouragement and a community filled w/ great connections.
      • Tom’s mastermind tip: you’re not necessarily looking for “like minded” people (you can find that at a bar) but rather people who share similar goals and aspirations. Part of the value of masterminds is that you can get different perspectives and wisdom in areas you may not be strong in.
      • Remember: you are the average of the people you spend time w/ so surround yourself, intentionally, w/ the people you aspire to be like. Technology makes this really easy!
  • Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
    • Rev.com: a transcription service ($1 / min) which Tom uses to transcribe his dictation into text which can then be edited and formatted into great blog posts! Perfect and ideal for those who prefer talking over writing.
  • How Tom recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
    • Connecting w/ other people, whether in-person or virtually. This gives Tom perspective and motivation to continue moving forward.

Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:

Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:

  • Tom would share the worst business advice that he ever got from his grandfather (which in fairness is the only wrong thing that his grandfather ever told him): “choose carefully who you drink with because you can’t choose who you work with.” For Tom’s grandfather, a mechanic in a small town, this was his reality and sound advice. However, in this digital age, that advice no longer holds. You can now choose who your customers are. Consider that the internet gives us access to a billion+ people. You don’t need access to all of them; even a tiny percentage, a sliver of that is a huge customer base. Find those people who are your ideal customers and you’ll find business is a lot more fun, a lot more profitable, and sometimes hard to call it “work!”

Parting wisdom (in a few words):

  • “Share your brilliance!”

Connect with Tom:

MF 112 : “Sleep Like a Boss,” with Christine Hansen

Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above.  Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

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Christine Hansen is a holistic sleep coach and strategist and founder of Sleep Like a Boss. Today, Christine will share why successful sleep is vital to a successful career or business.

Successes at a glance:

Setback failure or time when things fell apart:

  • For someone who has taken a very non-traditional entrepreneurial route, Christine started out w/ a fairly traditional career path. Christine studied English in the UK and returned to her home country of Luxemburg to become an English teacher. As Christine shares, it was the common and expected formula of go to school, get a degree, then get a stable, respectable job. Christine stayed the course as a teacher for 9 years until she had a “change of heart.” At 31, Christine wasn’t happy. She knew this bc the only thought she had in the mornings was that she was doing this for a paycheck: a guaranteed formula for slow, sluggish mornings and long days. Then, all of a sudden, Christine lost her cousin; taken at the very young age of 23 by a heart attack. This was a wake-up call for Christine. Her cousin had everything going for him w/ so much potential and was taken in the prime of his life. By contrast, Christine was alive but miserable.
  • It’s also important to note that even though Christine is living her purpose, being an entrepreneur means getting used to dealing w/ failures and setbacks. Christine doesn’t hesitate to reply that she faces these “all the time.” Christine has been in the digital and online space for 2 years and in that time she has launched and pulled 3 online courses. She put in the time, leg work and capital to build these courses, only to have them not succeed for various reasons. However, Christine doesn’t lament this part of the journey but instead embraces it as part and parcel of the “entrepreneurial spirit.” Listening to Christine, there is a definite resiliency and confidence in her voice as she is able to try something and move on if it doesn’t work out. Christine focused on her mindset and developed a can do, move on attitude that has carried her thru the setbacks and keeps her moving forward.

The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:

  • Christine realized that she owed it to herself, her daughter, and her cousin to pursue her happiness. At the time, Christine would have labeled this as “selfish.” As we speak on today’s interview, she’s crossing out that last word and replacing it w/ self-loving. This wasn’t an easy journey and as Christine candidly reveals, it took a long time to let go of that guilt-ridden label.
  • So what was Christine’s passion and how did she discover it? It’s funny how life’s normal and extraordinary events can open doors. Christine had her first daughter now, with a newborn, she realized that her passion was sleep! Despite the age-old notion that sleep is the first thing to go w/ parenthood, Christine decided that she was not ready to become a “sleep-deprived parent.” However, Christine’s passion for sleep wasn’t simply relegated for a desire to have more of it. She took a deep dive, studying the science and foundations of sleep. This led to a pivot into becoming a certified pediatric sleep consultant and then, due to high demand, she pivoted again to become a holistic sleep strategist and consultant for adults. Not surprisingly, learning the world of holistic sleep strategy meant touching into many disciplines, including sleep hygiene, emotional health, diet, vitamin deficiency, biochemistry, and more.
  • Christine started w/ a need which had underlying it, a passion and a desire: sleep. She fed that desire thru knowledge, building upon it like a skyscraper. This led to consulting which opened the door for becoming a strategist around a killer brand and a platform, Sleep Like a Boss. This niche has allowed Christine to develop courses, a best-selling book, and produce a hit podcast.
  • As noted, Christine grew her business but hit some roadblocks along the way. She had 3 online courses that didn’t pan out and it seemed that she would try something and it wouldn’t quite gel. So what was the next pivot? Christine had to work on her mindset. Christine started looking into theories of abundance but it didn’t really resonate until she came across Lynn Grabhorn’s book, Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting (Paperback | Kindle). The book covered abundance in terms of positive vibrations. But what really grabbed Christine was listening to Lynn narrate it, then in her 70s. Christine shares that there was a spunky attitude in Grabhorn’s voice that convinced her that you are allowed to be happy. This simple yet powerful revelation has enabled Christine to just be, go, and do. That’s how Christine has developed the resiliency and the heart of an entrepreneur that keeps her moving forward.

Knowledge bursts for getting better sleep:

  • What is holistic sleep strategy and how can it benefit you?
    • Start w/ sleep hygiene: look at reducing emotional stress thru meditation and mindfulness throughout the day.
    • For chronic sleep issues, it is likely symptomatic of a long-standing problem. Christine shares that one area that has come to emergence is the link between healthy sleep and gut health. Gut health is impacted by everything from diet to ongoing stress in your life. This can lead to bacteria and pathogens that can manifest itself in chronic fatigue and ongoing sleep issues. Or as Christine shares, “those little buggers [that] wake up at 2 or 3 am!”
    • Learn more about holistic sleep strategy at Sleep Like a Boss.
  • Practice or tip to get a better night’s sleep:
    • First, don’t take it too seriously! If you’re stressing yourself out about getting to sleep, you will not be able to fall asleep.
    • Don’t stay in a stressful setting. If your bed or room has become a place that’s associated w/ stress, it may be time to change the environment. Christine reveals a big misconception about sleep: many assume that it’s simply about lying down and closing your eyes. However, if the place where you sleep is associated w/ stress, then it’s time to examine and reevaluate it.
    • Remember, respect your sleep and what your body is telling you. You will know when you’re ready for sleep as the signs are obvious or as Christine says it will simply “tap you on the shoulder.”
    • Understand that sleep is not simply a routine we engage in bc we’re tired. It is a healing process, a rejuvenation of the mind and body that fuels creativity, intellectual curiosity, as well as physical and emotional health.
  • Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
  • How Christine recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
    • She takes a nap! Christine prioritizes her sleep and makes arrangements to ensure she can fulfill her sleep needs.
    • Christine will also take a break to indulge in mindless TV shows or Netflix.
    • For Moving Forward listeners in jobs where naps aren’t an option, Christine suggests a quick meditation practice called iRest which was first developed to help soldiers w/ PTSD.

Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:

Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:

  • Don’t be afraid of something going wrong when something is going right. Get out of the mindset that a positive will be met w/ a negative. Instead, understand and embrace that “you are completely deserving of everything you have.”

Parting wisdom (in a few words):

  • “Sleep yourself to the top!” (quoting Arianna Huffington)

Connect with Christine:

Moving Forward with Extraordinary Individuals in the World of Music

We celebrate these extraordinary individuals for bringing us the gift of music and for being examples of what it means to find your purpose and your passion, to pivot and move forward.

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Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above. Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

MF 111 : Bree Noble’s Career Composition as a Music Entrepreneur

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Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above. Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

MF 110 : How Jordan Goodman Has Moved Forward Since Episode 044

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Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above. Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

MF 072 : Vera Volchansky Shares a Huge Setback on the Road to Superstardom That Opened the Door to an Amazing Career

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Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above. Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

MF 071 : Jordan Smith on How Becoming a Maestro at the Pivot Led to a Great Career as a Conductor

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Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above. Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

MF 070 : Matt Thomas and Ryan Keaton: From Playing in Bands to a Business that Connects Artists to the Biggest Brands in the World

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Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above. Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

 

MF 044 : Finding the Rhythm to Freedom, Passion and Being, with Beatwell’s Jordan Goodman

MF 111 : Bree Noble’s Career Composition as a Music Entrepreneur

Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above.  Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

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Bree Noble is a singer, songwriter and music entrepreneur who coaches female musicians on making a full-time living from their passion. Today, Bree will share how the “if I had my way” itch sparked her entrepreneurial journey.

Successes at a glance:

Setback failure or time when things fell apart:

  • The first thing you will notice when listening to Bree’s story is her lifelong passion for music. As a little girl, Bree grew up singing in churches and continued on w/ choirs in high school. In college, Bree was a vocal major, having her sights set on a career in music. However, as Bree shares, college didn’t answer the question: what if I don’t have a career in music, what then? As a failsafe, Bree took an accounting class and as it turns out, she loved it as almost as much as music! Although this may sound surprising, there is a long-established relationship between music and numbers so it stands to reason that Bree loved math. This first accounting class led her to take a minor in business which eventually morphed into a double major. While music was her first and true love, Bree had no preparation or idea what to do as a college sophomore to transition into a career as an artist. As Bree notes, there is a disconnect between studying the art as a music major and entering music as a vocation.
  • Given that there was no music career roadmap, Bree decided to pursue accounting, post-college. She ended up becoming a Director of Finance for an Opera Company. All along the way, Bree kept music on the side w/ a tugging inner voice that would repeat “if I had my way, I would do music full-time.” However, keeping music as a side passion was difficult as Bree had trouble finding and sticking w/ bands. The root problem was that Bree was trying to fit herself into other people’s musical molds and didn’t have the confidence to be her own artist.
  • Balancing the demands of being Director of Finance while trying to fit musical side pursuits, took a toll on Bree. The ultimate setback occurred when the accumulated stress put Bree in the hospital. On top of this, Bree had just had a baby which compounded the stress.
  • So what held Bree back? What was her biggest failure and setback? It was this belief that she couldn’t do this on her own. Even as she made the leap into entrepreneurship, that belief kept tugging at her and keeping her from soaring as a musician and as a business woman. So what changed? There were three aha moments that caused a tectonic shift into musical and entrepreneurial success.

The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:

  • Bree’s aha moment came while she was in the hospital. The realization hit that she needed to do something else w/ her life. Once again, the itch that had always been in he back of her mind came tugging back. The one that said “if I didn’t have this job …” and of course, that “if” was music. Bree was at a crossroads. Between her and her husband, Bree was the bigger breadwinner at the time. On top of that, they were now parents to a baby girl. Thus, iIt was by no means easy to give up the steady paycheck but what was easy was realizing that being sick and in the hospital was no way to live and that no amount of money was worth her health and wellbeing. So Bree made the brave and bold entrepreneurial leap. Consider, Moving Forward listeners. If you’ve ever thought, “this is not the right time” to starting a business, Bree had every imaginable obstacle to giving up the steady paycheck. But as Bree shares, the timing was also perfect. She now had the time to reflect, reset and re-direct herself towards a better path. This led to the realization that her first love, music, could be run as a business.
  • This realization eventually opened up another shift. Bree was still in the mindset of “trying to bring other people in.” This was a hangup from 10 years of trying to join bands and do music on the side while she was working for the Opera Company. Bree would try to book gigs and found it difficult to gain traction due to the other people she had brought in. Gigs would be called off due to things like a bass player canceling bc of another priority or other obstacles. It seemed that every time Bree involved someone else, a new problem would emerge. Eventually, Bree had to let go of the one thing that had been holding back – the lack of confidence in herself. Bree finally stepped up and decided to do this completely on her own. For years, Bree was under the belief that she could not play and sing on her own. Bree spent a month practicing and then made another leap, performing on her own on stage. Once Bree got over her hesitation and found her confidence, it opened her eyes to a realization that had been tugging at her since the beginning: that music wasn’t simply her career calling but her purpose in life.
  • Once Bree made this monumental mindset shift, other things started opening up. Along her journey, Bree started to get to know a lot of fellow female musicians. Bree then got inspired to create a platform, Women of Substance, for all of these artists to feature their work and to uplift them. At first, Bree did this as a “hobby,” but as circumstances would have it, another push led to this growing into something more. Bree continued doing part-time work for the Opera Company which provided supplemental income. However, in 2009, the company went under due to the downturn in the economy. That’s when a third, huge aha moment came to Bree. At that time, Women of Substance was simply breaking even. Bree launched a podcast under the Women of Substance brand. She started attracting sponsors and was able to transform this “hobby” into a revenue generator. Bree noticed a common thread w/ many of her fellow female artists that called back to something she ran into during her college years. That many of these women had the talent but not the business guidance to direct themselves into careers in music. With several years of hard work and sweat equity, Women of Substance and Female Entrepreneur Musician have become a central part of a very successful coaching business. Moving Forward listeners, as Bree candidly shares, sometimes it takes a real “kick” to get us to listen to that inner voice that is leading us to what our real vocation is. For Bree, it took several serious setbacks and challenges but she found the confidence to shift her mindset and turn several “hobbies” into a viable business. When it comes down to it, Bree did what all great businesses and entrepreneurs do. She created the solution that she wished she had had when she started out. Truly, this is an incredible ballad of pivots and moving forward.

Knowledge bursts:

  • Resource or cultural experience that inspired Bree to move forward:
    • Lilith Fair as a cultural experience: Bree attended in 2012 and was inspired by this gathering of women artists and performers, coming together to create an unforgettable musical experience.
  • Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
    • Asana (IOS | Google Play): a great app for managing projects and her time.
      • Bree recommends Steve Dotto’s YouTube tutorial on learning the ABCs of Asana.
      • Bree loves the recurring tasks which helps her w/ her ongoing projects such as her podcast.
  • How Bree recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
    • Bree reboots by reading entrepreneurial books or listening to podcasts that cover the high level, big picture mindset.
    • Bree also loves taking walks and doing yoga to center herself and just take a moment to stop.

Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:

Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:

  • Get involved in a community or mastermind. Bree shares that trying to do things on your own or figure it all out yourself is much harder than it needs to be. Instead, find a group of like-minded individuals that can share their expertise as well as their moral support to help you grow your career or business. Masterminds are great for accountability, support, and celebrating wins and victories. One of the reasons why Bree created her academy was to have that community. Being an entrepreneur is hard and often a lonely road. Join a mastermind to find like-minded individuals who can help you on your journey.

Parting wisdom (in a few words):

  • “Find a community!”

Connect with Bree:

 

MF 110 : How Jordan Goodman Has Moved Forward Since Episode 044

Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above.  Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

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Jordan Goodman is the founder of Beatwell and returns today to talk about how he has moved forward. Jordan also shares how you can open yourself up to new opportunities when you’re feeling stagnant.

Successes at a glance:

  • Founder of Beatwell, dedicated to improving health and creating connections thru rhythm
    • Creates and facilitates custom programs for schools, nursing homes and corporate events
    • Featured clients include: Sheppard Pratt, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Goodwill Industries International, Inc.
    • Beatwell featured on PBS
    • Beatwell featured on Fox
  • Drummer for Raindeer

 How Jordan has Moved Forward:

  • As Jordan shares, this time last year he was feeling stagnant in most areas of his life, including professionally. This stagnation impacted his friendships, relationships and took a serious toll on his mental and physical well-being. Jordan reveals that the root of the problem was not having a way to express the frustration and angst he was feeling.
  • Jordan decided to take the time to “go all in” on himself. Jordan was at a point where he was feeling physically sick w/ serious symptoms including bouts of lightheadedness and anxiety. Jordan recognized that his body was telling him “yo, wake up and do something different!”

The pivot:

  • Jordan made several necessary shifts that have changed his life for the better. With respect to the business, Jordan took a deep dive, identifying what he really enjoyed about his Beatwell work and putting more focus on that. A key part of this was saying no. One of the biggest “aha” moments that Jordan shares, that is critical for making any major shift, is not simply looking at what you can do but what you can say no to. Too often, we feel pressured to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way w/o thinking thru whether we have the bandwidth to say yes and whether it’s a yes that will serve us or burden us. You’ve heard it from Rachel Adams and last week from Winnie Sun: an important part of being an entrepreneur is choosing the clients, co-workers, and colleagues that fit w/ you. It sounds counter-intuitive when you’re building a business but as Jordan shares this week, not listening to your body and to go against the grain when it comes to your vocation can have serious consequences on your mental and physical well-being. So, Jordan simply said no to the opportunities and people that did not feel good to him. Moving Forward listeners, consider this important lesson when making shifts in your business or even in your career. If you’re in a job or career that is going against the grain of you and is causing more anxiety w/ physical and mental opportunity costs than benefits, then maybe it’s time to make a pivot. As Jordan shares, it’s critically important to listen to your body. It’s your early warning system, letting you know that something isn’t a good fit. The more attuned you are to this, the better you’ll position yourself to make the shifts that will keep you moving forward.
  • Jordan shares several red flags to look out for:
    • If I wake up in the morning and I’m dreading what’s ahead of me.
    • If I’m doing the work and only thinking about the money.
    • If the people who I’m surrounding myself w/ don’t make me feel good and are causing me stress and anxiety.
  • Jordan advises that once you listen to your body and remove the red flag obstacles, the vision of what you want for your life will become all the more clear. That’s when the stagnation will give way to moving forward. Jordan also shares this important question for moving forward: “if you can’t see it, how can you create it?” If you are missing the vision for what you want your life to be, go back to the list above and see if you’re running into one more of those red flags. If so, proceed to the knowledge burst section below!

Knowledge bursts on mindfulness:

  • One tip for incorporating rhythm into your daily life:
    • Jordan reminds us that we sometimes need to take a break, especially during those busy days. Carve out 2 minutes, 1 minute, or even 30 seconds to just breathe. It’s simple, basic, and fundamental but if you focus on a breath practice, you will find it will reset, refocus, and make the other things you have to tackle that much easier to re-engage w/.
    • Once you’ve started focusing on your breathing add some rhythm by tapping on your thighs, a desk or even the dashboard in your car (when you’re parked of course!).
  • How Jordan recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
    • For Jordan, it’s connecting to the body. Sometimes this may take the form of jumping in place for a few seconds. Other times it might be a walk on the beach. Some kind of motion to jog the energy to cause it to start moving again. Now, while your body is moving, make sure your inner self is still. What that means is that if you’re jumping, walking or doing some kind of motion, you are reflecting inward; your mind is still. What you’re doing w/ this practice is creating space for inspiration, wisdom, creativity to come into you.
  • Managing priorities and time:
    • For Jordan, it comes down to a balance of priorities (paying bills, the rent, etc.) while listening to his gut, trusting himself and honoring himself. Jordan does this by simply choosing what feels best while respecting his priorities and obligations.

Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:

Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:

  • Trust your body and trust your gut feelings. The body has all the answers and all the wisdom. When we get sick or cut, the body can fix it. We are built to heal ourselves. The more you keep negative feelings and stresses inside of you, the more it will manifest itself in ways that will make you feel sick; whether in the form of addictions or poor relationships. Make sure you have a healthy way of expressing what’s inside so that it doesn’t wear you down.

Parting wisdom (in a few words):

  • “Be kind to yourself.”

Connect with Jordan:

Be sure to check out Jordan’s story on Moving Forward 044:

MF 044 : Finding the Rhythm to Freedom, Passion and Being, with Beatwell’s Jordan Goodman

MF 109 : Be Positive and Win, with Winnie Sun

Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above.  Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

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Winnie Sun is the Founder of Sun Group Wealth Partners, an award-winning financial consulting firm. Today, Winnie will share one simple tip for building wealth that you can start doing today.

 

 

Successes at a glance:

  • Founder of Sun Group Wealth Partners, an award-winning financial consulting firm
  • Financial Adviser, Social Media Expert/Influencer w/ 100k+ followers on Twitter
  • Speaker specializing in Corporate 529, Millennial Finance, GenX Finance, Baby Boomer Finance, Wealth Management, 401k, Stock/Option Strategies and more
  • Contributor, Forbes
  • Named one of ‘Women to Watch’ by InvestmentNews
  • Host of Renegade Millionaire Show
  • Founder, The Campaign for Next Generation Employees
  • Registered Representative for LPL Financial
  • Owned a Television Production Company (Started in College!)
    • Sold the company and recruited to work at Smith Barney which led to her highly successful 16+ year career as an entrepreneur and financial adviser
  • Media Appearances:

 Setback failure or time when things fell apart:

  • Winnie has had an incredibly unique career journey. While still in college, Winnie started a TV audience production company. However, it wasn’t an easy road. As Winnie shares, she was seen as a “failure” and a bit of a disappointment by her parents who, like many Asian parents, hope to see their kids enter law, medicine or engineering. However, Winnie made the company a success: so much so, that she was working w/ hit programs like America’s Funniest Home Videos, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and shows on MTV. That said, Winnie is no stranger to setbacks. Working w/ big shows means you’re often at the mercy of their ratings, renewals, and cancellations. As Winnie shares, there were times where she would sign a contract w/ a big show only to have it fall thru b/c it got canceled. Other times, her company would lose a contract to a competitor w/o rhyme or reason. Those moments are tough, especially when you’ve put in so much time and sweat equity into trying to win contracts. But Winnie shares an important perspective: everything in life happens for a reason and you have to learn to let things go; “some things you just have to trust to karma.” Interestingly, letting go is part how Winnie pivoted from television production to financial planning.

The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:

  • While at UCLA, Winnie was not only running a TV production company but studying certified financial planning (CFP) at night. During the program, she was encouraged by the dean to attend a recruiting session for Smith Barney (now Citigroup). While at the session, Winnie felt a bit intimidated, being surrounded by 6-ft tall, beautiful LA people who looked like movie stars and athletes. Towards the end of the recruiting session, Winnie was told she would be lucky to get a job there and to not be disappointed if she didn’t get picked. Soon after hearing this, she was then told by someone at the company, “we would like to see you.” Winnie’s first thought was that she parked in the wrong spot. Winnie was escorted to a back office where there were 8 men sitting at a table, wearing expensive suits w/ equally expensive monogram shirts and cufflinks. After answering a few questions about her successful TV production business, one of the executives said, “well young lady, we’re not letting you leave this room until you sign with us.” Soon after, Winnie sold her TV production to a competitor and started her new career in the financial and wealth planning industry.
  • Winnie found financial planning to be a really good fit from day 1. Winnie ended up staying w/ Smith Barney for 11 years and enjoyed a wonderful career w/ all the perks and benefits. However, Winnie always felt there was more she could do. As she put it in her own words, “there was so much more I wanted to share out to the world and there wasn’t a way for me to do it.” In addition, Winnie’s parents were entrepreneurs, having done everything from run a pizza shop to real estate. Growing up in that environment, Winnie always wanted to have control over her schedule, her time, and who she did business with. The defining moment came when Morgan Stanley bought Smith Barney and she decided to break away and start her own firm. Winnie had established good relationships w/ many wire services and eventually signed w/ an independent broker-dealer. Although the broker-dealer didn’t provide a big check, it was a great starting point since this would allow Winnie to do the things she wanted to do; specifically, have more control over how she marketed herself and develop a personal brand.
  • Another aha moment came from the many client events Winnie put together, which she described as “love fests.” Winnie realized if she could somehow “bottle” the love that her clients had for her and the excellent financial service she provided, she would have no trouble getting new clients. Winnie knew it was time to break away from big firm life and start flying as an entrepreneur. Coincidentally, that’s when social media came into play. Ironically, Winnie is a fairly private person but she took on the challenge of learning social media; leveraging platforms like Twitter to scale her business. Keep in mind, Winnie had given up a significant amount of money by leaving Morgan Stanley to start her own business. But looking back, Winnie had this undeniable confidence that led her to walk away from big firm life and start her own business. The risk paid off and big. Since launching five years ago, Winnie has scaled Sun Group Wealth Partners into a multi-million dollar business but more importantly, she has achieved her goal of freedom and greater control over her brand and business. This is what has kept Winnie winning and moving forward.
  • In speaking with Winnie, the one quality that stands out is this incredible positivity that lets her know that no matter what she will be ok. In the back of her mind, Winnie knew that even if a job or business venture didn’t work out, she would be fine. Against everyone trying to convince her otherwise, Winnie left her job and launched two very successful businesses. So what is this magical superpower that Winnie has? It’s really two important qualities that have allowed her to move forward: 1) an incredibly positive outlook such that Winnie doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, and 2) an equally impressive work ethic such that she can and will outwork anybody else. Moreover, Winnie knew that if she didn’t listen to the entrepreneurial spirit within her, she would always feel trapped.
  • Having run two very successful businesses, Winnie’s story is about believing in yourself and something higher. You can’t let naysayers tear you down. You also have to let go of the things that hold you back. Finally, if you decide to pursue an entrepreneurial itch, you have to follow thru w/ confidence and a winning attitude.

Knowledge bursts on building wealth:

  • One simple tip for building wealth that you can start doing today:
    • Winnie’s number 1 piece of advice: set up an auto-savings system similar to how you use auto-pay for your bills. Your 401k may not be enough so set up a separate account such as an IRA and schedule an auto-pay schedule to deposit funds into that account. Winnie enhances this another great tip: set aside some additional “lunch money” slush funds and when there are corrections in the market, double up what you’re putting into that account.
    • Join Winnie’s Tweet Chat to learn more great financial and wealth building hacks.
  • Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
  • How Winnie recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
    • Keep a zen life.
      • Rule of thumb: no negativity allowed in the home or office and this includes employees and clients. One big choice Winnie made when she became an entrepreneur was to really embrace the idea that you can choose the clients you want to work with.
    • Sleep enough.
    • Exercise enough.

Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:

Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:

  • Winnie shares this sage piece of advice w/ her younger self: there is no place in my life for negativity. You don’t need negativity to be successful. Be very careful w/ the choices you have in life b/c even if you’re making a lot of money, all it takes is one piece of negativity to completely throw your momentum and growth. Choose yourself before you choose your business and know that it’s not selfish to make that choice. Rather, it’s good for you and ultimately, your clients.

Parting wisdom (in a few words):

  • “Believe in yourself, always.”

Connect with Winnie:

MF 108 : How to be Real and Not Ideal on Social Media, with Ryan Foland

Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above.  Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

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Ryan Foland  is a communications strategist at UCI, a TEDx speaker and social media influencer. Today, you will learn how to engage in social media and why it’s not all about looking pretty.

Successes at a glance:

Setback failure or time when things fell apart:

  • Ryan had been working in the mortgage industry and doing quite well. Through his innovative use of stick figures, Ryan became a high performing sales rep. Yes, stick figures. One of the ingenious ways that Ryan used stick figure drawings was to place them on top of loan applications which entertained the loan processors. As someone who had studied acting and been passionate about story, Ryan created episodic narratives around the stick figures and the loan processors became fans; eagerly awaiting the next one. An ancillary benefit was that the loan applications that Ryan submitted got processed a lot quicker than most which generated leads and sales. As a result, Ryan made a lot of money, went on company chairman club trips and lived a high roller lifestyle. As Ryan shares, he made more money than he knew what to do with and unfortunately, he spent it all. On top of that, the real estate market crashed and w/ it, the mortgage company and Ryan’s real estate career.
  • Ryan transitioned into entrepreneurship, starting several companies which enjoyed short-lived success before also failing. Things got so bad that Ryan’s house went into foreclosure and his car was repossessed. On top of that, Ryan was saddled w/ student loans. This is what Ryan describes as getting hit in the face w/ a “brick” and then falling face first onto concrete. Ryan hit rock bottom and decided to declare bankruptcy.

The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:

  • As a story teller and aficionado, it’s fitting that Ryan’s own story would have a plot twist worthy of a novel or TV series. Ryan managed to scrape together the $375 for the bankruptcy application and dropped it into the mailbox. While that day could have been a defining moment for Ryan, that didn’t come until two weeks later when the application was returned to him. It turned out that Ryan was $0.32 short on the postage. It also happened that the number 32 was Kelly Hrudey’s (Ryan’s childhood idol) number when he played for the Los Angeles Kings! At that moment, Ryan said “screw it” and tore up the bankruptcy application right at the mailbox. That moment was Ryan’s aha where he realized that bankruptcy wasn’t meant to be and that he had to figure out another way out of his situation. It was also a moment where Ryan discovered his humility.
  • Ryan got a job selling bathroom and kitchen remodels to pay the bills. Although this was a “low point” in his career, it was better than declaring bankruptcy. Ryan also found that he had a knack for this since he could use his artistic skills to draw the vision that people would explain to him. Ryan was having fun and soon became quite successful at bathroom and kitchen remodel sales. Ryan attributes this upswing out of rock bottom to his newfound humility: looking past his ego and beyond prior successes to do what needed to be done.
  • Ryan’s success opened up doors in the most unlikely places. You wouldn’t think that bathroom remodels would go beyond faucets and fixtures, but Ryan is a consummate go-getter. He eventually made connections in other areas and got back into entrepreneurial ventures: everything from mobile apps to becoming a spokesman for a national campaign against texting and driving, at schools. At the heart of this was Ryan’s passion for story and storytelling. This led to a realization and a crossroads: all of today’s stories were being told on the internet. The modern day pen and paper was Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Ryan also recognized that those who were most successful on those platforms were those that grew up on it, the Millennial generation.
  • As someone who was between a GenXer and a Millennial (what Ryan calls “Borderline Millennial Disorder”), Ryan had trouble adapting to this new world. He got on Twitter and all he got was “nothing.” But Ryan knew that the future was on social media and he had to get good at it. So what did he do? He came up w/ a three-step plan: 1) get a Millennial girlfriend, 2) get hired at a university (a place filled w/ Millennials), and 3) Millennial mingling. Number 3 was particularly transformative. Sporting skinny jeans, button up shirts, and hipster bow ties, Ryan started crashing events filled w/ Millennials and learn what makes them tick on social media. At one fateful high-end event, sponsored by Microsoft, Ryan sat at a table where the host asked everyone to share the one thing they needed the most help w/. When it came to Ryan’s turn, he candidly (and bravely) shared that he was going thru a “Millennial life crisis” and was not good at social media. Afterward, a gentleman came up to Ryan and handed him a business card; offering to help him out. As it turned out, that gentleman was Leonard Kim, then under 30, and a rising star w/ over 10M views on his content. From Leonard, Ryan learned the power of the personal brand and what he was doing wrong on social media. The big aha was that Ryan had been missing the one thing that he had been passionate about his whole life – story. Ryan learned that Millennials were successful at social media bc they were sharing their stories, both the good and the bad. It wasn’t just about shiny posts and IG photos but the lows as well as the highs, all parts of the story. Hence, the title of this episode and Ryan’s biggest takeaway that to be “successful” on social media, you have to be real, not ideal.

Knowledge bursts:

  • Social Media Tips:
    • Focus: communicate the one thing you do better than anyone else, don’t try to be a jack of all trades. This is a reversal of the GenX narrative of try to be good at everything.
    • Use social media as a form of attraction and not a distraction: use it as a connection and relationship tool to attract the people you want to be around rather than a distraction or a chore.
    • Don’t be ideal, be real: social media is a way to tell your story and your story is filled w/ ups and downs. Share both aspects and convey that you are a real person; that’s who people want to get to know. The biggest lesson that Ryan learned from Leonard was to own your story.
  • Resource or cultural experience that inspired Ryan to move forward:
  • Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
    • Google Docs and the type to text feature (under the tools menu): for Ryan, it’s a great way for him to “talk” his first draft of a written piece.
  • How Ryan recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
    • Get on the water. Ryan is a sailor and loves to disconnect in the middle of the ocean where there isn’t good cell reception. Plus the wind reminds Ryan that you can’t change its direction but you can change the direction of your sales.

Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:

Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:

  • Read more: books and audio content. Audiobooks and podcasts will turn your commute into learning moments. Moreover, listening to other stories is how Ryan gets inspired to try different things today.

Parting wisdom (in a few words):

  • “Smile more, learn more.’

Connect with Ryan:

(see more of Ryan’s stick figures on IG)

MF 107 : Megan Loftin on The Amazon FBA Side Hustle and The Bootstrap Boutique

Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above.  Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

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Megan Loftin is the creator of The Bootstrap Boutique YouTube channel which documents her journey as an Amazon FBA sidepreneur. Today, you’ll learn Megan’s knowledge bursts for getting started on Amazon FBA.

 

Successes at a glance:

  • Has a very successful career in a “highly regulated” industry and happy w/ it!
    • Decided to launch a side hustle business w/ the goal of having something that is her own
  • Creator of The Bootstrap Boutique YouTube Channel:
    • A how to and vid journal on starting a business on Amazon FBA
    • Check out Megan’s welcome video for Moving Forward listeners!

Setback failure or time when things fell apart:

  • Speaking w/ Megan, one of the things that immediately jumps out at you is this desire to try new things. While many entrepreneurs and influencers advise us to start businesses, based on what you know, for Megan that’s not possible. Megan works in a highly regulated industry and so creating a spin-off or side hustle business from that is not an option. So by circumstance, Megan’s side hustle has to be outside of her wheelhouse. It’s also important to note that Megan is quite happy w/ her day job. Her motivation for doing something on the side is not to leave her career but to have something that is uniquely her own. Thus, Megan has had quite the adventure trying new things, experimenting and learning from the many bumps along the way.
  • Out of college, Megan tried several side ventures, including Etsy which she describes as a “big failure on my part.” Next, Megan tried doing freelance assistance work for someone who was starting their own business which unfortunately also fell apart bc there were no boundaries set as to what was needed. While many might be discouraged from these experiences and put their noses back to the day job grindstone, Megan has this undeniable resilience and desire to create.
  • About a year ago, Megan felt that side hustle “itch” again. After surfing the web, she came across Scott Voelker’s Amazing Seller website on Amazon FBA. Megan was intrigued and fell in love w/ the idea of selling on Amazon; mostly bc it was so far removed from her day job. Megan not only decided to dive into Amazon FBA, she also leveraged YouTube, creating The Bootstrap Boutique channel to document her journey while helping others and keeping herself accountable to her goals. One of the great aspects of this channel is that Megan keeps it real. She shares everything, “warts and all” in her journey as she is bootstrapping this business, starting from scratch and learning along the way. This is significant bc Megan, like many of us, has a job and career that required her to always be at the top of the class and never show mistakes or flaws. For many of us who have been in a corporate career tract or setting, we can relate. So for Megan, showcasing daily failures or frustrations has been part of a self-development and growth process; becoming more comfortable w/ failure as part of the journey.
  • As Megan shares, one of her big setbacks w/ the Amazon FBA business occurred last summer. Megan had been working w/ a supplier in Taiwan in preparation for her first product launch. Since this was the first time she had worked w/ a supplier, she downloaded a purchase order template, filled it out and sent it to them. In response, the supplier said that the requests were too much and unfortunately, Megan never heard from them again! Megan was heart broken. But what’s incredibly brave is that Megan didn’t hide this from her followers. She immediately pulled up her mic and camera and shared the experience on a video for The Bootstrap Boutique. Since then, Megan has gained a healthy perspective on the experience; realizing it wasn’t personal. That setback also gave her the experience to develop better working relationships which she has since been able to forge w/ other suppliers. The big #knowledgebursts Megan shares is that “you don’t always have the right answer.”
  • This is something many of us struggle with. It’s daunting to see so many entrepreneurs who look like they have it all figured out; who are enjoying success that seem to be achieved overnight. What Megan is sharing w/ her channel is that you will not only make mistakes along the way, you can “screw up” and it will still be OK. It’s not about making it look easy or hiding the missteps. Rather, it’s embracing those missteps as part of the learning and growth process. Megan goes beyond this and shares that w/ her followers. That’s something to admire and a lesson for all of us to keep moving forward.

The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:

  • Megan candidly rephrases this question to “has the light bulb gone off yet.” Megan shares that nothing she has done has been easy. She is still continuing to learn, document and grow; both from her successes and setbacks. One of the reasons why I loved having Megan on Moving Forward is bc she is in the midst of her journey. She shares that all of it is a struggle but she is at the point where she has found peace in that reality. That, Moving Forward listeners, is just as important as having the “aha” moment. It’s when you can embrace and accept the struggle as part of the journey, as part of the process, as part of your growth that will set you on the path to where things will click for you. Moreover, what keeps Megan moving forward is that deep down she has this need to do something for herself. Make no mistake: Megan loves her day job. This isn’t about escaping a career or creating a whole new life. For Megan, this is about having something that is all her own.

Knowledge bursts on getting started w/ Amazon FBA:

  • Most important first step for starting w/ Amazon FBA:
    • Find and know your why. Starting any venture isn’t about the product, even if you’re looking to build a business on Amazon FBA. As Megan has shared, it’s not easy starting a venture like this. Make sure you know your why before your start any business, whether it’s a side hustle or a full-time venture.
    • For more great tips, subscribe to The Bootstrap Boutique.
  • Daily tip or practice for keeping your Amazon business organized:
    • Megan is a list maker, sometimes to the point where she will make lists about lists!
    • To make those lists work efficiently and productively, Megan recommends Asana (IOS | Google Play):
      • Keeps her organized for creating The Bootstrap Boutique content.
      • Keeps the Amazon business organized w/ self-imposed deadlines.
  • Resource or cultural experience that inspired Megan to move forward:
    • The One Thing by Gary Keller (Paperback | Kindle): emphasizes doing one thing at a time, prioritizing it as what is the one thing you need to get done today. Since Megan has a busy day job and a family, this paradigm helps keep Megan on track and moving forward.

Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:

Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:

  • “Megan, have patience.” Looking back on her career, Megan has moved quite a bit. In one of those moves, she had to take a big step back in what she was doing career wise. As difficult as that was, it ended up being a direct connection to what she is doing today. Remember, as Megan shares, all parts of your story are important, disparate as they may seem at the time. Sometimes we move ahead and at other times, it may feel like we’re taking several steps back. Remember, success is not a direct line pointing upward, it’s a windy path filled w/ valleys and peaks. If you keep this in perspective, you will always be moving forward, even when it doesn’t seem that way.

Parting wisdom (in a few words):

  • “Do one thing.”

Connect with Megan:

MF 106 : What John Tan Had on His LinkedIn Profile That Got Him on Moving Forward

Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above.  Moving Forward is also available on iTunesStitcher Radio, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

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John Tan is an internet marketer and founder of Aspire Limitless. Today, you’ll learn about John’s journey out of corporate America and why internet marketing isn’t as easy as it looks.

Successes at a glance:

  • Owner, Aspire Limitless, LLC
  • Front End Engineer at Verve Mobile
  • Application Developer at J.P. Morgan
  • Data Strategy & Operations at Standard & Poor’s
  • Volunteer Work & Causes
    • English Teacher & Caregiver w/ UBELONG in Hanoi, Vietnam
    • Volunteer Nurse, Tampa General Hospital

Setback failure or time when things fell apart:

  • John’s journey in personal development began 3 years ago. Like many of us, John was hungry to find his passion and discover what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. But for John, this wasn’t simply about a certain job or title, it was discovering what aligned w/ his core values. But before we get to that, John shares what his core values are. Shortly after college, John volunteered w/ UBELONG to do work in Vietnam. During his time there, John saw what it was like to live in the 3rd world and this is when he had the realization that life is truly precious. This shifted his perspective which had been of an “average person who went to college” and worked in a corporate environment. The idea of working in a corporate job, 9-5, until retirement was a mindset that John had instilled in him since a young age. John had settled into a career in software engineering, thinking this would be the end-all and be-all to happiness. However, his experience in Vietnam really made John question this notion. John realized that his current career path was not driven by a core purpose. Instead, it was simply a pattern that he was following bc it had been ingrained in him. John was also in a long distance relationship which was difficult to maintain. John candidly admits he was selfish and didn’t always take into consideration his partner’s needs. John had spent so much of his time and energy in school, getting good grades and focusing on making a lot of money in corporate America, he neglected to developed the interpersonal skills necessary to maintain the relationships in his life. This all contributed to a vicious cycle of self-esteem issues which further strained his relationships. That’s when John decided he needed to focus on his self-development.
  • As John’s story illustrates, coming to a crossroads in your career and personal life is neither easy nor trouble-free. John decided to leave his job w/ a prominent bank and move out of Florida. John had started listening to EOFire w/ John Lee Dumas and the stories of entrepreneurs who were working towards a life of personal and financial freedom. At the same time, John had reconnected w/ a friend from middle school who introduced him to network marketing. John tried out the products, loved them, and decided to make the leap into network marketing. As John shares, he faced a lot of rejection. Meanwhile, he was getting negative feedback and comments from friends who were warning him that networking marketing was nothing more than a “pyramid scheme.” Although network marketing wasn’t as easy as many made it looked, John learned business and sales skills that he never had as an engineer. John also started learning about the power of social media, using Facebook and Instagram, learning how to engage virtually. John later joined a personal development and marketing program, where he honed what he was reading in self-help books. John eventually went from networking marketing into affiliate marketing. Seeing how so many gurus made it look so easy, John was further captivated. To expedite his own progress, John invested $20k in mentors to help guide him. This is when John hit a harsh disconnect between expectation and reality. John’s expectation was that by paying these mentors, they would help him w/ results. John has since learned from influencers like Neil Patel, that paying marketing agencies may help w/ certain tasks but not necessarily the results you’re looking for. As John shares, marketing is all about testing and a lot of trial and error. When you pay a marketing agency or a marketing mentor, you are not necessarily guaranteed results. John also learned that marketing on Facebook is not a one-size fits all. What works for one marketer may not work for you.

The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:

  • After realizing that hiring mentors could guide him in certain areas but were not the “magic bullet” to quick riches, John learned that behind the curtain of the gurus who made it look so easy was a lot of time and hard work building platforms, reputations, and followers. There is no easy or quick path to riches. Whether you’re building a product, service or engaged in network marketing, you have to put in the hard work, do lots of trial and error, and figure out your own path to success. Thus, John shares w/ us an important aha moment when it comes to personal development. Coming to the realize that a career or life in corporate America is not for you is a huge step forward. However, this does not mean that your path will be an easy one. Quite the opposite. Pursuing a life of freedom that aligns w/ your core values is far less certain than collecting a regular paycheck. It requires a lot of rejection, perseverance, failures and as in John’s case, some hard wake-up calls about the reality of what looks easy on the outside.
  • John also learned an important lesson about sales. For many of us, the word “sales” has a sleazy or deceptive connotation to it. However, and somewhat ironically, John learned what sales was really about while on his journey thru internet and affiliate marketing. The key to sales is giving value to your customers; value that justifies the money that is given in exchange. As an internet marketer, John was advised to build up his sales experience from his mentors. As a result, John started focusing his efforts into online marketing; helping people increase sales and conversions. The way John did this was by selling solo ads to mail lists; also known email marketing. As John explains, the way solo ads work is that a customer buys a one-time email blast from a vendor who maintains a list of emails which in theory are potential customers. John’s business model was based on a per click basis, charging $0.45 – $1.00 per click which would lead to the customers’ landing page or url. All of this would be measured by tracking software which would allow John to charge accordingly. The aha moment came when John took a step back and realized that what he was selling wasn’t necessarily leading to actual sales or conversations. There was a simple yet important realization that had up until this point eluded him. These were not just “clicks” and numbers but somewhere behind that network of wires and ports was a real human being w/ specific needs, wants and aspirations. This caused John to ask himself an important question, “what am I doing?” The only answer John could come up w/ was to make back the money he had invested in mentors and programs. That’s when John had both a shock and an aha moment as he was more removed from his personal development goals than when he left corporate America. The way he was selling clicks and solo ads did not align w/ his core values especially since he was not building a value-based relationship w/ his followers. John isn’t saying that solo ads or internet marketing is bad or inherently wrong. What John is sharing is that like any successful business, internet marketing should always be based on the core values of building relationships and providing value. John is continuing on his journey w/ sales but has since walked away from solo ads and selling clicks online. Sometimes listeners, when we start on a journey we have noble intentions. We aspire to escape the drudgery of corporate America only to find ourselves trapped in a cycle that isn’t much better. That’s why it’s so important to every once in while step back and remind yourself of what you’re doing and why. As John’s story illustrates, sometimes moving forward is really about moving back to the values that we found ourselves straying from.

Knowledge bursts:

Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:

Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:

  • Keep an open mind and try not to be cynical. Don’t be afraid to try different things. When you look back at your life you want to be the person who said “I’m glad I did,”  not the person who said, “I wish I had.”

Parting wisdom (in a few words):

  • “Action is what counts.”

Connect with John: