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Interviews

Elisa Chan: Female Founder Making an Impact

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We recently got the chance to sit down with Elisa Chan. Elisa Chan is the Founder and Managing Director at Enspired+, delivering innovative marketing solutions in Sydney, Australia!

Elisa built her first e-commerce website at the age of 14 and by her early twenties she had successfully started, commercialized and sold her first start-up.


Shortly after finalizing the acquisition of the business, Elisa moved into the start-up sector, and has since worked with over 40 start-ups across the globe.

With over ten years of senior marketing and communications experience across a range of sectors from technology, telecommunications and travel, she relishes marketing in the business-to-business channel, and loves nothing more than driving business innovation in order to deliver results. 

Her specialties include creation and delivery of integrated marketing and communications programs to increase brand awareness, generate leads for sales and contribute to revenue growth.

Passionate about gender diversity in business for women and creating sustainable business eco-systems in developing countries, Elisa has spent time in Africa consulting for USAID, TechnoServe, PATH and the UN World Food Program’s Thrive Project. In 2014 Elisa was one of the first Australians to be named Global Community Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment for UN Women’s Knowledge Gateway program.

Prior to founding Enspired+, Elisa was Marketing Director for Macquarie Telecom Group’s Cloud Services business and counts Groupon and Orbitz among her former employers. 


Elisa, Thank you for speaking with us today. Can you tell us how did you get started?
My marketing career is almost a side effect of my love of travel.

I grew up on a farm and I used to see planes flying overhead. I used to wish I could be on them so I decided that when I grew up, I would centre my career in travel. When I turned 16, I began to realise that to have a career in the travel industry, you need hands-on experience. I went door to door to each travel agent, hoping someone would take a chance on me as a free work experience student. Finally, I landed an unpaid gig on Saturdays at a travel agency in Chinatown.

At the same time, I spent my free time building websites. I built my uncle’s computer hardware business – an ecommerce website – when I was 14. I eventually realized that I can combine my passion for digital design and marketing and my travel experience. That’s when I launched my first start-up selling cruises online, EseaCruising. My experience eventually led me to a career in the tech space. I was lucky enough to advise a number of tech-startups on their marketing strategy and work as the marketing director of Macquarie Cloud Services, a business of Macquarie Telecom Group.

When did you decide that you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
I don’t know that I ever made a conscious decision to become an entrepreneur. As a child, I was always finding ways to make a little bit of extra pocket change. I still remember the time I sold a typewriter my dad had picked up from a garage sale for $5 to one of my classmates for $35. Mum and Dad didn’t notice the missing typewriter for a few weeks, but when they did, they were pretty pleased I made a 700% profit.

What gave you the courage to start a company?
I don’t know that I would say it was courageous, but an innate drive. I’ve always sought out opportunities. Even when it might seem risky, I’ll give it a try. I’m often asking myself, “What is there to lose?” And the answer is usually, “Not enough to not try this.” It’s that simple.

What is one of your greatest accomplishments to date? Tell us about something that you are most proud of?
In 2013, I took a sabbatical to volunteer in Zambia for TechnoServe on a project to improve the nutritional intake for patients with HIV. While I was working on the project, figuring out the food pyramid and what processed food is nutritional and what is not was a constant struggle. I realized that despite the fact that I was privileged enough to grow up in a first-world country and attend university, the food pyramid was still a difficult metric to use for measuring nutrition on a day-to-day basis.

I suggested a badging program. If certain processed foods met a certain nutritional criteria, they would qualify for a government badge. Instead of scouring ingredient lists, consumers can simply look for a badge and know they were making a healthy choice for themselves.

At first, it never occurred to me that the UN and the Zambian government would actually adopt my concept. But they did! The project is now in its final stages. I can’t wait to return to Zambia and go into a store and see the badge on nutritional food products.

What was one of your most challenging moments and how did you overcome it?
I struggled during my university admissions exam period. I already knew that I was ready to go out into the world and make my mark, but all of my peers had very similar ideas about how to approach education and future careers, which were very different from mine. I knew that unlike becoming a doctor, lawyer, or accountant, my career path didn’t require a degree – only a degree of confidence.

While I was swimming upstream, when I look back at those times, I’m glad I persevered and continued working on projects I am genuinely passionate about and not just following a path because it has led others to success.

Does your family support you in your efforts? How?
Absolutely. Many people have notions about the expectations that Asian parents have for their children, but I have always been an unconventional daughter and baby sister. Even when my family has questioned some of my choices, they’ve always offered me the freedom to do what I wanted to do. When a good friend asked me, “What did you parents do to help you become the person you are?” I said, “They allowed me to do everything.”

Beyond my immediate family, there’s also my better half, Justin. He has played an integral role in supporting me as I transition from a steady, corporate job to my latest start-up venture, Enspired+. He doesn’t shy away from tough love to challenge my thinking and get me out of my comfort zone.

Who are your favorite people and/or role models, both business and personal?
I’ve always turned to those whose business acumen and experience I value to help guide me along the way. I’ve been very blessed with mentors who have supported me like the one who came out of retirement to help me set up my first business. Another challenged me to take a sabbatical and fly to Africa. There’s also a couple of light-hearted ex-colleagues at Macquarie Telecom Group who offered me invaluable advice.

What message would you send to inspire all the other entrepreneurs out there who look up to you?
If you surround yourself with good people, every challenge becomes an opportunity. Listen to the advice of mentors with ample life and business experience, but do not be afraid to follow your own gut instinct. Sometimes you have to swim against the current to find a new, uncharted opportunity. Finally, work with others. If you come at every situation with collaboration in mind, you can usually find a win/win situation.

What do you understand about your industry that other people don’t understand?
Marketing isn’t one skillset – it’s a thousand. From paper and print to digital marketing and social media, there is always something new to learn or to innovate. It can be easy to underestimate how much is involved. Often people think they can hire one person for all of their marketing, but for most businesses, a comprehensive marketing plan is so detailed, it will require a team to execute.

What’s next for you in your career/business?
I am turning my full attention to my latest business venture, Enspired+. It is an integrated marketing agency that offers innovative solutions designed to achieve results on a pay-as-you-go basis. It’s the perfect fit for companies of all sizes that can’t afford a full-time in-house marketing team or want to supplement their team for big marketing campaigns. I’ve loved every moment of working with and meeting people from all walks of life.

What does Disrupt mean to you?
It’s taking a chance and doing something no one else has ever done before. When you can look at how things are done and ask, “Can this be done differently? Can this be done better?” That’s where you find innovation.

Connect with Elisa Chan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elisachan/

Anthony Delgado (born February 6, 1986) is an American software developer and internet entrepreneur widely known as a professional hacker in the developer community. Anthony Delgado has won numerous hackathons sponsored by Fortune 500 tech companies like Google, IBM, Intel, Facebook and Microsoft and hosted by organizations including Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the AT&T Developer Summit in New York City.

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Interviews

An Interview with Brooke Mason; A Pioneer for Women in the Creative Industry

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Australian-born Brooke Mason is so much more than just a photographer. Unafraid and not intimidated by change and breaking the rules, she is everything the creative industry aspires to be. Brooke prides herself on running a creative agency with a single mission: to help women succeed. Already this year, Brooke Mason Creative became a Certified Woman Owned Business.

Since being in Los Angeles, Brooke has immersed herself in the entertainment world and has photographer known artists and actors for magazines like Glamor, InStyle, and Angeleno.

We sit down with Brooke to find out a little more about how she got to where she is today, what inspires her, and what she wants to do in the future.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

I was inspired by wanting to capture my environment, the way I saw things as an artist. I started at a very young age, so at the time, it wasn’t deep thoughts of a career. In fact, my parents are professional business people and being an artist was not a career path that they supported. It was just a passion that I never gave up on and the point I was making money and didn’t need to do other things, I realised, “Hey, this is my career!”.

How did you transition from being a photographer to owning a creative agency?

As a photographer I wasn’t just capturing images. I was hired to art direct, manage projects, castings and aligning with brands. It was 15 years of background that lead to this, however I did study communication at University.

My most memorable work experience was with one of the largest advertising agencies in Sydney, Australia. I was in awe of the complexities of how it ran. I naturally hung out with the creative department more than any other, however my 15 years years of directing on set as a photographer has given me the confidence to work as a team, art direct and have a project come to life. That’s the most exciting part of my job, seeing a seed of an idea come to fruition.

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

Dedication! A lot of this is probably a natural inclination and I find people asking me if I’m scared about not having a regular paycheck or knowing how much is going to come in. Yes, it can be daunting, however, you have to be a risk taker and most entrepreneurs thrive on that. I like the pressure it brings, I thrive on the deadline and after some time you learn to overcome your own self doubts, fears and strive for your best. There is nothing else like it. I will say, I do work much longer hours and days than most of my friends who aren’t, but the reward for me is much higher.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced on your journey so far?

There are two main challenges that I faced in the past and continue to face from time to time.

One – not knowing when the phone will ring. You can be sailing high on a bunch of jobs

and then all of a sudden it’s quiet. It’s really hard not to have a freak-out.

Two – being a younger female is a male driven business world. As much as I’d like to say this doesn’t exist anymore and as fortunate as I am to live in such an open minded town, this is still very relevant and we as women are still not seen as; intelligent, capable and successful to our male peers.

What is your ultimate goal?

I believe in striving and moving forward with continual growth. I don’t have an ultimate goal,

but I am looking forward to growing my team and bringing in bigger projects for 2019. I already feel blessed with so much we have done this past year.

What motivates you in business?

I’m motivated by creating beautiful masterpieces, even if that’s just a stunning website, it’s awesome!

What are you most passionate about?

When it comes to life; Art, aesthetics and beauty. When it’s my work; I love to see people happy, pleasing our clients is my number one driving factor.

Do you have a secret to your success?

Focusing on being the best at what you do and being honest with yourself – if it’s not your

forte, being okay with finding someone else for that task. There is no ego in my business, we all collaborate and if there’s a better idea we run with that. “Ego’s” gets in peoples way, it stiffens your creativity, your success and your opportunities.

What are your proudest achievements?

It’s always one you haven’t had yet!

What differentiates you from your business peers?

Everyone has their unique talents and I adore some of the other creative agencies who do similar work to us. I guess the main difference I see is my background is heavily in art directing and visual curation so we are heavily focused on branding and the end result. We are small, so clients get to talk with all of us and we are all very engaged in every project that happens.

Do you have a motto that you stand by?

Being authentic. I make an effort to keep strong ethics, stay honest and be as real as I can.

What are the most important qualities that have been most beneficial on your journey?

Working hard is by far the most important thing when you have your own business. Sometimes you have to say no to fabulous social events, but keeping clients happy and delivering work on time is crucial.

What is the best advice you could give to someone starting out as an entrepreneur?

It’s important to have big goals and dreams so I wouldn’t want to ever squash those for somebody starting out. Be prepared to put in the work, turn down party offers from friends, stay up late into the evening fulfilling your dreams and up early to conquer the day.

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced as a female in the business world?

Not being taken seriously. I find the main challenge as a woman in this male-centric world is

that men think we may not be as capable or as intelligent. It’s a fine balance to prove yourself without doing it in a way that is forceful and contrived. It’s important to not give up and let prejudices get in your way.

Who do you most admire and why?

I’m inspired by strong powerful women! It wasn’t until leaving Australia and crossing over

into the workforce that I really saw a difference in culture. Though I adore the US and everything it has to offer when it comes to women in the workforce, Australia definitely has superior viewpoints on women. When I see these amazing women here breaking glass ceilings and succeeding, I am in true admiration.

How many employees do you have?

My team ranges depending on the projects we are doing and how many hands we need. But, on a regular basis, we are a small group of eight. On larger projects, we sometimes have upwards of 15 people.

If you had to choose another job, what would it be and why?

I have always been impressed with Doctors and how much knowledge they have. If I was to do school again, knowing what I know now, I might consider going to medical school and doing dermatology or some sort of surgery.

How do you spend your spare time?

I adore going hiking, being in nature, fishing and exploring new terrain. I’m also always up for trying anything new. I like a good movie as much as an adventure.

Do you have a favorite movie?

I adore movies from the 90’s! A few of my old time favorites are The Professional, Casino, Practical Magic and Federico Fellini’s films for the visuals.

Tell us a little about yourself?

These days, I’m a combination of an Aussie at heart and an American day to day. I’m proud to have grown up with my roots firmly planted in Australia, you can’t have an inflated ego living there and it keeps me grounded. My family also helps with that!

When I first lived in NYC, I was in awe of what an incredible country this is, a driven country with goals of exceeding your expectations. I’m proud to be both American and Australian now.

How would you describe your style?

I adore fashion and I like to stay up to date with trends, but only if they align with my taste. I’d say I’m a combination of 70’s glam, with a hint of menswear, I’m all about duality, I love femininity mixed with the strength of a tailored jacket. I’m certainly not afraid to choose bold colors, unusual shapes and design.

Keep up with Brooke’s beautiful photographs and busy life on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/brookemasonphoto/?hl=en). 

 

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Interviews

Dan “Tito” Davis connects with Dalai Lama during 7 Continent Book Tour

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World Traveler and Renowned South Dakota Bestselling Author of “Gringo: My Life on the Edge as an International Fugitive” Dan “Tito” Davis has just wrapped up his seven continent book signing tour in Antarctica. Davis has been promoting his book and his message of growth through adversity for the last 18 months after being released from prison. Before then Tito spent 13 years on the run from the US government as an international fugitive. Davis is one of the first, if not the only author, to do a book signing tour across all seven continents.

You took your bestselling book “Gringo: My Life on the Edge as an International Fugitive” around the world. How did you get the idea to do a seven-continent book signing tour?

When my book went number one on Amazon I did my first world tour in 53 days.  After that, I continued to promote my book. Recently when I was in Argentina I realized that I had done book signings on every continent other than Antarctica. At that point, I decided to knock out the seven continents, which meant heading to Antarctica.

I was in contact with John McKeon, the President of Polar Latitudes, and I let him know that my goal for this cruise was to do a book signing in a penguin colony in Antarctica.   I also let him know that this book signing would be on my seventh continent.  I would like to thank Polar Latitudes for making my adventure possible. They have a very attentive and professional staff which made this adventure extremely memorable and comfortable.

Your book is about your life on the run as a fugitive, and how you turned it all around to become a famous South Dakota writer. What was the reaction to your book while you were on tour?

Just about everyone has been extremely positive in regards to my book.   Many of them are intrigued when they meet me because they’ve never met an international fugitive, or I should say former international fugitive, before.  A few people have asked me if I’m still a fugitive.  Laugh out loud! I tell them if I was a fugitive I sure wouldn’t be out here in the front of the room promoting this book!!! I’d be back in a corner trying to slip away.

During your travels, you met the Dalai Lama and gave him a copy of your book. What was that like?

I was fortunate enough to have a private audience with his Holiness the Dalai Lama while I was in India.  At that time I believe he was 83 years old, and he looked 20 years younger. He had five rings of security around him. You could not take your own camera or phone into the temple. It was like going through airport security in the United States but you didn’t get your items back until you were leaving his temple.  Only the Dalai Lama’s official photographer was allowed to take pictures.

The Dalai Lama is definitely a professional. He was very outgoing, very kind and asked me what my book was about. I told him it was about the same thing you’re preaching Your Holiness, it is about perseverance, it is about survival, and it is about life.  He told me that those are very important qualities.  He then put his forehead to my forehead and held up my book with his free hand.

I couldn’t believe it!   My forehead is touching the Dalai Lama’s forehead and he’s holding up my book. I couldn’t have asked for a better scenario.  I had a special feeling of peace and tranquility when I was with the Dalai Lama.  It is a hard feeling to accurately describe.

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Becoming A Successful Music Artist: 5 Tips On How To Survive In The Music Industry With A Certain Energy

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Shain Romanowski, better known by stage name A Certain Energy, is a hip hop artist from Fort Wayne, Indiana and a U.S. Marine veteran. Here’s 5 Tips On How To Survive In The Music Industry he gave:

Brand yourself.

Branding yourself can take you a long ways when it comes to an image you want representing yourself. As a musical artist you would want people to know that image. Some people go about this with a logo, whereas others go with this by a tag on a beat. Think of it like this, you want something external representing you out in public that people would recognize. That they can use to differentiate yourself from the competition. This can become a long term promotional tool for you if executed properly at the same time.

Know your market.

This ties closely with branding. Once you know your brand you want to market yourself to the right demographics. For instance it wouldn’t make sense for a hip hop artist to market themselves into a alternative rock field. This just wouldn’t sell right. Lose more money that way. Come at it with a business approach. You are the product, and the product needs to connect with the people that they find more use for you with. That’s the way I see it.

Don’t burn bridges (unless it is vital).

In an industry as tough as ours we need to come at it from a team perspective. You don’t make it by yourself no matter how you “self-made” you think you are. There are connections you made that got you opportunities in the first place. The moment you burn that bridge you put a strain on the newly developed relationship you had gotten from the previous burned down bridge. I’m not saying bury your dignity away, but all it takes is a little respect towards the ones that already put their foot in the door to let you in (as long as you’re worth the time to open the door for).

Mamba Mentality.

If you know me personally I am a big advocate on basketball legend Kobe Bryant who played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996 to 2016. His belief was to always be better than the opponent from all angles. Always be faster than the opponent. Be more defensive. Be more aggressive. You want to want it more than the opponent in front of you. In music this is what you want to be. The more passion you have than the other guy would take you a long ways. You’re more willing to accept risks. You’re more willing to take what you can get, but strive for more in the process. This mentality is clearly an ambitious feat that not all people have. You can’t just force this onto someone. This comes from the heart within. Only you know if you truly desire the success in whichever field you strive for. In this case with musical arts.

Don’t be afraid of failure.

Failure is what either makes you or breaks you. Take failure more for advice instead of taking it to heart. I’ve seen plenty of people venture into a field expecting automatic success just because they have that As Seen On TV mindset seeing someone else accomplish something. Every story is different, so don’t come in thinking everything is going to be easy, set, and automatically golden right from the get go. Every victory you receive is earned. I would rather have it that way too since it would be a win-win either way. Why? Because you value more, and value is the most important thing in my opinion with human traits. What ever we value most to us always seems to have more leverage with any possible outcome.

 

 

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The Disrupt Podcast tells the stories of the world top entrepreneurs, developers, creators, and digital marketers and help empower them to teach others the skills they used to grow their careers, chase their passions and create financial freedom for themselves, their families, and their lives, all while living out their true purpose. We recognize the fact that most young people are opting to skip college in exchange for entrepreneurship and real life experience. This Podcast is designed to give them a taste of that.

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