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Interviews

Interview with Darrl “The Hairbender” Robert

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Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

 

My arrival was very much unorthodox & I never saw it coming. I was arrested when I was younger & that resulted in me being a felon. So the only jobs I could actually get that were paying decent was construction. I worked hard on those jobs but that wasn’t enough because when contracts slowed down, those with felony convictions were let go a week or two after the employees that took off a lot. So I prepared myself for the next let down by enrolling in barber school & cutting hair on the side when I got off from work. About 9 months after finding a new job working as a carpenter’s helper, I was pink slipped again in the same order as before. But I walked away smiling this time because I had built up a small clientele base that could keep me going in the right direction. I worked in two shops before opening my own. The journey wasn’t all peaches & cream but it definitely was very much worth it. I haven’t looked back since.

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

 

Recently I had been working with a very influential social media sensation now turned mogul by the name of Supa Cent. Her fiancé and I had known each other for years and I had been cutting his hair for the same amount of time. So he introduced us & I started cutting her son’s hair also. At one point we worked out a promotion deal & her page ended up getting shutdown. Long story short, I just held up to my end of the bargain & stayed down. It didn’t bother me because I understood the situation. She was very transparent about it & she used other channels to keep light shining. Then some time later, she blew & became a millionaire. Shortly after she sent me a text asking for my PayPal address in regards to an upcoming event. I then got an alert for a deposit. Supa had sent me $5,000.00. That was crazyyyy! She later explained that during her times of shutdown that a lot of people closed their doors on her & that she just wanted to show her appreciation. I’m still their barber today but now it’s mostly house calls. They rarely come to the shop.

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

 

In retrospect I laugh at this all the time. When I was building the layout for my shop, the parish had just implemented a new law requiring barbershops & salons to have a water fountain installed. My architect and I went back & forth with them about it seeming like forever. I was fiery about until I looked up & noticed 6 months had passed & the only thing standing between my shop being closed & opening was a silly water fountain.

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

 

Aside from creativity & attention to detail, my story of redemption completely sets me apart. It’s not too often that you hear about a kid go from serving time for selling the wrong product to flying on private jets for a haircut. Nobody really knows how hard that transition was but me. I never thought I’d be where I’m at today, looking back to 10 years ago. Times were so bleak but I held on to what was important to me. And that was to never go back & to totally turn my life around. It’s funny because nobody would know I went through so much because I don’t look or act like it. That’s a constant reminder that I did a great job on reinventing myself. I now own a successful barbershop, service a special clientele & have investments in stock & real estate. That’s a long way from hanging on the corner.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

 

GROWTH & BALANCE! That’s everything to avoiding the burn out. You have to take classes & constantly evolve because this industry flips so much. And if you fall behind in current trends, you’ll find yourself in a place of complacency that’s slowly deteriorating. That’ll make you feel worn & not valued. Another way to avoid the burn out is BALANCE! You need to find that cool place where the scale doesn’t tip heavily in any one direction. You need that family, friends & self time (taking care of body) aside from business. It rejuvenates your spirit & keeps you peaking all across the board. The worst thing is feeling like a machine. I learned this the hard way but I’m definitely trending in that direction now. And it’s paying dividends. My personal life is better & also my business. And that’s b/c of GROWTH & BALANCE!

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

 

One of my career goals was to become a celebrity barber. I accomplished that feat but not without some help along the way. And I can’t mention one without the other. My mentor really polished me before I made the transition. He taught me how to conduct myself & what to expect. So my first celebrity client was Keisha Cole’s son. That was a referral from my guy Captain Smash. He wasn’t able to make the trip from Baton Rouge so he gave her manager my number & we went from there. After that it was a ripple effect. A friend of mine was practicing at the gym & Nick Toons of The New Orleans Saints asked him who cut his hair. He passed on my information & I started making house calls for Toons. And that’s how I met client turned family Brandin Cooks of The L.A. Rams. Nick Toons also referred Russell Wilson to me. That was totally cool! I cut his hair for Essence & he shared it on his snap chat. I gained like 4 thousand new followers on Instagram from it. Since then my network has grown through the likes of Marcus Harvey, Ray Johnson, & Maria Barreda. I’ve worked on movie sets, cut hair for Empire, & been called on by platinum R&B artists because of these wonderful people. Grateful to have them in my circle.

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

 

My pinnacle of success serves as inspiration to a lot of people. And I tell my story so that it’ll help those overcome the same struggles I did. Crazy thing is, a lot of people pull from it who may going through something totally different. It empowers so many people. And that’s a good thing!

 

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

 

“Failure will never overtake you if your determination to succeed is strong enough”, by Og Mandino is my favorite life quote. Every time I faced in obstacle I would recite this in my head. I remember when I was struggling to open my shop & almost lost it. I went back to this & it helped me overcome. I started working more hours even to the point that I would work on Christmas Day & into the wee hours when I needed to. My determination to succeed absorbed failure every time.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

 

#1 is that I needed an architect with a live stamp to get my drawings approved and cleared by the parish to move forward with construction. I did just the opposite lost about a month in build out because I didn’t know the latter. #2 allow your staff to blossom in their own time. I used to try & push stylists & barbers who worked in my shop. You can’t do that because you’ll push them away. I saw that with my sister. One day she woke up & decided to be a stylist full time. It was one of my happiest decisions to hear. I saw her potential & knew what she could be. More often than not you should just encourage people & let them develop at their own rate. It’s better that way. #3 Build business credit. I paid cash for everything early on. That hurt me when I wanted to acquire a piece of real estate in my business name because I didn’t have the credit it get approved for funding. I ended up missing out on that opportunity. #4 never take on a subbed out corporate job without signing a contract & or partial payment. I did this for a barber who lives out of state & never got paid. I put together a crew to cut hair for a festival & he stopped answering my calls. I paid the barbers out of my own pocket. I took him to court & won b/c he didn’t show. #5 hire a certified accountant. I got audited so much because I was letting anyone do my taxes & using third party entities to handle payroll. I was messed up really bad. So I hired an accountant & he cleaned everything up & put me on the right track. I can’t express how valuable a good accountant is.

 

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

 

If I could start a movement it would  definitely be prison reform. I’ve seen so many brothers that are super talented & don’t know how to use it; especially after a jail stint.

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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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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