Much of what we see on social media is the tip of the iceberg. We aren’t aware of what goes on underneath the water that manifests into the beautiful structure displayed in the open air that is Instagram, Facebook, etc. My social media pages are no different.
I love the life that I have created, and I am truly happy with myself and my circumstances… I hope this shows in my posts. However, success and happiness aren’t always the easiest things to come by. They take endless hours of consistent hard-work and an unwavering dedication.
The older in age I become, the more I realize the importance of squeezing out every last drop of daylight and making the absolute most of every day. Consequently, I wake up at 3:40 am 7 days a week and don’t call it quits until 10 pm or so. There is simply too much that I want to accomplish in this life to spend my days sleeping, hung over, or unhappy.
Because of my early mornings and hectic schedule, I have been forced to fall in love with myself and my alone time. Meditation and yoga are a big part of that and they are truly the anchoring forces that create structure and balance in my everyday life. I meditate 30 minutes every morning after my work out and I try to attend a Yoga class 2-3 times a week in between my kickboxing/running/weight training routines. I have created a lifestyle completely revolving around mental and physical health, but it took years of consistent action and DAILY practice.
I was born to serve others and discovered my passion for serving those less fortunate than me during my time at Habitat for Humanity. Through my work with Habitat, I was able to realize the unerring truth that your circumstances do not determine your attitude. YOU determine your attitude, how you approach life, and how you respond to setbacks.
The families that I had the pleasure of working with did not have the luxuries that most Americans are afforded, but they were still some of the happiest people I’d ever met.
I have served as a budget coach and as a homeowner selection committee member at Habitat collectively for over four years now, and through these experiences I have met some of the most amazingly influential people in my life. My social media doesn’t display my work with Habitat, but this is where the majority of my passion lies.
I serve as a Big Brother as a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. My “Little” is a 13 year-old named Savyon. Savyon has one of those smiles that lights up a room and despite the amount of responsibility on his shoulders, he constantly offers up that smile to the world. On top of his schoolwork, basketball practice, and social life, Savyon helps take care of his siblings… and he does it all in such a caring way that it makes me certain that love is in the hearts of the generations to come. This is a great feeling.
Although my social media displays pictures of photo shoots, concerts, and outings with friends, this is only #halfofthestory. My true passion comes alive when I am serving others and it requires a lot of work and time behind the scenes. In the end, it is all worth it because when you find what sets your soul on fire, it is your responsibility to pursue your passion like your life depends on it… because it does.
My husband and I both work full-time and also work on my blog, Wonder & Awe. We work on the blog whenever we have a free minute.
I first saw Matt while he was leading worship at church, we made eye contact and it was love at first. We dated for six months, were engaged for five months and have been married for almost a year. When you know- you just know.
When it comes to Wonder & Awe, Matt is equally as involved as I am, and Wonder & Awe would truly be nothing without him. Matt is the half of the story that you do not see- the man behind the camera. He spent countless hours on a beautiful redesign of my website and helped me upgrade all my different web features. He researched the best camera lens to purchase for the types of shots we do and takes the most beautiful pictures. Our skill sets really complement one another, and it honestly is just way more fun working with him than it would be to do this on my own. We both love the creative process and enjoy creating beautiful new content for Wonder & Awe.
I grew up always working at newspapers. Before deciding to go to law school, I had plans to work in broadcast journalism. Matt is a computer genius and runs his own company, Loop Community. We both are very busy.
I started Wonder & Awe because I needed a creative outlet. During the day I work fulltime as a lawyer and at night Matt and I work on Wonder & Awe. Balancing working fulltime and also trying to get a blog off and running is not easy but I love it so much I just cannot stop. I really have the best of both worlds.
However, there are many days when the whole process becomes way overwhelming. Between finding time to work out after a full day of work, grocery shop, make dinner for my husband and sneak in the occasional shower sometimes I start to crack under all the to-do-lists I create for myself.
I always wish I had more time to devote to building the blog. There is a huge business behind blogging and one that requires much more time than I currently have to devote to it. I wish I had time to network with all the different Chicago bloggers but in this season of my life I just can’t. Right now time is precious. I am so thankful that I get to work with my husband and spend time with him throughout the whole process.
To learn more about Wonder & Awe, please visit http://wonderandawe.com/!
The #halfthestory you do not see in front of the camera is the most important part of the story for me.
I’m going to be perhaps a little too honest with you guys from the get-go. I never meant to start a business and I absolutely never considered myself to be an entrepreneur – that word alone scares the hell out of me. But here I am, writing this, trying to explain what it is exactly I hope to accomplish.
I’ve officially been out of the world of media – or should I say journalism since technically I still work in media – for about a year now. It took me being approximately two weeks removed from the industry to realize that I missed it. Holy hell did I miss it.
Looking back, the 3 and half years I spent working in sports journalism were 3 of the most chaotic, challenging, frustrating, enthralling, and wonderful years of my life. Good or bad – I wouldn’t change a single experience I had. Okay I maybe would have gotten in a few less Twitter fights and reacted quicker that time I got tackled on the sidelines (shout out to Ryan Switzer for my first concussion) but you get the point. I would however, have appreciated it more.
The one issue I had with working in sports journalism however, was that I often times found it very limiting. I could only talk about certain things. I was only allowed to have an opinion on this, not that. I needed to “stay in my lane,” and after awhile it got too frustrating for me. I wanted to have a real voice, on real things and most importantly on my own terms.
So I started dijananotdiana.com (catchy title, I know) in hopes of getting my voice out there and showing fellow journalists they don’t have to be limited to one topic or field of journalism. Launching the website was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. In a world where everyone has an opinion on the Internet, I was terrified at the response I would get. And then … something weird happened. People were supportive, encouraging even, and they actually liked what I had to say. People read my articles and listened to my podcasts and suddenly I was a millionaire!
Yeah JK, that last part didn’t happen at all. I record my podcasts out of my closet. I write my articles after my 9-5 actual job and on weekends. I am one-woman team. Starting my own site was very liberating and exciting but it’s also a lot of work and pressure; mostly pressure that I put on myself. It’s a lot of pushing myself to the limit, giving up free time, and realizing it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
This is going to take time, patience and a lot of hard work – all of which you have to be willing to put in when it comes to being an entrepreneur.
When I first started Wish Dish, little did I realize how important it was to have a strong technical lead.
Since Day 1, solving technical challenges has been like playing pickup basketball with the “Next Man Up” mentality. Luckily I’ve been able to find short term solutions that believe in me and get the job done. Since we have limited access to resources such as cash and living in a location where it’s hard to find a leader with good technical chops, this process has been a rigorous challenge.
When I think about why I started Wish Dish, I built the platform off of two pillars: freedom of self expression and meaningful connection. For me, I didn’t have the right place to share my voice and I lacked the community that cared to hear what I had to say. That was the genesis of Wish Dish.
I believe that we have accomplished our first goal of creating a platform where people can express how they feel without judgement from others. Ideally, I’d like to scale the contributor base to millions of contributors.
Having said that, I never created Wish Dish to be a successful “blog,” rather, I created Wish Dish to be an interactive platform. Similar to a place where people “hang out” and can find their tribe. I believe we are far away from our second pillar of creating a platform that facilitates personal connection online. We live in a world with mediums such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that inhibit anything beyond surface level connection.
Now, this is where a Chief Technology Officer comes to the table. In order for us to achieve our desired vision, we need to implement the right technology so our product can scale on its own.
But, what have I done to find it? … Great people don’t always show up on your doorstep in the beginning stages.
In the last six months, I have reached out to over one hundred web developers. I have spent countless hours asking them questions, being introduced to their friends, and building relationships. These conversations have been fascinating because I seem to learn something new every time. This is a unique breed of people who simply think in a way I have never experienced before.
In addition, I have also searched for CTO’s utilizing hashtags on twitter such as #Ilooklikeanengineer. I did this because it represents a female audience, one that makes up 70% of the audience on our platform. There was a big campaign that started because Isis Anchalee stood up for women who faced gender discrimation in the engineering world. Once I identified a niche audience to target, I have tried to connect with them through their profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn. This led to many phone calls and emails with little results.
I have also showed up to Meetups for developers in the Atlanta area. It is challenging when developers with great computer skills can be paid between $60k-$150k in my own backyard and I’m looking for someone to come on board at a meager salary with guaranteed equity base.
I have also emailed 20+ hackathon coordinators at various universities around the country and had Skype interviews with people they refer me to. Most of the students aren’t looking for opportunities that have long-term commitments.
Additionally, I have used platforms such as AngelList, Medium, VentureStorm and LinkedIn to search for web developers and connect with them. I’ve also strategized and tried to poach web developers from other media companies who may not have a leading role in the development process.
Being a company in the media space comes with the understanding this is no quick win. It takes 8-12 years to build something truly worthwhile and not many people want to sacrifice the time to see it payoff. We live in a world where people want instantenous success, and that will not be the case with our platform.
The journey has been a game of hard knocks. As a first time entrepreneur, who hasn’t “proven” his worth, I find it extremely difficult sometimes to find the right leader, who shares our common vision, to be the technical leader of our great vision. I know our needle in the haystack is out there, and I won’t stop digging through the pinestraw to find the right person.
Lastly, I don’t want to undermine the great work our WordPress agency has done at Classic City Consulting, but it’s time for us to build a lasting product, a core team, and something that makes a huge difference in society.
If you know anyone to introduce me to who would be interested or might know the right person, please let me know! firstname.lastname@example.org is where I hangout.
It’s no secret that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs through Apple revolutionized the computer industry with the invention of the first personal computer
Since then, Steve Wozniak has enjoyed his wealth, fame, and accolades as the sole inventor of the Apple I and Apple II computers, and tells his story here for the first time
Wow, it’s been a wild ride with Brunch Media (facebook.com/brunchmedia) over the past one year (and still going strong).
What began as a blog to write about issues that matter to Millennials in an authentic, relatable approach has morphed beyond that into multiple podcasts, Facebook Live date nights, self-help videos, and hopefully much more in the future.
Like so many of you, side projects typically come and go. We enjoy our day-to-day job, but often times, the need to express ourselves extends beyond that, and out sprouts a new venture, creative outlet, insert another Silicon Valley buzzword, etc. (…well, anything but a business and I’ll get to that in a moment). At first, incredibly exciting, a couple months later scarily real, and close to the one year mark, an equivalent amount of optimism and pessimism. After this, it may fizzle out or continue onwards (but not often upwards).
As I reflect on Brunch Media and brace myself for its future, I thought I’d share a few critical lessons from my time working on this latest side project so far:
I’ll dive right into this one. Make sure you look at your side project as a side project for as long as possible. What do I mean by that? Obviously, you’ll have huge dreams: “Can’t wait to have an office, work out a deal with the Kardashians, hire X as our first social media coordinator, etc, etc.” I’m saying to forget all of that nonsense.
When we started gaining some traction with Brunch Media, we forced the “business” conversation. Weekly “board meetings” at a certain time, legal documents to make us seem legitimate, and a focus on data over our true interests. Now, if you have the infrastructure in place, these are the right steps to take everything to the next level.
BUT, with only two Philly kids, two Bumble apps, and a whole lot of Millennial uncertainty, all of this forced more stress, unnecessary work, and most importantly, took out the fun involved. By going back to the basics and looking at Brunch through the lenses of a hobby, we are back in a place we know too well: our passions. I’m here to pass on the words of Billy Madison when telling the kids about the dangers high school (business) poses: “Stay here! Stay as long as you can! Cherish it.”
The human journey is inherently social. I can’t think of too many career tracks where you can not only get the job done by yourself without any assistance, but reach a paramount level of success. I’ve been very fortunate to find a partner to help push me into the right direction both on my personal growth and our shared goals with Brunch Media.
We are at that stage (myself already at an exciting job, and he on his way to an elite grad school program) where our personal development, quite simply, matters more than Brunch Media’s development. By putting our friendship first and partnership second, we can embrace each other’s shared goals, help put one another in the best place to succeed, but also fill in the gaps for the other’s respective areas of improvement.
It’s like each of us have a 24/7 “Ari Gold.”
It’s been a helluva ride so far, and hours upon hours of conversations mostly leading to hours and hours of more conversation have convinced me this is an endless journey, but sometimes it’s nice to smell the roses, laugh at the overused Google Docs, and enjoy your suave new Twitter bio.
Look, the key word here is “side.” Until we lose the “side” in “side hustle,” this venture should remain less important than other critical parts of your life. I’m not saying you should abandon it, and sure, if you really want to put in your 100% effort into a non-business, go for it.
The fact remains this is a fun project, and has not earned the right to take over critical time spent on your day-job, friends, Bumble dates, etc, etc. There is no guarantee of any type of success, so don’t jump into important personal life sacrifices that you may never be able to reclaim. Work on it during moments of free time, but if you have to choose between a boozy brunch (plug) with great people or sending out a superfluous email, always go with the former. Quite simply, don’t lose sight of the things that matter.
It’s the experiment lab, a testing ground, a playground to get stuff out there, see what sticks, and keep getting more stuff out there (your friends will always be your friends no matter how many posts/pages you tell them to “like”). The beautiful part of looking at a side project as just that is you allow yourself to take significantly more risks than you would have otherwise.
By taking those risks, you can uncover new strengths and de-emphasize some of your weaknesses. For instance, I’ve realized I actually enjoy video editing equally as much as going on camera. It’s a really neat process, and I never would have discovered this activity without a project like Brunch to freely test different skills. As far as numbers & finance…we are far from out here.
All of us have ideas, sometimes they may actually be a (gasp) good idea, but it’s still fundamentally an idea. Hey, some of us even push forward with these mysterious ideas. We get a logo, maybe a website, send a few emails, possibly a customer or two, BUT, we really don’t create a true business.
Through my experience with Brunch, I’ve realized how hard it is just to get those baby steps up and running let alone world-changing, profitable companies. Today, the word “entrepreneur” is often blighted, misused, “buzzword-y”, etc, but true entrepreneurs still exist and the Travis Kalanick’s, Jonah Peretti’s, and Brian Chesky’s of the world deserve our utmost respect and admiration.
It is SO hard to start anything, let alone a company that makes $1000, or $10,000 so on and so forth. Seeing first hand how difficult it is gives me great respect for these leaders who not only worked incredibly hard, but made sacrifices not too many folks would ever make.
With that said, it’s been an absolute blast, but a humbling experience, nonetheless, working on Brunch Media. Most importantly, I’ve learned there is still so much development, training, and knowledge left to gain before I can give it my best effort to reach the ultimate destination.
One quote that I have really lived by throughout my entrepreneurship journey is “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation”.
To start off, I never imagined myself joining the “entrepreneurship world” my junior year of college. However, it happened because I was prepared when the opportunity presented itself. Being a successful entrepreneur takes a bit of luck, but if you are not mentally prepared to receive your luck when the moment presents itself, you will miss it!
I came up with my business idea while studying abroad in France. One weekend I took a trip to Barcelona, and while there, I met another American who happens to be a successful entrepreneur himself. Stepping out of my comfort zone, I decided to start conversing with him and told him about a business idea I had.
After telling him my idea, he then asked me “ So, why are you not working to bring this idea to life”. Being a 20-year college student, I had a lot of reasons why I wasn’t starting a business, with the most being that I had NO IDEA how to start a business or had the money to do so. He gave me his email to contact him and that was the last time I saw him.
Rule #2 on being an entrepreneur, Take all of your shots! Which means, take all opportunity that’s comes your way, no matter how small! All I had was his email, but six months later, I now have a business on the way to raise funds and expand. After getting his email, I was proactive and email him asking for advice on how to bring this idea to life. He then emailed me back with a four-step procedure on how to go about building my app. Now that I had the steps of building an app, the next important thing was investing the capital (AKA money) to actually start in the process.
Rule #3, if YOU don’t take the risk and believe in your idea enough to invest personal capital into it, no one else will. With this mindset, I took all of my saving that I was planning to use to backpack Europe and invested it into the development of my new app. However, before that I had to do some research of my own. Do people actually NEED you service or idea? Rule #4 ask them! After a few months of research, I began the process of hiring a developer to code my app. It was hard draining all of my saving on this new “ Idea” I had that could fail. However, I believed in it enough to take the short term lost for a long-term benefit in the future.
Three months later, I had an app. Now what? The second semester of my junior year was the most challenging semester yet. Imagine getting up every day at 6 am and not getting back home till midnight and redoing that every weekday for the whole semester.
But, I was okay with that because I knew my future looked brighter. I would party once I reached my first million. While working all day on developing and marketing my idea, I would also spend nights after school applying to as much pitch competitions as I could. So many people want to be entrepreneurs because of the money, being your own boss, or the lavish lifestyle, BUT so little of them are willing to actually put in the work. During my semester, I participated in 3 pitch competitions and got second place in all 3.
Rule # 5 – second place is the #1 loser! However, that did not break my spirit because I knew that I was willing to hard to one day come in first place. Rule #6 – take feedback and keep moving. It is hard to deal with a losing or not getting investments after putting endless hours into your idea which sometimes means staying up until 6 am working on your pitch deck, but the most important thing to remember is that practice makes perfect. Yes, I am now out of thousands of dollars invested into my idea, but opportunities will present itself if you keep believing in yourself and your product. A few days after my competition, I received a message from a friend who saw my Facebook post about my new app on and was interested in helping me market the app to schools in California. On top of that, she also knows some angel investors are interested in investing in my app. A week after that, I received another email informing me that I was accepted into a another major pitch competition in Florida to present my idea in front of CEO’s of major companies. To think that I just lost 3 competitions in a row to now being offered all of these amazing opportunity was surprising.
Thus concluding my story by saying that on the road to becoming an successful entrepreneur, you must ready for your lucky moment by preparing yourself. Another quote that I now live my life by is that “ If you are 100% committed, you will not fail” Be 100% committed to your idea even if you don’t not win the 1st, or 3rd, or even 20th pitch competition or pitch to investors, if you believe in yourself 100% you will succeed.
It was a really good book that explains how to grow a successful business while also helping your community and world. It taught me how I should not only consider profit and growth, but how my product and services can help others and the world.
Written by the two Australian cofounders Ido Leffler and Lance Kalish, Yes to Carrots has become one of the largest beauty brands in the world and is one of the fast growing skincare brands. Through their entrepreneurial journey, they’ve made many great decisions and some really bad. In Get Big Fast and Do More Good, they share their secret to success: a strong, resilient, trusting partnership with a great sense of humor.