Posts in Entrepreneurs
Serial Investor 9/5, savage rapper on the weekends: interview with Alejandro Rioja

Today I am interviewing Alejandro Rioja.

He is an entrepreneur and investor who moved from Bolivia to the States.

At only 23 years old, he just made the cover of Forbes & I'm excited to share some of his best business tips and vision of success.

We’re also going to talk about his alter ego, Young Slacker who is the complete contrast of his geeky side in real life, because he’s also a latino rapper who sings about girls, drugs, party and so on.

He inspires through his ability to embrace the different facets that make him truly unique and unapologetically HIMSELF.

He's also highly ambitious and constantly crushes business and personal goals despite starting from zero, letting his passions lead him.

The Life-Changing Power of Yoga / with Adam Carney
Adam Carney

I met Adam in beautiful Bali, and approached him after overhearing his conversation on anxiety and how his experience with yoga had been transformative.

We sat down the following day to discuss his journey through the discovery of yoga, from hating it to incorporating it to his lifestyle and as part of his mission.

We also chatted about entrepreneurship, the human quest to happiness and making an impact, discovering spirituality and embracing the feeling of being stuck in order to grow.

Embrace being stuck!
— Adam Carney

Find your way in the episode:

1:00 - Getting started with yoga to handle LA’s energy to cope with anxiety

07:00 - Being given everything in life and still not being fulfilled 

08:45 - Yoga is not just about the physical layers, it’s a lifestyle

13:00 - The origins of yoga

15:00 - Listening to your call or doing what’s comfortable?

17:00 - From being a millionaire on paper to being left with nothing

19:00 - The process of creating meaningful value & the traps of entrepreneurs

28:00 - Spiritual people: we’re all on the same train but we chose to take the window seat 

32:00 - Feeling your way through life

35:30 - Embrace being stuck!

Why the 24 - 24 - 24 Rule Could Be Your New Best Advice
Estimated reading time: 5'

Estimated reading time: 5'

At my last job, we used to have this LED sign that said "Get shit donel".

If there's one guy that would fit most that description, I'd say it's my former co-worker Victor, who I had originally met in NYC.

He was in his twenties and he is an executive, with over 30 people under him.

He was incredibly dedicated, he worked really hard and when he taught you something, he was crystal clear and left no room for misunderstandings.

You always saw him running everywhere in the office, and you better plan ahead if you want to set up a meeting because his days are fully booked to the minute.

Of course, it raised my eyebrow.

 

"Back in New York, I was always really good at school, inspired by my very busy and successful dad. 

I always had shit to do, and that's where I got my work ethic from.

A typical day for me between 14 and 18 was: waking up at 4 AM, going to practice till 6, going to a different practice till 7.30, coming back home, making my sister breakfast, packing her lunch, taking her to school, going to school from 8 to 3, then going home, checking my sisters homework, making dinner, going back to practice, coming home, putting her to sleep, finishing my homework at midnight, then getting up at 4 AM to do it all over again.

At 21, I became the Founder and COO of an organic ice-cream shop.

I had studied Management, Finance & Marketing so my co-founders who did not go to school relied on me to create the revenue model, the business plan, organise events, deal with suppliers, vendors and distributors...

I had to do all of this myself while studying full-time, and when I did not know certain things that they don't teach you at school, like negotiating a distribution deal, I had no choice but to get on the phone and work it out.

Also in business, you gotta be quick. It's not school anymore, you don't have all the time in the world to Google around, or ask your classmates for help. if you're not fast, you're potentially losing thousands of dollars every day.

I was trying my best but I was young, inexperienced, and did not get any help, so we ended up losing all of our original investment.

I then started another business in the food industry with three of my best friends.

Same situation, they relied on me for every single thing, but that time, I knew exactly what I was doing and had make clear and reliable financial projections.

Thing is, after a year, we still weren't making any money and my co-founders lost patience and refused to stick to the original plan, which was to wait another couple months and see the results come to life.

They did not understand the numbers, they did not get the point of investing in marketing and operations, and because my previous business had failed, they were scared to see the same thing happen before their eyes and their savings go up in smoke. On top of that, they were coming from a low-income neighborhood and this was basically their only chance to have a better future, so they decided to fire me. My own best friends.

I did not want to go through that hell and mediate with lawyers. I had to pay back my salary and worse, completely disassociate with the company.

My name was erased from every single piece of paperwork, my face was scratched off the pictures, etc, when I'm the one who made every single business decision. From the color of the sofa to the items on the menu, that are by the way still unchanged today.

Years later, after following my business plan and projections to the letter, the business turned to be a success and my old friends and partners admitted their fault. We reconciled and they sent me a check with the money I had to pay back. I really needed it at the time, but I ripped it apart. 

They still call me every once in a while for business advice, and we hang out..."

Surprised, I teased him about his calm and mature reaction.

"I am not mad. i have a lot of emotions, but I am not easily mad.

Growing up, my mum used to teach me to breath and calm down before making judgments or decisions in the heat of the moment. I learnt to put my ego aside, move on and not carry bitterness around. 

My friends got my back two hundred times, but when there was 6-figures of money involved, they turned their back at me, that's completely understandable. I forgave them, even though I always want them to remember what they did.

In the book The Art of War, Lao Tzu says that if you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

Thinking about the past is a waste of time and energy. I like to figure out what I've learned from tough moments but I don't need to know why. I just care that I'm doing the right thing."

 

Interesting. I ask what he means by "the right thing".

"The biggest learnings that I've made sure to implement since then, were that:

1. I have to separate business and friendship. When I talk business I care about the money. 

2. I cannot do everything by myself. I need a team, and a team that's involved.

3. Transparency is key: you show your team how you do things, they understand it and you can move on. i always make sure to communicate.

4. It is about the journey, I have learned so much, grown so much, and despite rough times, my life had evolved so much since then, and turned into a blessing. So I am thankful for everything.

5. When something really bad (major) happens to me, say I get dumped by a girlfriend or fired from a job for example, I use the first 24, next 24, next 24 rule:

During the first 24 hours, after my raw emotions come out, I reflect on my mistakes, my learnings, what I have to do to move on, my biggest takeaways, and then I don't think about it again for the next 24 days, then I do the same thing 24 months later!"

 

A week later, something major happened against my will and I had to put that saying into practice.  

Are you ready to try to first 24 - next 24 - next 24 rule, let go of your grudges and live in the moment?
Leaders Feel the Fear, then Take the First Step Anyways

Find your way in the episode:

01:00 Emotions are the key to content

02:00 Working for a startup is not all rainbows and sunshine

07:00 The importance of genuine connections: relationship businesses rather than transaction-based

10:00 Peace, love and purpose

14: Leaders are not invincible, they just internalize fear better

Reading time: 2’

Reading time: 2’

“I’m addicted to fear. People think leaders are invincible but the truth is, we have the same emotions as everyone else, we just process them better”.

Josh Fechter is without a doubt one of my inspirations as a founder.

You rarely see people as passionate as him about their business.

He does work incredibly hard, like most founders, constantly finding innovative solutions to disrupt the marketing industry, but what always stroke me is that he cares about people more than he does about cash.

The three words “Peace, Love and Purpose”, tattooed on his arm as a reminder of what guides him, lead the way to both his personal and professional decisions and I believe that the value he attaches to ethics stands behind his success.

By success, I could refer to the societal definition of success, stamped by multiple awards for his marketing, content & growth hacking expertise (Top Quora Writer , Forbe’s 12 Innovative Founders To Watch And Learn From, Maxim’s Top B2B marketing influencer, etc).

But I won’t.

That’s not what we discussed in the podcast.

I’m interested in the less talked about, nonetheless crucial definition of success which is, in my opinion: building strong and genuine human connections.

Josh Fechter has now formed a winning duet with his partner Houston Golden and co-founded together the “Badass Marketers & Founders Media” agency and of its associated Facebook community of 20 000+ people .

His secret to other entrepreneurs?

“Feel the fear and take the first steps anyways”.

  • When you choose to keep hustling despite facing rejection and realizing that having a startup isn’t all just rainbows and sunshines…

  • When you keep going because you’re led by your heart…

  • When you wake up in the morning excited because you’re making a true impact in people’s lives and businesses…

That is, the real definition of success.

What’s yours?

Do you use your emotions as tools in business or do you shut them down?

Always Dare to Be More!

I met Tatiana at a women-only networking event in LA. 

We instantly vibed as she also is a big believer of female empowerment. 

What she taught me however; was that there's a pretty common misconception of the definition of a successful career among us ladies : indeed; the path is very much different for each gender, and copying males can very much lead to unfulfilment; feeling the need to constantly prove ourselves, or being perceived as a bitch.

Rather; she taught me the importance of embracing who we truly are, taking into account our specific gifts from nature and embracing our differences: Listen to her story and how she came to those realisations after having hit the wall herself. 


Sum-up of the episode:

-  Feminine Vs Masculine energy

- Embracing your gender-specific power or taking it away from yourself

- Achieving the society-defined success but hitting the wall at a Tony Robbin's event

- Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure

- Western women will heal the world

- How copying men can turn you into a bitch

- The right way to use your guns as an attractive woman

Reading time: 1'

Reading time: 1'

Know What You Want & Maximize Your Time Accordingly
Estimated reading time: 3'

Estimated reading time: 3'

I met Hunter at a Friends-giving getaway in lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful areas of California. We had rented a giant house by the lake together with 18 other people.

On the first day, while the group split into either skiing or hiking adventures, Hunter decided to stay home by the fireplace and read a book.

In the evenings, while he was the youngest of the bunch, 20 years old, he would warn adults not to eat sugar or drink too much... This caught my attention and I was curious to know why he was acting so mature.

"I just want to maximize my time and my health.

Alcohol dissolves brain cells, and brain cells don’t recreate after being made, while most other cells in your body regenerate after 5 years. I don't want to waste them at an early age. 

Last year, I would wake up at 8am and go to Business Administration classes. Then, I would go to my club and organizational roles. After a commute home, I would go to work as a pizza-delivery guy, then home again, do homework, play a video game and eventually end the day at 12-2 o'clock, in the morning i’d start again. I always needed to have energy, so I've always made a point to live healthily (sleep well, eat well, take care of my mind, etc). In college lot of students underachieve: it's more fun and less studies.

It wasn’t the same for me.

 

- Did your parents put that pressure on you to study and work hard? I asked.

 

- My parents never really pushed me, I continually reach for my potential alone. However, they did introduce me to various activities and raised me well. They would never push me but I was taught that if I wanted something I would have to work towards it. For example, my family burns wood in the winter to help heat our house. This meant I'd have to help split, stack, or bring in wood during the winter, from a young age. Yet as I grew up it went from a chore, to something that I could do to help. I’ve always given whatever I'm doing my all.

I used to be an A student, soccer all-star, and track runner until I hurt my feet and was not able to compete any longer.

But when you work so hard toward good grades, you lose the meaning, you wake up in the morning and think "why am I here right now, is this this even worth it?".

Fortunately, one day, my high school buddy bootstrapped a company and asked me to be part of the project.

He dropped out of school, developed a wearable tech company, sold it, and invested in what has become Leangap.

I believe that everybody should have the chance to create something meaningful, to develop their ideas, no matter what their financial situation is. So we created this summer program that helps students reach their full potential. We gather students from all around the world into one location. We have mentors which direct them as they combine their various expertise and ideas. By the end of the program they will have a viable business model, app, or prototype which they pitch to a panel of venture capitalists, CEOs, and successful entrepreneurs.

I found what I love, it gives me more meaning, and I'm helping kids do the same. I might go back to school eventually but right now I still spend all my time experimenting, learning and growing. That's all I can do for myself at the end of the day. There's so much information out there...

My biggest tip is: learn what you want to know, figure out what interests you, then maximize your time accordingly to do what you love".

What’s your passion & are you following it?