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Interview With Austin Rotter, Digital Marketing Strategist

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Interview With Austin Rotter, Digital Marketing Strategist On How The Industry Has Changed Since COVID 

Austin Rotter is a strategic digital marketing and media relations strategist with over a decade of experience working with a number of clients ranging from Fortune 100 brands to hyper-growth companies.

He helps innovators, disruptors, and radicals that are challenging the status quo to increase their media profile and brand awareness through creative, strategic, and results-driven campaigns.  

Since the start of COVID two years ago, how has the digital marketing world changed?

Austin Rotter: Today’s digital media world is officially 24/7. You can’t ignore that. Over the last two years, due to COVID, the larger marketing ecosystem has adapted to a seemingly ever-changing “new normal.” Marketers really have to be quicker than ever to pivot at a moment’s notice.

When reaching consumers, time and attention are the two most important forms of currency marketers have. COVID has totally changed almost every aspect of how consumers engage and interact with both brands and media.

Everything has been thrown out the window in terms of best practices.  It’s scary to think like that, but at the same time, it also gives brands exciting new opportunities to try different approaches, platforms, or messaging that they were maybe once afraid of testing because they thought, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

There’s a lot of buzz around the Metaverse; should we believe the hype?

Austin Rotter: That’s a billion-dollar question right there. It depends on who you ask and how much skin they already have in the game.

If you ask Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who made a massive bet on the metaverse by renaming his entire company to Meta, he is 1000%, all-in on the metaverse and looking at it as their future in a huge way.

Google, Apple, and other major tech companies are all following the metaverse train as well, and they are certainly not alone. They have all been working on their own metaverse-related technology for years, and everyone has their own metaverse-related ambitions in the works.

Not everyone is in love, though. The metaverse certainly has a fair number of critics who are taking a more wait-and-see approach with everything. For every once-in-a-generation idea like the metaverse, there are many busts that still leave a sting on people. Does Google’s glass experiment ring a bell?

It’s still super, super, super early in the metaverse game to really tell how this will all play out, but this feels like a different beast — the one that has the potential to change the digital media world as we know.

Is there one social channel that you find really taking off more than others?

Austin Rotter: Instagram is the king right now. With over 200 million business profiles, it’s no surprise that brands are investing heavily in this platform.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B brand or a DTC player; Instagram, from a business perspective, has options for every company that needs a social layer to connect with customers.

You shouldn’t be asking if you should use Instagram, but ask, “how should I be using it?” It is mission-critical on the social side.

You’re right; building a digital community is mission-critical. What is the best way to achieve that?

Austin Rotter: From a marketing perspective, messaging has always been king. That will never change.

Today, consumers, more than ever, are looking for empathy, warmth, and compassion from the brands they are interacting with.

To really grow your digital community, you need to be authentic. Lacking authenticity is an instant killer and huge turnoff. There is a balance though, that’s very important to remember here. On the flip side, the brand’s messaging, tone, and approach can’t be too over-the-top, forced, or tone dead. It will backfire and leave a bad taste. Once you lose a customer, they are usually gone for good.

For marketers with a limited budget, how can they actually use and leverage influencers in a meaningful way? 

Austin Rotter: The influencer ecosystem has exploded over the last few years, with micro-influencers being a big reason for that. In just a few short years, the total global influencer marketing ecosystem has rapidly expanded. Forget about the hype around influencers; just looking at this in pure numbers: the industry has grown from $1.7 billion to over $14 billion. Insane growth!

One thing is for certain — it has taught eCommerce brands and retailers that they have to be flexible in creating new avenues to engage with consumers, especially hard-to-reach demos like Gen Z.

There’s no shortage of macro (100K – 1M followers). A lot of brands prefer to work with other traditional, more mainstream ones. Some of those reasons are more affordable for budget-cautious brands. They have a highly engaged audience, and it gives brands the unique ability to spread their budget around to several influencers at once, giving them more options to leverage.

Interviews

Interview with Amanda Lien, Content Writer

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Interview with Amanda Lien, Content Writer

Amanda is a thought leadership ghostwriter, brand copywriter and strategist, and creative content producer for PR and marketing firms, entrepreneurs, and small businesses worldwide. When she’s not donning her many professional hats (sometimes all at once!), you can find her writing short science fiction stories, polishing her novel, or attending to the needs of her cat, Warden.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I’m a simple gal – I just used my own name! As a content writer, my ability to put my name behind each piece of copy I create is essential to me; if I couldn’t happily slap my byline on something, why did I produce it? So having my name tied to my work – even my ghostwriting, though very few people will ever know it’s me behind the words – is a nod to the integrity I want to carry with me into every client engagement I tackle.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

After I wake up, the first thing I do is brew some coffee and spend some quality time with my Balinese shorthair cat, Warden. I also try to journal at least a page every morning to get the gears in my brain turning and also to excise any doubts, worries, or anxieties that might be lingering subconsciously. This not only boosts my creativity but also helps me form a to-do list for the day ahead.

The actual scope of my work day varies day to day depending on what’s on my schedule, but I try to get at least three hours of client work in each day – it helps me stay “in the zone” and productive! At any given point, I’m either crafting brand strategy and messaging documents, writing thought leadership articles, drafting press releases, or sitting down with new clients to strategize content for their business.

After my lunch break, I pivot to working on my side projects; I write a column for Luna Station Quarterly about the intersection of speculative fiction and chronic illness and I’m also writing several academic papers about composition pedagogy and teaching methods for the 21st century. I know it sounds dry, but it’s a lot of fun!

By around 3 pm, my brain is pretty much tapped out, so I take a break and either hit the gym or go for a walk. I live in southern Virginia, where there is no shortage of beaches and scenic trails, so I often forsake weight lifting for walking along the bay or the beach. I’m trying to convince my cat to walk with me on a harness, but he keeps getting distracted by all the plants and sticks he can chew on in the great outdoors…

When I get home, I spend a little while cleaning up the kitchen and living room; my apartment is small but homey, and the key to keeping it clean and uncluttered is taking a few minutes every day to tidy up. While I do this, I typically listen to music or a podcast because it helps the time go by faster!

When dinner time rolls around, I transform from my go-getter self to my potato-shaped alter ego. Rest and relaxation is just as important as go-go-going all the time, and I engage with that by playing Animal Crossing and Mario Kart with my sister every night (purchasing the Nintendo Switch was the best holiday gift I gave myself), and reading a bit before bed.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I blend personality with prose to ensure my clients’ voice and tone shine through the copy I write, even if it’s something as simple and formulaic as a press release. People love other people, and by infusing the content I create with personality and a sense of who a person or business is, I’m ensuring that audiences are more compelled to engage in a meaningful way!

What’s one trend that excites you?

There’s a renewed push for, and emphasis on, quality and meaningful marketing and leadership content – and as someone who has spent her career in digital media, that trend is incredibly exciting to see. While SEO rankings and keyword density are important metrics to consider when sharing content online, there won’t be meaningful audience interactions if the content has no substance. I’m so glad more companies are seeing that, and I’m thrilled to be able to champion that content for my clients.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Working in sprints. I set timers for myself – typically in 30-minute increments – and work as quickly and intensely as I can within those time frames. It helps me hold myself accountable for my tasks and ensures I use my time well.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Your passion is what makes you a strong writer and leader. When I was younger, I was often teased or looked down on for being so passionate about my field and my craft – I think people around me mistook that passion for naiveté. But I wouldn’t be where I am today without that fire in my belly, and I’m sad that I spent so many years trying to tame it for no reason.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

There is no one “right” way to be productive. If popular productivity methods don’t work for you, that’s not something to be ashamed of; you just need to find a method that does work for you. As someone who is chronically ill and neurodivergent, I learned the hard way that trying to make my brain conform to someone else’s way of doing things when it really doesn’t work for me detracts from my workflow. That’s no good!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I talk about my work to someone who has no idea what I do. In my case, it’s my mom. I love her so much, but she doesn’t understand the world of content creation, but that’s a good thing because the questions she asks me and the explanations I give her force me to go back to the basics of what I do – and why. It’s a good attitude and reality check for me, and it’s therapeutic to talk about my process to someone who is more interested than listening than anything else.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Joining invite-only groups like Dreamers & Doers and Ellevate has enabled me to connect with likeminded businesswomen and non-men who are truly invested in supporting one another. While I am a solopreneur, I’m definitely not interested in going at this business-building thing by myself, and I’m very lucky to be in company with business leaders who help me give back and have given so much to me.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I struggled to keep up with client demand early in my business, and several projects nearly fell through the cracks as a result. While the clients didn’t feel the strain, I definitely did, and that’s why I established a lot of my time-dependent workflows. I didn’t like how stressed, burnt-out, and harried I felt during that time, and certainly never want to feel that way again!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would love it if someone would build a platform for freelancer rate calculation; specifically, somewhere where new freelancers could plug in their industry, their years of experience, location, and their areas of expertise, and get a comprehensive rate breakdown of what they should be charging and why. It’s something I wish I had when I was just starting out, and while there are platforms that do some of this, it would be lovely to have it all together.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I booked a weekend trip to my favorite city up the coast: Washington, DC. You’d be surprised how many ideas can pop into your head on a three-hour drive, and sometimes relaxing in a hotel room is just as recharging as an hour-long workout.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Shift! It’s an email management client that allows users to manage more than one email account at a time on desktop. A lot of my clients have onboarded me into their own domains, but having multiple email tabs open at a time can really mess with my computer’s processing power. Shift is an easy at-a-glance desktop solution that has really sped up my workflow.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Disciplined Dreaming by Josh Linker offers a really comprehensive approach that businesses and people can – and should! – take to harnessing creativity and turning those ideas into actual processes, businesses, or solutions. If you’re like me and sometimes struggle with the concept of taking ideas from ideation to execution, this book is for you.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite poet, Richard Siken, wrote a line in my favorite poem of his (“Snow and Dirty Rain”) that has stuck with me for years: “We are all going forward. None of us are going back.” It’s a good reminder that looking to the past doesn’t get you anything, because the world is going to keep moving forward no matter what.

Key Learnings:

  • Transparency and passion are two key traits to running a successful creative business
  • A work/life balance isn’t a suggestion – it’s essential
  • Being honest with yourself about your failures will help you set yourself up for success
Originally published on IdeaMensch.
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Interview with Dale Sutherland, President of International Care Ministries

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Interview with Dale Sutherland, President of International Care Ministries

Based in Vienna, Virginia, Dale Sutherland is the President of International Care Ministries (ICM) USA, a charitable organization aiming to alleviate the effects felt by poverty-stricken communities. Dale had a significant history of working within the nonprofit realm, both in management roles and volunteering positions, before coming to work with ICM.

For the majority of his career leading up to his transition to ICM, Dale began his career with McLean Bible Church in 2001. McLean Bible Church is a mega-church based out of Virginia, where Dale later assumed the role of Lead Pastor and Director of Outreach. In nearly two decades of service here, Dale Sutherland led a faithful career as a lead pastor and director of outreach at the McLean Bible Church, with attendance reaching upwards of 13,000 congregants. During his time with the church, Dale was in charge of managing a budget in the millions, overseeing volunteers, leading missions trips, directing operations throughout six campuses as well as partnering with mission organizations, both national and international.

Dale Sutherland also served a variety of communities through his assistance as a Detective Sergeant up until 2013. This position allowed Dale to work on an impressive amount of key criminal investigations ranging from human trafficking to narcotics to homicides. He took the lead and supervised investigations beginning in Washington D.C., spanning to New York City, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Mexico, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. During this time, he was also entrusted with the task of instructing law enforcement officials from international police agencies from Jamaica, Japan, Palestine/West Bank, and the Dominican Republic.

After Dale Sutherland became the President of ICM USA in 2019, he soon found that a successful nonprofit is one that encompasses strong values, acts on its convictions, strategizes effective measures to produce long-lasting outcomes, and creates beneficial partnerships. While ICM looks forward to the day in which no child has to live in ultra-poverty, Dale and his team also recognize the harsh reality of many individuals’ lives in the here and now. Dale now works alongside a team of business professionals, pastors, outreach specialists, and local Filipino employees who are passionate about this worldwide mission and talented in creating effective measures for fighting poverty and its grave effects.

Dale Sutherland is eager to see the continual growth of this ICM and is passionate about contributing to poverty alleviation. His professional career has intertwined seamlessly with his passion for living out the gospel, a goal he always felt called to pursue.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I had seen the work that had been done in the Philippines for the last 25 years on multiple visits there. I was sure we could help more poor people if we only used this same system in another geography.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I spend my day usually meeting with various folks who are part of our work. They are involved in giving or offering advice to ICM. I wake up and enjoy usually spending some time in prayer and the word and then after that I get started.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Praying and asking God for His direction is first. I think God has given me a great network of brilliant people. I often find that I can accomplish things by just connecting with people or finding answers by asking a friend. This is often how I see ideas become reality.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m fascinated by the advances we are making in learning how the Bible can be more accessible to more people. There are new apps and the Bible project. Along with that, there are podcasts and digital versions of the Bible that can make this life-changing book more accessible to others.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

God’s grace is first. People that are much smarter and more hard-working than me haven’t had as much success as I have. God has used a 2.6 student to do things everyone thought impossible. Second, I think pushing is the other secret. When I start something I push and push and push everyone and everything to try and get it to grow and succeed.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be nicer and more patient. I pushed so hard that I hurt good people. I wish I would have given more grace and accepted people as they are and not required them to be what I wanted them to be.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

That there is no need to change the way Americans do short-term mission trips. If we had millions of people mistreating other people we should address the methods. The problem is the opposite. Relatively few people on this planet want to help others. Why do we get mad or marginalize the few that go out and serve? It’s the leader’s job to encourage these workers and at the same time protect them from making mistakes that could cause difficulty for the message.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

You must push yourself and keep going when everyone tells you to slow down. People who slow down aren’t terribly successful. You can do that in some worlds but not as an entrepreneur.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Constant networking and helping others. I do way more work pro bono than I charge for. That’s what I believe results in a few paying clients that are committed to you.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I have not followed through with good ideas. Others told me to stop and I listened. That has cost me millions of dollars and lots of spiritual fruit.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Nonprofit real estate ventures. A fascinating area that lends itself to unbelievable benefits for ministries and nonprofits. It can also be quite lucrative.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Baseball tickets for me and my grandson to see the Yankees play.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I wish I knew how to use the software. So much I am doing I could do easier if I just used some of what is available.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Bible. It expands the mind and guides the life of every human on the planet. You will learn more about Life in relationships and business and eternity read that book than any other that was ever written.

What is your favorite quote?

I love the words of an old song: “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Jesus will help you, Jesus will save”

Originally published on IdeaMensch.
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Interview with Casey Klugman, Founder of Les Monts

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Interview with Casey Klugman, Founder of Les Monts

Casey Klugman, Founder of Les Monts, a new luxury handcrafted sunglasses company.

What Is Les Monts? Tell Us All About Your Brand, Mission, And Product Selection.

I’ve always had an affinity for handmade goods. To me, there’s warmth that emanates from handmade goods. They have subtle imperfections which make them unique – something you don’t necessarily get from mass-produced products. In light of this affinity, I wanted Les Monts to be a handmade, limited-edition collection. Utilizing an array of handpicked, highly considered materials, Les Monts frames are brought to life by the hands of experienced Italian craftsmen who take great pride in their work.

Les Monts is geared towards creative individuals – specifically those who push the creative boundaries in their respective fields. However, the brand recognizes any individual in pursuit of a lofty personal goal. In French, Les Monts means “the mountains”. As the brand’s namesake, mountains serve as a reminder that good things, like a journey towards a personal goal or the production of our handmade goods themselves, take time to develop. And, while the journey to reach that goal may prove fickle, there is often great value to be found at the finish line. Each of our limited-edition spectacles is a testament to those who have been fearless in their personal endeavors; and, to those who are at the beginning of their journey, a pair can ignite the courage to take that next step.

I think today more than ever, it’s important for a brand to have genuine purpose and good intentions. Throughout my life, there have been a number of important people who have at some point, in some capacity, struggled with their mental health. There are times when I haven’t been in the best headspace, too. So, my decision to partner with Mental Health America was one which came quite naturally. I wanted to honor anybody who has ever been affected by a mental health condition – directly or indirectly. This partnership is important to the brand as anything else. My hope is that Les Monts can transcend traditional brand ideologies, and become a beacon of optimism that inspires.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I was born in New Jersey in the early 90s. My late grandfather, who was a dentist and an amateur artist himself, got me involved in art at a very young age. From elementary school through high school, art was the one subject I really excelled in. At some point in junior high school, I developed an interest in fashion. It started with sneakers – I was collecting “Nike Dunks” at the time. Like eyewear, footwear can tell a story about the person wearing it – I still love that about footwear. As my affinity for sneaker culture grew, I began illustrating sneaker designs and concepts of my own. I had sketchbooks full of illustrations. But, before I left to study Art & Design at the University of Michigan, my father – who I am very close with – gifted me a pair of his vintage sunglasses. For me it was the ultimate heirloom. I cherished these sunglasses – I admired everything about them. From that day forward, I was no longer illustrating sneakers, I was illustrating eyewear. I graduated from University of Michigan – School of Art & Design in the spring of 2014. Shortly thereafter, I accepted a job to design eyewear for Ted Baker. It was an amazing opportunity, and the job I held for five years. But, in the back of my head, I knew my ultimate goal was to one day have my own collection. In October of 2020, I decided the time was “now” and resigned from my day-job. Since then, I’ve been working on bringing my own brand to market, and that vision recently became reality. My brand, Les Monts, went live on April 20th of this year.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

One of the coolest parts about starting your own brand is you get to decide what story you want to tell through your products. If there’s a group of people you want to empower, or a cause you’d like to raise awareness for, all of those choices are yours. My late grandmother was born and raised in rural France. Unfortunately, she passed away when I was about 13 years old – long before she and I had the chance to connect on an adult level. There’s a lot happening in my life right now. I’ve just started a business, my girlfriend and I recently moved in together; there are so many conversations I wish I could have with her today. So, I decided to give my brand a French name, to pay homage to my late grandmother. As I mentioned earlier the mountains serve as a reminder that good things, like a journey towards a personal goal or the production of our wearables themselves, take time to develop. And, while the journey to reach that goal may prove fickle, there is often great value to be found at the finish line.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I think what I’ve enjoyed most about this journey is the creative freedom it’s afforded me. I was designing for another brand for 5 years. During that time, I didn’t have full creative freedom. I had to adhere to the vision of another brand. Having the creative freedom to execute my own design vision, and tell a story through my brand has been completely invigorating.

The most challenging part of the journey, and the component I struggled with most, occurred during the first few months on my own. At my former employer, I rarely had downtime in the office. There were many days I’d go into work, put my head down, and not lift it until 6:30pm. I kind of liked that – it always made the day go faster, plus I’d feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. My first few months of self-employment proved to be a major adjustment period. I had to accept to the fact that things were going to move a lot slower – at least initially. Naturally, a project like this takes time to develop. So, going from a very fast-paced environment, to the slow-burning, very early stages of a start-up, was a challenge for me.

The most exciting part of my work has always been receiving samples or the final product. I have a tremendous respect and appreciation for excellent craftsmanship. The craftsmen I work with in Italy are extraordinarily talented. Their handcrafted products are beautifully made. When I receive their products for the first time, there’s a moment of admiration – almost like seeing a piece of art. It’s a moment that never gets old.

Can You Share Some Insight As To Your Design And/or Manufacturing Process? What Makes Les Monts Frames Stand Out Above The Rest?

I think there are two philosophies when it comes to designing and manufacturing. The first is probably the most common – especially in the realm of corporate fashion. This process consists of designing a product, and then modifying it to meet, or increase margin. The other philosophy is the approach I’ve taken with Les Monts. When I started out, I had a vision for what I wanted to produce. Based on my previous work experience, I knew the product I wanted to create would be expensive and require a great deal of expertise to produce. Rather than water down my vision, I said to the factory, “This is the product I want to make. These are the details; these are the materials I want to use. Please let me know how much it will cost to produce a pair, and I’ll figure out what I need to sell it for.” I think if you believe in your product, this is the approach that makes sense. At the end of the day, you want to bring your idea to life. You don’t want to bring 50% of an idea to life. Les Monts spectacles incorporate over 200 steps, and can take nearly a half year to produce. We only produce 100 pieces or less of a given style – which is an extremely limited amount. Many factories will not agree to produce quantities that small. Once a style is sold out, it is no longer produced. We place a very heavy emphasis on the handcrafted nature of our frames; it’s what makes our glasses a cut above the rest. However, the true beauty of a Les Monts frame comes from the fact that it is an imperfect object. When you produce things by hand, there are inherent differences from piece to piece. These differences or imperfections are virtually undetectable to the naked eye, but it’s part of what makes a Les Monts frame an object to be desired. Our frames are not mass-produced objects, cold off of an assembly line. They have a warmth and a story to tell.

Tell Us About Your Go-to Market Strategy. Do You See Les Monts Being Exclusively Sold Online, Or Also Launching Retail Stores Similar To Warby Parker?

For the moment, I am direct to consumer through www.lesmonts.com. However, I will be working hard on getting Les Monts into select stores in the coming months. I’ve designed for other brands in the past. In my honest opinion, Les Monts eyewear looks and feels distinctly different from other eyewear. Because of this, it’s very important that customers have the ability to pick up my products and experience them in person. There’s so much value in that experience. All of our frames are produced in very small quantities, so our eyewear will likely be placed in boutiques and maybe one select retailer. Stay tuned!

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

During the week I go to sleep late – around 12:30-1:00am. Because of that, I typically wake-up around 8:20am. I love sleeping in, but that’s about as late as I can sleep during the week. Because I’m communicating with my partners in Italy on a daily basis, and there’s a +6 hour time difference, I can’t afford to sleep past 8:30am. Once, I wake up – it’s an immediate cup of coffee. I then sit at my desk and take care of all urgent emails – prioritizing the emails that are affected by a time difference. Once urgencies are out of the way, I’ll make the bed, shower, and listen to sports talk radio, namely, The Dan Patrick Show. Then it’s back to work until around 12:45, at which point I take my dog for a walk. Then it’s back to work for the rest of the day. I like to get a Peloton session in at the end of the day to clear my head, though admittedly, I’ve been bad about it lately. I do find that it clears my head, even if I get on the bike for 15-20 minutes at the end of the day. For me, the best way I know to stay productive is by setting goals. I like to set goals by the day, week, and month. By constantly setting goals, and hopefully meeting those goals, I feel accomplished and hungry when I wake up each day.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Flexibility – Flexibility is key. Today, the world is changing more rapidly than ever before. As an entrepreneur, it’s never been more important to stay flexible and adaptive. For creative endeavors, the importance of flexibility cannot be underestimated. Rigidity can quickly kill a brand and a product. So, listen to feedback and don’t be afraid to pivot. Let your concepts evolve!

Decisiveness – More is lost by indecision than the wrong decision. When you’re starting out, you’re probably going to make the wrong decision more than once. That’s ok – especially if you’re able to learn from your mistakes. In my experience, indecision always has a more negative impact than a wrong decision. You can take time to make a big decision, but be mindful of how much time you have and then make your decision – don’t prolong it.

Patience – Good things take time to come to fruition. That’s a big part of the branding behind Les Monts. Building a business requires persistence, endurance and patience. It takes a lot of time and effort. So, it’s natural to want results right away – but that’s rarely the case. While you want to remain on top of things, being is key to keeping you emotionally grounded in your project.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

There’s an important lesson I’ve learned, actually from loved ones who have passed away. The lesson teaches us that our time here is limited, so we need to spend it doing what we love. I’ll use my late grandmother for example, who, by the way, is part of the inspiration for the name Les Monts. My grandmother, Jo, absolutely adored her grandchildren. Nothing brought her more joy than spending time with us. Sadly, my grandmother fell ill, and passed away before she was able to see her grandchildren reach adulthood. Impermanence is a reminder our time is limited, and we never know when “our time” is going to come. When faced with one of life’s many difficult decisions, I like to think of Jo telling me to go for it. In my experience, knowing that my time is limited sometimes makes those difficult decisions a lot easier.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

My top choice would have to be Sir Paul McCartney. I’ve always been inspired by his colorful personality and creative energy. Amazingly, I think Paul still fits the profile of my customer. He’s highly creative and he’s produced music capable of moving emotion. Great music is so powerful. Great music can inspire change, motivate you to start your own business, it can move you to tears and then build you back up. For as long as I can remember, the Beatles’ music has done for me. That’s what I want Les Monts to do for my customer. If my products become a wearable symbol of creativity, or if my brand makes people more comfortable discussing mental health conditions, it will mean that Les Monts has impacted people in an emotional context. That’s my ultimate goal. Since his music has positively and emotionally affected so many people for such an extended period of time, there’s nobody I’d rather meet with than Sir Paul.

Who Is Your Role Model?

I take a lot of inspiration from Philippe Petit, the man who walked a tightrope between the original World Trade towers. He was so focused on his craft and passionate about the process just as much about the outcome. He woke up everyday and ‘got on his wire’, whether it was 2 feet off the ground, or 2,000 feet off the ground. His attention to detail allowed him to perform an act for which the consequence of a single mistake was death. We very rarely engage in activities when a single mistake is certain death. If Philippe has made a misstep above the World Trade Towers, there’s no surviving that fall. While I don’t want to be punished with death for each mistake I make doing the thing I love, I find the clarity to be beautiful in my own relationship to my craft. I highly recommend Man on Wire, watched through the lens of a metaphor and as performance art.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I’m an artist by trade, so in my free time I love to paint. Painting is a process that has always been extremely cathartic for me. There’s nothing better than putting on music and getting lost in my work for hours. Left to my own devices, I think I would paint straight through the night. For me, it’s the type of hobby I can’t put down after I start. My painting style is very graphic and rather unconventional. If you’re familiar with Banksy, that’s kind of what my paintings look like – though they’re hand-painted rather than spray painted.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

The late Steve Jobs made an outstanding commencement speech at the University of Stanford in 2005. In his address to the graduating class, Jobs says:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path — and that will make all the difference”.

There is so much power in this quote, because it’s delivered by Jobs shortly after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Conscious of his mortality, Jobs’ words are a uniquely intimate retrospective. His quote suggests that it’s impossible to know whether a decision we make today will yield the results we want tomorrow. Therefore, the best way to persist in the face of doubt is by putting your trust in whatever you personally believe in. Doing so will give you confidence to follow your heart in difficult decisions, even when doubt or uncertainty are pulling you in the opposite direction.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Since starting this project, I’ve noticed a direct correlation between success and happiness. Though, the relationship I see is probably different from what most people would expect. There’s the obvious “Success = Financial Prosperity = Happiness”. I cannot confirm if that’s true. But, I have discovered a different dynamic between success and happiness, which is true for me. At this point in my life, I’m happier with my work than I’ve ever been before. I love what I’m doing – it brings me great joy. I’ve realized that in order for me to continue doing what I love, my business needs to be successful. While the meaning of success can change over time, right now, success to me means an opportunity to continue doing what I love.

Casey Klugman’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Emotionally Durable Design, by Jonathan Chapman

2. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight

3. Open: An Autobiography, by Andre Agassi

Health & Fitness:

1. Peloton

2. Pick-up football with friends

3. Pick-up basketball with friends

Brands:

1. Reiss

2. Theory

3. Nike

Products:

1. Nespresso

2. iMac

3. Dyson Air Purifier

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Southern Italy

2. Paris

3. Japan

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