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Interview with Rebekah Louisa Smith, Founder of The Film Festival Doctor



Interview with Rebekah Louisa Smith, Founder of The Film Festival Doctor

Dr. Rebekah Louisa Smith, is an Award Winning Film Festival Strategist Published Author and Founder of The Film Festival Doctor. Her work surrounds developing targeted film festival strategies for filmmakers in order to get their films seen by audiences around the world. By developing targeted strategies for her clients, who include filmmakers around the world, she has been able to get their films seen by audiences globally. Rebekah and her team have helped their clients win over 1,000 awards and have secured hundreds of festival screenings including the Sundance, Tribeca, Palm Springs, Locarno, Cinequest, Nashville and BFI London Film Festivals.

Where did the idea for The Film Festival Doctor come from?

Becoming The Film Festival Doctor all happened by accident, and it was a beautiful happy accident. I found studying for my PhD to be quite an isolating and solitary process. My dear friend Gaz Bailey who created the awesome Abertoir Horror Festival had just launched this festival and he asked if I would like to come on board and co-produce the festival with his team. I said yes as I figured it would be a pleasant distraction from the PhD and it turned out that happy distraction was in fact a huge wake-up call showing me that what I really wanted to do for my career was not to work within the world of academia but rather the film industry, specifically within the film festival sector.

When I began working for the Abertoir festival I was in my element, and I loved the energy of film festivals and what brilliant and abundant events they were. I began asking filmmakers who were attending Abertoir what they liked and disliked about film festivals. The most frequently reoccurring answers were that they all loved attending film festivals and seeing their films on the big screen, winning awards, networking, drinking and parties. However, what they disliked was that there appeared to be nobody available who they could consult with, to help them get their films seen in festivals and create a festival strategy for them.

After doing my own research, they were right – there were very few festival strategists so I decided to take a huge leap of faith; I knew deep down that I could do a good job as a festival strategist as I knew a lot about the festival circuit and how it worked shortly after I started working for Abertoir and attending other festivals. Shortly after I made this decision, in August 2010 my brand The Film Festival Doctor was born.

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

My days are full on and tend not to calm down until 6pm CST time! I have staff in the UK and USA. Upon waking I’ll have lots of emails, Facebook, what’s app & text messages from my UK team a they’re 6 hours behind. The morning will revolve around responding to them and having meetings with clients whilst they’re still in the office. This will continue for up until 2pm CST, then part 2 of the day begins with USA staff and clients. I do love my morning route as the energy and pace flows really well and I also love waking up to lots of exciting messages as often there are lots of opportunities presented for my business and my clients. I have a great skill of filtering out very quickly what is important, what is not important, what needs to be delegated and what can be deleted.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have a team that share and believe in my vision so I get creative and think of all of the ‘outside the box’ ways to achieve our goals and ultimately create a successful festival strategy for our client’s film that will get it seen on the festival circuit. Each time I create a films festival strategy for my clients, I like to step outside of my comfort zone and take risks, specifically including festivals within the strategy which might be harder to get into but the films strengths could get it selected.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Instagram and Pinterest – I get a ton of ideas and inspiration from these 2 platforms. I love scrolling through Instagram and seeing how other business owners are promoting themselves though video content and posts. I love content creation and finding new ways to present my brand to my industry and ensuring that it is as always unique and stands out in a crowded market. I also love Pinterest as it gives me lots of ideas for my personal branding and how to ensure that I stand out as a business owner when I present myself when I am attending film festivals by wearing the right type of eye-catching outfits, dresses and clothing colors that will elevate myself and my brand.

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

Discipline. I am extremely disciplined. I work every day and stick to my routine in the mornings by completing all emails, setting daily goals and that we are on schedule to meet all of our deadlines. I always follow things through as well as follow up every meeting that I have had with an email and text message to keep building up good relationships.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Delegate, delegate and delegate. When I first started up my company, I did EVERYTHING myself and I refused to delegate as I didn’t think that anyone else could do a better job than myself. I realized after delegating to other people that they could do the job better than me! And as a team we create magic for our clients.

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

FOUR ROOMS is an amazing film which is Quentin Tarantino’s most underrated film. However, it appears that I am on my own with this belief as I’m yet to find anyone else who likes this film!

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

Put together a sales pipeline and check your pipeline every day. A sales pipeline is an organized, visual way of tracking multiple potential buyers as they progress through different stages in the purchasing process. It is a way to keep a record of the amount of business a company expects to receive in the coming weeks, months or years. Typically, it is used when companies have multiple leads to show when these leads become either confirmed sales or lost opportunities. You’ll find that you will more than likely tweak this pipeline with updating the status of a prospective client and their decision, a new lead, a new client and more than likely a new opportunity for your business.

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

Without a doubt manifestation, specifically setting very detailed and focused intents. I used to say manifestations which were very general such as ‘I am a strong business leader’ and ‘I am building a brand.’ When I recited those manifestations to my business consultant Nand Harjani, he said they were lacking in specificity, clarity, and focus and that this was the reason why the outcomes were very general, confusing and not as successful as I wanted them to be. He told me I needed to introduce more detail and change the wording as that would change the energy behind my intentions. After doing this and figuring out exactly what I wanted things started to change and come together which hadn’t done so previously.

My short and sweet “I believe and trust the Universe” manifestation changed to “It is my intent to have no fear and self-doubt within me and to completely trust the direction the Universe is guiding me through for the sake of continuously enchanting and growing my relationships, my business and myself.” And that works all the time!

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

This is something that I discuss in detail in my book; BORN TO DO IT in the chapter ‘HOW AN EPIC FAIL CAN BECOME ONE OF YOUR MOST SUCCESSFUL SERVICES’ As I previously mentioned I never used to be good at delegating. I thought I had found a way to resolve a persistent and frequently occurring problem for my filmmaker clientele. In addition to getting their films seen in festivals filmmakers also wanted to get their films sold to distribution companies (such as Netflix etc.) so they could make money on their film and/or pay back their investors.

Despite having no previous experience with film sales and selling films I decided that I would take on the task of helping them sell their film and become a sales agent. Little did I know how horrific this was going to be. It taught me a lesson that when a job you are doing feels like horrendously hard work and you are not enjoying it to the point where it is becoming a problem to your wellbeing, stop and go back to what you should be doing – what you’re good at.

As I was trying to sell films, I realized I had no idea how to close a sales deal and absolutely no experience within this area of the film business whatsoever. The more time I spent within this world, the more I learnt that it was a very tricky part of the industry to navigate. There were no hard and fast rules; you just needed a lot of experience of negotiation and closing deals to get a decent one. I had no idea what you needed to be careful of or what the process involved from start to finish.

It wasn’t until a few years later at the Berlin Film Festival that I came to realize the value of that epic fail. Although it was stressful, the experience helped me to identify another gap in the market and, simultaneously, solve the problem I was trying to resolve several years earlier outlined above. I met a sales consultant named Billy who helps filmmakers find the right sales agent for their film. He had over 30 years worth of film sales experience behind him, and knew exactly how the sales arena worked – he was in fact the missing piece of my business puzzle! When a client of mine wanted to find a sales agent to sell their film instead of me trying to sell the film for them Billy could find the right type of sales agent for them! He’s been doing this for my clients now since 2016 and always finds them the right type of agent to sell their film.

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

I think there should be a Film Festival App which in my eyes would be an encyclopedic directory of the key film festivals around the world which filmmakers can research to get all of the key statistics of each festival that they’re interested in, including for example how long it has been running for, audience numbers, previous films they’ve screened and the type of films that they look for and how to submit their films.

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

It cost $100.00 for an introductory session with a chiropractor who was recommended to me to help untangle my nervous system and Vegas nerve which had been severely damaged due to PTSD. I was very skeptical about this treatment as I had no idea how a chiropractor was going to do this since I was under the impression that these types of therapists clicked your body back into place. However, when I met the awesome Dr Levi he told me he’d be using a different form of chiropractor methods and wow after 1 session I was impressed – I’ve been going back there frequently ever since and my nervous system is now so much better.

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

The Calm meditation app – I love this app I try to use it as often as possible before I go to bed to meditate productively as it offers brilliant guided meditations – there are all sorts of types of meditations on this app for example rising rituals and even managing anxiety. It helps me be productive in terms of my overall wellbeing and staying grounded.

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

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This was the first book which helped me to learn to never take things personally. The whole book pin points the root cause of so many common self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. I lived my life for many years when I was at High School dwelling on these self-sabotaging issues and when a friend of mine recommended this book to me it provoked several ‘ah-ha’ moments and helped me on the road to recovery.

What is your favorite quote?

A quitter never wins and a winner never quits – this was actually a lyric from a song by Pharrell Williams! As soon as I heard it which was around 4 years ago it has stuck in my mind ever since and this is so spot on. It always pops into my head and I meditate on it.

Key Learnings:

  • Always delegate
  • Create a sales pipeline to successfully operate & grow your business
  • Try something new that you had a limiting belief about
  • Open your mind to the abundant world of manifestation
Stefan Junge

Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.

Originally published on IdeaMensch.


Interview with Jack Carlson, Founder of Rowing Blazers: History, Tradition, and Innovation



Interview with Jack Carlson, Founder of Rowing Blazers

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Jack Carlson is the founder and creative director of Rowing Blazers, a fashion brand that combines classic American style with a contemporary edge. Jack Carlson, a former national team rower, and scholar of history draw inspiration from vintage sportswear and traditional Ivy League fashion. His passion for design and fashion, combined with his unique background. Jack Carlson has resulted in the creation of a brand that stands out in the industry.

Can you tell us about your background and how you became interested in fashion?

I’ve always had a passion for fashion and design, even while pursuing my other interests. I grew up in Connecticut and started rowing at a young age, eventually competing at the national level. While studying history at Harvard, I became interested in the traditional clothing worn by rowers and began to collect vintage rowing blazers. This sparked my interest in fashion and led me to start designing my own clothing. After completing a Ph.D. in archaeology, I decided to pursue fashion full-time and founded Rowing Blazers in 2017.

What inspired you to start Rowing Blazers?

I wanted to create a brand that celebrated the rich history and tradition of American fashion, particularly the preppy style of the Ivy League. At the same time, I wanted to bring a contemporary edge to classic designs and challenge the boundaries of traditional fashion. I was inspired by the vintage rowing blazers that I collected and wanted to create my own versions that were both authentic and modern.

Can you walk us through the design process of creating a new collection?

The design process always starts with research and inspiration. I spend a lot of time looking at vintage clothing, archival photographs, and historical documents to get a sense of the styles and aesthetics of a particular time period or culture. From there, I sketch out ideas and work with my team to refine the designs and select fabrics. We always strive to balance classic elements with modern twists and unexpected details. It’s a collaborative process that involves a lot of trial and error, but we always end up with something that we’re proud of.

How do you stay true to your brand’s identity while also keeping up with current fashion trends?

For us, it’s not about following trends, but rather creating timeless pieces that will never go out of style. Although we draw inspiration from the past, we don’t limit ourselves to it. We’re always looking for ways to innovate and push boundaries while staying true to our brand’s core identity. We’re not interested in fast fashion or disposable clothing – our pieces are meant to last and be treasured for years to come.

Can you tell us about a particular challenge you faced while growing Rowing Blazers and how you overcame it?

One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is scaling the business while maintaining the quality and craftsmanship that we’re known for. We’ve had to find the right partners and suppliers who share our values and are able to produce our garments to our high standards. We’ve also had to be very strategic about our growth, taking things one step at a time and not rushing into anything too quickly. It’s been a learning process, but we’ve been able to grow the business in a sustainable way that we’re proud of.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own fashion brand?

My advice would be to stay true to your vision and never compromise on quality. It’s also important to be strategic about your growth and not try to do everything at once. Start small and focus on doing one thing really well before expanding. And always be willing to learn and adapt – the fashion industry is constantly changing, so it’s important to be flexible and open to new ideas.

What’s next for Rowing Blazers?

We’re always working on new designs and collaborations, but we’re also focused on expanding our brand beyond just clothing. We want to create a lifestyle brand that encompasses all aspects of American style, from furniture to home decor to travel accessories. We’re excited to continue growing and evolving while staying true to our brand’s identity and values.

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Jack Carlson’s passion for fashion and history has resulted in the creation of a unique and innovative brand that stands out in the industry. His dedication to quality and craftsmanship, as well as his commitment to sustainability, sets Rowing Blazers apart from other fashion brands. To stay up to date with Jack Carlson and Rowing Blazers, you can follow him on LinkedIn.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Gracie Cedres

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Interview with Gracie Cedres: Insights on Entrepreneurship and Work-Life Balance



Interview with Gracie Cedres, Founder of G.R.A.C.E.

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Gracie Cedres is the founder and CEO of G.R.A.C.E., a company that provides virtual assistance and project management services to entrepreneurs and small business owners. With a degree in communications, Gracie has always been interested in helping others succeed in their businesses. Her passion for helping entrepreneurs led her to create G.R.A.C.E., which has been helping entrepreneurs and small business owners increase their productivity and profitability. In this interview, Gracie will share more about her journey as an entrepreneur and the success of G.R.A.C.E.

Can you tell us about yourself and your journey as an entrepreneur?

Sure, my name is Gracie Cedres, and I am the founder and CEO of G.R.A.C.E. I have always been interested in helping others, especially entrepreneurs and small business owners, succeed in their businesses. After completing my degree in communications, I worked as a virtual assistant for various entrepreneurs and realized that there was a need for high-quality virtual assistance and project management services. That’s how the idea for G.R.A.C.E. was born, and since then, I have been working hard to help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their goals.

How did you come up with the idea for G.R.A.C.E.?

After working as a virtual assistant for several entrepreneurs, the idea for G.R.A.C.E. came to me. I realized that many entrepreneurs were struggling to manage their time effectively and needed high-quality virtual assistance and project management services to help them become more productive and profitable. I saw an opportunity to help entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing them with top-notch virtual assistance and project management services, and that’s how G.R.A.C.E. was born.

What are some of the challenges you faced in starting and growing your business?

One of the biggest challenges I faced in starting and growing my business was finding the right team members. It’s important to have a team that shares your vision and is passionate about what they do. I also faced challenges in marketing my services and reaching out to potential clients. However, I overcame these challenges by networking, building relationships, and creating high-quality content that showcased the value of my services.

What is your vision for G.R.A.C.E. in the next five years?

My vision for G.R.A.C.E. in the next five years is to become the go-to virtual assistance and project management service provider for entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide. I want to expand my team and services to be able to help more entrepreneurs and small business owners increase their productivity and profitability. I also want to continue building strong relationships with my clients and providing them with top-notch services.

Can you share with us some of your favorite success stories from working with your clients?

One of my favorite success stories is working with a small business owner who was struggling to manage their time effectively. By providing them with virtual assistance and project management services, we were able to help them increase their productivity, improve their marketing strategies, and ultimately grow their business. It’s always fulfilling to see my clients succeed and achieve their goals.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to educate themselves and never stop learning. It’s important to constantly learn new skills, stay up to date with industry trends, and seek out new opportunities. It’s also essential to have a strong work ethic, be persistent, and not be afraid to take risks. Don’t let failure discourage you, instead use it as a learning opportunity and keep pushing forward.

How do you maintain a work-life balance as a busy entrepreneur?

Maintaining a work-life balance can be challenging as a busy entrepreneur, but it’s essential for your well-being and the success of your business. One of the things I do is prioritize my tasks and delegate when necessary. I also set aside time for self-care activities like exercise, reading, and spending time with family and friends. It’s also important to know when to disconnect from work and focus on other aspects of your life.

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Gracie Cedres is an inspiration to entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide. Her dedication to helping others and passion for entrepreneurship has led to the success of G.R.A.C.E. With a vision for continued growth and success, Gracie is sure to make an impact in the virtual assistance and project management industry. To learn more about Gracie Cedres and G.R.A.C.E., visit her website and follow her on LinkedIn.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Evan Cagner

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Interview with Evan Cagner: Insights into the World of Tech and Entrepreneurship



Interview with Evan Cagner, CEO of TechBlue

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Evan Cagner is the founder and CEO of TechBlue, a company that provides managed IT services to businesses of all sizes. Evan has over 15 years of experience in the tech industry and has helped numerous businesses grow by leveraging technology. He is a thought leader and innovator in the IT industry, with a keen eye for emerging trends and technologies. In this interview, Evan Cagner shares his insights into the world of tech and entrepreneurship.

What inspired you to start TechBlue?

I’ve always been passionate about technology and how it can be used to solve business problems. I started my career working for a large IT consulting firm, and I quickly realized that there was a big gap in the market for managed IT services. Small and medium-sized businesses often struggle to keep up with the latest technology trends, and they don’t have the resources to hire full-time IT staff. That’s why I decided to start TechBlue – to help these businesses leverage technology to grow and succeed.

What sets TechBlue apart from other managed IT services companies?

There are a few things that set TechBlue apart from other managed IT services companies. First and foremost, we are incredibly focused on customer service. We believe that building strong relationships with our clients is the key to our success. Second, we have a team of highly skilled technicians who are constantly learning and staying up to date with the latest technologies. Finally, we are very flexible and can customize our services to meet the unique needs of each of our clients.

How do you stay on top of emerging trends in the tech industry?

I’m always reading and staying up to date with the latest news and trends in the tech industry. I attend conferences and meet with other thought leaders in the industry to discuss new technologies and how they can be used to solve business problems. I also encourage my team to stay up to date and share their knowledge with each other.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the IT industry?

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the IT industry. With so many people working remotely, there has been a huge demand for cloud-based services and virtual private networks (VPNs). There has also been an increased focus on cybersecurity, as remote workers are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Overall, the pandemic has accelerated the shift toward digital transformation and has highlighted the importance of having a reliable and secure IT infrastructure.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses?

My advice would be to focus on building a strong team and never stop learning. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and who have different skill sets. Be willing to take risks and make mistakes, but also be willing to learn from those mistakes. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from other entrepreneurs who have been through it before.

What is your vision for the future of TechBlue?

My vision for TechBlue is to continue to grow and expand our services to meet the changing needs of our clients. I want to stay at the forefront of emerging technologies and continue to be a thought leader in the industry. Ultimately, I want to help as many businesses as possible leverage technology to achieve their goals.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and staying active. I’m an avid runner and I also enjoy playing basketball and golf. I’m also a big fan of music and enjoy going to concerts and discovering new artists.

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Evan Cagner is a true leader and innovator in the IT industry. His passion for technology and customer service has helped TechBlue become one of the most respected managed IT services companies in the business. With his keen eye for emerging trends and technologies, Evan is sure to continue to make an impact in the industry for years to come. To learn more about Evan Cagner and TechBlue, you can visit their website or follow them on LinkedIn.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Makayla Gordon

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