Staying On The Gas Pedal

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Being back home was such a blessing. It provided both my wife and I with some much needed family time and relaxation. The hard part was getting on that plane back to California and coming back to the reality that it’s not quite time for the holiday break. That was a harsh wake up that I think a lot of people felt.

When I worked as a real estate broker, I remember some of the more senior brokers sharing with me that not much gets done during the holidays. Usually, the buying and selling activity was at its lowest from the end November to December. I always wondered why those 4 weeks were so quiet compared to the others. Was it because buyers and sellers were on hold so that they could plan and prepare for the next year? Was it because it was the beginning of winter and no one wanted to move in a blizzard? Or, was it because people’s expectations were that nothing was going to get done no matter what they did so there was no point in even trying?

I found it to be, mainly, the latter. The largest deal that I closed was completed the week before Christmas, right in the heart of the holiday deal drought. This was, partially, due to my belief that I could get something done during the slow time but it was also a bit of luck because the sale was, originally, supposed to close before Thanksgiving (that’s a long story).

I found that same old real estate sentiment setting in yesterday. I sat down at my usual spot just outside of the local café where I like to write my blogs and I couldn’t think of anything to write about. It was as if my brain and my mind were frozen. I just kept thinking about how many days were left until our next trip back home for our big Holiday Break and even more family and relaxation time. Luckily, after about an hour the caffeine began to kick in and my mind was quickly jolted back to my task list and I began working on other things again but I still couldn’t think of anything to write about. So, I decided to cut my losses and clear my head of all of the other distractions so that I could write clearly today.

The 4 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas only represent 7.7% of the 52 weeks of the year but they are key ones. Logistically, those 4 weeks help us plan and prepare for the upcoming calendar and (many times) fiscal year. Mentally, those 4 weeks help us increase our mental endurance as if we were in a marathon and we only had a mile or two left. Help yourselves and help your organizations by staying strong and productive during these “slow” times so that we can make the most of 2017. In the process, however, feel the joy and spirit of the holidays. Load up on the free holiday cookies and candies that vendors may bring by your office, go to a holiday party or two and be “merry” in everything that you do. Just remember that we still owe it to ourselves and to those around us to use this time as much as we can.

At Genesis, we have a really great project coming and we will provide you all with more information within the coming weeks. It is going to be really great because it involves all of you all. Please stay tuned for upcoming news and information on that. Also, if you would, please share in the comments your personal tips and tricks for overcoming the holiday productivity slump. Let our followers know so that we can gain from those and I hope that you all have a great week.

1st-iteration-jeans-pic-11-23-2016

This is a picture of our most recent iteration of our jeans. There are still many changes that we would like to make but they are a great start.

 

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

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Thanks and Forgiveness From A 16 Year-Old

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! I hope you all get a chance to take some time off this week and enjoy time with your friends and families. I also hope you have the opportunity to reflect on and give thanks for everything you have achieved so far this year. This past week has been a great reminder of how thankful we are as a growing company, and all that we have been able to achieve over the past few months and weeks.

This past Thursday I received the 2nd iteration of our prototype for Genesis Good jeans.  It was very exciting to see our vision finally coming to fruition. You read correctly; this is our 2nd iteration; I haven’t spoken of our 1st iteration because it was so bad we didn’t want anyone to see them. Yes, they were that bad. Nonetheless, seeing the growth and the maturity in the product development over the past few months has been great. We are days away from having our final 1 or 2 fabric options so we can continue forward toward our goal of full production next year.

This growth and maturity really hit me yesterday after I spoke at the High School Career Day program I wrote about last week. I shared with the students my entire career and education journey, as well as the journey of my Dad and Grandfather. At the end, I told them about what Genesis was doing and I showed them the original jeans we made. I received several “ewws” in the crowd. I expected those “ewws” since I didn’t like them either. Then, I told them that the jeans I was wearing were our newest creation.  One student remarked he was going to ask what they were because he really liked the way they looked.

That was a proud moment and something I will always cherish in our brand’s story. We are two guys who started a company devoted to making a difference, so being able to share a bit of our story to young people in hopes they become inspired enough to also hoist their sails and set out towards their dreams is amazing. That is the core of what we want to do and it was gratifying to feel like we are already making a difference even though we haven’t sold anything yet.

I wanted to share one story in particular from the classroom visit that opened my eyes and I hope you all will appreciate as well. After I gave my brief story, I asked the entire class to stand up one by one and tell me what each of them wanted to do with their careers and where they want to go to college. One young man stood up and said that he wanted to be a Chicago Police Officer. Once he told me this there were many jeers and jokes from the class (Chicago Police Department has had its fair share of scandals over the past year or so). I asked him, as I asked all of the students, to tell me why he wanted to be a Police Officer. He said it was because, two years ago, his brother was murdered and the police haven’t found the killer yet, so he wants to become a detective who can help solve some of these unsolved murders in the City.

I was floored. In a time when our country is so divided and everyone seems set on picking “sides” and digging in their heels, here was a young man who wanted to join the police force. His motivation wasn’t only to help solve his brother’s murder, but also to be an advocate for families like his who know how painful it is for a murder to go unsolved. This is a young man who, to most people, should despise the police for not finding the killer. But his mindset was he wanted to be a part of the solution and long-term change within the Department. I admire his ability to look past his pain because that takes so much courage, forgiveness and strength. I think no matter how old we are, we can all learn from this young man’s experience and his resolve.

As we all sit down to eat together this Thursday, I hope you not only get your fill of turkey and stuffing but you also get a chance to truly fellowship and be thankful for those around you and all that we are able to experience together. Yes, we all may bicker and argue at times but we can all benefit from giving out more forgiveness and love, rather than taking in anger and resentment. Have a wonderful holiday and check back in with us next week.

 

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“Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” – Proverbs 17:9

 

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” – Proverbs 10:12

 

 

Finding The Right Words

This last week has been packed with action and, as a result, it was challenging for me to stay focused on my current tasks. I won’t get into the politics or my personal opinion on the election because it seems like Facebook and other blogs have been flooded with everyone’s opinion, but it was definitely a historical day in our country. The polls and experts were completely caught off guard with a sweep in the House of Representatives, the Senate, as well as in the President’s office. This change in control has made me reflect on what the near future holds for several groups of people in our society: but none more than our youth.

Next Monday, I am returning to Chicago for a special event that is near and dear to my heart. No, it is not Thanksgiving dinner, although, that will be a great time. Rather, it is a Career Day mentoring event at the neighborhood high school where I grew up.

Despite my ability and desire to communicate our business stories and lessons on this blog, speaking in person raises the stakes to a completely new level. What combination of main points will further convince these young men and women that they can and should strive to pursue their dreams after they graduate from high school? Is my story “good” enough?  Since I didn’t go to this school despite being raised nearby, will they see me as an outsider or, even worse, a deserter?

Luckily, this isn’t my first time working with young people who may see me as an outsider. When I was in my freshman and sophomore years at Pepperdine, I spent two hours Monday evening tutoring and mentoring at Camp Kilpatrick. Camp Kilpatrick is no summer camp rather it is a Los Angeles County Juvenile Detention Center. I loved working with the students there most of the time. I say “most of the time,” not because the work wasn’t gratifying, but because some of my students there couldn’t care less about my desire to work with them.  Several just wanted to get out and continue to do the things that landed them at the Camp in the first place. Those students were frustrating to work with but, luckily, they were the minority. The majority wanted to change their lives and their decision-making so that they could better themselves and their families.

I will follow the same guidelines on Monday that I did back then. I will tell the only story that I can: my own. I will never be able to relate fully to every single student’s interests and view on life, but perhaps I can provide them with a little window into mine so that they can draw some sort of guidance from my experiences and apply that to their own lives.  Even if I only inspire one student to plot a course for his/her own success and happiness, then, in my mind I have won. I will have made one student dedicated to pursuing what they want in life and that is a beautiful thing.

I, of course, worry about the potential for deafening silence coupled with awkward pauses after posing questions, but those things will come no matter what.  It is high school, after all.  All I can do is focus on sharing my story and my journey in hopes that they can relate to it in some way, shape or form. The right words and presentation will come and, hopefully, growth and inspiration will follow. Are you e gifted public speaker? If so, let me as well as our readers know your ticks of the trade? Stay tuned and stay strong.

 

portillos-buena-park

Luckily, I couldn’t find any pictures of me teaching or tutoring. I did, however, find this picture of the Portillo’s Hot Dogs located in Buena Park, CA. This restaurant is a Chicago icon and, luckily, they have one located right here in Orange County. We go there when we need a little taste of home. It will be good to be back for a bit.

 

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

22 Hours in New York

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Last week was quite a whirlwind. I began my day on Monday writing my last post here in Orange County, and by Tuesday morning I was heading to LAX. My flight left Los Angeles around 1pm and landed in New York around 9:30pm EST. Needless to say, I was a little exhausted but the time change threw my sleep schedule off so I only slept about three hours.

Nonetheless, the apparel conference was great. The show, it turns out, was centered on denim fabric suppliers so it was great to be able to touch, feel and talk about many different fabrics from various vendors all in one place. It would have taken weeks for me to contact and receive samples of all of the different fabrics that I was able to touch and feel in one day, so it was incredibly helpful. Then, later on in the day I attended a very insightful discussion on new consumer trends in the denim industry and where those trends may be headed. Overall, it was an incredibly insightful, helpful and successful trip that allowed me to get a lot done and gain a lot of momentum towards our product development.

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Seeing as how I like to focus on the bigger picture, however, my biggest lesson and takeaway from the trip wasn’t a perfect square of new fabric or a new contact, but rather, it was a lesson in priorities. Several people have reacted with somewhat shock that I went from coast to coast in less than 36 hours. Some, perhaps, thought I was crazy but it was all done with a strong purpose and goal in mind.

What was that goal? It was to be back in time so that my wife and I could celebrate our 4th Wedding Anniversary together last Thursday. Sure, I could have stayed an extra night and come back on Thursday morning or afternoon bur I purposely wanted to have the entire day to rest and reflect on the last four years and how pivotal they have been. If it wasn’t for my marriage and our support for one another, I probably wouldn’t be starting this business while spending time here in California as my wife pursues her Art degree. So, my wife is the reason that I am able to do what I am right now and it was more important to me that I celebrate that with her than get some extra rest in New York.

Overall, my 36 hours consisted of two hours up and down the 405 Freeway, 12 hours on two planes and 22 hours in the state of New York. The flights were long, the airports were crowded, the subway was claustrophobic, and the jet lag was agonizing, but I would do it all over again — in an instant. I made a promise to myself before starting this business that I would never let my career take over my life and dictate how much or how little time I could dedicate to myself and my family. Prioritizing those important family events and responsibilities, like my anniversary, is the key to maintaining that balance in my life.

I can live without the title of CEO, I could live without the apparel industry, and I could even live without my blog, but I could not live without my marriage and my family, so those things must be put at the top of my priority list without hesitation. What are some of things that you can’t live without? Please let me know below in the comments and have a great week. Remember to prioritize everything and schedule your time with balance, purpose and values in mind.

new-york-south-facing-view

The show was located at Pier 36 right off of the East River. This is the view from right outside the show. I chose to eat my lunch outside and just watch the boats go by while soaking up the Sun and the unusually warm Fall weather (high of 71).

 

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Luke 12:34

“For if someone does not know how to manage his [or her] own household, how will he [or she] care for God’s church?” – 1st Timothy 3:5

 

Putting On My Costume

Happy Day after Halloween everyone! I hope that you all had a fun holiday. I learned this weekend that trick-or-treating and dressing up in costumes are not just for kids anymore. What is it about dressing up and pretending to be someone or something else that is so appealing to people of all ages?  Is it because it is liberating, funny or do some just do it out of peer pressure?

Many of you may know that immediately prior to my entrepreneurial journey I worked as an Industrial Real Estate Broker. More simply, I helped people purchase, sell and/or lease industrial properties in and around Chicago. I loved getting to know the leasing rates for specific industrial neighborhoods and learning about recent sales in hopes that I could impress a prospective seller with my knowledge enough that they would let me list their property for either sale or lease. I quickly learned that I was great with the neighborhood researching part, but not so great at the salesperson part of the job.  In addition to being a little timid and shy, I would cold call property owners in my areas and was pretty quick to hang up if they didn’t want to talk to me. I figured, “hey, bothering them when they are in the middle of something will probably make them not want to deal with me at all.” The good salesmen in our office knew how to perfectly straddle that line between annoying and persistent.

After a while, I became tolerant of wearing my real estate broker’s salesman costume, but I never felt comfortable in it.  Eventually, my senior broker saw my strengths and weaknesses, and allowed me to do more and more of the researching for both of us so that she could do what she did best: get listings (she is incredible at connecting with people instantly). The position provided great experience for me because it forced me to do what was, initially, uncomfortable and learn how to make something that was a weakness stronger.

I find myself back in that position this Halloween week, as I arrived today for my second apparel industry conference in New York. This conference is solely focused on the denim sub industry. We, obviously, won’t be displaying a booth to sell our products but knowing that I am going to have to spend a day talking to people and giving our elevator pitch over and over again stresses me out a bit.  What if I freeze up and don’t explain myself well enough?  What if they don’t understand my concept and think we are just another start-up bound for failure?  What if they just don’t care?  This conference is, in fact, taking place in a city where people are not afraid to speak their minds.

Tomorrow I will be wearing a costume of my own and heading to a place where there may be hundreds of other industry folks like me. My costume won’t be one made up of capes or masks; mine will be an armor of hope and vision set upon years of business experience, knowledge and confidence. I both love and hate the “fake it ‘til you make it” expression but it can definitely be appropriate for certain situations, especially for a salesman that needs some work, such as myself.  I believe that, for folks like me, it can help sometimes to infuse a little bit of artificial confidence and (dare I say) swagger in order to make the most of a sales or marketing experience.

The difference is I am not faking my hope for Genesis Goods’ ability to help those in need or the desire for our products to be responsibly sourced. Those are concrete foundations to who we are and what we want our business to be about, above and beyond making a great product. All I will be faking is my small talk and industry jargon. As I depart, I will keep all of you in mind who already are buying into our brand and our story to help motivate me to thrive in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable environment. I hope that you all have a great week and please let us know in the comments what your costume in life is? Who do you have to pretend to be, from time to time, in order to achieve what it is that you ultimately want in your career and in life?

 

hebru-mural

This is a mural by one of my favorite Chicago artists, Herbru Brantley. Obviously, my wife is my favorite artist. I hope to exude this character’s ability fly high in his costume tomorrow. Wish me luck.

 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand…” – Ephesians 6:11