Delicate Dissent

Teacher: “Kyle, tell us what business books you have been reading while starting your business.”

This was a request made to me recently in front of a high school class I visited for the school’s Career Day. I nervously froze; trying to remember the name of the last business book I had received as a gift. A book I had, admittedly, not yet started.

The honest truth is I don’t like reading most books on business and markets. As an entrepreneur, I know I should be seeking information and I always visit the business section at Barnes & Noble. However, I rarely find a new book there in which I want to invest a lot of time and energy. It’s been my experience both as an undergraduate business student and as a business professional that most of business books are not very inspiring or enlightening, and in some cases they’re just plain boring.

What does inspire me are stories of people’s lives, their needs, and their problems. The role of business after all should be to meet unmet needs and solve problems. And that’s particularly true for the type of business we at Genesis Goods are trying to develop. As a result, I prefer reading books that expose me to other people’s perspectives, because they help me think about and view our world and its unsolved problems in new ways.

Recently, I read Trevor Noah’s book, Born A Crime. My in-laws purchased it for me as a Christmas present and I have never read a book so quickly. I won’t give away the best parts of the story, but as the title suggests, the book’s primary theme is Trevor Noah’s experience growing up as a mixed child in South Africa during Apartheid. At that time, it was illegal for people of different ethnic backgrounds to marry and procreate. Simply put, his very existence was a form of rebellion. He grew accustomed to the fact that he represented a subtle yet direct dissidence to the powers-that-be, despite his desire to be a normal kid. Over time, it seems he embraced his symbol of rebellion rooted in love, and learned to navigate the complex world where he was anything but the status quo.

His story resonated with me so much because I am currently finding my own voice and calling in the world, as we start our business. Genesis Goods seeks to conduct business in a way where profit exists but takes a back seat to ethics, responsibility, and consumer value. While this may seem like a “given” to some, sadly, our simple existence is a calm and subtle form of dissidence to the old guard of mainstream business education. As I progress on this journey, I too have had to become comfortable with the fact that what we represent may be different and controversial to others. I have had to be okay with knowing not everyone may agree with our stance all of the time.

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Usually, the best way to conquer a challenge is to face it head on. Thus, this past weekend I walked with my wife in the Women’s March on Washington in Santa Ana, California. Rather than keeping my thoughts and desires for a more just society to myself, I decided to march with those who shared my vision. I stood at the beginning of the march and was incredibly moved seeing the thousands of Orange County residents in the streets. They were from all walks of life and were united in a message of love, compassion and hope for an even better society than we have come to know. It was incredible and I am proud my wife and I risked standing out to speak up and ask for more.

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I have generally tried to steer away from politics but I hope, whatever your political views are, you can respect the common cause of making our society and economy as just and as wonderful as it can be. The only way we can do that is by listening to one another and trying as hard as we can to walk in each other’s shoes.

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Keep reading, keep dreaming and keep striving to find ways and solutions in which we can all help each other be better. Enjoy your week!

 

 

 

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” – Galatians 5:14

 

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” – Ephesians 6:14-15

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Stepping Out Into The Cold

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Hello everyone. I hope you had a wonderful New Year and you are enjoying the first weeks of 2017.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about goal setting for 2017. Then I read through other blogs and information sites and was bombarded by the “Predictions of 2017” and “Best of 2016”. So I discarded it and started over. In the spirit of trying to be different, I decided to start the New Year with a more personal and passionate topic for me.

As 2017 begins, let me share the progress we have made in inching closer to our goal of bringing to market our awesome jeans.

Last week I took my innately introverted self out of its comfort zone and I visited a local denim specialty store in Chicago, The Denim Lounge. I chose to visit on a Tuesday, thinking the owner or manager would most likely be there then. As I slowly made my way to the north side of Chicago, the heavy traffic allowed me to reflect on what I was going to say, if anything, when I arrived.

To both my delight and dismay, I walked in and was the only customer in the store. I introduced myself to a gentleman who turned out to be the owner and we actually had an incredible conversation. I quickly purchased two pairs of jeans, not only because they were unique competitive offerings, but also to predispose the owner to opening up to me. As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary. We had a productive and frank chat. Essentially, I explained what we were working on, described our denim prototypes, and briefly shared our initial marketing ideas. He gave me some great feedback. It was all and more that I was hoping to get out of an initial retailer contact. And I think he might be a great prospect for a future customer relationship.

Some of you might be shaking your heads, wondering why this was such a big deal for me.  You see, it was my first in-person meeting with a potential customer: someone active in our industry and particularly in our target market. I don’t want to overstate the conversation – it was short and sweet. But, it was a huge step forward for me in coming out of my shell and progressing toward being a more well-versed, confident entrepreneur. Moreover, I received valuable feedback and insights on how to make our brand better.

As you move forward in the New Year, I encourage all of you to also take a step out of your comfort zone and make yourself more vulnerable. While scary, the vulnerability can bring about immense growth. I have committed myself to take more of these trips in 2017 and push myself even further. I hope you too will push yourself towards whatever goal(s) you have for this year.

Last but not least, if you live in the Chicago area please visit The Denim Lounge at 2039 W. Roscoe St. It was named the #1 denim retailer in Chicago by Time Out magazine.

Have a great rest of your week. I look forward to speaking with you again soon.

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One thing that I did, recently, was take a little weekend Ski road-trip right after returning here to California. Prior to our arrival, there was a snowstorm of historic proportions (see the first photo for the remnants of the storm) and, although, it made the mountain look and feel a little more intimidating, the scenery was beautiful once the sun came back out. Just another example of the rewards that we can get from starting our year off outside of our comfort zones.

 

 

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” – John 15:16