Chicago Break Out Artist Aina Brei’Yon Speaks on New Music and Using Her Platform to Raise Awareness

Known for her excuse-free, self-rewarding work ethic, the founder, and CEO of 3K9 Productions is mastering the art of maintaining a successful career as an independent artist. As a native of the Southside (Roseland area) of Chicago, Aina Brei’Yon personifies strength. Since her conception, she has made it very clear that boundaries do not apply to her. Early on in her career, she understood the importance of being true to who she is and embracing idealism. Her reality is defined by her beliefs; a message that transcends through her music. As the second to youngest of 10 children, self-expression and showing any type of emotion was simply non-existent in their family. She says, “I found an outlet with music at the young age of nine.Writing was the only way I knew how to express myself.”

Listen to our full interview with Aina Brei’Yon below

 

5 Business Lessons We Can Learn From Sistahs In Business Expo Founder Aisha Taylor Issah

Sistahs in Business Expo, is the country’s only multi-city small business expo, that was created to celebrate the accomplishments of entrepreneurial women of color, the nations fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs. We spoke to the founder of the expo, Aisha Taylor Issah to find out her 5 business lessons that we can learn from her expo, and in general.

Finance- Financial management is key to the success of your business.  If you can’t manage your personal finances, then you won’t do well at managing your business finances.  Your personal spending habits and credit history will have a significant impact on your ability to secure funding and credit for your business.  

Leadership- An effective leader must have passion for the people they’ve been called or appointed to lead.  Skills and experience are important, but they aren’t everything.  If you don’t care about the success and welfare of the people you lead, then something will always manifest itself that threatens your commitment and humility.  Never commit to leading something that you don’t genuinely care about.  People don’t just want to know that you can lead, they want to see that you care.

Team Work- None of us were created to function in isolation. We inherently need one another.  This is true for both personal and professional endeavors.  A great team makes work easier, more enjoyable, and definitely more effective.  Having toxic or unproductive team members can be detrimental to the ultimate goal.  It’s always best to cultivate a team that is diverse in skillset.  You want people on your team who are strong in the areas where you are weak.  

Having Faith- My faith is the foundation for who I am and everything I do.  There is no question that God has been at the forefront and behind the scenes throughout this entire SIBEXPO journey.  There are times when I’ve wanted to quit or felt like things weren’t going to work out.  But God ALWAYS worked things out and gave me enough hope to keep moving forward.  Faith is critical when you are taking on a task that is greater than you are. There will undoubtedly be disappointment, rejection, delays, and problems that make entrepreneurship challenging.  

Staying True To Your Dreams- There will be many people and experiences that make your dreams seem unattainable.  I’ve encountered all types of obstacles while building SIBEXPO.  There have also been many people who tried to alter my dream to fit the mold of what they found acceptable or attainable.  But I knew what God told me to do.  When God gives you a dream or a vision, you can’t allow anything or anyone to deter you.  God will provide everything you need and put you on the right path.  I’m a living witness!  

Meet Entrepreneur Steven Swing, Owner of Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro

The life of an entrepreneur is full of challenges, that many people don’t understand. It takes a strong willed individual to start a sometimes intangible project, and see it through to the end. Here at VEU Magazine, we appreciate those who set out on this journey to make the world a better place. Checkout out our latest interview with entrepreneur Steven Swing, who is the owner of the Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro located in Atlanta, Ga.  Interviewed by Alex Jordan

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW

Meet The 27-Year-Old Nigerian Who Created The Worlds First Gaming Robot

Creating and running a business is no easy task. It can be especially challenging as a young millennial fresh from college, with little to no experience as a leader in your field. That is exactly what this young Nigerian entrepreneur, Silas Adekunle, is doing. He created his company Reach Robotics,  to solve a problem he saw within the classroom setting and the way children were learning. Read more of his story below.

VEU: How did you get started in the engineering field? Was it something you always wanted to do?

Growing up in Nigeria, I was fortunate that both of my parents worked in STEM fields. My father was a biochemistry teacher (and then head teacher) while my mother was a medical nurse, meaning I had ample opportunity to interact with technology and gain scientific knowledge. I’d spend hours dissecting gadgets and developing devices that I later realised were rudimentary robots. I also loved biology and wanted to become an Engineer or Zoologist. We moved over to the UK when I was 11 and there was a little bit of a culture shock in terms of access to technology. I’d never used a computer before so I had to pick things up very quickly in order to feed my curiosity. I also joined an after-school robotics club.

Given my early interests, robotics was a natural next step for my degree. At UWE, in Bristol, I learned to code and it was there that I had the first spark of an idea that would lead to MekaMon.

VEU: Tell us about starting Reach Robotics. What were some of the challenges you faced as a young entrepreneur in technology field?

One of my biggest challenges was self-doubt, given my background and inexperience as I was still a student. But what I lacked in experience, I made up for with youthful energy and the willingness to learn fast

I was also lucky to be in Bristol which has a great technology scene. Bristol Robotics Lab was incredibly supportive and Reach really got its start there – it was a fantastic place to be building a start-up. For every person sceptical that I could do it, there were two who were excited by my idea and enthusiasm.

The key has been to surround myself with people who can bring the experience and connections that filled in any gaps and ensured that we could make Reach and MekaMon a success.

VEU: What was the inspiration behind creating the MekaMon robot. What was the process like?

As a student, I taught in local schools and after noticing a disengagement with the materials of my students’ curriculum, I bought some robotics kits into the classroom. I combined that tech with some gaming principles and the reaction of the kids was just incredible. So, I took it one step further and created a ‘Reaching Robotics’ program designed around the framework of robotics and gaming in education.

I kept building on these ideas through University. I could see vividly how robotics could fuel the imagination of school kids and give a way into STEM to those students that might not have considered that path. I even pitched to The Prince’s Trust – an organisation in the UK that supports young entrepreneurs. But by the time I got to the penultimate year of my studies, I realised that this idea had potential beyond the classrooms. I’d be pairing robotics with gaming as part of my teaching – but what if I could do the same in a new breed of consumer technology?

With a bigger scale in mind, I created the very first prototype – a robot I called ‘Mecha Monsters’. It was built with knowledge garnered from the classroom – that people want and expect more from consumer robotics.

VEU: What is it like running a team of your own at such a young age? What are some things you had to get used to?

I went straight from university to running Reach – the only experience I had of working in an office environment was during my placement years at GE and Infineon. It’s why it was so important to build a team around me who were familiar with the ecosystem of a business. Additionally, from a very early age I’d learnt some important lessons from my father about creating a working environment that place people first and allowed them to do their best work.

So a brilliant office and people manager was pretty high up on the hiring list.

I’m also having to learn how to delegate. From three of us doing everything we now have whole departments running finance, talent acquisition, marketing and R&D… Very different from the early days when we were 3D printing parts in our COO’s garage!

VEU: You also have a distribution deal with Apple. How did that come about?

We were listed on Apple just under a year ago which was a huge step forward for us. Naturally, it’s a real stamp of approval in the eye of potential users to be available with them – and it means people can demo MekaMon. There’s been some great videos of MekaMon stomping about the Regent Street Apple store.

VEU: What was the feeling like for you when your business reached international success. Do you feel like you have arrived yet?

My work is certainly a lot more international – I spend much of my time travelling now!

It’s still quite strange to see people around the world talking about MekaMon – or find myself listed in 30 under 30’s features. V1 launching last year was huge though – seeing the idea I first sketched out years ago become commercially available was quite a moment.

I think with tech, that feeling of having ‘arrived’ comes a bit incrementally. Because we’re dealing with advancements every day – I’ll get back to the office after a trip to find we’ve solved a problem or one of the team has developed an incredible new feature.

I definitely have a lot more of the journey ahead. Watch this space!

VEU: What upcoming projects do you have in the works for your business?

We’re constantly working to improve MekaMon and to this end we’ve just announced the launch of MekaMon V2. It’s going be available from the 16th October so it’s all hands on deck at the moment but we’re really excited for people to see the advancements we’ve made.

VEU: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

The people you associate with will make or break your dream, find people that understand your vision. Quite early on I met Chris Beck and John Rees who would become CTO and COO of the newly founded Reach Robotics. A little further down the line, Dr Jonathan Quinn joined to build up the game team and the company has grown from there. Their experience was crucial to building the business – Reach Robotics simply wouldn’t exist without them. Always put people first.

Learn more at https://mekamon.com

This Artist and Content Creator is Using His Platform to Dispel the Stigmas of The LGBT Community

 Rahim Brazil has been creating music sine his middle school days. Starting of off as just a music artist, he has now added the title of content creator, director, and producer to his name, with his new web series Twisted. We spoke to the Atlanta, Ga resident to learn more about his brand, new talk show and more.
We originally know you for being a music artist. When did you get into music, and what are some of your musical inspirations.
 My interest in music begin when I was in middle school. After begging my father to buy a keyboard, I began to write, rap and compose songs. One thing led to another and I begin singing when I joined the school choir. Some of my musical influences are Missy Elliott, Eminem, Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Michael Jackson. 
How was the transition from becoming an artist, to producer, as you started your own web series? The transition was challenging but also rewarding. 
As I transitioned from being an actor to a director, I had minimal experience, and no guidance. The rewarding part was in learning and training myself to work with the unfamiliar elements of being on a production set, working a camera, and leading a set. I am however, still learning because I believe that creatives have to continually grow. 
 Your web series Twisted shines light on the LGBT community. Give us more details on the storyline of the show. 
Twisted follows the life of a group of individuals who deals with the stigmas surrounding the LGBTQ community. The story follows a trans-female who tries to help a group of guys who deals with these different issues all while getting Twisted within each of their stories. It is more so about the connection of the Community, the connection of heterosexual community and the embodiment of the human race. 
How are you using your platform to dispel the myths people might have about the LGBT community? 
We are continually finding new ways to bring awareness and education to this particular community. When we started Twisted we started with a focus of whom we wanted to reach. We accomplish this by using our visuals to tell our stories as well as others. 
How did you go about casting for the web series, and are you looking for any new talent?
We are always looking for new/fresh talent. We believe in the power of opportunity. We first held one-one auditions, where we were able to meet and greet the cast. We also held an online video auditions for individuals who were not able to make it but wanted a shot at Twisted. 
Tell us about your new radio show The Rahim Brazil Show
The Rahim Brazil Show is a show that caters to all individuals in the matter of business, arts, and entertainment. It is a conversational platform that highlights social issues, life situations and and personal achievements. We are able to capture this by allowing individuals a platform to connect to our listeners to which they can provide an informative description of what ever they have to offer. 
 What can we expect next from Rahim Brazil Productions? 
Rahim Brazil Is more than a person, but a brand representing various forms of entertainment and artistry. I will be releasing a new season of Twisted, a new Album, a new short film by Belinda Rogers “Divided We Fall” directed by myself, as well as introducing a new Music Series in 2019. The bar is set really high and people can expect us to take our independent Platform and make it mainstream. 
What advice do you have for other upcoming content creators, and creatives? 
Persistence, hard work, drive and dedication are all important elements of achieving our goals and dreams. I would tell upcoming creators to put aside all fear, doubt, and rejection and works towards whatever they wish to achieve. They do this by being passionate about their own art; even if they feel like no one is watching, continue to create because someone will see it. 
Follow him online at @rahimbrazil
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpxb0iu4dt0sXQNLLlDT-yg

Why Married To Medicine Star and Entrepreneur Genise Shelton Is Dedicated To Living a Healthy Life: Her Story

Written by Genise Shelton

I’d like to begin by telling you a story. About eighteen years ago, an African American woman in Chicago was living the somewhat typical life of an American married woman.  Some would say that she was living the American dream.  She and her husband owned their own home.  His income was sufficient to take care of the family so she didn’t have to work outside of the home.

She was a homemaker and she was good at it. Taking care of her husband and children was her full-time job and she put everything she had into it.  Her oldest daughter was away at college.  The four youngest were at home, including a one-year old.  The woman’s days were long and filled with all the duties that are required of a wife and mother…dozens of loads of laundry each week, changing diapers, running errands, caring for her husband, cooking meals, cleaning, checking homework etc. In addition to these duties, the woman had to look after her mother. Although her mother lived in her own home, she required some help due to an illness. But overall, life was pretty good for the woman, until 2003.  That’s when everything began to change.

In February, the woman’s brother died of a stroke.  In August, her mother passed away and in September her husband left her for another woman all in the same year.  After her mother’s death, the woman moved herself and her children into her mom’s home, while her husband and mistress took over the family home.

In addition to fulfilling all the duties required of her, she had to find a way to put food on the table now.  She had to go to work. This was especially difficult since she possessed very few marketable skills and little-to-no job training.  Eventually, she found work at UPS during the night shift.  She had no choice but to leave her baby at home with her other children because she simply couldn’t afford daycare.

The job only paid $9 an hour and obviously wasn’t enough to take care of her four children.  The financial pressure was too much for her to bear, so her oldest daughter began to send money home to help with bills and food.  Her daughter also drove her car to Chicago and left it with her mother to make it easier for her to get to work. During this transition, the mother was under a great deal of stress and worry…not just because she was working a low paying job and caring for the kids.  She also had to begin caring for her aunt, who was childless and had developed a serious illness.

And just as it is with many mothers, this woman was so consumed with taking care of her family that she failed to take care of her own needs. After all, that’s what most mothers do…. especially African American woman.  She was in survival mode and didn’t have the energy or the wherewithal to do anything other than to make sure that she took care of her responsibility to others. Unfortunately, the woman’s choice to neglect her health had far reaching consequences that she never expected.

One day in 2006, while talking to her oldest daughter on the telephone, her speech began to slur and she became confused.  The daughter became alarmed and insisted that her mother call 911. By the time the mother was taken to the emergency room, she had suffered a major stroke and a huge pulmonary embolism.  Her condition was so dire, she spent several months in the hospital.  The effects of the stroke left her partially paralyzed, very weak on the right side and unable to walk.  At the age of just 48 years old, this woman no longer was a caregiver. Instead, she became the one who had to be cared for. This story is very tragic, but it is more than that to me. It is personal.  You see, the woman that had the stroke is my mother and I was the daughter who was away at college.

These devastating life altering events led to my passion of health and fitness.  I began to educate myself and found that my own risk factors for obesity, high blood pressure and stroke are very high.  As I thought about my family members; my mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins…all are obese!

I had seen what high blood pressure could do to a person.  After all, my mother had never been treated for it because she refused to go to the doctor. And since she didn’t go to the doctor, her condition went undetected. High blood pressure caused my mother’s stroke.

I also saw what havoc obesity could wreck on an individual.  My youngest brother was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure at the age of 12.  My mother refused to curb his overeating habits due to her misguided guilt over the dissolution of her marriage and her now disability.  She didn’t understand that she was not helping my brother by refusing to insist upon a healthy lifestyle.

I was determined to change this generational curse of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and strokes that haunted my family. I began to read everything I could about living a healthy lifestyle.  I began to eliminate various foods from my family’s diet and incorporate those foods that promoted health. We hired a personal trainer and he began pushing us to meet our goals of fitness.  Most weeks, I worked out 3 to 4 times a week.  However, my goals quickly changed when I saw my trainer’s girlfriend, who was a figure fitness competitor. When I saw her, I made a promise to myself that I was going to look just like her one day.

From that point, I began to train to be a competitor.  Working out went from 3 or 4 times a week to 6 to 7 days a week.  Instead of working out for an hour, my workouts were at least 2 hrs. Since I was small, my regimen was primarily weight lifting, hit cardio, and a strict diet. I placed second in my first all natural fitness competition.  I won 1stplace and overall in my 2ndfitness competition, which promoted me to professional status where I received my pro card as a Pro Bikini Fitness Competitor!

So when I walk that stage competing, winning a trophy isn’t the most important thing for me…what’s most important, is the commitment, discipline and determination that my kids see in me to live a healthier lifestyle in return a long fulfilling life. My prayer is that through competing I can break my generational curse for the future of my children’s children and their children.

For those who do not know my story, I have a blended family. My husband’s former wife died from a rare cancer and left behind three small children. I told my husband that I was dedicated to making sure that we were healthy so that, if possible, our children didn’t have to suffer through losing another parent to illness. I hope that my story inspires you to become a better and healthier you!

Genise N. Shelton

Music Group Half Mile Home Brings Awareness To Skin Disorder Vitiligo with New Campaign

 On an inspiring roll in the wake of three consecutive Top 15 Billboard Hot Gospel Songs. The Akron, OH based R&B/Hip Hop Group Half Mile Home blends funk, soul and “woke ness” on their dynamic upcoming single “I Won’t Judge” – a portion of whose proceeds will be earmarked for the Vitiligo Research Foundation (www.vrfoundation.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to finding and instigating research for the chronic skin condition across the world. We spoke to the group, and member Deaken in particular, who has Vitiligo, to get more insight on the disorder and the campaign as a whole.

VEU– For those who aren’t familiar with it, tell us what Vitiligo is—

DEAKEN– Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder, which causes loss of skin color in blotches. 

 VEU– Were you born with it, or did it happen over time?

DEAKEN– I was not born with Vitiligo. I began to notice it around 8 yrs old after a severe case of chicken pox.

 VEU– Many people like to cover up their flaws as if they don’t exist. How did you gain the confidence to openly talk about your skin disorder and spread Awareness for others?

DEAKEN– Unfortunately many people do try and cover up their “flaws” while many others embrace their uniqueness. Myself I’ve always just enjoyed life, stood tall, and let my character define me as opposed to someone’s perception or based on what they may see physically. 

 VEU– Tell us about the Half Mile Home Campaign/ collaboration bringing awareness to the disorder

DEAKEN– We decided as a unit to write a song about vitiligo, it sparked our minds when a young lady stopped & starred at us when we we’re in the mall one day shopping for an event. At that moment we knew that we had to take the opportunity and a make this a movement.  

 VEU– The group also released a new song entitled “I Won’t Judge” . Talk to us about that and inspiration behind it.

DEAKEN– I really love the single mainly because I’ve been given the opportunity to enlighten and send a message while being the voice for millions and millions of people in the Vitiligo community. “I Won’t Judge” is direct and to the point and of course it’s personal. 

VEU– What is the most important thing you want people to know about living with Vitiligo? 

DEAKEN– The most important thing I want people to know is that living with Vitiligo is a journey with many bumps, curves, roadblocks, and maybe even a few stops, but NEVER a dead end. Never let it define you. Life is great! You can drive this thing or just enjoy the ride.

VEU– What advice do you have for other people who are dealing with Vitiligo, but still  trying to become comfortable in their own skin? My advice for those dealing with Vitiligo is simple, embrace your uniqueness and love the skin you’re in.

DEAKEN– My advice for those dealing with Vitiligo is simple, embrace your uniqueness and love the skin you’re in.

 VEU– As an inspirational group, what message do you all want to get across about self love, and  awareness?

DEAKEN– It’s very important for all humans to understand that we all are who God made us, your skin color, size or nationality doesn’t determine your self worth. Each person have to love there self for you are who GOD made you. We all are BEAUTIFUL in a unique way. So know matter what enjoy the skin your in daily. God Bless us all

#iwontjudge #halfmilehome

King of Pops Co-Founder Steven Carse Covers the September 2018 Issue of VEU Magazine

We are pleased to have Steven Carse, the co-founder of King of Pops, the popsicle brand taking the world by storm, cover the Special Edition September 2018 of VEU Magazine. When Steven Carse, the co- founder of King of Pops, launched his own popsicle business, he didn’t have much. A couple of grand, a used ice cream push cart and boatloads of determination were the key ingredients to his company’s success. As for him, personally, his story started in Georgia, where he grew up and attended the University of Georgia, obtaining his bachelor’s in Journalism. Out of college, he jump started his career as a sports writer at Idaho Falls, Idaho. But within a short period of time, he moved back to Atlanta and tried his hand at insurance, where he learned some of his most valuable lessons about business, lessons he still believes in today. As luck would have it, the financial recession left Carse jobless—he was laid off from the company in 2009. But as they say, when that door closed, another one was ready and open. He decided to start King of Pops, and he hasn’t looked back since.

In this issue we also feature a list of 13 entrepreneurs and creatives you need to know. This list was curated by our assistant editor Tianna Maxon Little. “The 13 entrepreneurs and creatives on this list all are truly dedicated to their crafts and deserve to be admired for it,” she stated.

Click here to read the full issue online now

Veteran Files: PTSD and Entrepreneurship

Written by Antwan Hamilton

PTSD( post traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

Im going to give you a first hand account on my personal experiences and journey of being an entrepreneur with ptsd.

I’m a United States Navy veteran and spent eight years on active duty during the height of our last war in Iraq and Afghanistan. After my final enlistment I decided to go back to college to pursue my art career. During my sophomore year I started an art company entitled“Artificer. The company was an art design consulting company for private and commercial entities. I would eventually gain management and interns as well as a global list of clients within the first year the company was established in 2010.

During that initial year as I was trying to grow the business I was dealing with PTSD. I never told anyone. I tried my best to keep it under control and remain efficient in my studies. After returning home from deployment,“I never came off watch .”I would constantly remain on high alert scanning my surroundings and living like I was still overseas.

I would eventually stop attending my own art shows and other events the company was associated with. I would just hire someone to represent myself for the evening. I didn’t want to be around anyone. The only thing I wanted to do was grow the company, graduate, and cope with my problem however I saw fit to do so.

This next event that happened to me was not only almost fatal it was the final blow for me to realize that I needed help outside of my self.

It was January 2011 and I became involved in a shooting incident during my last semester before graduating. As a result, I had been shot twice. Thankfully the wounds were non-life threatening and I was released from the hospital the following morning. I was beyond thrilled that I was still alive, but personally knew my problem was just beginning.

A few months later after my incident, I was struggling just to keep my sanity and graduate. I had lost a majority of my interns and the company’s sells were declining fast. The prior three years I had poured all of my energy, time, and finances into this company only to see it dwindle away in less than six months. The only thing I had left was an over abundance of was final exams, bills and a ton of questions to answer from clients, friends, and family.

We know that entrepreneurs take risk, and for some of us battling PTSD that risk is doubled. Your’e not only responsible for yourself but for employees, as well as clients. You cannot deliver on your product or service and tell your client your’e battling ptsd.

I would love to end this article telling you how I ordered some magical french fries, ate one and brought the business back in a week with sales going through the roof! That never happened. I even debated on writing this article but after thinking more about it, I knew I had a duty to do so. According to The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs National Center for PTSD studies show that suicide risk is higher in persons with PTSD. Many veterans have very disturbing thoughts and extreme guilt about actions taken during times of war. These thoughts can often overwhelm the veteran and make it hard for him or her to deal with the intense feelings.

I’ve always had a competitive mindset and an exquisite taste for winning. I didn’t know how I would come back but I knew I would. I managed to graduate college and five years later I’m finally picking up the pieces and starting over again. I changed the business name to“Artifiseur”and re-established the entity in Atlanta, GA. I published a book in 2016 entitled“Artifiseur”about my experiences. That was a healing point for me because even though I had nothing tangible to show for the company I could at least record what happened. Someone else can now pick up the read and develop a zero tolerance attitude for quitting while they are on their business journey.

We all have hurdles to jump over dealing with life and some hurdles are bigger than others. You can fall down as many times as it takes to get back up and finish the race. You cant depend on doctors, information, or people. You have to take care of yourself and protect the only intellectual property you have which is your mind. Keep a plan (a few of them), activate, and move on it.

Getting to Know Author and Speaker Tony Rouse

Interview by Maria Rochelle

Meet Tony Rouse who is an author, speaker, and emcee as well as creator of “Scent” a new candle on the market.

First off, I just want to say I love your book “My Life as a Thought…A Journey of Grace, Growth & God.” I laughed and cried a little and reflected on my own life. It’s a very unique book filled with wisdom, some humor, pop culture, quotes, spiritual insight and love. Your thoughts were enlightening and refreshing and yet quite profound as well. Tell me what sparked you to write this book?

Honestly, I needed something to do. I was unemployed at the time and just didn’t know what I was going to do next , and I just had to take what I had and next thing I know I had written 3 books with complete edits and formatting for Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kindle (Plug.). A part of it was that I just wanted to share with people a conversation of what goes on in the mind of Tony Rouse and with the setup… how it relates to the reader’s life at the particular point in time. It is written in reverse chronological order over the course of 10 years.

As a writer, I know it can be difficult at times just to put pen to paper at times due to just how life can be so busy and so forth. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to be an author such as yourself?

Do it. Think Nike and “Just Do It.” Also one of my favorite clips from The Office is Dwight Shrute saying “Do it. Do it Now. Dooo It.” I mean you can come up with 50 different formulas and all of this other stuff, but if you never do it… it’s never done. So just do it. One of the biggest things that helped me was that I did it over tim e. My Life as a Thought… is a chronicle of over 10 years. Takeover Tuesday was written over 2 years and Dare 2 D.R.E.A.M was 5 years in the maki ng. With Dare 2 D.R.E.A.M. I carried a piece of paper in my wallet with the title and the 10 steps that eventually became the book. The idea to make a Dr. Seuss meets Business book with illustrated pictures was already there, but I still had to DO IT to bring it to life .

You have mention in a prior conversation that you cover three arenas in your work through: ministry, marketing and motivation. How does all of that work together to achieve whatever it is that you’re working on?

It’s everything I am. Ministry is simply serving people and that’s what I do. I understand God loves people and thus I love people. Love is many things, but don’t mistake it for weakness. A part of it’s nature is correction and I only say that so people don’t get it twisted or confused thinking it’s a less than force when in actuality it is the most powerful thing on this planet. The marketing side of me is simply what I’m wired for. It’s funny… It has been consistently said over and over again that “Tony Rouse can sell anything.” While I always find this funny, it’s not completely true. Here’s the deal: I can’t sell anything I don’t believe in. And to even take it a step further, I don’t sell anything at all. I offer an opportunity that I know is amazing for people and I just present an invitation. It’s your choice if you want to take it. Life will still go on. The motivation side is that I think people downplay their true power. Like they are nervous or scared of walking in who they truly are. Now I’ll be the first to tell you I only understand it because that was me. I had a hard time accepting the very thing that made me stand out. I wanted to blend in and not be noticed, but the truth is when you are gifted in a certain area you do a disservice to other people because they need what you have because they don’t have it.

You have your candle “Scent” that is on the market as of this past December. Was there anything that inspired you to create the candle?

Well as the story goes, I had it in my heart to build a hotel. I knew the name, what it looked like, how the service is executed, the restaurant inside of it and even how the logo is displayed on the outside building and the interior for the room doors. This was easily a $50-100 million dollar vision. I’m talking Steve Wynn (billionaire hotelier from Las Vegas) level… And I just thought “How?”. So one of the things I do is pray the Word of God. And there is a verse in the Bible that I consistently go to and that is James 1:5. And this is a paraphrase, but it says, “Any man that seeks wisdom, let Him ask of God who freely gives it.” And so I asked “God, I know this hotel thing is something that’s in me and I want to do, but I don’t know where to start. Help. I need your wisdom and guidance because I don’t know.” And about a day or two later I simply heard “Candle.” My response was “Huh?” I’m like I don’t know anything about a candle. I’m not even into them like that. So I sat with it and I didn’t have any money to launch a candle line, so I started with what I did have and that was Google. I went into research to even see if it was possible for me and then one thing led to the next thing and now we have had a billboard in Times Square.

With the candle already out there, you’re also creating a cologne as well from the same scent. What is the progress on that so far?

Looking at all aspects. Currently the candle is taking off and people love it. Right now I’m working on R&D for packaging and the longevity of it.

What legacy do you want to leave for the next generation?

That it’s all possible. Your capacity to achieve is based solely upon what you believe. It doesn’t matter where you came from or who your parents were or are… The question is: What are you willing to believe that is possible for you?

Tell me three fun facts about you.

I’ve performed at Carnegie Hall. My first concert was Third Eye Blind. I was in a Tyler Perry movie.

What quote do you go to for motivation?

There are a couple of them: For as long as the Earth remains there will always be Seed, Time and Harvest. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.