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Samuel Duckett, Author at The Sampler - Page 2 of 7The Sampler


The toughest of the tough use the ’40 percent rule’ to push themselves to accomplish amazing things.

Fact: 99 percent of people who start marathons finish them.

What are we to make of this incredibly high success rate? As anyone who has ever run a marathon can tell you, the correct takeaway isn’t that running 26 miles is a breeze. Everyone hits a wall of pain at some point, yet almost everyone keeps going.

Instead, the real lesson, according to entrepreneur and endurance athlete Jesse Itzler, “is that we have so much more in our reserve tank than we think we do.”

This is a truth Itzler learned in an unusual way — by inviting a Navy SEAL he met while running a 100-mile race (Itzler was doing it in relay, the SEAL was doing it alone) to come and stay with his family for a month and teach them the secrets of incredible mental toughness. He shared one of his biggest lessons from the experience recently in a short video for Big Think.

The 40 percent rule

It’s all well and good to tell people they are capable of accomplishing way more than they believe they are, but when the going gets tough, vague reassurances probably aren’t going to count for much. That’s why Itzler’s unusual houseguest offered something more specific than empty encouragement. He taught Itzler the Navy SEALs’ “40 percent rule.” (Spoiler alert: He also made him do a lot of pull-ups to illustrate it.)

“He would say that when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done,” Itzler explains. “And he had a motto: If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it. And that was his way of every day forcing us to get uncomfortable to figure out what our baseline was and what our comfort level was and just turning it upside down.”

It turns out that the 40 percent rule is why so many people are able to finish marathons. When you hit that wall, you’re really only 40 percent through your stores of energy and determination. When your body complains, your will still has a lot to give. And as the success rate of runners makes clear, that’s true of just about everyone.

That’s handy to know if you suddenly feel like your legs are going to fall off at mile 18 of a marathon, but it’s a truth that can have a huge impact even if long-distance running really isn’t your thing. Whenever life puts a challenge in your path and you feel like you’re on the edge of giving up, you can lean on the SEALs’ 40 percent rule to remind you that your apparent limits really aren’t.

“We all have that will. It’s just a matter of how we apply it not just to the once-a-year marathon, but to a variety of things in our daily lives,” concludes Itzler.


Author: Jessica Stillman

Source: Inc


A few key tips to increase your search engine ranking without hiring an expert.

Planning to update your company website? There’s more to it then just a fancy new design. You need to make sure that potential customers are able to find your site when they are searching for services or products that you offer. Otherwise, you’ll have a beautiful web site and absolutely no or limited visitors.

How do you get prospects to your online destination? By utilizing Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing use really complicated algorithms to determine which sites get ranked higher than others in search engine results. The algorithm is based on a combination of keywords, useful, relevant content, and cross linking between your site and others.

“SEO is like an automobile with a lot of working parts,” says Pierre DuBois, owner of Zimana, a web analytics consulting firm, which offers online marketing strategy, operations, and financial analysis. “You need to get an idea of what those part are.”

If you are not able to hire an SEO expert to enhance your website, there are things you can do on your own. Here are a couple of DuBois’ tips to get you started.

1. Add images to your site. Photos will tell a story about what your services are and the end benefits that customers will receive. Images also help increase your ranking and if you apply keywords to your photos they will appear in searches for web images.

2. Consider creating a short video to explain your business. Video is another element that increases page ranking. The video should be about two minutes long, and if embedded in an analytics-tagged website, the video should have an event tracking code included to help count plays and determine visitor engagement. Try a video editor like Camtasia, which can merge images, music files, and even add narration. Remember, visitors do not like videos that play automatically.

3. Show recommendations from past clients. Although typically shown on sites such as LinkedIn and Yelp, accolades from former clients are extremely encouraging for visitors to do business with you.

4. Consider adding a widget to show your tweets or a Facebook Fan page to show updates. Online visitors are starting to respond more to companies with a social media presence. This is particularly helpful if your product or service has a social element to it.

5. Add keywords into the description tag of each web page. Not only does the description show in Google and Bing search results, but it also appears in social media sharing sites such as BizSugar, Digg, Delicious, and Seeded Buzz as well as when pages are shared across networks such as Linked In and Facebook.

6. Look for ways to refine keywords. As you understand what your customers are looking for, their choice of words changes over time. When you type a word into Google, use the Wonderwheel tool, which appears on the lower left of the search engine results. Wonderwheel provides additional suggested results that appear as spokes from your query. Click on each spoke to see new query hub and spokes for the given word — this can tease out new, unconsidered keyword suggestions for your pay per click ad or website. Use the content dashboards in a web analytics solution (Google Analytics, Piwik, Yahoo Web Analytics, Going Up!Woopra, etc.), to review effective keywords phrases that produced average time on site, high conversion, and low bounce rate metrics.

7. Add comments about site changes in the annotation feature in Google Analytics. This will become not only a journal, but a way to see if a site change affected the analytics data and ultimately the visitor experience. You can also comment on dates of events that can potentially drive traffic.

8. Finally, never presume that just inserting the right keywords in a site is the secret ingredient to attract all traffic. Your site can be discovered in many ways, so don’t get hung up on one feature over the other. “Generating traffic is due to many methods — tweets, Facebook likes, podcast mentions, mentions in online videos, social sharing sites, online presentations, and offline activity via attending trade shows, presentations, appearances,” says DuBois. A web analytics solution usually examines direct referral and search traffic.


Author: Marcia Wade Talbert

Source: Black Enterprise


Businessman extraordinaire and investing genius Warren Buffett wants kids to learn about business at a young age–not so they can start buying stocks with their lunch money, but so they can develop smart habits that will help them in business and throughout their future. “When a kid at 8, 9, or 10 years old learns the basics of how finance works and how to behave in a business relationship, he or she can apply those lessons throughout their lives,” says Buffett. “Practicing those good habits over a lifetime can have huge beneficial consequences, not just for business, but for a person’s happiness and even how their families develop.”

To help kids learn to develop good financial (and life) habits, Buffett partnered with Amy and Andy Heyward to create the Secret Millionaires Club, which has a new book out: How to Start Your Very First Business. Authors Sarah Parvis and Julie Merberg use Buffett’s business philosophy and his insightful quotations to provide kids 9 and up with guidance for coming up with an idea they love, making it stand out, calculating their costs and profit, and even marketing their business. And the book is full of real-life examples of successful young businesspeople who’ve found success selling everything from flip-flops and bow ties to snow cones and sports reels.


So what advice does Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club‘s  new book have to offer young people who want to take their lemonade stand to the next level? Text taken from How to Start Your Very First Business.

1. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you want.

If you need something to start your business–equipment, advice, supplies, a place to set up a table–start talking to people. You may find someone who has the equipment you need and no longer wants it. Someone else may know of the perfect venue for your event or sale. Identify people who can help you and then make the strongest case you can about why they should lend a hand. You may not always get what you ask for. In fact, the best businesspeople in the world are used to not getting what they want every time they ask. But speaking up is an absolutely essential skill.

2. Do your best to anticipate your customers’ needs.

Buffett says, “If your service is outstanding, you’ll always stand out.” So listen to your customers. If you are running a snow-shoveling business, watch the weather forecast. If snow is on the horizon, you can reach out to your customers and make a plan before they are buried under a foot of snow.

3. Start a starter business.

There’s no substitute for getting out there and trying things. But if you have a big idea, you may need to start small to raise the money you need for a more costly business. You’ll learn a ton from your initial business so you’ll be better prepared for the big one. If landscaping is your dream business, you may have to weed a few small gardens first.

4. If you don’t know all of the skills you need to succeed in your field, that’s OK.

You just need to be willing to figure them out. Take a class, read a book, ask lots of questions. Start out slowly and grow your business as you learn more skills. As Warren Buffett says, “The more you learn, the more you earn!”

5. “Failure isn’t falling down, it’s staying down.”

Starting a business isn’t easy. There are going to be bad days, rejected pitches, and unexpected hiccups along the way. Adapt and come up with creative solutions to the problems you encounter. Try a new location, do a clever promotion, or tweak your product to improve your sales.

6. Be honest and fair.

Being a person of integrity is invaluable in business and in life. Be honest about what you can deliver. Be reliable. If you’ve made a mistake, apologize and do your best to quickly make up for it. When you treat people with kindness and respect, they want to spend more time with you–and that goes for clients, business partners, and friends. Buffett is fond of saying, “You can’t make a good deal with a bad person.”

7. Give back.

Creating a successful business isn’t just about making money. It is about contributing to the world around you. Many of the young entrepreneurs featured in How to Start Your Very First Business incorporate philanthropy into their business models. “There are an unlimited number of good things to be done in the world,” says Buffett. Be creative, think about what is important to you, to your community, or to the world, and you’ll find a way to contribute. And remember, sharing your time can be just as valuable as donating money.

8. Enlist a mentor.

A mentor may be able to walk you through a process that’s new to you. Or maybe together you can brainstorm a smart solution to a tough problem. Sometimes just knowing that someone else has gone through what you are going through can make all the difference for your outlook.

9. “Do not save what is left after spending, spend what is left after saving.”

Buffett believes that one of the most beneficial lessons a kid can learn is that saving is a habit. If you make saving a habit early on, it will be ingrained in you for life, which can help you avoid countless unpleasant situations later.

In addition to this book (which comes with a Square reader, so kids can take credit card payments as well as cash), the Secret Millionaires Club also hosts an annual contest: the Grow Your Own Business Challenge, launching soon. Kids compete (for bragging rights and prize money) to create the best original business concept. For more info on the contest, visit smckids.com/learnandearn/contest.


Author: Rhett Power

Source: Inc

What Do All Great Leaders Have In Common [VIDEO]

…they “Start With Why


Simon Sinek is a TED talker well worth the listen. This is one of my favorite TED talks of all time, packed full of inspiration and referencing Apple, Martin Luther King Jr., and The Wright Brothers.  Watch this and let us know what it is you’re inspired to do!!!


And as always, share on social media beneath to find out what your friends are inspired to do!

10 Motivational Books To Get You Going

leap book

Welcome to the work week! This post should get you started on the right foot.

You’re creative and you’re passionate but unfortunately, those don’t get you all the way to a self-sustaining business! Taking the crucial steps of figuring out pricing, a market to sell your art (be it music, paintings, or writing etc.) in, and which demographic you want to sell to all tend to be less fun than what you love to do, which is actually creating the art.  For the tough business tasks, you’ll need a little motivation.  But don’t fear! We grabbed this article we loved from Inc of the 10 best motivational books from 2015.  Throw one of these in the Amazon cart and y0u should be good to go.


1. Rejection Proof

Subtitle: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection

Author: Jia Jiang

5 Second Summary: A hilarious and enlightening account of an introvert’s attempt to overcome the fear of rejection by trying to get rejected and blogging about the experience.

Best Quote: “I was starting to see just how important my communication style was to the outcomes I was getting. When I was confident, friendly, and open, people seemed more inclined to go along with my request; even if they said no, they at least stay engaged longer to ask questions. If I could just figure out the right way to communicate each situation, I might increase my chance of being accepted-and also decrease my fears about a possible rejection. Maybe rejection was much less black-and-white than it seemed-it wasn’t just about being in the right place at the right time to get what I wanted or not. Maybe there were things I could do to influence or even change the outcome.”



2. The Achievement Habit

Subtitle: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life

Author: Bernard Roth

5 Second Summary: Through examples and exercises, this book explains how to manipulate your beliefs and changing your perception of your experience in order to create the quality of life that you want and deserve.

Best Quote: “Your life has no meaning. I’m not telling you this to make you think about jumping off the nearest bridge; instead I mean it in a much more contemplative way. Let’s first acknowledge that the meaning we find in people, objects, and our own circumstances is subjective. These things have no inherent meeting. Functional and dysfunctional behavior both result from choices people make based on meanings they create. This also means that we have the power to alter our perceptions, revising perceptions that bring us down and enhancing those that help us. Your outlook on life is deeply entwined in your propensity for success. Miserable blowhards can achieve, however they still wind up miserable. That’s not success. Success is doing what you love and being happy about it.”



3. The Business Romantic

Subtitle: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself

Author: Tim Leberecht

5 Second Summary: This books turns the entire idea of “work is toil” on its head and reveals that work can be (and frequently is) is a source of great pleasure in our lives.

Best Quote: “For many of us, our coworkers are more intimately involved in our lives that our neighbors or friends, or even our families. In fact, study suggest that we are likely to have more employees, and entrepreneurs, because we love business. We love the drive of it; we love its opportunities for connection and social exchange. Some of us start our own businesses; others work at the forefront of innovation or management. Still others working creative fields such as music and publishing-industries ever on a tight rope between commerce and culture–while too many of us still speak softly if at all. We stash our wistful longings away when we enter our cubicles in the morning, all the longings for an opportunity to express our truest selves at work, for an experience that makes us feel fully alive in our jobs, throughout our careers.”

4. Big Magic

Subtitle: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

5 Second Summary: A series of essays, meditations and anecdotes about putting aside fear and harnessing the innate creativity in all of us.

Best Quote: “Look, I don’t know what’s hidden within you. I have no way of knowing such a thing. You yourself may barely know, although I suspect you caught glimpses. I don’t know your capacities, your aspirations, your longings, your secret talents. But surely something wonderful and sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks of the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: the universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels-that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place-that’s what separates the mundane existence from a more enchanted one.”


5. Rising Strong

Subtitle: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution.

Author: Bren Brown

5 Second Summary: This books helps you redefine the struggles you’ve had in your life as and your determination to recover as manifestations of strength and courage.

Best Quote: “When we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”


6. A Curious Mind

Subtitle: The Secret to a Bigger Life

Authors: Brian Grazer & Charles Fishman

5 Second Summary: A Hollywood producer (Apollo 13, 24) explains how he’s interviewed hundreds of “accomplished strangers” in order to fuel his own creative ideas.

Best Quote: “Especially with the recent proliferation of standardized testing, questions can derail the lockstep framework of the day’s lesson plan; sometimes teachers don’t know the answers themselves. It’s exactly the opposite of what you would hope, but authentic curiosity in a typical seventh grade classroom isn’t cultivated-because it’s inconvenient and disruptive to the orderly running of the class. The situation is little better in workplaces where most adults spend their lives. Sure, software coders or pharmaceutical researchers or university professors are encouraged to be curious because it’s a big part of their jobs. But what if the typical hospital nurse or bank teller gets curious and starts questioning how things are done? Outside of some truly exceptional places like Google and IBM and Corning, curiosity is unwelcome, if not insubordinate. Good behavior -whether you’re 14 years old or 45–doesn’t include curiosity.”


7. Calming the Chaos

Subtitle: A Soulful Guide to Managing Your Energy Rather Than Your Time

Author: Jackie Woodside

5 Second Summary: A practical step-by-step guide for managing your energy rather than your time, thereby overcoming stress and experiencing more joyfully.

Best Quote: “What does it mean to manage your energy rather than your time? Traditional methods of managing time focus on externals, asked if time is something outside of you. The truth is that we live in time and how we move through and relate to time determines the quality of our experience in life. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. How often do we find ourselves living a “someday” life? Someday I am going to slow down someday things will feel less chaotic. Someday I will be peaceful. Unfortunately, it is too often the case that someday never comes.”


8. Clay Water Brick

Subtitle: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least

Author: Jessica Jackley

5 Second Summary: The co-founder of the micro-lending platform Kiva explains how and why entrepreneurism has the potential to change the world for the better.

Best Quote: “Some of these stories are great business successes, in which real people have had a genuine “rags-to-riches” journey. And some stories are special because those entrepreneurs taught me a crucial lesson that I needed to learn along my own journey, such as how to see opportunity in an unexpected place, how to empower other people, or how to believe in myself. My goal in sharing their stories, and my own, is a simple one: to inspire you to live a more entrepreneurial life. I believe we can all achieve a more hopeful, more creative, and more positive in existence together by realizing the incredible entrepreneurial potential that exists in every human being on this planet.”


9. Are You Fully Charged?

Subtitle: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life

Author: Tom Rath

5 Second Summary: This iconoclastic book explains that the quest for meaning and meaningful action in your life is more likely to make you happy than the explicit “pursuit of happiness.”

Best Quote: “But the more you value you place on your own happiness, the more likely you are to feel lonely on a daily basis. When participants and experiments were deliberately induced to value happiness more by reading a bogus article extolling the benefits of happiness, they reported feeling lonely. And samples of their saliva indicated corresponding decreases in progesterone levels-a hormonal response associated with loneliness. Seeking your own happiness and nothing else results in feelings of futility. But if you spend as much time creating meaningful interactions as you do pursuing happiness, you will be better off in both areas.”


10. Leap

Subtitle: Leaving a Job with No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want

Author: Tess Vigeland

5 Second Summary: A host of public radio’s Marketplace program uses anecdotes and thoughtful observation to help already-successful people find the energy and courage to pursue a more satisfying career.

Best Quote: “One of the most common questions I’ve been asked since I left my job is how to know when it’s time to go. I can’t answer that for you, and I don’t think there’s one answer for everyone-you are the only one who can figure out what’s right for you. But if you’re asking yourself the question, it’s well past the time to start exploring the possibilities. And in all likelihood, your body is already you showing you the signs. For me, my hair stopped growing. For a good number of the people I interviewed, it was an unusual, and inexplicable, pain or other maladies somewhere in their bodies. For some it was a searing back pain, and for others it was exhaustion far beyond what could be explained by their work hours. I’m not a doctor, but I do know it’s important to pay attention to those signals and to ask yourself whether they might be tied to your feelings about your work. Don’t just ignore them.”


Source: Inc

Author: Geoffrey James


“Whatever your gift is… What are you going to do with what you have?”

4 Effective Steps To Monetize Your Art

Many artists and creative entrepreneurs mistakenly assume that the sales process begins when they ask for the money. But in actuality the sales process begins the minute you to start to communicate with your buyer in both direct and non-direct ways like using social media or email marketing for example.


In this article, blogger Rodney Washington will show you a simple four-step process so you can better communicate with your target buyer while making more money from the very beginning.
1. Focus On Creating Connection – It’s tempting to only want to show or talk about your work and immediately ask for the sale, but often in the beginning people just want to get to know more about you, your personality and perhaps your process. Make it easy for your audience to connect with you.

Ways To Accomplish This:

~ Host a open house and speak directly with your guests, tell them about your latest inspiration, series, etc.
~ Ask them for their thoughts on your latest body of work, presentation, products etc.
~ Ask them about themselves (people love to talk about themselves)
~ Don’t worry about making a sale, focus on the connection
~ Follow up with targeted messages (more on this in Step 2)
2. Always Be List Building – Usually your customer will not buy from you on the first connection, they will want to get know more about you and that happens over a period of time. One of the most effective ways is through maintaining communication with your audience by sending a series of targeted follow-up emails and/or building connection using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter for example.

When you send or post your follow up messages to your followers or subscribers don’t bombard them with “buy my stuff’ messages. That’s called spamming and it won’t work.

On the other hand, if you focus on providing lots of valuable usable content like photos, videos, audio replays, a worksheet template, an article, a 20 minute telephone or skype chat for example these will go a long way towards establishing and nurturing relationships with your followers that lead to sales.

Question to ask yourself: What do I have of value that I could freely to give to people who follow me?

List Building Tip: Whenever you meet new people invite them to connect with you on social media or to opt-in to your online mailing list on your blog or website to get your latest goodie.
3. Create A No-Brainer Offer – Often times new potential customers are not prepared to invest in your higher ticket items on the first encounter, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make easier for them to work with you.

Look for ways to create what I call “entry level” pieces. The key is to price these items or services under $50 dollars. Make it something that new customers can find high value in and easily say yes to.

Keep this in mind: It’s far easier to sell to an existing customer than to find a new one. So that $50 dollar entry level product could lead to higher priced sales if your customer perceives and receives value from the entry level items you offer.  In other words, everything you create must provide value.
4. Always be seeding the next step – The most common mistake I see entrepreneurs make is never introducing or what I call seeding the next opportunity to work with you. For example, let’s say you want to write an ebook why not seed throughout the book the next logical step? For a new author that could be to work to with you directly or to sign up for your course on topics discussed in your book.

Think about last time you went to Starbucks, (assuming you drink coffee) were you offered a sample of a new blend, pastry or whipped drink? That’s called seeding. You may or may not purchase the item you sampled but if you enjoyed it, hopefully  it made enough of an impression on you that you’ll order it on your next visit or better still, tell a few friends about it.


Source: Get Paid For Your Creativity

Author: Rodney Washington

Are you stalling on pursuing your goals? Truthfully, most of us are but the question is why. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is just to take that first step.

Let’s say you love painting or love music but you only do it at night or on the occasional weekend, outside of your grueling 9-5 job!  You know that that creative expression is good for the soul.  The Sampler‘s mission is to shift your mindset of the 9-5 as your first priority and passion as your second.  Who says you can’t make money with your passion? It is far from impossible and we are here to give you those tools.

Your first step? Check out this video for some instant motivation.

How To Start a Restaurant: Interview with the Owners of Croft Alley


Much like oil and vinegar, the two owners of Croft Alley, Michael Della Femina and Phuong Tran are a complimentary pairing perfect for the conception of their old-world restaurant.  I had the opportunity to sit down with these two creative entrepreneurs on behalf of The Sampler and grill them on their passion-turned-business.



Croft Alley is a fairly new restaurant, tucked away shoulder-to-shoulder with an alley opening in the storied Melrose Place district of West Hollywood.  Although they haven’t even reached their one-year anniversary (a few weeks away), they’ve already achieved praise from the Wall Street Journal, Living Out Loud LA, Urban DaddyLa Eater, and countless LA chatter to name a few.

When building the business, resident chef Phuong Tran’s gifted eye for food quickly translated into creating the feel for the restaurant. As he puts it, one of the difficulties with the space was “striking the balance between function and form”, an idea born of the same mindful attitude he brings to his dishes. His upbringing was shaped by both his father (who specialized in running hotels) and his birthplace, the culinary heart of the country, New Orleans.  With dual influences of food and business, Phuong went on to seek formal education, receiving training in New York, Napa Valley and finally Los Angeles. He’s been opening and operating restaurants and concepts since 2005.


Michael Della Femina, on the other hand, spends more of his time in front of the counter making sure the hospitality feels like home. Like Phuong, this is far from Michael’s first foray into the restaurant business. He has worked extensively in all capacities of this business in New York as well as Los Angeles. Outside of Croft Alley, Michael exercises his business skills as the founder of the production and marketing studio StoreFront and as CEO of Della Femina Hospitality.

When it comes to Croft Alley, they let their actions speak louder than their words. Their brand was built organically, forming over time with each conscious decision they choose to put forth.  Though their passion may be of the culinary kind, the business sense Michael and Phuong serve up is nothing short of impressive.  In terms of vision, they’ve held onto it through the grueling process of building the business and the Croft Alley you see today bears a strong resemblance to the one they imagined over a year ago.

One of the other reasons we’re huge fans of these community-minded creatives is that they don’t hesitate to give thanks to those that have shown them support in the past and to those who continue to keep the operation running on a daily basis. Friends and family first, that’s their brand, that’s Croft Alley.

But that’s just an overview of the insights into their business that they gave me. Read beneath for all of the divulged details from the back and forth between The Sampler and the two owners of Croft Alley (Michael Della Femina and Phuong Tran) to hear about what they’re doing today and what they have planned for the future…



TS: When did Croft Alley officially open?
MDF: We opened to the public Dec 1. Prior to that we had been doing private events.


TS: What was your original vision for the Croft Alley brand?
PT: The original concept was to be this ‘design your own sandwich and salad’ idea with abundant choices of charcuterie and artisan lettuces from great local farms. It was empowering the guest to design their own meal.

MDF: I dont work that way as per starting a “brand” as it becomes too contrived. I have a lot of respect for the process. We give a lot of thought to everything we do at Croft Alley and I feel its more about what your brand does then what it says. Your brand changes over time based on the decisions your business makes and the identity that it communicates.


TS: Now that you’re open has it changed?
PT: Yes, it has changed.


TS: What have you learned the most so far from this project?
PT: Patience is so key – the time it takes to open will test everything you have and is character building.

MDF: To trust your instincts and remember you’re wrong at least 60%of the time.


TS: What was your goal with Croft Alley?
PT: To go back to artisan and a thoughtful delivery of an old-world concept of the European deli of yesteryears.
MDF: We wanted guests to feel like they were coming home when they came to Croft Alley.



TS: Have you achieved it?
PT: Yes


MDF: Yes we achieved that on some level and of course will continue to strive to be the dysfunctional family that everyone wants to return to often.


TS: What difficulties did you face with Croft Alley?
PT: Because of the minutiae size, it was abiding to all the rules of city permitting and striking the balance of function and form.


MDF: There are always many difficulties in starting a business. If you believe in what you’re doing then its about staying the course and not giving up no matter what you are hit with. The most daunting obstacles were delays while procuring appropriate permitting and such to sell food out of what was a raw space.


TS: How much help did you have along the way?
PT: Help comes from all those involved from the landlord to contractors to professionals in the industry. But learning along the way from the city officials who dictate how things should be was the biggest help.


MDF: We received a tremendous amount of support from so many including our investors, our landlord, contractors, architects, plumbers, electricians, accountants, food suppliers and the community.


TS: What do you foresee in the near future of Croft Alley?
PT: Space is important in the concept as well, so we like to stay patient in finding something that resonates what we are doing here as well.


MDF: We continue to improve on all aspects of our day to day business. At the same time we are hosting more private dinners, creating our own product lines, expanding our off site dining and room service (delivery service). We also have opened up an incubator of sorts upstairs above Croft where we are introducing new products, classes and ideas to the community.


TS: Exciting collaborations or events?
PT: Our Dinner Series, in-store dining, and collaborations with visiting chefs have been fun and nurturing and we will continue this.


TS: What do you foresee in the far future of Croft Alley?
PT: We see this artisanal application as an important development and will stay patient to our next location.


MDF: We have had several offers to open additional Croft Alley locations in LA, New York and the Middle East. We fell in love with our alley location and the community of Melrose Place which made it impossible to say no to opening here. I am looking for that same inspiration from our next locale where ever that is.


TS: Expansions? Other cities?
PT: New York is where we’re exploring now.


What advice would you give to anyone opening a restaurant or to entrepreneurs in general?
PT: Staying patient and true to your message is very important, but at the end of the day, listening to one’s audience is crucial.


MDF: Buy the building if you can. Surround yourself with great talent and people no matter what you’re doing. Croft Alley is a success because of Phuong’s food and our team Madison Bright, Chelsea Fazio, Allie Brown, Sara Sterling and Hope Iacullo in the front of the house, Amanda Lanza, Q Phan, Jeff Bailey, Lauren Atkins, Nellie Nguyen and Ashley Santora in the kitchen, Rachael Paget, Maguis Sosa, Amanda Overton, Gary Robins behind the curtain, Manny delivering us fresh daily and Colleen DeLee’s bread. That’s Croft Alley…



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10 Life Hacks From a Millennial Millionaire

You are young, ambitious, confident and you want to be a millionaire? Great!

Or maybe you’re ready to take things up a notch and finally start that business you have been dreaming of, but are afraid of the financial risks and not sure you want to give up the perks of a salary and benefits.

The biggest question you may be asking yourself is: What are you willing to give up to create the life and business that you really want?

Here are some tried and true hacks from a millennial’s perspective that just may lead you to becoming a millionaire.


1. Keep it simple.

In the beginning, learn as much as you can from free resources on the Internet.

When I first started out, I spent months learning how to optimize LinkedIn. I realized it was an extremely valuable and underutilized social media site so I utilized my expertise from a year of studying the site’s power to provide value to others.

Network the old-fashioned way, face-to-face, as well as online. Create real relationships. Rather than trying to be better than your competition, be different.

2. Be frugal.

If you have a mission or vision for your business, keep your overhead as low as possible. For example, you no longer need to have a downtown office to verify your legitimacy.Thousands of entrepreneurs work from home, the library, the coffee shop. You don’t need a brick and mortar location, especially if you aren’t selling a physical product.

I personally didn’t even buy a car until I moved from New York City to L.A., and when I did I took my “Rich Dad” advice and purchased a used 1991 Cadillac outright from a mentor. Put your vision first and after you have become successful, then you can splurge.

3. Invest in yourself.

If you are going to invest in anything at the beginning stages of your business, be sure you are investing in yourself.

Hire a coach, enroll in online business classes with people you admire, get into a mastermind. Figure out ways to get the skills and knowledge you need to get where you are going.

4. Meditate.

If you haven’t heard already, meditation is a powerful life hack. It can improve the clarity and function of the brain, lower your blood pressure, and so much more. As the stakes rise in your life and business, you will benefit from meditation because it will help you to handle stress better and manage your time and focus.

5. Stay healthy.

Most entrepreneurs — even myself — have fallen into the trap of focusing solely on their business and neglecting their physical health. While hustling to get ahead and make a successful living on your own wind power, you may lose track of how many months have gone by since you moved your body from the desk chair. Richard Branson attributes his energy and stamina to daily workouts and considers exercise to be his secret weapon.


6. Network.

Make yourself invaluable to your networks. Be a connector, set yourself apart by sharing resources with others at events and creating valuable connections for others.

Can’t find a networking group that feels like a good fit? Start your own.

7. Give, give, give.

Living is giving. Especially while you are starting out, be sure to give above and beyond expectation.

8. Think outside the box.

This entire generation is outside the box when it comes to innovative business and money-making platforms. From Tim Ferriss’ The Four-Hour Work Week to virtual assistants, crowdsourcing platforms, information products online and so much more, we are still just scratching the surface of what is possible.

9. Be yourself.

Be yourself because everyone else is taken. No one is you-er than you.The more different you are, the better.

Use your differences to stand out in a competitive marketplace and follow your heart in matters of life and business.

10. Don’t Give Up.

Never ever give up. Starting a business and going out on your own requires all of you. Each failure should be seen as a learning process and when you welcome failure you will see that it goes easier for you. We all fail. Majorly. Over and over. And we get back up and keep going for our dreams for as long as it takes.

More opportunities are available today than ever before. When you realize that your attitude and mindset are of utmost importance, these life hacks will catapult you toward success. There are quite a few of us millennial millionaires out here who would love to see you achieve all you set out to do.

Source: Entrepreneur
Author: Lewis Howes