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Executive Voice

Interview with Donna Simone Johnson

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Donna Simone Johnson, who talked a bit about her uncertain beginnings, where she pulls her strength from and her mosh-pit fail. She is currently in “The Bluest Eye” at Virginia Stage Company, can be heard on NETFLIX’s “SuperDrags,” and has 2 upcoming podcasts: “The Dreamland,” and “Pang!” both out this summer.  

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about your beginnings as an actor?

Sure! My Mum was an actress, and I grew up in theaters and rehearsal rooms, I acted a child and did a couple of TV shows and commercials, but didn’t get serious about wanting to act until I went to the California State Summer School for the Arts, which is a summer-long intensive. I was one of 500 students admitted from all over the country, and being immersed in an arts community and being introduced to the craft electrified me!

My Mum passed away from breast cancer in 2005, and the passion just intensified. I went to college for theater, did regional theater, moved to NYC and danced a bit, and then decided I wanted to train more and got my MFA from CalArts in Acting. I guess that’s more than just beginnings, but… you know!

Can you share the craziest thing that happened to you since you started?

I mean, I work around artists, so there is a lot of crazy— how do I choose one thing? This has little to do with acting, but I danced at ShortStop in West Hollywood for a bit, and one day, I fell off the stage while doing some choreography and splayed my arms forward, thinking the crowd would pick me up and surf me, but nope! It was one of those slow-motion moments, where I saw every grimace and wince on my way down, bless their hearts! (laughs) Everyone moved out of the way and I hit the ground hard! I was all pumped with adrenaline and so, I pretty much bounced back up like an over-caffeinated cheerleader. This was before Insta, thank God, otherwise, I’d be viral for all the wrong reasons… or would they be right? (laughs)

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I have a lot of non-PC stories that I’d hate to have in print on the internet! I will generally say that inauthenticity will give you trouble. And folx will totally call you out on it. Sometimes, behind closed doors, sometimes right in front of you, sometimes they’ll address it in a room full of 200 people… you never know!

You are killing it right now! Congratulations on “Super Drags!” What do you think has contributed to your immense success in the last couple of years?

I shave my legs more often? [laughs] No, but that’s demi-serious! I’d had a spiritual shift in the last couple of years and the end result of a lot of it was dealing with the trauma and the turmoil and realizing that these things are a part of you, but that don’t make you. They’re not your worth. But you also can’t pretend it’s not there, you know?  Waking up and choosing to leave the mask on the floor. Seeing yourself. Loving yourself. Sharing yourself. Something so simple really frees you up.

Which tips would you recommend to other actors to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Self-care on 100. I mean, I’m laughing, but really. I have a pretty rich self-care routine that borderlines on ritual and spans from weekly yoga and massages, essential oil care, staying connected with my friends and showing up for them and dance parties. I also love to write and I’ve been doing that more for myself these days.  

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have had so many prolific Mentors, Stand-in Mamas, just people who have seen me. Usually, at a time when I couldn’t see myself, you know? And you cover it with all of this other stuff? Usually lies? False? Yeah. So, I have a lot of people like that. Most notably, I’ll say the first Black Mentor I’ve ever had was at CalArts. I never had a black teacher in undergrad. I had a black Chemistry teacher in High School. I think that was it? So, it was a big deal to have Fran Bennett. And she’s hard. She holds you to a high standard and she is relentless. And she saw me. And after my first semester, she pulled me aside and told me that she didn’t understand me. She could see I was built for this work, I had the work ethic, the talent, but lacked, “the joy and fire.” She said, “Where is your joy? You aren’t really here. Your flame is out before you’ve begun.”

And that stunned me. Really. I think any of my close friends would say, I am all joy and fire, so that was the beginning of a lot of reflection, self-awareness, spiraling… but ultimately led to a place of freedom. That was the provocation to embrace all of the parts of myself, even— especially the ugliest parts. The secrets, you know? To deal with them, because some people could really see the effects. Probably a lot of people could, actually, but she was the gem in the middle of the mess. And she is still a close friend, advisor, and mentor. She really has been a gift.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

(Laughs) “Do good and throw it in the sea,” meaning work in excellence, without expectation of praise or recognition. Do good for yourself, your pride— to fuel your joy and fire.  That and “Real G’s move in silence, like lasagna.” (laughs) That is my fave. It’s a Lil’ Wayne line, but along the same lines… Do what you’re doing without the bragging and the boasting and let your work speak for itself. Don’t overshare.

What are your “5 things I wish I knew then?”

  1. You are enough.
  2. Real Connection will make the journey worth it all. It’s okay to ask for help.
  3. Breathe.
  4. Pay attention in Chemistry and do the work! (laughs) That’s where discipline starts.
  5. Strength of Character, Strength of Spirit, Strength of Love, Strength of Tequila. Viola Davis said that, and I added the last part.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@dsimonejo across all platforms

http://www.donnasimonejohnson.com/

https://twitter.com/dsimonejo

https://instagram.com/dsimonejo

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Founder & Editor-In-Chief of Disrupt Magazine Tony Delgado, is a Puerto Rican American software developer, businessman, activist and philanthropist. Delgado is also the host of the Disrupt Podcast where he interviews the most disruptive business owners, leaders and change makers in the world. Tony Delgado is best known as the founder, and chief executive officer of The Disrupt Foundation, a social impact movement to grow Puerto Rico’s technology ecosystem and host of the semi-annual Disrupt Puerto Rico Conference. Tony Delgado has also helped mentor thousands of students, create financial freedom, all from the comfort of his home in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Executive Voice

Ariella Lorio Widely Recognized As The Done For You Girl Helps Thousands Quit Their Job

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Giving up the traditional 9 to 5 job is difficult for anyone. Though this kind of day to day grind can be difficult to sustain, it is what tends to make ends meet. Making the decision to drop that in exchange for your dreams is something that many people do not dare to try. 

Ariella Iorio is a widely recognized and successful serial entrepreneur that helps people learn affiliate marketing. She is on a mission to teach people to work from home and fire their bosses instead of going to the office everyday. She abandoned the 9 to 5 in order to achieve happiness in her life. 

“I interned for  Wesley Virgin for two years for free, and he taught me everything I needed to know. He is the King of online marketers.” Ariella recounts.

For Ariella, there was a turning point that led her to change the way she thought about her day to day life. Early on in her college career, Ariella suffered serious injuries after being in a terrible car crash. Though she eventually recovered, the experience fundamentally changed her life. The trauma that she experienced from that period caused her to rethink what she was doing in her life as a college student and whether or not this kind of life was worth it in the end. 

“I was in a terrible car accident in which I broke my back, neck, and arm. It was a terrible experience.”

She moved on from this car accident, but couldn’t help but think there was more to this life. She didn’t want to struggle to make ends meet and worry about paying the rent each month

Back then, the work that she was putting in did not equal the output she was getting in terms of work-life balance and the money she was making. She knew she needed to change something to increase her happiness and believes she manifested her now mentor/business partner Wesley Virgin. Ariella always believed in meditation and visualization and attributes that much to her success.

“I now make 600,000 in four months with affiliate marketing. The company now nets 20k a day.” Ariella explains.

Though she has become incredibly successful now, Ariella had a rough start to her business journey. Her desire to follow her dreams drastically changed her lifestyle. She has experienced failure and difficulties with people supporting her in following her dreams. No one was convinced that she would succeed, not even some members of her own family.

“I was living in the basement for 2 years before becoming successful. I had one failed company with Wesley Virgin before the Done for You Services business that we run now. I also dropped out of college and was kicked out of my house for believing in my dreams and not going the ‘traditional route.’” Ariella states.

Now they both are dominating the industry, but most of all, changing lives. Ariella and Wesley pride themselves on finding the correct system for all of their users. They understand that finding the correct audience for your online business can be difficult, but they are there to help walk their clients through all the stages of the process to ensure success.

“We have a Done for You System that we basically do all the work for them such as give them the offer to promote, the videos, the Facebook target audience, have a coach call them to set up their Facebook campaign and stick with them to hold their hand throughout this process guaranteeing them their first sale online. We have three phases: mindset (our millionaire in training group), execution (the done for you services program), and the mastery program (Facebook and youtube ads).” Ariella says.

If you would like to learn more about Ariella Iorio, go here.

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Executive Voice

Meet Sean Castrina, Serial Entrepreneur and Author

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Sean Castrina is a bestselling author of 8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Startup Success andthe fictional tale The Greatest Entrepreneur in the World. His new release is World’s Greatest Business Plan, written for those who cannot afford to fail. Sean is an active entrepreneur and CEO, having started more than 20 companies in the last 25 years. He has guest lectured on entrepreneurship at some of America’s finest colleges. He hosts The Ten Minute Entrepreneur, a top 10 business podcast on iTunes.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a 7-figure entrepreneur, investor, speaker, and author. I’ve got three books out: 8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Startup Success, The Greatest Entrepreneur in the World, and World’s Greatest Business Plan. I also host my own podcast.

What was a major challenge you had to overcome to get to where you are today?

I suffered a back injury. Doctors prescribed me a large amount of oxycodone and fentanyl to cope with the pain, which is incredibly easy to get addicted to. I was determined to not get caught in that trap, so I quit cold turkey. I truly believe that you can accomplish anything with the right mindset.

If you could start over, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t wait until after college to start a business. I could’ve been where I am today a lot sooner had I gotten a jump start on my career.

Follow Sean on Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

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Executive Voice

Alex Saenz Is A Millionaire At Age 23 Because, Despite His Hardships, He Always Tried To Work Harder And Do More

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Hardships during our childhood years often have a long and profound impact on our lives. Alex Saenz experienced a childhood full of difficulties and hardship that he was able to overcome and become the person he is today. Instead of letting it get him down, he used it as fuel to achieve his dreams.

“I grew up in west phoenix from very humble beginnings. I lived in a trailer park from the age of 13-18. During the ages of 13-18, my parents divorced and I dealt with a lot of emotional and mental issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness and abandonment. Having felt all this, I worked my butt off in highschool and graduated with a 4.2 GPA.” Recounts Alex.

With this kind of GPA, Alex had the opportunity to go to plenty of elite colleges. Instead, his interest was piqued by real estate investing. Though he had very little money in his bank account, Alex wanted to achieve his goal of making six or seven figures, so he began his venture into real estate.

“At the time of jumping into real estate, I had less than $500 in his bank account. This was Money I had saved up from working at a grocery store pushing carts where I only made $7.50 an hour from pushing carts. Having no emotional or financial support, I dove into real estate head first by door knocking and putting signs out on street corners. It took me nine months to get my first real estate wholesale deal. During this time, my mom moved to Nevada, which was 18 hours away. I then had to move into my friend’s house and work out of my friend’s little brother’s room, which was spiderman themed. I started to dig deeper and work harder by marketing for real estate deals.” States Alex.

Though these months were difficult for Alex, like before, he pushed through it and finally made his first closing. This first deal changed everything for Alex. He was only 19 and had already closed a sale and quickly began closing other sales. He began to expand his team and hire other agents to help build his business and close more sales.

“Having closed my first real estate deal by January 2016, I took off in real estate. I was 19 when I closed my first real estate deal! In 2016, still at the age of 19, I closed 12 real estate wholesale deals for $120,000 in revenue. Keeping living expenses low, I invested nearly everything back into business. I hired two sales guys to help hunt down more real estate deals, by 2017, the real estate company grew to five total team members!” Exclaims Alex.

Alex has never looked back since beginning his journey. His business took off and he was able to create his real estate business All in Entrepreneurs with his two partners: Carlos Reyes and Sal Shakir. He also has started creating youtube videos in which he shares his life story and ways to help others learn the tricks of the real estate trade.

“In 2017, my company closed 62 deals for $615,000 in revenue with more than 60% profit margins. This was all done at 20 years young. In 2018, being 21, I continued to grow my real estate company and Co-Founded ALL IN ENTREPRENEURS with his partners Carlos Reyes and Sal Shakir. In 2018, Over 100 deals were closed, and it was the first 7 figure year in business and I was only 21. Fast forward to 2020, I have closed over 300+ deals with my 7 figure real estate acquisition firm.” States Alex.

Though Alex has faced numerous challenges, he has worked hard to overcome them and achieve his goals. He has always had a good mindset, which has helped him come as far as he has at such a young age. In the future, Alex hopes to keep expanding his real estate business as well as continue pioneering his new solar power company.

“I am a millionaire now, currently 23 years old, building more companies, earning 6 figures monthly through real estate, and consulting solar and SAS (tech/software) companies. I am most excited to help others overcome poverty, bad programming and helping younger entrepreneurs achieve success at a young age!” Remarks Alex.

If you want to learn more about Alex’s amazing life story, you can check out his Youtube channel by subscribing to Alex Saenz on Youtube. In addition, you can follow him on Instagram @alexsaenz and check out his business at allinnation.com

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