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Interview with New England Veterans Chamber of Commerce’s Lisa Ducharme

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Ducharme, Executive Director of the New England Veterans Chamber of Commerce. She comes from a family line with over 200 years of military service in all branches of the military.  She is a 20-year Air Force veteran, daughter of a retired Air Force Veteran and mother of an Army retired soldier.   Ms. Ducharme has an in-depth understanding of veteran benefits, and experience as a business owner, she has been a partner with Veterans Outreach Into Community Engagement (VOICE) for over 5-years, where she participates in military outreach opportunities connecting military, veterans and their families to resources.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?  When I retired from the Air Force in December 2006 I struggled to find a job, when I found a job that I enjoyed, after 5 years, in 2014, I was laid off.  I decided I needed a change, and went back to school to get a certification in 3D Animation and Interactive Media, which led me to start a business.  In starting my own business, I made all the mistakes you could make and didn’t really understand what assistance or resources were available.  When my business wasn’t going anywhere and I couldn’t make it work, that is when I started looking for assistance, and I applied for and was accepted into the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities at UConn.  I learned so much from that program and about other resources available to businesses and veterans.  When I was given the opportunity to establish the New England Veterans Chamber of Commerce (NEVCC) to connect and help veteran, military and family member businesses under the United States Veterans Chamber of Commerce it was an opportunity I could not pass up. 

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?  I was planning our kick-off for the NEVCC, which was scheduled for 11/11/2018 at 11:01 a.m., the reason for this date/time is because this year is the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I.  The launch was our tribute to those who served and sacrificed, “A Century of veteran businesses in the making.”, as our veterans past, helped our veterans present and we want to help our veterans in the future.  As we were figuring out how best to make this tribute, the World War I Centennial Commission launched the “Bells of Peace” and asked Americans across the U.S. to ring a bell at 11:00 on 11/11/2018 in honor of those who served and sacrificed. 

We wanted to add bells to our kick-off, so after searching where to get the commemorative bells, we found the perfect place, Bevin Bells in CT.  It turned out that Bevin Bells is not only a 6th Generation family run business, but the current owner is a veteran. 

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?

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?  The NEVCC will be the hub of veteran entrepreneurship, and provide New England veteran, military, and family member businesses with the education, tools, resources and network connections necessary to launch and/or run successful businesses. We connect veteran, military, and family-owned businesses in New England through advocacy and professional and community networking. We do this by facilitating workshops and trainings with organizations and individuals that are experts in their field, such as Quabbin Mediation, VETRN Streetwise MBA, SCORE, Small Business Administration, and Veteran Business Outreach Centers.

Early on as we were establishing the NEVCC we connected with Leroy Ashwood, owner of BRAVE for Veterans, whose business is successful, and is working on starting another business, as well as working on a variety of veteran issues.  We have been able to collaborate with Leroy and also connect him to resources and provided him information that will assist him.   

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?  Use resources that are available, you are never alone!  It is never too late to make sure your personal credit is in good shape, if you don’t know how to start, reach out to the American Consumer Credit Counseling services, they are there to assist.  The stress of personal finances can be a big drain on business owners.

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 so agree, everyone has a mentor who helped them get where they are.  In my case, my mentor is a friend and she has been my “business buddy” since 2013.  Anita Eliason, has owned her own business and now works as a Senior Business Advisor with the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (MSBDC). 

The most important thing about your “business buddy” is they need to be supportive and honest.   Anita has always been supportive and honest.  When I started my business in 2013, I had picked a business name that I thought worked, LLR2000 and Anita, said how does LLR2000 equate to your business?  As I explained what it stood for and we continued to talk, the reality set in, if it takes this much to explain it to Anita, who fully understands my business, it was clear my business name did not fit my business.  After some brain storming and looking online, we came up with Your Visual Alternatives.  When I was thinking about establishing the New England Veterans Chamber of Commerce, Anita and I brainstormed what that would look like and what kind of resources would be needed, and she was the first person added to the Advisory board.  The military has “battle buddies”, Anita is always going to be my “business buddy”.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life? For over 20 years the quote I have relied on is by Abraham Lincoln, “I do the very best I know how—the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”  When it comes to business, I have many quotes that inspire me, one of my favorites is “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” — Colin Powell

We are only human, which can be a positive and a negative.  When I do the best I can and it is not good enough, is it a failure?  It is only a failure, if I do not learn from it.  Over my lifetime and throughout my time as a business owner, I will always do the very best I can, and will prepare and work hard.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Use resources – When I started my business, I did everything by myself, didn’t use resources and went online and downloaded other people’s business plans.  It was the wrong way to do it. 
  2. Get a SCORE mentor – SCORE is available to anyone to use https://www.score.org/SCORE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.”  I didn’t get a SCORE mentor (or have a business plan) until 2 years after my business was started.
  3. Work with the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) – “SBDC’s provide assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the United States and its territories. SBDCs help entrepreneurs realize the dream of business ownership and help existing businesses remain competitive in a complex, ever-changing global marketplace. SBDCs are hosted by leading universities and state economic development agencies, and funded in part through a partnership with SBA.”  https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc
  4. Ensure you have a Business Plan – Although business plans can be very difficult, you should always have one.  You do not have to do it by yourself, SCORE mentors can provide you tools and assist you through the process.  https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc
  5. Learn Social Media – Social media is not for all businesses, but it is for most.  Social Media includes blogs, LinkedIn, YouTube, and a wide variety of other social media formats.  The reality is, in today’s world how are you going to be found in this noisy world without Social media?

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement  that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂  My movement is “Buy Veteran New England”.   Our Veteran and Military members serve 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There were many times that they work through holidays and weekends. Many times, they get deployed or need to leave their families to go to training or to help others.  Our family members serve as well, they need to adapt to all kinds of situations, and the children who move need to continually adjust.  Here in the New England States, which include: CT, MA, ME, NH, VT, and RI, we want to run a “Buy Veteran New England” campaign and encourage businesses and consumers to purchase from veteran, military and family member businesses.

How can our readers follow you on social media?  We are on twitter, and Facebook:  @NEVCC2018 and can be found on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/new-england-veterans-chamber-of-commerce/.  Our website is www.NEVCC.org

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.

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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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