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| SPECIAL GUEST: KRIS JONES |

“A person who sees a problem is a human being; a person who finds a solution is a visionary; and the person who goes out and does something about it is an entrepreneur.”

– N A V E E N JAIN

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This month I had the pleasure of getting to know Kris Jones. A father, entrepreneur and a true rags-to-riches success story. He is the founder of not one but several apps including, Special Guest AppLSEO.comReferLocal.comFrench Girls App, and APPEK Mobile Apps. He grew a multi-million dollar business while in grad school at Villanova and he sold a separate business to eBay after law school at Albany Law. If that doesn’t give you a dose of motivation I don’t now what will.

As someone who focuses a lot of my time and energy on self-help and personal/professional development, I’m always searching for new tools that will take me to the next level (as I’m sure you do too). The best way to stay inspired is to surround yourself with the wise and great. Kris has achieved huge success and is willing to share some of his secrets with us. In this discussion, we explore the entrepreneur psychology,  how to successfully set goals, and what must be developed to get an idea off the ground.

Before we start, I would like to share a side note and small world ‘coincidence.’ After we connected online, I found that Kris attended law school in my hometown of Albany, NY. How serendipitous that we both share that ‘Albany to Los Angeles’ familiarity. It’s truly inspiring to see someone who had no network and still become wildly successful. With that being said, let’s get right to it, enjoy this month’s special guest, Kris Jones!

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What are your top laws/rules for success?

KJ: Execution over ideas. I’m a doer. I believe strongly that success doesn’t come from ideas, but rather the execution of those ideas. Building up confidence and skills that leads to successfully executing goals is my super power. Everyone has untapped God-given potential.

The key to success is believing that you can accomplish just about anything you set your mind to. You don’t have to wait. You can take action right now. It all starts with the first step toward your destiny. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Get in the game.

What’s one book you would suggest for any budding entrepreneur?

KJ: The Lean Start-up by Eric Ries

What’s the one psychological skill/mental muscle you believe one should develop to succeed?

KJ: Confidence.

Clearly you know how to set lofty goals (100 episodes of ‘Ask Me Anything’). How do you set goals that are big yet attainable?

KJ: It takes practice. One way to increase the likelihood that you accomplish a goal is to share it with loved ones and make it public – we don’t like to disappoint others so it’s more likely that we won’t come up with reasons to quit something once we set a goal and take action. I don’t recommend that people set realistic goals. Realistic goals tend to be puny and are not inspiring.

Instead, I recommend setting goals that are uncomfortable. Uncomfortable goals are stretch goals – they give us little choice but to take immediate action toward the goal. For instance, at the beginning of 2017 I set a goal of creating 100 “Ask Me Anything” videos focused on personal and professional development. For people that don’t know me – (like most of you) I have a lot going on managing multiple businesses, writing monthly for publications like Forbes, Inc., and Search Engine Land, 3 kids, yada, yada, yada. So the idea of coordinating and finding time to shoot 100 videos in 1 year bordered on crazy. In fact, in the final weeks I received a message from someone saying “Kris – it’s OK that you aren’t going to accomplish your goal. It’s hard to accomplish all the goals we set, etc….” Indeed I accomplished the goal by the end of 2017 (with a band might I add) and I was able to do that because I created incredible momentum by setting an “uncomfortable” goal instead of a puny one that was realistic. 

You’ve touched on the necessity of being risk averse as an entrepreneur in one of your interviews. Are there any techniques one could use to strengthen and/or develop this quality?

When I use the word “risk averse” as an entrepreneur I’m referring to something I learned from the author / speaker Malcolm Gladwell at a conference the two of us spoke at 5 or so years ago. In short, he referenced that SUCCESSFUL entrepreneurs are social risk takers, but operationally risk averse. He went on to describe that as social risk takers SUCCESSFUL entrepreneurs don’t care much if people tell them they have a bad idea or that what they are attempting to do has a low probability of success. However, at the same time the SUCCESSFUL entrepreneur is plotting our a highly specific plan from A to Z to execute on his or her idea.

See my response above about how important execution is in success. So the key to building muscle around execution (in effect being operationally risk averse) is to learn and master business skills, such as financial analysis, growth marketing, mobile / web / product development, branding, etc. Again, one of the reasons why “ideas are overrated” is because having an idea isn’t enough – you’ve got to master how to take an idea and turn it into a business – that requires learned skills around business execution. Once you do that (it’s an ongoing process) your odds of business success go up dramatically.

What do you attribute your success to?

KJ: I believe in my potential to be successful. Success is part psychology and part skills. You can’t have consistent success with strong psychology and weak skills – I’m constantly self-educating on how to master my psychology and extend my business skills. I started reading and attending seminars about 20 years ago or so and I haven’t stopped. Everyday is a baseline.

So you’ve got a great and unique idea, where do you begin? What are the necessary steps that need to be taken to ensure it survives, evolves and flourishes?

KJ: Going from idea to business requires an understanding of how to build a business. It’s just that easy. There’s a massive gap between people with idea’s and people with skills to execute those ideas. So the key is the develop the skills. There are a lot of skills required to execute a business idea, but some of the most important are finance (probably #1), marketing, legal, accounting, HR, and development. Of course you can hire talent to fill some of the necessary skill sets, but I have never met a successful entrepreneur that hadn’t acquired ninja skills across all of the most important areas of business execution. In fact, I think it’s required that you develop the proper skills so that early on you can do things yourself and later on you can step in if necessary to hold staff accountable or to do their job if they aren’t.

How do you find your competitive advantage and make an idea/entity so unique that it cannot be copied?

KJ: It’s all about brand. People don’t buy things – they buy how those things make them feel.

 I think you’d agree, most self-starters like yourself are forward thinking. On that note, what’s next for Kris?

KJ: As you know I founded a talent booking platform with actor / comedian Damon Wayans, Jr called Special Guest App. We are currently focusing most of our resources on the Greater Los Angeles market, but we intend to expand that considerably in 2018. I’m also excited about the growth of a two complementary businesses that are growing quickly – LSEO.com is a digital marketing company that I founded in 2014. It offers a range of growth marketing services, such as search-engine optimization, Google AdWords management, and social media management. APPEK Mobile Apps is a mobile and web development company that I cofounded back in 2011 that helps people build apps. In addition to these businesses I’m excited to continue to support the success of a range of technology investments I’ve made, speak at a few select conferences, and focus most of my time on making sure that Special Guest executes on its mission to democratize the booking and experience of LIVE entertainment.

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If you’d like to learn more about Special Guest, be sure to download the app here! For more personal development tips and tricks check out Kris’ “Ask Me Anything” series on Youtube!

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THE BEAUTY C H R O N I C L E S

THE BEAUTY C H R O N I C L E S

Interviewed By Sasha Frank

Photographed By Nat Sin

Interviewee Morgan Ryan

What does beauty mean to you?

think beauty is entirely a state of mind. To me, beauty is finding comfort and strength in your individuality. It’s an acceptance of who you are, quirks and all, and a celebration of that. I feel most beautiful when I’m my authentic self because I’m instantly aligned with my truth. This allows my beauty to shine through.

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As a child did you hate a certain feature, if so, did you begin to embrace is later on?

As a child, I disliked my fair skin, auburn hair and freckles. Growing up, a majority of my friends had beautiful olive-toned skin. I felt like an outcast and at a very young age. The last thing you want to feel is like you don’t belong.

I spent many years trying to alter my looks as a means to fit in. As I grew older, I began to embrace my hair color. I noticed that the red undertones made my green eyes pop. I switched over to tinted moisturizers to allow my freckles to show through. I stopped tanning and realized how much beauty there was to be found in a porcelain complexion.

As a result of these insecurities, I learned that it’s okay to stand out. I began to understand the importance of individuality and how to embrace the “weird.” This made me more accepting towards myself and others. It’s amazing how the features I tried to alter have now become my most powerful attributes, not to mention my favorite. This goes to show that making peace with the external can help influence internal peace.

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Do you feel that inner beauty is just as important as the outer beauty?

I’m a big believer that your outer beauty is reflection of what’s going on inside. That’s not to say that the most attractive women physically are truly beautiful on the inside. Concealing is easy, but shining your truth is what takes strength and courage.

I think coming to accept the external is a huge hurdle for most and is an important part of the healing journey. Regardless, I definitely believe internal beauty reigns supreme. I say this because the external is temporary and subject to change. The only everlasting beauty is that of a good heart. Some of the most beautiful women I’ve met are those with a beautiful soul and that can only be achieved through inner work.

As women who are constantly working on our inner beauty: Do you feel that once you began to not care about what others thought about you everything began to fall into place? Did you find your calling in that?

Growing up, I was insecure but never showed it. I was a late bloomer, who had yet to reap the rewards of her external beauty. As a result, I had this “fake it till you make it” attitude. I searched, observed and learned by spending time with myself to better understand beauty. This was the time when the experimentation began.

I began to find my personal beauty when I took fashion risks and pushed myself to constantly create someone new and improved from the day prior. Although these were all external practices, it came from a deep-rooted place of “I am an artist.” I became fearless. I also began to grow a thick skin so that no external force could change me.

I remember one morning before leaving for school my dad asked, “Who are you trying to impress?” I said with conviction, “myself.” Ever since that day, I’ve realized the importance of intent and that we should never do something for the approval of others. I would say once I let the opinions of the outside world fade, I was able to make peace with my wounds and came into my own creative beauty.

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What do you think the world is missing in the scope of women role models? How can we change that?

I think the current landscape we live in is crying out for unwavering compassion. For this reason, we need women who can stand up and be both strong and empathetic.

I think society as a whole is partially to blame for our current role models. We add fuel to the fire by continuing to support and make the trivial important. I think the first step in making positive shifts in the scope of positive women role models is to create a new ideal and stand up for that by supporting the right women.

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What advice would you give younger girls coming into their own?

Be gentle with yourself. Understand that beauty is something you grow into; give yourself time to develop. Know that everyone’s journey is unique so don’t compare yours to others. You were born to stand out; never apologize for who you are! Embrace your unique quirks, they make you, you.

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Are there any upcoming projects of projects you are working on now that you can speak about?

At the end of 2015, I teamed up with Paul Mitchell as a brand influencer. I recently produced and starred in my first project for them as THE M A V E R I C K MUSE. It’s still currently under wraps so I can’t dish; however, I am excited to see how the future unfolds with this partnership!

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For more empowering stories and inspiration head over to Sasha Frank’s blog. For more Beauty Chronicles, subscribe HERE! 

CONVERSATIONS WITH LOOKBOOK

“We can’t imagine a cuter and more creative interpretation of the iconic Morton Salt Girl by Morgan Ryan. We love the look and also her informative and personable response to the prompt.”

LOOKBOOK 

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LB: Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you live.

MR: My name is Morgan Ryan. I was born and raised in Albany, New York and have since moved to Los Angeles, CA. I’m currently living in Silver Lake, a young creative neighborhood outside of Downtown LA. I live to inspire and entertain others. To me, the clearest indication of one’s well-being is their smile. Having the opportunity to breathe some life and laughter into another’s life brings me joy.

LB : What are your passions?

MR:  There are many things I’m passionate about but generally speaking they all revolve around creativity. My childhood was centered on the act of motion, which was huge for my creativity. I was enrolled in dance classes and private drawing lessons so at an early age I was already placing value on art and creativity. I’m grateful for opportunities I had growing up. I attribute my attention to detail, concept of color and composition to my childhood.

LB: How did you first become interested in fashion and why is it important?

MR: I was always into fashion but it wasn’t until I matured that it became more of a prominent influence. As a teen I was pretty shy so any form of art was an outlet for me to speak confidently. I found fashion to be my language of choice. It held this ability to speak volumes merely through a visual cue. To me that’s powerful.

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LB: How do you describe the fashion scene in where you live?

MR: In Los Angeles it’s all about creating a scene. When that’s applied to fashion, anything goes. I would say it’s nothing shy of flashy eccentric mixed with bold innovation.

LB: What do you love about living in your city?

MR: It’s beauty and vastness. LA is visually stimulating and great in providing variety. I can hit the city to absorb some of its energy but I can just as easily escape to nature to find some solitude. Having so many options is refreshing. 

LB: Tell us your top 3 places to visit in your neighborhood

MR: Elysian Park, Ostrich Farm and Sunday’s Best Thrift.

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LB: Tell us about your average day.

MR: I lead a holistic lifestyle so I enjoy cultivating my day around the mind-body-soul approach. My alarm usually goes off at 5:30 am, I’ll set my intention for the day and play some music as I get ready. I’ll head to work at Quixote Studios around 7:00 am and make my way home to meditate unless I have a meeting or shoot scheduled. I’ll usually end the day with some reading, free writing, cooking or yoga.

LB: Your favorite color of the moment is:

MR: Marigold.

LB: Describe your personal style.

MR: I don’t believe my style can be easily pinpointed. There are definitely traces that allude to a vintage aesthetic yet I seem to find a quirky and fresh approach to modernize it. I would say my style is classic, quirky, eccentric, fearless and playful…if it had to be labeled to a single word it would be Maverick.  

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LB: Where are your favorite places to shop?

MR: For trendy yet affordable finds, I really love Zara and Asos. I’m a huge bargain shopper, however I’ll occasionally splurge on staple pieces at Nordstrom or Macy’s. For unique finds I hit up vintage or thrift shops. I think thrifting always appealed to me because it has this element of history and discovery. I was never one to look towards the mannequin to learn how to shop or dress, that seemed too easy. I always wanted to use my imagination, so I found ways to go against the grain when shopping.

LB: Who are your fashion icons?

MR: I’ve always had a lot of respect for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He would turn the blazer of his school uniform inside out so that bright lining would show. I remember thinking that was so G; it definitely inspired me to always think different. Other influencers include Lauren Bacall, Bianca Jagger, James Dean, and Iris Apfel. 

LB: The first thing you look at in another person’s outfit is:

MR: Their shoes. I think shoes say a lot about the individual. Overall, I look to see how their outfit is composed. I notice their choices. It’s a clear indication of their personality.   

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LB: A fashion rule you always break:

MR: I thoroughly enjoy breaking all the so called ‘fashion faux pas.’ I’ve come to find that all the don’ts eventually become do’s because fashion comes in cycles. The fashion rule in particular I enjoy breaking is to dress your age. I think this comes down to one’s definition of age, which is subjective, and not everyone looks or acts their age.   

LB: What is the biggest fashion fiasco you’ve encountered?

MR: Honestly, nothing notable. I don’t take myself too seriously when it comes to fashion; it’s supposed to be fun.  

LB: What do you think is the most recent notable trend to appear/reappear, and what are your thoughts on it?

MR: Patched denim. I’m glad it’s coming back around, it’s very nostalgic to me having grown up during the 90’s. I love the idea of a DIY jean jacket–collecting my own patches from meaningful adventures and trips. It makes it personal and unique. I started one this year and added my first patch from my trip up to Big Sur.

LB: What is your next “must have” purchase?

MR: A classic trench coat.  

LB: What are your top five most worn or most loved items in your closet?

MR: I would have to say my denim jacket, fitted cream blazer, Nike Airs, Doc Martens, and this vintage silk scarf I tie into a bow in my hair.  

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LB: What is your personal favorite outfit on Lookbook by you, and by another member?

MR: My favorite is also my most recent, ‘When It Rain’s It Pours.’ I just really feel it encapsulates where I currently am in my personal style transformation. I also really dig Mike Q’s” This is how I pose.” It’s really surreal yet effortlessly cool.   

LB: What’s on your bookshelf / playlist / movie list at the moment?

MR: Read | On The Road by Jack Kerouc, Mastery by Robert Greene. Tunes | SG Lewis, The Internet, Tom Misch, HONNE, Jaymes Young. Movies | By The Sea.

LB: Filters or #nofilter? Why?

MR: Filters. I really enjoy the process of watching a photo come alive through the editing process. It takes it up a notch.  

LB: What camera do you use?

MR: For everyday use I like my iPhone because I always have it with me. For road trips and vacations I enjoy using my 35 mm film camera. For concerts I opt for the good old disposable camera.   

LB: What can’t you live without?

MR: Confidence.  

LB: Next place you want to travel to:

MR: I would really love to go to Havana. It seems very colorful and lively, plus I love vintage cars. I would feel very inspired by that culture and type of landscape. 

LB: In 5 years, you will be:

MR: Living a simple life in Bali. I see myself immersed in the island lifestyle, surfing and being out in nature. THE M A V E R I C K MUSE is a successful brand and I handle all my projects and collaborations from the comfort of my home.  

LB: What would you say to someone seeking fashion advice or life, in general?

MR: Give yourself time. Experiment, play and refine. Try new things because it will help you find yourself. Sometimes in order to learn who you are you must learn who you are not. Be brave, be bold, break the mold. Most importantly do everything with confidence. 

LB: If you can host a contest, what kind of contest would you ask the Lookbook community to participate in?

MR: I would love to host a wanderlust inspired contest. Participants would be asked to submit a look that showcases their style influenced by their surroundings. The contestant would win a trip to explore a new city. Since Lookbook has an international community, I think it would be a great way to expand awareness. It promotes an understanding of fashion in relation to environment as well as the need to expand one’s cultural barriers.

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To read my creative brief and get an inside look at my creative process behind the Morton Salt Girl costume this Halloween, head over to Lookbook to view my entry!

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Event Photography | Aaron Pryor

Event Location | Quixote Studios

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